Holding Tank Sludge and winterization concerns

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Frostman

Member
We’ve winterized our houseboat to haul it out of the water and do periodic maintenance later in March. There’s a couple of inches of unpumpable sludge in the bottoms of all the holding tanks due to past owners chronic practice of having the holding tanks pumped by Pootopia with no regular backflushing to make sure the tanks are empty.

I’ve poured several gallons of -50 F pink RV antifreeze into the discharge pipes and flushed several more gallons down each toilet. There is no option for pumping out the 20 gallons of fresh water we left in with tank drop-ins to work on the sludge in September.

Has anyone experienced or heard of houseboat holding tank frozen sludge damage? I haven’t found any info on it on the internet yet. I would hate to be the first one.

If we wait till later in April the repairwork might not be done in time for Memorial Day.
 

bubba

Well-Known Member
Easy fix if using straight through toilets.

Just make a drop tube from 2” pvc, thread the RV black sump connector nipple on the top end and use pumpout hose at the dock. Go through the bathroom sliding window with the hose or go down the hall if no window. Will pump everything down to the pan, just keep tube slightly elevated or do slight angle cut on tube.

Try an enzyme additive that eats waste and paper and you eliminate high spots.
 

Frostman

Member
Thanks for the suggestions Bubba.

Our toilets are not straight drop. Exec. Services won’t tow us to the pumpout station enroute to the boat ramp and Pootopia won’t start up till May. Off Shore Marina says they can’t pump holding tanks either. We’ve been using the drop-in digesters for the past year and they’ve been in the tanks since September.

There are probably 10 gallons of the water & bugs solution in each tank for the past 5 months so maybe they made some progress before the Lake cooled below their optimum temperature range.

The wisest move would be to wait till later in April...
 

VanillaIceCream

Well-Known Member
I second the use of a PVC pipe when pumping the black tank.

We would just shove the PVC pipe down the toilet and pump from there to get everything out, it was better than using the connection outside. It was an older Boatel Houseboat (new then) which probably didn't pump as well as newer boats.

Maybe consider using the PVC tube at the end of the season as its somewhat more work.

Erik
 
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ROSCOELAB

Well-Known Member
maintaining our straight drop toilets, I would load them with the enzymes and water after our last owners trip in oct/nov, let it chew on it all winter and do a full back flush every spring. seemed to work well for us, and if folks came on winter trips, most were staying in the slip and used the bathrooms there. RidX was the brand name I always used, and any poop mounds that were there at the end were all gone by feb/march work and fishing party for our group.
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
You should have no problem with that small amount of liquid in the tank as it has plenty of room to expand during the freezing process. Same as why a dog dish doesn't crack when it freezes. That being said, you are right, it is not a good situation. I have laid in the hulls of many 59' Sumerset houseboats correcting black water tank situations.
a real pain. Changed out 40 plastic tanks with aluminum due to connection leaks only to find the corrosive effect of waste on aluminum. Never saw freeze damage though on either material. back flushing is really important
 

ROSCOELAB

Well-Known Member
You should have no problem with that small amount of liquid in the tank as it has plenty of room to expand during the freezing process. Same as why a dog dish doesn't crack when it freezes. That being said, you are right, it is not a good situation. I have laid in the hulls of many 59' Sumerset houseboats correcting black water tank situations.
a real pain. Changed out 40 plastic tanks with aluminum due to connection leaks only to find the corrosive effect of waste on aluminum. Never saw freeze damage though on either material. back flushing is really important
been on the bad side of those blackwater tanks also Birdsnest, ours is an old rental, it is crazy the damage human waste can do......
 

Frostman

Member
Who told you Pootopia was down til May? You should try calling exec again.
I spoke with Capt. Whitey in the Bullfrog Marina Office and that’s what he told me. I also asked if they could tow us to the pumpout station on the way to the boat ramp for retrieval and he said they won’t tow there.
 

Frostman

Member
I met with Capt. Josh, Marina Manager on the dock and was told their pumping service is available 365 days a year and they completed the task within an hour of our conversation. Glad to have resolved the winterization issues completely. The ‘regular service’ resumes May 1st. The pilots take care of it during the off season.
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
Repositioning the blackwater tanks to allow for straight drop is one of the best upgrades for the plumbing system possible but also one that takes a fair amount of planning. Of course, if your boat is a pontoon, almost impossible. A mono hull is generally just a pain. I've done more than I care to remember, maybe 60. Unfortunately the first couple are the hardest and for most people that's all your gonna do so the learning curve is almost useless. The obvious advantage is the system is just what you want when it is done.
Thanks for the suggestions Bubba.

Our toilets are not straight drop. Exec. Services won’t tow us to the pumpout station enroute to the boat ramp and Pootopia won’t start up till May. Off Shore Marina says they can’t pump holding tanks either. We’ve been using the drop-in digesters for the past year and they’ve been in the tanks since September.

There are probably 10 gallons of the water & bugs solution in each tank for the past 5 months so maybe they made some progress before the Lake cooled below their optimum temperature range.

The wisest move would be to wait till later in April...
 
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