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Maritime Day: House Plumbing vs Boat Plumbing

Who doesn’t like hitting Utah’s lakes? May welcomes Maritime Day, and we thought it would be interesting to “dive into” what make boat plumbing different than plumbing in Utah houses.

The largest difference in the plumbing of homes compared to boats is how the water flows. Unlike Utah house plumbing, boats, obviously, do not connect directly to a sewer system. Therefore, boats are required to use holding tanks for their clean water supply as well as for how toilet water (black water) and sink water (gray water) is stored as it accumulates.

Fresh water storage tank

Unlike homes that have direct water supply lines, boats need to be filled up with clean water before hitting the open water ways. A boat’s fresh water tanks are, as they sound, filled with consumable drinkable water from a city water supply.

Gray water plumbing

Gray water is a boat’s used water that doesn’t contain sewage. This is most commonly water from sink usage. Typically, gray water is taken care of in one of two ways.

  1. The water from the sink is directed over the edge through a little port directly behind the sink. However, as opposed to connecting with a sewer line or directing into the holding tank, they gray water simply goes out from the side of the boat and into the waterway in which you are cruising. When biodegradable soaps and detergents are used, gray water is not harmful.
  2. Some boats have gray water holding tanks. This acts as a reservoir for used water to drain to in a way that can later be emptied offshore.

Black water (sewage plumbing)

Like gray water, black water is used water. The difference between gray and black water is that black water contains sewage. Unlike gray water, black water must empty to a holding tank. Upon docking, black water tanks can be drained by connecting the proper sewage release hoses and can be emptied into an appropriate waste dump or sewer line drain.

As you can see, boating plumbing is largely different than your Utah home’s plumbing. The biggest factor is that boats, due to their obvious non-stationary characteristics and movement, cannot be directly connected to fresh water supplies or sewage drains.