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Do Not Neglect Your Bilge Pumps

Do Not Neglect Your Bilge Pumps

Bilge pumps are as useful as they are disregarded. They are your last resort against sinking in the worst case scenario. Do you know how many of these pumps you have? Do you know if they’re operational? If it came to it, would you know how to run them? If you feel like you don’t know as much as you should, read the rest of this article to learn more.

What Are Bilge Pumps?

Essentially, bilge pumps are located in the bilge (hence the name), and they serve to extract the water which builds up in the lowest part of the boat. The primary pump is most commonly located at the very bottom of the boat, whereas the secondary pump is somewhat higher. The requirement for most boats is to have more than one pump. Apart from that, having a manually-operated pump as a backup is strongly advised, since electric pumps can break down. 

What Types of Pumps Are There?

The primary function of a bilge pump is to remove water from your boat. There are several different types of pumps which can do that. So, which one do you need?

Centrifugal pump

These pumps are commonly found as primary pumps. They are usually found at the lowest point of the bilge and need to be submerged in order to work. This is important since this is the most important drawback of these pumps – they can never get all the water out. Typically you get about 1-2 inches of water this pump simply cannot pump out. This is fine if your boat has a sump where the water can collect. However, if your boat has a flat bottom, 1-2 inches translates to a large volume of water. That is why secondary pumps exist. These pumps tend to have exaggerated capacities of 500 gallons per hour up to over 4000 GPH. They cannot remove as much water even at the best of times. That’s why you need to know what size of a pump you need. Small boats can do with a small pump, with the supposed capacity of 500-800 GPH. Bigger boats will need stronger pumps accordingly.

Diaphragm pump

This kind of pump is located a bit higher up, with a hose which is lowered into the bilge. This way, these pumps can get the majority of water out of there. The downside of these pumps is their sensitivity to clogging. They are typically fitted with a strainer to avoid problems. These pumps operate pretty much all the time because water finds its way inside the boat. However, if you are in trouble, these pumps do not have the capacity to save you. For these purposes, there is another type of pumps.

High-capacity Pump

These pumps are typically connected to the engine and are capable of discharging large quantities of water. It is these pumps that are your last resort when it comes to sinking. With a constant supply of energy from the engine (or the battery if it’s electric), this pump can keep you afloat for just long enough for you to find help. 

How Do I Take Care of a Bilge Pumps?

Being so far down and not often seen, these pumps are often left to disrepair. However, if you need them in earnest you will wish you had taken better care of them. This is why you should follow these simple instructions.

Keep your bilge clean of any kind of oil, scraps of paper and old rags. These can easily clog the pump, rendering it useless. If your bilge looks like a landfill, clean it. It will help your pumps as well as the general smell and cleanliness of your boat.

Rat nests can easily be found in these parts of boats. They are remote and dark – the ideal habitat for rats. Make sure you don’t have any stowaways and clear them away if you find them. Rats can easily chew the wiring, causing a pump failure at best, and a fire at sea at worst.

When doing a boat maintenance, make sure that your mechanics check these pumps in particular. PCE is a company which offers the best pump service in San Diego, as well as other boat-related services.

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