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Old 11-23-2020, 02:50 PM   #1
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Black Water Pump Out Dilemma

For years, I've read the black water tank threads with a "lucky that's not me" mentality. Well, it looks like my turn has finally come.

Following Peggie's advice, I'm getting ready to ditch my black water vent filter and enlarge the hose including a nice mushroom through-hull fitting so my tank can breathe and I can ensure the vent is clear. In preparation, I went to the pump-out dock to empty my black water tank.

My black water tank is full (don't ask me how I know...it's not pretty). Nothing would pump out. What I tried:

Yes, the pump-out is working (at least it is vigorously sucking up seawater).

No, the vent is not clogged (well, it may have been but I disconnected it where it attaches at the top of the tank so there was no blockage before pumping).

Thinking the pump out line was plugged by solids at the entrance to the tank, I ran a plumbing snake down the deck fitting and "stirred things up."

Took it back to the pump out and still got nothing.

The kicker, I took the boat out (where it is legal) and the diaphragm pump allowed me to empty my tank overboard with no issues.

What in the world is going on here?
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Old 11-23-2020, 03:33 PM   #2
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This may seem overly simple but did you uncoil all of the hose from the pump-out? We have to uncoil all of it from the stand and lay it on the dock for it to function properly.
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Old 11-23-2020, 03:52 PM   #3
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Good thought. We obviously think alike. Yes, it was all laid out straight.
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Old 11-23-2020, 04:13 PM   #4
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A valve?
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Old 11-23-2020, 04:25 PM   #5
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You might check the dock pump out is really working by using a bucket of water as a test to see if it will pump the bucket empty. KISS, keep it simple. Try the easy things first.
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Old 11-23-2020, 04:33 PM   #6
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Last pumpout I did had a heck of a time getting the hose end to seal on the deck fitting. I blame it on being cold weather. Hose is fitted with a tapered rubber end. Had to really press on the handle to seal.
Thinking of getting one of the fittings that screws into the deck fitting and attaches to the hose end with a solid connection.
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Old 11-23-2020, 04:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solly View Post
Last pumpout I did had a heck of a time getting the hose end to seal on the deck fitting. I blame it on being cold weather. Hose is fitted with a tapered rubber end. Had to really press on the handle to seal.
Thinking of getting one of the fittings that screws into the deck fitting and attaches to the hose end with a solid connection.
Simple way to seal the rubber fitting to the deck fitting is to run a small amount of water from a hose onto the fitting. Then the pump will suck in water instead of air and it will pump well. Just donít use the potable water hose...
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Old 11-23-2020, 04:40 PM   #8
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Dave,

I didn't try that but I did stick the hose in the water, watched the seawater immediately pull up into the clear sight glass in the hose, and felt the hose get heavier when filling with water so I'm pretty sure the suction is working. I'll try the bucket trick next time I'm at the dock to be certain.


Bayview, although it's been about a year, I've successfully pumped out before and there have been no changes to any valves or plumbing. I'll trace the plumbing when I get down there just to be certain.
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Old 11-23-2020, 04:44 PM   #9
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Well if the pumpout is working and the vent hose is unhooked and the pumpout hose is clear, then you have me stumped. And you were able to dump it at sea. This is strange. Maybe send Peggie Hall, The Head Mistress, a PM and ask her, she is the guru of all things head related.
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Old 11-23-2020, 05:02 PM   #10
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Thanks Dave,

I'll probably do just that. It's really got me scratching my head...
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Old 11-23-2020, 05:33 PM   #11
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Our pump out had a small crack around the connection near the pump out end. I had to work hard to get enough of a seal to work. Put it over the side and it pumps sea water like crazy. I had to hold it just right and push down on it just right. Finally it was recently fixed.
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Old 11-23-2020, 05:35 PM   #12
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No need to send me a PM...


You pulled the vent line off the tank...did you scrape out the vent fitting on the tank? If not, it's possible you were able to dump the tank because the suction created by the diaphragm pump is a lot less than the suction from the pump out...that your vent may be allowing enough air to be pulled in for it to work, but not enough to keep up with the demand from the pumpout. When you try to pump out, are you hearing any hissing sound from the toilet? Did you hear any when you dumped the tank?



Are you hearing any hissing sound from the deck pumpout fitting? That could indicate it's just not sealing tightly.


If none of the above, the pumpout equipment may be the culprit. Can you try pumping out at another marina?


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Old 11-23-2020, 05:46 PM   #13
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An air leak in the circuit to the deck pumpout fitting will prevent a pumpout. It could be anywhere between the fitting and the tank.

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Old 11-23-2020, 06:03 PM   #14
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Ken, you just raised a possibility that hadn't occurred to me. Any air leak in the tank discharge plumbing would have to be between any y-valve and the deck fitting. He wouldn't be able to dump the tank if it were between the y-valve and the overboard discharge pump. Or, if instead of a single discharge line with a y-valve in it, he has TWO discharge lines--one dedicated to the deck fitting, the other dedicated to the overboard pump, any air leak would have to be in the line to the deck fitting.

Which raises the question: how old are the hoses? 10 years is average working life of any hose 'cuz rubber and plastics dry out over time, becoming hard, brittle and prone to cracking and splitting. If his are even close to that age, you may have found the problem.

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Old 11-23-2020, 06:23 PM   #15
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There is another possibility. Overboard pumps usually draw from a fitting at the bottom of the tank. Deck pump outs often go to a fitting at the top of the tank and a tube extends down to the bottom. If this tube has become detached you woul be sucking air straight from the vent and never get any effluent.
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Old 11-23-2020, 08:18 PM   #16
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Just a side note, last season I too finally decided to follow Peggy's advice and delete the vent line filter, and replaced the screened-over vent cap outside the hull with a new, bigger one. I was very skeptical and expected significant stink rising from the new vent cap. Vent line filter manufacturers make millions selling charcoal-filled, space age, whiz bang filters, how could they be useless or a bad idea? And Mainship even designed the holding tank plumbing and fittings and mounted a dedicated bracket to include a filter, how could Mainship be so wrong? And I probably spent hundreds over the years replacing those stinking filters (literally stinking) every year and every time they got wet, so I was financially invested in the whole vent line filter concept. Well what do you know, it worked -- Peggy was right.
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Old 11-24-2020, 06:29 PM   #17
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Peggie (and others), Thanks so much for the input.

I didn't hear a leak at the deck fitting but there certainly could. be a leak further down the line. It's all accessible so I'll have to try again with someone up top and me in the lazarette listening to the hose. This is where one of those locking hose ends would come in handy.

I didn't scrape the vent input and it is relatively small (probably 1/2" hose) so that could be plugged. I'll check.

As far as leaking hoses, I've had the boat for 5 years now so they are at least that old. It also looks as if the PO painted them when they painted the bilge. There is no sewage smell in the bilge/lazarette and I don't know if the hot towel trick would work as they are painted.

I do have two discharge lines, both of which are at the bottom of the tank so there's no doubt they're in the "stuff."

The only thing I neglected to mention is the hose from the tank to the deck pump out has a Y fitting (not a valve) with one side going to the deck fitting and the other side going to a manual Whale gulper type pump for emptying the black water tank. That manual pump is never used, especially since the handle is blocked by my fuel filter. Would it be possible for the vacuum to be going through the whale pump instead of from the tank?
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Old 11-24-2020, 06:45 PM   #18
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When you get the tank empty, if it were my boat I would replace all the hose to and from the holding tank. If you have had it 5 years and who knows when the PO changed the hoses, then they are most likely at end of life. I think the best hose is Raritan SaniFlex. The best price I have found is at Defender. No affiliation.
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Old 11-24-2020, 06:58 PM   #19
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A different direction solve the problem. Introduces other concerns ("litter box" to steel Peggie's thunder) but certainly solves a lot of issues OP is experiencing.

https://natureshead.net/
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Old 11-24-2020, 07:37 PM   #20
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I would say that whale gulper is probably the weak link. Is there a shut off vale before or after it? if not then if one of the Gulper's internal valves go bad you have an air leak through the pump. If the diagram develops a leak you have a leak also.
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