Several weeks ago, we developed a weird problem with our water heater. Only, we didn’t know initially it was the water heater. First, we had these mysterious runnings of our main fresh water pump. Usually this means there’s a leak somewhere. But, I checked the main bilges and there was no water. So, I started looking all over the boat and couldn’t find where the water was going to.
A day or two later the bilge alarm on our starboard side went off and would go off every day or two. Eventually, I realized the overflow tank to our engine’s fresh water coolant was overflowing. This was a complete surprise, and very mysterious considering we were sitting in a marina and not using the engine! For a day or two I was really puzzled thinking there is no way our pressurized fresh water system was linked to our engine coolant. But, if I turned off the water pressure, it stopped feeding to the overflow tank. I sat there looking at the engine one day and suddenly it hit me: we have two hoses going from our fresh water coolant to our water heater so that the engine heat can heat our water at no additional energy cost. So, our water heater can either use an electric heating element, or our engines to heat the water.
The radiator water runs through a califorier and right back to the engine. Somehow, water pressure from the pressurized freshwater of our boat was being forced into the water coolant and filling it up and out the overflow tank! Obviously there was a break in the calorifier.
Our hot water tank was near the end of its 5 year warranty. But, to the credit of its maker – Indel Webasto Marine – they honored the warranty and shipped us a new one from Italy at no charge. Apparently this is a highly unusual development – they said it had never happened before.
Eventually, I figured out I could take off the connecting hoses to the engine and plug them up so at least we could leave our water pressure turned on. We just couldn’t run the engines unless the hoses are reconnected.
The new tank arrived a couple days ago. That evening I got in the very hot aft compartment where our heater tank is located. As I started draining the old tank, and started taking off the pipes and hoses, I realized when comparing to the new tank we had a couple of problems. One of the fittings on the new tank was at a 90-degree angle different from our old tank. So, the plumbing is wrong. I also found out the 230V plug was on the tank. The tank was also marked 230V. I contacted the manufacturer and they said not to worry. The heating element was converted to our 115V system. They just forgot to change the plug. So, I can switch with the old unit’s plug. Since it was going to take a while possibly to get new plumbing parts, I decided to re-connect the old tank and that way I could take a much-needed shower!
Yesterday the marina chandlery tried to find me what I needed to change the plumbing. They didn’t have everything, so the guy said he would be going soon to a hardware store and would get it for me. So, in a day or two we should be able to install the new tank.
This is just one of several projects on the boat. We have a couple of bad pumps for two of the less-used heads (bathrooms), that are for the sinks and showers, which have to be replaced. We have some caulking needing to be done in the bimini roof over our cockpit. The boat needs washing. It’s just like owning a house, except the harsh environment of the sea makes things go bad quicker.