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Tag: Plumbing

Kitchen sink plumbing update

Kitchen sink plumbing update

A couple weeks ago I noticed the kitchen sink seemed to be draining slowly. It has a garbage disposal and I figured the previous owner had left something in there without chopping it up. I flipped on the disposal switch, instead of a satisfying grinding noise all I heard was a low hum, then a pop and acrid smoke filled the room. The disposal had given up the ghost. 

Now I had a non-draining sink and a bad garbage disposal. I was already working on the floors and did not have time to worry about the sink, so it sat, for a week, half full of water. Boy did it stink when I finally got a hose to siphon the water out. 

The city of Burien has a strong composting policy, in fact they require you to compost and provide a second bin in the driveway, next to the garbage can, just for compost. So I ripped the disposal out, removed the sink drain, and re-plumbed it all into a straight drain. Food scraps go in the compost, not the sink. Simpler, less moving pieces to break, and one less potential fire hazard in an already overloaded electrical system. 

Happy sink drain. 

Kitchen sink plumbing update - annotated

Total cost: $25

Installing a shower check valve

When using the shower the water drains down into a holding tank. Inside that holding tank is a bilge pump that has an internal floater which detects water to activate the pump. From the pump there is a six foot rise and a seven foot run to the outlet.

Some bilge pumps are not powerful enough to pump up to such an extreme. Penny’s pump is more than powerful enough, however when the water level in the tank falls below the floater the pump shuts off and due to the long run there is still water in the outlet hose. The water in the hose drains back into the tank. The float then activates the pump again until all the water is back in the hose. This process typically repeats itself dozens of times.

Today that issue has been resolved with an inline check valve! Check valves allow water to flow only one way, in this case out the outlet. And water trapped in the hose stays trapped in the hose and the pump no longer cycles. You may argue that it is not a good idea to let water sit in the hose, and maybe you are right, but the pump peacefully resting instead of noisily triggering over and over is worth the possibility of replacing the hose in a few years.

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Ghost leak in the water system annihilated

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When you live on a boat finding ways to conserve water becomes almost an obsession. I do not have the luxury of a fat pipe of water coming off the city line giving me a constant supply, instead I have a tank that sits beneath my floor (two in fact). The level has to be monitored and ideally refilled before the tank runs empty and air bubbles are introduced in the line. The tanks going empty runs the risk of burning out components expecting water to be there.

Penny has 2 35 gallon tanks. Those tanks should last a good while and yet they were emptying every one or two days. I was having a really hard time believing I was going through that much water and it bothered me to think I was using that much, then I was away from the boat for a couple days… When I returned there was no water in the system that I had filled before I left. It happened a couple more times and I knew something was up. I hunted around and could sometimes hear water dripping but not consistently. One of the bilge pumps would kick on several times a day and dump a few gallons overboard, revealing the leak was not insignificant. There was a ghost in my system somewhere and I finally located it this evening.

The culprit was living in the connections to the inlet on the hot water tank. The previous owner replaced the steel pipe flange but it had come loose. I am guessing from a combination of heating and cooling with the motor running and all the vibration that comes along with it. Some silicon tape and a flat head screw driver and the problem seems to have gone away.

The issue was on three connections.

  • The T coming from the water pressure pump on the side that split to the hot water tank
  • The input side of a shutoff valve for the hot water tank inlet
  • The output side of the same shutoff valve before going into the tank

The connections had come so loose that wiggling the hose caused water to spray across the engine compartment. Simple and free fix and the system has been holding water now for almost an hour with no leakage!

Time to take a nice hot shower 🙂

Replacing the water pressure pump

As part of the electrical overload which damaged several ship systems the water pressure pump was damaged. I found this out one day when I was in the shower. I had just finished soaping up when the water sputtered a few times and simply quit, leaving me covered head to toe in soap. Not a pleasant situation to be sure.

When I told Josh what happened he descended into the abyss of the engine compartment to see what the issue was. Turns out the electrical overload that blew the battery charger had also dumped too much current into the water pressure pump and blew it out. Off to Fisheries I went to see how deeply my wallet was going to be hurt. To my utter surprise the water pressure pump for my boat is cheap! I picked it up straight away. Josh came with me to ask the plumbing department some questions about his own water system. Turns out his water pressure pump was bad as well but that is just a coincidence.

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Josh guinea pigged replacing a water pressure pump on my boat and once again hopped into the engine compartment to replace Penny’s pump.
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It only too a few minutes to pop the hoses onto the new pump and transfer the electrical wires and Penny was back in business. The water never tasted fresher and the shower never felt better!

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