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Old 29-07-2014, 15:15   #1
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Itty Bitty Mysterious Leak

A couple of months ago, our 20 year old water pressure pump (I think it had baffles) died. We installed a Jabsco water pressure pump (3.0 GPM) and it runs so much quieter. However, the other evening while taking a shower, the pressure dropped and well....it was a challenge to finish showering.

We looked in the locker where the pump is located and there was about 1/2 cup of water in the bottom but both of us felt all around and could not find wetness in any of the fittings or tubing. We are bumfuzzled. Is there a trick to trouble shooting finding a small leak like this?

Thanks for any help or ideas.
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Old 29-07-2014, 15:26   #2
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Re: Itty Bitty Mysterious Leak

Wrap toilet paper around any suspected leak locations. It'll catch even tiny amounts of water.
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Old 29-07-2014, 16:26   #3
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Re: Itty Bitty Mysterious Leak

you either have a piece of debris stuck under at least 1 of the valves or at least 1 of the valve springs broke, or the diaphram let go and has a hole in it.
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Old 29-07-2014, 18:05   #4
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Re: Itty Bitty Mysterious Leak

mike d., I'll bet you're on to something. The boat spent last winter out of the water, in sub-zero temps for weeks on end (her first winter at such extremes.) Bet ya something just popped loose and is stuck in a hose somewhere. Aside from chasing down the itty bitty leak, do you have any magic tricks for finding an obstruction?

The low flow issue is intermittent, but affects both hot and cold H2O, at the galley, head sink, and shower. So that is going to mean an issue between the tank inlet and the (cold water) header.

OK, so I'll backflush from the galley, with the outflow of the pump disconnected, and see what I get. Then move on to the tank intake hose, disconnected from the tank. Etc.

Thx to both of you for these very helpful thoughts.
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Old 29-07-2014, 21:47   #5
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Re: Itty Bitty Mysterious Leak

Any chance you have strainers before the strainer? I lose pressure when calcium crystals clog the line. I'd try the TP or paper towel route looking for water.
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Old 30-07-2014, 06:39   #6
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Re: Itty Bitty Mysterious Leak

pull the intake hose and see if there is an obstruction there. Whern the pump runs does it labor or just run like there is no water in the system?! if it acts like there is no water then you have and internal problem, like I posted before. Laboring means you have a discharge blockage! The pump will get hot from this in a short amount of time. Also if run dry you could have deformed the diaphram from heat build up! Ask me how I know about that 1. Did you winterize the pump, before lay up for winter? Also you could be collapsing the intake line to the pump, if there is a blockage in the tank, or the intake line could have a wall inside separation .
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Old 30-07-2014, 06:54   #7
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Re: Itty Bitty Mysterious Leak

My boat is 27 yrs old, I had a chunk of what looked like calcium clog the dip tube, easy to remove.
I think your leak and the pump not supplying good flow may not be related, I have seen pinholes develop in plastic water pressure lines before
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Old 30-07-2014, 07:04   #8
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Re: Itty Bitty Mysterious Leak

I'm a bit confused too. A small leak on the pressure side of the pump would explain the small puddle of water, but not the pressure drop. A leak on the vacuum side of the pump would explain the pressure drop, but not the puddle. A large leak on the pressure side would explain the pressure drop, but would result in a very large puddle.

On my last boat, when it would winter on-land in very cold weather, even though I tried to winterize the fresh water system, it would often develop small leaks in the fresh water lines in the spring -- not enough to lose pressure, but enough to hear the pump run when I wasn't running a tap. I found that by tightening each of the fittings a quarter turn the leaks would stop. Consider simply retightening all fittings in the locker where the puddle was.

I recently had an issue of pressure drop and free running pump in the fresh water system. It turned out the problem was a faulty tank gauge sender.
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Old 30-07-2014, 07:40   #9
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Re: Itty Bitty Mysterious Leak

I'll try to respond to everything LOL

Yes, the boat was properly winterized for winter with antifreeze in the fresh water lines, including the pump.

And yes, we are talking about 2 seemingly separate issues, but I too suspect they are somehow related.

I have not yet tightened clamps on the hoses except the intake and outflow of the pump. When I feel (with bare fingers) around all of the connections, there is no water. Anglefish can't feel water either - and I should note that the leak (puddled water) is confined to only the locker where the pump and distribution headers (both cold and hot) are located.

The pump does not run dry, and immediately after turning the water on, the flow is good but quickly dies off to a dribble - thus we're dealing with a blockage somewhere. And because it affects both cold and hot, the blockage is somewhere in or before the cold water distribution header (that feeds the water heater.) No? Oh, and the pump is a centrifugal pump, not piston. I'm saving the piston pump I took out for rebuild and repurpose. LOL

I think I've answered everything. THANKS AGAIN for all the comments, everyone!
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Old 31-07-2014, 13:04   #10
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Re: Itty Bitty Mysterious Leak

Thank you all for your help! PlumBob and I really appreciate it. We'll get back to y'all and let you know what we discover this weekend.

Sailing is a lot more fun than being on your hands and knees with your head stuck in a locker looking for leaks....sigh.
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