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Old 11-01-2018, 02:59 AM   #1
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Sealand Dometic T-24 pump

Hi All,

Another hoilding tank question. In 15 years, I've had to replace the T24 pump three times, each time caused by split bellows.

I take great care not to leave the pump running unnecessarily not the least that split bellows means spilt poo into the bilge under the main cabin.

Does anyone else suffer these piump failures?
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Old 11-01-2018, 07:14 AM   #2
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I only had about five years of experience with one until I sold the boat, but it worked perfectly during that period, but that is about the interval you are getting with yours.


I have had centrifugal macerator pumps that didn't last that long though.


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Old 11-01-2018, 07:51 AM   #3
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Replacing the entire pump is unnecessary. You could have rebuilt it, replacing the bellows and 'duck' valves in less than an hour, assuming the pump is not "buried".
I have but one head so I carry a spare bellows and a set of 'duck' valves. In 5 years time, I replace the bellows once and the 'duck' valves twice. I do not consider that unusual.
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Old 11-01-2018, 07:54 AM   #4
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In over 25 years of boating I've only had to replace a Vacuflush pump once and that was for split bellows. Granted that was four different pumps on three boats, but the one that did go south had been in constant use for 5-6 months of the year with multiple passengers for 11 years. It had also been used with saltwater for about half of that time. It was being used as the toilet pump rather than the holding tank pump, but as I understand it, It's the same pump with reversed fittings. I rebuilt it with new bellows. It does leave a mess if not caught right away. Your having to replace it that often seems excessive. Perhaps a restriction that is making it have to work harder?

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Old 11-01-2018, 08:51 AM   #5
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Now I have 2 spare pumps, I've instigated a 3-yearly rebuild regime. Mind you, looking at the quality of these Chinese built pumps, I'm not really surprised the bellows are not built to last long.
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Old 11-01-2018, 09:03 AM   #6
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The Dometic/SeaLand T-Pump (overboard discharge pump) isn't a VacuFlush pump, it's a discharge pump used to dump the holding tank. I'm guessing that the boat has 24v DC power...hence the T-24 designation instead of the typical T-12. The T-Pump is among the most durable trouble free overboard discharge pumps, if not THE most durable...I had one on one of my own boats that was 11 years old and still working fine with all original parts except for duckbills when I sold the boat.

You said you "take great care not to leave the pump running unnecessarily." It should never run except to dump the tank, which means only when the thru-hull is open...and then not just left running for any length of time after the tank is empty. If it's run against a closed thru-hull the waste it's pulling out of the tank has no place to go...it's backing up into the pump. Based on your previous problem with sludge buildup in the tank it would not be at all surprising if the sludge clogged the bellows in the pump to the point of bursting it. If the sludge is/was even an inch or two deep, it's highly possible that it could clog the pump even if it's only run when the thru-hull IS open.


So I have a strong suspicion that this is another problem that a little preventive system maintenance could have prevented.

Marine toilets also require preventive maintenance...What's the make/model/age of the toilet(s) on the boat?

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Old 11-01-2018, 09:16 AM   #7
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Hi Peggie,

Thank for the interest in our holding tank! OK, I always leave the thru-hull open so there's never a time when it would be pumping and backing up.

As part of the annual check, I blow back through the two vents to check they are clear.

When pumping out, I keep a good watch on the outflow and when it seems it's finished, the pump is turned off. At most, that's 10 minutes.

Then I pump in salt water for 2 minutes before starting another pump out. I usually do this twice per emptying.

The boat is a Fleming 55, built in late 2002 and which I bought new in early 2003.

Should I be doing anything else?
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Old 11-01-2018, 11:16 AM   #8
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When you say "pumping out" you actually mean that you're dumping the tank...not at a pumpout?


As part of the annual check, I blow back through the two vents to check they are clear.

Only annually?? Insects, waste etc are an ongoing occurance that can block tank vents any time. Holding tank vent lines should be back flushed with clean fresh water (put a hose nozzle against the thru-hull) every time you wash the boat and/or pump out. If your vent thru-hulls aren't designed to allow you to do this, replace 'em with open "bulkhead" thru-hulls that are. (Unfortunately a filter in the vent line won't allow you to back flush the vent line because filters can't get wet).


If you never flushed out the tank or the pump with clean FRESH water, it's possible that sea water mineral buildup may be clogging your T-Pump. What has the bellows in the pumps that have failed looked like?



If crusted, I suggest you clean out the system with about a 15% solution of muriatic (hydrochloric) acid available from any decent hardware store...sometimes known as "brick cleaner" in the UK. Put a few gallons into the tank via the deck pumpout fitting, run the T-Pump--against a closed thru-hull this time, but ONLY long enough to get the solution into the discharge line and pump!--then let it be for 45-60 minutes. Open the thru-hull and flush the solution out of the tank and lines with plenty of clean fresh water via the deck pumpout fitting. And from then on, run some fresh water through the pump after each use.


I think you might profit from the information in my book (see link in my signature, just click on the title). The title (my publisher's idea) is a bit misleading because although it does deal with every source of odor on a boat and how to eliminate--better yet, prevent--'em, it's actually a comprehensive "marine toilets, holding tanks and sanitation systems 101" manual that helps people learn how to prevent 90% of problems instead of having to cure 'em. 'cuz preventive maintenance can be done your YOUR terms when it's convenient...which is NEVER true of cures!


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Old 11-01-2018, 11:26 AM   #9
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This is really helpful. Thank you. In answer to some questions:

1) No, I've never used a pump-out facility, only ever pumping out directly overboard.

2) The vents have carbon filters in line, so I'll fabricate a hose which can replace the filters and then wash through, followed by blowing through them to make sure they are clear before reacing the filters.

3) When I next change the bellows, I'll check to see what build up there is in case it's from the sea-water.

4) Sadly, the plumbing doesn't allow for fresh water to be used to flush the pump. But, if I'm able to pump fresh water into the tank for a few flushes, might this help flush the pump?

5) I'll see if I can obtain your book in the UK. Sounds a really ensible reference to have - thanks for the tip.
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Old 11-01-2018, 12:11 PM   #10
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Hi Peggie,

Book ordered. Thanks so much for all the help.
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Old 11-01-2018, 12:59 PM   #11
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The vents have carbon filters in line, so I'll fabricate a hose which can replace the filters and then wash through, followed by blowing through them to make sure they are clear before reacing the filters.

If No-Flex works as it should, you shouldn't need filters.

4) Sadly, the plumbing doesn't allow for fresh water to be used to flush the pump. But, if I'm able to pump fresh water into the tank for a few flushes, might this help flush the pump?

There is no fresh water washdown hose connection on your boat? That would be surprising on a boat that size. If not, I suggest that you use pumpout facilities occasionally. If you time the acid cleaning right, you can rinse out the tank with a hose provided there. In fact, it would be a good idea to use a pumpout facility and rinse out the tank with fresh water at least every couple of months anyway.

Btw...what make/model/age are your toilets?





Thanks for buying my book...I hope you'll find it useful! And I'm always glad to answer any questions it doesn't.


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Old 11-01-2018, 01:02 PM   #12
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4) Sadly, the plumbing doesn't allow for fresh water to be used to flush the pump. But, if I'm able to pump fresh water into the tank for a few flushes, might this help flush the pump?

There is no fresh water washdown hose connection on your boat? That would be surprising on a boat that size. If not, I suggest that you use pumpout facilities occasionally. If you time the acid cleaning right, you can rinse out the tank with a hose provided there. In fact, it would be a good idea to use a pumpout facility and rinse out the tank with fresh water at least every couple of months anyway.
There's fresh water wasdown, but nothing near the tank. However, I suspect I could plumb something in so I'll see what can be done.

BTW, having never used a shore pump out (!) I know where the access point is on the boat, but how does it work?
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Old 11-01-2018, 01:37 PM   #13
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There's fresh water wasdown, but nothing near the tank. However, I suspect I could plumb something in so I'll see what can be done.

BTW, having never used a shore pump out (!) I know where the access point is on the boat, but how does it work?
Fill your holding tank from the dock or deck hose with fresh water through the deck fitting waste pump out. Then pump out to rinse tank. Insure the line is connected to the holding tank first though.
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Old 11-01-2018, 04:50 PM   #14
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BTW, having never used a shore pump out (!) I know where the access point is on the boat, but how does it work?

Remove the threaded cap....CAREFULLY! Unlike the caps on fuel and water fills, there is no chain on the cap, so make sure to set it down where it can't fall into the water!

The pumpout hose from the dock should have a piece on the end of it that attaches to the deck pumpout fitting tightly enough to create a sealed connection. There should be a dock hand who may handle the operation entirely or he may hand the pumpout hose to you and should be able to tell you how to connect it to your boat. No need for the hose to go any further than the deck fitting...the suction will pull the waste out and down the hose to wherever the marina sends it.

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Old 11-01-2018, 05:18 PM   #15
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Replacing the entire pump is unnecessary. You could have rebuilt it, replacing the bellows and 'duck' valves in less than an hour, assuming the pump is not "buried".
I have but one head so I carry a spare bellows and a set of 'duck' valves. In 5 years time, I replace the bellows once and the 'duck' valves twice. I do not consider that unusual.


I carried the same spares. After one duck bill valve replacement, the pump worked well for maybe 6 mo, then struggled to draw up the goo. This was gray water, by the way, aimless gooy than you might imagine.

I replace the duck bills again to no avail, then replaced the bellows. It still wouldn’t suck worth a darn. Sick of wasting time, I replaced the whole pump.

I think those pumps are fine for an intermittent use boat, but for heavy use something more robust is required.
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Old 11-01-2018, 06:54 PM   #16
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I carried the same spares. After one duck bill valve replacement, the pump worked well for maybe 6 mo, then struggled to draw up the goo. This was gray water, by the way, aimless gooy than you might imagine.

I replace the duck bills again to no avail, then replaced the bellows. It still wouldn’t suck worth a darn. Sick of wasting time, I replaced the whole pump.

I think those pumps are fine for an intermittent use boat, but for heavy use something more robust is required.
We used ours full time for 5 years when we were outside the US and never had a failure or repair on our black water tank. Is there a better pump out there for over the side waste?

I did have to replace the duck valves after year 7. We were back in the States and closed/locked out the discharge thru hull. Once off shore, I went to dump the tank and the duck bills inverted instantly.
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Old 11-01-2018, 07:34 PM   #17
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Hmmm, sort of a question. My overboard macerator pump is key controlled. Is it still necessary to close the overboard valve?
My broker said 'no'.
I had the USCG Aux inspect my boat. She did not check the over board valve after I showed her the key control for the pump. She said, she had not seen a key control on the pump and went on with the inspection.
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Old 11-01-2018, 11:23 PM   #18
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I think those pumps are fine for an intermittent use boat, but for heavy use something more robust is required.
What pump would you use to replace the T-series?
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Old 11-02-2018, 07:14 AM   #19
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Old Dan,
I added one on my panel because we kept brushing past the switch getting out of the berth. CG inspector said it qualified for him.
Sorry about the rotation ...
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Old 11-02-2018, 08:30 AM   #20
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My overboard macerator pump is key controlled. Is it still necessary to close the overboard valve?

According to the letter of the law (33 CFR 159.7), it not only has to be closed, it has to be "secured" (wire tied). However, keyed macerators didn't exist when the law was written in the late '70s and the USCG and most state and local water cops accept it as an alternative to actually wiring the seacock closed (the thru-hull should be kept closed except when actually dumping the tank anyway, unless you want to risk filling the tank with sea water). But the law's never been amended, so there's nothing in writing that says a keyed pump is ok...leaving the possibility open that you could run into a "local yokel" with an advanced case of Barny Fife syndrome. So local knowledge from other boat owners when you cruise is worth seeking out.


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