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Old 06-08-2017, 18:38   #1
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Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

Today I had to deal with the inevitable clogged head. Shitty job, but somebody has to do it. And this one really wasn't too bad, as these things go. But it got me thinking about past experiences that were not so pleasant, but pretty funny to talk about in retrospect. So who has a good clogged head story?

Back in 1988 I was sailing across the Atlantic, and we had two guys onboard who really did not know what they were doing, basically along for the ride, we did not even trust them enough to put them in the regular watch rotation. One of these guys refused to use a bucket like the rest of us, and proceeded to clog the only head onboard, pumping until he could pump not more. The captain tried to fix the issue, climbing into the cabinet where the plumbing was. The hose, under high pressure, burst, and proceeeded to spray its contents all over the inside of the cabinet, and its current occupant! The ensuing language was extremely colorful, to say the least
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Old 06-08-2017, 19:43   #2
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

This really cannot happen to a head that is maintained and treated properly. Given time and water, crap and even large amounts of single ply TP dissolve in a few minutes. Do not allow other products in the head (no paper towels or Kleenex).
  • Flushed something other than single ply TP.
  • Scale has nearly blocked the discharge line. Change the hoses preventatively, and flush with freshwater when preactical.
So no, after 20 years, I do not have a good story. It's never happened.
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Old 07-08-2017, 05:14   #3
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

I've never had a clogged head. The few times it has been hard to pump because of a "blockage" I just waited 5 minutes and tried it again and it cleared.

Sorry but I like my story better than any "funny" clogged head story!
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Old 07-08-2017, 06:03   #4
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

Not much of a story, but on a "timeshare" Hunter H33, the checklist for taking out the boat listed checking the head for proper operation. I did so dutifully.

As I hit the switch on the electric head while looking down into the open bowl (standing height, I'm not that much of a glutton for punishment) a jet, surge, bolus of "water" shot skyward hitting me square in the face.

Luckily it was pretty much just water.

Seems the previous user ignored all prohibitions about what they should flush and attempted to send several paper towels down the chute.

They cleared out easily by hand. Needless to say, I left a negative report on the previous user and never have my face over a head as I flush.
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Old 07-08-2017, 08:44   #5
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

Oh boy!... Clogged toilets and kids!... My grand daughter age 5 at the time put half a paper toilet roll into one of the heads... And she pumped like mad. My Black Lavac outstanding and simple system was overwelmed. Otherwise, Lavac Heads with no jocker valve are perfect and never guive trouble... I would never anything else in my boat...
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Old 07-08-2017, 08:53   #6
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

I recently had to have the 'come to Jesus talk' with my system, in a '94 Carver 370 and it was not pretty. Raritan electric head goes either overboard after a y valve, or into the holding tank. Holding tank either goes overboard after y valve through a macerator, or switched the other way, through a deck fitting. The scaling proved to be the devil, well, and the pipe smell. Carver, in their wisdom was able to install this system before cabinetry and very securely, with plastic ties every foot or so, tied all the lines together. Replacing pipes was a lesson in patience and perseverance, cutting plastic ties with a jackknife taped to a vacuum hose to access those even hard to see ties with a mirror. Then the inevitable problems of removing the hose ends and reattaching new ones where a single hand was the only option and trying to tighten the hose clamps at the same time.
What I learned about my system and the boat was more than I ever desired to know, but invaluable none the less. I pity the others in the same boat.
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Old 07-08-2017, 10:59   #7
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

In charter biz fixed more heads than I care to remember. Mainly due to feminine products & too much tp. Having grown up working on dairy farms cleaning up after cows in barns I found it no big deal.
Never clogged one myself although use tp all the time. Flush thoroughly. Not too much tp. Service checking joker and flapper. Like anything else maintenance is key.
Did have a sewage treatment explode once in the BVI under guests' bunk. Had to buy them new clothes. That was a mess. Previous captain didn't empty and new one onboard didn't check. That was the worst.
I normally take a shower after using. Clean head at the same time and no tp to speak of.
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Old 07-08-2017, 12:39   #8
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

Years ago friends daughter plugs the head with a tampax in spite of "the talk" Hose off at the U and straight shot to the culprit in the thruhull. Using the handy Hawaiian sling I hooked the critter and then figured I'd make sure all's clear. Went a bit too far, now the sharp floppy bit is out side, won't fold back and is now on the bottom somewhere in Haro Straight .Laughs all around.
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Old 07-08-2017, 12:55   #9
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Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

Not a head, but pumpout story.
In Clearwater at the City Marina under the bridge they have a self serve free pumpout. I was beginning to pump out, but slipped and pulled the suction hose off of the fitting, just about the time the "stuff" was about to exit the fitting, inertia did the rest. In short I got covered with it, as it was the first shot of "Stuff" from the bottom of the tank, it was not mostly water at all.
I hosed off and took a shower right there at the dock with a hose and soap and shampoo, no one said a thing, there were witnesses and I believe they knew I was in no mood to be talked to.
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Old 07-08-2017, 14:01   #10
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

It's always funny when it happens to somebody else.....
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Old 07-08-2017, 14:18   #11
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

I've had germ-phobe guests that liked to cover the seat, in addition to what every they used. I would not have known this, except one was also a machine-phobe and wanted me to demonstrate flushing. There was a LOT of paper. This actually helped me, though because it gave me a chance to show them to use lots of water. With single ply, regardless there was 10 feet of paper in the bowl, everything was smooth.

Scott single ply rules, and politely let folks know that if they flush anything else (paper towels etc.) we will all be using a bucket. This is better than threatening that they will have to fix it, since they probably don't believe that. The bucket alternative is terrifying but realistic.
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Old 07-08-2017, 16:29   #12
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elie View Post
Oh boy!... Clogged toilets and kids!... My grand daughter age 5 at the time put half a paper toilet roll into one of the heads... And she pumped like mad. My Black Lavac outstanding and simple system was overwelmed. Otherwise, Lavac Heads with no jocker valve are perfect and never guive trouble... I would never anything else in my boat...
Try running a charter fleet!
The worst blocked loo was on a big robust Colvic. She was sent out with the Commodore of a Lancashire yacht club and his family. He returned to the marina a couple of days early complaining the lavac did not work. I and my son inspected the problem and found the holding tank pump had been ruptured. The only way that could have happened was to use excessive force. We continued our investigation until we removed the hose off the skin fitting. Expecting a rush of sea water when I opened the sea cock..... nothing. A bit of pocking with a screwdriver relieved the blockage only to find a tampon was the culprit. When I confronted the "Commodore" he said "impossible, more than their lives are worth. It must have been left there by the previous crew". I was the skipper on the previous trip an all male crew, it's a long time since I used a tampon! Do they make them for men?
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Old 07-08-2017, 17:34   #13
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

At one time I had a dairy, long story. But, I spread liquid cow poop via sprinkler main line going to a large single sprinkler on a carriage that would make a 300' circle. I noticed a change in tone from the pump, looked out and saw the sprinkler stopped. Assumed it was a plug. Stopped the pump and walked down with a hired hand. The nozzle had a small piece of wood jammed in the approx 1" hole. Usually irrigation pipe leaks water between joints as the pressure relaxes. I didn't see any leaks so assumed the pressure was bled off. I didn't stop to consider the fibrous nature of the liquid I was pumping. All the usual leaks were plugged and we were 100' below the barn. SO the nozzle twists off a 3' pipe and I did it. I got a 3' stream of cold cow poop straight on. I had little green hay fibers in my hair,eyebrows and other places. I wasn't alone. My hired hand laughed so hard, he slipped and fell into the pool of poop at our feet.
It doesn't smell near as bad as human. And I've done a number of marine head repairs. But that's only one of my cow poop stories. At this point in life, I know my sh--.
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Old 07-08-2017, 21:40   #14
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

Research vessel Vector Black water tank took ages to discharge so got the order from the chief engineer to find out why. Vacu san system Remove inspection plate and crawled in with a flashlight . waded about and found a towel draped over the butterfly valve on the 6"? discharge line. Easy fix, all in a day's work.
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Old 07-08-2017, 22:50   #15
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Re: Holy CRAP! Stories about clogged heads...

No clog stories since converting over the macerating Jabsco electric toilets six years ago. Not using a deck pumpout in six years has also helped the situation, now using direct discharge/gravity to empty.
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