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What is a Submersible Bilge Pump?

A bilge pump is a key piece of equipment found on just about any boat, but for many new boaters in particular, they may find themselves asking the basic question, “What is a bilge pump?” 

The function of a  bilge pump is to remove water that collects in the bilge, which is the bottom of the inside of the hull(bottom of the boat). Most of the time, water that collects in the bilge is incidental:

  • It could be rain water or water from spray collecting in the boat.
  • Wash-down water that collects in the bilge while the boat is being cleaned.
  • Or water from built-in coolers that drain to the bilge. 
  • Water in smaller boats are simply routed to the bilge which water may be also collected in the bilge from minor leaks, such as water dripping from the shaft gland on an inboard boat.

Very few boats have a large enough bilge pump to keep the boat from sinking in and causing a  catastrophe, such as a large hole in the hull. In that scenario, the  bilge pump or pumps may give you time to either repair or mitigate the leak, to call for assistance, or to prepare to abandon the boat in an orderly manner.

Where are Bilge Pumps Located on a Boat?

At least one bilge pump  pickup should be installed at the lowest point in the bilge. Larger boats should have one in each enclosed area that can retain water, discharge outlets need to be a minimum of eight inches above the waterline.



All  bilge pump on the boat should be accessible, so you can inspect the pump and its float, and clear debris from around the pump pickup. If the pump is located in a spot that’s inaccessible or hard to reach, such as below the engine on a sterndrive boat, consider relocating it if possible.



Maintenance of a Bilge pump 

Regularly inspect the area around the pump for debris, which could clog the pickup of  the pump. Surprisingly, this is especially important on new boats, as all kinds of construction debris  like  sawdust and fiberglass dust, which can work its way back to the bilge.

Periodically, check the function of the float switch, which can get crusty or corroded over time. Wiring for the  bilge pump should be routed up to keep it out of the damp bilge, and any wiring connections should be water-tight.

Extend the life of your boat with our range of  bilge pump today !

Article provided by Waterhouse 

For more information contact us on 011 466 8250 

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