Pinhole leak


In addition to “what is that smell? where is that smell?” sometimes boater get to play “what kind of water is that (salt or fresh)? where is the water coming from?”. We played that game in the Copeland Islands swinging at anchor.

The game is complicated when it is raining, the boat is humid and cold and thus condensation is running rampant and the water is pooling near a thru hull (one of the big holes in the hull of the boat). After the initial panic where you establish that the water is fresh (not saltwater) and coming from somewhere above the thru hull, you get to play “where is the water coming from?”.

P1010842 (1280x960)After ripping apart the port bench and all of the goodies stored on and around it, we established that the water was coming from somewhere behind our water tank and didn’t appear to be coming from the condensation on the hull. Bummer – all signs pointed toward a leak in the port freshwater tank.

P1010844 (1280x960)For the second time on our boat, Kool-Aid to the rescue! We put Kool-Aid (without sugar) into the port tank to verify the tank was leaking before we tried to remove it and fix the leak.

A few moments later as we watched the drip on a clean paper towel, we had confirmation. The drip on the right is a test drip and the drip on the left was from the tank.

After some wrestling, we removed the tank. Thankfully this is a fairly easy job on a Pretorien. Pretorien owners – if you remove a small piece of wood in the port locker at foot level just forward of the tank, you can undo the two forward bolts. With those removed, you can jiggle the tank off the aft bolts (to which we couldn’t find access to the heads, only the nuts) and pull the tank into the salon.

I (Livia) put my head on the floor and Carol lowered the tank over me until it dripped. After a few tries I was able to make smaller and smaller circles until we found a pinhole. Strangely to me, a pinhole leak looks exactly like someone jammed a pin through the tank. Weird, huh?  We repaired it with some MarineTex we had aboard (thank you PO!).

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The leak occurred where the steel touched the wooden ribs underneath it. An idea installation would have the tank suspended so no water could pool. In one of his books, Nigel Calder recommended putting something nonabsorbent at that location if the installation had surface contact. We cut some ready-for-the-bin neoprene gloves and glued them to the ribs.
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This will hopefully prevent future pinhole leaks…at least in the port tank. Thankfully it was sunny that afternoon because we had to wait hours for the MarineTex to cure with the entire boat piled with stuff including a 33 gallong water tank. Picnic on the deck anyone?

1 comment:

  1. If you have to take out the tank again, here is a tip I learned for hopefully preventing any further occurrences. Clean the entire bottom, and a few inches up each side of the tank. Then brush on west epoxy. While the epoxy is STILL wet, sand the entire surface. The sanding removes the oxidation, and the epoxy seals the air out, prohibiting any further oxidation.




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