Bypassing the Y valve

During the pre-purchase survey, one of the few major problems identified was that the head’s y-valve handle had broken off. Allegedly, it was also stuck so the head would only discharge overboard, and not into the holding tank. Since we only intend to sail on the Chesapeake, where there is no legal dumping, that wouldn’t work. So, repairing the head became a critical winter project.

My first plan was to repair the y-valve. There were a handful of screws on the faceplate. I removed them, only to find they literally just held the faceplate to the valve, and the valve to the fascia under the counter. The valve was one, unserviceable unit.

Next plan, remove the offending valve and replace it. I did a little shopping and saw they run about $60 to replace. Not terrible, given the price of things, but, is it really necessary? I never intend to get beyond Norfolk. If I replace it, I need to secure it to holding tank only mode, to stay legal. I opted to bypass it entirely based on what happened next.

Back on the boat, I was able to get the valve freed up from the fiberglass fascia that hangs below the sink. Now, to just remove the hoses (which are original, 30 year old hoses)…

Those two exposed hose ends used to be one continuous hose…

Trying to get the old hose off the barbed end at the base of the head, below the pump, I succeeded in tearing the hose. Now, the whole thing had to come off. And I sliced my finger on one of the worm screw collars.

A week or three later, I came back with a pair of nippers. I ended up clipping the rubber tips of the old hose off the barbed male end of the head. Tracing the hose’s length, I did the same at the tank, which is on the SB side of the boat, opposite the head. The hose runs through the lockers under the V-berth. Once the hose was freed up, I had to snip the zip ties that were holding the hose, and the speedometer cable, to the bulkhead. I slid the hose out, and remembered I had a third hose: the attachment to the thru-hull. I removed that with the nippers as well. That hose attached to a reinforced hose that rose from the thru-hull to a U above the water line. I left that in place, and made sure the thru-hull is closed. Even if the thru-hull opens, the raised U should keep water out.

After measuring the old hose, I went to my local West Marine, and…found out they were out of the 1.5″ inner diameter sanitation hose I needed. I ended up ordering 13′ of it online from

When it arrived, I went back to the boat. While at West Marine, they suggested warming the hose, and possibly using soap as a lubricant on the inside to get it fitted to the snug male end of the head and tank. I got there, and tried it out to see if I could fit them by hand on a 45 degree day…and they slid right on. I struggled to get them back off again to get the worm screw collars on first. Since I had removed 3 old hoses, I had 4 collars spare, so I doubled up the collars on the head and the tank. I had to use a hacksaw to remove about a foot of hose (this stuff is steel-wire reinforced), as only about 12′ fit. I slid the hoses on, cinched them down, and ticked the project off the list.

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