Friday, 18 August 2017

Fresh Water Pump Problems Resolved

One often hears that cruising is "fixing your boat in exotic locations."  Exotic or not, repairs must be made, and making them in a foreign land and foreign language can be frustrating.  Or not !  Here is a feel-good story about a simple and cheap fix to a big problem.

The pump : Jabsco Par-Max 3.5 fresh water pump (frankly, the following information will apply to any pump).

Important clue : installed on new boat (or boat with new tanks)

Symptoms : After 15 months of loyal service, our water pressure began to decrease. For the first few seconds, the pressure was good, then the flow would slow to a trickle. Even after the tap was turned off, the pump laboured to reach it’s cut off pressure.

And yes, we regularly clean our filter.

Diagnosis : We were lucky enough to be in Pollensa, Majorca (reasonably exotic), berthed just across the street from Astilleros Cabanellas, and had a 2nd stroke of luck to have Senior Cabanellas himself (grandson of the founder) take a look at our problem early one morning. He spoke perfect french and, although we didn’t test him, probably speaks pretty good English, too. If you are planning to have problems in Majorca, have them here. 

He had seen the problem before… especially on new boats. The problem is a blockage in the in-line check valve located upstream of the filter (red arrow in photo below). When the tanks were fixed in the boat and holes drilled into the plastic reservoirs to attach fittings and gauges, the technicians failed to vacuum out the little shavings left behind. Over time, these made their way through the system and got stopped here.

Senior Cabanellas knew exactly where to look, and sure enough, we had a big plastic ball of bits there. He shook his head and said that many shipyards will simply tell you that your pump is going bad and that it needs to be changed. In changing the pump, they open up and clean out the surrounding fittings, so it appears that the problem has been resolved with a new pump when in fact the pump was fine all along.

With the blockage removed and the accumulator tank pressure topped off with our bicycle foot pump, we reprimed the system to chase out the air bubbles and the pressure was as good as new. The pump now runs beautifully, only turning on and staying on half the time it did with the blockage, so we are saving on battery energy as well.

We contacted our Jeanneau boatyard in France to let them know that this was a problem somewhere along their assembly line. They thanked us for the information and are reimbursing our costs. (When we bought our boat, we were told that the 2-year guarantee and the Jeanneau service-after-sales were excellent. Now after 2 years we can tell you it is TRUE!)

Problem resolved in 30 minutes, cost 35 Euros. Happy ending.