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Old 26-05-2011, 16:53   #1
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Muriatic Acid in Head - How Do You Get It Into Intake?

My boat’s head has a very unpleasant odor. It seems to have issues when I flush. I believe there may be some blockage around the rim where the (sea) water comes into the bowl. I also think there may be some blockage at the joker valve as the bowl seems to fill up on occasion a little while after use, and looks very unpleasant (not see water coming back in). The hoses are supposedly pretty new, and although they had a lot of mildew growing on them (as did much of the boat), I used some mildew cleaner and they look bright white now, and nothing seems to be permeating from them over the last few months. They are proper sanitation hoses too. The vent at the loop is high and does not appear to be leaking either. I think it is the head & pump causing the issues.
So, although I will be rebuilding pump very soon, I am also thinking I want to flush some muriatic acid through the head to try to clean sea life, calcium, or whatever from inside. I do not see any signs of strainer in the intake line, so I am sure there is a lot of stuff trapped. I will follow up with a vinegar maintenance program in the future, but need a kick start to get this all clean up. I also want to do the acid treatment before I rebuild the pump to avoid hurting the new seals, etc. as a precaution.
How do I get the acid into the rim area inside the bowl? All threads I have read mention flushing the acid through the system but not how to get it in there. If I just pour it into the bowl and pump, will it get to the areas where the intake water goes too, or just through the discharge system? I am not sure how the water circulates in these things.
Advice?
Thanks,
Steve
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Old 26-05-2011, 16:55   #2
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

PS..... I do intend to haul and add strainer into intake line this summer while I am changing through hulls, etc. to help prevent the sea life from entering, but need to get it out now.
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Old 26-05-2011, 17:02   #3
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

I wouldn't use muriatic acid. Too damaging to metals. How about routing the inlet and outlet hoses to a bucket of vinegar solution? Pump intermittently for a few days. Maybe even a chlorine solution too?
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Old 26-05-2011, 17:21   #4
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

Thanks for the reply daddle. I appreciate the caution. I have researched this pretty extensively on several threads in which some chemical specialists as well as marine sanitation people piped in, and although there are certainly some good debates both, the consensus seemed that vinegar is a good maintenance solution, but not strong enough for a real built up blockage problem. Also, the theory is that a onetime dose and cleaning, followed by regular use/flushing to get the stuff out of the system pretty fast, is not enough to harm the metal. The big concern is supposedly only if there might be nylon parts. (Hence my wanting to do it before I do any rebuilding is done).
The only problem is that no one has mentioned how to get the stuff in there. I like your idea, and have thought that might be the way to do it (at least with the intake). I am a little apprehensive though of pulling anything off of any through hulls yet, as the seacocks are all very old and rusty (as in some don’t even turn), and I don’t want to end up with a gusher that I can’t stop.
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Old 26-05-2011, 17:26   #5
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

I am going off of the seat of my pants here but I would think that you would want to close the seacock and disconnect the hose and then make a mixture of muriatic acid and water and pull that thru the head. It would be nice to know the approximate volume of water that the hoses hold to get an idea how much of the solution you need to run thru. I think there is a section in Caulder's book on how to do this.
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Old 26-05-2011, 17:26   #6
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

How about adding it to the holding tank? If the system is back filling as you describe it should work it's way back thru the hoses. Then pump out the holding tank as usual. Do a big flush of fresh water thru the head into the tank and pump it out again to get it out of the whole system.

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Old 26-05-2011, 17:27   #7
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

If you put muriatic acid in the lines it will bubble and fizz like crazy and might even blow it up. If you want to use muriatic acid, take the hoses off, plug one end hang them up and pour the acid in. If you want to leave the hoses in place undo the hoses at the highest point, close the through hull , detach the hose at the joker valve and plug it and use vinegar in the lines NOT muriatic acid.
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Old 26-05-2011, 17:44   #8
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

FWIW, muriatic acid will melt nylon fittings.
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Old 26-05-2011, 17:54   #9
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

Put something in the head such as a small piece of toilet tissue. Pump with someone watching the exit location and count how many strokes of the pump are required to discharge the tissue overboard. Pour about 1/3 gallon of muriatic acid in the bowl and pump (in the dry bowl position) as many strokes as you have determined takes it from the bowl to the thru hull. Watch it fizz and blow stuff out the thru hull. Wait 1/2 hour and repeat. after 2 or 3 times, your system will be clean. Have done it every 4 years or so for a long time with no ill effects.
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Old 26-05-2011, 17:57   #10
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

I've used muriatic acid to clean bronze fittings and would be very leery of using such a caustic chemical on anything but porcelain or metal and then only under diluted or controlled circumstances. If you put just a couple of drops on a concrete dock, you'll see what I mean. Addressing your odor problem, many times it is your holding tank venting (or lack of it) that is causing the problem. The vent lines tend to get plugged and all it takes is a pin hole under pressure from the normal decay cycle that stinks up the whole boat. A tiny hole in any sewage line can cause the odor. Holding tank walls, hoses, fittings, vents all absorb the odor over time. Sometimes shower sumps are connected to the overboard line and the smell migrates back through the sump.
To trouble shoot the source, I would consider first getting your nose down around the holding tank, all 4 corners and 5 accessible sides, if it smells sweet, then proceed to the vent line. Replace if blocked or over 3 years old. Work your way back to the head replacing lines as you go. If the lines are more than 3-4 years old, they don't owe you anything. Replace the joker or duck valve... they wear out and get flabby.
I used to flush my entire system including the tank with full stength Simply Green about every 2-3 months when living aboard and using the head daily. Same procedure for shower sumps.
The care and feeding of head and shower systems aboard is a necessary but too often delayed maintenance job.
Hope this gives you a starting point from which to solve your problem... cheers, Capt Phil
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Old 26-05-2011, 17:58   #11
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

That would work on a system with no holding tank, but the back up in the bowl was not sea water so I am thinking we are dealing with a holding tank here. If the acid were added from the tank, in appropriate dilution, it would work into the hoses pretty slowly and so long as it was not under pressure (and there were no fittings that would be compromised by the acid) I don't think the system would come under too much pressure.


Concrete would be very vulnerable to muratic acid, I am not so sure that polyester or rubber line would be subject to such rapid effect.

BUT add acid to water and start more dilute and work up to a stronger solution.

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Old 26-05-2011, 19:12   #12
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

All the parts of a marine head are plastic. The only potential contact with metal is the thru hull. Muriatic acid comes in a plastic jug.
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Old 26-05-2011, 19:35   #13
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

I've used muriatic acid for this purpose and it works well, but will require a few cycles to dissolve the hard stuff. My suggestion is to fill the bowl with dilute acid so that the intact holes are covered. Make sure you add the acid to the water and not the other way around. Let it sit for 20 minutes, then pump it through with the inlet through hull closed. Repeat this a few times and see what effect it has. Be advised that this solution will foam like crazy in the presence of elements the acid will dissolve.
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Old 26-05-2011, 19:50   #14
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

And make sure you are in a well ventilated area.
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Old 26-05-2011, 19:51   #15
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Re: Muriatic acid in head-how do you get it into intake?

The first thing I'd do is pump out and thoroughly rinse out the tank. Then I'd close the intake thru-hull and remove the intake hose from it and stick it in a bucket of clean FRESH water...pump the whole bucketful through to the tank, then pump another bucketful through. Now your system will be clean enough to remove the head discharge fitting from the toilet and remove the joker valve....and while the joker valve is out, take a look inside the toilet discharge hose to see whether there is any sea water mineral buildup. If there is, flushing muriatic acid through the system is really very very simple: Being VERY careful to follow mixing and handling instructions (i.e. always use a plastic bucket and always add the acid to the water, NEVER add water to the acid), mix up a 12-15% solution--the same "strength" Raritan recommends for cleaning the electrodes in the LectraSan/ElectraScan--in a bucket (contrary to popular belief, it will not harm ANYthing in the toilet or the tank). Stick the intake hose into the the bucket...and flush the whole bucketful through the entire system. Wait an hour...flush another bucketful of CLEAN water through to rinse it out. Now you have a nice clean system to rebuild. Rebuilding before you clean it out wouldn't harm any of the new parts, but it would be a lot less pleasant job.

About that backflow...check your tank vent for a blockage. That'll cause the system to become pressurized, which will cause backflow. The two most common locations for blockages are the vent thru-hull and the vent line connection to the the tank--both that end of the hose and the tank fitting. Scrape out what you find with a screwdriver blade or whatever works for you.

And as long as you're doing all this maintenance, this would be a great time to reroute your head intake line to tee it into your head sink drain line. This provides a safe source of fresh water to rinse all the sea water out of the system before the boat sits. Also provides an excellent way to add antifreeze when winterizing (just pouring it into the bowl won't protect anything but the tank) and also a way to run vinegar through the WHOLE system instead of only the discharge.

If I just pour it into the bowl and pump, will it get to the areas where the intake water goes too, or just through the discharge system? I am not sure how the water circulates in these things.

You would if you thought about it. 'Cuz you do know that waste added to the bowl doesn't recirculate through the intake--at least it SHOULDN'T!...which should tell you that nothing else that's just poured into the bowl will either...that it'll only go through the bottom part of the pump and out the discharge.
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