If something's getting up your nose
Some boaters are coming in complaining of a ‘nasty niff’ emanating from their onboard toilet areas but what do you check? Stevie Knight talks pooh to find out.
Given a bad whiff but no obvious blockages, you would probably look at the connections and maybe the flooring (OK, we know about the difficulties of using the head in high seas) but it could be as simple as the hoses.
Gary Sutcliffe of LeeSan explains fitting the wrong piping often results in bad odours. He says, ‘Although they look just the same as the marine hoses, the domestic varieties are, actually slightly permeable. Anaerobic bacteria love this, as it gives them a very nice place to breed, and both the bacteria and the odours work their way outward through the walls of the pipe.’
Unfortunately, this can sometimes be difficult to identify. You just get a smell hanging around, but no obvious leaks.
The best solution, particularly where hoses pass through a warm environment (such as engine rooms) is to use ABS or PVC rigid pipe with welded joints, but of course this is often not possible.
For installations where flexible hose is essential, Lee Sanitation markets two alternative types of hose. Lee-Flex is a white synthetic product manufactured from a combination of nitrile rubber and PVC. It is very flexible and can reliably stay in place for at least three years before it may require renewing.
The alternative is Sealand OdorSafe hosing. This product is even more impervious (it’s got a five year guarantee), but – unfortunately - it is also less flexible and so it is more suitable for installations where effluent might remain standing in the pipe run for any length of time.
OdorSafe Plus hose, Sealand says, is better, has improved flexibility: it maintains full inside diameter while delivering 20% more flexibility than the previous hose, and it has reduced kinking problems. It also has 20% more odour resistance (though how you measure this I don’t know). But, you end up paying more for it.
And this is the nub. According to Ian Cooke of C-Quip (which provides the Trident range) it’s a very simple matter. ‘With waste pipe it’s all about cost. Some is more flexible than others which is often a benefit when you’re putting it in, but essentially fitting cheap pipe means you get bad smells and a short life. More expensive, quality pipe is able to keep in bad odours, it is not affected by cleaners and it lasts a long time.’ So it comes down to how much you are willing to pay for the luxury of not replacing it for a good few years.
So, apart from some common-sense advice, including making sure the construction of any effluent carrying hosing has a smooth travelling path, as well as clearly labelling the hose ‘Sanitation’ and making sure installations are short as possible and self-draining (no kinks, loops or dips to leave waste standing), as Mr Cooke says, ‘you get what you pay for.’
Trident’s Premium White sanitation hose is good for all head and holding tank connections, featuring both an extra thick tube and a covering compounded for resistance to odour permeation. Helical wire between two-ply reinforcement provides excellent flexibility and bend radius. Another way to tackle the problem has been developed into Trident’s Odor Sheild hose, which introduces a special anti-bacterial thermoplastic formulation to the hose wall as an alternative to doubling up with a cover.
However, if you want to keep the fittings in better nick, people are better off not leaving stale or brackish water in the system. If boaters go away for a month, they may well come back and find there are horrors emanating from area when they flush for the first time. This isn’t from backed up effluent but actually marine growth - because incoming flushing water inevitably contains algae that left standing (while the boat is unused) stagnate, releasing that particular whiff.
So, its probably worth while putting in a kit to flush the system through with fresh water if the boat is going to be left for a while. The LeeSan kit includes a heavy duty, corrosion free, three-way diverter valve, an adjustable head treatment system (to deliver metered doses of water treatment), a collapsible water tank to hold the fresh flushing water and the extra’s, like hose and stainless steel hose clips.
Once installed, this resolves the problem by treating the system during normal use and allowing the owner to flush through with fresh water to eliminate algae before leaving the boat.
Keeping certain things from coming back to haunt you, the Gulper Grouper Pump – a black waste pump from Whale – has been designed to avoid the kinds of problems that can all too easily dog boaters.
Firstly, the impeller-free pump can run dry without damage, which means it has a longer life and fewer of the problems caused by over running. It also pumps air and water mixtures happily.
Since the pump head has no moving parts, it has a smooth and continuous action - plus it can handle un-macerated toilet waste. Lastly, a blessing for fitting out, it has a multi directional head so the unit can be fitted easily enough in any small area.
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