Catalina 270 Holding Tank Replacement (11/2016)
Not the first major maintenance job I wanted to tackle but not much
choice! I noticed the holding tank leaking after a few weekends of
using the boat (and a few trips to the pumpout station).
First action was to go back to the pumpout station and empty the
tank and then refill it with water many times over to get it as
clean as possible. Then disassemble and remove everything.
A few things I found:
The tank vent is inadequate on several counts. Most recommendations
I've found state the vent should:
The OEM vent doesn't meet either criteria.
- Have no traps that can hold sewage and block the vent
- Be 1" in diameter
1. The tube from the tank goes down
towards the area under the V-berth and then back up to the deck, so
there is a long-ish area which can trap water/sewage to completely
block the vent.
2. The hose is 3/4", a bit smaller than 1" but should be fine...
except that it ends in a bolt which goes inside a stanchion tube.
The diameter of the hole in this bolt is only 6.8mm (about a quarter
inch) but it gets worse because on the stanchion there are only two
tiny little holes to serve as vents! So for most practical purposes,
the tank was not really vented.
3. Instead of a Y-valve to divert toilet discharge to the tank or
outside, there is a household brass valve to shut off the pipe going
to the holding tank. Needless to say, this brass valve was frozen in
place by corrosion.
4. None of the hose fittings were barbed.
There is evidence of some leakage from the vent pipe where it
connects to the stanchion (it did not seal tightly). The
intake hose and the macerator pump showed no evidence of
leakage. I also noticed the vent fitting is very close to the
edge of the hole (picture below is with new tank as I forgot to take
a photo earlier, but it was the same). There is a small stress crack
in the fiberglass there which suggests the fitting might've been
hitting the edge when the tank moved (nothing really hold the tank
down other than its weight and the stiffness of the attached hoses).
I could not identify the source of the primary leak until later. The guilty party was the Jabsco
macerator pump! It was leaking internally from its housing
where the two halves join. I only discovered this after putting the
new system together and started testing it with clean water
(fortunately!). Searching the web, looks like many people have had
similar leaks from the pump body. So if you have a mystery leak,
suspect the pump first!
Not strictly related to the holding tank work but since I had all
the floorboard out, first thing I did was paint the bilges:
Then I ordered a new holding tank from Catalina
Direct. The tank is same as original, with two changes:
- I had a 1" fitting installed for the vent (instead of 3/4")
- All the fitting are now barbed
Then I added a 1" through-hull for the vent hose:
I replaced all the hoses.
After some debate, I ended up plumbing the toilet straight to the
holding tank. I did not install a valve to close it nor a tee to the
through hull. Fewer moving parts and more importantly fewer
potential leak points.
- 15ft of Trident 1.5" sanitation hose
- 12ft of 1" hose for the vent
- 12ft of 3/4" hose for the water intake
- 2ft of 1" hose for the macerator outlet
my Catalina 270 page.