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Old 03-11-2020, 04:44 PM   #1
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Vacuflush trouble shooting

I could use some tips on finding a vacuum leak. I've installed new duck bills, new diaphragm and new O rings in the pump. Everything cleaned out the pump body and duck bill holders and installed carefully.

The symptom is the pump cycles every 1 min 20 secs. The toilet bowl seals are holding, the level doesn't drop.

So, I've got a vacuum leak somewhere and no idea how to find it.

The system is a T pump and a separate vacuum tank. I suppose it could be the seal on the vacuum switch?
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Old 03-11-2020, 05:23 PM   #2
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Peggie, The Head Mistress, will probably chime in on this but in case she misses it you could PM her. She has a guide for Vacuflush heads.
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Old 03-11-2020, 05:40 PM   #3
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Portage,
I am not an expert but I do own one (Vacuflush). From my understanding the likely places for vacuum leaks are: hose connections (clamps), duckbills, bowl or floor seal (but the toilet should not hold water if leaking - may take a while to show), and the vacuum switch. You replaced the other potential issue, the diaphragm and seals. One way to find leaks is to "coat" all hose connections with shaving cream (can) and look for bubbles.
Best advice, is contact or wait for Peggy or the other Vacuflush guy (sorry can't remember his name, but he lives near me).
Good luck
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Old 03-11-2020, 06:17 PM   #4
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Hi,
Hunting pressure leaks is one of the joys of Vacuflush ownership. The good news is that once you get everything right, the damn things will hold pressure for weeks! I know... I didn't believe it either.

As suggested above, check hose clamps and other obvious places. If it still leaks I suggest a complete rebuilt. Do it once...or do it piece by piece and hate life each time you need to work on it. I bought the parts, took the toilet out of the boat, washed it real good, and put it back together will all new parts. There are tons of videos on youtube showing how this is done. Nothing here is very hard. These are the kits I bought:

- water valve assembly
- floor flange seal
- base to bowl seal kit
- ball/shaft/cartridge kit

And for good measure:

- duck valve kit

If your Vacuflush is really worn out you may need to purchase a new bellows kit. Recently they bundled the 'bellows kit' into a 'quiet pump and bellow kit' which is like $300. I bought this too - no reason - and it really isn't much quieter. Hopefully the kits above will fix everything.

Pete
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Old 03-11-2020, 06:58 PM   #5
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Tightening the floor flange seal is simple, not messy, and worth a try. Water will stay in the bowl if that flange leaks, but you lose vacuum. Even with new O rings in the pump the clamp (or bolts, depending on model) also need to be pretty tight.
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Old 03-11-2020, 07:44 PM   #6
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Thanks all for your input. I'll respond here enmass rather than to each message. Let me start by saying I'm not new to Vacuflush having taken care of a system on the work boat for more years than I care to admit. And once they're all tuned up they're great systems.


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Originally Posted by firehoser75 View Post
Portage,
I am not an expert but I do own one (Vacuflush). From my understanding the likely places for vacuum leaks are: hose connections (clamps), duckbills, bowl or floor seal (but the toilet should not hold water if leaking - may take a while to show), and the vacuum switch. You replaced the other potential issue, the diaphragm and seals. One way to find leaks is to "coat" all hose connections with shaving cream (can) and look for bubbles.
Best advice, is contact or wait for Peggy or the other Vacuflush guy (sorry can't remember his name, but he lives near me).
Good luck
Hose clamps have been given great attention. All new, double clamped with screws on opposite sides. Tightened, re-tightened until no more movement.

Duckbills are new.

Bowl seals are good, the bowl level never drops.

The floor seal is a new idea to me. The system I cared for the bowl discharge wad directly into a hose. No bowl seal.

I don't understand using shaving cream. Vacuum leaks in, not out. Can't see how that will make the shaving cream bubble.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pdxstriper View Post
Hi,
Hunting pressure leaks is one of the joys of Vacuflush ownership. The good news is that once you get everything right, the damn things will hold pressure for weeks! I know... I didn't believe it either.

As suggested above, check hose clamps and other obvious places. If it still leaks I suggest a complete rebuilt. Do it once...or do it piece by piece and hate life each time you need to work on it. I bought the parts, took the toilet out of the boat, washed it real good, and put it back together will all new parts. There are tons of videos on youtube showing how this is done. Nothing here is very hard. These are the kits I bought:

- water valve assembly
- floor flange seal
- base to bowl seal kit
- ball/shaft/cartridge kit

And for good measure:

- duck valve kit

If your Vacuflush is really worn out you may need to purchase a new bellows kit. Recently they bundled the 'bellows kit' into a 'quiet pump and bellow kit' which is like $300. I bought this too - no reason - and it really isn't much quieter. Hopefully the kits above will fix everything.

Pete
I don't mean to pick nits, but vacuum systems are just that, vacuum not pressure.

Ball shaft cartridge kit, good idea. I'll replace that. The rest of your excellent suggestions please see my response above.

Quote:
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Tightening the floor flange seal is simple, not messy, and worth a try. Water will stay in the bowl if that flange leaks, but you lose vacuum. Even with new O rings in the pump the clamp (or bolts, depending on model) also need to be pretty tight.
I'll look to see if this toilet has a floor flange seal. I'm not familiar with that.

I've taken the pump apart and installed new seals twice. Pretty sure I got that right.


Again, thank you all for helping! Really appreciate it!
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:39 PM   #7
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Do you have a vacuume switch? If so, can you adjust it?
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:42 PM   #8
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Yes there is a vacuum switch. However Seland now Dometic strongly recommends not messing with it. I don't think it would solve this problem of loosing vacuum. Only change the set points and thus the cycle time.
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:43 PM   #9
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I don't understand using shaving cream. Vacuum leaks in, not out. Can't see how that will make the shaving cream bubble.

It doesn't. Squirt a little shaving cream around every hose connection...flush the toilet. The suction will pull the shaving cream into any connection that's leaking, it'll just sit there on any connection that isn't.

Now that we've cleared that up...

The system is a T pump and a separate vacuum tank. I suppose it could be the seal on the vacuum switch?

Nope, If it were the vacuum switch, it would be the diaphragm IN the it. It's rubber and over time it wears out, developing a leak that's a tiny pinhole at first, causing to run longer and longer after each flush until it finally won't shut off at all. It wouldn't cause the pump to cycle. The vacuum switch is NOT adjustable and that little diaphragm isn't replaceable...you'd have to buy the entire vacuum switch. The good news is, it's an easy swap out. It threads into the end of your vacuum tank like an inspection port cap.

If you've eliminated air leaks in hose connections AND the bowl holds water (in which case you do not need a bowl, shaft and cartridge), check your new duckbills...it's not unheard of for one or more to be defective, not closing tightly. If you're being as sparing with water as a Dometic (nee SeaLand) wants you believe you can, a bit of solid waste or TP caught in a duckbill can create an air leak that can cause the pump to cycle. That can also clog the pump (aka bellows)...or, if the pump has some age on it, the diaphragm could just be worn and leaking.

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Old 03-11-2020, 10:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadMistress View Post
I don't understand using shaving cream. Vacuum leaks in, not out. Can't see how that will make the shaving cream bubble.

It doesn't. Squirt a little shaving cream around every hose connection...flush the toilet. The suction will pull the shaving cream into any connection that's leaking, it'll just sit there on any connection that isn't.

Now that we've cleared that up...

The system is a T pump and a separate vacuum tank. I suppose it could be the seal on the vacuum switch?

Nope, If it were the vacuum switch, it would be the diaphragm IN the it. It's rubber and over time it wears out, developing a leak that's a tiny pinhole at first, causing to run longer and longer after each flush until it finally won't shut off at all. It wouldn't cause the pump to cycle. The vacuum switch is NOT adjustable and that little diaphragm isn't replaceable...you'd have to buy the entire vacuum switch. The good news is, it's an easy swap out. It threads into the end of your vacuum tank like an inspection port cap.

If you've eliminated air leaks in hose connections AND the bowl holds water (in which case you do not need a bowl, shaft and cartridge), check your new duckbills...it's not unheard of for one or more to be defective, not closing tightly. If you're being as sparing with water as a Dometic (nee SeaLand) wants you believe you can, a bit of solid waste or TP caught in a duckbill can create an air leak that can cause the pump to cycle. That can also clog the pump (aka bellows)...or, if the pump has some age on it, the diaphragm could just be worn and leaking.

--Peggie

Peggie,

Thank you for the reply!

Now I understand the shaving cream approach and will give it a try.

I may replace the vacuum switch assembly just because it's old. Yes, I understand it can't be adjusted.

Good to know I don't need bowl seals or cartridge, but I will add them to my spares kit.

I have inspected the duck bills. And because I've just put this system back together I've only been running fresh water through it and will only run fresh water until I've got it sorted out and working right.

The diaphragm is new so probably not at fault.

Don't know when I'll get back to the boat, next week probably.
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Old 03-12-2020, 08:15 AM   #11
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And because I've just put this system back together I've only been running fresh water through it and will only run fresh water until I've got it sorted out and working right.

I'm guessing that a remote sea water pump has been added to the system that allows you to switch between fresh and sea water. If you've been using sea water, salt and sea water mineral buildup may account for your problems. However...


It's not the type of flush water, it's the amount that matters. At least 90% of VF problems are a result of using too little water because too many owners interpret "can use as little as one pint of flush water" to mean that's all it needs. I've written a piece I call "VacuFlush 101" that explains how it works (an amazing number of owners think they know, but actually don't) and how much water it actually needs to keep it working trouble free that I'll be glad to send you--and anyone else who wants it--if you'll send me a PM that includes you email address (no way to attach anything to a PM). You may not learn anything new from it , but I think you'll find it interesting. Fwiw, I was a distributor dealer for nearly 10 years and VF was the toilet on my last two boats, so I'm intimately acquainted with it.


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Old 03-12-2020, 10:22 AM   #12
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Hey Portage,

Please let us know how you fixed it when you are done.


I had a vacuum leak in my system and after doing all the stuff Peggie suggested, I found a hole in the hose and had to replace 35ft of new poop hose in cold February.
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Old 03-12-2020, 12:02 PM   #13
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Hey Portage,

Please let us know how you fixed it when you are done.


I had a vacuum leak in my system and after doing all the stuff Peggie suggested, I found a hole in the hose and had to replace 35ft of new poop hose in cold February.
Will do. I've got a lot of experience with vacuflush but this one has me stumped.

How did you find the hose pinhole?
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Old 03-12-2020, 05:56 PM   #14
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There is a vacuum tester available from them (via their regional distributor, out east here it is Environmental Marine), that ,makes this a pretty easy process. You start at the toilet and work your way downstream.

https://www.environmentalmarine.com/...gaAtYlEALw_wcB
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Old 03-12-2020, 05:59 PM   #15
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Old 03-12-2020, 06:03 PM   #16
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There is a vacuum tester available from them (via their regional distributor, out east here it is Environmental Marine), that ,makes this a pretty easy process. You start at the toilet and work your way downstream.

https://www.environmentalmarine.com/...gaAtYlEALw_wcB
Thank you for letting me know about the tester. I was thinking of rigging something up myself. Buying this device will be much easier than cobbling together bits n pieces and needing to test my homebrew gizmo.
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Old 03-12-2020, 07:17 PM   #17
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Listen to your system

At a minute and 20 second cycle you should be able to hear that leak. Run the pump up to full vacuum and remove power to the pump (so you can hear the leak without the pump running). Use a tube held up to your ear to listen around suspect joints or parts if you need to.
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Old 03-12-2020, 08:33 PM   #18
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There is a vacuum tester available from them (via their regional distributor, out east here it is Environmental Marine), that ,makes this a pretty easy process. You start at the toilet and work your way downstream.

Which do you think is easier: disconnecting and reconnecting every connection, one at a time to use the vacuum tester gauge, or squirting a little shaving cream on all of 'em, just flush the toilet and then inspect every connection to see if the suction pulled in the shaving cream on any of 'em?

And btw, the vacuum tester gauge is $75+...you can buy a can of Barbasol for $1 at any of the dollar stores...

Just sayin'...


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Old 03-12-2020, 11:17 PM   #19
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At a minute and 20 second cycle you should be able to hear that leak. Run the pump up to full vacuum and remove power to the pump (so you can hear the leak without the pump running). Use a tube held up to your ear to listen around suspect joints or parts if you need to.

I had the same thoughts. No joy. Haven't found the leak that way.
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Old 03-12-2020, 11:18 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by HeadMistress View Post
There is a vacuum tester available from them (via their regional distributor, out east here it is Environmental Marine), that ,makes this a pretty easy process. You start at the toilet and work your way downstream.

Which do you think is easier: disconnecting and reconnecting every connection, one at a time to use the vacuum tester gauge, or squirting a little shaving cream on all of 'em, just flush the toilet and then inspect every connection to see if the suction pulled in the shaving cream on any of 'em?

And btw, the vacuum tester gauge is $75+...you can buy a can of Barbasol for $1 at any of the dollar stores...

Just sayin'...


--Peggie

Everything passed the shaving cream test. Still stumped.
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