The bilge pump: why is it essential?

Having a bilge pump in good condition is vital for the buoyancy of the boat, for safety and for its maintenance.

The water that enters the boat, whether due to storm surge, rain, leaks or other reasons, accumulates in its lowest part, called the bilge. In addition to avoiding putting cargo in this area, the skipper must ensure that this accumulated water is drained, because if it accumulates without control, it would pose a danger to the stability of the ship.

If there is a significant level of water inside the boat, it could be an indication that there is a problem: damage to the hull, leaks in any canalization, obstruction of drains, etc. As soon as water is detected, it is necessary to evacuate it, because the usual thing is that it continues to enter and there may come a time when it is too late. If there are multiple compartments, each should have its own pump at the lowest point in the bilge and should be easily accessible for repair and maintenance.

Types of bilge pumps
Manual pumps
Bilge pumps can be manual or electric. The manual pumps are the oldest and are only carried by some boats to be used in case the electric fails, or as a support for when there is too much water (storms, storms …). There are lever ones, but most are very simple, you can even make them yourself.

Electric pumps
Electric bilge pumps are the most common today, and are equipped on most ships. Most are located in the bilge, since that is where almost all the water that enters the hull reaches. In addition, the most modern include elements to filter the water expelled, preventing fuel or dirt from going out into the sea.

Automatic electric bilge pumps
The operation of the electrics is managed from the control panel of the boat, however, the most modern ones are automatically activated, since they have sensors that periodically check the water level. Some models even eliminate the need for a float switch, that is, you no longer need to have a float that activates the pump to drain water when the level reaches a certain magnitude. If the electrical power is on, its sensors will automatically check for water every two and a half minutes. This cycle of checks repeats itself automatically, so the employer doesn’t have to worry about a thing.

Some wonder if this operation could have a big impact on battery consumption, so the manufacturer Stingray did some checking to find out. Tests showed that it takes 6 weeks to drain a 12.4V battery, which is still long enough to start the engine. Therefore, if you are going to beach the boat for more than 6 weeks, you must disconnect the battery and remove the drain plug, to avoid filling it with rain water or dirt.

If you want to enjoy the journey without worries, include in your routine before leaving to check the operation of the bilge pump. Get nautical accessories in our store.

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