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Old 10-10-2015, 01:14   #1
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OK... basic question... poos and wees

Hi guys

My first post here. Sorry it's so basic.

We're new sailors, and our boat (a Northshore 370) has a macerator and holding tank... I'm trying to figure out how to work it but haven't found any instructions anywhere.

So apologies for the basic questions, stupid descriptions and the bodily fluid descriptions.

So, after you do your stuff into the bowl, there's the pump next to the bowl - I'm presuming that when you pump the handle up and down, this would go into the holding tank?

Then, if I turn the switch for the macerator, I can hear a buzzing sound, and stuff comes out from the hull into the water in a pretty coloured cloud.
Does the macerator work from the holding tank? Or does it work straight from the toilet?

I mean, can you just get out to sea, then turn the macerator on, and it will mince and dump everything in the holding tank? Or if I have stuff in the holding tank, do I need to go to a pump out facility if I haven't turned it on straight away?

And, is the sequence... bodily waste, pump using the hand pump, macerator on? Or is it fancier than that?

Thanks everyone!

steff
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Old 10-10-2015, 01:45   #2
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

Steff, There is no one single plumbing design for all head systems so you will likely need to follow the run of your hoses to understand your system.

Here are two common plumbing designs:

The handle next to the toilet bowl pumps water into the bowl and pumps material from the bowl. You will see a lever that selects wether water is entering the bowl or you are emptying the bowl. The hose carrying material from the bowl that leads to a Y-valve with a lever that selects for direct discharge though the hull to the sea water or directing the flow to a holding tank. There are normally two means to empty the holding tank. The contents of the tank may be vacuumed out by a pump out station, usually at a marina dock or a pump out boat, or you will have a 12 volt macerator pump that empties the tank directly into the sea water.

A second common system is to have no Y-valve, but to send all material to a holding tank where then it may be pumped out at a pump out station or expelled by a through hull fitting to the sea water with the use of the macerator pump.
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Old 10-10-2015, 03:48   #3
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Steff.
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Old 10-10-2015, 08:00   #4
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

Thanks Hudson Force and GordMay
So a quick trip to the boat reveals 5 pipes

1. Pipe from waste port on deck to tank
2. Pipe from tank to overflow vent on side of hull
3. Pipe from toilet to tank
4. Pipe from tank to macerater pump
5. (There's another pipe from the macerater to the underneath of the hull)

Which to me means that everything goes into the holding tank and the macerater pumps it out from the holding tank. There are no y valves (so set-up 2 you described)

Do you normally leave the toilet hand pump switch to wet with the macerater pump on so it can suck water through as it chews it up and spits it out the hull or doesn't it matter?

Thanks. It's so great to be able to ask questions!

Steff
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Old 10-10-2015, 08:56   #5
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

The macerator and the toilet won't interact at all. The typical position for the selector on the head pump is dry unless being used.

The hose from the tank out the side of the boat isn't an overflow, it's a vent. It's this vent that doesn't allow the macerator to pull through the head. When the macerator is pulling effluent from the tank the volume is replaced by air supplied from the vent.


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Old 10-10-2015, 09:00   #6
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

1. Pipe from waste port on deck to tank
-> For use by a pump-out station shoreside or a pumpout boat
2. Pipe from tank to overflow vent on side of hull
-> NO! It's a vent only. If your tank over-flows through this, it will become clogged, which causes a number of other, bigger problems.
3. Pipe from toilet to tank
-> Obvious
4. Pipe from tank to macerater pump
-> Obvious
5. (There's another pipe from the macerater to the underneath of the hull)
-> Which produces that pretty cloud in the water you mentioned

Also:

6. Hose from a through-hull to the toilet, to draw in outside water when you pump the handle, when the lever is set to "wet".

Q: Do you normally leave the toilet hand pump switch to wet with the macerater pump on so it can suck water through as it chews it up and spits it out the hull or doesn't it matter?

It shouldn't matter. You shouldn't be sucking water through the toilet when you're using the (overboard discharge) macerator. You're sucking it out from the bottom of the tank, and air is coming in to the tank through the vent to replace it. Remember that thing about making sure the vent's not clogged? There are other reasons too, but this answers your question.
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:00   #7
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

I'm curious exactly where you are located that it is OK to dump raw sewage directly into the water.
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:02   #8
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

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Originally Posted by Captain-Avenger View Post
I'm curious exactly where you are located that it is OK to dump raw sewage directly into the water.

I'm sure that will be covered in due course.......but let's work through the rest first.


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Old 10-10-2015, 09:06   #9
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

Macerator has nothing to do with head operation in your case...

Use the head as normal.... When it's time to empty the tank, macerate or deck pump out...

Oh... and welcome to CF by jumping right into the deep end!
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:08   #10
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

If you know what "brand" your toilet is, I'll send you a link to the owners manual. You'll find that on the pump, it's not the name in the bowl. If you can't find it, I can ID it if you'll post a photo of the PUMP (all toilet bowls look alike).
And, is the sequence... bodily waste, pump using the hand pump, macerator on?

Not quite. YOur description of what happened when you turned on the macerator tells us that it has nothing whatever to do with the toilet, it only dumps the tank at sea. So don't turn it on except to dump the tank...it's not needed when the tank is being pumped out by a dockside facility. Be careful not to let it run "dry" (nothing coming out). The pump in it is a rubber impeller that will be destroyed by dry friction heat. As for your toilet operation...

There's a lever or a knob on the top of the pump that's labeled "dry" and "wet" or "flush"...."Wet"/"flush" simultaneously brings flush water into the bowl and pushes bowl contents out. "Dry" doesn't bring in any water, only pushes bowl contents out.
Unlike the loo at home, bowl contents only move through the system while the pump is pushing them...they stop moving when pumping stops. So you want to make sure to pump long enough to get the bowl contents to the tank. Unless the tank is much more than about 6' (2 meters) from the toilet, they'll get there in the dry mode.

Manual marine toilets are not designed to bring water into the bowl and hold it. For just "wee," just pump a few times in the wet mode to rinse the bowl and then switch to dry. However, you'll want to use a cup from the sink to add water to the bowl ahead of "poo"...that'll leave your bowl a lot cleaner--which means using less flush water to rinse it and also help the flush move through the discharge line.

About toilet pape etc: NOTHING goes into a marine toilet except what the user has eaten first and the cheapest flimsiest "quick dissolve" toilet paper--the stuff that practically dissolves in your hand the instant it gets even damp...and as little of it as possible...if necessary, flush early and often. "Nothing" means NO WET WIPES!!...nor facial tissue, paper towels, tampons nor evern a toothpick.

That should be enough to get you started without too much chance of clogging up the system or burning out the macerator. You'll find plenty of help here, so ask questions that need answers to keep you out of trouble instead of needing rescue, 'cuz prevention is ALWAYS cheaper and easier than cure!
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:20   #11
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

Wow Steff...
On your first thread post the guru of all things sanitation...

A small bow is recommended for queen's appearance...
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:23   #12
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

2. Pipe from tank to overflow vent on side of hull

The tank vent is NOT an "overflow" vent...nothing but AIR should pass through it. And it's essential that it never becomes blocked.

The tank vent has two functions (this is true for all tanks--fuel and water too-- btw):

1. it provides an escape for air in the tank that's displaced by incoming contents. If air can't escape the tank becomes increasingly pressurized, even to the point of cracking the tank...though usually just a geyser in your face when you open the deck pumpout cap saves the tank.

2. it provides a source of air to replace contents as they're being drawn out by a pumpout or the macerator. If no air can get in, the pump or macerator will pull a vacuum that prevents it from pulling more than a gallon out of the tank. A partciularly strong pumpout can even implode a tank.

So it's essential that the vent never be used as an "overflow" and that it be flushed out if it happens accidentally. Because heeling can spill tank contents into the vent, it should be back-flushed every time you wash the boat.
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:25   #13
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMdRSailor View Post
Wow Steff...
On your first thread post the guru of all things sanitation...

A small bow is recommended for queen's appearance...
Suck up Creep!



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Old 10-10-2015, 09:30   #14
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain-Avenger View Post
I'm curious exactly where you are located that it is OK to dump raw sewage directly into the water.
In the US, it's legal to flush directly overboard or dump a tank in waters beyond the "3 mile limit"...which means open ocean at least 3 miles from the nearest point on the whole US coastline. Easily reached by boats in most coastal waters.

If outside the US, that limit may be only a mile. In some countries, there is no restriction at all.
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:38   #15
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Re: OK... basic question... poos and wees

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Originally Posted by peghall View Post
In the US, it's legal to flush directly overboard or dump a tank in waters beyond the "3 mile limit"...which means open ocean at least 3 miles from the nearest point on the whole US coastline. Easily reached by boats in most coastal waters.
I was aware of that, which is why I asked the question. It sounds like there may be no other option here other that direct discharge into the water. I real issue if near shore or inland rivers.
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