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Old 10-25-2018, 09:22 AM   #1
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Aqua-Kem Holding Tank Additive

New to me boat, and I am not sure if I am chasing a red herring. Any help/insight would be a real help.

I recently went on a cleaning binge for the holding tank. I removed the vent's old charcoal filter. and plumbed a straight 3/4 hose to a new stainless thru-hull, removing the old clamshell-fuel vent fitting (which was only 1/2" at best). I spent an hour at the pump-out station emptying and rinsing (twice) the tank. At the end of the job, feeling quite pleased with myself, i flushed 8 oz of Thetford Marine Aqua-Kem down the guest head.

I immediately noticed that the vacuflush generator never stopped pumping. I added water (at least 1 gal) and it stopped its continuous running, but is now running for 30 seconds every 5-minutes or so.

Question 1: Is it possible that the holding tank treatment affected the inner-workings of the generator? Did I do damage to the duck valves or the bellows by "cleaning" those parts with the additive?

Question 2: How do other people get the additive into their holding tank? Is the additive even a good idea?

It is probably time to replace all of the parts, but I want to get this one working at 100% before I start messing around with the ones functioning properly!

Thanks,
B
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Old 10-25-2018, 09:51 AM   #2
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I don't believe that treatment has any kind of cleaning powers. It just covers up the smell. Once you get this issue with your vacuflush fixed, I would start using Noflex as it actually does eat up deposits in the hoses and the tank so they can be flushed out.

Did you maybe close a valve to the toilet when you were working on it so now it's not getting any water?
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Old 10-25-2018, 09:54 AM   #3
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Greetings,
Mr. SB. Can't comment on the mechanics of your system BUT a properly vented tank should not need any "additives". The "contents" are consumed by aerobic (meaning they NEED air/oxygen to live) bacteria thus eliminating any nasty odors.
I looked up the MSDS sheet on the Aqau-Kem. BAD stuff IMO. Contains formaldehyde and alcohol. You will kill all of the beneficial bacteria in your system. That is something you DON'T want!


Think of your holding tank as an aquarium. You have to keep the "fish" (bacteria) alive.
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Old 10-25-2018, 10:16 AM   #4
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Replacing all the parts in a VacuFlush would cost you at least as much as a new top of the line macerating electric toilet, so don't even THINK of doing that!

Yes, you need a tank product, and it should be added by flushing it down the toilet...but not AquaKem. It's a highly lethal chemical--either formaldehyde or gluteraldehyde--that kills bacteria needed to break down solids and TP and only kills odors for a very short time, requiring multiple "doses" (no wonder the PO installed a vent filter)...but it didn't cause your VacuFlush problem. That's caused by an air leak in the plumbing or, more likely, worn out duckbill valves in the vacuum pump. There are 4--two in valve nipples on the inlet end of the pump and 2 in valve nipples on the outlet end of the pump. You'll have to remove the hoses from it...warming 'em a bit with a blow dryer makes that easier.

If new duckbills don't solve the problem, check for an air leak in the plumbing...and there's a MUCH easier way to do that than using a vacuum tester gauge: Squirt a LITTLE shaving cream on every connection. Flush the toilet. The suction from the pump will pull the shaving cream into any that are leaking...it'll just sit there on the ones that aren't.

Only one more part worth the expense to replace: the vacuum switch on the vacuum tank. It has a sensor in it that turns the pump on when vacuum drops (flush or air leak), turns it off when the correct level of vacuum has been reached. It does wear out.


You need a VacuFlush troubleshooting guide....it includes just about every symptom, likely causes and cures that a V/F can develop. The V/F has changed so little since Mansfield Plumbing introduced it in 1978 that the same troubleshooting guide is included in the owners manuals for every year/model. I included one in my latest book...if you don't have my book, I'll be glad to send you--and anyone else who wants one--the troubleshooting guide if you'll send me a PM that includes your email address (no way to attach anything to a PM)...I'll also send you my piece "VacuFlush 101" that explains how it works (a surprising number of owners think they know but don't) and how to prevent 99% of problems with it.

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Old 10-25-2018, 10:56 AM   #5
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BUT a properly vented tank should not need any "additives".


You're confusing ventilation with aeration. It shouldn't be necessary to supplement aeration with a tank product, but I can't ever recall a tank that used only passive ventilation above the surface that didn't also need a tank product. But one that works WITH nature, not a lethal chemical.


--Peggie
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Old 10-25-2018, 11:13 AM   #6
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Greetings,
Ms. PL. "You're confusing ventilation with aeration." I don't think so.
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Old 10-25-2018, 11:56 AM   #7
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We installed a Groco Sweetank in a previous boat to provide aeration. I the next 8 years we did not add any chemicals at all to the tank and there was absolutely no smell. As to passive venting, I use the Noflex digester this year and had no smell on my current boat that does not have an aeration system and probably inadequate passive venting.
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Old 10-26-2018, 09:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadMistress View Post
BUT a properly vented tank should not need any "additives".


You're confusing ventilation with aeration. It shouldn't be necessary to supplement aeration with a tank product, but I can't ever recall a tank that used only passive ventilation above the surface that didn't also need a tank product. But one that works WITH nature, not a lethal chemical.


--Peggie

What do you recommend? I just ordered the Aqua kem but will return it, all the reviews I read said it was amazing albeit it does have formaldehyde.
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Old 10-26-2018, 09:57 AM   #9
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What do you recommend? I just ordered the Aqua kem but will return it, all the reviews I read said it was amazing albeit it does have formaldehyde.
No Flex

Stopped a vented but smelly tank from smelling within 24 hours.
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Old 10-26-2018, 10:14 AM   #10
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No Flex

Stopped a vented but smelly tank from smelling within 24 hours.
+1 for NoFlex.........
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Old 10-26-2018, 12:00 PM   #11
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Yup... NoFlex and follow yhe directions.
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Old 10-26-2018, 12:16 PM   #12
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+ 2 on Noflex, tried everything , nothing worked except No Flex.

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Old 10-26-2018, 01:50 PM   #13
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I've used Noflex with moderate success. I have had remarkable success with Rid-X for RV's and Boats which I buy from Amazon.
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Old 10-26-2018, 02:22 PM   #14
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We use NoFlex but not daily. When we get the “head odor” coming out the vent when we flush, that’s when I use the NoFlex and it does work. We have a VacuFlush, that and regular pumps maybe keep the system from going anaerobic for the most part. That’s my theory anyway.
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Old 10-26-2018, 03:00 PM   #15
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For those interested in reality rather than hyperbole, one might consider that Aqua Ken is no more "lethal" than most of the household cleaning products used daily. Formaldehyde is ubiquitous in the environment, partly because it is produced by every living cell. Like a lot of substances, if abused it is likely carcinogenic, but at least according to the WHO, it isn't cancer causing if you drink the stuff (not recommended), but you should avoid breathing the fumes, which like bleach fumes are dangerous. As an additive to keep toilet bowls and hosed clean, or to treat raw sewage if you care about not discharging live e coli into the water, it is beneficial and very useful.

This article, on formaldehyde and food safety, might be considered, but again only if you care about facts on the topic. Otherwise, stay clear of Shiitake mushrooms, 'cause they're loaded with formaldehyde.

https://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/multi...fsf_06_01.html
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