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Old 01-21-2018, 09:28 PM   #1
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Clean out Vacuflush Vacuum Tank

So our Vacuflush toilets have been flushing slowly and I discovered an accumulation of toilet paper in the vacuum tanks (not the holding tank) where water is accumulated for the vacuum pump to discharge into the holding tank. Does anyone have a suggestion for a chemical that will dissolve the old TP? Or another method I can use to clean out the tanks?
Yes we are using marine TP and using plenty of water. I think it is just a long accumulated mess that needs attention. Thanks
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Old 01-21-2018, 09:32 PM   #2
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Caustic soda but be very careful
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Old 01-21-2018, 09:43 PM   #3
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How about tilting the inlet end of the tank up, filling it with water, let it sit over night, and pump it out. Repeat as necessary.

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Old 01-21-2018, 09:59 PM   #4
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RVs sometimes have a similar problem. There are cleaners available. So far I've not needed one so have no recommendations. But browse the RV places.
They usually have to be allowed to sit for a while, several hours or more, but have a look.
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Old 01-21-2018, 10:11 PM   #5
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Try using Noflex Digestor for a while, it does a great job of cleaning things up and if you follow the normal dosage after it works wonders with odours .........
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Old 01-21-2018, 11:33 PM   #6
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I experienced this awful mess not too long ago, it was related directly to TP. In particular, Angel Soft brand that we had used for a number of years without a problem, along with many RV folk who recommended it on many of the RV forums. Shortly prior to experiencing a major blockage in the one vacuum tank, we discovered that Angel Soft had changed their formulation and after doing the TP in a glass jar test, it failed almost as spectacularly as it blocked the vacuum tank. The blockage was a paste of TP and feces with much of the water content pulled out. There was no salvation other than removing the tank and flushing it with a hose with some mechanical loosening. I'm a retired Master plumber, it ranked up there with the top yuck-worthy experiences in my time in the trade.

I would VERY strongly discourage the use of caustics, sulfuric acid, or any chemical solution. It's bad enough with a paste of poop and paper, but caustics only compound the mess and additionally make it very dangerous. If it doesn't clear the blockage, then you've got a dangerous caustic stinky mess that will rain havoc on whatever it comes in contact with when it pops free. DON'T DO IT!!

Use a hose to flush it out. If you can manage to flush it into a normal (non-marine) toilet and flush the discharge, that's probably best, perhaps flush it into a 5 gal. bucket and then dump that in a water closet. It's just a messy job, no getting around it. Once the tank is cleared, you may consider treating it with muriatic acid to remove urinary salts that typically build up in the tank and can initiate blockage from those buildups.

Test your TP periodically. "Marine" just means more expensive, "Septic safe" is no better assurance, either. Take a wad of your potential TP, drop it in a clear container of water, let stand 10 min. or so, then shake it up. If the paper turns to a slurry, it passes. If it retains its sheet form, move to the next prospect. Use the brand that disintegrates most completely and quickly.

Patience! Good luck!
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Old 01-22-2018, 11:07 AM   #7
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"I'm a retired Master plumber, it ranked up there with the top yuck-worthy experiences in my time in the trade."

As was my father , but he always said, "It washes off".
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Old 01-22-2018, 12:52 PM   #8
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I think y'all managed to miss that the problem is NOT in his holding tank but in the VacuFlush VACUUM tank. And it's not a true clog, it's a "slurry" of water and accumulated TP (which he claims is marine/rv from WM) that's causing the toilet to flush very very slowly.

We spent some time on the phone last night and this morning I had a talk with Patrick LeClerc, CEO of Trac Ecological who makes Sew Clean Sew Clean He told me that Sew Clean will "eat" some toilet paper...prob'ly not the previously mentioned Angel Soft, but should include marine/rv and any other "quick dissolve" TP. He recommended a 4:1 dilution ratio so that the solution is stronger than the normal Sew Clean, and allow the solution stay in the system for at least 16 hours, up to 24 hours followed by a fresh water flush with plenty of water.

Waiting to find out if it works. Also have a call into Dave at Zaal (makers of No-Flex Digester).

I also recommended that he open up the vacuum pump to check for a buildup in it around the bellows 'cuz it's unlikely that NONE of the TP made it that far.

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Old 01-23-2018, 10:23 AM   #9
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Well here is what I did/ am doing on this slurry of TP in the accumulator tank. I disconnected pump and filled accumulator tank with a concentrated Digest It solution through the toilet and let it soak overnight. Reconnected pump and let Vacuflush cycle. Then turned off water to toilet and flushed water in bowl. Turned off pump and relieved vacuum (flushed dry toilet) and turned off vacuum pump. I then pulled the toilet input hose to the accumulator tank, turned on the vacuum and used a hose and nozzle to spray around the inside of the tank through the input hose fitting to wash out remaining residue as it was being pumped out. Put hose back together and a couple fresh water flushes after that and all is well. I am going to soak again with Digest It and hose out again to get last remaining junk out of the tank. YMMV
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Old 01-23-2018, 12:02 PM   #10
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I'm curious, which type of Vacuflush do you have? We had the components on our boat (pump separate from vacuum tank), and the tanks discharged from the bottom, no way to accumulate anything on the bottom.
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Old 01-23-2018, 01:24 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by caltexflanc View Post
I'm curious, which type of Vacuflush do you have? We had the components on our boat (pump separate from vacuum tank), and the tanks discharged from the bottom, no way to accumulate anything on the bottom.
Attached is a diagram (if I did it correctly)
Attached Thumbnails
Vacu flush diagram.jpg  
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Old 01-23-2018, 04:00 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by caltexflanc View Post
I'm curious, which type of Vacuflush do you have? We had the components on our boat (pump separate from vacuum tank), and the tanks discharged from the bottom, no way to accumulate anything on the bottom.
Too little water with too much TP can clog the discharge port in the vacuum tank, causing TP to pile up in the tank. So can flushing something that shouldn't have been flushed. I remember removing a fist sized stuffed teddy bear from a vacuum tank...flushed by the owner's grandchild.

Fortunately, though, the vacuum switch assembly on your vacuum tank is a 3" threaded cap at one end that can be easily removed to clean out the tank. UNfortunately (as you'll see in the photo Tom provided), that's not true of the vacuum tank in his vacuum generator.

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Old 01-23-2018, 04:10 PM   #13
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Yeah, that's a different set up from ours. So that tube outlined on the left goes down near the bottom of the tank?
We had the advantage of having lots of space, and everything could travel down hill from one component to the next. And we're big believers in the "use some water" club. So many people think these are like airplane toilets, press the button and release.
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Old 01-23-2018, 06:28 PM   #14
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Sum Escape,
It sounds like you are well on your way to cleaning up the problem.
Two years ago, I had a few days with nothing better to do, so I disconnected the two hose connections and removed the entire vacuum generator (actually three of them) from the boat. With bleach, gloves, goggles, a coat hanger and garden hose, I cleaned out the generator(s). They usually take 42-46 pump cycles each time we flush them so we count every few weeks to make sure they are running fine.
Taking the generator out of the boat, also makes changing the duck bills much easier.
Good luck.
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Old 01-23-2018, 06:40 PM   #15
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You had two days with nothing better to do than CLEAN OUT YOUR HOLDING TANK???!!!

Dude................really?
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Old 01-23-2018, 06:54 PM   #16
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Toadhall,
No, I cleaned the vacuum generators. The holding tank gets pumped out about every 4-5 weeks.
There is always a list of projects to be done on the boat. In the next few weeks, likely scrub and paint the engine room, maybe paint some of the bilges, and if I get bored, perhaps replace some head hoses.
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Old 10-18-2021, 10:04 AM   #17
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Were the results from Sew Clean and No-Flex Digester ever published here? I have a vacuum tank that is near impossible to remove and II can't get to the discharge fitting to clean it out. TP plug......
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Old 10-18-2021, 04:23 PM   #18
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Wow, aren't vacuflush systems the greatest!
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Old 10-18-2021, 04:29 PM   #19
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Wow, aren't vacuflush systems the greatest!
Yes... especially when the boat builders install them in such easily accessible locations for EZ maintenance!
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Old 10-20-2021, 07:14 AM   #20
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OK, so now we have a boat with VacuFlush toilets. Completely rebuilt, new sanitation hoses, etc. $$$

But I guess it means I now need to pay attention to TP, unlike before with our electric macerating toilets.

Can folks here suggest what brands/sub-brands of TP pass the "self-dissolve" test?

And of those, are there any that are actually absorbent, don't just smear, and don't feel like sandpaper?

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