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GRIT 07-07-2020 14:55

Spectra watermaker
Spectra's owner's manual wants owners to rinse the unit after every use. I've not done that with other brands, and I've now met two cruisers who don't do it with their Spectra units either.

What do other Spectra owners do?

I've been running the watermaker every Saturday, and Wednesday, and rinsing it with fresh water for 2 minutes, just as the manual says to do. But, I've been getting some smell from the product water, just like I used to get on my old unit, of a different brand, if I let it sit for more than 4 days. So, the fresh water rinse doesn't seem to be doing anything helpful for me.

The cruisers I talked to who do not rinse with fresh water, tend to make water every 2 to 3 days. I'm thinking about going back to what I used to do with my other brand watermaker. I hate wasting 30 minutes of watermaking time, just for the rinse water. That's an hour every week.

Please; if you don't have or use a Spectra unit, try not to clutter the thread with arguments of what's best, and what other brands recommend. I'm interested in what has worked for other Spectra owners.

Thanks in advance.

a64pilot 07-07-2020 16:05

Re: Spectra watermaker
Watermaker is a watermaker from this perspective, why don’t you PM Tellie (The Fl Spectra Dealer)?

robert sailor 07-07-2020 16:23

Re: Spectra watermaker
I'm not suggesting this nor advocating it as you should follow Spectras advice. We only back flush our Spectra when we plan on leaving the boat for several days to tour inland... but we do make water every day, yup everyday. I've owned Spectra watermakers after they just opened the doors and way before freshwater flushing was in vogue and I've always had real long life on membranes as well as high quality water. We are into our 6th year with this one and our PPM still are constantly under 225 and no fowl smells. My view of the world is that these units like to be run often, there is little time for bacteria to really get going inside 24 hours so in my mind it's safe and so far so good. If your stretching out your times between uses I would follow the back flushing regime.

Capt.Don 07-07-2020 16:41

Re: Spectra watermaker
We run our Spectra 200 every 2-3 days AND I do the recommended flush for 3 minutes. This consumes ~5 gallons.... It would be interesting if I could skip the flush. Then, on the other hand, with the extra 5 gallons, I'd get an extra day out of our working tank!

Interested in the responses here,

a64pilot 07-07-2020 17:52

Re: Spectra watermaker
The fresh water flush has nothing to do with a Spectra, it has to do with flushing out the biological residue that will rot and begin to stink, They all use the same membranes. if you run one every day it’s not there long enough to rot and stink, it’s really like a marine head in this respect.
How long you can go without flushing is I believe going to depend on temps, and how much bio matter there is.

Not flushing is like reusing filters, it’s a false economy I believe, but if you use it everyday that may be different.

But again, if you really want to know, contact Tellie.

GRIT 07-07-2020 17:52

Re: Spectra watermaker
A64 Pilot "A watermaker is a watermaker..." I'm not concerned about the membrane, I'm concerned about Spectra proprietary equipment.

If others are running their units without flushing, then I'm pretty happy to say that Spectra is just hedging their bets. I didn't want to assume that there wouldn't be a problem with the pistons, or seals, or the housing itself, being constantly bathed in salt water. The proof is in the pudding, if many are not flushing, and not having issues, then I'm happy to do likewise.

Interestingly, I'm sure I read in the manual that they recommend the unit NOT be run every day. I assume this has to do with the fact that most would run it for an hour, then have to run it for another 30 minutes to provide the flush. Making the unit quite a bit less efficient.

I think running it every day makes a lot of sense. It keeps the water fresh, keeps the smell away, and makes it part of your daily routine, so you don't forget.

Tellie is a great guy. I had already asked him about it, and he recommends flushing with fresh water. What would you say, if you were him?

I'm still interested in hearing from more folks using Spectra units, especially the Cape Horn model.


a64pilot 07-07-2020 18:04

Re: Spectra watermaker
I would say to flush, because I don’t know of any metal that corrodes less in salt water than fresh, and the membrane will begin to stink, and I’d bet that degrades it too.
If your flushing and still get a smell, your not flushing enough.
I’m pretty sure I have read where Tellie said you need to check your raw water discharge when flushing for TDS and flush until it’s below 1,000 TDS.
I’ve never done that, but I flush for about 5 min too, because I feel you can’t flush too much, just waste a little water is all.
I don’t have a Spectra.

I believe by polling what people do may not give you a good answer, many don’t flush their outboards for example, ever and have no problems, but they haven’t owned one over a few years either, and perhaps it takes more than a year or two for the cumulative damage to take effect, and then your buying a new power head or whole outboard, or in the case of a watermaker an expensive part like the Clark pump or something.

On edit, I realized I didn’t answer your question. I believe if Tellie thought flushing was unnecessary, he would tell you that if asked.

GRIT 07-07-2020 18:23

Re: Spectra watermaker
Thanks A64. I normally appreciate your input, so please don't take this wrong; but this thread is here to see if there's a consensus, on flushing, for Spectra users, then decide what weight to ascribe to it, if there is one.

I had mentioned in the original post that I was hoping not to clutter the thread with arguments of what's best. I had hoped to hear from those using Spectra units, to see how folks are using their Spectra units, and see if there are any issues related to "not flushing", with regards to Spectra Proprietary gear. I agree with all of your comments, I'm just trying to keep the thread free of drift.

I never backflushed my Village marine watermaker, and it worked flawlessly for 6 years of full time cruising. I'll also admit, I never flushed my Yamaha 15hp either, and it also worked flawlessly for 8 years of full time cruising, until we sold it with the boat. I'd like to say I know better than the manufacturers, but the truth is, I'm just lazy. :)

I've often found manufacturers to over-recommend, when it comes to maintenance items. It helps their bottom line.

That's why I'm asking the question here.

Peace brother.

CarlF 07-07-2020 19:13

Re: Spectra watermaker
On my Spectra Newport, if I’m going to make water again within 24 hours I don’t flush. This is common if guests are aboard. When I make water, I always make it for at least two hours.

I’m sure there are other good approaches but this works for me.

I also have the optional z-ion flush unit that lets a fresh water flush last for 30+ days if I’m away from the boat.

GRIT 07-07-2020 19:37

Re: Spectra watermaker
Thanks Carl. I'm glad to hear of another person using the Spectra just like any other watermaker.

Congrats on the Zion, clever invention.


sailorboy1 08-07-2020 06:15

Re: Spectra watermaker
hate, or maybe not as it really isn't different than a "forum", but I bet you would get a faster and broader "who does what" by going and asking here:

noelex 77 08-07-2020 07:26

Re: Spectra watermaker
We ran our Spectra water maker generally every second day and rinsed it each time.

I estimate it made around 75,000L (18,000 gallons) of water during this period. The only replacement parts was one feed water pump and the normal replacement filters.

It was still going strong when we sold the boat. For our new boat we will also fit a Spectra, but at the moment all our fresh water is supplied from rain. So the installation of the Spectra has been delayed until we hit dry climates.

If you are planning on running the water maker on consecutive days, I suspect you could skip the rinse (or do a short rinse) especially in colder climates, but if you you follow Spectra’s recommendations at least then you know the unit should be reliable and trouble free.

a64pilot 08-07-2020 07:57

Re: Spectra watermaker
Polling to determine maintenance activities and structuring your maintenance schedule off of what others do can be counterproductive, but it seems at first that they are doing the right thing and saving money by not doing all those unnecessary services.

Automobiles for example, majority of people don’t change coolant, transmission fluid and certainly never brake fluid or differential fluid.
And they get away with it, further justifying to them that their maintenance program is working, but they also buy a new car every few years, and that’s the difference.
Most actually buy a new car every few years as a symbol of their status, but some will tell you that they do so because at about 5 years cars become unreliable and repair bills get out of hand. They just think the life span of transmissions and water pumps and brake master and slave cylinders, differentials etc. is about five years, and they can prove it to, because that’s when all those things have gone bad on them before, and the repair bills exceed a new cars a payment, so only a fool keeps a car for more than five years, they have proved that.

Those of us out there that maintain our automobiles and drive 15 to 20 year old and sometimes older vehicles know the value of preventative maintenance, and our vehicles are as reliable and require no more big ticket repair bills than newer cars.

So you can skip maintenance I feel sure, and get away with it for awhile, but I also believe in the pay me now or pay me later (Remember that commercial)?

GRIT 12-08-2020 17:50

Re: Spectra watermaker
For those interested. My "smelly water" issue has been solved, by simply making water ever third day. Four days seems to be too much.

We're rinsing with fresh water for 2 minutes as suggested by Spectra, but aren't quite able to get 4 days of "wait time". I don't know where I think I read that 4 days was ok for Spectra. It used to be fine with our Village marine, but it did have a little smell for a few minutes, but we never rinsed that unit with fresh water.

Perhaps we could get 4 days if we rinsed for longer, but I am loathe to waste more water.


Tellie 12-08-2020 18:56

Re: Spectra watermaker

Originally Posted by GRIT (Post 3207169)
For those interested. My "smelly water" issue has been solved, by simply making water ever third day. Four days seems to be too much.

We're rinsing with fresh water for 2 minutes as suggested by Spectra, but aren't quite able to get 4 days of "wait time". I don't know where I think I read that 4 days was ok for Spectra. It used to be fine with our Village marine, but it did have a little smell for a few minutes, but we never rinsed that unit with fresh water.

Perhaps we could get 4 days if we rinsed for longer, but I am loathe to waste more water.


Not sure who at Spectra said a two minute flush is fine, but it is not enough to properly flush any Spectra watermaker. Smelly water in three days is a sure sign that the fresh water flush is not set up properly.

Flush "time" is really meaningless. It will change from boat to boat. A lot has to do with how the system was plumbed for fresh water and the boats fresh water pump. These pumps obviously come in different pressure and flow ratings. Your fresh water flush is wholly dependent on getting the brine discharge to below 1,000PPM's at the end of the flush. How ever long it takes to get to that point is how long you flush your system for. If your fresh water flush is set up correctly the standard five minute flush should suffice and your system should be fine for more than the five day flush timer interval. But again, depending upon your fresh water pump this time may be reduced or increased depending upon the brine discharge measurements. Do Not try to save a gallon of water during a flush, run your watermaker for a few more minutes to make the difference.

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