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Old 05-08-2016, 02:45 PM   #1
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A pair of Vacuflush with a problem

Our boat has three vacuflush heads, each have their own vacuum generator.
We are moving from Florida to Maryland. In Georgia, the main head started running and would not stop. The toilet is holding water. I turned it off, check the next day the same issue. Turned it off again, figured I would fix it in Maryland.

Today the head in the master started the same thing...it runs without stopping. It holds water in the bowl. It does not develop vacuum but does bubble and drain into the system.

Before the third head stops...I need to fix this.

In January, both heads had new duckbills installed. And the main head had a vacuum switch replaced.

Where should I start? My inclination is that there is a problem with duckbills but really - in two units at the same time? All three units "Y" into the line into the holding tank...could I have a backup?
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Old 05-08-2016, 03:22 PM   #2
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If all 4 duck bills in each vacuum generator were replaced and it's not generating vacuum, I would probably start by checking the bellows (diaphragm) in the vacuum generator. You might also listen for a leak at the vacuum switch diaphragm. Any guests on board recently that may have accidentally put something in the heads? Change what you clean the head with that might have effected the duck bills?

Ted
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Old 05-08-2016, 03:37 PM   #3
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If it's not developing vacuum at the bowl but the water will drain out of the bowl, and the duck bills are new, then it sounds like the duck bills might have junk hung up in them.
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Old 05-08-2016, 05:59 PM   #4
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Do they all feed the holding tank individually or via manifold? Have you physically checked the level of the holding tank and HT vent?
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Old 05-08-2016, 06:21 PM   #5
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I'm inclined to agree with Ted...your pump bellows are clogged. That would explain both no vacuum and continuous pump running and--if those two toilets are both getting almost all the use--why it's happened in both of 'em.

The two most likely reasons it would clog are: 1. Somebody flushed something they shouldn't have...a wet wipe maybe? But, because it is happening in two toilets, not nearly as likely as 2: You're being waaay too frugal with flush water, which is responsible for about 90% of problems with VF toilets. If you haven't been holding the pedal down for at least 3 full seconds after urine and adding at least a couple of quarts of water ahead of solids an/or TP, then holding the pedal down AT LEAST 7 seconds, not enough water goes through the pump to rinse it out....waste and TP builds up the pump. Your first clue may be a pump that runs between flushes, then quits after you flush again...that's an indication that a bit of solids or TP has prevented a duckbill from closing. The next flush cures that problem, but still leaves stuff in the pump...till finally the bellows is too clogged up to move.

That's my best guess, anyway.
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Old 05-08-2016, 11:18 PM   #6
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Hello all,
Thank you for the suggestions.
Ted - we did have a relative aboard for a few days but she has been on the boat for almost 7 years and the head she uses (her room) is the one that is still working.
- Deb only uses C.P. to clean the heads and has for 8+ yrs.
Captn Bill - possibly...I am waiting until we get to a dock with freshwater hose, before I pull apart the vacuum generators and duckbills.
George - holding tank is less than 15%. And the vents are 1 1/2" out each side...I read your post and went and tested them. I put my hand over them and had my wife flush the one working toilet and I feel the air pressure.
Peggy - I am guessing that you are correct. When I get to a dock for more than an overnight, I am going to disconnect the vacuum generators and remove all parts, and clean out the tank. Another friend had a similar issue where there was buildup at the bottom of the input tube that had solidified.
I tested both units with soapy water to see if I could find any leaks - I did not. And tightened all hose clamps - nothing found. When I was done, the 2nd unit is working - for now.

thank you all again.
Henry
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Old 05-08-2016, 11:33 PM   #7
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Btw...I've written a piece I call "VacuFlush 101" that explains how it works and how to prevent most problems...If you'd like a copy, PM your email address and I'll send it to you.
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Old 05-09-2016, 07:35 AM   #8
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Use shaving cream next time to test for vacuum leaks.

Vacuum leaks don't blow bubbles very well. But they sure do suck.
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Old 05-11-2016, 10:00 PM   #9
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I'm with Peggy, I'd suspect you have blockage of some sort in the system.

We experienced a similar problem when we arrived in the Bahamas last year, turned out it was TP that had blocked the vacuum tank. What a mess. It turns out the Angel Soft "septic safe" TP we'd been using for years had, unbeknownst to me, changed its formulation. "New & Improved" should have raised a flag, but it still advertised "septic safe" on the packaging. I'd disagree. The vacuum tank was packed almost totally with a mix of TP and- well take a guess. I'm a retired plumber so it takes a lot to faze me, but, WOW! What a mess!!! Had to remove the vacuum tank and clean it out. "Oh, just put the used TP in a basket next to the toilet..." uh, not happening, that's gross & disgusting even to a plumber, sorry! <G>

A subsequent email to the manufacturer yielded a boiler plate reply that their product was, in fact improved, and despite my claims to the contrary, it would work perfectly in any normal toilet. Uh-huh.

The takeaway here is periodically do the TP test: compare a few brands, take a foot or so of product from each and drop it into a clear tumbler or other container, shake it for 10 seconds or so, then compare the results. Use the brand that disintegrates the best. BTW, the angel soft failed miserably! If you're using that thinking it's safe, think again. Test it!

So the Alice Town All-Age school received a donation of 29 new rolls of Angel Soft!
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Old 05-11-2016, 10:24 PM   #10
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The takeaway here is periodically do the TP test: compare a few brands, take a foot or so of product from each and drop it into a clear tumbler or other container, shake it for 10 seconds or so, then compare the results.

Weellll...close but likely to rule out TP that's actually ok to use in marine toilets: Tear off just one sheet...put it in a mason jar (or similar) full of water...wait an hour or two (10 seconds isn't really enough time)...then shake the jar. If the water is milky and all you see is "snow," you've found your boat TP...but if that sheet is still intact, or even mostly intact, you haven't found it yet.
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Old 05-11-2016, 10:35 PM   #11
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And as usual, Peggy has the best answer! Thanks for elaborating!
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