Bilge Pump Float Switch - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 25 Old 12-11-2011
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every sunk boat i've every seen had a catastrofic failure with the exception of a few that obviously had severe leak problems because their bilge pumps kicked on every hour or so,bilge pumps are unreliable!!!,i've also saw derelict boats sit unattended for months albeit low in the water,if your boat accumilates more than an inch or two every couple of weeks you need more than a automatic bilge pump
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post #12 of 25 Old 12-11-2011
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Depends on how much it rains. It's beyond my ability to conceive how that much water gets down the mast, but it does and there is no where else it could be entering.

I assume, if you don't believe in a full time bilge pump, that you have a high water alarm on to alert you or neighbors of the catastrophic failure in progress. ??

I have both.


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post #13 of 25 Old 12-11-2011
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I have a bucket and a sponge, what's this switch and pump do?

Gary H. Lucas
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post #14 of 25 Old 12-11-2011
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minn.unless you have a funnel situation with your mast i would doubt it would leak enough to be anything more than annoying,i'd be very supprized if any bystanders/neighbors could do much especially at night,i saw a 36 ft sink completely in one hour due to a sink hose,someone would have had to #1 notice it sinking right away #2 break open the hatch#3 have a large pump at hand #find the leak with the boat half full of water and finally be a really good neighbor
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post #15 of 25 Old 12-11-2011
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One hour is a long time to find a split sink hose and close the seacock. My alarm sits right above the lower bilge, which will sound after only a few gallons go unpumped.


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post #16 of 25 Old 12-12-2011 Thread Starter
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Wow, what a debate! Yes, I believe in automatic pumps. No, I haven't had one in every boat. Even my wood boat leaks so little that I could rely on hand pumping. But my deeper bilge can hold a lot of water before it does any harm. My boat also ships reanwater, mostly through the masts I think. I will clean and keep the old one as a spare, it's certainly better than nothing, and I'm not buying two new ones.
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post #17 of 25 Old 12-12-2011
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A couple months ago I noticed a 25 power boat in the marina across from mine looking might low in the water. Turns that that they had a leak somewhere and had left the boat with their power turned off (hence their bilge pump). The boat was so low in the water than the the rear swim platform was almost awash. Another inch and the water would have gotten over the read deck and started to flood the aft lockers and engine compartment. If that had happened, the boat would have sunk in a few minutes.

Even though we couldn't gain access to the neighboring marina due to the locked gate, we were able to get Vessel Assist to come by with their emergency pumps. They turned on the bilge pumps on the boat and used their emergency pumps to pump it out.

I'm not sure where the leak came from, but a bilge pump would have saved this boat if I hadn't had noticed it.

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post #18 of 25 Old 12-13-2011 Thread Starter
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That's why the bilge pump should be wired to the battery directly, mine is.
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post #19 of 25 Old 12-13-2011
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I am in the process of adding a high water alarm and perhaps replacing our existing pump.

Not sure why someone would not leave their bilge pump on (auto).
Can a bilge stop a large leak when you're not there? Probably not unless you're lucky and someone sees that there is a major problem. The bilge pump is design to keep up with continuous leaks that develop overtime. Water coming down the mast into the bilge, leaks during heavy rains, stuffing box that needs tightening, new leaks that you haven't notice in the past, etc...

This past Summer we spent the night on our sailboat at our slip after a day sail. After a few hours I heard the pump running more then normal and hearing water dripping. I knew I had a faulty float as it worked off and on, depending on how hard you hit it... (it was on my to-do-list to replace it). The pump was keeping up with the leak, running off and on as needed but then about 9pm, the float stop working and I had to run the pump manually. I left it alone for about two hours and the bilge was near full, so every two hours I woke up and hit the switch. I replaced the float the next morning.

Would our sailboat sunk? Probably not and I believe someone would notice her much lower in the water and notify someone. But it would have caused a lot of damage from the teak floors, electrical wiring, etc... If the float and bilge was running properly, I would have been able to find the problem the following weekend or better yet, if I had a high water alarm, it would have went off that night and most likely the next slip over would have connected me.

The leak ended up being our stuffing box. Someone left a dock line hanging in the water and apparently I didn't notice it and it eventually got wrapped up in our prop and loosening up the stuffing box somehow.

Sailboats are not 100% watertight. Leaks happen from time to time. Especially if you get caught up with kids and family, and leave your sailboat unattended at the slip for a couple of weeks. Those small leaks adds up.

Patrick

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Kinsale, Va
Tanzer 16'
Moseley, Va
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post #20 of 25 Old 12-14-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
One of these? I would throw it away and get another - it's not worth the risk of a dead battery or a burned out pump if it sticks.

There are electronic switches without moving parts that are more reliable.
Like this Johnson Pump Ultima Auto Float Switch for example.
YES get one of these. As a recovering wooden boat owner who still believes that Farley Mowat used MY boat for inspiration for his book "The Boat Who Wouldn't Float." I've been through MANY bilge pumps and many switches. And YES BILGE PUMPS DO SAVE BOATS FROM SINKING WHILE YOU'RE AWAY. It's happened to me at the dock and once at anchor. The time at anchor was right after I cracked a plank in a storm. Pretty good sized leak, but the pump kept the boat floating through the night, cycling on every 5 min or so all night. It was the backup bilge pump that saved me as the primary had recently gotten too corroded at the connection to the switch and wasn't working that day.

As far as pumps Rule pumps.... well they RULE. As for switches, I killed about a dozen or twenty of all different brands in 6 years. This one (the same one mentioned above) was definitely the best. Johnson Pump Ultima Auto Float Switch


Also, in answer to your question switches such as yours can be rehabbed. The ones in the box are probably more likely, IMHO, to continue to stick than other types. For such a crucial piece of gear I'd say it's penny-wise and pound-foolish to fix it though.

Medsailor

PS Don't forget to use heat shrink on the connectors (buy it from an auto parts store). Corrosion at the connections was the most common cause of pump and or switch failure in my experience.

I have a sauna on my boat, therefore I win.
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Last edited by MedSailor; 12-14-2011 at 01:28 AM.
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