With proper planning you won’t go plumb crazy
Marine waste specialists LeeSan offers the following on the proper winterisation of marine toilets to save mess, money and masses of work which may be caused by the damage inflicted on plumbing and toilet mechanisms by freezing.
It’s difficult to separate toilets from the plumbing generally. The higher pipes and fittings are at most risk over winter; those installed lower benefit from the above freezing temperature in the water underneath the boat.
When considering holding tanks, it is almost unheard of for water to freeze in any way that will damage them unless the tank is filled to the point where water is in the tank vent. There is a school of thought that it is better to leave the freshwater tank nearly filled to maintain its cleanliness. If you would rather drain the tank, ideally close the breather in some way, but be sure it is opened before re-commissioning the system.
Do not use normal vehicle antifreeze in a domestic plumbing system because it is poisonous.
Winterising your toilet
First, you will need to establish if the toilet flushing water is provided from the boat’s freshwater system or from the outside flotation water.
Systems flushed with flotation water
In these cases, winterisation of the toilet is entirely separate from winterising the boat’s domestic water system. Close the inlet seacock and disconnect the hose from it. Make sure to reconnect this hose before reopening the seacock.
Make up a mixture of anti-scale solution. This can be vinegarbased or a proprietary product such as LeeScale. Draw this solution through the system by pumping the toilet. Leave in system for 24 hours. Block the pipe to contain the solution.
Next, flush this solution out of system with a strong mixture of water and soft washing up liquid.
Now drain the system, where possible following the guidelines for your type of toilet. Reconnect the hose to the seacock and leave with seacocks closed.
Systems flushed with onboard fresh water
Make up a mixture of anti-scale solution, such as LeeScale. Flush the toilet system thoroughly by pouring this solution into the bowl and flushing. Leave the solution in system for 48-plus hours. No danger if left longer.
Now disconnect the inlet hose at the domestic fresh water pump and replace this with a short hose drawing from a container of anti-freeze solution. Allow this to go through the entire plumbing system by opening each tap and operating the toilet. This negates the need to drain the system.
This solution must be a product specifically supplied for freshwater domestic systems such as LeeFreeze and thoroughly flushed through again with freshwater at recommissioning.
When flushing any marine domestic system with antifreeze, pour a solution of water and soft washing-up liquid into the toilet bowl and flush through with the anti-freeze solution. This will protect the valves and other rubber components.
There’s not much to do with these, make sure they are completely empty, give them a good washing out, dry them thoroughly and perhaps put a small amount of a “fragrant” chemical in the tank to guard against smells. depending on age and use, (the toilet not the owner!) some chemical toilets have replacement service parts and these should be replaced iafter a malfunction or leak.
Macerator type - Sanimarin
Turn off water supply and hold this pipe over a container at floor level to drain water. Operate the toilet to open the valve and allow all residual water to drain out.
Dump through type - Traveller
This toilet is sometimes called a Mansfield and is similar, for winterisation purposes, to the foot operated Vacuflush. Turn off water supply. Put a shallow tray or cloth underneath the foot pedal. Remove water pipe by unscrewing from the bottom of the foot pedal mechanism. Depress foot pedal to empty fresh water.
Hand pump type - Jabsco
Operate the hand pump in “dry bowl” mode to empty bowl as much as possible. Then close seacock to turn off water supply. Put a cloth under the drain plug at the base of the toilet to catch residual water.
Remove the drain plug by turning quarter of a turn anti-clockwise. Operate the pump again to clear out any remaining water.
Electric Vacuflush type - Domestic
Turn off water. Disconnect inlet water hose from supply and hold over a shallow container at floor level to drain. Operate toilet to fully empty water. After working on any of the above toilets make certain that all pipes are reconnected. Don’t forget to turn water supply back on before use.
Using a kit will eradicate inlet water smells