Y-valve Installation Advice and Troubleshooting


All waste plumbing hoses should be kept as short and straight as possible with no dips where waste could collect. The diverter valve should be located for easy access to the selector handle and free of other stored “stuff” that could bump the handle. The handle positions should be clearly marked for no confusion as to tank or overboard. Before mounting, make sure there is enough room for all three hose fittings and hose bends. Use 120- or 90-degree hose fittings where necessary to prevent tight bends in discharge hoses, and make sure to use the correct reinforced hose designed for sanitation systems.

A Y-valve can also be reversed and used in a bilge-pump arrangement to select between two separate bilge areas using only one bilge pump.

In most boats, these valves are used infrequently, so one of the main problems is that they become stiff, hard to operate, and even lock up. The other problem, as with all parts of the onboard sanitation system, is a slight leak either through the hoses or by the housing or handle that could cause odors.

For more on onboard sanitation systems, check out our recent reviews of waste hoses (PS, April 2012), holding tanks (PS, February and April 2012), and holding tank deodorizers (PS, March 2012).

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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