If you’re like me, you’re glad to see warm weather is here once again. In my column this time around I want to talk about the fresh water on your boat—or the lack of it in the winter due to marinas that shut water off due to freezing. This leaves you with filling your holding tanks in the fall and waiting until you get back home to take a shower. Even with severe conservation, seldom does our water supply last for the entire winter.
I have always wanted a water treatment system, but simply couldn’t talk myself into spending the thousands of dollars that they cost. Even if you splurged and spent the money, you’d still have to monitor the system and worry about chemical settings being correct. Plus I think water sitting in holding tanks for extended times poses its own set of issues as well.
I had the opportunity to talk with Jesse Little at WaterFixer and learned there was an on-demand system that didn’t require water storage in your tanks. But wait, it gets even better. This system from WaterFixer is under $800 dollars. The Houseboater Package from WaterFixer comes with everything you need, minus the pipe and some fittings, including the systems filters and ultraviolet light that come completely assembled, one 6 GPM 12-volt pump, a through hull fitting, 25 feet of hose to submerge and a brass foot strainer.
On my own I purchased the correct size pipe (30 feet of half-inch pex for our boat) and half-inch push-on brass fittings to do the job from our local home improvement store. The cost of these supplies was around $67.
With everything gathered up I started the project. First thing to do is a visual inspection of your current freshwater holding tank system (plumbing and attaching points) and where the current freshwater pump is located. I turned off the dock supply and opened a facet to bleed pressure off the system.
Next turn on your freshwater pump switch and empty the freshwater holding tanks through the already turned on faucet. Once all the water is pumped out, shut off the pump switch.
Locate a good accessible place on the hull above the water line to drill a hole for the through hull fitting (a small hole saw set is needed). This will be one of those measure several times and only drill once that other people talk about! Install the through hull assembly with some sealer and then tighten.
Down in the hull, remove the existing freshwater 12-volt pump (yours is probably a 5 gpm pump) and disconnect the plumbing from it along with the hot and ground wire.
Install the new pump in its original location. You’ll want to locate a suitable accessible mounting point and secure the WaterFixer in the upright position with enough clearance to service the filter cartridges and light. You may need a piece of plywood or a 2 by 4 for this.
Attach the 12-volt hot and ground wire along with the new pump 12-volt hot and ground wire to the original feed coming to your old pump using proper connectors. Using the pipe and fittings purchased for this job, attach the pipe from the through hull fitting inside the boat to the inlet side of the new pump. Now attach pipe from the outlet side of the pump to the inlet side of the WaterFixer. Attach the outlet side of the WaterFixer to the plumbing supply line that you earlier disconnected. Make certain you are attaching to the correct one. This will completely disable your old holding tank system and no water should ever be put in it.
You may even consider removing the valve that previously was used to fill the old system. Do this by simply removing it and connecting the ends with a union coupler. This new system is designed to replace the need for it.
Give It A Test
Now attach the supplied water hose and strainer to the exterior hull fitting and lower into the water completely, but not on the bottom (approximately 15 to 25 feet). Turn the freshwater pump back on and let the previously open faucet run until all air is pushed out and debris from the install is cleared.
You’re ready now for good clean water on demand when you want it. The main filter in the UV system is designed to filter up to 20,000 gallons of water depending on the source. The replaceable ultraviolet light should be replaced after 9,000 hours (1 year) use or two years of intermittent use. Again all this is depending on usage and water source quality. This unit is also available in a 120-volt version at the same cost. I selected the 12-volt version for ease of installation because our boat was already set up that way. I never imagined having good safe fresh water when I wanted it could be that easy and affordable. If you have questions Jesse is the man to ask (888-699-6166/www.waterfixercompany.com). He knows this system inside out and was very easy to reach when I needed answers.
“Ask Uncle Ricky” was a recurring column in Houseboat magazine. For other houseboat maintenance tips visit www.houseboatsAtoZ.com.