What to Know About Marine Toilets
If one has to go, we need to go and with a little planning the act of an unplanned BM does not have to turn into a panic moment. There are apparatus available for any situation from a bucket to a luxurious throne. Not that a bucket fits the description of a marine toilet but the old handy bailer/catch all bucket can do a darn good job. There are even products available to dress it up some such as a Potty Seat
from ‘Todd USA®’, or Moeller Potty Seat
M’. To make the bucket experience somewhat less arduous there are plastic liners available that one can tie a knot in and dispose of when returning to shore. A step up from the bucket is the portable potty
. The porta potty contains a seat with a lid and a waste tank than one can separate and dispose of easily. These are convenient and are an acceptable onboard sanitation device. If the boat affords a little more privacy then a built-in marine toilet
is common. Here the simplicity falls to the wayside because with built in marine toilets be, they manual or electric such as manufactured by ‘Jabsco ®
’, ‘Johnson Pump ®
’, or ‘Raritan ®
’, they are all dependent on plumbing, valves, thru-hull fittings
, holding tanks and pumps
. The one thing in common from the bucket to the fanciest is that they all shall be accompanied by the good old roll of loo paper. https://www.go2marine.com/shop-all-categories/plumbing/toilets-and-sanitary-systems/marine-toilets
Holding Tanks and Parts
Pumping sewer overboard is a definite no no unless one is miles offshore. Therefore, it is common for boats to have holding tanks
installed on board and these tanks store the sewer until it is pumped out at a shore pump out station. Depending on the sophistication of the holding tank installation it may have tank level indicators, over full alarms, or a separate macerator pump to discharge the tank etc.
Holding Tank Treatment
The unfortunate biproduct of having a holding tank is the potential for odor. Sewer generates a variety of gasses and some of these gasses consists of particles so infinitely small that they can pass through plastic or rubber. Holding tank treatment products
are manufacturer to assist in breaking down the waste, the toilet paper and to eliminate odors. There are however, sewer treatment units that are fully contained and do not require holding tanks but they do need salt water to operate.
Macerator and waste pumps
Only waste pumps or macerator pumps
should be used for sewer applications. This is because feces and the additional products introduced into the toilet create a medium that can easily clog and destroy a non-compliant pump. The correct pumps have larger valves to accommodate debris, might contain spinning blades to reduce the size of foreign matter and are often easily serviceable because even the hardiest waste pump will meet its match and require some attention to get going again.
If the inlet or the outlet is below the waterline and the marine toilet is also installed below the waterline it requires a vented loop
. This is to prevent outside water from being sucked back into the toilet, possibly overflowing the toilet and creating a larger problem.
Even with the most love and care the onboard marine toilet or associated systems at some time or other will require repair on maintenance. Sewer in itself is harsh on equipment but the rubber components deteriorate over time and cease to function as intended. All the manufacturers such as ‘Jabsco ®’, ‘Johnson Pump ®’, ‘Sealand®’, or ‘Raritan ®’ support their products with a comprehensive assortment of spare parts.