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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Bristol
    Posts
    2,055

    Question Cleaning out grey tank?

    Over the years I suspect my grey tank has become sludged up with a lot of horrible horrible gunk. It pumps out fine but it smells and the tank ful alarm float switch is clogged.

    Basically is there any known method whereby I can tip something down the sink which will dissolve all the gunk and then I can pump it out safely into a container and dispose of it.

    Or am I going to have to open the hatch and get my arms in there to manually scoop out the worst of it?
    www.Chasing-Contours.com - A circumnavigation by boat, bikes, climbing & paragliding

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Home: Kent. Boat: Chichester
    Posts
    43,220

    Default Re: Cleaning out grey tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by northcave View Post
    Over the years I suspect my grey tank has become sludged up with a lot of horrible horrible gunk. It pumps out fine but it smells and the tank ful alarm float switch is clogged.

    Basically is there any known method whereby I can tip something down the sink which will dissolve all the gunk and then I can pump it out safely into a container and dispose of it.

    Or am I going to have to open the hatch and get my arms in there to manually scoop out the worst of it?
    A proprietary drain cleaner. Probably something from a professional janitorial range rather than a domestic product from the supermarket.

    Even then you will have a choice between fairly highly concentrated sulfuric acid based products ( 90% H2SO4 sort of range}, sodium or potassium hydroxide based products and enzyme based products. The most effective will depend on the nature of the "gunk"
    Last edited by VicS; 17-05-19 at 05:55.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Bristol
    Posts
    2,055

    Default Re: Cleaning out grey tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by VicS View Post
    A proprietary drain cleaner. Probably something from a professional janitorial range rather than a domestic product from the supermarket.

    Even then you will have a choice between fairly highly concentrated sulfuric acid based products ( 90% H2SO4 sort of range}, sodium or potassium hydroxide based products and enzyme based products. The most effective will depend on the nature of the "gunk"
    And the likely impact on plastic pipes and rubber diaphragm of the Whale pump? I suppose it won't remain in the pipes and pump all that long so perhaps it isn't an issue.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    up on the moors.
    Posts
    33,167

    Default Re: Cleaning out grey tank?

    T

    It would be worth having a quick word with Oil Technics. They have a range of enzyme products for dealing with hydrocarbon 'cludge', and they might have something which will eat up or loosen the solids in the tank.

    oiltechnics.com

    I suspect that a by product of clearing process with any product will involve the production of e.g.methane, or hydrogen sulfide, so worth leaving the unloading cap loose to avoid pressurisation.

    Having cleaned the tank, if you want to make sure any residual bacteria are dead to prevent future buildup, then have a word with Endosan about tank sterislation

    https://www.endosan.com/

    Their products are simply the best for cleaning and sterilising potable water tanks and pipework, and can be left in dilution in the tanks if a boat is out for a while.


    PS, No affiliation with either company. Just a commercial user.
    I think, therefore I am. I am, therefore I sail.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Home: Kent. Boat: Chichester
    Posts
    43,220

    Default Re: Cleaning out grey tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by northcave View Post
    And the likely impact on plastic pipes and rubber diaphragm of the Whale pump? I suppose it won't remain in the pipes and pump all that long so perhaps it isn't an issue.
    The pipes should be OK but the materials used in a whale pump might not be. You'd not want to leave strong acid or caustic alkali in a die-cast bodied pump. If you cannot avoid the cleaning solution passing through the pump then perhaps have a word with the pump manufacturers about the choice of cleaning agent. If necessary the diaphragm and valves could be simply be replaced

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    East Coast, Woolverstone
    Posts
    1,224

    Default Re: Cleaning out grey tank?

    I would open the hatch its a lot safer than pumping chemicals into the tank, and ultimately you will be sure its clean.

    Not too keen myself on polluting the sea with concentrated cleaners like this.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    6,795

    Default Re: Cleaning out grey tank?

    When we bought our (new to us) boat, the grey tank was in a disgusting state. Now it gets cleaned out once a year with a long handled dish wash brush, washing up liquid, and plenty of water jetted in. It's time for sleeves rolled up and some manual effort, rather than applying chemicals.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Cleaning out grey tank?

    Re: post #4
    Endosan looks interesting and affordable. I note it can be purchased by businesses only for commercial use (and poster is a commercial user). Unfortunate.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Southminster, essex
    Posts
    9,046

    Default Re: Cleaning out grey tank?

    Quote Originally Posted by NormanS View Post
    When we bought our (new to us) boat, the grey tank was in a disgusting state. Now it gets cleaned out once a year with a long handled dish wash brush, washing up liquid, and plenty of water jetted in. It's time for sleeves rolled up and some manual effort, rather than applying chemicals.
    Bet that helps to keep the lettuce crispy
    It is all down to the fact that my wife does not understand me !!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Ipswich
    Posts
    205

    Default Re: Cleaning out grey tank?

    We clean our every three to six months. Have had too many times when the float switch has clogged and not kicked in as it should = Grey water in bilge.

    We recently had the float switch fail too which wasn’t ideal.

    https://mariadz.com/2019/05/18/grey-water-float-switch/
    Two people, two cats, one dream
    http://www.Mariadz.com/

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