Marine Toilet

How do I operate the marine toilet?




Marine Toilet (Heads)


Marine toilets often referred to as the Heads this being an expression from old wooden ships where the marine toilet was in the bow or the heads of the ship.


The workings are simple but do need to be explained as misuse can lead to flooding or blocking both of which are undesirable.


The simple switch on the pump enables either a dry bowl or flush.


Dry bowl means that by operating the pump, the contents will be evacuated.     


Flush means that by operating the pump, water will be drawn into the bowl to enable a flush action.




The contents may have disappeared from the bowl but they may not have exited the boat. It is usual therefore to pump dry / flush about 20 / 25 times to clear the boat.  Indeed good practice would be to use plenty of water every time it is used as this will reduce the amount of clogging of the pipes.


Boat momentum, it may be easier to sit and use whilst pumping to evacuate.


Toilet paper should not be put down the bowl as it does not disintegrate or dissolve quickly leading to blocked heads, wet wipes, tissues etc should not be put down the heads for the same reason. A solution is to not put any paper in the heads but to use “wet wipes” placing them in a nappy sack or poop bag (scented) and then disposing through the normal trash.


The pump should be left in the dry position or locked if that is available this will prevent the pump from back filling, causing flooding, whilst the boat is moving. If the heads keep flooding it may be necessary to turn the sea cocks off.


If the evacuation is not happening and the pump is hard or stiff it would suggest that you may have a blockage. Check to see if the sea cocks are open, inlet and outlet. Do not continue pumping as this will have the effect of pressurising the system causing the contents to blow back and or recycle dirty water into the bowl. Excessive pumping may also cause the choker valve to invert and therefore not perform its task.


If the boat is 5 / 6 years or older the outlet hose, is probably clogging up and reducing the out flow. This needs to be replaced and the sea cock serviced to restore its full function.


Annual maintenance should include replacing the flapper and choker valves and servicing the pump seals and springs.


Heads attached to holding tanks need special care as they become full. A consequence may be smell and back filling of the bowl, both undesirable.


Electric pumps attached to heads are very good as they usually have a macerator associated with them. However some respect should still be given to the quantity of paper being put into the bowl.


A better solution is that only things that have been eaten should be placed in the bowl.
  Pump assembly                                                                                                                                                                            Macerator pump

 Kit for converting manual to electric 12v                                                                                                     Heads service kit                                                  
                                                                                                                                                                                 Anti syphon device
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                                                                                                                            GT Yachting October 2012