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Old 04-30-2018, 09:26 PM   #1
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VJameslanza's Avatar
City: Punta Gorda
Country: United States
Vessel Name: Encore
Vessel Model: 1988 Albin 40 Sundeck trawler
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 47
Fresh Water System Leak- Lessons learned!

During a four-day cruise, we stopped at a marina and while we usually hook up to electric and water, this time I only hooked up the electric. My wife asked why we weren't hooked up to city water, I replied that I wanted to use the water from our fresh water tanks (On our Albin 40, we're supposed to have two 55 gal water tanks under the aft berth.). While washing dishes, I noticed that the fresh water pump continued to run, even after the faucets were closed and demand stopped. We continued to use the water from our tanks for the duration of our cruise, and during a periodic check of the bilge, I noted that we had about 10" of water in the forward bilge. This was disconcerting as I pumped the bilge dry prior to the cruise. Utilizing the 'taste test', I discovered that the water was fresh, not salty (upsetting, but not nearly as upsetting as if it was salt water). I checked the water tanks, and noted that we had 'used' over half our supply. On our last 8 day cruise, we used less than 1/4 of our fresh water supply, so I knew there was a leak in the system.

After returning home, I expected a long, drawn out search for the leak, BUT FIRST, I thought to check the Trawler forums for some insight. After reading through approximately 70 posts, I found a 'hint': Connect to city water, charge the system and listen and look for the leak. What I assumed would be a three-day search for the leak was accomplished in less than 1/2 an hour!

The culprit was a 30 year old plastic drain fitting on the Seward hot water heater that simply expired of old age, and was spraying water all over. The fitting had to be cut out (carefully as not to cut the threads in the heater) and after only an hour and a $7.00 brass water heater drain, the fresh water system maintained pressure with no leaks.

The purpose of this long message is two-fold. Take advantage of the wealth of information available from other trawler owners, even if it involves an hour or two searching the web sites, it will be worth the effort, and two, periodically check your bilge!

Had I attached Encore to city water, it's likely that she would have sunk at the dock, as the average 1/2"-3/4" hose uses between 9 and 17 gallons per minute. That's over a 1,000 gallons per hour. Considering we were away from Encore for upwards of 3 hours, that works out to almost 25,000 pounds enough to overcome the total displacement of Encore.

Happily, Encore continues to float on her designed lines, the bilge is relatively dry, and I learned a lesson that I hope to pass along. If you do connect to city water, turn off the water when you leave your boat at the dock...Just in case!
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Old 04-30-2018, 09:36 PM   #2
Comodave's Avatar
City: Au Gres, MI
Country: US
Vessel Name: Never Say Never
Vessel Model: President 41 DC
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 3,623
Good catch. There is a lot of good info here for sure.
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