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Old 26-09-2016, 13:29   #1
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Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

We just got to our boat that we bought two months ago to find the bilge full. Aside from where the water came from, I found the issue to be the float switch (of course!). It has a diaphragm pump that has a line going down into the deep bilge under the engine maybe 2 feet under the bilge. The switch actually works, it's a sealed type where the entire switch floats and there is a contact inside that closes when it's nearly upside down.

The switch is zip tied to the pipe that runs into the bilge, I think the switch might have gotten stuck against the side of the bilge as the water rose.

I speculate the previous owner went with this setup because there isn't a good way to mount a more conventional switch way down there, it's inaccessible. I don't feel confident with it though, are there any better options?

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Old 26-09-2016, 13:40   #2
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

I figured out its a sump pump float switch. It seems reliable if it had enough room to float, the bilge is only about 8 inches wide and it just got hung up.

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Old 26-09-2016, 13:41   #3
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

I can't see that working in your situation. A new switch would be recommended.... something like the ultra switch would work well.

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Old 26-09-2016, 14:49   #4
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

Most bilge pumps are centrifugal, not diaphragm. I've got a hate-hate relationship with separate float switches, particularly Rule switches, because they forever seem to get caught up on everything from wiring to junk in the bilge. My recommendation is an integrated pump/switch, because then the switch is inside the strainer cage under the pump, and is indexed on the depth of the bilge water at the pump. Centrifugal pumps don't burn out when they run dry, and don't use much energy when they run. About their only disadvantage is their low pressure; you need to be careful with the height and diameter of the discharge.
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Old 26-09-2016, 16:14   #5
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

We've got a similar problem to yours. Same type of bilge depth, same diaphragm bilge pump.

What has worked very well for us is a rule switch mounted on a piece of aluminium flat bar with a 90 deg bend at the bottom. I've got this bolted to the engine stringer. Also adding a drip less packing and keeping the bilge dry has done wonders for the lifespan of the rule switches.


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Old 26-09-2016, 16:26   #6
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

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Originally Posted by funjohnson View Post
I can't see that working in your situation. A new switch would be recommended.... something like the ultra switch would work well.

Matt
I highly recommend the Ultra Switch. It's inside a vented plexiglass tube so keeps debris away from the float. All parts are sealed.

I did an installation similar to sailmonkey but I think a little simpler. I used a piece of SS flat bar and tie wrapped the Ultra to the bar, no need for an L bend or anything just a straight bar, and lowered it down into my almost inaccessible bilge sump.
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Old 26-09-2016, 16:50   #7
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

You can use any hale effect switch. Google for Johnson ones. Etc.

They are sealed and have no moving parts. They actuate when water covers them.

b.
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Old 26-09-2016, 17:17   #8
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

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You can use any hale effect switch. Google for Johnson ones. Etc.

They are sealed and have no moving parts. They actuate when water covers them.

b.
Also consider Water Witch electronic switches. They have a delayed off feature that can help prevent cycling the pump.
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Old 27-09-2016, 06:30   #9
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

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I figured out its a sump pump float switch. It seems reliable if it had enough room to float, the bilge is only about 8 inches wide and it just got hung up.
Yeah, get rid of that!

Bilge pumps like to live in the most inaccessible places. I usually solve this problem by mounting the pump and switch on a long, narrow piece of something that can survive being in bilge water, poke it down into position, and fasten the end that I can reach.

With a one-piece pump and switch, you can also use the hose itself as the "poker", if you use a clear plastic hose that's stiff enough. I haven't tried it, but you could probably use a length of PVC pipe, too.
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Old 27-09-2016, 08:13   #10
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

Tape a Water Witch do a stick and place it in the bilge. Mine has worked since 1982.
http://www.defender.com/pdf/500660_WaterWitch.pdf
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Old 27-09-2016, 08:35   #11
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

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I highly recommend the Ultra Switch. It's inside a vented plexiglass tube so keeps debris away from the float. All parts are sealed.
+1. Get one of these. They're expensive, but if you buy anything else, you'll be replacing it again in a couple of years (after having another full bilge incident). HopCar, one of the forum sponsors, carries them here.

Re the electronic field effect switches.. these are great, until they quit, just like every other type. Before I knew better, I installed three of these. Two of them failed in in less than two years (third got sold with the previous boat, but I assume has died as well). You'll hear mixed reviews on the Water Witch switches, Johnson field-effect switches etc. With all of them, you'll find some glowing reports, along with a significant subset of users have had a bad experience.

That's true for just about every switch type except the USS Ultra Pumpswitches. Other than price, nobody ever complains about them... they just work. I have two now, and won't put in anything else if I can help it.
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Old 27-09-2016, 12:22   #12
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

Ditto what JEschman said. Available online and most better marine stores. Also Lovett pumps (screened float) last a long time but are expensive, too.
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Old 27-09-2016, 18:01   #13
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

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Yeah, get rid of that!

Bilge pumps like to live in the most inaccessible places. I usually solve this problem by mounting the pump and switch on a long, narrow piece of something that can survive being in bilge water, poke it down into position, and fasten the end that I can reach.

With a one-piece pump and switch, you can also use the hose itself as the "poker", if you use a clear plastic hose that's stiff enough. I haven't tried it, but you could probably use a length of PVC pipe, too.
Capt Tom, you have it. That is the way to do it. On a stick and down in an area where you have access and that you do not need special tolls to check it quickly. That is the way I am setup and this works very well. You have to do things to make it easy to check especially something so vulnerable and fragile.
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Old 27-09-2016, 18:08   #14
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

I always wondered if you could use a system similar to the hart tank tender as a bilge switch. Basically, you put a small diameter tube into the bilge and then use a small air pump to periodically/automatically pump air into the tube. If, like the tank tender, the indicator reads a residual air pressure above a certain level the pump is activated. No need to put any electronics into the bilge and no need to worry about the tube getting stopped up.

In fact, you could have several tubes spread around the bilge and the system would use the highest reading.
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Old 27-09-2016, 18:18   #15
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Re: Bilge pump float switch in hard to reach place

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I always wondered if you could use a system similar to the hart tank tender as a bilge switch. Basically, you put a small diameter tube into the bilge and then use a small air pump to periodically/automatically pump air into the tube. If, like the tank tender, the indicator reads a residual air pressure above a certain level the pump is activated. No need to put any electronics into the bilge and no need to worry about the tube getting stopped up.

In fact, you could have several tubes spread around the bilge and the system would use the highest reading.

Well, you mean like this?

http://www.xylemflowcontrol.com/mari...air-switch.htm


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