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Old 08-05-2012
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submersible vs non-submersible bilge pump

I need to replace the bilge pump on my '84 Ericson 38. Currently it's a non-submersible pump mounted just below the sink in the galley. I don't seem to see much in the way of new non-submersible pumps on the market or even articles discussing/reviewing non-submersible pumps.

Is there a reason these non-submersible pumps seem to be less popular? Should I stick with a non-submersible since its whats already there, or in the interest of having an easy to find replacement in the future would a submersible pump be a better choice?

If I do end up sticking with a non-submersible are can anyone direct me to some reviews/favorite models?

Thanks,

Matt.
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Old 08-05-2012
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Re: submersible vs non-submersible bilge pump

"Is there a reason these non-submersible pumps seem to be less popular?"
Probably because all bilge pumps eventually get submerged. Usually when the float switch fails and the bilge fills up past the level of the pump. Which is usually IN the bilge, not under the sink.
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Old 08-05-2012
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Re: submersible vs non-submersible bilge pump

"My name is Medsailor and I am a recovering wooden boat owner."

Chorus: "Hi Medsailor."


I lived on a sinking wooden boat for 7 years and I've been through many bilge pumps. Far and away the submersible Rule brand is the best. Hands down. No contest. No need to even think about the others. Remember that submersible also means sealed, which is good in a salty environment even if it never gets submerged.

Oh, and they all get submerged at one point or another.

MedSailor
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Old 08-05-2012
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Re: submersible vs non-submersible bilge pump

If his pump gets submerged, he'll be swimming. It's (I think) a diaphram pump. I have two on board, one for fresh water supply, one to drain the shower. They are old and work well. If it isn't broken, don't fix it. You might find that there isn't room in the bilge for a standard pump. And you'd certainly need to run new wiring, maybe find a route for the hose.
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Old 08-05-2012
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Re: submersible vs non-submersible bilge pump

"Far and away the submersible Rule brand is the best."
And considering how often Rule pumps seem to fail and need replacing...none better, isn't that a frightening thought.
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Old 08-05-2012
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submersible vs non-submersible bilge pump

A pretty good read.
http://yachtwork.com/report-bilgepump.htm
Having once been in a sinking f glass boat some 45 miles from the beach in a winter storm, God must have given the capt. a bright moment one day. He had put in a manual emergency bilge pump in the wheel house the year before.
Electric pumps... Ok as long as there is battery.
Emergency water removal should be planned.
Family run crew boat has 2 electric Rules. Each engine has a valve at the intake that will allow a diverted take off to inside the boat with a strainer. One manual diaphragm pump so someone can feel useful while the rest are leaving on the raft. We have discussed a shaft pump and PTO pumps in the past but something always takes precedence. Thank goodness there was BP to take the heat off of us with Detroit 892s. At least till the next CG inspection. Man I hope they don't wear whites ;-)
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Old 08-05-2012
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Re: submersible vs non-submersible bilge pump

I've replaced too many rules in my bilge to think too highly of them. Still I take your point that they are better than the others.

I recently installed a Whale Supersub as my small, maintenance pump, just to see how these last. It's a nice design, but I'm more interested in durability so we will see.

I've got a large Rule as the backup and a manual Whale Gusher in the cockpit as the next line of defense. The engine raw water intake is in the bilge so if things really get bad I can pump the bilge with the engine (useful IF the engine will start, and IF I have enough fuel when disaster strikes... )
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Old 08-05-2012
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Re: submersible vs non-submersible bilge pump

I had the same thing happen last year with my Ericson. My boat was built in 1988 and had the original pump. It was loud and when it failed I was confident that I could replace it easily and with a quieter unit. After a little research, I found that rebuilding my original pump was the best course of action.

Consider how long the submersible pumps tend to last. Mine made it over 20 years. Also consider self-priming ability. I believe that submersibles sometimes get air locked, and pump without moving and water.

My rebuild cost me just about the same as I would have paid for a comparable Rule pump, but I know that it will do the job. It might even last another 20 years!

Good luck

Paul
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Old 08-05-2012
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Re: submersible vs non-submersible bilge pump

In my opinion, the most important characteristic of an everyday maintenance bilge pump is that it be reliable. A submerged pump is sealed which is a good start but it is also always submerged which means that when it develops even a tiny leak, it is likely to be catastrophic. A remote mounted pump is not submerged which is good but it will run dry on a regular basis which can hurt wear components.

It is always better to push water than pull water all other things being equal. In the extreme, you need to do this to prevent the absolute pressure from going so low that it boils. If you look at wells, they have to put the pump at the bottom unless it is really shallow. For the average boat, the difference isn't nearly as large but it is there. A remote mounted pump will need to seal fairly well to draw enough vacuum to prime itself so they tend to be diaphragm or impeller types.

In my case, my boat came from the PO with a remote mounted pump which was a jabsco impeller type. After burning up 3 separate motors, I finally got smart and switched to a submerged pump. I would have liked to have stayed with the remote mounted unit but I could not find a replacement that I liked. When I worked commercially, we went through a lot of the bigger rule pumps which never gave me a lot of confidence. I really wish that I had taken the time to open them up and see why they were failing.

If you have a high quality, remote mounted pump that is easily rebuildable, I would go that route. Otherwise, I don't know of anything better than the rules.
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Old 08-06-2012
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Re: submersible vs non-submersible bilge pump

Shout from left field here!

We had a diaphragm pump for our bilge pump when we bought our boat. Worked fine for a number of years then stopped working. Bought the re-build kit (for more then a cheap Rule pump costs) and couldn't make the old diaphragm pump work. Bought a new Jabsco diaphragm pump (for 5 times more then a submersible Rule pump) that worked for a while. Bought the re-build kit and, yup, you guessed it, could not make the new diaphragm pump work.
You can buy 5 Rule centrifugal pumps for the price of 1 diaphragm pump. Our crappy Rule submersible has been working yeoman's duty for about 3 years now. When it dies I will buy a new one for much less then the price of a rebuild kit for a diaphragm pump.

Diaphragm pumps are great for moving CLEAN water around (shower sump, pressurized water) but I won't trust one as a bilge pump EVER again.

Edit to add: 27' keel boat owner for over 10 years. Mechanically capable, but apparently not with diaphragm pump rebuild kits.
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Last edited by CalebD; 08-06-2012 at 12:23 AM.
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