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Advice Centre - Toilets

JABSCO marine toilets are well designed, well made, well tried and tested, and hugely popular worldwide. But they are only as good as the installation allows them to be. Get the installation right, and save yourself potential trouble of the most unwelcome kind.

Before you set sail in a boat with an on-board toilet system, it is well worth understanding a few principles. These principles are a mixture of technical know-how, environmental responsibility and common sense. They apply to boats fitted with every degree of sanitary sophistication, from a primitive bucket to the latest designer-style toilets and automatic waste-handling systems.

Before you design a new toilet system for your boat, or set about refurbishing an old one, it's worth reading 'Get Rid of Boat Odors: a Boat Owner's guide to Marine Sanitation Systems and other sources of Aggravation and Odor', by Peggie Hall. Published by Seaworthy Publications Inc (ISBN 1892399156), it is an expanded version of the author's article, 'Marine Sanitation - Fact vs. Folklore' which could be found until recently on a popular American boating website.

The book is written by an American for the US market, but the principles it describes and explains are the same for marine toilet systems anywhere. Peggie Hall is one of the USA's acknowledged experts (there aren't many!) on marine sanitation. She writes in a clear, direct style on the principles that govern the behaviour of microbes in dark, wet places, and how to keep them under control. In brief outline, Peggie Hall's book says:

  1. Know the law. Toilet waste discharge is illegal in US (and UK) inland and coastal waters. Ask your harbourmaster, marina manager, cruising association, sailing club or river authority about the regulations. (The leading UK boating magazines have databases on boating matters of every kind, and will often help if you ask nicely).
  2. Make sure that your toilet system can stand up to the movement and shocks of marine use. Every part of the system needs to be accessible for maintenance and repair.
  3. The way to avoid foul smells is to design the toilet system so that air can circulate through it.
  4. Train yourself and your crew to flush the toilet efficiently.
  5. Cleaning substances made and sold specifically for marine toilets can be useful in a well-designed system.
  6. Prevention is better than cure. Change the rubber parts in the toilet at least every two years.