If your grey tank is clogged...

On Hendrik we have a grey tank that only takes the outflow from the galley sink and stores it until we remember to flip a switch, which starts up the macerator and pump to lift it above the waterline and outside. It usually only takes a few minutes to empty it out, and you can watch the flow shooting out the side of the boat (though not nearly as impressive as Serenity‘s, which soars in a graceful arc, high into the air!). But for the past few weeks we’ve hardly been getting a trickle out of the pump, and it didn’t seem to matter which state of tide or battery draw we were experiencing. Frankly, we were starting to get worried anyway, but then last night it started seeping onto the galley floor.

We had a hunch that maybe the problem was fat from the sink (inevitable over time with washing up) had congealed in the cold weather and was clogging the narrow pipe leading to the macerator, but there was really no way to be sure. So we decided to get out the hairdryer and heat the pipe between the tank and macerator for a few minutes, and then ran the pump again.

Eureka! What was once a trickle was a mighty torrent yet again!

So if you’ve got similar grey tank troubles in the winter, you know what to try before the messy (and smelly!) job of dismantling your grey tank… Even though it’s never cold enough on the boat to freeze water in pipes, fat in pipes is another matter altogether.

- posted by Melissa Fehr on 4 January 2011, 16:30 in