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Nasty Surprise

YVRguy

.
Jan 10, 2013
451
Hunter 34 Vancouver, BC
For a while now I've suspected we have something wrong with our head system. When someone uses the head and evacuates the bowl there is an immediate "head smell" both inside and outside of the boat. We were told it was possibly a clogged vent but we couldn't detect any blockage. Then recently someone used the head for a proper sit-down (if you get my meaning) while we were at a quiet anchorage. I was up top and could hear the head being pumped so I took a quick glance overboard and to my horror, bits of toilet paper and waste had been ejected directly into the water. I'm used to this happening if the tank is chock full but it had lots of room to spare. I fear that for a while now we have been pumping the head directly overboard ! :oops:

Obviously this needs to be resolved immediately but it's not clear to me what part of the system isn't working. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.
 
Jan 7, 2011
2,559
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
First thing to check would be your Y valve...not sure how else you end up with stuff in the water.

I would also be checking all fittings attached to the holding tank for leaks...and checking the bilge for a sheen on the water which could signify waste water making its way to the bilge.

I had some of these symptoms on my boat recently, and pulled the tank out today...one fitting seemed to be leaking, so I resealed the threads and hope to not find any surprises when we use it next. I am considering adding some food coloring to the head and pumping a lot of “clean” water into the tank to check for leaks ;-).

Greg
 
Mar 20, 2011
576
Hunter 31_83-87 New Orleans
I believe the H34s had the option of direct overboard discharge from head or holding tank for waste storage with deck pump out of tank or via a macerator where the tank contents could be pumped directly overboard. My H31 didn’t have the last option so other 34 owners would need to chime in. definitely check Y valve and vent line
 

YVRguy

.
Jan 10, 2013
451
Hunter 34 Vancouver, BC
Was the discharge coming out the vent thru-hull?
Don
I'm not sure I know which is which. It was definitely being expelled below the waterline so that says to me it's the tank purge thru-hull. Isn' the vent above the waterline?
 

YVRguy

.
Jan 10, 2013
451
Hunter 34 Vancouver, BC
I believe the H34s had the option of direct overboard discharge from head or holding tank for waste storage with deck pump out of tank or via a macerator where the tank contents could be pumped directly overboard. My H31 didn’t have the last option so other 34 owners would need to chime in. definitely check Y valve and vent line
We have a pump handle in the head area that can be used to manually empty the holding tank. I'm not aware of any option to flush the head directly out of the boat, at least not on purpose. The head flushes into the tank and the tank can then be emptied either by pump-out at the dock or manual purge using the pump on board.
 
Dec 2, 1997
7,963
- - LIttle Rock
When someone uses the head and evacuates the bowl there is an immediate "head smell" both inside and outside of the boat. We were told it was possibly a clogged vent but we couldn't detect any blockage.
What was your "detection" method? And yes, the tank vent thru-hull does have to be well above the waterline.

Odor inside the boat and odor out the tank vent have to be from different sources...the odor outside the boat is from the inside of the tank, pushed out the vent. Unless the tank is leaking, it cannot be the source of odor inside the boat because odor from inside the tank only has one place to go: out the tank vent. That is, unless the toilet joker valve has become so worn that the slit has become a hole, allowing odor from the tank to escape via the toilet bowl (only one of several reasons why joker valves should be replaced at least annually).

There are a number of possible sources for odor inside the boat:
If it's emanating from the toilet bowl, is confined to the head, the source is most likely to be dead and decaying animal or vegetable sea life trapped in the intake and/or channel in the rim of the bowl. If it's throughout the boat, permeated sanitation hoses are the most common culprit...the pressure of the flush inside the hose pushes odor out. However, some odor from permeated hoses will be present all the time, not just when the head is flushed.

A leaking y-valve or hose connection is another possible source. A little red food coloring flushed down the toilet is the quickest way to find any leaks. If you pump out, rinse and fill the tank with clean water before flushing the dye, it'll reveal any cracks in the tank too.

Odor aside, your yalve may have failed...the handle may be aimed to direct flushes to the tank, but the valve is remaining in the overboard position.

...I took a quick glance overboard and to my horror, bits of toilet paper and waste had been ejected directly into the water. I'm used to this happening if the tank is chock full...
A strong indication that you need a tank level indicator because that should never be allowed to happen. The contents of an over-full tank should only have one escape route: out the tank vent...and that never should be allowed to happen either because the vent is NOT an "overflow"...air is the only thing that should be allowed to pass through it unless you want vent blockages. If tank contents are getting into the water any other way, there are serious problems with your sanitation plumbing!

Since you don't seem to be very familiar with the way a marine sanitation system should have been installed and how to maintain it to prevent all these problems and most others too, I recommend that you get my book (see link in my signature below). Its title (my publisher's idea) is a bit misleading...'cuz although it does deal with every source of odor on a boat and how to cure, or better yet PREVENT 'em, it's actually a comprehensive "marine toilets and sanitation systems 101" manual that explains the US laws, describes all the types of systems and how they work, and will help you learn how to operate and maintain your system to prevent 99% of problems instead of having to cure 'em. 'Cuz you get to do any preventive maintenance on your terms when it's convenient...the need to cure a problem never happens when it is! And I'm always glad to answer any questions it doesn't.

--Peggie
 

YVRguy

.
Jan 10, 2013
451
Hunter 34 Vancouver, BC
Since you don't seem to be very familiar with the way a marine sanitation system should have been installed and how to maintain it to prevent all these problems and most others too, I recommend that you get my book (see link in my signature below). Its title (my publisher's idea) is a bit misleading...'cuz although it does deal with every source of odor on a boat and how to cure, or better yet PREVENT 'em, it's actually a comprehensive "marine toilets and sanitation systems 101" manual that explains the US laws, describes all the types of systems and how they work, and will help you learn how to operate and maintain your system to prevent 99% of problems instead of having to cure 'em. 'Cuz you get to do any preventive maintenance on your terms when it's convenient...the need to cure a problem never happens when it is! And I'm always glad to answer any questions it doesn't.

--Peggie
Thanks Peggie, I will buy the book. However I think you may have solved one of my mysteries. My understanding of how the Y-valve works was the Left position is to bring fresh water into the bowl, which then goes into the tank. Seems like you're saying that the left position actually directs the contents of the head outside the boat. Is that the case? If so, I have no doubt the person using the head simply had the Y-valve in the Left position and was pumping the head overboard.
 
Jan 7, 2011
2,559
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
Thanks Peggie, I will buy the book. However I think you may have solved one of my mysteries. My understanding of how the Y-valve works was the Left position is to bring fresh water into the bowl, which then goes into the tank. Seems like you're saying that the left position actually directs the contents of the head outside the boat. Is that the case? If so, I have no doubt the person using the head simply had the Y-valve in the Left position and was pumping the head overboard.
Y valve directs the discharge of sewage to a holding tank or overboard usually.

A thru-hull brings water in to the toilet pump...and on most pumps, a lever on the pump either lets in the water (wet bowl) or stops the water (dry bowl) to pump the water out of of the bowl.,

Greg
 
Dec 2, 1997
7,963
- - LIttle Rock
My understanding of how the Y-valve works was the Left position is to bring fresh water into the bowl, which then goes into the tank.
Nope...any y-valve in the TOILET DISCHARGE line has nothing to with incoming flush water...it only allows you select whether to flush into the tank or out the thru-hull--which DOES have to be open or it will just just sit in the line between the y-valve and the thru-hull and could even back up further...which could account for your odor every time the toilet is flushed.

The thru-hull that brings water into the toilet pump is not the same thru-hull the waste goes out of. The owners manual for your toilet includes drawings that illustrate the the intake and discharge plumbing...if you can give me the brand name (I'm guessing it's a manual toilet, not an electric toilet), I can give you the link to it.

--Peggie
 

YVRguy

.
Jan 10, 2013
451
Hunter 34 Vancouver, BC
Hmmm... Just went to buy the book. $34 shipping charge on a $23 book.
 
Dec 2, 1997
7,963
- - LIttle Rock
Hmmm... Just went to buy the book. $34 shipping charge on a $23 book.
In that case, I suggest you get it from Amazon.ca and avoid international shipping charges altogether. Or ANY shipping charge if you get the kindle edition (the kindle app is available for any tablet).

Yes, I buy lots of items from Hunterowners and have her book from years ago. Should really order a new one.
Yep you definitely should.. 'cuz the 1st edition is not only hopelessly out of date but doesn't include any mention of any equipment introduced after 2003.

--Peggie