How To Unblock A Toilet On A Boat | Become A Cruiser
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How To Unblock a Toilet On a Boat

In this guide we will look at the unpleasant task of how to unblock a toilet on a boat.

When a marine toilet is blocked it blocks in one of four places. Spoiler alert it’s almost never in the pipes unless your sanitary system has some hard 90 degree turns in it. Each of the different areas of blockage requires a different clearing strategy. Thankfully most user error manifests itself in the bowl before the paper even makes its way into the pump.

Most of the blockages you will find on your boat’s marine sanitation system will be a result of scaling caused by uric acid reacting with seawater to form crystals. Flushing toilet paper down a marine head is not the most common cause of blockages. Provided some common sense procedures are followed. If you missed it here’s my article on ‘Can You Flush Toilet Paper on a Boat’.

WARNING

NEVER USE A PLUNGER to unblock a toilet on a boat. NOT ONLY WILL YOU DAMAGE THE SANITARY SYSTEM YOU MAY BLOW A PIPE OFF OF A THRU-HULL AND CAUSE WATER TO FLOOD INTO THE BOAT.

DO NOT USE ANY DRAIN CLEANING CHEMICALS TO TRY TO UNBLOCK A MARINE TOILET SYSTEM. THE CHEMICALS MAY HARM THE SYSTEM AND SHOULD THEY NOT WORK AND YOU ARE FORCED TO OPEN THE SYSTEM YOU MAY END UP BEING COVERED IN A HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL SOLUTION.

CLOSE ALL SEACOCKS BEFORE UNDOING OR OPENING ANY PART OF THE SANITARY SYSTEM

Unblocking a Marine Head or Sanitary System

How To Unblock a Jammed Up Marine Toilet Bowl

Disgusting Scale: 6-8
Difficulty Scale: 1 Beer Reward

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Total Time Needed :

5

Minutes

Total Cost:

10

USD

Required Tools:

– Good Pair of ‘Baños Gloves’, see below

Things Needed?

I use what I affectionately ‘Baños Gloves’ as I found my first pair at a hardware store in San Carlos, Panama. They were labeled for ‘Baños’ with a rough drawing of a dude doing some nasty plumbing work!

The key to a good pair of ‘Baños Gloves’ is the rubber must be thick! You want to feel ‘as little as possible’ of what you’re doing. And you don’t want them to leak! You don’t want to use the same pair of latex gloves you use for an oil change. This mission calls for a little extra expenditure on thick gloves with long cuffs!

Method:

Step 1

Slide your fingers down the backside of the bowl. Palm facing you. Work to the bottom of the clog and pull out. I find at this point, heavily cursing the person who caused the blockage helps me focus. Normally you can flush again as normal once you get the blockage out of the bottom of the bowl, just hold the wad of paper and flush little by little.

If this is a bit of a ‘challenging’ clog. Use a bucket to place the wet paper in, temporarily while you clear the bowl. You might need to work your fingers into the pipe leading to the pump. Pull out as much of the blockage as you can and try again.

Take a look at my article ‘Can You Flush Toilet Paper on a Boat‘ to prevent the issue from occurring again.

To save you the trouble of looking, here are the gloves you will need for this job from Amazon. I would suggest ordering two pairs at the same time. So that you have a backup pair, or have the ability to enlist a ‘helper’ if need be.

This Article Continues over Multiple Pages – Please Click on Page 2 below

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Nic

Hi, I’m Nic! Our Family of four have been out cruising since 2016. We have sailed about 15,000nm, almost halfway around the world. We sold everything, took the leap of faith, and bought a 10-year-old Lagoon 380 ex-charter catamaran. We’ve fixed every system on the boat, often more than once. Cruising has been such a wonderful, positive experience for our family that I want to share my tips to help you Become a Cruiser.


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