We came back to the marina from our shakedown cruise and were enjoying a beer in the cockpit when Gwen noticed a noise. “Is the water pump on?” she asked. I went to investigate and saw that our bilge pump counter was at 13, so there was clearly water in in the bilge, and the fresh water pump was on and pumping. Uh-oh. Time to turn off the breaker for the water pump and look for the leak.
Down in the engine room I could see water flowing into the main bilge from from the forward bilge area. We picked up some floorboards in the sole of our cabin and sure enough there was water all over. It quickly became apparent that it was coming from the area of the water heater underneath the master berth. We pulled off the matress and uncovered the water heater and soon noticed that the hot water shutoff valve had blown it’s top right off.
Unfortunately, I did not have spares for this type of valve, or even any adapters specifically for this type of tubing. A trip to the local marine stores was fruitless, so I decided to try and repair the valve until I could find the right part. The top of the valve had separated from the threaded side. I thought I might be able to use superglue to repair it. Nope, it was one of those plastics that makes superglue not super. Next was the old stand-by, rescue tape. This is a self-annealing tape, that when wrapped tight adheres to itself and generally does a pretty good job stopping leaks. I wasn’t sure it would work on this hot water component but it was worth a shot until I could find a better solution.
When we put the piece back in place, it leaked a little bit. I wrapped it a bit more throroughly and it seemed to hold even with the water heater refilled and using some hot water. It held overnight and was dry when we looked at it in the morning.
The tubing is 1/2″ diameter PEX, which is fairly common on boats of this vintage. In retrospect, it was probably a mistake to look for an exact replacement for this particular type of valve with those tiny barb connectors. There are all kinds of valves and connectors for PEX type tubing, but they all clamp down on the outside of the tube and don’t have a barb that goes into it. I thought there would be a chance that might find a valve, or at least some connectors, at the local Home Depot or Plomeria. No such luck. I’ve ordered a selection of different couplings for 1/2″tubing to be shipped to a freight forwarder in San Diego and trucked down to La Paz.
A small upside in this little unexpected project is that I needed to replace the Anode (that stops corrosion) in the water heater, but have been putting it off because it’s a pain to get to…