Marine Toilet Problems

Written by andrea stein
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Marine Toilet Problems
Marine toilets can cause serious sanitation problems during boating. (boat image by pearlguy from

Marine toilets, which operate via a hand-powered or electrical pump, are integral to maintaining sanitation during sea operation. Marine toilets can malfunction for various reasons, which can often be detected and resolved with a little time and detective work.


Waste water backfilling, or refilling in the toilet bowl after flushing, can be caused by an obstruction in the tank vent that allows air to vent out. A tank vent obstruction can cause pressure to build and force liquid past the valve and back into the toilet bowl. The operator should clear any sediment or debris in the vent to restore proper marine toilet function.

No Water Suction

If water fails to draw into the marine toilet system, a clogged intake valve body or worn piston o-ring may be to blame. The operator should clear any obstructions from the intake valve body and check the piston o-ring for signs of wear and replace it as needed.

Piston Shaft Leaks

Water leakage around the piston shaft may cause the marine toilet not to flush properly. The operator should check the cartridge seal for signs of wear as well as check for scoring around the piston shaft and replace the parts as necessary.

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