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Old 03-11-2017, 07:29   #16
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Re: How to Diagnose Broken Bilge Float Switch

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Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
Most float switch are mercury switches which are reliable, no moving parts on the switch just the float pivot. I'd bet on an corroded wiring connection. However, that switch has to have internal connection to the base. At the cost I'd just replace the whole thing. Figure it out and then put it back as a backup pump with the switch higher in the bilge. JMHO
Float switches used to be mercury switches. Mercury was declared hazardous to the environment and I believe it can no longer be used even though it's the best solution for the application.
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Old 03-11-2017, 07:35   #17
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Re: How to Diagnose Broken Bilge Float Switch

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My float switch is at least 12 years old. (bit probably 20 or more)

To test it, I just take a long stick and lift the float until the bilge pump comes on!
That is a quick and simple test but it only tests that the pump will run, not that it will actually pump water.

This actually happened to me: I was cleaning my forward bilge and running water into it with a hose. The pump came on as I expected but the water level kept rising. The pump wasn't emptying the bilge.

I pulled the pump out and found that the plastic impeller had fallen off the motor shaft. The motor was running but not turning the impeller.

As a quick fix, I glued it back on but I eventually found a replacement that fit the mounting and installed the replacement.

Sometimes I wonder why a $150K boat comes with two $29.95 bilge pumps!
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Old 03-11-2017, 10:22   #18
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Re: How to Diagnose Broken Bilge Float Switch

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I investigated and found a Rule 1500 bilge pump (which I've learned are not automatic) and some kind of sensor, which I assume is a float switch? When I flick the auto/manual switch for the bilge on my electrical panel, the pump works great, so I'm left thinking it's a sensor/wiring issue.

It's an Ultra Safety Systems Senior float switch, attached to the Rule bilge pump by means of a hose clamp as the instructions direct. I think you can take it out of the hose clamp and turn it upside down to test; as the float travels, it should activate the pump.

If the float doesn't move well, you can take it apart to clean it.

You can google the basic Ultra system, and they make some other models, too (Junior, without the alarm sender, Mini, etc.) The website has installation instructions and so forth. The Senior has the best warranty and the others are good too. Do NOT cut wires fires before you understand the warranty.

FWIW, I just recently did a "market survey" to discover which switches worked best, as prep for replacing an old and no-longer-functioning pivoting mercury float switch... and the Ultra models came up consistently as best and all of the several forums I checked. Many said they've never had an Ultra fail, others said things like 20 years... Not much mention of Ultra on this site, though, possibly because they cost an arm and a leg.

Apparently all of the pivoting-arm non-mercury float switches available today are just crap, according to responses. The Johnson Ultima and the Water Witch electronic switches got some favorable comments, but they also got a few unfavorable comments too.

-Chris
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Old 03-11-2017, 11:04   #19
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Re: How to Diagnose Broken Bilge Float Switch

I believe the OP said the pump is fine with manual activation, a switch on his console. That and the float switch are basically just paralleled switches. It has to be wiring or a bad float switch. It's not rocket science.
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Old 03-11-2017, 13:21   #20
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Re: How to Diagnose Broken Bilge Float Switch

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It has to be wiring or a bad float switch.
Or in this case, maybe the float tube just needs cleaning. The Ultra design does allow some sediment in there; build-up over time could likely bind the float itself. Hence their website instructions on how to clean it...


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Originally Posted by Rex Delay View Post
Do not recognise your switch but from my experience, they last about 2 years max. Chuck it and get a new one.
It's a $175 switch... with a serious warranty.

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Old 29-11-2017, 08:14   #21
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Re: How to Diagnose Broken Bilge Float Switch

Update: I've cleaned the inside of the switch, which was fairly dirty, and reassembled. I can see that the float rises when water goes into the bilge but even after inches of water (switch completely covered) it's still not sending the signal to the pump.

I know I'm getting power to the switch because there's a green indicator light on top, but I haven't cut any wires to see how much voltage.

I'm hesitant to toss the thing and replace considering its reputation and cost, but I'm not sure how else to proceed at this point.
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Old 29-11-2017, 17:04   #22
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Re: How to Diagnose Broken Bilge Float Switch

Iíd call them.
I have heard he is a little testy, but canít hurt.
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Old 30-11-2017, 03:44   #23
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Re: How to Diagnose Broken Bilge Float Switch

Yeah, call him. When I had questions about connecting ours up, I called... and he was very forthcoming with info and tips and so forth. I've heard he's a tad testy, too, but that wasn't evident when I called.

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Old 01-12-2017, 08:56   #24
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Re: How to Diagnose Broken Bilge Float Switch

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Originally Posted by nickfox45 View Post
Update: I've cleaned the inside of the switch, which was fairly dirty, and reassembled. I can see that the float rises when water goes into the bilge but even after inches of water (switch completely covered) it's still not sending the signal to the pump.

I know I'm getting power to the switch because there's a green indicator light on top, but I haven't cut any wires to see how much voltage.

I'm hesitant to toss the thing and replace considering its reputation and cost, but I'm not sure how else to proceed at this point.
Presuming that there is 12V to the switch and you know the pump works in manual bypass, I would test the wire(s) from the switch to the pump.
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