Houseboat Tank Replacement - a fresh, grey, or septic black water tank leaks.

by Rosy
(Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

L'Amical - our new Three Buoys Sunseeker houseboat

L'Amical - our new Three Buoys Sunseeker houseboat

We just bought our houseboat, a Three Buoys Sunseeker, only to find out that we have a leak in the holding tank. We did the food coloring test and we are pretty sure the water leak is coming from the septic tank.


It is a big - 300 Gal - steel - we can't reach underneath it to put any repair kit from the outside. Reading your comment about inserting a new one inside the old one gave us some hope....

Can you please provide more details about product name, where to purchase a tank, or any other idea to repair this problem...thanks

Desperate in Montreal, Fern and Rosy




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Reply - Answer
Well Rosy, sorry to hear about your holding (black water) septic tank leaks and problems with your new boat.

Welcome to the Houseboat Owners Club, and to all of the accompanying happy memories, and problems that come with it boat ownership. Don't worry, everything gets solved, and there is happier days ahead :)

I am hoping that you had the boat surveyed before you purchased it, this way you were aware of the problems or of the surveyor recommendations of the needed fixes or issues.

Now onto the issue of fixing or repairing the leaking black water holding tank. Generally speaking, (septic) black water tanks have a limited lifespan.

Steel tanks usually have @ 10 year lifespan, and aluminum or stainless tanks last @ 15-20 years, and plastic (polyethylene) tanks will last the longest.

1) I don't remember on the Three Buoys Sunseeker model, where the tank is located. Is it a pontoon tube style, or is it a full hull model?

2) The most drastic scenario is a complete replacement of the tank. You may have to remove a section of the floor to remove the tank, or cut the tank into pieces.

3) Human septic waste is highly corrosive, so if the tank is already leaking, a repair to the exterior is only a temporary fix, as the tank material is already pitted elsewhere, and just waiting for another leak.

4) Speak to some marine mechanics, and have them look at it to recommend the ideal plan to remove and replace your tank.

5) You can find some replacement tanks here.

6) You maybe interested in the different toilet (head) options for houseboats

7) The site has hundreds of pages to help you, so try and search for articles with the words keywords: holding tank, septic, black water, etc...


When it comes to tank replacements, the septic (black water) holding tank leaks have to be the worst, since they can create quite an odor. But don't worry, everything on a boat can be fixed or repaired.



Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat holding tank replacement tips and experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.


Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats


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Comments for Houseboat Tank Replacement - a fresh, grey, or septic black water tank leaks.

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My fresh water tank went bad
by: pj

Hi. I'm afraid to say I might be next. I'm in Kentucky and my fresh water tank leaked onto the wood under it and it literally cut a hole right through the hull.

Electrolysis has destroyed the tank and hull and no one can pull the boat out in my area. We cut the tank out one piece at a time.

Then cut the board out one piece at a time. Then plug two holes. A local boat builder was going to take it to their shop but said it's to tall. I'm screwed. Good luck.

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Collapsible bladder tank
by: Anonymous

Cut the top off of the old aluminum tank and replace it with a collapsible Poly tank, also referred to as a bladder tank. I have done this, and it is fairly easy and works wonderfully.

I'm not sure how old this post is as I could not find a date. This works great for the fresh water holding tank as well.

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Consider the alternatives!
by: Amelia

Here's a hearty "amen" to Ian's encouragement to investigate other kinds of heads. We are very pleased with our C-Head "composting" head.

It's inexpensive, entirely odor-free, silent, maintenance couldn't be simpler, and getting rid of the underpinnings of your traditional head frees up a lot of space that your current holding tank is occupying.

Go with a "composter" and you'll never again worry about jams, clogs, stinky hoses, chemicals, or pumpouts. What's not to like?
I put "composting" in quotes, because the solid waste doesn't stay around long enough to really compost and become sterile. That takes months or more after the last deposit.

Instead, the solids are soon dried out by the peat, sawdust, or coconut fiber, and transferred to a secondary 5-gallon bucket. When that's full, there are several disposal options, but it takes months, depending on use. The urine is automatically funneled away into a jug, to be easily dumped every day or two in "an ecologically responsible fashion."

Google C-Head for more details. We're still quite pleased with ours after two years. There are a couple of other good brands for marine use, with slightly larger footprint, and almost twice as expensive, but popular. The chief drawback is that the male of the species seems to resist the idea that sitting down to pee yields a much more satisfactory and sanitary result.

The incinerator types use a lot of fuel, are very bulky, and have an unavoidable processing time during which time the head is unavailable for use.

Read everybody's propaganda and draw your own conclusions, but don't make do with a traditional head just because you've always done it that way.

Thanks, Amelia

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Toilet Options for houseboats
by: Anonymous

Hello Fern & Rosie, we are your houseboating buddies in French River, Northern Ontario. When we renovated our houseboat we decided to keep our holding tank for the overflow only.

I just wanted to let you know that we have a son-mar marine ecolet dual voltage composting toilet. This way we save the environment and recycle back to nature. It does the job for our family of four.

If you have the space on your houseboat there is a bigger unit available. Our mobile unit is not for heavy traffic use! If you decide to go this way make sure you install the toilet next to a window because you will have the little fruit flies at times.

Once you learn to do your regular maintenance with the peat, compost quick and microbe mix. You will enjoy it. REMEMBER the key to good compost is regular MAINTENANCE. To accelerate the composting process keep the lid closed, the mini fan and heater on at all times.

Once a month, I empty the completed compost into my flower bed. Then, I drop two counter clockwise rotation into the bottom drawer with heater. In the fall we just reduce the compost and let it sit during the winter months until the spring start up.

A second option is a portable toilet that you can buy at Canadian Tire and you will need to empty this one at home. Good luck with your set up. Gus & Jo

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