Catalina 34

General Activities => Main Message Board => Topic started by: Stephen Butler on July 10, 2010, 12:35:08 PM

Title: Head Odors 101 & Fresh Water to Head from the Sink in the Head FLIX
Post by: Stephen Butler on July 10, 2010, 12:35:08 PM
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.
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Ron Hill 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
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Stephen Butler 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.
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Stu Jackson 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.
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Peggie Hall 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.

Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Ron Hill 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
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Roc 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
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Ron Hill 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
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Peggie Hall 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.
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Michael Shaner on July 12, 2010, 04:28:25 PM
Thank you for joining us Peggie...your work has helped me immensely over the years!!  :clap
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: horsemel 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
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Peggie Hall 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!
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Stephen Butler 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.
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Ron Hill 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!  
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Stu Jackson 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.
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Peggie Hall on July 18, 2010, 05:34:34 PM
The shower SUMP???  Oooh, yuk!  The head sink drain delivers CLEAN water...what's in the sump is full of bacteria, soap scum, body oils, hair.  Adding detergent just adds another ingredient to that primordial soup, it doesn't turn it into clean water.

But...it's your boat....
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Stu Jackson on July 18, 2010, 06:02:54 PM
See?  I KNEW I'd "get learned."   :cry4`

All I can say is that at least it cleans up the shower sump AND the head... :sleepy:

Looks like I'm gonna install that "T" now.

So, how about this:

Change the dual connection "head intake and shower sump" and simply SWITCH the shower sump out and the sink out?  It's just like a "T" and on my boat it's a straight into a 90 degree elbow.

Couldn't be simpler.

Except for me... :abd:
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Peggie Hall on July 19, 2010, 08:37:23 AM
"All I can say is that at least it cleans up the shower sump AND the head.."

Only about as clean as a bathtub or kitchen sink full of dirty water would be if you just dumped some detergent into it and pulled the plug.  Same thing applies here that applies to bilge cleaning: YA GOTTA RINSE!!

And besides, detergent doesn't dissolve hair  and any little bitty food particles or dirt. 

Best sump and drain cleaner on the planet is Raritan "C.P. Cleans Potties"...it's part of the product line that my company developed and sold to Raritan in 1999, and IMO the best product in the line.  It's only marketed as a toilet bowl cleaner, though. C.P. is a bio-enzymatic cleaner that not only destroys odor on contact, but the enzymes in it "eat" hair, soap scum, grease, body oils etc in drains and sumps. About 2 oz down the shower drain once a week when it can stay there at least overnight will do a lot more for it than detergent...but YA STILL HAVE TO RINSE!

When you're ready to close up the boat, pump all the dirty water out of the sump (NOT through the toilet!), then fill the sump about 1/3-1/2 full with clean water and 2-3 oz of C.P. It can stay there forever without doing any harm, so no need to worry about getting back to pump it out.  When you do come back, pump out the sump and follow with some clean water. That's all you'll ever need to do to keep your sump(s) smelling sweet and pumps running freely.

After you've rerouted your toilet to pull from the sink DRAIN, you eliminate sea water intake odor completely AND keep your toilet bowl sparkling clean by squirting some C.P. under the rim of the toilet bowl and adding a couple of ounces to a sinkful of clean fresh water (after you've closed the seacock of course)...flush the toilet. Go home.  :clap

Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Mike and Joanne Stimmler on July 20, 2010, 10:13:40 AM
Peggy,
You mentioned that muriatic acid can safely be used in the sanitation system. What is the process that you use? How much do you put in and how long do you leave it in? Does the chemical reaction cause nasty fumes?
I know that muriatic acid will attack metal parts and I believe there are metal parts in the macerator.
When I last had the hose between the tank and macerator off, I noticed that there was a lot of calcium type material (like in the picture of my hoses) in the bottom of my holding tank. Will the acid clean this out?
I tried to flush it out as best I could with repeated fresh water rinses at the pump out dock, but it left quite a bit in there.
Thanks for joining our group! Your info is fantastic!

Mike
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Peggie Hall on July 20, 2010, 01:44:05 PM
Thanks for the kind words!

Muriatic acid may or may not dissolve the buildup in your tank. If it won't, nothing will that won't also damage the system. 

Raritan has been recommending a 12% solution of muriatic acid in water to clean the buildup off the electrode plates etc in their Lectra/San for a couple of decades...and their instructions call for it to be introduced by flushing it down the toilet.  Left in the system for 45 minutes-hour.  Boat owners have been using it full strength--or what passes for "full strength" as sold at hardware stores--to clean out hoses for even longer without any harm to the system. I've not heard of any nasty fumes from it.

Or... you COULD do it the hard way: remove the hoses and beat hell out of 'em on the dock to knock all the buildup out of 'em.  However, if you're gonna do all that work it makes more sense IMO to replace the hoses than to put the old ones back.

There is a third way, but it takes forever if the buildup is serious: multiple doses of undiluted distilled white vinegar.  If it's fairly mild, a cupful of white vinegar (ONLY distilled white vinegar, not cider or any other kind) flushed all the way through last thing when it can stand at least overnight and/or before the boat will sit will dissolve it and prevent future buildup. Do NOT leave vinegar sitting in the bowl...it accomplishes nothing but will destroy the joker valve.

Sanitation systems require maintenance--PREVENTIVE maintenance (there's a reason why it's called that!)...not just the toilet, the WHOLE system! Hoses and tanks--and macerators too--should be thoroughly flushed out at least 2-3 x season...toilet pumps require lubrication...hose connections/clamps should be checked at least once a month...tank vent requires constant attention to make sure it never becomes blocked.  That may sound like a lot...but it's nothing compared to the aggravation of toilets that don't flush, tanks that overflow and hoses that are in such bad shape that replacement is the only solution that won't create more problems than it solves! 
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Ron Hill on July 20, 2010, 02:54:19 PM
Guys, Susan & D. Gill : 2 or 3 times a season I mix alittle bleach in a quart of water.  Then I shut off the head intake/shower sump thru hull.  Flip the head pump to wet bowel.  I turn on the shower drain pump and pour the bleach mix into the shower drain.  I keep pouring it in until I see the mix start to fill the bowel to about 1/3 full.  I shut off the shower sump pump and let the mix set in there for an hour or two.  Then I change the head pump to dry bowel and pump the brew out of the head.

This cleans out the shower sump, takes the mildew out of the shower and head inlet hoses, cleans the bowel and the head outlet hoses. 
I've been doing this for one year less that Peggy has been the "Head Mistress" (1988).  I haven't noted any change in the number of parts that I have to replace (which are few) on the head and the hoses/bowel. They looks/smells great.

I also take water resistant grease and and manually apply a thin coat to the pump cylinder (couple of times a year).  This lets the pump do it's job easily and eliminates the use of head lube. 

A few thoughts
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Peggie Hall on July 20, 2010, 04:36:30 PM
Ohhhhh dear...Everyone in the industry will tell you that bleach is a no-no...in fact, so is any cleaning product that contains bleach, any petroleum products, pine oil cleaners, Lysol and ALL chemical household bowl cleaners...'cuz they're all highly destructive to the rubber parts in toilets and break down hose resistance to odor permeation.  Because the deterioration is slow, most people don't connect the failures with their use of these products...they blame the equipment mfr instead. Or it's slow enough that they don't notice that the toilet doesn't pump as efficiently as it used to...and just assume that a certain amount of odor is normal on a boat. Or they trade boats often enough to make it the next owner's problem.

If you've been using bleach for 22 years, there's no way to know which parts you wouldn't have had to replace, or would only have to replace half as often, if you didn't use bleach!

However, you are onto something by using a thick grease instead of the never ending job of flushing some kind of liquid lubricant down the toilet.  Every toilet pump that leaves the factory is slathered in a thick Teflon grease...it's the reason new toilets rarely need lubrication for at least a year, sometimes two.  And it's easy to apply...a job that takes all of about 10 minutes: remove the top of the pump (or if a PH II pump, remove the pump from the base)...put a HEALTHY squirt of the grease into the pump...pump a couple of times to spread it all over the inside of the cylinder...put the top back (or remount pump onto base)...you're done.  If you make it a part of spring recommissioning, it's all the lubrication the toilet will need till next spring...unless you're a liveaboard, then you MIGHT have to do it twice a year. But even twice sure beats the sox off having to pour something down the toilet every week or two!

Btw...I do hope you really meant "bowl"...'cuz bleach in a bowel would really be PAINFUL!   :clown




Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Ron Hill on July 20, 2010, 05:40:01 PM
Ah yes, I knew I'd get some scolding for the "Head Mistress", that's why I wrote what I've been doing to the same boat (that has only nice smells) for the past 23 seasons.  I'll probably continue to do the same as I've replaced less parts in all of those years than most others (only second head in 23 seasons)! 
Also I abide by the old axiom - "a little bleach goes a long way"! (in heads and water tanks)

As you know grease and water do not mix. That's why I only use a light coat and use it sparingly.  It would be my luck, that a wad of that heavy grease would get caught in something like the anti syphon valve, rattle around inside the holding tank and get caught somewhere else. 
I'll still continue to use & recommend a light coat of water resistant grease not Teflon - on the inside pump cylinder.

As my crew calls me - "Captain Clean, the Amp Meister"!    Interesting number of posts.  Out   :wink:
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Roc on July 20, 2010, 06:39:37 PM
Hi Peggie,
Can you recommend the type of liquid grease to squirt into the top of the pump?

Thanks, appreciate your advice.
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Chris on July 21, 2010, 07:15:10 AM
Regarding holding tank failure....  a couple of years ago, we developed a small leak in the area of the holding tank. It took quite a while to discover that there was a crack in the fitting connecting the "pump out" hose to the tank itself.  We tried to have the crack repaired (some kind of "plastic weld"), but it didn't hold, so had to replace the holding tank.  We ordered the replacement from Catalina.  (Then, in the process of replacing the tank, we knocked loose a strange thru-hull from the P.O.and had to pull the boat...another story).
Lately, we've developed a "head odor" with no evidence of a fluid leak. It got very difficult to pump the head, and we discovered that the holding tank appeared to be under pressure!  Through our previous adventures, we had replaced hoses, so don't think that is the source.  We tried to make certain that the vent opening in the stanchion was not plugged.  Then we realized that the tank was actually full, even though it was just supposed to have been pumped out by the marina.  So did our own pump out and are now waiting to see if the odor is gone.  Does any of this sound like the stanchion vent was clogged, possibly preventing a complete pump out and causing odor?
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Peggie Hall on July 21, 2010, 08:24:40 AM
Hi Peggie, Can you recommend the type of liquid grease to squirt into the top of the pump?
Thanks, appreciate your advice.


You don't want to use a liquid grease--or spray either...they just wash out in just a few flushes.  You want to use a thick Teflon grease that comes in a tube....SuperLube is the best, but just about any brand is ok. If you can't find it in your local marine store, you can find it at swimming pool supply stores  and bicycle shops.   It's made for use in submersible pumps, which is why all the toilet mfrs use it in manual toilet pumps.  A tube of it will last years and can also be used to lube seacocks, y-valves, manual pumps and anything else that stays wet.

Re your odor problem, Chris.  If your tank seemed to be pressurized, I  would bet money that the slit in the stanchion was clogged...and still is, which means that if the marina couldn't pump out your tank, neither could you. You may have gotten a gallon or two, but that's all before the pump pulled a vacuum.  The other most common location for a tank vent blockage is the vent line connection to the tank...both the tank fitting and that end of the vent line.  So you need to check both.  And, if I were you, I'd get the vent line OUT Of the stanchion and onto a thru-hull that'll supply enough air to the tank to let it breathe!  Catalina is one of the few builders who put vents in rail stanchions and they've finally realized that it's a horrible idea--at least when it comes to sewage tanks--and have begun using thru-hulls.

At the risk of appearing to try to sell you something (I do get a whopping $2 royalty from my publisher for every copy sold) , you might want to check out the link to my book in my signature...it explains in detail how to install and/or modify and/or just maintain a system that's odor free and trouble free.

A pressurized tank MAY have caused your odor problem if the pressure forced gasses from inside the tank back out the toilet...more likely if you haven't replaced the joker valve in the toilet in more than a year. But unless you replaced your hoses with Trident 101 or 102 (identical except for color) http://www.tridentmarine.com/stage/sanitation.htm  or SeaLand "OdorSafe" hose, there's also a good possibility that they've permeated already. I've seen so-called "heavy duty" # 148 white sanitation hose permeate in as little as 90 days!

Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Roger Blake on July 22, 2010, 07:06:17 PM
Peggy--Thanks for being a part of our little community...I know I've learned a lot...Thanks for the contributions!
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Roger Patterson on August 14, 2010, 07:43:34 PM
The 'pressurized' holding tank has occurred this summer on my '05 Mk II (1723).  The stanchion vent was partially plugged. As noted in Peggie's recent post, the pump out was only partially successful. Pumping out via the macerator caused the tank to became a vacuum. The result was sucking sea water pass the macerator. These tasks are underway. First, install a thru hull vent to replace the stanchion vent. A 1/4" hole in the stanchion at the end of a 5/8" hose just doesn't make sense. Next is to put a air loop in the system to prevent possible future back flow. And yes, a tank monitor will be added.
Roger Patterson
S/V Blue Magic
Victoria, BC
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Kiskadee on October 01, 2010, 02:55:46 PM
Although a failed plastic holding tank was not Steve's problem, yes they can fail. I have a 40 gal plastic holding tank under the V-Berth. It almost conforms to the shape of the hull, with only an inch or so not touching along the bottom centre. A couple of years ago, with an almost full tank, we pounded for hours through high seas off the Nova Scotia coast. About five inches of the welded seam at the bottom of the tank let go. It allowed a very slow seep of black water, but only when the tank was over half full. I suspected the smell and slight staining was from a loose hose. Then one day, in another storm with an almost full tank, it failed further. Luckily it didn't rupture and I was able to quickly pump out and wipe up.

The tank is too big to remove from the V-Berth, so I cleaned it and turned it over for the repair. A Plastic Welder did the job in about an hour total. He even found and welded tiny cracks that spidered from the main failure. He tested it with 40 gal of fresh water and saw one slow drop start to seep from around the bottom fitting. He said that this happens as the fittings were not factory welded, but only spun into an undersize hole, melting themselves in place. We removed the tank and he welded around the bottom fitting. It held the 40 gal fine for twenty minutes while he put his tools away. The total cost in 2007 was $85.00, much cheaper and easier than a new tank.

I've installed shim supports to take the full weight of the tank and it works fine now. This may not be a problem with smaller tanks, but you have to make sure than a larger tank is well supported along it's full underside.

Cheers, Dana
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Rick Johnson on October 01, 2010, 04:44:52 PM
Any advice as to where to put a new holding tank vent and what type of vent to use? 
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Peggie Hall on October 01, 2010, 05:40:45 PM
Any advice as to where to put a new holding tank vent and what type of vent to use? 

We need to talk about YOUR installation to decide the best place to put a new vent....but I can give you a "cookie cutter" answer about the vent thru-hull:  All "vent thru-hulls" are created equal to serve equally well on gas tanks, diesel tanks and water tanks.  Unfortunately a "vent" thru-hull is the WRONG kind to use for a holding tank vent, but builders use 'em anyway 'cuz it's cheaper to use the same one on all tank vents than it is to do it right.

What you need is a "bulkhead" or "mushroom" thru-hull (note no mention of the word "vent").

Send me an email to discuss the best place on YOUR tank to put a fitting for the other end of the vent line.
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Stu Jackson on November 06, 2010, 09:36:46 PM
Looks like I'm gonna install that "T" now.

So, how about this:

Change the dual connection "head intake and shower sump" and simply SWITCH the shower sump out and the sink out?  It's just like a "T" and on my boat it's a straight into a 90 degree elbow.

Couldn't be simpler.


HERE'S HOW SIMPLE IT CAN BE

I did this today.  Simply swap the head sink outlet with the shower sump outlet on the thru hulls under the head sink.  [Years ago I bought a "T" and fittings.  Don't need 'em.]

The REALLY interesting part is that once I redid the hoses and connected the sink out to the head, when I opened the seacock, EVEN WITH THE HEAD SINK NOT STOPPERED UP, the head pump pulled the seawater through.

The ONLY downside is that now we have to open all three valves.  In the past, I used to leave the (formerly) separate head sink thru hull valve closed unless we were on the boat for an overnight or longer.  Big deal, great improvement, really simple.  Since we shower on board, we use the shower sump regularly.

Doing this, and only using freshwater for ONLY the LAST flush of the day, plus using Odorlos (NOT through the sink, only through the head), should make the smells disappear.

Only necessary for us saltwater sailors.

Please tilt your heads 90 degrees (to the left), sorry I forgot to reorient the flix.

The only downside is the rotten hose connector at the bottom of the sink:  it's NOT a barbed connection, just a straight plastic tube.  Maybe one of those great places to use 5200!!! :shock:

PS (Jan. 2016)  After these pictures were taken, I double clamped all the sink drain hoses.
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Peggie Hall on November 07, 2010, 07:25:58 AM
A good job, Stu!  And the photos look good, even 90 degrees askew!  :thumb:  But don't you dare even THINK of gluing that sink drain fitting with 5200 or anything else!  :shock:  Hose "barbs" don't have to be barbed...for instance, the SeaLand fittings are all smooth. Just double clamp it, with screws 180 degrees apart, same as you should do with all the others.

A couple of observations, though...noting the difference in color between your new piece of hose and the old, you might consider replacing all of it.  And when you do, make sure that hose--which is fresh water hose, not sanitation hose--is rated for below waterline connection. Most fresh water hose isnt. It didn't matter when your head intake line was teed into the sump...but now that you'll have any open seacock, it does.  However, the good news is, this one place you can get away with the cheapest sanitation hose--Shields or Trident #148.
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure
Post by: Stu Jackson on November 07, 2010, 08:22:30 AM
Peggie,

The 5200 was a joke.  Those who know me understand that one of my mantras (pick one, any one!) is: "The ONLY place that 5200 belongs on a boat is the hull to deck joint.  I think they shouldn't sell it to unsuspecting boaters."

Once my knuckles recover I'll tackle the rest of the hoses and double clamps when I install my new Raritan PHII!!!  It's not doing much sitting in the garage, is it?
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure & Fresh Water to Head from the Sink in the Head
Post by: scotty on November 08, 2010, 04:33:37 PM
Very interesting!  Thanks everyone.  This is similar to a series of letters to Latitude 38 (a San Francisco mag).  They suggest regular treatments with white vinegar, and periodic flushes with salad oil.  Peggy, what do you think of this?
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure & Fresh Water to Head from the Sink in the Head
Post by: Peggie Hall on November 08, 2010, 05:41:45 PM
I never ceased to be amused by how creative people can be in creating more work for themselves in their efforts to create less. :)

I think weekly cupfuls of distilled while vinegar--ONLY distilled white vinegar, never cider or any other kind...and any more than TWO cupfuls is a waste of good vinegar--in sea water toilets is a great idea.  And although there's nothing wrong with flushing veggie or mineral oil down the toilet every couple of weeks, there's a much better way that only requires about 10 minutes once a year instead of a never-ending job:

Every new manual toilet pump leaves the factory slathered in thick teflon grease that lasts at least a year, sometime two years if the toilet is only lightly used. And it only takes about 10 minutes to replace it every annually  as part of spring recommissioning. Remove the top of the pump (or if the toilet is a PH II, remove it from the base) and put a HEALTHY squirt of grease into it. Replace the top --or put the pump back onto the base...pump a couple of times to spread the grease all over the inside of the pump...you're done till the same time next year.  Don't worry about using too much...any excess will be forced out with the first flush.

Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure & Fresh Water to Head from the Sink in the Head
Post by: Ron Hill on November 08, 2010, 06:23:01 PM
Guys, Susan and D. Gill : Let me interject that I find the factory plumbing (under the head sink) to be very satisfactory.

On most of the MK I C34s there are 3 thru hulls under the head sink.  Two are 1/2 " (engine raw water and a head intake + shower drain) and one is 1" (sink drain).  I wrote that both the galley and head sinks could be changed to a 1" hose (rather than the 3/4" factory installed hose - you have to change to a 1" nipple) to get better/faster drainage.

The sink drain tail pipe is fine the way it is, so shouldn't need any caulk of any kind.  Because, The drain  connection is the tail piece going inside the drain hose. The tail pipe/drain hose connection is above the the water line and has no pressure involved.  Therefore a barb isn't really necessary and a hose clamp should suffice.

I like to put the head on "wet bowl", shut the head shower thru hull and turn on the shower drain as I pour water in the shower drain.  The fresh water flushes the shower drain hoses and empties into the head bowl -- this leaves all of the hoses, shower & head intake with fresh water in them.  Then I flip the head lever to dry bowel and flush the fresh water in the bowel into the holding tank.  I use that for the last flush of the trip and also use it to winterize the head (with antifreeze) for layup.

Many of us have an extra hose that goes to the bilge.  It can be either connected to the shower sump pump or engine raw water intake and act as an additional bilge pump in cae of an flooding emergency.

Stu, has a nice idea.  I'm just presenting that you might want to leave the factory plumbing in place.  
A few thoughts
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure & Fresh Water to Head from the Sink in the Head
Post by: Stu Jackson on November 08, 2010, 06:50:26 PM
Might want to re-read posts #14 & 15 above in this thread.  Peggie makes some very important points about doing that, which is why I switched.
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure & Fresh Water to Head from the Sink in the Head
Post by: Peggie Hall on November 09, 2010, 06:46:47 AM
Ummmmm...Ron...I think you're talking about the toilet BOWL.   At least I HOPE you are!  :razz:

(I tried...I really did...but some things are just too much fun to ignore!  :devil  )
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure & Fresh Water to Head from the Sink in the Head
Post by: Ron Hill on November 09, 2010, 05:57:02 PM
Peggy : I have to agree that a BOWL, is a BOWEL, is a BOWL - is no longer is true!
  
That spell check did it to me again.  Twas a "got/ya"!     :rolling

All you have to do is get fresh water into the bowl and flip the lever to "Dry Bowl", then empty bowl to have the sweet smell again.  If you do it thru the shower drain, you also have sweet water in the shower and head intake hoses.  Then the first flush with salt water doesn't have that nasty dark smelly water coming into the bowl for the first flush.  
No change in plumbing is necessary!!  A thought.   :wink:
Title: Re: Holding Tank Failure & Fresh Water to Head from the Sink in the Head
Post by: Stu Jackson on November 14, 2010, 05:02:52 PM
Ah, the joys of getting back to the boat WEEKLY.  First time I've done that since last August.

REPORT:

It works!

No more odors.

Gotta love the simplicity of changing two hoses!!!
Title: Re: Head Odors 101 & Fresh Water to Head from the Sink in the Head FLIX
Post by: Stu Jackson on August 14, 2011, 05:29:27 PM
There's also this:

Head Hoses

http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,5738.0.html (http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,5738.0.html)

And in response to Ron's idea of filling the bowl, not a good idea!  Here's why:

Head Pumps 101  Why just pouring water into the bowl is NOT a good idea http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,5865.msg40604.html#msg40604 (http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,5865.msg40604.html#msg40604)