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  #1  
Old 12-07-2009
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Bilge pumping in winter

I just had a thought-

I'm wiring in a Rule automatic bilge pump. The water in the bilge could freeze and damage the pump either by expansion or if it tries to pump a chunk of ice.

I don't want to put raw salt in the bilge. Any ideas? RV Glycol?
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Old 12-07-2009
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I take it your boat is on the hard?...if not it wont freeze due to the transfer of ambient temps from the water so not to worrie.
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Old 12-07-2009
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I typically take the batteries off the boat so even if it didn't freeze, there'd be no power for the pump.
I also put some non-toxic anti-freeze in the bilge.
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No, not on the hard. I'm in a creek off of a river that feeds into the Chesapeake. The reason I thought the bilge might freeze is because the creek water appears to be pretty fresh. There was actually a skin of ice on the creek yesterday and it was only 31F.
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Hey JSL3,

I'm nearby, off of the Rhode River. I keep the batts on the boat and boost them weekly. Easy to do since the boat is walking distance up the street.
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Well I suppose if the ambient temp of the creek is below 38 degrees or so then you might indeed have an issue if your temps get into low teens or single digits alright...around here the Puget sound is never below about 48 degrees so even with 9 degree temps last year bilges did not freeze in boats sealed up....But if your bilges are solid sole covered I still think your keel would just about have to be sitting in slush in order to have the bilge water freeze up.

The discharge hose is another matter altogather though.
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Last edited by Stillraining; 12-07-2009 at 06:46 PM.
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How often do you check your boat during the winter?

I pumped my bilge clean, then put a gallon of RV antifreeze in and pumped it through, so that any thing in the lines was treated then added a little more directly to the bilge. (I'm in a cradle on land but I still have some water that gets in the bilge) I check my boat at least every other week during the winter, sometimes weekly, but it's close.

If I were in the water...I'd do the same procedure but probably get down there every week.... if you get water in...and the bilge comes on automatically you've pumped out all your protection....and the next round will freeze faster.

The bilge pump is not cheap..but it's not my worry...if enough water gets in and gets under the cabin sole..and then freezes and expands...you're talking about a major repair...

....in a fresh water creek , you might watch the temps closely and consider a bubbler..??...
what do your neighbors do?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
Hey JSL3,

I'm nearby, off of the Rhode River. I keep the batts on the boat and boost them weekly. Easy to do since the boat is walking distance up the street.
Actually, I just moved my boat from the South River to the Rhode River (Holiday Hill Marina). Where are you?

I guess I should change my info.
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If you put antifreeze in the bilge it will be pumped out as more water comes into the bilge, eliminating its usefulness. Ice should damage the pump only if the water rises in the bilge, is not pumped out, and then freezes. This only happens if the batteries are dead. If the pump keeps the bilge empty you should be OK.
Freezing a lot of water in the bilge can, I understand, crack the fiberglass, a much more serious problem than replacing a pump.
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bubble head, yes it can cause problems with the pump. last year i had some minor ice in my boat, it was only a thin layer on top of about 3 inches of water and i have a very shallow bilge. the water will and can freeze. let the pump run when it wants, when the water out side the boat gets a thin layer shut it off, as soon as the ice melts turn it back on. when you have it shut off make sure you check on the boat at least every other day.

do you have shore power where you arem could you put in a small heater set at its lowest setting?

disclaimer below is an emergency use thing only

if you know a long freeze is coming go buy some hurricane candles, the ones that burn for 24 hours. put the candle in a large pot or even in a pot in a pot, and light it, repeat every day. or even the liquid paraffin "candles" used by restaurants for the table. one of these will put out between 300 and 500 btu of heat, while not much it can keep the boat above freezing.

end disclaimer
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