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New boat owner... need help... fresh water not working

May 27, 2021
50
Beneteau 37 Chesapeake Bay
Hi everyone,

I recently purchased a 2009 Beneteau 37. I brought the boat up from Annapolis this past weekend and I could not get the fresh water system working. I filled both tanks. The pump is brand new and I can hear it turning on when the water pressure switch is switched, but it just runs and runs and never turns off. I have two tanks and I made sure either both were on or at least one was on by turning the valves near the pump. I did clean the strainer right before the pump and found it was pretty well clogged with white material that looked almost like paper, but would dissolve when wiped.

When the pump is running, I can see no water entering the strainer. If I loosen the strainer lid a little, then I can get some small amounts of water bubbling into the strainer, but only a very small amount. I was able to get some water coming out of the head sink, along with a lot of black, smelly bits, but eventually that stopped.

I am assuming there is a clog somewhere in the line before the strainer, but I can't imagine both tanks would be clogged. The boat was on the hard for three years before I bought her, so maybe there is a lot of gunk clogging up the tanks.

I filled the water tanks thinking maybe the water wasn't working because the tanks were empty. My plan is to open the inspection hatch on the tanks and see what I can see. My question is, should I drain the tanks first and, if so, how should I drain them? I cant' use the house water pump obviously. Can I just insert a hose down into the tank and use gravity and a siphon to drain it over board?

Other than a possible clog, any other suggestions?

Thanks.
 
Jul 12, 2011
970
Catalina 36 1771 Ft Pierce, Florida
I don't know what is wrong, but I can suggest some steps to start analyzing by breaking it into parts as you have started to do:
  1. Sounds like you are not getting water flowing into the inlet for the pump, but some fresh water arrangements do not gravity feed without pump suction (depends on height of tank outlet to pump). Can you remove the strainer body and test with a small pump directly to the inlet line to see if it flows? I suggest buying a cheap $20 drill-pump, which will come in handy for other uses, and rigging it to the water inlet to test if the tank to filter lines are clear.
  2. If you have problems removing flexible hose from barb fittings, use a hair dryer to heat the hose at the fitting to soften. Use gloves after as the hose can get hot.
  3. Are you certain of the direction of the valves on the inlet manifold and that the balls are moving - between strainer and pump? Can you remove the line between manifold and house pump and force water through.
  4. Sure the pump is pumping?
  5. Actual clogs in fresh water lines are rare, but leaks are not. Any excess fresh water in the bilge?
BTW: If you have not refreshed the fresh water system using bleach, I recommend it highly. There's a reason those old sailors drank beer for breakfast! Instructions are on-line on this and all RV sites, or buy @Peggie Hall HeadMistress 's book and have a copy on your bookshelf.
 
Sep 25, 2008
6,236
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
Guessing aside, it sounds like:
1. The pump is running, and
2. No water is getting to the pump.

Fixing #2 seems to be the first step in isolating where the problem is - remove the outlet pipe from the shutoff valve to see if that’s the problem.
 
May 27, 2021
50
Beneteau 37 Chesapeake Bay
I don't know what is wrong, but I can suggest some steps to start analyzing by breaking it into parts as you have started to do:
  1. Sounds like you are not getting water flowing into the inlet for the pump, but some fresh water arrangements do not gravity feed without pump suction (depends on height of tank outlet to pump). Can you remove the strainer body and test with a small pump directly to the inlet line to see if it flows? I suggest buying a cheap $20 drill-pump, which will come in handy for other uses, and rigging it to the water inlet to test if the tank to filter lines are clear.
  2. If you have problems removing flexible hose from barb fittings, use a hair dryer to heat the hose at the fitting to soften. Use gloves after as the hose can get hot.
  3. Are you certain of the direction of the valves on the inlet manifold and that the balls are moving - between strainer and pump? Can you remove the line between manifold and house pump and force water through.
  4. Sure the pump is pumping?
  5. Actual clogs in fresh water lines are rare, but leaks are not. Any excess fresh water in the bilge?
BTW: If you have not refreshed the fresh water system using bleach, I recommend it highly. There's a reason those old sailors drank beer for breakfast! Instructions are on-line on this and all RV sites, or buy @Peggie Hall HeadMistress 's book and have a copy on your bookshelf.
1. Thanks for the response. Looks like Harbor Freight has a small drill-powered pump for $10, so I'll give that a shot and see if I cant get water from either tank by disconnecting the line where it goes into the manifold.

2. Thanks for the tip.

3. Not sure what you mean. I have two "switches" that can rotate and supply water from each of the two tanks. My understanding is that when the arrows are in line with the water line, they are on and off when perpendicular, but I tried both directions just to be sure and got the same result.

4. I believe the pump is pumping because when I loosen the strainer cap and let air in, it seems to pull air in and pump it to at least the head sink. I was able to get a constant flow of air out of the head sink while doing this, but as soon as I tighten the strainer lid, I get nothing.

5. Not that I can tell.

I will definitely treat the tanks using bleach once I get the water flowing. Thanks!
 
May 27, 2021
50
Beneteau 37 Chesapeake Bay
Guessing aside, it sounds like:
1. The pump is running, and
2. No water is getting to the pump.

Fixing #2 seems to be the first step in isolating where the problem is - remove the outlet pipe from the shutoff valve to see if that’s the problem.
Thanks, I'll give that a try. I did remove the strainer lid with the pump off an no water came out, but there is an "uphill" section before that so gravity alone may not work to get the water flowing to that part.
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,712
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Congrats on your new to you boat and welcome to the SBO Forum.

Clogs happen where they can hide from view. You can try to force the fluid (water) forward through the system, or you can try to force water (flush the system) backwards. Ways to do this are with a pressure pump, an air pump (like the one used to inflate the dinghy), water pressure (that hose you used to fill the tanks) etc.

You are in the "Commissioning phase" of your new boat. You are not yet to the "Jump Aboard and GO PARTY" phase. During this condition it is wise seamanship to inspect all aspects and voids of the boat. Look for all the things hidden and near end of life/function. On a boat that has been "on the Hard" for 3 years there are a lot of seals that may have cracked. They will eventually leak. There are things growing in places that you can not imagine. They will stink or clog the function of your systems.

Good luck. Keep a positive focus. This too will pass. It is a great time to make new boat friends.
 
May 27, 2021
50
Beneteau 37 Chesapeake Bay
Thank you r
Congrats on your new to you boat and welcome to the SBO Forum.

Clogs happen where they can hide from view. You can try to force the fluid (water) forward through the system, or you can try to force water (flush the system) backwards. Ways to do this are with a pressure pump, an air pump (like the one used to inflate the dinghy), water pressure (that hose you used to fill the tanks) etc.

You are in the "Commissioning phase" of your new boat. You are not yet to the "Jump Aboard and GO PARTY" phase. During this condition it is wise seamanship to inspect all aspects and voids of the boat. Look for all the things hidden and near end of life/function. On a boat that has been "on the Hard" for 3 years there are a lot of seals that may have cracked. They will eventually leak. There are things growing in places that you can not imagine. They will stink or clog the function of your systems.

Good luck. Keep a positive focus. This too will pass. It is a great time to make new boat friends.
Thank you for the thorough response and encouragement! As a first time boat owner, I am waffling between delight in finally owning a boat and feeling overwhelmed! I am very handy and a general DIY'er, so hopefully I can get this fixed. I guess worst-case-scenario, I suck it up and call the yard for service.
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,712
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
You will get it resolved. Doing it will empower you to complete the next and the next project to surface...

Just break it down in to smaller issues. Start at one end of the system and progress to the other end, following all of the possible paths. It is like eating an elephant. It is not accomplished in one bite.
 
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Oct 22, 2014
15,712
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
When you jump onto your boat. I urge new owners not to be looking at all the things they think they want to change.. I like to sit on the boat and understand why the things are as they are. Explore how one system interplays with all the others it affects.

I believe that the original designer and the previous owners thought there was a reason for locating say that winch in the limited space they gave it on the boat. Now after consideration I may decide to still change it. But often I come to recognize the synergy that has occurred before my examination and learn that the system works best as it is.

So I would encourage you to explore and be patient with the systems around you.
 

Ward H

.
Nov 7, 2011
3,076
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
I’m with Don and Ron. Until you get water free flowing out of the strainer forget the pump.
And,
air vents could easily be clogged. Ron has the answer there. Leave the fill cap off to negate a clogged vent line. Work on one tank at a time. Fill completely for more head pressure to push the water through.

Try putting a shop vac on the closest on the closest water outlet or over the open strainer, wrap it tight with a rag and pull the water through. I’ve done that when win when there wasn’t enough head pressure to start the flow.

Maybe use a long flexible brush and try brushing the bottomof the tank to loosen up any crud that may be blocking the outlet.
 
May 27, 2021
50
Beneteau 37 Chesapeake Bay
When you jump onto your boat. I urge new owners not to be looking at all the things they think they want to change.. I like to sit on the boat and understand why the things are as they are. Explore how one system interplays with all the others it affects.

I believe that the original designer and the previous owners thought there was a reason for locating say that winch in the limited space they gave it on the boat. Now after consideration I may decide to still change it. But often I come to recognize the synergy that has occurred before my examination and learn that the system works best as it is.

So I would encourage you to explore and be patient with the systems around you.
Thank you!
 
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Likes: jssailem
May 17, 2004
3,380
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Welcome to the forum! We have the same model boat, so hopefully I can help.

On mine when I open the strainer water does leak out, but it’s quite slow, not a big gushing stream. I think the tanks are at a close enough height to the strainer that it’s not a lot of pressure there.

You’re right about how the switches on the manifold work. I would try just having one open at a time. If there’s an air lock in one maybe that could keep air in the pump rather than priming. Other than that the pump should self-prime.

Have you run the pump and left a hot water faucet open for a while? It does take some time to fill the hot water tank.

You can also try taking the hose off the pump outlet and running the pump to see if you get water there (with one manifold switch open, then the other). That might help narrow things down too.
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,830
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Every single domestic water pump MANUAL has a TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE. Do you have the manual for your pump? If not, download one. Good luck.
 
May 27, 2021
50
Beneteau 37 Chesapeake Bay
Welcome to the forum! We have the same model boat, so hopefully I can help.

On mine when I open the strainer water does leak out, but it’s quite slow, not a big gushing stream. I think the tanks are at a close enough height to the strainer that it’s not a lot of pressure there.

You’re right about how the switches on the manifold work. I would try just having one open at a time. If there’s an air lock in one maybe that could keep air in the pump rather than priming. Other than that the pump should self-prime.

Have you run the pump and left a hot water faucet open for a while? It does take some time to fill the hot water tank.

You can also try taking the hose off the pump outlet and running the pump to see if you get water there (with one manifold switch open, then the other). That might help narrow things down too.
Thank you. I will try that. I think the issue though must be before the strainer since I'm not seeing any water out of the strainer when the lid is off. Also, the fact hat I was able to basically pump air from the strainer to the head sink when the strainer lid was cracked, tells me there is no blockage there.

You are in Harve de Grace? I'm in Georgetown, MD, at Skipjack Cove. Maybe I'll see you on the Bay!
 
May 27, 2021
50
Beneteau 37 Chesapeake Bay
Every single domestic water pump MANUAL has a TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE. Do you have the manual for your pump? If not, download one. Good luck.
I believe I do. It is on the boat, so I'll have to have a look when I get down there.
 
May 17, 2004
3,380
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Thank you. I will try that. I think the issue though must be before the strainer since I'm not seeing any water out of the strainer when the lid is off. Also, the fact hat I was able to basically pump air from the strainer to the head sink when the strainer lid was cracked, tells me there is no blockage there.
You could be right. When ours was quite new we had a clog of plastic bits from the tank pieces somewhere just under that manifold that that caused problems. Since yours is clogged with both tanks I would look there. It seems less likely that both tanks would be clogged than one common point.


You are in Harve de Grace? I'm in Georgetown, MD, at Skipjack Cove. Maybe I'll see you on the Bay!
Yes we are. We often sail down to around the mouth of the Sassafras, so I’ll keep my eyes open for another 37!
 
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Jun 21, 2004
1,821
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
Thank you r


I am waffling between delight in finally owning a boat and feeling overwhelmed! I am very handy and a general DIY'er, so hopefully I can get this fixed. I guess worst-case-scenario, I suck it up and call the yard for service.
Your boat is 12 years old and has not been used in three years. Bet that the water pump rubber impeller and rubber valve assemblies inside the pump need to be replaced.
By all means, you can flush the lines to make sure that the lines are not blocked and to ensure there isn’t an air lock. Don’t bother emptying the tanks yet because you can drain, flush, & sanitize them once the pump is operational.
You will have to decide on rebuilding the existing pump or buying a new pump. The rubber impeller and rubber valve assemblies will cost approximately $80 including shipping; a new pump will cost approximately $140. Just went through this same issue a few months ago & decided to replace the oem Shurflo pump. If you replace the pump, be sure to buy one from the same manufacturer with same flow output to simplify the installation. Don’t bother with the expense of dealing with the yard, you can fix this!