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Old 17-12-2017, 14:52   #1
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How does a float switch fail?

Maybe this is a silly question......

At the boat today the water level in the bilge looked higher than when I was aboard last, two weeks ago. I believe that is due to the technician winterizing the motor and draining the hot water tank. I decided to add more anti-freeze to the bilge to make sure the pump and tubing had anti-freeze in it.

It looked to me like the float switch had to go higher than I've seen before for it to start the pump. Then the pump stopped sooner (at a higher level in the bilge) than I recall. Does a float switch fail by requiring a higher level of fluid before engaging the pump? Or do they fail all at once?

I guess it is time for a new float switch, in any case.
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Old 17-12-2017, 14:56   #2
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

Iíve always seen them just cease working. Never that I can recall requiring more water than before
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Old 17-12-2017, 14:57   #3
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

Dunno - the one I tossed earlier this year developed high internal resistance, until it was no longer passing enough voltage to run the pump. Corrosion, I suppose. I didn't crack it open to check or deal with the mercury. Just tossed it in the "universal waste" bin.
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Old 17-12-2017, 15:03   #4
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

you put antifreeze in your bilge?.... and then pump it out via the pump?....

how about dry it up instead.

normally they just fail and don't work.
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Old 18-12-2017, 08:42   #5
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

my mercury one was dirty so i cleaned it and magically worked again. that was more than 4 yrs ago.
still works.
i believe but donot quote me that this switch was installed before 2001 or in 2001 when boat was victim of salvage.
the new modern no mercury switch i bought for under engine worked one week.
the new one is with no mercury. pos item.
this second switch keeps sticking so i have to jar it to make pump shut off. really efficient. will be changed out asap. these are rule flapper switches. i will keep mercury one until it finally dies a long slow horrible miserable death, confirmed, and i will keep changing the other until i find a decent and reliable alternative.
in the event of both failing, i do have a bucket and a piston pump. hahahahaha
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Old 18-12-2017, 08:55   #6
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

https://www.defender.com/product3.js...6131&id=344412

Johnson Ultima electronic switch....works well, very compact.
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Old 18-12-2017, 09:48   #7
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

The electronic float switches are no better on some boats. My bilge has a very small amount of what looks like soap, maybe went in during deck cleaning, maybe left over from when they built the boat.

No problem, except it is death to the electronic float switches.

i test mine about once a month and replace it about twice a year. Every brand seems to fail equally.

The new Rule snap-in float switches are at least easy to replace. No screws, just snap the new one into the old holder. Two in 18 months so far.
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Old 18-12-2017, 10:05   #8
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

Float switch failure tends to be electrical or mechanical. The latter is easily resolved by cleaning off the crud. If electrical and the power to the switch is good I don't think it is worth disassembling and attempting to fix corrosion, I just replace. Float switch is easy to check, just lift and see if pump starts. If not, check pump first by starting with the breaker. I suspect long exposure to chemicals like detergent or antifreeze in the bilge are not good for switches, pumps or hoses. Just a hunch, not data based.
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Old 18-12-2017, 10:23   #9
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

Quote:
Originally Posted by captstu View Post
The electronic float switches are no better on some boats. My bilge has a very small amount of what looks like soap, maybe went in during deck cleaning, maybe left over from when they built the boat.



No problem, except it is death to the electronic float switches.



i test mine about once a month and replace it about twice a year. Every brand seems to fail equally.



The new Rule snap-in float switches are at least easy to replace. No screws, just snap the new one into the old holder. Two in 18 months so far.


What do you do to the things!!

Iíve replaced the crappy rule switch once in 8 years!!
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Old 18-12-2017, 10:39   #10
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

Usually the cheap wires IME. They get soft with oil etc. Or connections in the wires. I dont think I've had one fail other than connections wires. Too simple to fail inside.
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Old 18-12-2017, 10:40   #11
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

I've replaced 4 rule float swithes in the last 18 months. They are good about replacing them nc, but its a pain to pull and replace. I now have what they refer to as their "New and improved" unit. So far so good. I got curious as to why they failed and pulled one apart. Inside the sealed base is what I thought was a resistor. Rule said it was a 20 amp fuse-put there in case a boater didnt have a fuse on their bilge wire. I have a 20 amp circuit breaker and the thing blew anyway. Bob
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Old 18-12-2017, 10:46   #12
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

If the boat is in the water in Virginia, there is no reason to put AF in the bilge. It's just pollution and a waste of money. The water will remain above freezing, just barely, because it is in the water.

What is vital is that the discharge hose does not have a check valve and that there are no low spots (it needs to drain into the bilge between cycles). It cannot be winterized, because it may need to run at any time.

Easy.
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Old 18-12-2017, 10:50   #13
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

If it's electronic it's not really a 'float switch' per se.

On a true float switch the hinge can begin to get sticky and not float as freely as a result of resistance at the hinge. This may require a higher water depth to move the switch lever.

Make sure there are no cracks causing water to flood inside of the float itself. This can occur from improper winterization or getting stepped on. water in the float will prevent the float from floating properly.

electrical wires, especially around connections (usually the ground) can corrode and cause resistance. This is the most common failure IMHO.
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Old 18-12-2017, 10:51   #14
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roberttigar View Post
I've replaced 4 rule float swithes in the last 18 months. They are good about replacing them nc, but its a pain to pull and replace. I now have what they refer to as their "New and improved" unit. So far so good. I got curious as to why they failed and pulled one apart. Inside the sealed base is what I thought was a resistor. Rule said it was a 20 amp fuse-put there in case a boater didnt have a fuse on their bilge wire. I have a 20 amp circuit breaker and the thing blew anyway. Bob
Wow, it sounds like the lawyers are designing float switches now. Great. 20 amp is too high, it probably thinks you have no fuse.
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Old 18-12-2017, 16:46   #15
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Re: How does a float switch fail?

Thanks to all. And Happy Holidays!
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