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Winterizing the Head Holding Tank

Jan 12, 2019
56
Hunter 340 Narragansett
In the next couple of weeks I’ll start my winterizing. And because of my Jabsco Manual Pump Handle needing to be replaced, I’m starting to rethink my winterizing routine and did I cause it’s failure.

I was shown by my other marina, during a paid for winterizing service……..
to flush and pump out the Head Holding Tank, by adding water through the deck inlet, a few times until the water is clear. Then add the pink antifreeze into the toilet and pump it into the tank.
This treats the manual handle assembly, lines, tank and leaves some pink showing in the bottom of the toilet.
Then when hauled out open the inlet seacock to drain the line from handle assembly.
Done.
I’ve done this exact routine for years now, without any issues to lines, tank, toilet at all.

Now I’m thinking is there any antifreeze in the handle really? And what was never addressed is the macerator needing to be flushed out as well. Which I’ve never used. It works because I’ve tested it, but I always use pump outs. But is there water in the line from the holding tank to the macerator that is not treated for the winter?
I’m getting Peggy‘s book but need to ask these questions and get feedback.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,738
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
I don't have a macerator, so can't offer any advice on that.

For the head, I pull the hose off the seawater inlet and stick in in a jug of antifreeze. I then flush the head with the antifreeze. This ensures AF is through out the entire system.
 
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Jan 12, 2019
56
Hunter 340 Narragansett
I agree Dave, that’s one step I’m not doing and need to start. The macerator is the other issue. How to flush the line to it and through it. But where? I don’t think marinas all over, will allow discharge into waters to winterize them.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,738
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
How about after the tank is clean and the winterizing is done, put a bucket under the macerator discharge and run it. You'll get most of the stuff coming out.

Propylene Glycol, the pink stuff, is pretty benign. You don't want to drink it but it breaks down quickly and is not toxic to fish.
 
Jan 12, 2019
56
Hunter 340 Narragansett
It could be done. I’ve never ever seen anyone, owners or marinas, doing that though. I’m going to ask at my marina and see what they suggest, besides let us to it for you and pay.
As a side note, years ago I lost my zincs during the season. I didn’t know it happened until I was hauled out for the winter. I put them on myself and when I told my marina manager that it happened and asked how to put them on I was told “ Yeah, there’s a knack to that”.
I found out the knack and it never happened to me again.
 
Feb 10, 2004
3,487
Hunter 40.5 Warwick, RI
Starting with a pumped-out holding tank, and still in the water,

From my winterization plan:

Head System:

Flush toilets with fresh water
Flush out the holding tank with fresh water 2-3 times and pump holding tank empty
Pump 2 gallons of RV antifreeze thru the toilets – ½ gallon aft, 1 ½ gallons forward
Pump the holding tank to purge most of the antifreeze and fill the macerator pump and lines to the overboard seacock. Close the seacock while pumping to avoid seawater backflow
Open seacocks after hauling and pump the toilets to eliminate any water in the pump and lines.
 
Jan 12, 2019
56
Hunter 340 Narragansett
Rich
Aside from the 2 heads, I'm doing what you are for 1 head, but without the running of the macerator. It is clean water coming out after all the rinses and Antifreeze added. The brief run of the macerator should not be an issue.
 
May 17, 2004
3,426
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
With a manual head I used to do what dlochner suggests with the intake. Only difference is that I use EG for the head instead of PG. EG is compatible with more types of rubber than PG which could affect joker valves. EG is very toxic to mammals, so definitely don’t use it anyplace where it could be ingested or puddle, but it does not have significant marine toxicity.

(Reference: Antifreeze: ethylene glycol vs. propylene glycol - Practical Sailor )
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,087
- - LIttle Rock
The very first post in the Plumbing and Sanitation forum is a "sticky" (permanent post) that provides detailed instructions for winterizing sanitation and fresh water systems.

--Peggie
 
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jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Joker valves should be replaced at least annually
That's overkill, in my opinion. I got 15+ years out of a joker valve on my first boat!!! What's the rationale for annual replacement? Does the rubber break down that fast? Do they wear out? Is it a time thing, or a gallons thing? Wow. There are many, many similar rubber valves, seals, and other parts in automotive and commercial marine applications that go far longer than a year. Given the non-critical nature of these, and the "soft" failure mode, I would replace them when they stop working. I carry a joker valve and a complete pump assembly for my Jabsco head, so I can fix them when the need arises (along with rubber gloves, bleach, a face mask and goggles).
 
Dec 2, 1997
8,087
- - LIttle Rock
That's overkill, in my opinion....What's the rationale for annual replacement?QUOTE]

You think it's overkill because, like most people, you think that the only thing the joker valve does is acts as a check valve to stop backflow from returning to the toilet or odor from the tank from escaping through the toilet. If you have my book--and have actually read any part of it--you'd know that's the joker valve's LEAST important function...that, in fact, the joker valve is the single MOST important replaceable part in a manual toilet. Here's why:

(excerpt from the chapter "Joker Valve 101" in my book)
On the upstroke of the piston, a vacuum is created in the area beneath the piston. This causes the joker valve to close tightly, and the flapper valve beneath the pump to open, allowing some of the contents of the toilet bowl to be drawn into the bottom half of the pump. Then, on the down stroke of the piston, the flapper valve is slammed shut, and the effluent is forced out of the bottom of the pump, through the joker valve, and off down the line. But when the joker valve becomes worn and/or there's a buildup of sea water minerals on it, it can no longer seal tightly on the upstroke of the piston so less and less vacuum is created, requiring more and more pumping to move bowl contents.

You prob'ly won't notice the loss of efficiency at first because it's so gradual. But I guarantee you that if it's been two years or longer since you replaced the joker valve, you need to pump the toilet at least 50% more times to move the bowl contents to the tank or all the way out the thru-hull....IF they're getting there at all any more without a lot of help from gravity.


--Peggie
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Peggy, I know how pumps work. My grandfather was an engineer, my father was an engineer, I'm an engineer, two of my kids are engineers (one Ph.D., my daughter is an architect). Technology runs in the family.

I still don't buy it. I can see "inspect," or test, if there is an objective test of joker valve performance. But annual replacement is just over the top, in my opinion. Unnecessary, wasteful of time and money. Also, you're putting wear on those plastic threads cut by the screws in the pump housing. (Not really an issue, but I just thought I'd throw that in.). If you said five years, yea, O.K., I can buy that. But I guess it depends more on use than time, and what you might be forcing through it, and how salty your flush water might be, and so on, and so on. Or, if you said 'take it out and clean it, in vinegar, if necessary, lubricate it, and replace it,' I could buy that, too. But just taking out and tossing a one year old joker valve, regardless of use, condition, or performance, is just too much.
 
Last edited:
Jan 11, 2014
7,738
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Peggy, I know how pumps work. My grandfather was an engineering, my father was an engineer, I'm an engineer, two of my kids are engineers (one Ph.D., my daughter is an architect). Technology runs in the family.

I still don't buy it. I can see "inspect," or test, if there is an objective test of joker valve performance. But annual replacement is just over the top, in my opinion. Unnecessary, wasteful of time and money. Also, you're putting wear on those plastic threads cut by the screws in the pump housing. (Not really an issue, but I just thought I'd throw that in.). If you said five years, yea, O.K., I can buy that. But I guess it depends more on use than time, and what you might be forcing through it, and how salty your flush water might be, and so on, and so on. Or, if you said 'take it out and clean it, in vinegar, if necessary, lubricate it, and replace it,' I could buy that, too. But just taking out and tossing a one year old joker valve, regardless of use, condition, or performance, is just too much.
Mostly I agree with Peggy. If the head is seldom used then the joker valve won't be subject to a lot of wear and tear. And if you live in freshwater, salt isn't an issue.

But a joker valve is cheap compared to many other boat maintenance chores, a Jabsco Joker Valve is only $13 at Defender. The job takes about 10 minutes and I replace it each spring before using the head. I"m not sure what your are talking about with screws threaded into plastic, on my Raritan head there are 2 ¼" bolts that holds the fitting in place, remove the nuts, separate the fitting pop the old valve out, the new one in and bolt it back together.
 
Sep 25, 2008
6,267
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
Peggy, I know how pumps work. My grandfather was an engineering, my father was an engineer, I'm an engineer, two of my kids are engineers (one Ph.D., my daughter is an architect). Technology runs in the family.

I still don't buy it. I can see "inspect," or test, if there is an objective test of joker valve performance. But annual replacement is just over the top, in my opinion. Unnecessary, wasteful of time and money. Also, you're putting wear on those plastic threads cut by the screws in the pump housing. (Not really an issue, but I just thought I'd throw that in.). If you said five years, yea, O.K., I can buy that. But I guess it depends more on use than time, and what you might be forcing through it, and how salty your flush water might be, and so on, and so on. Or, if you said 'take it out and clean it, in vinegar, if necessary, lubricate it, and replace it,' I could buy that, too. But just taking out and tossing a one year old joker valve, regardless of use, condition, or performance, is just too much.
as an engineer too, I think the correct phraseology is “I are an engineer”. Notwithstanding, annual replacement isn’t necessary in either my experience or that of anyone I know.
 

jviss

.
Feb 5, 2004
4,627
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
as an engineer too, I think the correct phraseology is “I are an engineer”.
Ha! I heard that at an MIT graduation the valedictorian said "Four years ago I couldn't spell 'engineer,' and now I are one!"
Notwithstanding, annual replacement isn’t necessary in either my experience or that of anyone I know.
Yea, I'd like to see a show of hands of who changes the joker valve annually. Especially among "seasonal sailors."
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,738
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Yea, I'd like to see a show of hands of who changes the joker valve annually. Especially among "seasonal sailors."
I do and I have an expensive Raritan head. The Joker valve costs about $2 more than the Jabsco joker valve.

If you ever deal with a failed joker valve, you will always change it at least once a year.
 
Jan 7, 2011
2,826
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
From a non-engineer, and a Raritan manual PHII user in fresh Lake Michigan water, I replace my joker valve about once every 5-7 years.

Granted, I am not a live-aboard or cruiser…


Or if the head gave me any trouble…

Greg
 
Jul 1, 2010
861
Seaward 25, Catalina 350 Erie, Pa
I'm more or less and every other year joker valve replacer. Concerning throwing away perfectly good parts, I've tossed plenty of ridiculously priced impellers that looked perfectly fine, over the years. I'll continue to do that as it's not worth the mid-season failure risk.