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Old 02-06-2011, 08:58 PM   #1
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How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

All,
Twice my Vacu-flush toilet has gotten plugged because the guest on board used too much TP.** I have found a quick and easy way to unplug this.* On the back of the vacuum canister, there is a pressure switch.* I simply hold the pressure switch out to "over vacuumize" the system.* Then, hold the foot pedal down and continue to hold the pressure switch out until it clears.* The extra suction pulls the plug thru the system.

Just something I discovered.* Maybe I'm the last one to figure this out.

Taras.
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Old 02-07-2011, 07:20 AM   #2
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RE: How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

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Taras wrote:

*

......hold the pressure switch out to "over vacuumize" the system.* Then, hold the foot pedal down and continue to hold the pressure switch out until it clears...

Just remember to turn the water off going into the head before you try this.* If the clog hasn't or doesn't clear you'll have a bigger mess to deal with.
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Old 02-07-2011, 07:55 AM   #3
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RE: How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

I wouldn't do that...you're gonna mess up the sensor in the pressure switch...and pressure switches are expensive.

You need to prevent the problem so you don't have to cure it again...'cuz the problem is caused by insufficient water going through it. Instruct your guests (and, I suspect, yourselves too) to add AT LEAST 1/2 bowl of water ahead of any TP use, and to hold the pedal down for AT LEAST 7 seconds (10 seconds for solids AND TP) to allow enough water to go through the pump to rinse all the solids and TP out of it. And ONLY use quick-dissolve TP. You don't have to spend the money for TP labeled 'marine/rv'...it's just the cheapest institutional TP that almost dissolves in your hand when it gets wet repackaged and overpriced. If you do get a clog, quick-dissolve TP will dissolve on its own in about an hour. If you absolutely MUST use premium TP, replace it with quick-dissolve in the guest head when you expect guests and keep the premium stuff hidden for your own use

"VacuFlush 101"

SeaLand's claim that the V/Flush can use "as little as" 1 pint of flush water is VERY carefully worded. If only urine is flushed...no water added to the bowl first, no TP either...then yes, you CAN get away with that little, at least for a few flushes. But if you do much of that, unless you want odor, at least once a day you need to run at least half a bowl of clean water through it to rinse out the system. It's also advisable to add at least half a bowl of water ahead of solids or any TP (iow, every time a female uses the toilet)...that's a quart or more. It's also essential to leave the pedal down for at least 7-10 seconds after the bowl is empty to rinse out the pump and duckbills--to prevent a buildup in the pump or bits of waste or TP from becoming stuck in a duckbill, creating one of those pesky air leaks that causes the pump to cycle for no reason...at least another quart. And if you don't want permeated hoses, it's a very good idea--last thing before the boat will sit (or at least once a week if you're living aboard)--to fill the bowl to the rim with clean water and flush it through to thoroughly rinse out the vacuum tank, hoses and pump...'cuz suction splatters waste all over 'em and the flush water flow isn't sufficient to completely fill the hoses. So, averaged out over a week, the VacuFlush actually NEEDS about the same amount of flush water as most other toilets that use pressurized flush water: about .5 gal. If you're using much less than that, you're asking for problems.


Btw...I had V/Flush toilets on my last two boats and was also a dealer for nearly 10 years...so I'm INTIMATELY acquainted with 'em...what keeps 'em working trouble-free and what doesn't.
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Old 02-07-2011, 09:26 AM   #4
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How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

I'm 99% certain that your problem is a failed vacuum tank switch. You didn't cause it...they do have a finite lifespan...average is about 5 years, but I've seen 'em last 10 and I've seen 'em fail in two...it's unpredictable. The symptom: the pump starts running a little longer after each flush, but doesn't run between flushes for no reason, till finally it won't shut off at all. The only thing that actually fails/wears out is a tiny little rubber diaphragm in the switch assembly...and it's not that hard to replace. But SeaLand doesn't sell just that little rubber part. Used to be that you had to buy the whole switch assembly, which threads into the end of the vacuum tank and is actually an easy job...price was over $150! But I THINK you can now buy something in between that little rubber bit and whole thing. Give 'em a call at 800-321-9886. Get two...''cuz sooner or later the other toilet WILL need it. And while you're at it, if it's been at least two years since you replaced the duckbills in the vacuum pumps, you might as well get 8 of those too.

Unless the hoses stink or are so old that they've become hard and show signs of cracking, they don't need replacement.* If they do, the best hose on the market today is Trident 101/102 (identical except for color) Trident Marine: Sanitation Hose
It's been on the market for more that 15 years without a single reported odor permeation failure...something I cannot say about ANY other hose, including SeaLand OdorSafe. In fact, I've been aboard half dozen boats on which it had failed and heard of many more.

-- Edited by HeadMistress on Monday 7th of February 2011 10:31:15 AM
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Old 02-07-2011, 01:40 PM   #5
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RE: How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

Peggy,

Do you have any idea as to where one would obtain a repair manual.* I have been on line but the manual there is only about the operation.* I would like to know a little more about the system.. A friend has given me the $70 V-F*vacuum gauge to test the system so I do have a start.

Thanks
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Old 02-07-2011, 05:50 PM   #6
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RE: How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

Unplugging a Vacu-flush? I had that problem on a previous boat and unplugged it with a plumbers helper. From what Peggy says, I guess I was just lucky I didn't damage something but it did clear up the plug and didn't hurt anything.

Ron
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Old 02-07-2011, 06:09 PM   #7
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RE: How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

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JD wrote:Do you have any idea as to where one would obtain a repair manual.* I have been on line but the manual there is only about the operation.* I would like to know a little more about the system.. A friend has given me the $70 V-F*vacuum gauge to test the system so I do have a start.
Apparently you give up very easily, because although the current owners manual--available online at http://www.sealandtechnology.com/pdf...Flush%20OM.pdf --isn't anywhere NEAR as good as it used to be, if you'd stuck with it to page 10, you'd have found the beginning of a list of 16 symptoms, probable causes and cures that a V/Flush can develop.

At least the vacuum gauge was free, 'cuz you don't really need it. There's a MUCH simpler way to find vacuum leaks that does't require taking every bloody connection apart:* squirt a LITTLE shaving cream around each hose connection...flush the toilet. If there's an air leake at a connection, the suction will pull the shaving cream into it...if the shaving cream just sits there, no air leak. Unless you use WAY too much shaving cream, you'll only need two paper towels to remove what's left.

What's your problem that you think you need to go to all this effort to trouble shoot it?

Oh...Ron...the V/Flush is the only marine toilet I know of that a plunger won't damage...so you're safe. But if you'd been using quick dissolve TP you' wouldn't have needed the plunger...just a little patience.

*

*
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Old 02-08-2011, 09:35 AM   #8
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RE: How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

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HeadMistress wrote:


JD wrote:Do you have any idea as to where one would obtain a repair manual.* I have been on line but the manual there is only about the operation.* I would like to know a little more about the system.. A friend has given me the $70 V-F*vacuum gauge to test the system so I do have a start.
Apparently you give up very easily, because although the current owners manual--available online at http://www.sealandtechnology.com/pdf...Flush%20OM.pdf --isn't anywhere NEAR as good as it used to be, if you'd stuck with it to page 10, you'd have found the beginning of a list of 16 symptoms, probable causes and cures that a V/Flush can develop.

What's your problem that you think you need to go to all this effort to trouble shoot it?*
Thanks,

The one I came up with stopped at about page page 16.* I was looking for the drawings of the unit not the stool. I*like to know what something looks like before I stand on my head to tear it apart.

The unit would cycle every half hour or so when the temp was about*40*F in the bilge but no that the temp is back up (50*F) the unit goes maybe 4-5 hours with out recycling.** I cleaned the rubber O ring at the intake (it looked a*bit dirty) re-lubed it and put it back together.* Seems to have fixed the problem even in the colder*weather.

The folks at VC claim the 3 plus hours between cycles is standard.



*
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Old 02-08-2011, 11:52 AM   #9
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How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

Some V/Flush folks seem to have lowered their standards, 'cuz the pump shouldn't cycle at all between flushes. Mine would hold a vacuum for a week if I forgot to release it when I turned off the breaker.

My guess is, you just need to replace the duckbills in the pump (4 of 'em--two in, two out). Waste passing through 'em gradually stretches the edges, preventing 'em from sealing tight...creating an air leak. In fact, that's the FIRST step in trouble shooting an air leak: change the duckbills. Two years is about average.

You can find the drawings for all the components in the system on the Dometic/SeaLand site here: http://www.sealandtechnology.com/manuals.asp The "SW" vacuum pump is the "S-Pump" vacuum pump.

Btw...if you can't find the symptom/probable causes/cures in the manual, DON'T just start blindly taking potshots at it...ASK questions! 'Cuz a lot about the V/Flush is counter-intuitive to everything you THINK you know about marine toilets...so you can create more problems instead of solving the one you started with.

-- Edited by HeadMistress on Tuesday 8th of February 2011 12:56:30 PM
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Old 02-08-2011, 03:55 PM   #10
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RE: How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

Quote:
HeadMistress wrote:Some V/Flush folks seem to have lowered their standards, 'cuz the pump shouldn't cycle at all between flushes. Mine would hold a vacuum for a week if I forgot to release it when I turned off the breaker.

My guess is, you just need to replace the duckbills in the pump (4 of 'em--two in, two out). Waste passing through 'em gradually stretches the edges, preventing 'em from sealing tight...creating an air leak. In fact, that's the FIRST step in trouble shooting an air leak: change the duckbills. Two years is about average.

You can find the drawings for all the components in the system on the Dometic/SeaLand site here: http://www.sealandtechnology.com/manuals.asp The "SW" vacuum pump is the "S-Pump" vacuum pump.

Btw...if you can't find the symptom/probable causes/cures in the manual, DON'T just start blindly taking potshots at it...ASK questions! 'Cuz a lot about the V/Flush is counter-intuitive to everything you THINK you know about marine toilets...so you can create more problems instead of solving the one you started with.

-- Edited by HeadMistress on Tuesday 8th of February 2011 12:56:30 PM
Thanks,* I'll order the Duckbills, two complete sets (8 in total).* One set for now and one for later.* That usually means I will never have to do it again, kind of like insurance.*
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Old 02-08-2011, 05:10 PM   #11
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RE: How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

Quote:
HeadMistress wrote:My guess is, you just need to replace the duckbills in the pump (4 of 'em--two in, two out). Waste passing through 'em gradually stretches the edges, preventing 'em from sealing tight...creating an air leak.
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My experience with having Had two V/flush toilets mirrors what Peggy has stated. If it wasn't duck bills, it was the ball valve not sealing against its seat, requiring the user to let the foot peddle snap back. I know a lot of people love the V/toilets but I found them to be very unforgiving and a royal PITA.
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Old 02-10-2011, 10:43 AM   #12
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RE: How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

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SeaHorse II wrote:__________________________________________________ ______________
My experience with having Had two V/flush toilets mirrors what Peggy has stated. If it wasn't duck bills, it was the ball valve not sealing against its seat, requiring the user to let the foot peddle snap back.
User is supposed to let the pedal snap back. That's why it's spring loaded--to return the ball with enough force to reseat and seal the bowl.*

The two most common mistakes that V/Flush users make are 1) not leaving the pedal down long enough to put enough water through the system to rinse out the pump and duckbills...and 2) easing the pedal back up instead of letting it go to snap back.

Those two mistakes, along with neglecting to rinse out the system as I described above are responsible for at least 90% of the problems peoplel have with 'em. Yet SeaLand has never provided any user instructions for 'em.

*
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Old 02-10-2011, 11:41 AM   #13
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RE: How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

Peggy is correct. Be a pedal slammer and use plenty of water. I always raise the pedal to let a little extra water into the bowl if I am not underway in turbulant seas.

I made a little gadget for unplugging minor blocks. I cut the center handle hole out of a mini plumber's friend and inserted the female end of a water hose repair kit into the hole and secured it with a hose clamp.

When I have a little clog I attach a male threaded squeeze*nozzel to a hose from the dock and connect*the nozzel's*male threads*to the female connection that I put into the plumber's friend. Then I turn the boat's water system off and blead down the pressure to zero. If there is an excess of water in the bowl, get rid of it somehow.

Then with the vacuflush pump running I hold the pedal down with my knee,*press the plumber's friend tightly*over the hole and pulsate blasts of water into the system. It usually works.
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Old 02-14-2011, 02:22 PM   #14
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RE: How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

I tried to edit these pics of my gadget into the above post but it did not take, so here...
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Old 02-14-2011, 04:06 PM   #15
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RE: How to Unplug a Vacu-Flush

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Doc wrote:

I tried to edit these pics of my gadget into the above post but it did not take, so here...
Serious pressure for sure.

*
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Old 12-23-2013, 04:50 PM   #16
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I know this is an old thread, but came across it when troubleshooting my system. I have two heads and two vacuum tanks. I had a fresh water leak on the aft head, so I had to take the head apart to get to the fitting under the floor. Fixed the water leak. Separated the bowl from the stand as it was easier to install with the outlet to the back. Cleaned the big black ring and reassembled the bowl and stand. Filled with water. It held the water. Black ring sealed. Started system. Pumped a while, but it finally stopped. Water level stayed the same in aft head. Flushed (need to remember to let pedal spring back) and system started to pump, had good vacuum at both heads. Thought I was done. After about 3 minutes of so, pump starts again for about 15-20 seconds, then stops. Another 3 minutes or so and it repeats.
I replaced the duckbills and a small section of hose I thought was leaking. I also replaced the switch on the aft head vacuum tank (not the entire assembly, just the switch). Same problem. After reading this thread, before I buy a vacuum gage, I am going to try the shaving cream idea.
Any other ideas I can check?
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Old 12-23-2013, 05:10 PM   #17
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Id' check the big hose clamp at the base. It's holding water but you can have an air leak on the underside.

Hold off on the vacuum gauge. It will only tell what the pressure you are pulling not where the leak is.
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Old 12-24-2013, 07:32 AM   #18
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I have installed Vacuflush systems on the majority of boats I've built since the late '80s. I've unclogged them numerous times. Here's how I do it:
1. Turn off water.
2. Get a long screw driver, wooden dowel or similar.
3. The VF has a 3/4" orifice at the toilet valve. The remainder of the circuit is 1-1/2". Thus, the clogging I've seen is ALWAYS at the valve in the toilet.
4. Using the screw driver, force the clog through the 3/4" orifice.
5. The vacuum should suck the waste to the tank and pump.

This has ways worked for me.

BTW, I use short flushes for no TP and 5 sec for flushes with TP. I don't recall ever replacing valves. One diaphragm once.
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Old 12-26-2013, 12:09 PM   #19
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Some of the older posts on this thread were made by Peggie Hall. She has literally written the book on marine sanitation systems. The book is called "Get Rid of Boat Odors: A Boat Owner's Guide to Marine Sanitation". Anyone who has a marine toilet should read it. I think "How to Live With Your Head" would have been a better title.
(I bet I hear from Peggie on that one!)
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Old 12-27-2013, 06:31 AM   #20
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I have installed Vacuflush systems on the majority of boats I've built since the late '80s. I've unclogged them numerous times. Here's how I do it:

With a long term ongoing problem why not simply install a better system?

IF you are building the boat the RV style Sealand heads are gravity and almost no water, which with a 3 inch drop diameter are really hard to plug!!
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