Of Lights, Heads, And Pets

Maintenance Q&A

April 2017 Feature

In almost 23 years of being involved in the houseboat industry, Warren Childers of Sunstar Yacht Sales & Brokerage has traveled 28,000 miles on the inland rivers and Intracoastal Waterway and from Canada to Key West, Fla., by houseboat. He’s seen and fixed about anything you could ask about. Here are some questions folks have asked him recently.

Question: Is it okay to add outside lighting to a houseboat, or would that interfere with the navigation lights? We were looking at some LED rope lighting options, and they’re pretty cost-effective.

Submitted by Parker Long, Lake Lanier, Ga.

Warren: LED rope light is a great addition or replacement for existing incandescent rope lighting. It uses much less power and does not drain batteries or use as much available 110 vessel power. However, when under way, the rope light should not be lit. It is important to to make sure the vessel’s navigation lights are the easiest to see and the brightest lights on the boat. There should only be enough outside lighting on for people to safely walk around the vessel. Save the rope lights for when out in a cove or at the dock.

Question: Our on-demand head pump is constantly running. It only will pump when I flush and clears the head fine, but it still keeps running all the time. What should I try doing to fix this?

Submitted by Scott Tucker, Columbia, Ky.

Warren: This is a difficult question to answer without knowing what kind of head you have. I will answer with the two most common setups.

1. The first style, and the most common, is an impeller-style pump that is energized for a brief period during the flush cycle. If the pump continues to run after the cycle is complete, I would assume there is an issue with the circuit board that controls the pump. This would mean the pump would be getting signal at all times causing it to continue to run.

2. Some heads use a demand pump much like the one on the fresh water system to pressurize the system. In the event this style pump continues to run, more than likely the check valve in the pump has gone bad and the pump needs to be replaced.

If this isn’t helpful, please feel free to contact me and give me more specific information.

Question: We’re thinking about getting a dog for our kids, but don’t want to hassle with getting a pet-sitter whenever we head to the lake. Is it manageable to try to bring a dog on occasional houseboat vacations, or do they need a lot of time to adjust?

Submitted by Mariah Callahan, Montpelier, Ky.

Warren: We have two dachshunds and both love to houseboat. I wouldn’t ever think of going boating without them. I am sure some dogs don’t like boating, but if your dog likes water, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t have a good time with your pet onboard. Make sure to invest in a doggy life jacket. Also, make sure the dog is not aggressive around other people. And lastly, make sure to think about the dog's schedule and the need to be taken to shore to potty.

If you have a question about houseboating, shoot Warren an email at warren@houseboatmagazine.com.

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