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Old 06-05-2021, 05:08 PM   #1
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Marine head calcification

Hello all

We have used our boat 600 or so days in the past three years. I rebuilt the Jabsco Quietflush toilets last Fall. They were gross internally. I noticed what I would call a calcification that built up on the lower part of the toilet where water usually sits, even after flushing. I chipped away at it (was disgusting) and cleaning both toilets the best I could. I have heard this happening with seawater flush toilets when seawater and urine interact but ours are fresh water. Any idea what the build up is and if I can prevent it or clean it easily with a chemical or something?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-06-2021, 05:21 AM   #2
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You could have the same kind of build-up in the hose that runs from toilet outlet to holding tank inlet.

If it's uric acid crystals (yes, could happen with freshwater), Sew Clean by Trac will dissolve that, easily. (I think Raritan still sells the same stuff as "CH" under their own label.) If you happen to have Barnacle Buster on hand, you can use that instead, diluting to Sew Clean ratio instead of the BB proportions.

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Old 06-06-2021, 06:08 AM   #3
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When we were complete liveaboard cruisers ran into the same problem inspite of the occasional run of vinegar through our two heads. Then switched to using only RO water in the heads and double flushing. After that change no further issues. Think the near absence of any salts/minerals in the RO water is sufficient to keep the urates in solution so little or no crystallization occurs. Our heads have #1 and #2 buttons. Ignored that and just used the longer flush so no high uric water was left in the plumbing.
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Old 06-06-2021, 06:47 AM   #4
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Historically, I too have had the build up. I have attacked with a green pad, which takes time.
Now, I just pour in about 12oz of white vinegar and let it soak while I go shopping.
When i come back, I everything is in solution. 30 sec with a standard toilet brush, flush good. The buildup is gone.
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Old 06-06-2021, 08:45 AM   #5
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Thanks. I suppose a contributing factor is when we are long-term cruising, we try to stretch out our pumpouts and as the old saying goes "yellow let it mellow".

Acid (Barnacle Buster) or Vinegar (also aciditic) won't hurt the sanitation hoses? There are metal components (chopper plate, etc) and typically you dont want to expose metals to acids...
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Old 06-06-2021, 09:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Acid (Barnacle Buster) ... won't hurt the sanitation hoses?

Nope, not when used according to the Sew Clean dilution.

Sew Clean is actually purpose-made for this job. Trac has info on their site.

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Old 06-06-2021, 09:35 AM   #7
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Neither vinegar (always use distilled white vinegar...it's more acidic than cider, which can also be sticky), nor any of the products mentioned will harm anything in a marine toilet, hoses or other equipment. Nor will muriatic (hydrochloric) acid, which has long been the recommended product to remove sea water mineral buildup in hoses.

I suppose a contributing factor is when we are long-term cruising, we try to stretch out our pumpouts and as the old saying goes "yellow let it mellow".

Yep...and so will being too skimpy with flush water.

Dan, it's not a good idea to leave vinegar standing in the bowl because soft rubber (your joker valve) left to soak in vinegar will swell and distort. You can prob'ly get away with doing it for an hour or two, but don't even think of leaving vinegar sitting in the bowl overnight.

But the bowl isn't the only place where buildup is occurring...sea water minerals and/or urine crystals also build up in the toilet discharge line. But an occasional run of vinegar through the system is just a waste of vinegar. A cupful--no more than 2 cups--of undiluted distilled white vinegar flushed all the way through the system once a week, followed by a fresh water flush after about 45 minutes is needed to prevent mineral and uric acid buildup in it.

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Old 06-06-2021, 09:40 AM   #8
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Peggy, shopping takes an hour+ so, I am not leaving it in the bowl over night plus I always give it a very good flush afterwards. I am on a fresh water flushing system.
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Old 06-06-2021, 09:47 AM   #9
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A 45 min flush might test the limits of most holding tanks?
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Old 06-06-2021, 10:37 AM   #10
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A 45 min flush might test the limits of most holding tanks?
45 minutes?
I suggest that only be accomplished when you have a pump out or a good way away from shore. ie 3 miles and or, if you can still see the shore line, you are still too close.
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Old 06-06-2021, 10:53 AM   #11
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A 45 min flush might test the limits of most holding tanks?

If you read it again, I didn't say "45 minute flush," I said "followed by a fresh water flush after about 45 minutes."

Sheesh!! Please don't attempt any electrical work if you can't read instructions more carefully than that!


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Old 06-06-2021, 12:12 PM   #12
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Peggy is my impression that using RO water prevents or decreases this issue correct?
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Old 06-06-2021, 01:42 PM   #13
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I have no idea whether it does or not and a search didn't turn up the answer. But it did turn up an extensive article "Health Risks From Drinking De-Mineralized Water" which y'all might find interesting enough to plow all the way through.

https://www.who.int/water_sanitation...entschap12.pdf

As for your question, just guessing out loud that while RO water should eliminate MINERAL buildup in sewage system plumbing, I can't see how it can eliminate/prevent URINE crystal buildup. I do know that it's far worse where very little flush water is used...urine crystals ("struvites") not only build up in the plumbing, but also on the walls and bottoms of holding tanks. It's a common problem in RVs.

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Old 06-06-2021, 08:51 PM   #14
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Know you need a healthy diet with adequate salts and minerals if you’re not drinking ground water which already has them from percolating through the earth. Also know to add drops or salts containing those minerals to the water we drink before it goes into the frig for cooling.
Maybe because we have virtually unlimited water with a watermaker and was primarily in the Caribbean where holding tanks are only used (voluntarily) when in a slip not restricting the volume of water used lead to the absence of that issue. My understanding is that for any crystal, regardless of substrate, you need an fairly concentrated solution. So dilution by increasing volume of water would decrease formation of even struvites ?sounds reasonable is it true?
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Old 06-06-2021, 09:14 PM   #15
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I suggest you do an online search for "struvites"...you'll get a wealth of information about what they are, the impact of diet on them and a whole bunch more.


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Old 06-06-2021, 09:17 PM   #16
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Will do thanks
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Old 06-07-2021, 05:42 AM   #17
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Interesting subject Peggy. Only thoughts are either because RO water is Mg deficient or due to shift in pH struvite scale is less likely to form. However, this subject isn’t in my wheelhouse. Have a son in law who is a water engineer. Works mostly from the ecological slant. Still, much more knowledgeable than me. Will run the question by him and get back to you. I know it became routine to take the hoses off and pound them against something hard to clear them. After switching the need to do that stopped. Also the interval to replace joker valves was dramatically increased. So it’s correlated in my mind but don’t know if it’s the causation.
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Old 06-07-2021, 08:14 AM   #18
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I know it became routine to take the hoses off and pound them against something hard to clear them. After switching the need to do that stopped. Also the interval to replace joker valves was dramatically increased. So itís correlated in my mind but donít know if itís the causation.

Only sailors would ever even consider removing hoses to beat them on a dock to clear mineral buildup, then put the same hoses back. As for joker valves...as waste passes through them it stretches the slit till it gradually becomes a hole, rendering it useless to block back up...which is actually the LEAST important function of a joker valve in a manual toilet. If you have my book, read the chapter "Joker Valve 101" for the description of it's real function in a manual toilet. But whether in a manual or electric toilet, joker valves should be replaced at least annually.


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Old 06-07-2021, 10:25 AM   #19
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If I ever have to remove a hose from the head it is getting replaced with a new hose. The old hose gets plugged with paper towels and taped up with duct tape as soon as it comes off the fitting and then carried off the boat immediately. The hose isnít expensive enough to reuse the old hose. Particularly if you needed to beat on it to get the hardened stuff out of it.
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Old 06-07-2021, 11:18 AM   #20
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If there’s no place to buy it you do what you can. Replace when available. No Budget marine nor island water works in many places. Often need to wait a week or more for stuff. Did carry extra but wanted to have one virgin spare at all times just in case.
Was replacing jokers multiple times a year. Buying them 6 at a time. Have two heads. One manual one electric. Just two people. Seems to me need to replace that frequently was excessive. If and when was in a marina did our daily ablutions and functions up there unless inconvenient.

Peggy extrapolating from my limited reading is lady’s pee more likely to produce struvite deposits?
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