Hunter 42 Owner Modifications and Upgrades

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Head Winds

posted 11-16-2014 by Terry Cox 11/2014

Both heads flushed normal during the survey. Keep in mind our new boat (91 model year that we purchased in 2002) spent most of her time at the dock with little to no use for several years. The admiral and I had been cleaning below decks to get Belle-Vie ship shape. We cleaned and checked the forward head and it worked normal, except for a loud thump beneath the admirals feet, while sitting on the starboard setee. Did the same with the aft head. The first time it flushed fine, then it would not discharge; the water just swirled in the bowl.

I borrowed a plunger from my neighbor thinking the discharge line was plugged, but to no avail. So, I pulled the discharge line from the head, and after releasing a considerable amount of compressed air, went about attaching a city water hose to the line to clear it. The first time it seemed to clean it out after some rumbling. Again, it released compressed air when I disconnected the city water line.

I tried it one more time just to make sure. I remembered reading a forum article about plugged holding tank vents, so I pulled the starboard sole board covering the holding tank and disconnected the vent line from the tank. I then connected the city water line to the vent hose and looked to see if anything was coming out of the scupper. Nothing! Nada! Zip!

I took a small screw driver, and hanging over the side, inserted it into the scupper and gently poked at the opening. First I got a hiss, then a whoosh of water as the pressure blew out some little critters nest or dried sludge that had plugged the opening. After reconnecting the vent and discharge lines, I checked the heads again and both worked like a charm.

Our standard procedure now is to follow Peggie Halls advice:

1. Flush one gallon of fresh water through each head to clear out the discharge line.
2. Pump out tank, then fill with fresh water.
3. Pump out tank then fill with about four gallons of fresh water and repeat until clear water pumps out.
4. Using a special city water hose adapter that fits over the vent scupper I force fresh water back through the vent line to make sure that it is clear.
5. While I continue to squirt fresh water through the vent scupper and back into the holding tank, I leave the pump out system working until I can see clear water being pumped out of the holding tank. I then shut off the fresh water and let the pump out system clear out any remaining water from the vent line.
6. Flush each head with one quart of Odorlos mix.

Shortly after solving the plugged vent scupper problem the same symptom appeared again. This time it was plugged at the tank. Our SS tank has a 1/4 inch bronze elbow that the vent line clamps to. This elbow was plugged with a calcified material. I used a bent wire coat hanger to auger out this material.

As a closing note, thanks to those who have contributed articles to this forum, and especially to Ms. Peggie Hall. They have been very helpful to me in solving Belle-Vies mostly minor problems. Belle-Vies holding tank and head system remains trouble free after many years of cruising PNW waters.