Failed Winterization


I am an Idiot

In the fall of 2014 I winterized Sea Dragon more or less as I have for the last ten (10) winters. In my haste to wrap up the winterization as quickly as possible, I made a few dumb decisions. Based on the limited use of the boat during the summer of 2014 and the promise of mild winter, I chose to take two short cuts in winterizing the head, a Raritan PHEII marine head.

Mistake #1
     I decided not to remove the raw water line to the head so I could pump anti-freeze through the unit. Instead I pumped antifreeze through the head by pouring it into bowl then pumping it dry.

Mistake #2
    I failed to remove the strainer screen and clean it - which left the bowl full of raw water.

Mistake #3
   I was lulled into believing that this would be a mild winter. As it turned out the winter of 2014-15 was one of the coldest and worst winters in many, many years setting several record low temperatures.

Spring of 2015
Well spring rolled around and Sea Dragon splashed beginning the process of preparing the boat for another season of sailing.  Batteries - Check; Oil - Check; Engine - Check; Fresh-Water system - Check; Head - 1/2 Check.

During re-commissioning of Sea Dragon in the Spring of 2015 I found that the Raritan PHEII would pump water out of the bowl but it would not draw water into the bowl.

First I checked the Dry-Flush controls. It would remove water in ether position but it would not draw water in either position.

Next I confirmed that the sea cock was open and water was flowing.

What Next?

The Raritan PHII is a simple but proven system that performs flawlessly for years with little or no maintenance.  This just did not make sense. After looking at the owners manual all I could guess was something had gotten into the system blocking the intake line.

I disassembled the control valve only to find that the hard rubber ball (Part # 1201 above) that serves as the check valve was jammed down into the housing preventing water from entering the head.


So it is clear now what had happened, the raw water left in the Control Valve had frozen and expanded forcing the hard rubber ball into the intake line. No amount of pumping would dislodge the ball from its new home.

Problem Identified - How to solve?

Home again - On the way home I came up with a plan.

So the next week I returned to the boat with a scrap piece of wood, a short length of 1/2" dowel, and small bar clamp.

A couple of turns on the clamp and "pop" the rubber ball was free and undamaged.
 I quickly reassembled the system and it worked - Water In and Water Out!

Success, more or less - As I was patting myself on the back I noticed a stream of water coming from under the sink. It only took a second to locate the source, a cracked strainer bowl. Off to West Marine for replacement bowl.

All is good ..... I was lucky that the only damage was the broken ($27) strainer bowl with no damage to the Raritan head.

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