Straight Flush

Straight Flush - Maintenance Q & A - January 2003
Maintenance Q & A — January 2003
By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Straight Flush
Care and maintenance of a VacuFlush MSD, tips on bottom paint prepping, and more.
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: VacuFlush, and more
• Part 2: Galvanic Corrosion, and More

 Related Resources
• Maintenance Q&A Index

We just stepped up to a bigger preowned boat that has a VacuFlush system and are unfamiliar with its care and maintenance. What is the proper procedure? L.W., via e-mail
As you've already found out, operation of a VacuFlush system is easy and since the system is under constant pressure until activated, when you push down on the lever--three seconds as per the manufacturer's recommendations--the stored vacuum is released and the bowl is cleared. Once you release the lever, the vacuum pump continues to recharge the system. This generally takes about one minute.

The major problem you'll probably face is clogging. To avoid this, use rapidly dissolving toilet paper designed especially for marine septic systems and always inform guests how the system works.

Should you get a clog, step on the lever, and you'll see a small opening in the flush ball. If the blockage is here, you can either pull it out or push it through; I've used a wire hanger to do this. Once that hole is open, the clog should go through, as the pump can handle material--plastic and metal included--up to one-half inch in diameter.

If water leaks down and out of the bowl, it's usually caused by debris caught between the flush ball and the surrounding seal. Cleaning under this seal will usually solve the problem.

Other maintenance tips include shutting off the toilet breaker when you leave the boat and avoiding the use of drain openers, alcohol, and solvents. Annual maintenance includes changing the in-line vent filter, tightening all clamps (including the base clamp), checking all wire connections, and cleaning and tightening the water-valve mounting screws.

There is a three- to four-year maintenance cycle for the vacuum pump, depending on the frequency of use--weekend outings compared to long-distance cruises. Contact a SeaLand dealer for this service. Visit to locate one.

What is the recommended procedure for prepping my boat's previously coated fiberglass bottom? K.T., via e-mail
Bottom painting is 90 percent preparation and 10 percent application. The area to be painted must be clean and free of grease, dirt, or any other contaminant that can lead to coating failure.

A thorough powerwashing is a good way to start. After letting the bottom dry, inspect the entire surface for loose or flaking areas, grease spots, and blisters, which must be repaired before painting. If the surface is in good shape--no cracking, peeling, or flaking--sand it with 80-grit paper, which will not only prepare the surface for new paint, but also remove any residual contaminants.

Wipe down the bottom using clean rags moistened with the appropriate thinner. If you are using a new paint system, test a small area to make sure the paint is compatible with what's already on your boat. Finally, carefully follow the manufacturer's recommendations for applying the kind of paint you are using.

Next page > Galvanic Corrosion, and more > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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