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Old 03-09-2016, 19:06   #1
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Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

Hello, and thank you ahead of time for any and all help!

I have only ever had the good old reliable manual jabsco, but recently bought a new boat that has a vacuflush system. My experience up to this point with the vacuflush has been amazing... but then I had company on the boat and that was all she wrote.

There is a clog (I'm assuming) somewhere in the system. The toilet is draining, but does so slowly over time. The pump works fine, isn't tripping the breaker, etc.

I know not to use any chemical products (ex. draino) on the clog, and through reading forum lines it looks like using a plunger isn't a great idea.

Any tips?

I'm flying blind and would VERY much not like to have to pay a marine plumber to come out and fix the problem.

I know there are a lot of threads already, but I'm not finding anything recent and/or specific enough.

I'm waving the white flag of surrender and hoping someone here can provide help, guidance, and direction.

Thanks,
Megan
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Old 03-09-2016, 19:23   #2
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

If the pump stops pumping the clog is on the head side of the pump. You can jump the vacuum pump and it will pull harder and may clear the pump (do this carefully); it does work. If the pump isn't shutting down you have a seal problem (vacuum leak). Track that down and fix it; you should be able to hear it.
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Old 03-09-2016, 19:25   #3
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

You say the pump works fine...is it creating a vacuum?

If not, I suspect one of your guests may have flushed something they shouldn't have...it made only it as far as the pump.

It may help you to know that, except for cosmetics, the VacuFlush has changed enough to notice since Mansfield Plumbing introduced it in 1978...so the owners manual for any year works for any year. It has the most complete trouble-shooting guide of any toilet...and if you'd like to send me an email (not a PM, I can't attach anything to a PM), I'll send you one. And I'll be glad to help you sort out how to clear your clog. I'm intimately acquainted with VacuFlush...I had one on my last two boats and was a dealer/distributor for nearly 10 years.

The pump is actually a pretty simple device...just a motor and an "accordion" bellows in the top half of it. T
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Old 03-09-2016, 20:18   #4
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

Very comma for the duck bill valves (or one of them- there are 4) in the pump to get something gamed so they don't close and then you never get a vacuum. Relatively easy fix. Another likely leak spot is right at the bowl.
I bought the. Vacuum tester so any where I open the system I can check for vacuum. Have not had any problems since replacing my pipes and duck bills in 2014
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:28   #5
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

Our VacuFlush worked great...until guests came aboard. I'm guessing it was excessive use of toilet paper. After it happened several times, I got in touch with the folks at Vacuflush. They advised me to go at it aggressively with a toilet plunger while flushing. That worked.

That's assuming it's only a clog, and the components are in good shape. After several years of use, ours started to have issues. A tech took it apart and found massive crystal growths on the diaphragm. He cleaned it off, replaced the duckbills and all was good again.
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Old 04-09-2016, 09:47   #6
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

Sometimes the clog is so bad it can't be "pushed" through with a plunger. However, it can usually be pulled back.....here's how:

Turn the system off so the vacuum pump no longer pumps.

Turn off the water supply to the toilet.

Open the foot valve and let the vacuum in the line equalize with the atmosphere.

Temporarily turn on water supply....Add just enough water to the bowl (then turn off the water again) by lifting the pedal to get a good seal while on the plunger upstroke-suction back towards the bowl...that should clear it easily.

Resume lessons and normal operation.
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Old 04-09-2016, 09:55   #7
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

Assuming the pump is not running, a large percentage of the clogs are right at the bottom of the funnel. It is only about 1 inch in diameter, the idea being if it can pass through there, the rest of the system can handle it. Shine a light down there, or put a glove on, open the ball valve and reach down there, you should be able to feel a clog.

If it is not there, it most likely is at the duck valves. If the pump has stopped, Take the cover of the vacuum switch, and pull up on it, it should get the pump going. Hold it up for a minute or so, sometimes you can get lucky and the increased vacuum will remove the clog.

People who ball up huge amounts of TP are often to blame for clogged VF systems, but non-marine TP, paper towel, etc will do it just the same.

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Old 04-09-2016, 10:20   #8
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

In 10 years of owning a Mansfield vacuflush toilet I have only had 2 blockages both by guests. Both were at the narrowing point in the bowl below the valve. I opened the foot valve, and with a long blade heavy screwdriver just cranked it through the blocked balled up TP. The vacuum did the rest.
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Old 04-09-2016, 15:12   #9
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

I too have a vaccuflush system and have come to love it. When we first bought this boat we had several clogs and found that there is really no way to clear them but to get into the system and at the pump you will find both an in and and out connection.
These must be opened and cleaned....which can be a messy job.
You will find altogether four duckbill valves. This is were the clogs normally occur. "Stuff" gets caught in one of them and the vacuum can not ramp up no matter how long the pump works. You must clear the valve or valves. Simple enough but what is really important is to remove the duckbill and inspect it. They become deformed. Once removed and cleaned examine it to make certain that the duckbill lips close freely. If not, don't even bother to replace it because you'll just be back there again. New duckbill are a necessary if treated properly they last a long while.
In order to keep the system running well we do some regular maintenance. Periodically, flush the system through. We take the hose and fill the bowl to the top and flush it. Do this at least four times during normal maintenance.
ADDITIONALLY, on a fairly regular basis we flush through some "fabuloso" any brand will do but we like the scents they offer. This has just the right amount of detergent and cleans the hoses and"duckbills"
Finally, we know that the manufacturer does not tell you this, we do not allow PAPER to be flushed down. We keep under the sink some small plastic bags for this purpose and then dispose of those at a convenient time. It may not sound pleasant but it's better than going into the pump and clearing the clogs caused by toilet paper........
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Old 10-09-2016, 19:47   #10
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

What Witzgall said about the location of the clog is likely true. But before sticking a gloved hand in there to pull out the excess TP (which does work),
try using the rolled cardboard off of a pants hanger to push excess TP through that opening. I keep a small quantity of these with my tools for just such occasions.
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Old 10-09-2016, 20:48   #11
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

I been dealing with the vaccuflush for about 6 years now.
Me and the misses understand no tp. In the heads. But when the occasional guest pass thru and it gets clogged. It is easier take the 4 10mm nuts loose lift the stool up or out of the way if you disconnect the flush peddle it's always right their pull it out reinstall. Problem solved price we pay for where we live. Never wanted to be a Plummer but it's now part of the job description



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Old 10-09-2016, 21:09   #12
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

My duckbills cracked after being away and not in use. They dry out and crack if they aren't used and wetted often. I'd use that as a starting point.
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Old 11-09-2016, 05:59   #13
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Megan.
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Old 25-06-2019, 15:49   #14
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Re: Vacuflush - How to Find/Fix/Troubleshoot a Clog

I found my clog in the 90 at the bottom of the toilet. i was ready to start taking duck lips and plungers and everything else apart and I'm glad I didn't. I vacuumed out the head (See clogged head helper) and then carefully used a coat hanger and snaked the bottom of the toilet, bingo. If that didn't work was going to work my way from one elbow and hose to the next. IMO. no point in starting at the end when there are many opportunities for clogs before.
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