Ok get your mind out of the gutter, we’re talking about dealing with the marine toilet and the sanitation system in general. Needless to say, as the name implies, it is one of the nastiest of jobs but somebody has to do it. When you don’t live aboard and maybe you’re docked in a marina close to the restrooms, the head is just something you don’t worry about too much. Every few months you might have to pump out the holding tank but that’s about it. When you live aboard though the head is crucial and because it is used quite frequently, shit happens (double entendre'?).
One of the biggest headaches when dealing with the marine head, especially the manual kind is the buildup of calcium in the lines. This calcium forms deposits on all the moving parts, the joker valve, the flapper gasket and the plunger. It solidifies in the hoses and builds up in the Y-Valve and the sea cocks so that you can’t even close them. You know this is happening when it becomes harder to pump out and you start getting water flowing back into the toilet after you have pumped it out. Some say that if you just flush with fresh water only it eliminates it. Not true, for the first 2 years after I completely replaced all my sanitation lines, pump, valves and seacocks, I always flushed with fresh water and I still got calcium buildup. Some say that if you pump vinegar in the lines every couple of weeks it helps. It might help a little but it sure does not eliminate it.
So I spent this Sunday morning taking my system apart and cleaning out all the calcium deposits. This basically consists of pulling off the pump from the toilet and disassembling it. I scraped out the deposits from the elbow, cleaned up both the rubber joker valves and the flapper valve and pulled the plunger out to clean the o-ring assembly. Put it all back together and wonders never cease, it works! This was without spending $70 for a repair service kit our $110 for a new pump assembly.
The best thing though was that when I went to close the seacock for the seawater intake I found there was no, yes zero, hose clamps. What a great way to sink the boat. Needless it now has the two hose clamps on it and thank goodness I found it. Not even sure the insurance company would pay off if an inspector found something like that after the boat sank.