Salt Water Head system

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    I am a new boat owner and think I may learn some lessons the hard way.  I am looking for some advise on salt water systems as far as maintenance and upkeep.  I have been living on the boat for 6 months and have had a handful of company.  I have not been great at adding anything to the system when flushing.  I had a bottle of Let it be that I was adding to the system for a while.  I have recently had some blockage discovered with slow flushing.   I initially was able to “snake it” clean and get the toilets working again.  Recently my snake did not open the lines.  I cut into the 1.5 inch line and discovered major blockage in the hose.  I was able to replace the 1.5 hose that is the last 3 feet before the black water holding tank.   I also replaced a shorter hose on the master stateroom head.    I thought I had fixed the problem, but it looks like I need to replace a 1 inch hose that goes from the mid ship head to the 1.5 inch hose I already replaced.  2 questions for anyone please

    1.   I am unsure if the blockage is from just me or if it takes longer to build up in the hose.  My Nordic is a 1996.    It looks like I will need to replace more hose.

    2.  Because I was able to snake the hose and get it mostly clear in the existing hose, is there something I can put down the toilet to clear the lines and keep it from building up again.  I googled it online and get all kinds of responses.  Would like to see what NT owners have to say.  Also I researched muriatic acid and read conflicting information as a solution.

    Tom EasterbrookTom Easterbrook

    Hi Jeff,

    A few questions back at you as I am not familiar with your boat and it’s systems. Are you sure that your sanitation system uses salt water for flushing? If it does, there will be a thru hull somewhere near each toilet to supply the seawater. My boat’s head flushes with freshwater. Are they Vacuflush?

    From your descriptions it sounds like it would be best to change out as many (all) of your black water system’s hoses as you can. They are an item that requires periodic replacement and if blocked enough to need a “snake”, it sounds like removal and replacement would be best.

    If you do have a saltwater flush, the hoses can block over time due to the reaction of urine with saltwater forming a hard crystalline substance. Regularly flushing freshwater through the head and hoses (each day) can reduce this build up. Be very careful with what toilet paper you use, and how much you use for each flush. You want paper that will readily dissolve (test it or use RV or Marine TP),  you should use it sparingly, and flush with lots of water. To save space in the tank and to reduce blockage problems, we only flush paper if it has been used for feces cleanup. Any other use (urine) and it is put into a special garbage and stored in a can with a lid until disposal. Nothing goes into the head that we haven’t eaten first (except No Flex), and only a small amount of TP. I also recommend using a product called “No Flex” daily in the head. It helps to dissolve waste, add oxygen, and reduce or eliminate any tank odours.

    If you use saltwater, and your hoses are new and clean to start, you can extend the time to build up from the crystals by flushing vinegar thru the system and letting it stand for a short while, then flush with freshwater. If small amounts of the build up have started, the vinegar can help to remove them. I would not use anything stronger (like muriatic acid) for fear of damaging the duckbills, pumps, and maybe even hoses.

    Just my thoughts, Good luck,

    Tom Easterbrook

    Doug FordDoug Ford

    There was a marine magazine article a while back in which several brands of TP were compared. 7th Generation came out with good marks and we can get it at Fred Meyer.

    To test your TP, fill a jar half full of water, add a few sheets of TP and shake. If it shreds, then it is okay to use in the head. The thick cushy brands don’t work.

    Many NT owners have had issues with Vacuflush heads and eventually swapped them out, as I am doing now. We got a Masterflush from Marine Sanitation in Seattle ( As Tom suggested, we are also replacing all the hoses from input to output over the winter.

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