Head system rebuild

HeadScratcher

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I am at the advantage of working on 3 to 4 systems a year for the past 10 years. I get to see what works what won’t. Some… I learned the hard way.
There is no way in hell if I did my own tank I would put a fitting at the bottom of it. I have a different perspective than most because I have to work on so many.
Another myth is that you need a separate tank to supply the head if going f/w. A simple check valve will do. I usually do 2 check valves for piece of mind. Just be careful not to tie into a pressurized part of the FW system if the head is not built for it.
I think what he was showing in his diagram wasn't a fitting at the bottom of the tank, but a fitting on the outflow line. I'm assuming this would allow for an emergency drain of the tank in case a pump out wasn't possible -- but I'm just guessing. I noticed in your drawing you recommend all fittings mount on the surface, with an intake pipe drawing out. Our system is pretty basic (no macerator pump, manual head).
 

Genius

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I am at the advantage of working on 3 to 4 systems a year for the past 10 years. I get to see what works what won’t. Some… I learned the hard way.
There is no way in hell if I did my own tank I would put a fitting at the bottom of it. I have a different perspective than most because I have to work on so many.
Another myth is that you need a separate tank to supply the head if going f/w. A simple check valve will do. I usually do 2 check valves for piece of mind. Just be careful not to tie into a pressurized part of the FW system if the head is not built for it.
Jerry, on ships they are very cautious of cross contamination especially with potable water. There are ways to do it, but check valves are not always 100%. The idea for the sink drain is PERFECT. I do understand fresh water tanks are not potable and I would never consume water from a small boats tank.
 
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Diesel Jerry

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chortle

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Jerry, on ships they are very cautious of cross contamination especially with potable water. There are ways to do it, but check valves are not always 100%. The idea for the sink drain is PERFECT. I do understand fresh water tanks are not potable and I would never consume water from a small boats tank.
I'm with Genius on this one, check valves can and do leak, not by design but it does happen. The sink drain idea is clever. If you can get the tee to land in the right spot it would also work but it is a bit more cumbersome for the kids and the ladies and guests are less enthusiastic about long winded instructions about using the head "turn this valve then close this one, then..."

You should be able to fit a flexible bladder tank in somewhere for your dedicated fresh water flush. Keep in mind, if your holding tank is 15 gallons you don't need that much for a fresh water flush, 10 gallons is fine. When your fresh water tank is empty it is time to pump out. You can also use a shower wand to rinse the bowl but that is more cumbersome, a good back up plan.

All this sounds like a lot of work but fresh water flush makes a huge difference if the boat sits for any time at all between uses.
 

chortle

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I think what he was showing in his diagram wasn't a fitting at the bottom of the tank, but a fitting on the outflow line. I'm assuming this would allow for an emergency drain of the tank in case a pump out wasn't possible -- but I'm just guessing. I noticed in your drawing you recommend all fittings mount on the surface, with an intake pipe drawing out. Our system is pretty basic (no macerator pump, manual head).
The sketch is pretty generic, on boats the vents usually mount on a vertical surface, well aft, on the transom or on either side but nothing wrong with straight up, that is how most municipal systems vent their lines. There is usually a pole dressed up to look like a light pole but with a grate on top to keep birds from building a nest inside.
 

Brooksie

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Usually it is just the hose that becomes permeated and causes the smell. The tanks seldom get permeated unless someone has used a water tank as a holding tank. Take a clean paper towel and wipe the hoses, hand it to someone outside to smell then do the same with the tank. The dead creatures in the intake hose do indeed smell in a "low tide" sort of way but once cleared b/4 a trip do not bother me. A second vent works really well if one scoop faces forward and one aft (using fuel tank vents) or if one on each side of the boat. There can be no dips in the vent line going to the other side of the boat to collect fluid.
 

Pequod

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Couple of thoughts based upon my experience with all types of waste systems from Electrosan to Vacuflush to Jabsco to Galley Made Systems.

There should be zero overboard discharge anywhere regardless of your boats location.
I don't install holding tanks macerators anymore
Plenty of pump out facilities available everywhere on the East Coast.

I prefer to use Dometic dip tubes with their Uniseals for both a vent and dockside pump out. Also install a Dometic Tanksaver to prevent the tank from imploding if your holding tank vent seal fails. Install Dometic carbon filter assembly in the vent line to eliminate odors.

Y-valves are a know source of odor, that is why I don't recommend them.

Tank vent fittings tend to fail due to the poor materials (usually potted metal)and the metal screen in the vent clogging.

Salt water systems are fine if used in open ocean, harbor water tends to be quite smelly.

I recently finished retrofitting a Jabsco Salt water head system(#37010-0000) to a Jabsco freshwater head (#37045) since the customer was complaining about the smell of the salt water. Pretty straight forward installation and plumb into the existing fresh water system (Whale fittings). Works great and customer satisfied with the installation.

Regarding sanitation hose, purchase the best quality available with wire which prevents kinking.
Using hard PVC piping in certain areas is definitely recommended.

Thoroughly flush all waste lines between the head and the holding tank periodically to eliminate any standing waste.

Ronco is great source of tanks.

Potable water is fine to drink, filtered properly and treated with a UV light system at the pump discharge.
 
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chortle

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I really appreciate this information -- so helpful. I hadn't thought about hard plumbing with PVC. Probably a lot cheaper that the flex pipe. With the hose fittings in the tank -- did you glue those threaded end into the tank or just thread them tight?
I like the idea of the service drain.
I don't know if we have the space in the boat to incorporate a fresh water flush, but, theoretically, we wouldn't need a tank larger than the holding tank, correct (water in, water out)? I'm wondering if I could put a small tank in and "T" of my raw water intake -- so that I could choose either a fresh water or sea water flush?
Again -- this is really good info. A great start for my spring project. I'm in a bind right now because the yard where I store the boat doesn't have a pump out, and we have a little water left in the tank. I don't dare haul it out until it's pumped dry. So I've added some non-tox and will let it sit until the weather warms up. My hope is that once we launch in the spring, I can have our marina pump out, and then I can do all the work at the mooring. If I'm in early enough, they might even let us use a slip for a day or two (so that I have access to power).
If I can pull this one off, my wife will be SOOO happy.
For PVC threads into plastic tank threads I used the recommended procedure of no glue, just screw it in tight. One thing you do need to be careful of when hard piping plumbing, especially on boats, is allowing room for movement of the piping. Vibration or thermal expansion can crack connections that are installed without room for movement or have some flexibility built into the system and mounting brackets.
You also want some flexibility built in for maintenance. The picture below shows one place I put in that $30 a foot hose on my installation. Someone will need to replace the joker valve at some time in the future and the hose connected to the bronze base of this head will allow for easier removal and replacement. Because I had to pump out and up from the head towards the drain line running down to the holding tank six feet away on the other side of this bulkhead this short vertical run of hose typically is full of discharge from the head. Hard piping this short vertical section would have been the easy way to go for installation but maintenance would have been more of an event. This hose is ten years old and zero smell.

1638555571507.png
 

HeadScratcher

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For PVC threads into plastic tank threads I used the recommended procedure of no glue, just screw it in tight. One thing you do need to be careful of when hard piping plumbing, especially on boats, is allowing room for movement of the piping. Vibration or thermal expansion can crack connections that are installed without room for movement or have some flexibility built into the system and mounting brackets.
You also want some flexibility built in for maintenance. The picture below shows one place I put in that $30 a foot hose on my installation. Someone will need to replace the joker valve at some time in the future and the hose connected to the bronze base of this head will allow for easier removal and replacement. Because I had to pump out and up from the head towards the drain line running down to the holding tank six feet away on the other side of this bulkhead this short vertical run of hose typically is full of discharge from the head. Hard piping this short vertical section would have been the easy way to go for installation but maintenance would have been more of an event. This hose is ten years old and zero smell.

View attachment 122193
Good advice -- thank you.
 

HeadScratcher

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Couple of thoughts based upon my experience with all types of waste systems from Electrosan to Vacuflush to Jabsco to Galley Made Systems.

There should be zero overboard discharge anywhere regardless of your boats location.
I don't install holding tanks macerators anymore
Plenty of pump out facilities available everywhere on the East Coast.

I prefer to use Dometic dip tubes with their Uniseals for both a vent and dockside pump out. Also install a Dometic Tanksaver to prevent the tank from imploding if your holding tank vent seal fails. Install Dometic carbon filter assembly in the vent line to eliminate odors.

Y-valves are a know source of odor, that is why I don't recommend them.

Tank vent fittings tend to fail due to the poor materials (usually potted metal)and the metal screen in the vent clogging.

Salt water systems are fine if used in open ocean, harbor water tends to be quite smelly.

I recently finished retrofitting a Jabsco Salt water head system(#37010-0000) to a Jabsco freshwater head (#37045) since the customer was complaining about the smell of the salt water. Pretty straight forward installation and plumb into the existing fresh water system (Whale fittings). Works great and customer satisfied with the installation.

Regarding sanitation hose, purchase the best quality available with wire which prevents kinking.
Using hard PVC piping in certain areas is definitely recommended.

Thoroughly flush all waste lines between the head and the holding tank periodically to eliminate any standing waste.

Ronco is great source of tanks.

Potable water is fine to drink, filtered properly and treated with a UV light system at the pump discharge.
I appreciate you taking the time to share this wisdom. I feel like I'm so much better prepared to tackle this project now -- spring can't get here soon enough!
 

Raider Ronnie

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Captinlon

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So I have to ask, that short stub of hose on the three way valve goes where?
I had not finished my install when I took that picture, it goes to my pump out. The line you see on the top left of picture. If you look at the top left, you will see a pvc 90 that it got piped to. The picture is deceiving, this whole set up is just under a deck hatch, that I can open flip the y valve witch ever way needed and my pump out is located right at the hatch as I didn't want another hole in the rail.
 

chortle

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I had not finished my install when I took that picture, it goes to my pump out. The line you see on the top left of picture. If you look at the top left, you will see a pvc 90 that it got piped to. The picture is deceiving, this whole set up is just under a deck hatch, that I can open flip the y valve witch ever way needed and my pump out is located right at the hatch as I didn't want another hole in the rail.
Thanks, I assumed it was something like that, the work you did looked so well thought out. How about some more pics of your boat? Not to derail this thread but maybe on another one like "best pic of your boat?"
 

Captinlon

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Thanks, I assumed it was something like that, the work you did looked so well thought out. How about some more pics of your boat? Not to derail this thread but maybe on another one like "best pic of your boat?"
Thanks just posted a few in the haul out section
 

CaptMD

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Did a similar project a few years ago... Replaced tank, hoses, head, diaphragm pump etc to redo entire system.

As other say, use the best hose... I used Trident and very happy with it. For the vent, I ran 3/4" hose through carbon filter to vent on side of starboard side hull.

The one thing I did per my mechanic recommendation is not install a Y valve. Instead I did a T fitting for the hose that let the waste either go overboard via the diaphragm pump, or out via the deck fill if using a pump out boat. Super simple and pleased with performance.

My system is salt water and rarely smells at all... we tend to cycle it a good bit, clean the bowl often and pump out often. I also pour fresh water through sometime when boat may not be used for a bit to helps flush out the salt water critters.

Good luck with the project.

Here is a pic of what I did showing the T
View attachment 121938
I am having a flush toilet installed now. There is no room in the bilge for a tank so I have a Dometic fresh water flush toilet and tank combo. A low height toilet sits right on a 6 gal tank. I am wanting to get this as right as possible eliminating as many negatives as possible. Can you explain how you can eliminate a Y valve? I think the left outlet (top of the picture) on your tank is a vent. The outlet in the bottom of the picture is waste in. Behind that is waste out. Is it PVC before the sanitation hoses? Coming directly off the T is the pumpout deck discharge. To the left (or above in the pic) is to the overboard thru-hull discharge. I see a pump but I can't tell where it comes into the mix. Is it a macerator pump (which brand/model?); does it macerate both pumpout and overboard discharging? What size and brand are those hoses? How do you open the overboard thru-hull for discharge? What is the black slightly u-shaped pipe? Why a change in material there? Is there an air relief valve on the tank for the pumpout process?
 

CaptMD

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The white Trident 102 hose is good hose, easy to work with and does not pass odor. Don't underestimate the "easy-to-work-with" part of the equation, most other hose rated for holding tanks does not flex well and is difficult to fit over barb fittings. Shields does make a super expensive lifetime warranty hose called Poly-X, its $25 or $30 a foot. I used a one foot piece to connect my head outlet to the rigid PVC pipe drain for two reasons. One, it mated to the hose barb connection on the bonze fitting on the head outlet and Two, it was going to be filled with fluid 24/7 because the head was about two feel lower than the top of the holding tank. No way around that geometry so I used the best stuff I could get. It was good to work with and zero problems for the past 10 years.

Use solid PVC pipe wherever you can, especially wherever your tank product is sitting inside the tube. You can't make the vents too big. Plastic-Mart will make a custom tank, any shape and size, connections whatever size wherever you want. Well placed vents only smell if you fill the lines with stuff. A well ventilated tank won't smell. Two vents are double plus good.
View attachment 121955

You can use these for thru hull vents, no screens is fine but check them regularly for mud dauber wasp nests as they will clog up the vent and make them not vent.
View attachment 121956
All the advice about downhill is important but difficult to do. Do your best and redouble your efforts to put in a dedicated fresh water flush tank, makes all the difference in the world. It is more expensive to put in a drain with a valve as shown below but it helps when you have to, eventually, remove the tank. It gives you a means to flush it out and plug it shut before you drag it out of the boat.

View attachment 121959
No macerator pump in this system?
 

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