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Posted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:10pm

Post Subject: water tank breather

Hi Tony, I noted over the winter that my water tank would not fill at any great flow without air locks developing and water gushing out of the filler even though the tank was half empty. I put it down to the breather pipe being frozen up but as the weather warmed things did not improve. It seems pretty clear the breather is blocked in some way: I cannot tell how it is connected to the tank as the stainless steel tank is under the foredeck with no access to it other than via the step where the stop *replaced* and pump are located. All this does is show me the back end of the tank and all I can tell is that the breather exits the boat via a skin fitting which I guess is connected to the top of the tank via a flexible hose. I have drilled a small hole in the filler cap to avoid a vacuum building as water is used, and am learning to live with tank filling at a trickle, taking well over an hour or so. Given the lack of access even to inspect, is there anything I can do to solve the problem or am I best to live with it. Regards.


Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:46am

Post Subject: water tank breather

Dear Steve, having spent the winter fitting a complete new breather system to my stainless steel tank I understand what you are facing. You will probably find that if you remove the "furniture" beside the steps and on the breather side of the boat you will gain better access to the breather, you may have to remove a lining panel as well. First you need to ensure you have not snubbed the front of the boat into a muddy bank last year and thus blocked the breather. From the outside gently probe the breather with a piece of straightened coat hanger. You should be able to judge how far in you need to poke it before it hits the elbow where the breather is fitted into the top of the tank. If you find a blockage fill the tank so it is overflowing and starts having a firm poke about to try to break up anything that is in there. Hopefully the water level(now spilling over the filler) will flush the blockage out as you break it up. If it really is a brass/bronze skin fitting nothing should have corroded but if it is a steel pipe welded into the hull it may be blocked with rust. Taking care not to drill through the elbow in the top of the tank get a long drill bit (say 6mm) in a hand drill (not electric) and try drilling the breather out from the outside.If you know any engineers they may either weld some rod on the end of the drill bit or grind and harden the end of a piece or rod to act as a simple drill. FWIW the problem on my boat was that the steel pipework had rusted up and blocked the breather. If you can not sort it out from the outside I would leave it for this year (the weather is too nice for stripping interiors) and then strip the "furniture" next winter to gain proper access to the breather. You can then take the hose off and have a much better poke about. If by any chance the "furniture" turns out to be free standing refit it in a way that a few screws allows easy removal in the future. Tony Brooks

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