Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 08-31-2011, 04:06 AM   #1
Guru
 
Tony B's Avatar
 
City: Joe Wheeler State Park, Al
Country: Cruising/Live-Aboard USA
Vessel Name: Serenity
Vessel Model: Mainship 36 Dual Cabin -1986
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,250
Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

Here is the situation:

When offshore last, the macerator quit working. I hear the motor running but nothing is going anywhere.

We switched the potty to direct overboard when out there and I think it was still going in the tank but no way of knowing.

When we got back to the dock, we have a dockside pumpout barge come by and empty the tank for us. Well.....it starts to suck for about 3 to 5 seconds and then quits. It sounds like air or something is in a line or something but I dont know what is wrong.

Attached is a sketch I made of the system from what*I could get my wife to describe over the phone. I'm not sure if this sketch is accurate and I wont know till I get home.

All I know is that when I get home I got to put up with a lot of s**t.

Thanks in advance.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	waste system sketch.jpg
Views:	60
Size:	55.8 KB
ID:	7285  
__________________
Advertisement

Tony B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 08:29 AM   #2
Guru
 
City: North Charleston, SC
Country: USA
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 4,390
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

If the tank vent is clogged, you won't be able to empty the tank. Air must be able to get in to replace the sewage that's being pumped out, either by the macerator or dockside pumpout system. Insects like to make nests in the vent fittings. If you have a filter in the vent line, it could be clogged.

Your drawing shows a bladder tank. Are you sure about this? A bladder tank shouldn't need a vent. It gets bigger when filled and smaller when emptied (sort of).
__________________

rwidman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 08:37 AM   #3
Guru
 
Tony B's Avatar
 
City: Joe Wheeler State Park, Al
Country: Cruising/Live-Aboard USA
Vessel Name: Serenity
Vessel Model: Mainship 36 Dual Cabin -1986
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,250
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

Yes it is a bladder tank, that is why I didn't consider it as the problem.
Tony B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 08:48 AM   #4
Grand Vizier
 
Delfin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 2,487
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

Nauta bladder tanks for waste do have a vent line, so I'm with Ron that this must be clogged.*

*
Delfin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 09:07 AM   #5
Guru
 
Tony B's Avatar
 
City: Joe Wheeler State Park, Al
Country: Cruising/Live-Aboard USA
Vessel Name: Serenity
Vessel Model: Mainship 36 Dual Cabin -1986
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,250
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

I have a vent line. I will check it when I get home.
Tony B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 12:55 PM   #6
Scraping Paint
 
City: -
Country: -
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 13,748
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

Another possibility is if the pickup tube in a holding tank is metal, the contents of the tank will eventually corrode it to the point where it starts to develop holes at which point the macerator pump or a dockside pumpout system won't be able to pull out any contents below the level of the uppermost hole in the tube. However I don't know if bladder tanks use any sort of pickup tube or not. If they don't and simply empty from the lowest point with the bladder collapsing down as the contents leave then a holed or cracked pickup tube will not be a problem for you. And if your bladder does use a pickup tube but it's plastic then the likelihood of this problem occurring is remote unless the plastic tube cracks somehow.
Marin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 03:44 PM   #7
Guru
 
HeadMistress's Avatar


 
City: AR
Country: USA
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,186
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

Sounds to me like you have a whole flock of separate problems--a macerator pump that needs a new impeller--or, if it didn't before, does now as a result of being run dry....a y-valve that may or may NOT be working...and a clogged tank discharge. If your tank were a rigid tank, a clogged vent would be #1 on my list of suspects...but that shouldn't prevent a bladder from being pumped out...the pumpout would simply suck in the tank walls--which although that has a nasty tendency to crack rigid tanks, doesn't usually damage a bladder. So I'm guessing that somebody has managed to flush something they shouldn't have that's made it all the way into the tank and has blocked the discharge...a wet wipe, condom or--if you've had any female guests aboard who are still pre-menopausal--a tampon are the most common culprits.

Or, if you've never flushed out the tank to get rid of the sludge, it could be just be a buildup of sludge, salt, etc that's created a blockage.


Btw...unvented bladders are functional, and fine for water holding. However, CG regs require that ALL waste tanks, including bladders, be vented to the outside of the boat because methane is flammable.
HeadMistress is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 09:05 PM   #8
Guru
 
Tony B's Avatar
 
City: Joe Wheeler State Park, Al
Country: Cruising/Live-Aboard USA
Vessel Name: Serenity
Vessel Model: Mainship 36 Dual Cabin -1986
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,250
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

Thanks Peggy and all.

My biggest fear is that I have a blocked discharge. If I do, are their any solutions to this problem other than replace everything?
Tony B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 09:18 PM   #9
Scraping Paint
 
City: -
Country: -
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 13,748
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

From your diagram you have a deck pumpout fitting. So I suppose one thing you could try is set the Y-valve to overboard discharge to prevent anything from the holding tank getting pushed back into the toilet and send a blast of water from a hose through the pumpout fitting to see if it will clear any blockage that might be in the discharge hose and pickup tube (if there is one). Of course even if this works and the root cause of the problem is a "foreign object" as Peggie described, the object will still be in the tank and could get sucked up and jammed again.

You might be able to use the same reverse water shot technique to make sure the vent line is clear, too.

You might also be able to use a plumber's snake if it will feed through the deck fitting down to the tank. I have never heard if a plumber's snake is a viable means of clearing holding tank lines or if it would be potentially damaging. My guess is that Peggie probably knows, however.
Marin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 10:53 PM   #10
Guru
 
HeadMistress's Avatar


 
City: AR
Country: USA
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,186
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

A snake might work, but only if it's a fairly straight shot to the tank with no 90s. I think a* pressure washer down the pumpout fitting would prob'ly have a better chance of removing a clog. If it's just sludge, that'll break it up...if it's a "foreign object," it'll have to be removed...the only question is when--while the tank is full of waste, or after you've managed to dislodge it so you can pump out and then very thoroughly flush out the tank.
You might be able to use the same reverse water shot technique to make sure the vent line is clear, too.
If your vent thru-hull won't allow this, replace the thru-hull with one that does...'cuz that's basic "holding tank PREVENTIVE maintenance 101"...back flush the vent line every time you wash the boat and/or pump out to keep the vent clear.
And so is flushing out the tank to remove any sludge 2-3 x season, and especially in preparation for winter or other extended layup.
HeadMistress is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2011, 01:56 AM   #11
Master and Commander
 
markpierce's Avatar
 
City: Vallejo CA
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Carquinez Coot
Vessel Model: 2011 Seahorse Marine Coot hull #6
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 10,251
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

The simple solution keeps things less complicated.* Thank you, no moving parts except for the lid in my last multi-day boating adventure (excluding cruise ships).* Here, Dave (a Canadian, as I recall, eh) and I carry the honey pot containing about 48 person-days of poo.* Heavy!



(San Juan River, Mexican Hat, Utah, Spring 2010)
markpierce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2011, 08:32 AM   #12
Guru
 
Tony B's Avatar
 
City: Joe Wheeler State Park, Al
Country: Cruising/Live-Aboard USA
Vessel Name: Serenity
Vessel Model: Mainship 36 Dual Cabin -1986
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,250
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

PROBLEM SOLVED !!!!!

It turns out that the problem was with the vent line after all, but not quite what you would suspect.

Recap: I used the macerator offshore and it was sucking air and subsequently fried itself. I then put my system on direct overboard discharge and this didn't work because I could see the bladder the next day was inflated. Sooooooooo, when I got back to my slip*I hired the local waste pump-out people that we normally use and they were sucking air also and couldn't pump it out. This led me to believe that my entire system including the "Y" Valve was plugged.

Here is what happened: The vent line sagged below the fluids level. The fluids entered the vent line. With no place to escape, the gases inflated the bladder. This put the waste outlet line high and dry so*everything we tried was sucking air/gas. I called the waste pump-out people again and asked for a service man. At first, he too did not consider the vent line because of the mind-set that bladder tanks dont need a vent line. The pump-out barge came and we both were standing on the bladder trying to force the 'stuff' out and it worked. Then for some reason he looked at the vent line and tugged up on it and that was the Eurika moment. What led me to believe that my "Y" Valve was not working was because the tank*appeared to be*filling up with waste when in effect, what actually happened was the trapped gases were expanding and that was what inflated the bladder.

If I had listened to you guys in the first place, I would have saved myself a $120 service call and $30 for the additional pump-out charge.

Thanks again for all of your help and that ain't no s**t.

*

*
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	scan0001.jpg
Views:	67
Size:	29.4 KB
ID:	7678  
Tony B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2011, 10:12 AM   #13
Guru
 
HopCar's Avatar


 
City: Miami Florida
Vessel Name: Possum
Vessel Model: Ellis 28
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 3,489
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

I can see how a blocked vent would allow gas to build up in the tank. I also understand now why a bladder tank holding sewage would need a vent and a water tank wouldn't. But why didn't the gas escape when you opened the deck fitting to pump it out?
HopCar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2011, 10:38 AM   #14
Guru
 
Tony B's Avatar
 
City: Joe Wheeler State Park, Al
Country: Cruising/Live-Aboard USA
Vessel Name: Serenity
Vessel Model: Mainship 36 Dual Cabin -1986
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,250
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

Quote:
HopCar wrote:
I can see how a blocked vent would allow gas to build up in the tank. I also understand now why a bladder tank holding sewage would need a vent and a water tank wouldn't. But why didn't the gas escape when you opened the deck fitting to pump it out?
*I donno. I'm sure most did but I guess it left the blader in the inflated position. When the pump-out barge comes, they unscrew and hook up in a matter of seconds. I dunno. Can not explain. We filled the empty tank with water and then pumped again and all went well. Another scientific wonder was when the service man put the vent hose (after we pulled it looose) to his mouth and blew through it. THIS tripped me out.
Tony B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2011, 02:20 PM   #15
Guru
 
HeadMistress's Avatar


 
City: AR
Country: USA
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,186
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

Tony, when if ever have you flushed out your tank? Do you backflush the vent line when you wash the boat? Or is a visit from the pumpout barge the only "maintenance" your tank has ever had?

I'd bet real money that your answers are No, no, and yes. And I'd also bet real money that your tank is--or was (filling it with water may have at least partially solved it)--so full of sludge that not only your vent, but also the tank discharge fitting, was blocked.

That's only explanation for why the pumpout couldn't just collapse the tank to pump it out....and the only possible reason why there wasn't a major geyser when you opened the deck pumpout was because gasses were able to escape through the toilet, depressurizing the tank.

If you want to avoid these problems in the future, ya GOTTA maintain the tank!
HeadMistress is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2011, 08:55 PM   #16
Guru
 
HopCar's Avatar


 
City: Miami Florida
Vessel Name: Possum
Vessel Model: Ellis 28
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 3,489
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

Tony, The guy who blew in the vent line, do you think he kisses his wife when he gets home?
It sounds like Peggy has solved the mystery.
HopCar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2011, 09:25 PM   #17
Guru
 
Tony B's Avatar
 
City: Joe Wheeler State Park, Al
Country: Cruising/Live-Aboard USA
Vessel Name: Serenity
Vessel Model: Mainship 36 Dual Cabin -1986
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,250
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

"Tony, The guy who blew in the vent line, do you think he kisses his wife when he gets home?"

Only when she gets s**t faced. After he blew into the vent line, he gagged and coughed for an instant. It was one of those rare moments when I was totally speechless. I was truly suffering from shock and awe.
Tony B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2011, 08:04 AM   #18
TF Site Team
 
Peter B's Avatar
 
City: Brisbane
Country: Australia
Vessel Name: Lotus
Vessel Model: Clipper (CHB) 34 Sedan/Europa style
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 6,669
Send a message via Skype™ to Peter B
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

Yes, there is a better way. I have a bladder holding tank, and when the vent line gets plugged, which does happen from time to time, indicated by it taking on a blown up look when I know it's not full, I clear the line by using an old dinghy pump with a reducing nozzle the will just fit into the thru-hull, and just give it a tap on the pump with my foot. This is always followed by a gurgling sound, and an atrocious smell for a few minutes, so there is NO WAY I would ever put my mouth to it.....
Peter B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2011, 11:15 AM   #19
FF
Guru
 
FF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 16,515
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

"Tony, The guy who blew in the vent line, do you think he kisses his wife when he gets home?"

And he VOTES!
FF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2011, 11:51 AM   #20
Guru
 
HeadMistress's Avatar


 
City: AR
Country: USA
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,186
RE: Head Problems ... HELP!!!!

Peter, why not just back flush the vent every time you wash the boat...thus PREVENTING a blockage instead of having to cure one?
__________________

HeadMistress is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Vitrifrigo problems BobH Other Trawler Systems 8 04-09-2012 09:56 PM
Bilge problems Andy G General Maintenance 2 04-27-2011 08:16 PM
Help in solving i-t problems! Art General Discussion 0 03-15-2011 07:54 PM
Problems signing up... dougd1 How To Use The Forum, Site News & Account Concerns 0 10-28-2007 10:28 AM




All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:14 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
Copyright 2006 - 2012