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Old 04-17-2010
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Bilge Pump Switches Off

My bilge pump has an issue. An issue I need to resolve before setting off across the Pacific. After a brief pump, the switch for the bilge pump switches off by itself. When I switch it back on after it's short pump, it deactivates after an even shorter session of pumping. The pump isn't clogged and neither is the line going out into the deep blue. Anyone have any clues?
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Old 04-17-2010
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Sounds more like a breaker than a switch. They are only good for a couple operations at high current (only one at really high current). That one is likely due for replacement. I would prefer a swtich and fuse for a bilge pump but a breaker can work as well, just means having to leave the panel on.

BTW: you might still want to check the pump current otherwise you might trip your new breaker as well. Pumps can fail, draw too much current, and still pump.
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Last edited by Architeuthis; 04-17-2010 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 04-17-2010
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Is it a Rule?

Archi sounds like he knows but I would not be surprised if its a failing auto switch if its Rule. I am on my last one. 4 switches in 2 years convinced me to go to a better mouse-trap. They are out there.
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danaka,

Need more info to properly diagnose the problem.

Are you talking about an automatic switch, either internal to the pump or external? Or a manual switch on the panel?

What type of switch? Float switch? Electronic sensor switch?

What type of bilge pump? Model? How is it wired...direct to battery? Thru panel? What size wire?

RE: switches, except for one or two models, they're all CRAP. Unadulterated crap. Over the years I've tried them all. They will all fail, eventually.

I had reasonable success with electronic switches over the years, but recently had two of them fail within a week of one another. Two different designs. One failed in the OPEN position, the other in a partially CLOSED position, with a resistance across the switch. JUNK.

One big exception: the Ultimate Switches, both Junior and Senior. These will last. They're a bit pricey, but well worth it...expecially if you're planning a trans-Pacific voyage.

Should you even think about paying more for a switch than for the pump itself? YOU BETCHA!

Bill
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Okay, here's the setup. They are both Rule products, a float switch that turns on the bilge pump and a 1500 model pump itself. They both connect into a panel that encapsulates this switch that turns off after a short pump. The switch has a doubled wire that appears to be about 12 gauge and the pump has separate strands that may be 14.

The Rule switch seems to function correctly, turning on in the upper position and off when it falls below the threshold. Are they notorious for shorting the wires inside of them that may cause the circuit to break? If so, it doesn't really make sense to me that the pump would pump for a longer period of time before the initial breaker flip than after.

Last edited by danaka; 04-17-2010 at 04:11 PM. Reason: further description
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danaka,

That helps, but still not sure which switch you have on the panel. Is it a switch like most Rule panels have, or is it a breaker like the Sea Dog and some other panels have?

If the latter, it's possible that the breaker is going bad; as they age, many will trip with less than their rated current flow.

Also conceivable that the pump is somehow constrained and is drawing more current than it should, causing the breaker to go. As for difference in timing, this would be consistent....as it heats up it would trip faster.

Be sure to check all your connections to these pumps. A bad connection can show a high resistance, causing abnormal power draw.

But, if it's a plain old toggle switch, then either the switch is bad or the pump is drawing more than it should. You could put an ammeter on it to see how much it's drawing (clamp-on DC ammeter would be easiest), and compare it to the pump's rating.

Question: have you tried disconnecting one of the pumps and trying just one pump at a time?

Bill

Last edited by btrayfors; 04-17-2010 at 04:25 PM.
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It doesn't appear to be either a Seadog or a Rule panel. Here's a picture, it doesn't have any identifiable marks to my nubile eyes.



I'm thinking the pump may just be aged and drawing too much current tripping a circuit. I'm in the act of replacing it right now. Hopefully this fixes it.
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While you're at it, it wouldn't be a bad idea to replace the breaker..
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Okay, the pump I had doesn't have enough power to get past the one-way valve holding the accumulated water in the line between the ocean and the bilge pump. I also went about switching the pump to a new breaker on the board that hasn't been used. It still tripped.
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Sounds like you have a check valve in the discharge line, and that it's clogged. In most cases, it's NOT a good idea to put a check valve in the bilge pump discharge line, for the very reason you're experiencing. They tend to clog and they reduce the flow considerably even when working.

Rather, the discharge line should have a loop well above the waterline to prevent backflow from the ocean. On sailboats, it's also a good idea to have a ball valve that can be closed when heeled on long tacks.

Suggest you Google "Bilge Pump Installation Instructions" and read a couple of the excellent articles referenced.

Bill
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