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Old 17-01-2009, 03:22   #1
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Horrible odor from head...HELP PLEASE!!



Ok, we are new to this, but I know this odor should NOT be happening. This is the 3rd or 4th time this has occurred and I don't think I can take it anymore.

We try and pump the boat out every weekend, but we have been able to go as long as 2 weeks before without any issues. Occasionally, we don't have such luck and it seems the holding tank 'over flows' and spills into the bathroom and into the shower pan. When this occurs, we get to the nearest pump out station, pump out, wash the head, then pump out the bathroom (since the shower sump doesn't work). The smells go away, the natural order of things is restored and we go back to our wonderful life on our boat.

We pumped out this past Sunday! We had a leak occur on Saturday and I thoroughly cleaned out the head and shower pan with bleach. We pumped out the boat and all seemed fine. It is now Friday and we've had another leak. Now we have to rush to the station tomorrow, pump out, clean up, and pray for another good week. I'm wondering how many times this will occur before I pull my hair out and never open the head again!

Is there a way to measure or tell when the holding tank is getting full? Or a way to make sure we have pumped it all out??

Any help or suggestions on this matter would be GREATLY appreciated!!

Thanks,
E
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Old 17-01-2009, 04:36   #2
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If you can only see a portion o the holding tank, shaine a flash light on the top-pressed down and look at the sides to see the level.
Your description sound like a more serious problem. Holding tanks dont leak. Even when full the leakage s/b form the vent. Leakage from any other place is a ig problem. I would check the hose clamps, fittings and then the tank searching for a crack. Bob
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Old 17-01-2009, 04:43   #3
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Make certain that the vent isn't clogged. If it is, you pressurize the tank and hoses each time you pump into it. You can figure out what that means.

The vent could be clogged from the outside by a mud dauber wasp making a nest, for example, or from the inside by "stuff" from the tank itself if it was overfilled. Get a toilet plunger, take of the rubber "bell", place it over the vent and stick a water hose in the hole where the handle was. Blast away.
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Old 17-01-2009, 05:14   #4
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Like roberttigar, I'm a bit confused. Where exactly is the leak occurring? Is it flowing back into the bowl, the discharge hose from the bowl to the tank, or actually from some part of the tank itself? If the tank itself is leaking, then you could have a cracked tank. If it's leaking at the hose, check hose connections and fittings. If it's flowing back into the bowl and the bowl is overflowing, then Hud's idea about a clogged vent is one possibility, and there's also a valve in line between the bowl and the tank called a "joker valve", and this might need replacing. How about giving us an idea about exactly where the leak seems to be coming from.
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Old 17-01-2009, 06:04   #5
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Buy this book: Amazon.com: Get Rid of Boat Odors: A Boat Owners Guide to Marine Sanitation Systems and Other Sources of Aggravation and Odor: Peggie Hall: Books It will help you understand several different problems you are having. Also, you might consider installing a larger holding tank. You seem to pump out alot...are you living aboard?
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Old 17-01-2009, 06:08   #6
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Good, simple, cheap tank monitor: http://www.sailorssolutions.com/inde...ails&Item=TM01
Install gauge so as to be visible from head...
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Old 17-01-2009, 06:11   #7
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The Joker Valve is a rubber piece that fits into the discharge elbow of the pump. It is about 1.5" (36mm) in diameter. It prevents fluid from backflowing back into the bowl. Hud''s vent issue is more likely the issue or a combo of both as a clogged vent and a bad joker will ruin your day. but also check your Y valve if you have one. Also the anti siphon loop in the discharge may be clogged alowing backflow. No jokes or funny saying on this one It is not humerous at all!
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Old 17-01-2009, 06:13   #8
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I never could get the smell out of my boat even when there were no leaks or malfunctions, so we went to WagBags in a bucket or portable toilet. The alternative was about $1,500 plus the labor for a new tank, pump & controls, new hose & clamps, new Lavac toilet, a new manual diaphragm pump, Y-valve, another thru-hull fitting, and then constant visits to pump-out stations and the maintainence & chemicals dumped in to the sea involved with these over the years. To each his own.
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Old 17-01-2009, 06:25   #9
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What Hud said should be considered. You really shouldn't have to have your holding tank pumped out that often unless you are putting all grey water into the tank. When you are pumped out how much is coming out? We were pumped out once in Block Island and we knew it was a lot less than expected, and as Hud said our vent was clogged. We also had the joker valve issue last year(actually for years we couldn't figure out why sometimes we would wade into standing water in the head) and after the cap'n blamed me for flushing a foreign object, we actually disconnected and banged our hoses and could not believe the build up, despite gallons of vinegar, 12 years of living aboard does add up. That being said, after all these years my head does not have a head smell (fingers crossed). I use a spray bottle of diluted bleach to spray on my hoses which do absorb those nasty odors. I'm sure someone's going to post and tell me I shouldn't be doing this but it works for me. I'm going to add a story about a possible really stinky situation that actually happened on a friends boat.
SQUID IN THE INTAKE


We received an interesting vessel in distress call to us via VHF yesterday afternoon. I don't know why they thought we could help them with the nature of their distress except it happened to be one of those rare days when the water in Marsh Harbour was clear enough to see the interesting array of nature on our bottomsides. It seems that the admiral of the distressed boat had been diligently scrubbing the head when she noticed what she thought was algae poking out from under the rim. She immediately armed herself with toilet brush for the attack and the enemy beat a hasty retreat. She decided to flush the area for more traces of enemy insurgents and sure enough more little legs poked through. Dispersing with the usual regimen of interrogation she went straight to the torture stage and started gingerly tearing off limbs. When the captain and admiral had torn off a respectable amount limbs without gaining any useful intelligence they decided to call us. They now had their own little P.Y.N. (pinch your nose) camp set up in the intake of their head and they had removed all means for their prisoner's escape. You think the Abu Gahraib (sp?) scandal caused a stink. My captain had indulged in his usual breakfast of Kalik's followed by a nutritious brunch of Rum-N-Ade?s and for some reason couldn't come up with a solution. I muttered, "You suck." My captain replied, "I besh your parshon!" I replied, "Tell him to disconnect his intake hose and apply suction." Sure enough, after just a few seconds of militia strength ShopVac to intake hose and the enemy lay legless and quivering on the floor. A 3-4 inch slimey Jabba the Hud (sorry Hud no disrespect) squid in his last throes. Of course, my captain took all the credit for the successful mission. So if some dark, dark night you find yourself on the throne trickling and you feel something tickling....... Sorry Denny and Diane, s/v Just Dreaming, I just can't let this story die.
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Old 17-01-2009, 06:40   #10
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It could be any or all of the problems suggested earlier but I had the same problem and on my boat it turned out to be simply the anti-siphoning loop was clogged. Took it apart and cleand the clogged vent and problem fixed. Hope your solution is as simple.
Jim
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Old 17-01-2009, 11:41   #11
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Hey everyone,
Thanks so much for all the advice so far. We are liveaboards, so the head gets regular use. We can see the holding tank through the wet locker (but have never removed everything from the locker to be able to see the whole thing). The leak comes through the bathroom wall. The holding tank is just behind the head (only separated by one bulkhead). The leak (and odors) always seep underneath the bulkhead. We assumed that the holding tank was overfilling and then leaks accurred around the fittings or something. The 'matter' gets into the wet locker too, so we flush it with water, which runs under the bulkhead and into the shower pan. That's how we've been cleaning up the spills thus far.

I hope this helps clarify things. Any revised or other suggestions are appreciated.

Thanks so much in this matter!

~E
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Old 17-01-2009, 13:59   #12
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So if some dark, dark night you find yourself on the throne trickling and you feel something tickling...
Gad, Mary! You've traumatized poor elizabell, for sure, and the rest of us, besides!
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Old 17-01-2009, 14:55   #13
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Sounds like it could be a few problems. Vent, Fittings, Loop, Hose Clamps.
I might rule out Joker Valve for the moment since the leak is coming from behind the bulkhead.

As Hud has stated....easiest to check is the Vent, so I'd start there!

If the vent is clear, you need to empty out the wet locker completely and inspect all the connections. I'm assuming you have a deck fitting for pump out, but do you also have a gasketed cap on top of the tank? I'd check that second..it may be loose, or the gasket shot.. After that , all the hoses and clamps..

If the vent is clogged, and you clear it, you still need to inspect everything.

I'd have someone flushing clean water through the head while someone is in the locker with a flashlight looking for leaks. You might have to fill the tank 1st with fresh water to duplicate the pressure.

How far are you from a shore head? I wouldn't be using this head until it's fixed..

After that, and a few beers...I'd tackle the shower sump..

Best of Luck
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Old 17-01-2009, 15:53   #14
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Gee, this might sound stupid... (I can't help with your specific problem)... but when we need to take the toilet to task we pump through a zillon gallons of clean water till the whole system is a clean as possible (under the circumstances).

Then its like a surgical operation: Paper towels laid down everywhere; Piles of paper napkins ready; box of surgical rubber gloves (indispensable! when dirty you pull them off 'into' themselves and keep clean); all the tools we need laid out; sinks full of warm soapy water; cleaning agents at the ready; spare hose clamps; bits of bendable wire for probes etc ....

Nicolle with a plastic garbage bag ready to take soiled paper towels etc..

Then we launch into it!

With our preparation the actual job is never as bad as what we envisage it to be. A toilet is just a lump of ceramic with plastic bitties off it. Don't be afraid of it, just defeat the problem with a well orchestrated assault!

Clean the outside of all the hoses too.

And the sense of achievement at the end is fantastic!

I battled the dunny and won!!!!!!!!!!!




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Old 17-01-2009, 16:13   #15
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I knew there was a reason I became an operating room nurse it was all in preparation for living on a boat. I have shoulder length rubber gloves for the holding tank. Sometimes dem babies are hard to reach.
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