It was a curious thing when I came home to find my water pump running, but no water coming out of the faucets. I thought the water tanks must be empty, but the flow was good before I left a few hours earlier. There’s usually a tell tale sputtering as they are about to run dry. It was late and I was tired, so I turned off the water pump and went to bed.
The next morning I filled the two 50 gallon tanks and turned the pump back on. No water came out of the faucet, but it was coming out somewhere because I could hear it, and the bilge pump started. I had to start work in 10 minutes.
I decided to check the water pump first since it was the most recent change, and my first pump installation. To get to the pump I have to take off the salon table (where I work) and then the whole heavy floor piece. Everything was bone dry. Hose connections to and from pump were good as well as the T going fore and aft. I turned the pump back on…no water I could see, other than some draining into the bilge farther aft. AFT is a really hard place to access because it is all under the galley. It was time to start work, so I turned off the pump and waited until my lunch hour.
The second the clock was at 1pm I was stripping all the shelves out from under the galley sink. Tinfoil, boat rags, cleaning products, and boxes of ziplock piled up on the nav table. My flashlight was dying so I used my phone and could see a light blue T piece missing a hose several feet from me, and several inches under water. There was no possibility of reaching this from the galley cabinet.
My next option was to go in under the settee. Oh, and moving a 5 gallon hot water heater (HWH). I had 45 minutes left. I detached the screws holding the HWH to the floor of that compartment (stewing over why they bolted this over two access ports to a half dozen water hoses) and lifted it with one hand while I got one panel up from under it. Otherwise, I would have had to disconnect four very stuck hoses that looked like they were heat shrunk into place. As I pulled up the access board, I found the fresh water feed to the HWH dangling down into the dark wet cavern with the hose clamp still on. Further inspection showed that this was what was disconnected from the T piece, which I could now see better, but still couldn’t reach it. I also got a better view of how much water was standing in this section of the boat, apparently blocked off by the engine stringers. Thirty minutes. I cleaned and inspected the hose clamp – I couldn’t seem to find another at the moment. It was grimy, but intact.
I ended up lying on top of the HWH and hanging from the waist upside down into the bilge, just far enough to grasp the T piece. Unfortunately, it really had no mobility to bring it up to an easier working position (why wasn’t there more hose??!!). I put a folded towel on the edge of the HWH and inched farther forward, now hanging from my hips, to get the hose on and clamped. I sat up and caught my breath that I was apparently holding. 10 minutes.
There remained quite a bit of water that wasn’t going into the bilge. I rushed to the dock box and dug out the borrowed pump that’s for changing the oil, and pumped out 10 gallons of water. I have no idea how many gallons the bilge pump threw overboard beforehand.
Sweating and panting, I went back to work after I got the table back up, and started putting my home back together during breaks. One hour, 15 minutes. The following morning I realized I’d left my drill down by the HWH and had to pull up some cushions and hatches again. I also found two screws in my jacket and don’t know where they came from. Oy! I went to the chiropractor and iced my back, but otherwise I felt pretty good about my troubleshooting and learning more about my plumbing. I had always avoided plumbing in the past – but it wasn’t an option this time.
The next week I had an engine inspection, and with the cabinet pulled apart I could still see a good deal of water still there, so either I didn’t get it all the first time, or there is still a leak. I believe it’s the latter as the water pump goes on for a half second here and there, so there is more work to be done in this area. I pumped out a few more gallons and put things back together.
My current plan is to have someone help me move the HWH to the port side, allowing better access to all of those hoses that go to and from the HWH and to the galley sink. I would like to replace all the hoses (with some slack!), T pieces and clamps and start fresh. I suppose that will morph into changing the water hoses to the head as well, but I’d rather not think about that just now – at least it will be more accessible.