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Author Topic: Head Odors 101 & Fresh Water to Head from the Sink in the Head FLIX  (Read 27654 times)

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Stephen Butler

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Has anyone experienced a leaking holding tank?   As mentioned in our previous posting, CY is looking for a new holding tank, but almost everyone I have spoken with, including CY, tells me that the polyethylene tanks just do not fail.  Fitting into the tank may leak, but the tank does not fail unless struck.  Does anyone have direct experience or know about a holding tank failure.  The admiral wants a new "squeaky clean" smelling system, but if we can side-step the removal and replacement of the holding tank, it would be a help.  BTW, CY asked me if we had an 18 or 30 gallon tank...did not know there was 2 sizes.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 05:49:10 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Steve & Nancy
Wildflecken II
1990, #1023

Ron Hill

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2010, 01:32:33 PM »

Steve : I've never heard of a holding tank failure either!  Just never say never!

Your Mk I should have a 27 gal. waste tank and a MK II should have an 18 gal. waste tank.  Guess that Catalina calls yours a 30 gal ?! Hope this helps
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Stephen Butler

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2010, 02:59:21 PM »

Thanks Ron.  We will continue to see if CY can find us one, if only to avoid a very remote possibility, but we no longer feel the "pressure" we did, thanks to your response.
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Steve & Nancy
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2010, 04:48:52 PM »

Steve,

BEFORE you do anything, please contract Peggie Hall.  She "monitors" this Message Board, but perhaps not daily.   

http://forums.catalina.sailboatowners.com/forumdisplay.php?f=31

Tank failures are rare, if indeed not unheard of.  Ron's got 10 years on me, and I agree with him.

Peggie will give you good advice.  You can "join" the co.com 'site to post a message to her and could also pm her from there until she joins as a respondent right here. 

[Note: She's since joined us here.]

Note 7/16/2012 - Peggie has retired.  Darn...

Note  1/12/2016 - Peggie has since partially un-retired and joins some forums sometimes


Actually, it'd be best if you kept the dialogue right on this topic, because I'm sure she'll have great information.  I have read a lot of her discussions on holding tanks, plastic construction, and manufacturers.  Much of the material is covered in her book, but she's great about sharing information with everyone.  A superb source of necessary information about your entire sanitary system.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 02:43:06 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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Peggie Hall

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2010, 08:06:54 AM »

Thanks for the plug, Stu...I finally convinced this site to let me register and...here I am!  8)

I seriously doubt that the tank is the source of your odor. For one thing, unless a tank is leaking, it's rarely if ever the source of odor INSIDE a boat 'cuz odor from inside the tank has only one place to go: out the tank vent.  For another, Ronco Plastics has been the supplier for water and waste tanks to Catalina for decades...their tanks are at least 50% thicker than most other tanks (twice as thick as many OEM tanks)...they just don't permeate.

So I suspect the source of your odor may be permeated sanitation hoses. 

Otoh, I get a LOT of calls from people who've replaced their entire sanitation systems trying to get rid of what they thought was "head" odor...when all they really needed to do was clean their bilges and sumps--really CLEAN 'em, and flush ALL the dirty water out instead of just dumping something into the primordial soup and calling it done.   A wet dirty bilge IS a primordial soup of molds, fungi, bacteria, sea water microorganisms and oil  that, especially in hot weather, can make a whole boat smell like a swamp or even a sewer!  You're not gonna get it clean by just dumping something into it...any more than you'd end up with a clean kitchen sink if did nothing more than pour some Dawn into greasy dirty dishwater, swished it around a bit and then just pulled the plug.

Odors are always strongest at their source...so if your odor is confined to the head, it's most likely to be a shower sump or stagnant sea water trapped in the head intake. Permeate hoses will stink up every locker they pass through...the tank discharge hose will mislead you into think it's the tank that stinks. A bilge in serious need cleaning will make the whole boat smell bad.  Once you've found it, you can fix it.

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Peggie Hall
Specializing in marine sanitation since 1987
Author "The NEW Get Rid of Boat Odors - A Guide To Marine Sanitation Systems and Other Sources of Aggravation and Odor"
http://www.amazon.com/New-Get-Rid-Boat-Odors/dp/1892399784/

Ron Hill

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2010, 03:04:28 PM »

Steve : I hope that you take Peggy's advice. 
Head to the holding tank & macerater hoses do get permeated with the "stuff" and smell.  Probably more susceptible to permeation is the vent hose, as it's only regular water hose!! The sanitary type hose usually comes in 5/8" as the smallest size, but I have found it in the 1/2" size.

I've always professed that one should have a dry bilge.  The first step is to clean out the existing bilge and I found that one of the best items is dishwasher detergent - it's low to no sudzing and cheap.  Leave it in the bilge (to slosh about) while the boat is docked (for a week) and pump it out later. 
Get some of the Gore drippless packing and install it.  Read my Mainsheet article on how to install packing  while the boat is in the water - I done that task many times. 

Peggy and I agree - why anyone would want that smelly, stinky, corrosive water (especially salt water) in their bilge is beyond me!!  A few thoughts
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Roc

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2010, 04:36:28 PM »

Another source of odor, that I learned from Peggie, is flushing with seawater.  Flushing with seawater creates quite a stink because of the organisms that decay inside the bowl.  I changed my flush intake hose by 'T-ing' it to the head sink drain hose.  To flush, I put fresh water in the sink (with the drain seacock closed) and flush as usual.  The fresh water gets pumped through to clean out the waste in the bowl.  If you ever want to conserve fresh water from your tanks and flush with seawater, then put the drain cap in the sink and open the seacock.  Now seawater will be pumped through. Flushing with fresh water significantly reduces (actually eliminates completely) that terrible odor while flushing.

Hope this helps... :D
« Last Edit: July 11, 2010, 04:37:18 PM by Roc »
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Ron Hill

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2010, 05:39:22 PM »

Roc has a point that flushing with sea water can create a smell after a period of time.  
The most important flush is the last flush (before leaving the boat), which should be with fresh water.

If you don't want to put in a "T" as suggested - shut off the head intake thru hull, take the shower handle, pump fresh water into the bowl or the shower sump when it ON and then in "dry bowl" evacuate the bowl.  Sometimes I use a touch of bleach in that water and it helps keep the hoses (shower & head) cleaned and the bowl sanitary! 
A thought
« Last Edit: July 18, 2010, 05:42:07 PM by Ron Hill »
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Peggie Hall

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2010, 10:23:49 PM »

A few comments...



The hose that's the most susceptible to odor permeation is any tank discharge hose that's connected to a fitting at the bottom of the tank...'cuz sewage will always rise in that hose to the level in the tank, standing in it.  And while boat builders try to cut costs by using clear water hose for head intake and tank vent line, that's actually a BIG no-no. Only sanitation hose should be used throughout the system.

Stagnant sea water trapped in the head intake is a major source of TEMPORARY odor...odor that goes away as soon as the first flush flushes all the stagnant water out of the intake and pump. Teeing the intake line into the head sink drain line is an excellent solution, 'cuz it provides a means providing clean fresh water to rinse the sea water out of the WHOLE system before it can stagnate. Unfortunately just pouring fresh water into the bowl doesn't work very well...'cuz bowl contents aren't recirculated through the intake line, pump and channel in the rim of the bowl (thank goodness!)....whatever is in the bowl only goes out the bottom part of the pump and down the discharge line.

Ron said, "The first step is to clean out the existing bilge and I found that one of the best items is dishwasher detergent - it's low to no sudzing and cheap.  Leave it in the bilge (to slosh about) while the boat is docked (for a week) and pump it out later."

Ooooh, Ron...don' do dat!!  Dishwasher detergent is HIGHLY caustic..if you question that, just pour a little into your hand, wet it and see--or rather feel--what happens!  It's very damaging to rubber in pumps, rubber wiring insulation etc in the bilge.  But even if you use a detergent that is ok, you cannot end up with a clean bilge if all you do is dump  something into it and then pump out the dirty water...any more than you'd end up with a clean kitchen sink if did nothing more than pour some Dawn into greasy dirty dishwater, swished it around a bit and then just pulled the plug. Ya gotta put some effort into it and flush ALL the dirty water out.  This is where a power washer can really earn its keep...'cuz it can get into places you can't reach. I wouldn't be without one!

Roc...I dunno why you use fresh water to flush all the time...As Ron said, it's the last flush before the boat will sit that matters...flushing all the sea water out.  It certainly doesn't make any difference in the holding tank tank whether the toilet is flushed with fresh water or salt...there's so much bacteria in the waste that what's in salt water isn't even noticed in the tank. So save your fresh water and just be sure to flush out the system with it before the boat sits.

And finally, in another discussion someone said they thought that sea water mineral buildup is salt precipitated by urine.  Nope...that buildup is actually sea water calcium carbonate, which can build up in any anaerobic environment such as the inside of hoses...and that includes engine intake and exhaust hoses. And from what I saw in the photos posted, I'd strongly recommend checking those hoses. A really serious buildup can be dissolved with muriatic (sulfuric) acid without damage to anything the system. However, hoses need to be inspected often enough to prevent a really serious buildup like that in the photos...that's the worst I've EVER seen in the 20+ years I've spent solving sanitation and odor problems.
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Peggie Hall
Specializing in marine sanitation since 1987
Author "The NEW Get Rid of Boat Odors - A Guide To Marine Sanitation Systems and Other Sources of Aggravation and Odor"
http://www.amazon.com/New-Get-Rid-Boat-Odors/dp/1892399784/

Michael Shaner

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2010, 04:28:25 PM »

Thank you for joining us Peggie...your work has helped me immensely over the years!!  :clap
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Michael & Alison Shaner

horsemel

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2010, 07:30:28 PM »

The connector on the bottom of our tank failed two years ago.  We had a miserable situation in our bilge.  I would not wish this on my worst enemy, well, maybe on that guy.  It took several scrubbings over several weeks to get the situation rectified.  Every time it got hot the odor came out again.  We used a mild bleach and water mixture followed by bilge cleaner.  We let the bilge cleaner slosh around before removing it.
Mark Mueller
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Peggie Hall

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2010, 07:14:45 AM »

There is a product that will eliminate odors--not only sewage, but even smoke and diesel!--completely: PureAyre http://www.pureayre.com/  I first tripped over the stuff at a boat show in Seattle several years ago...they gave me some samples to take home...and I've been hooked on it ever since. This stuff WORKS!

To eliminate any odor, it's first necessary to completely remove the source of the odor.  So clean up the area...let it get dry--or at least mop up ALL the water...then, using a garden pump sprayer jug, spray every surface, nook and cranny in the affected area.  Do NOT rinse! Just let it dry, leaving hatches and lockers etc open so that plenty of fresh air can circulate for 24 hours.   Cushions: remove covers and have them cleaned.  Spray the foam on both sides, using enough to penetrate to the middle of the cushion...just a little on the surface won't get it.  Also works on musty foulies, PFDs etc...wash 'em, spray 'em...put 'em out in the sun to dry all day.

Thanks for the kind words, Michael...I'm glad to help!
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Peggie Hall
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http://www.amazon.com/New-Get-Rid-Boat-Odors/dp/1892399784/

Stephen Butler

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2010, 09:02:18 AM »

Update on our situation, but first, many thanks for all the counsel.  It really hepled!  So, we replaced ALL our sanitary hoses.  And went with the larger 1/2 inch for the vent.  Also removed the filter on the vent line.  Washed out the bilge with cleaner and some vinegar and vacuumed dry.  Also did a survey of the boat, per Peggy's comments on mold, and removed even a hint of discoloration.  Bottom line, no smell and no leaks.  So now we are back focusing on the source of our bilge water.   Many thanks.
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Ron Hill

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2010, 03:40:14 PM »

Steve : Remember to note which compartment the water first shows up in - now that you've fixed all of the other leaks!!    Look at my previous post!  
« Last Edit: July 18, 2010, 05:43:45 PM by Ron Hill »
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Holding Tank Failure
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2010, 04:18:00 PM »



1.  Stagnant sea water trapped in the head intake is a major source of TEMPORARY odor...odor that goes away as soon as the first flush flushes all the stagnant water out of the intake and pump.

2.  Teeing the intake line into the head sink drain line is an excellent solution, 'cuz it provides a means providing clean fresh water to rinse the sea water out of the WHOLE system before it can stagnate.

3.     Roc...I dunno why you use fresh water to flush all the time...As Ron said, it's the last flush before the boat will sit that matters...flushing all the sea water out.  It certainly doesn't make any difference in the holding tank tank whether the toilet is flushed with fresh water or salt...there's so much bacteria in the waste that what's in salt water isn't even noticed in the tank. So save your fresh water and just be sure to flush out the system with it before the boat sits.

1.  When we used the boat regularly, like once a week, our experience is that that's exactly true.  When the boat sat because of my leg thingie, things changed and the smells became prevalent, a repeated.

2.  A simple C34 trick is this (previously suggested and discussed, "I" did NOT make this one up!!!): the boat is ALREADY set up with the shower sump connected to the head intake.  Right?  Close the (combined) thru hull and set the bowl to wet bowl.  Turn the shower sump pump on armed with a glass or two of lightly spiced dish soap detergent and pour the glass(es) into the shower sump.  If the top of the bowl is open you will see "tiny bubbles, lovely bubbles" coming out of the small holes under the rim of the head.  Then pump it through with the head hand pump on wet bowl and the shower pump OFF.  What happens is that BOTH the hose from the thru hull TO the head pump AND the hose from the pump to the bowl to the vented loop and back to the bowl are filled with clean water!!!  This is just like changing the head intake to the "T" with the sink drain in concept: getting fresh water ON THE LAST FLUSH OF THE DAY into the hoses servicing the heads WITHOUT doing ANYTHING to what you already have.  We did this last week and the smells are gone.  You also end up with a clean head floor!!!  Some don't ever use their heads for a shower, but we do regularly ----  I gotta have at least one shower a day --- so I'm "told"...so this is another one of the "your boat, your choice" items I continue to suggest.  Everyone's got a different "solution."    There may be some disadvantages that Peggie will point out, like pumping through the head with the shower sump diaphragm pump.  If so, I will install the "T" to the head sink - heck, I already have the parts, and more interestingly, I even think I know where they are! :clap

3.  See #2 above --- same deal.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2010, 04:25:30 PM by Stu Jackson »
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

"There is no problem so great that it can't be solved."
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