Pump Out Attention Extends to the Head


Although head maintenance is low on everyone’s fun task list, working on functioning head that has been flushed clean (flush with lots of clean water, soak in vinegar for 15 minutes, and then flush that through with more water) head is much more pleasant than working on a broken, clogged head.

Joker Valve. If you have a Jabsco Manual or Groco Manual head, install a Raritan joker valve. It is dimensionally interchangeable and long term PS testing has confirmed that they last about twice as long. The price is a bit more, but the total cost is less and the improved operation and reduced labor is a blessing. The joker valve should be installed with the lips vertical; placed horizontal, they droop under gravity and fail prematurely.

Lubrication. Follow the manufacture instructions, giving the pump a good slathering of synthetic grease every season (every other season, if use is light). Break the cooking oil lube habit; it’s bad for the holding tank and marginal for the pump.

Replace vs. Repair. Jabsco sells a rebuild kit, but at 70 percent of the Amazon price of a new pump, its a poor investment. The new pump will last much longer and is much easier to install than the kit. Raritan heads are easier to rebuild, and the results more durable.

Preventive maintenance is the key. Motivating yourself to actually do it is the challenge.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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