It’s been a weird spring for the fresh water system. The hot water heater started leaking back in the winter, and then, last weekend, on the same trip, the main fresh water pump failed and the cockpit shower started leaking.
Fresh Water Pump
Turtle came with a Whale UF2415B Fresh Water system. This unit is designed to service multiple taps, with a primary pump for most jobs and a secondary pump that kicks in when pressure drops (e.g. multiple faucets running). Since the pumps are single speed, there’s also an accumulator tank to keep the system pressurized. This past weekend, we started hearing the pump slurp and then it started cycling continuously. Once I got a chance to take it apart, sure enough, there were signs of water and corrosion in the compartment between the motor and the service head (where the diaphragm is). The diaphragm had failed.
And thus began the saga of Whale technical support. They not only require the serial number and usual stuff, but a picture of the quality assurance seal as well as the proof of purchase of my boat (since the pump came installed). I didn’t really have anything like that – I had the closing statement, but there were numbers on there that I didn’t really want to share with some random company. I told them I didn’t even want to make a warranty claim – I just wanted tech support and parts, but they wouldn’t even talk to me without proof of purchase. I finally called and spoke to the person I’d been emailing with and she said, bluntly, that there were no spare parts available. They didn’t stock them and my only option was to replace the entire unit (the secondary pump, pressure switches, and accumulation tank are all fine).
I’ll spare you my outrage. After agreeing that my Coast Guard registration was proof of purchase enough, they sent me a new service head they thought *might* work (a courtesy, since it was just barely out of warranty). But, when I replaced it, it still didn’t work. The motor runs, but the pump just will not prime. After more frustrating tech support, they confirmed that the motor was likely damaged by water ingress and could not spin fast enough to prime – and that was definitely not covered by warranty because it was water ingress.
Me: “But, it was damaged from the failed diaphragm.”
Tech Support: “You should have been servicing it.”
Me: “Is disassembling the pump a normal service item?”
Tech Support: “No, that would void the warranty. But, you should have serviced it as soon as you noticed something wrong.”
Me: “I did.”
You get the idea.
Let’s fast-forward. I purchased a replacement pump that had the same cut-off pressure and slightly higher gallons-per-minute that I think will work as a replacement. Then I started researching non-whale pumps. North Pacific is installing Marco Pumps now and they’ seem way more reliable. A single variable speed pump can replace the whole over-complicated Whale double-stack – fewer failure modes and a more straight forward swap out, if necessary. So, I *also* bought a Marco UP6/E. I confirmed today that the existing breaker and wiring will handle it, and, since the connectors are 1/2″, I won’t require all the crazy adaptors to connect to the 1/2″ PEX-A plumbing.
I’ll say one thing in favor of the Whale – since the failure, we’ve been able to run off the secondary pump. It’s not a lot of pressure, but at lease we can flush the toilets. The fresh water system is definitely critical and I will carry spares.
- The valves for my fresh water are on the aft of the tank (not the front with the rest of the fittings). This actually makes sense as it is way closer to the main pump, but they’re a little harder to get to.
- There aren’t enough ball valves in the system. When I install the new pump, I will install valves at the pump for easier service.
Found water in my lazarette bilge again. After a momentary freakout I noticed water dripping from below the cockpit shower fixture. This quickly escalated to water flooding out from beneath a drain in the deck… but there was no water going in the drain. Eventually, with some help for my fried brain from our rafting buddies on Seapos, we tracked this down to the shower line fitting having come unscrewed from the source pipe. The water was leaking into the void in the cockpit wall and leaking through the hole where the cockpit drain connects. I think what happened is the shower tube gets rotated when it gets used and that eventually unscrewed it. After much raging and pouting, an easy fix. “The universe threw you a bone, I’d take it,” said my friend on Seapos.
- There’s no sealant around the shower – probably not a big deal, but since it drips into the laz I should probably put a bead of 4200 around the edge.
- That hose should really have a swivel on the fitting so it doesn’t unscrew.
Hot Water Heater
We haven’t used the domestic hot water heater since we discovered the leak. It just seems like the danger of antifreeze in the drinking water is too great to mess around. I filed another support request with Whale, mostly to confirm that the unit is toast. So, now I am debating whether I really need the domestic hot water. We almost never use it, but it would be nice to have a secondary source of hot water on the boat. The Hydronic works well, but the internal fresh water pump has already failed once. Also, even though both are on the engine loop, the hydronic system can’t really store as much heat as the domestic system can. Once the domestic tank is hot, it stays that way for 24 hours – and warm for another 12, depending on weather.
On the other hand, it’s just more stuff to fail. The plumbing, electrical, and engine loop are all twice as complicated as they really need to be. So, maybe I just carry more spares for the hydronic. Though, I hate having to burn diesel every time we want hot water.
Right now, I am leaning toward replacing the domestic unit with a better brand/model. Torrid has a good reputation and (I’ll be damned) they’re about as local as a company can be to us.
Whale is dead to me. Not only are their products failing dramatically, at the same time, with very low hours on them. Their spares policy is insane. The idea that they’re not going to provide sub-assembly spares for a two-year-old unit is just crazy (as well as not covering the electric motors under warranty if they get wet… it’s a pump).
Mental Health Break
This little lady spent the night on our paddle board. We left her alone and she didn’t seem to mind us going back and forth between boats on the swim step. After a good night’s rest, she left the next morning.
Cute kids eating watermelon. So nice to have some warm weather.
Transom Door Latch
The replacement took several months to get here and is the wrong one. The latch is 3/8″ too short and the new receiver plate won’t fit without drilling new holes. I contacted North Pacific to see if they can send me the exact same fixture. Nothing is ever easy.