Praise for Toilets

Posted: December 1, 2013  |  Tag: Heads/Showers/Plumbing

By: John Temple

I am considering upgrading my toilets to VacuFlush. Are they as good as advertised, and are there any setup considerations? What about maintenance?
We had VacuFlush toilets installed on our Carver 390 when we bought it new in 1995, so we have almost 20 years of experience with VacuFlush. Properly installed and serviced, they work great.

One tip I would offer on installation is to install separate vacuum units on each toilet, so if there is a failure on one toilet there is another one that will work. We have a toilet forward with its own vacuum and holding tank and another toilet aft with its own vacuum and holding tank. That gives us two 13-gallon tanks for effluent storage.

The single weakness is the onboard pumpout: We have just one. In the U.S., this is not an issue. In Canada, however, dockside pumpouts are unavailable in many areas. The pump for the pumpout is the same as the one that is on each toilet’s vacuum, so even if the pump died on the overboard pumpout, we could get it working and have just one toilet. Fortunately, this has never happened.

What has happened is losing a seal on the toilet. You can clean the seal, but we always carry new seals and replace them when necessary, which takes me 20 minutes. The other weak link is the duck-ball valves at the pumps. Again, we keep several replacements for those on board. On this year’s cruise, we had to replace the duck-ball valves and the flush ball and seal kit. Keep the duck valves and seals on board, and you will be able to repair most any issue. It is not even that messy of a job, depending on your boat’s access. Our pumpout is a hassle to get to, but I was able to replace the duck valves in a couple of hours. Or, if you are smarter than I am, replace it all every year before you cruise for the season. The seals are simple, despite techie-sounding names.

One last thought. If you have an older boat with older pumps, have them serviced. The new bellows are better and do not get clogged with toilet paper like the older ones do.

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