Jabsco Electric Head Curse

Mar 9, 2015
24
Hunter 42 San Diego
I bought my 1992 Hunter 42 in March of this year and one of the surveyor's recommendations was to replace the seawater intake hose for the head. It wasn't easy but I got the job done and the head worked fine. A couple weeks later I noticed a small saltwater leak at the base of the head and determined it was coming from the seal on the pump motor. Having read on here it's important to correct that problem right away, I dashed down to San Diego Marine Exchange for the rebuilt kit (37040-0000). Everything seemed to go back together without problems with the exception of the "O" ring that fits a groove in the wear plate. The "O" ring seems oversized for the groove, but I used pool gasket grease on it and was able to get it all reassembled.

Imagine my disappointment when I pushed the flush button and there was no seawater coming into the bowl. Water I added was flushing out, and with vigor, but none was being drawn in. So I took a short piece of hose and stuck it in a bucket with water. The head pump drew water out of the bucket into the bowl. Blockage in the seawater intake? I siphoned that hose until seawater was at the head. I even took the anti-siphon valve out to make sure that wasn't the problem. Still wouldn't draw water into the bowl. I put the bucket of water in the engine room where the anti-siphon valve is and the pump drew water to the head from there, so I replaced the hose from there to the thru hull. Still wouldn't work. I dove on the thru hull with a tooth brush to make sure nothing was clogging it and tried again. Still not drawing seawater.

I ran out of things to think of and grudgingly called a professional head expert. It was his suggestion to replace the 3 week old seawater intake hose, which I did and which did nothing. He also said to lower the anti-siphon-valve, but it worked before I "fixed" the pump leak, and it's only 20 inches above the waterline anyway.

So I am out of things to try (other than re-rebuilding the pump) and humbly ask you guys for suggestions.
 
Nov 8, 2010
11,385
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
'Jabsco Electric Head' sounds about as safe and reliable to me as 'Walmart Atomic Bomb'. ;-) I have enough issues with the came-with-the-boats manual units. I cannot imagine electrifying them!
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes: FastOlson
Mar 9, 2015
24
Hunter 42 San Diego
Thanks Peggie. I think I already spoke to Paul a few weeks ago. It was someone in Massachusetts and he was tech support for Xylem. I'm pretty sure he wished me luck, but couldn't help.

I know you don't care for Jabsco heads. I'm in the process of being converted to your point of view. But this was what was on the boat and I need to try to make what is there work.
 
May 16, 2007
1,509
Boatless ! 26 Ottawa, Ontario
I'm not a fan of Jabsco heads. Our boat came with a Quietflush Jabsco electric head. It is now about 6 years old and has worked flawlessly, much to my surprise.
I suspect the problem is in your anti-siphon valve or a loose hose clamp. Your head is sucking air.
The valve should have a solenoid on the vent that closes when you flush the head, if vented the head can not draw in any water. It could be an electrical issue between the solenoid valve and pump switch or motor.

Bob
 
May 16, 2007
1,509
Boatless ! 26 Ottawa, Ontario
I had a couple of other thoughts. We have a strainer on our seawater intake for the head, I assume you have cleaned it out. Also we have a separate water pump for the seawater going to the head, be sure it is being powered up when you hit the flush button.
Our head has two controls, one does flush or dry (two position switch) plus another switch that just runs up the supply pump.

Bob
 
Mar 9, 2015
24
Hunter 42 San Diego
Thanks Bob, but I've done everything you suggested. I took the anti-siphon valve out and connected the hoses with a barb and hose clamps. I had to cut the hose off the barb after I tried it and got nothing, so I know it wasn't sucking air. There are double hose clamps on every connection except the pump motor.

I took a mask and snorkel and a tooth brush and worked the thru hull for the head seawater intake from in the water, and it was clear. This thru hull is separate from the seawater intake for the engine with the strainer, which is closer--shorter run, to the head. Maybe I'll try a "T" off that intake for the head.

Trouble shooting is my weakness. But now it has me pissed, which overpowers that weakness.

Since nothing has changed with any part of the intake, I'm pretty sure the problem lies in the pump. I must have rebuilt it too good. So I'm, going to rebuilt it again and see what that does.
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,129
- - LIttle Rock
After rereading this whole thread...your boat is a '92...23 yrs old. If Jabsco couldn't troubleshoot the toilet, I'm guessing it's be an obsolete version for more than 10 years, because that's how long most mfrs continue to support obsolete models/versions.

Unlike a household toilet that has no moving parts, marine toilets are working machinery that have finite lifespans...an average of about 10-15 years for even the most durable, most meticulously maintained, electric macerating toilets. When the best that ANY mfr's tech support guru has to offer is "good luck," it's time to give that toilet a decent burial and replace it. Whether you decide to go with a new Jabsco or upgrade to a Raritan SeaEra is up to you. You can buy just the "lower base assembly" (everything south of the bowl) for any of 'em.
 
Mar 9, 2015
24
Hunter 42 San Diego
Thank you Peggie.

Not to quibble here because you are after all the Head Mistress, and I'm just some dummy that wants the damn head to work so my wife lightens up, but...

I know this isn't the original head from 23 years ago because there are mounting holes drilled that don't line up with this one. But even if it was 23 years old and Jabsco/Xylem made a rebuild kit, shouldn't installing that do something? I could see the motor beginning to slow down with time, but not overnight like this. And again, the motor works great flushing, just not drawing water into the bowl.

After all, the head worked fine before I rebuilt it. The only reason for doing so was the leak around the pump motor shaft.

I don't really believe in curses. I would leave port on Fridays, even Friday the 13th. I'd eat split pea soup and bananas. But this head nonsense is weird. Perhaps my disbelief has caught up with me.
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,129
- - LIttle Rock
It may not be 23 years old, but it is old enough that Jabsco's support for it has ended.

But even if it was 23 years old and Jabsco/Xylem made a rebuild kit, shouldn't installing that do something?


Not if the the problem part isn't one that's in the rebuild kit. And apparently that's the case.

I could see the motor beginning to slow down with time, but not overnight like this.

That happens in old toilets more often than you think

And again, the motor works great flushing, just not drawing water into the bowl.

Ok...that means the motor isn't the problem...nor is the discharge impeller. The problem is part of the intake pump assembly. And that it happened suddenly is an indication that something didn't just wear out, it failed catastrophically all at once. Jabsco's "lots luck" also indicates that they don't have the part any more, or even know WHAT part!

I know how satisfying it can be to take something "by the throat" and beat it into submission...but that's a lot of emotional energy to spend on a worn out anything...and IMO, continuing to try to save it crosses the "law of diminishing returns" threshold.. And let us not forget that the time is rapidly approaching when your Admiral is gonna insist that, if you want her to crew, there has to be a toilet on the boat that she can use! :)

None of this is "Head Mistress" expertise...in fact, it's the same advice I'm giving myself about a geriatirc washer and dryer!
 
  • Like
Likes: Rick D
May 23, 2013
53
Hunter H42 Passage East Chicago and Hammond
Dennis, did you ever get the problem fixed and how? I have same problem and not sure what to do.
 
Dec 25, 2000
5,048
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
No help here. Our original 1991 P42 Jabsco electric toilets still work just fine. It seems you have done just about everything I can think of. Too bad you had to replace that darned hose.
 
Jul 25, 2004
354
Hunter 42 currently in New Zealand
Dennis, did you ever get the problem fixed and how? I have same problem and not sure what to do.
Hi mcarlson,
I just came across this thread, and see that it's a couple of years old. However, I see that your issue is recent, so here goes. I assume you are also talking about the aft head toilet, so that's what I'll address. I've got a 1991 P42, with the original electric toilet bowl (just the porcelain part), and have overhauled/rebuilt/replaced the motor/pump unit too many times to count in the last 25 years. I've also replaced the hoses a number of times. But the thing that requires the most frequent replacement (on the aft toilet) is the electric anti-siphon solenoid valve. Jabsco now only sells a newer incarnation of those, but with the exception of different hose diameters on the intake, they operate the same. My newer version of that solenoid only lasts about a year and then requires replacement. When it fails I get exactly the symptoms that Dennis and you have described. The best way to easily and quickly diagnose whether your problem is the anti-siphon electric solenoid is to bypass it. At the top of the anti-siphon loop the solenoid is connected via a 1/4" clear rubber hose. Pull the hose off of the solenoid and plug it (on the side of the hose that leads to the anti-siphon loop). I use the pointy (tapered) end of a pencil, which works fine. That is functionally the same thing as a closed solenoid, which is how it should be when you flush the toilet. If you are now getting a full water flow to the aft toilet, that is your problem and it is solved by replacing that solenoid. The new version of the Jabsco electric solenoids have an adjustable water flow on them, so you may have to fiddle with it a bit to get it to where you want it. For some reason I have to frequently replace the aft toilet electric solenoid, but not so much the forward toilet solenoid. (Both heads get about the same amount of use). Good luck!
 

MitchM

.
Jan 20, 2005
960
Nauticat 321 pilothouse 32 Erie PA
whomever wants one : I have a jabsco electric head free for the asking . i took it out because the family thought 'it was too noisy'. i'll check the part number when we get back home in about a week... it's been stored in the garage for 8 years. PM me....
 
Sep 9, 2017
15
Catalina 30 Vancouver
Hello. try putting your water supply pick up hoe down below the waterline and see if you get water flowing through it. if you do not get water there is a blockage somewhere somehow it is blocked. if you cannot possibly get the hose below the waterline remove the hose from the ball valve on the thruHall and open the ball valve. you should have water flowing. if not the ball valve is seized closed but the handle is functioning.
 
Dec 25, 2000
5,048
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
The best way to easily and quickly diagnose whether your problem is the anti-siphon electric solenoid is to bypass it.
Thank you for the nice writeup Paul. Hopefully that will fix his problem. As I mentioned in my earlier post our original Jabsco electric toilets still work just fine. Some on this site dislike the Jabsco brand, and maybe our originals had more quality built into them. Whatever the case, albeit a bit noisy during the brief flush cycle, they are a marvel to live with.
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,129
- - LIttle Rock
It's important to understand that there are two types of solenoids--an anti-siphon solenoid used on vented loops in the intake line for sea water toilets...and a solenoid needed with some toilets designed to use onboard pressurized fresh water that opens and closes to allow flush water to flow to the toilet. One is essentially an electric air valve...the other can be compared to a faucet on a sink.