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  #1  
Old 09-03-2010
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Automatic Bilge Trouble

Hello everyone hopefully this is a simple question.

I recieved a call the other day from my yatch broker who said that when he went to show my boat there was about 1" of water on the cabin sole. He turned the bilge pump on manually and pumped it out and cleaned it up a bit.

So I go down there to check it out thinking the auto bilge's float was stuck or something. I dig around in the bilge and pull up the pump and there is some oil and stuff in the bilge but nothing bad. I take apart the pump where the float is there aren't any solid objects obstructing the float just some light gunk, so I clean it out and put it in the bilge and pump water over the pump and it still doesn't come on. I try this about 3 more times still without success.

I had an identical spare pump and I was going to install it but noticed that it was cracked someway, still in the package, and probably wasn't usable. So I decide to take it apart and examine it to try to find the difference in the two.

Well for this particular model, there is no lever or button or what-have-you that the float engages to turn on the pump. But there is something inside the float that I assume turns the pump on. Can anyone confirm that some pumps are this way?

Is there anything else that could be my problem before I go and buy a new pump? Also, if I do buy a new pump is there any special way to seal these wires? I was thinking some liquid electrical tape?

Thanks alot guys!
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  #2  
Old 09-03-2010
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It would help if you said what make/model pump it was. Some pumps detect water by cycling for a short period of time and seeing if there is resistance to the impeller turning, which indicates that there is water present...and turn on if the resistance is detected. Others use a capacitive sensor to detect the presence of water.

BTW, if you've got oil and such floating in the bilge, you really need to clean it up before you accidentally pump it overboard and incur some nasty and often very expensive environmental remediation fines for polluting the area.

When asking a question, giving as much specific information about the problem is generally a good idea. Make/model of equipment, steps you've taken to troubleshoot, etc., all give the responders more information and can help them give you better answers. Garbage in==>Garbage out is as true for real life as it is in programming.

The real question is where is all the water coming from?
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Old 09-03-2010
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If the pump works by manually turning it on, then it sounds like the float switch. If you have the electronic switch that SD mentioned, then oil would keep it from functioning properly. Try cleaning the switch. If it is a standard ball float, then the contact inside the switch could be fouled. See if you can just replace the float.
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Old 09-03-2010
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Yeah, some pumps have a built-in switch which isn't readily visible. It would help if you'd mention the make/model of your pump.

Since you're apparently selling the boat you might not want to spend a bunch of money. Since your bilge pumps works on manual, the cheap solution would be to buy an external switch -- float switch or one of the capacitative ones -- and wire it in to the manual circuit on the pump.

However, be advised that virtually ALL bilge pump switches are unreliable -- with just a couple of exceptions. In a word, they are JUNK (that's an industry term :-)

The most reliable ones are quite expensive....about $150 or more. For the switch, not the pump. I heartily recommend The Ultimate Switch (several versions) as the most reliable on the market: www.depcopump.com/catalog107/25.pdf

Bill
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Old 09-03-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perithead View Post
Well for this particular model, there is no lever or button or what-have-you that the float engages to turn on the pump. But there is something inside the float that I assume turns the pump on. Can anyone confirm that some pumps are this way?
Many of these switches use mercury inside the float that runs back and forth and in the "On" position is at rest across two contacts that complete the circuit. When the float goes down, at a given point the mercury runs away from the contacts and opens the circuit.

I believe these are becoming less prevalent because of the eco-downside of mercury.

And I agree with Bill - the next decent float switch made will be the very first one!! If you have to depend on it working, rather expend your efforts in stopping the water getting in - the switch will let you down, no matter who makes it.

JMHO
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Old 09-03-2010
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Though I rarely see others using them, I have successfully used a pneumatic switch for the past 25 years without failure. There are no moving parts or electrical parts in the bilge. There is simply a plastic bell that, when water rises, it flows up a piece of tygon tubing (aquarium tubing) where the increasing pressure presses against a diaphragm to connect a circuit. This diaphragm switch can be well above and out of the bilge. KISS
Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 09-04-2010
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OK thank you for the replies.

I did some digging and found the model of the pump, it is a "Rule 1100 GPH Automatic Bilge Pump"



My plan is to clean the bilge very well today, I got 90% of the mess out last time before I ran out of paper towels.

Thank you guys for your help.
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Old 09-05-2010
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From west marines web site about this unit, "The sensor's ... recognize the dielectric constant of water only. In the event of an onboard oil spill, straight motor oil that enters the bilge will not turn the pump on."

Looks like you have to clean the oil off the sensor.

That's cool for the environment, but also scary if you spilled some oil and have a real leak!
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Old 09-05-2010
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And a new Rule 110 unit is ~ $80: http://www.defender.com/product.jsp?path=-1|51|299222|84462|315207&id=1285466

Good luck selling your Watkins 29'.
I hope you can find a nice Monty 17-19', WWP or Compac to serve your needs.
Here is a blog about an adventurous couple's cruise to the Keys in a Compac 16' for your consideration: Adventure Vista - A View Into Our World of Adventure
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Old 09-06-2010
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Wiring connections should be as high as possible to keep them out of water. I crimped and then applied adhesive lined heat shrink tubing. The connections that I replaced looked pretty funky (oh, what a surprise!).
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