Stay afloat with regular seacock maintenance
Servicing your boat's seacocks should be an important item on your spring comissioning checklist.
Servicing the seacocks that control the flow of seawater to the engines, generator and air conditioning units should be an important item on your spring commissioning checklist.
Seacocks prevent seawater from entering your boat from a ruptured hose or waterline, so they must be able to be closed quickly and easily. Improperly maintained seacocks can become inoperative and frozen in the open position.
Made of heavy bronze or Marelon, most seacocks are maintenance-free and require only routine operation to ensure easy opening and closing from inside the vessel. Worn or corroded seacocks, however, may require disassembly, cleaning and lubrication. Severely worn or damaged seacocks should be removed and replaced.
If the seacock’s handle or valve housing doesn’t have an easily visible direction arrow for opening and closing, use a permanent marker to draw an arrow indicating how to close the valve. This will allow you to act quickly in an emergency.
Seacock strainers prevent foreign matter from entering the vessel. The strainer can be a screen or plate located with a scoop on the bottom of the hull, a separate in-line component, or part of the seacock valve body inside the vessel. Inspect and clean the scoop during spring on-the-hard maintenance. Mud, seaweed and other matter can build up, so it’s important to check the strainer screen or plate for damage or fouling. Remember to close the seacock before performing routine strainer maintenance.
If a separate in-line component or part of the seacock assembly, the strainer will have a removable basket that traps foreign matter. Inspect this basket when checking seacock valve operation. Remove foreign matter and make sure the basket is undamaged.
Contact the manufacturer or a marine parts supplier for maintenance information or replacement parts. During strainer maintenance, also check the gaskets, and, afterward, turn the seacock to full open position and check for leaks around the valve or hoses. When servicing the seacocks and strainers, don’t forget the generator’s seacock and strainer, as well.
If you operate in muddy waters, perform sea strainer maintenance more frequently, and always check the strainers for foreign matter after a grounding.
Seacock warning signs include stiff valve handle operation, corrosion or cracking, and leakage around the mounting flange or valve parts. A rise in operating engine temperature can indicate strainer fouling, as restricted water flow reduces engine cooling efficiency. Likewise, a clogged strainer can reduce the flow of water discharged from the air conditioning through-hull. Over time, this overworks the pump and leads to overheating and possible failure.
Regular seacock and strainer maintenance ensures that your vessel will operate efficiently and will be prepared in an emergency. –Jonathan E. Gosse
|About us||Member resources||Subscriber center||Advertisers|
© 2013 The Ensign. All rights reserved.