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Y-Valve to switch between potable water tanks


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The Y valve that switched my fresh/drinking water pump between port and starboard failed, so I'm searching for a replacement.

I ordered this one: https://www.fisheriessupply.com/bosworth-company-model-bm-94-a-sea-lect-base-mount-y-valve-with-tapped-threaded-ports

When it arrived it was well labeled "not for potable water", so that isn't going to work.  They say only to use it for grey water.

I haven't found other Y valves for 1/2" tubing.  Should I just install two ball valves (one per tank) and a Y?  What are others using?

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I have a manifold with 2, two-way valves. Not as convenient, I know...

Since this is not a "below the waterline" application, surely there is a conventional, household plumbing 3-way valve meant for potable water that you could find at a plumbing shop?

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14 minutes ago, Ajax said:

I have a manifold with 2, two-way valves. Not as convenient, I know...

Since this is not a "below the waterline" application, surely there is a conventional, household plumbing 3-way valve meant for potable water that you could find at a plumbing shop?

 

Personally, I used a pair of ball valves and a tee because they're easily available in schedule 80 PVC and cost 1/10 as much and I had to do 2 of them. But it you want that sleek look...

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Apollo-1-2-in-x-1-2-in-x-1-2-in-Bronze-FNPT-x-FNPT-3-Way-Diverter-Valve-7060301/312899989?mtc=Shopping-VF-F_D26P-G-D26P-26_1_PIPE_AND_FITTINGS-MULTI-NA-Feed-PLA-NA-NA-PIPE_AND_FITTINGS_General&cm_mmc=Shopping-VF-F_D26P-G-D26P-26_1_PIPE_AND_FITTINGS-MULTI-NA-Feed-PLA-NA-NA-PIPE_AND_FITTINGS_General-71700000055362041-58700005218218023-92700046076001437&gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=CjwKCAjwgdX4BRB_EiwAg8O8HSZEJoTHbvV5GGWWTtZL5LbqdPm1XF_Xkcx5U6XRQ7WWiAXFD0dUKhoCUxsQAvD_BwE

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Two valves is cheap and easy, the main downside was that it introduces potential user error since you can leave both tanks on at once.  This is my first boat with multiple tanks so I wanted to see how others did it.  The area with this plumbing on my boat is particularly tight, but I'll see if I can fit them in.

 

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1 hour ago, Alex W said:

The Y valve that switched my fresh/drinking water pump between port and starboard failed, so I'm searching for a replacement.

I ordered this one: https://www.fisheriessupply.com/bosworth-company-model-bm-94-a-sea-lect-base-mount-y-valve-with-tapped-threaded-ports

When it arrived it was well labeled "not for potable water", so that isn't going to work.  They say only to use it for grey water.

I haven't found other Y valves for 1/2" tubing.  Should I just install two ball valves (one per tank) and a Y?  What are others using?

I'd contact Bosworth directly and ask them whats up and why.  Im pretty sure I have seen that same y-valve used on many boats for fresh water systems.  Let us know what you find out.

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8 minutes ago, yoyo said:

I'd contact Bosworth directly and ask them whats up and why.  Im pretty sure I have seen that same y-valve used on many boats for fresh water systems.  Let us know what you find out.

Dollars to donuts there's trace lead or heavy metal in the manufacturing process somewhere, so they have to label it even though for a long time it was considered safe.

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15 minutes ago, Alex W said:

Two valves is cheap and easy, the main downside was that it introduces potential user error since you can leave both tanks on at once.  This is my first boat with multiple tanks so I wanted to see how others did it.  The area with this plumbing on my boat is particularly tight, but I'll see if I can fit them in.

 

Consider yourself lucky to have only two water tanks, Alex. Here's my spaghetti manifold (anodized aluminum) with stainless valves for each tank:

20200720_153622.thumb.jpg.9ad00c56631ac72eec03cc37dc18b8b6.jpg

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Bosworth says they don't offer a suitable Y valve for drinking water and said that the use of grey delrin is what makes this not suitable.

I'll do 2 ball valves.

IStream: that must just be an adventure to fill all 6 water tanks!

 

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If you are a cruiser go with plain old generic ball valves. Replacing a special order 3-way valve in a distant port is not so much fun. And they will fail, ask me how...

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I know that they fail, I've been wondering for months why my water was always full of air and it turned out to be a leak in an older Y valve.

My temporary solution was to empty and plug the secondary tank and just hard plumb the primary.

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30 minutes ago, Alex W said:

Bosworth says they don't offer a suitable Y valve for drinking water and said that the use of grey delrin is what makes this not suitable.

I'll do 2 ball valves.

IStream: that must just be an adventure to fill all 6 water tanks!

 

It's about a 45 minute process involving about 400 gallons. The last thing my boat needs is another 3000 lbs of displacement when under sail but it was nice when we were living aboard to be able to go for a couple of weeks between refills. 

Regarding your valve, do you have the space to use a T valve instead of a Y? They're a lot more common. I used one of these for my summer hot water loop:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006VE39JI/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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That's fit, but I'd prefer not to use stainless as the boat is already too heavy on starboard and the valve is above waterline, against the hull, and at the beamiest part of the boat.

The boat has the head, galley, batteries, and fuel tank on starboard.  Port just has a couple of tools and a nav station.  It only balances out with a couple hundred pounds of water in the port side tank (which is twice the size of the starboard tank).

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18 hours ago, IStream said:

Consider yourself lucky to have only two water tanks, Alex. Here's my spaghetti manifold (anodized aluminum) with stainless valves for each tank:

20200720_153622.thumb.jpg.9ad00c56631ac72eec03cc37dc18b8b6.jpg

That's nice and clean.

Rather than tanks, I just installed a filler tube so I can refill my main tank from Jerry came. So my manifold is a little weirder - it lets you select both source and output. I didn't really have space to have it 'on display' anywhere, so I just buried it in a void in the galley cabinet, though, so it's neither as accessible or as pretty as yours.

 

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20 hours ago, IStream said:

Consider yourself lucky to have only two water tanks, Alex. Here's my spaghetti manifold (anodized aluminum) with stainless valves for each tank:

20200720_153622.thumb.jpg.9ad00c56631ac72eec03cc37dc18b8b6.jpg

Jesus.... how much water do you carry?

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Generally about 40 gallons in the one tank shown turned on. That basically cancels out the starboard list from a fully stocked beer fridge. However, she'll carry 400 gallons in total. It's kinda crazy and I'd gladly trade two water tanks for two fuel but at least all the tanks are below the waterline.

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1 hour ago, IStream said:

Generally about 40 gallons in the one tank shown turned on. That basically cancels out the starboard list from a fully stocked beer fridge. However, she'll carry 400 gallons in total. It's kinda crazy and I'd gladly trade two water tanks for two fuel but at least all the tanks are below the waterline.

Haha my main tank is 20 gallons and I was extremely stoked that with a pair of cans I could about double that. Gets us seven days between fillups if we're careful, but as importantly it lets us top up just by bringing a can or two ashore from anchor at a state park, rather than having to dick around with Mordor I mean "Marinas". You boys are playing in a different ballpark from me over here.

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30 minutes ago, Breamerly said:

Haha my main tank is 20 gallons and I was extremely stoked that with a pair of cans I could about double that. Gets us seven days between fillups if we're careful, but as importantly it lets us top up just by bringing a can or two ashore from anchor at a state park, rather than having to dick around with Mordor I mean "Marinas". You boys are playing in a different ballpark from me over here.

I'm living the life of luxury with 34 Gallons. Went 12 days on my own before running out. I carried an extra 10 Gallons on Deck but didn't have to use it!

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1 hour ago, IStream said:

Generally about 40 gallons in the one tank shown turned on. That basically cancels out the starboard list from a fully stocked beer fridge. However, she'll carry 400 gallons in total. It's kinda crazy and I'd gladly trade two water tanks for two fuel but at least all the tanks are below the waterline.

My fridge and tank are on the starboard side which inevitably results in a list :(

On the bright side my primary cruising destination and prevailing winds result in a starboard tack when full and a port tack when empty :)

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Back when we'd just gotten the boat and were living aboard we went for a weekend sail. I was tacking southbound and noticed that the boat's performance was noticeably better on the port tack. I was checking my traveler, the jib sheet leads, everything I could think of and finally chalked it up to the landmass to starboard dirtying the air flow. It was only after we docked that I realized that all my starboard water tanks were empty and all my port tanks were full. D'oh!

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1 hour ago, DDW said:

Aren't there plenty of plastic T valves listed in McMaster? Look up diverting valves. Lots of choices.

Thanks, I didn’t know that diverting valve is the term to search for.  I kept trying to search for Y valve. 

In 1/2” McMaster has ten choices, most in the $100 range. So I think I’ll stick with two PVC ball valves for about $5 each. 

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1 hour ago, Alex W said:

Thanks, I didn’t know that diverting valve is the term to search for.  I kept trying to search for Y valve. 

In 1/2” McMaster has ten choices, most in the $100 range. So I think I’ll stick with two PVC ball valves for about $5 each. 

Hey I didn't realize you were in Seattle. Get thee down to Ballard Industrial - they've got almost everything McMaster does as far as pipe fittings, and if they don't they can get it in at most two days w/no shipping charge. And they don't mind spending a few minutes figuring out exactly which part is best, either. Plus they are cheaper than either fishermans or even seamar (seamar guy told me they actually buy all their fittings stock from Ballard Industrial lol).

 

They were the ones who set me up with the tees/valves/barbs for my potable water. They had it all in schedule 80, odd fittings, barb fittings etc.

 

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On 7/20/2020 at 4:33 PM, Breamerly said:

Dollars to donuts there's trace lead or heavy metal in the manufacturing process somewhere, so they have to label it even though for a long time it was considered safe.

Could also be it is a safe polymer but getting NSF Certification to sell as such is way more trouble & expense than stamping "Not for potable" on the side, tucking a Prop 65 warning into the box, and letting the consumer take their chances. Lots of sailors use this sort of garden hose splitter in their water tank systems, tho it isn't strictly kosher:

1f0f38fd-9238-4e4a-b95e-d30092fa10b6_1.e

 

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I ran into the same issue over the winter and re-plumbed my fresh water system using PEX tubing and Watts AquaLock push-to-connect fittings.  Bought all the parts from freshwatersystems.com.  This system connects three tanks to the water pump and works great.

IMG_0207.jpg

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I like the higher quality garden hose valves.  They seem easier to use than regular PVC or brass ball valves and cheaper too.  Easy to break the system apart for cleaning, winterizing etc with garden hose fittings.  There are a large variety of barb to garden hose or thread to garden hose adapters in nylon, brass, stainless if you want.  PEX and push connect stuff has its advantages. I've done both and find the garden hose stuff preferable for potable. I recall I was able to find most parts labeled NSF or at least most.

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Pithy little statement, not much meaning. PEX has a lot of advantages for many applications. It's easy to run, it's very inert, the (uncrimped) fittings are incredibly convenient, etc. You trying to run it next to your exhaust manifold or something?

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48 minutes ago, IStream said:

Pithy little statement, not much meaning. PEX has a lot of advantages for many applications. It's easy to run, it's very inert, the (uncrimped) fittings are incredibly convenient, etc. You trying to run it next to your exhaust manifold or something?

PEX is actually a good example of a product that probably was safe for potable, but it took awhile to bother getting the certs -- and now it's construction industry standard. :) When I built this house (2003), PEX for potable was just on the cusp of happening. It was strictly in-floor radiant heating stuff then, even tho it had added an oxygen barrier and was ready for the big time. A year later, the exact same material was being sold in red and blue with NSF blessing, and I haven't seen a new-construction PVC or CPVC install since.

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3 hours ago, IStream said:

Pithy little statement, not much meaning. PEX has a lot of advantages for many applications. It's easy to run, it's very inert, the (uncrimped) fittings are incredibly convenient, etc. You trying to run it next to your exhaust manifold or something?

That's funny about the exhaust.

I mean honestly I can't dislike PEX too much, considering I used it for both my onboard potable and my house.

That said, later experience with Shields potable hose convinced me it's the better product *for boats*.

In a nutshell, PEX is too good for boats. It has a level of durability you need and want if you're going to be burying it in a wall for 50 years: penetration protection, freeze resistance, bomb-proof fittings if you use the crimper, not to mention it's basically free compared to copper and doesn't involve open flames.

BUT that's more durability than you need in a boat, where you could replace your entire system in an afternoon with a flashlight, not counting ten trips to the hardware store for fittings.

And that durability comes at a cost to the user. Compared to any of the many potable water hoses from Shields or others, PEX is much harder to work around tight corners, needs a tubing cutter to cut properly/square (as opposed to a pocket knife), is harder to work a bit of slack into while you are trying to wiggle it onto your pump's inlet fitting behind some godforsaken bulkhead, and is just generally more of a pain in the dick.

Plus PEX fittings, while slick, are usually about 10x more expensive than nylon or PVC barb. And because PEX is specd to copper pipe ID, which is slightly smaller than tubing/hose ID, that stiff, durable PEX is easy to fit to its own fittings, but a sonofabitch to get onto (let alone get off) any other barb fittings.

All just my opinion.

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Breamerly;

I agree with everything you said, matter of fact it's a great summarization of what I learned working with PEX for the first time on this project.  What motivated me to go with PEX however is the same problem that the OP stated.  My Y-valve was leaking and I couldn't find a replacement.  Hard to believe, are there no modern boats with two or more water tanks?  How can there not an off the shelf part to fit right in?  Even worse, I needed something to fit into a tight space, that well in the photo is only 13"x11".  At a slightly higher cost and effort than I expected, the PEX solution was a life saver.

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32 minutes ago, Breamerly said:

That's funny about the exhaust.

I mean honestly I can't dislike PEX too much, considering I used it for both my onboard potable and my house.

That said, later experience with Shields potable hose convinced me it's the better product *for boats*.

In a nutshell, PEX is too good for boats. It has a level of durability you need and want if you're going to be burying it in a wall for 50 years: penetration protection, freeze resistance, bomb-proof fittings if you use the crimper, not to mention it's basically free compared to copper and doesn't involve open flames.

BUT that's more durability than you need in a boat, where you could replace your entire system in an afternoon with a flashlight, not counting ten trips to the hardware store for fittings.

And that durability comes at a cost to the user. Compared to any of the many potable water hoses from Shields or others, PEX is much harder to work around tight corners, needs a tubing cutter to cut properly/square (as opposed to a pocket knife), is harder to work a bit of slack into while you are trying to wiggle it onto your pump's inlet fitting behind some godforsaken bulkhead, and is just generally more of a pain in the dick.

Plus PEX fittings, while slick, are usually about 10x more expensive than nylon or PVC barb. And because PEX is specd to copper pipe ID, which is slightly smaller than tubing/hose ID, that stiff, durable PEX is easy to fit to its own fittings, but a sonofabitch to get onto (let alone get off) any other barb fittings.

All just my opinion.

I'll definitely grant that the stiffness can be a PITA. If you've got a convoluted run with lots of short radius turns, you're often either stuck putting more fittings in line or drilling holes. Still, between the hole saw, 90 and 180 degree splints, and the odd extra fitting, I've found I can usually make it work.

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40 minutes ago, Breamerly said:

That said, later experience with Shields potable hose convinced me it's the better product *for boats*.

Specifically which Shields potable water hose do you prefer? I assume clear PVC? With red tracer, blue, or no reinforcement?

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22 minutes ago, El Boracho said:

Specifically which Shields potable water hose do you prefer? I assume clear PVC? With red tracer, blue, or no reinforcement?

I mean I don't have huge experience with them. Basically I went to SeaMar, handled several types, decided the clear mesh reenforced seemed a better bet than the non-reenforced since I wanted them to stand up to pump vacuum, and went with that. I think plain, no tracer. That said, they were all similar in being significantly more pliable than pex, and accepting cheaper fittings with less effort.

I know they've got a bunch of others even beyo d that, like live-well hose and sanitation hose, and some sort of ribbed hose (for extra pumping pleasure?). Like everyone else with a head I used their white sani for my discharge line, but I really don't know the fine points of how their products differ.

 

40 minutes ago, IStream said:

I'll definitely grant that the stiffness can be a PITA. If you've got a convoluted run with lots of short radius turns, you're often either stuck putting more fittings in line or drilling holes. Still, between the hole saw, 90 and 180 degree splints, and the odd extra fitting, I've found I can usually make it work.

Yeah I'm a big fan of not having to cut holes, and I find more fittings = more leaks (and more trouble priming if it's upstream of a pump), but to each their own. 'Satan's floss' is a bit hyperbolic I admit haha

 

53 minutes ago, ODSailor said:

Breamerly;

I agree with everything you said, matter of fact it's a great summarization of what I learned working with PEX for the first time on this project.  What motivated me to go with PEX however is the same problem that the OP stated.  My Y-valve was leaking and I couldn't find a replacement.  Hard to believe, are there no modern boats with two or more water tanks?  How can there not an off the shelf part to fit right in?  Even worse, I needed something to fit into a tight space, that well in the photo is only 13"x11".  At a slightly higher cost and effort than I expected, the PEX solution was a life saver.

I was in the exact same boat when I did my manifold and was likewise surprised by it. Cost ended up being my deciding factor in the valves, plus a general detestment of Home Depot, but I do seem to recall that sharkbite push fittings claim to work on both PEX and tubing? Did you see anything about this, or consider it?

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3 hours ago, Breamerly said:

I mean I don't have huge experience with them. Basically I went to SeaMar, handled several types, decided the clear mesh reenforced seemed a better bet than the non-reenforced since I wanted them to stand up to pump vacuum, and went with that. I think plain, no tracer. That said, they were all similar in being significantly more pliable than pex, and accepting cheaper fittings with less effort.

I know they've got a bunch of others even beyo d that, like live-well hose and sanitation hose, and some sort of ribbed hose (for extra pumping pleasure?). Like everyone else with a head I used their white sani for my discharge line, but I really don't know the fine points of how their products differ.

 

Yeah I'm a big fan of not having to cut holes, and I find more fittings = more leaks (and more trouble priming if it's upstream of a pump), but to each their own. 'Satan's floss' is a bit hyperbolic I admit haha

 

I was in the exact same boat when I did my manifold and was likewise surprised by it. Cost ended up being my deciding factor in the valves, plus a general detestment of Home Depot, but I do seem to recall that sharkbite push fittings claim to work on both PEX and tubing? Did you see anything about this, or consider it?

I saw the Sharkbite fittings, but my priority was to find a T-valve that would work.  When I found the AquaLock valve I built the rest of the system around it.

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30 minutes ago, ODSailor said:

I saw the Sharkbite fittings, but my priority was to find a T-valve that would work.  When I found the AquaLock valve I built the rest of the system around it.

Yeah that's a nice system but I could buy myself the 12v fridge eye'v been eyeing up for the cost of doing my manifold with those. Schedule 80 valves where $2.50 a piece I think and work great! To each their own though - that does look like it's probably a cleaner install.

Actually, if I had a bit more to spend on my little project, I think I would have gone piezo-electric.  You can get drinking water safe stainless piezo electric valves something like 50 bucks each on Amazon I think. Then instead of a manifold and labels and so on taking up locker space, you can just have a pair of switches on the panel. 

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42 minutes ago, SASSAFRASS said:

For "family" use a Y valve is definitely preferable. 

"Dad we are out of water!"

 "Did you shut the valve on the other tank when you switched last week?" 

"Maybe..."

15 year old teen daughter version:

"Of course I did! Do you think I'm an idiot? Why don't you ever trust me?"

...Dad quietly checks and finds the valve on the other tank is open...

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4 hours ago, gkny said:

Is the freeze protection good enough that you can drain the tank but skip the pink stuff?

In the pnw it doesn't really freeze hard at sea level, but I can say that I under-insulated the PEX under my tiny house (long story) and it froze a few times over the course of a couple of years without damage/leaks. This squares with what I've heard about it having enough flexibility to expand rather than cracking. 

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