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Old 18-04-2016, 09:30   #1
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Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

Hi All,

I've read most of the posts here about head odors but I'm having difficulty.

On my vessel, I have 2 heads with separate holding tanks, plumbing etc. I am getting a smell from the forward head. I did the permeation test with a wet rag and feel that my hoses are indeed permeated and set upon replacing them. The original hose is the black type that looks like its wrapped in some sort of fabric.

The task is daunting as there are many lines (toilet to y valve, y to tank, y to overboard, tank to manual pump, manual pump to overboard, tank to deck cleanout and the vent. A lot of these run underneath an air conditioning unit for that fwd cabin and it looks like I'll have to remove that first!

My question is that now the boat is onshore for the winter and everything treating with an alcohol plumbing type anti-freeze and there is no smell at all. I would think that a permeated hose would still smell? Should I still go through all this work (like a weeks worth) to replace them?

I also am having issues with the Master head. I can't pump overboard, just to the tank. You would think that this means it would be the line from y valve to seacock? Should I replace the y valve as well? I also can't pump this tank over board. It has a Whale Gulper toilet pump (diaphragm type). Anyone have any experience with these? Should I just put a service kit in it (pump runs)? It could be a vent issue but I have opened the deck pump out with trying to pump it out, trying to give it more venting and no difference. No smell from this head but just can't seem to pump it out. Ran the pump for about 10 min onshore and only a few spurts of waste came out. Pretty sure the tank is full as the toilet has difficultly pumping when it is. Could also be a clogged hose but the toilet has a macerating pump so should pump easily.

Thanks.
David
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Old 18-04-2016, 10:01   #2
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

Re plumbing a head can be a daunting and undesirable project, but if there are benefits to tackling this project and tackling it yourself.

1. Hopefully, when done, you'll have an efficient, smell-free system less prone to problems down the road.

2. Having re-plumbed it, you'll be much more adept at identifying and fixing any future problem while cruising.


As far as systems go, what's best for one person in one set of circumstances may not be best for another person in different circumstances. That said, my overall favorite system is a head to holding tank, having the holding tank empty by gravity through a direct or almost direct discharge to a through hull, the through hull being very accessible and having an inspection port directly above the out take on the holding tank, so it can be snaked easily if necessary. Simply opening a through hull to discharge is much easier and less prone to problems than a pump discharge system.

However, if that's not convenient, I'd simply add a pump overboard option to your existing holding tank, so you can empty it at sea where legal and ethical to do so.

Getting hose clamps tight enough can be a problem. A couple tips: 1. Most fit a ratcheting socket wrench which will tighten much better than a screw driver. 2. Count on checking and re-tigtning down the road after they've been on for a while, hopefully when the hoses are warm and most pliable.

Not related to your hose problem, but one thing I wish I'd figured out earlier is to carry an entire spare pump assembly rather than just parts.

As far a the shore pump out not working, I think you need to trace that line back to the tank to see where air is getting in. Is there a vented loop? Is the tank discharge truly at the bottom of the tank? Has the hose come loose at the through deck fitting?
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Old 18-04-2016, 10:13   #3
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwalsh27 View Post
Hi All,

I've read most of the posts here about head odors but I'm having difficulty.
David,

Read this book:

The New Get Rid of Boat Odors
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Old 18-04-2016, 10:29   #4
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

Could it be time to consider a composting head?
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Old 19-04-2016, 00:17   #5
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

As nauitcal62 said, check the clamps before changing the hoses. Even a tiny leak can smell. Also there are marine products that don't damage the rubber parts and you can add a little each flush. They kill the marine and sewage organisms that create the smell.
The gravity drain is a good idea. There are thru hulls that have a clam shell front. It creates a slight suction as you move thru the water and could help the draining.
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Old 19-04-2016, 04:59   #6
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, David.
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Old 19-04-2016, 05:20   #7
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwalsh27 View Post
Hi All,

I've read most of the posts here about head odors but I'm having difficulty.

On my vessel, I have 2 heads with separate holding tanks, plumbing etc. I am getting a smell from the forward head. I did the permeation test with a wet rag and feel that my hoses are indeed permeated and set upon replacing them. The original hose is the black type that looks like its wrapped in some sort of fabric.

The task is daunting as there are many lines (toilet to y valve, y to tank, y to overboard, tank to manual pump, manual pump to overboard, tank to deck cleanout and the vent. A lot of these run underneath an air conditioning unit for that fwd cabin and it looks like I'll have to remove that first!

My question is that now the boat is onshore for the winter and everything treating with an alcohol plumbing type anti-freeze and there is no smell at all. I would think that a permeated hose would still smell? Should I still go through all this work (like a weeks worth) to replace them?

I also am having issues with the Master head. I can't pump overboard, just to the tank. You would think that this means it would be the line from y valve to seacock? Should I replace the y valve as well? I also can't pump this tank over board. It has a Whale Gulper toilet pump (diaphragm type). Anyone have any experience with these? Should I just put a service kit in it (pump runs)? It could be a vent issue but I have opened the deck pump out with trying to pump it out, trying to give it more venting and no difference. No smell from this head but just can't seem to pump it out. Ran the pump for about 10 min onshore and only a few spurts of waste came out. Pretty sure the tank is full as the toilet has difficultly pumping when it is. Could also be a clogged hose but the toilet has a macerating pump so should pump easily.

Thanks.
David
Welcome aboard

Re 'should you' yes. Though I doubt it will be a weeks work. If your boat does not have proper plumbing for toilets, then definately replace it or you will certainly find the smells coming back.

The whale Gulper pumps are great pumps. Put a service kit through it. They are easy to service.
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Old 19-04-2016, 05:59   #8
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwalsh27 View Post
Hi All,

I've read most of the posts here about head odors but I'm having difficulty.

On my vessel, I have 2 heads with separate holding tanks, plumbing etc. I am getting a smell from the forward head. I did the permeation test with a wet rag and feel that my hoses are indeed permeated and set upon replacing them. The original hose is the black type that looks like its wrapped in some sort of fabric.

The task is daunting as there are many lines (toilet to y valve, y to tank, y to overboard, tank to manual pump, manual pump to overboard, tank to deck cleanout and the vent. A lot of these run underneath an air conditioning unit for that fwd cabin and it looks like I'll have to remove that first!

My question is that now the boat is onshore for the winter and everything treating with an alcohol plumbing type anti-freeze and there is no smell at all. I would think that a permeated hose would still smell? Should I still go through all this work (like a weeks worth) to replace them?

I also am having issues with the Master head. I can't pump overboard, just to the tank. You would think that this means it would be the line from y valve to seacock? Should I replace the y valve as well? I also can't pump this tank over board. It has a Whale Gulper toilet pump (diaphragm type). Anyone have any experience with these? Should I just put a service kit in it (pump runs)? It could be a vent issue but I have opened the deck pump out with trying to pump it out, trying to give it more venting and no difference. No smell from this head but just can't seem to pump it out. Ran the pump for about 10 min onshore and only a few spurts of waste came out. Pretty sure the tank is full as the toilet has difficultly pumping when it is. Could also be a clogged hose but the toilet has a macerating pump so should pump easily.

Thanks.
David

That's a relatively new-ish boat, yes? Wouldn't have thought hoses would be permeated.... The suggestion to check all the fittings first is very good; it doesn't take much to allow some air (odor) leaks at those points.

Another is to be sure you're really talking head odor... versus show sump odor... or general boat dankness... etc. Or whether you only get odor when you flush, etc.

You might clarify whether the toilets are raw water flush or fresh water flush... although that might just be a side bit o' info...

Some diagnostic thoughts: If you can pump-out the master holding tanks through the deck fitting... that should (might) mean the vent hose on that tank is at least OK, not clogged. I think you mean your overboard pump -- between holding tank and discharge thru-hull -- is the Whale Gulper, yes? (And the toilet discharge is already macerated en route bowl to holding tank, yes?)

If the tank vent is OK, I'd next guess either a clog between tank and Gulper... or clogged Gulper... or malfunctioning Gulper... or clogged discharge valve... is what's preventing emptying the holding tank overboard. (We just replaced the overboard macerator for our fishbox and it didn't fix our issue; turned out the top of the sea-cock was completely clogged with 14 years of fish bits...)

The overboard discharge direct from toilet would be using a different sea-cock than the holding tank discharge. Does that have a separate valve on it? Or does the Y-valve selector control it completely?

-Chris
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Old 19-04-2016, 06:43   #9
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

If you have done the wet rag test and it came up stinky, then your hoses are permeated... I had a hose that was only 4 months old permeate when we left effluent in it while the boat was in storage (2 months).. No matter how many times I washed the hose out, it failed the wet rag test. It would stop stinking for a few days, but once I closed the closet up it stank like hell after a day or 2.

I also had to replace all my inlet hoses as they stank as well (seawater in the absence of oxygen produces sulfuric compounds). However, those hoses were 10 years old and had seen a lot of use in very warm climates.
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Old 20-04-2016, 15:31   #10
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

Check the Y-valves. They have a habit of filling up with stuff and then won't turn to the other position. They have given us years of aggravation.

If you need to have them, you need to put them on a regular maintenance schedule, take out, clean, lubricate at least twice during the season you're using the boat, and at the end of the season, so it's "copacetic" to begin again in spring.

Ann
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Old 25-04-2016, 09:07   #11
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

Hi Chris,


The boat is a 99 so not that newish. The toilets are sea water flush and have built in macerating pumps.


I have purchased a kit for the whale pump and a new Y valve. Probably just as easy to replace as to fix. It is only the Y valve and then the valve for the seacock, must be one of the 2. I may just replace that whole section of run.


For the pump out, it looks like newer lines attached to the whale pump but I may replace these as well when I put the kit in the pump. Will try the kit first and see. No smell from these and they are newer (white) pvc hose. Maybe just need a snake put through there.


Thanks
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Old 27-04-2016, 11:19   #12
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

Hi. I'm in the process right now of replacing my head with a composting toilet. It works for me. Good luck!
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Old 27-04-2016, 11:34   #13
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

I got in the habit of flushing the head with fresh water whenever I left the boat, make sure you pump it through a bit. I use the shower head to fill the bowl, but it could easily be done with a bucket.

As to the whale pump, could you put the inlet in a bucket of water and try pumping it, that would narrow down the problem, if it pumps the problem is more inboard.
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Old 27-04-2016, 13:04   #14
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

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I I use the shower head to fill the bowl,
Not a good idea, here's why:

Head Pumps 101 Why just pouring water into the bowl is NOT a good idea Head Sea Water Shutoff Valve & Antisiphon question
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Old 27-04-2016, 15:47   #15
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Re: Head Smell/Plumbing Woes

Welll...it's not a good idea to use the shower head to supply flush water except occasionally....but there's no reason not to use it just to add water to the bowl ahead of solids....something that you should always do because it keeps the bowl a lot cleaner and also cuts the amount of flush water needed to move it out of the bowl and through the plumbing to its destination.
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