what is a bilge pump

What Is A Bilge Pump? How Does It work?

Known also as the bilge, the bottom of a boat’s hull, a bilge pump is a type of marine pump used to remove water. Rain, spills, leaks, cleaning solutions, or coolers that drain into the bilge could all be the cause of this water. Each type of pump has a range of available ratings that depend on how much water it can remove in an hour. Continue reading, you will learn more facts about bilge pumps.

What is a Bilge Pump?

Most boats have a bilge pump installed as a system to prevent excessive water from collecting inside the vessel. This is a crucial part to have on board if you want your boat to float above the water.

A bilge pump will remove extra water from the boat’s lowest point and return it to the lake, ocean, river, or other body of water where you are boating. Through a variety of activities, water gets into the boat. On a windy, choppy day, it can be splashed into the boat. When emptied, built-in coolers occasionally drain to the bilge.

Where Are Bilge Pumps Located on a Boat?

In order to prevent flooding, the lowest point in the bilge should have at least one pump or bilge pump pickup installed. Each enclosed space with a capacity for water retention should have a larger boat. At least eight inches must be above the waterline for discharge outlets.

To inspect the pump and its float and to clear the area around the pickup of the pump, you should be able to access every bilge pump on the boat. If the pump is situated in an awkward or difficult-to-reach location, such as beneath the engine on a sterndrive boat, think about moving it if you can.

How Do Bilge Pumps Work on a Boat?

The extra water in your boat is removed by automatic bilge pumps. Wave spray, rainwater, packing gland drips, and so forth. It’s not intended to stop your boat from sinking if it is absorbing water. But in an emergency, it can also be used to buy you some time. If your boat is under 65 feet, your bilge pump needs to be able to pump at least 24 gallons per minute. Automatic bilge pumps of good quality can manage this with ease.

Centrifugal or diaphragm electrical bilge pumps are the two most common types. A rotating impeller, akin to that of a turbine, is found on centrifugal bilge pumps. The pump’s impeller spins as soon as water enters it, forcing the water to exit. These pumps can move a lot of water. Additionally, they typically require little maintenance. However, they do not self-prime, so in order to pump water, they must be submerged in it. They will be less effective at pumping water the farther they have to pump it.

Through an intake valve, diaphragm pumps draw water in. Then it is pumped out via an output valve. It functions very much like a wet/dry vacuum. These self-priming automatic bilge pumps. They are therefore functional even in dry conditions. They are also more effective at twitching water farther away. The drawback is that they cannot move as much water as a centrifugal pump. Additionally, dirt and debris will clog them much more quickly. It’s simple for the valves to clog, which can also result in leaks.

what is a bilge pump

Unless you need to move water a long distance, a centrifugal pump is usually your best bet.

The distinction between manual and automatic bilge pumps is another thing you ought to be aware of. Float switches are included in automatic bilge pumps. The automatic bilge pump will activate when necessary after detecting the water levels. You must have an automatic bilge pump on any boat longer than 20 feet that you can sleep in. An important component of boat safety is the float switch.

Manual bilge pumps typically do not include a float switch, in contrast to automatic bilge pumps. Having said that, a manual pump can have a float switch added to it. As a result, they function very similarly to an automatic bilge pump.

How and When Should You Turn on a Bilge Pump?

When water builds up in the bilge, the pump may have a float or switch to turn on automatically. This is crucial if you keep the boat in the water because you’ll want the pump to work, for example, after a heavy downpour. The pump could also only have a manual switch on the control panel. Often the bilge pump switch has an “auto” and “manual” setting.

Keep an eye out for debris that could clog the pickup or harm the pump by routinely inspecting the area around it. Surprisingly, new boats require this more than older ones because all types of construction waste, including sawdust, fiberglass dust, fragments of foam, epoxy, and even screws, can find their way back to the bilge.

Check the float switch’s operation from time to time because it may become crusty or corroded with age.

  • Any wiring connections should be water-tight, and the bilge pump’s wiring should be routed upward to keep it out of the moist bilge.
  • Run a little water into the bilge to see if the pump is working if it is not on frequently.
  • You’ll actually be able to see that the pump can pump water, which confirms more than just the switch’s functionality.

How to Select a Bilge Pump for Your Boat?

Water flow rate, measured in gallons per hour, or GPH, is used to rate bilge pumps. The rating is relative, though, and a good generalization is that the pump will move about 60% of its rating. Real-world pumping rates are influenced by a variety of factors, including the height and distance over which the water must be transported.

If the discharge hose has a corrugated wall, switching to a smooth-wall hose can boost flow rates by up to 30%. It would seem that a small boat could get by with a pump with a lower flow rating, but the opposite is actually true; in the event of a hull hole or other major incident, water will impact a small boat much more quickly than it will a larger boat.

A two-pump strategy is employed by seasoned boat owners, especially if they sail far from land. A high-capacity pump (3,500 GPH) is mounted higher to handle a more serious situation and a smaller automatic bilge pump (400–500 GPH) is mounted lower in the bilge to pump out rain and other incidental water.

what is a bilge pump

How Are Bilge Pumps Set Up?

The lowest point of your boat’s hull or the bilge is where bilge pumps are frequently found. By doing so, any water that collects in this area can be ejected from the boat, reducing the risk of water-related damage.

A bilge pump is crucial because it can alert you if the boat is unintentionally absorbing water. The bilge pumps in your boat should be able to remove water as quickly as it is entering if there is a small hole. This would give you more time to return your boat to safety.

Be sure to get assistance if your vessel is taking on water because this is not a system you want to solely rely on. The sole purpose of a bilge pump is to boost your boat’s efficiency. To keep your boat afloat, you shouldn’t rely on it.

What Are Bilge Pump Requirements?

These systems are subject to various state and local laws. The use of bilge pumps may be mandated by law depending on the size of the boat. Multiple bilge pumps are frequently needed on large boats as a safety measure. Before you launch your boat, make sure to check the local laws.

One general rule is that multiple bilge pumps are needed on a boat with sleeping accommodations for safety reasons. The number needed will vary depending on the size of the boat. Additionally, it might change depending on where you are boating. Before launching your boat in a new location, make sure to check again.

You might be required to have a bilge pump system in your boat, but other factors may also come into play. To determine whether your boat needs to have a bilge pump, be sure to check the laws in your state and local jurisdiction.

Does My Boat Have a Bilge Pump?

Check to see if your boat has a bilge pump before getting overly excited about taking it out on the water. The ability of your boat to handle water in the bilge is important to know.

Knowing whether your boat has an automatic or manual bilge pump on board would also be helpful. Hand-held manual bilge pumps are available. Other manual bilge pumps are electronic and require activation via a switch on the dashboard. Automatic bilge pumps don’t require a switch to turn them on; they just start working.

Look this up in the owner’s manual provided by the manufacturer for a quick check on your boat. Another option is to ask a boat expert to explain where the bilge pump(s) are located. In this manner, you are able to maintain the bilge pumps in top working order by knowing where to check.

Conclusion on Bilge Pump

Underneath is where the bilge is located. Your boat would flood without the bilge area. After all, keeping water off of a boat is practically impossible. A bilge pump is used to remove the water that accumulates in the bilge. This will be accomplished by applying pressure or suction. Your boat is vulnerable to flooding if it lacks a working bilge pump. Additionally, bilge water can become dirty and polluted if your bilge pumps aren’t kept up.