Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Water Problems

I installed our Jabsco fresh water pump about two and a half years ago when we first moved on Drift Away. What a nightmare that was.  The water lines were a combination of copper and rubber.  All the rubber lines had dried out and cracked.  I had to trace the lines through walls, under berths, and under floors.  After considerable work, I finally got the system to pressurize.  But I digress.

Pam said the water pump was louder than normal.  I couldn't tell unless I was in the engine room where the pump lives.  This morning, before jumping in the shower, I decided to check the strainer for gunk.  I took the lid off and looked at the screen.  It was as clean as a whistle.   I put it back together and hopped in the shower.  Halfway through it the water pressure dropped.  I finished the shower navy-style, turning on the water only to hose off.

I went into the engine room and the pump was running.  I looked in the strainer and it was dry.  That's happened before and all I had to do was to fill it with water to prime the pump and put it together.  I did that.  The pump sucked the water out of the strainer until it was dry.  Huh.  I did it again and again with the same result.  I had checked the water level and it was fine.

Thinking that maybe there was a clog somewhere, I pulled the hose off the strainer and blew it out.  It was clear.

Maybe the pump was just worn.  I had a spare Shurflo and I installed that.  The Shurflo is self priming, but it wouldn't.  Maybe the problem wasn't on the supply side, but on the upriver side.  I shut off the valve and removed the hose from the pump's discharge side.  I looked at it.  Like an idiot, I opened the valve and got a face full of water (note to my non-boating friends.  There is a pressure tank with a bladder in it to pressurize the system so the pump doesn't run every time you turn on the water).

Just in case the gauge is off and we might be out of water, I filled the water tank.

I put the hose back on, totally baffled.  I filled the strainer again and turned on the pump.  It primed, filled the pressure tank and shut off, just like that.

While I'm relieved that all is well, I'm baffled why it started working.  This is pretty simple stuff.  What am I missing here?

Later, I walked into our forward storeroom (that used to be a stateroom) and I heard a strange noise.  Kind of a gurgling noise, coming from one of the bilge pump thru hulls.  I looked in the center stateroom bilge to see water burbling from the pump.  ?????  So I lifted the switch, the bilge pump kicked on, emptied the bilge, and stopped.  Just like nothing happened.

I looked outside the boat.  Because of the weight of all the water I put on board, 3,336 pounds for 400 gallons, the bilge thru hulls were underwater.  All I can figure on this one is that the siphon breaker stuck and didn't break the siphon, allowing water to try to come back into the boat.  I removed the valve from the top of the vented loop.  It looked fine.  I put it back together.

I then decided to install the shower sump in the engine room bilge.  For you non-boating friends, showers that just dump into the bilge, as it does on Drift Away, results in stinky bilges.  I had just started that project when Olivia started barking at something.  I tromped up topsides and yelled at her.  Back to the engine room.  She barks again.  That's it.  I'm putting off this project until a day when Pam is home.

So it was back to Al Gore's internets and TV to watch election news.  

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