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Old 12-02-2016, 02:54 AM   #1
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Thumbs down whole wack of head and holding tank issues!

hello! thank goodness for this forum.

I am a new boat owner: ericson 26 1985

I have a double piston manual flush toilet but i do not know the manufacturer. recently I noticed that waste had leaked from somewhere out onto the floor of the bathroom then noticed that there was a hole under the toilet -what i assume to be the holding tank -with a wine cork stuck in it!! (previous owner blames the air b&bers) I moped it up and decided to get the holding tank pumped out before doing further inspection. I also noticed that I was unable to flush out the head so assumed the system was overfull.

it is possible the system has been overfull often.. this was my first pump out a month into acquiring the boat and living aboard it...previous owner told me I'd only need to pump out ever 3 months so I assumed the holding tank was huge, however when i asked her the size of the tank for calling the pump out service she told me its only 5 gallons!!!

pump out service came and said I need to clean my hold tank vent- it is obvious clogged. I'm not sure how to do that and I am looking everywhere on line for simple straightforward instructions. so far some things say back flush some say detach the parts to clean some say "don't detach whatever you do" etc

immediately after pump out I was able to flush again for a few flushes. I tried doing a hot water and vinegar flush but the head stopped flushing before I could complete that treatment. it seems like when I have the bowl set to dry water is still filling the bowl faster than it is pumping out.

tonight it started bubbling up and i really thought it might geyser up and explode on me. I left the lid open on the seat so that gases can escape but I'm afraid to go to sleep in case I wake up drowning in my own urine.

how do I clean out the vent? should i go out in my pjs right now and give it a scraping?

thanks
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Old 12-02-2016, 08:07 AM   #2
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Did you get it pumped out? 5 gallon tank will be good for 2-3 days for one person. Pay $100 to someone from a boatyard to review the whole system and show you how it works. If you have been living aboard a month and had not pumped out I would check the bilge. It's going someplace.
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Old 12-02-2016, 08:14 AM   #3
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tonight it started bubbling up and i really thought it might geyser up and explode on me. I left the lid open on the seat so that gases can escape but I'm afraid to go to sleep in case I wake up drowning in my own urine.
This raised some terrific images in my head
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Old 12-02-2016, 10:20 AM   #4
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Not nearly enough info upon which to pontificate.

I've never heard of a 5 gallon holding tank. I've never heard of a holding tank under a toilet that you could plug with a wine cork. Follow those 1 1/2" dia hoses and find out what you've really got and where. Pop a few pics and our Head Mistress will understand what you've got.

This is a powerboat crowd and we've normally got lots more room to hide stuff; your Ericson 26 could hardly be hiding anything (neither could my old Morgan 27); look around.
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Old 12-02-2016, 11:07 AM   #5
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You have two choices here, learn how boat sanitation systems work so you can use them correctly and fix any problems or pay a pro to fix your system when needed.

It's clear from your post that you have no idea what you have or how it works. You need to get educated or break out the credit card. Your choice.
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Old 12-02-2016, 11:21 AM   #6
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A toothpick run through the small vent holes should dislodge trapped solids. Good luck.
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Old 12-02-2016, 02:53 PM   #7
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Need way more information.

Like: clear, in focus, well lit pictures. Toilet brand and model, etc.

It also sounds like you should rebuild the head.
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Old 12-02-2016, 03:15 PM   #8
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New2... Situations can be intimidating but... you can maybe take a deep breath and then start breaking this down into smaller issues so you better understand what the problem is... and so folks can better help you work out what solutions might be.

1) Locate the holding tank

2) Locate and trace each hose connected to the holding tank
- one probably goes to the toilet
- one probably goes to the pump-out fitting on deck
- one probably goes to the vent fitting, perhaps on the side of the boat near the pump-out fitting
- one may go to an overboard discharge macerator (essentially a grinder, not unlike a household garbage disposor, conceptually), and from there to a discharge thru-hull

3) locate and trace each hose connected to the toilet
- one probably goes to the holding tank
- one may go to a direct overboard discharge,
- if you've got those two, you perhaps have a Y-valve to select routing to the holding tank -- the hose going to the holding tank mentioned above -- or directly overboard instead
- one may come from an inlet thru-hull (assuming yours is maybe a raw water (aka sea water)-flush toilet

4) puzzle out how those innies and outies work, i.e., what comes from where, what goes to where

Once you've got all that, you can maybe sort out what to do next. One idea, for example (and while we await further info) is that you could perhaps disconnect the vent line from the holding tank, and maybe use compressed air to blow that clear. Might be other ways, too, so that's just an example... but cleaning the vent line could be as simple as that.

Wouldn't hurt do try further to identify the toilet brand, and ideally model, too. Sometimes there's a label, sometimes you can ID with a Google picture search. Or post some pics here, and maybe somebody can identify. (Usually Peggie can tell them all.) If you can come close, you can often find the manual on line somewhere.

Might be a label on the holding tank, too, and that might include capacity. Might not be completely accurate, but might be a start toward deciding how often you need to pump out.

-Chris
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Old 12-18-2016, 06:58 AM   #9
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Good Read
"Get Rid of Boat Odors "
Peggy Hall

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Old 12-18-2016, 09:48 AM   #10
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Good Read
"Get Rid of Boat Odors "
Peggy Hall

Greg
I agree. I'm putting in a new holding tank and use this recently purchased book as a guideline reference.
Peggy is also on this forum as "Head Mistress". She is very helpful.
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Old 12-18-2016, 10:41 AM   #11
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Yes, read Peggy's book or otherwise get to know your head system. Even if you don't work on it yourself, you need to know enough about it to understand how to properly operate it.

All the symptoms you describe can be explained by an over full tank and a plugged vent. With such a small tank, I expect waste backup into the vent line has been a frequent occurrence, so it will probably need a very thorough cleaning, ultimately including flushing water back through the vent into the tank to be sure it is completely clean.

A 3 month pumpout interval is for someone who rarely uses the boat. As someone else said, 5 gal will fill up is a day or two with live aboards, depending on the type of toilet and how much water it uses.

As part of getting to know your system, I'd make sure there is some way to monitor the level in the tank. Over filling will be an ongoing challenge with such a small tank.
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Old 12-18-2016, 10:58 AM   #12
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Consider acid flush out.
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