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Old 15-06-2015, 06:48   #106
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

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Originally Posted by HopCar View Post
I'm familiar with the Water Witch. I like to set them where the pump will pull a little air before it shuts off. That way I know I've gotten all the water I can. The little bit that remains drives me crazy! It's my little bit of insanity.
I'm interested to see how the Water Witch works for you. I haven't used one since they first came on the market. A bunch of them failed and I dropped the line. I recently brought them back in stock. I figure if they're still in business after all these years, they must have improved.

Water Witch Bilge Switch
I've seen comments both ways, but for the most part have seen positive comments lately. I'm not stuck to any one brand, which is why I made the bracket for the gear easy to install and remove, if it fails I'll try another.
The switch is mounted just above the impeller of the pump and with the time delay built into the switch shutoff it pumps to until the pump cavitates. There'll always be an inch or two in the bottom of the deep sump but that's not an issue.
It's a pretty dry boat overall but does have a traditional packing gland so there is a small drip when running the engine but otherwise not too much other water, once I get the shower sumps working again it should keep some of the murkier water out of the bilge.
I guess it comes down to how often they cycle and the quality of the slop in the bilge.
I'll probably add to this string when the boat gets pulled in the late fall or if there's a failure before then, I'm hoping it's a long term test, I don't want to be changing switches on a frequent basis.
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Old 15-06-2015, 07:27   #107
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

Is there a boating association working on behalf of boaters, not equipment manufacturers or sellers? Some advocate for our interests should be pressuring the likes of West Marine, Defender, et al, to cease selling Rule float switches.

For those who have been harmed beyond inconvenience, could a class-action lawsuit have merit?

Fair winds,

Leo
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Old 15-06-2015, 08:25   #108
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

I have a Rule switch that has also recently failed. My concern is that there are so few alternatives, especially at that price point. In my situation, the Ultra switch might not be possible due to space considerations.

What to do? I certainly don't intend to install another Rule switch.

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Old 15-06-2015, 08:31   #109
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

I gave up on mechanical switches years ago. They all eventually failed. I now use the "computer" controlled bilge pumps. None have failed me.
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Old 15-06-2015, 08:57   #110
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

Perfect timing to see this thread. Just this morning we were leaving the boat and after turning the AC units off, heard a pump running. Traced it to the bilge pump and later found the Rule float switch stuck in the UP (ON) position and the bilge full of water. Turns out, the condensation from the AC units dumps into the "dry" bilge. Apparently the bilge filled and the float switch floated up (ON) and stayed there (stuck) causing the bilge pump to continue running even though the bilge was empty. I'm guessing the pump ran most of the weekend with little or no water passing through it....it's TOAST. All because of a failed float switch. Sad part is you can't heard the pump running when the AC units are on. So now I get to spend some $$ on a new expensive looking bilge pump for my Jeanneau.
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Old 15-06-2015, 09:25   #111
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

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I gave up on mechanical switches years ago. They all eventually failed. I now use the "computer" controlled bilge pumps. None have failed me.
By "computer" you are referring to the Water Witch?
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Old 15-06-2015, 11:31   #112
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

I'm actually thinking the fill switch from a washing machine would work well if put through a relay to handle the high amperage (pump) side.
I was fixing a washing machine the other day and figured that the level switch, which is a simple diaphragm switch, must have been over 20 years old, is in a rental unit laundry room where it has seen lots of use over the years and has never failed. I was replacing the seals and pump on that one but the level switch was still working like new.
Any commercial providers out there sell diaphragm style bilge switches?
If not, I'm sure I could easily adapt a popular washing machine switch. Cheap, readily available, dependable and easy to set up. The only down side is it would need some water in the bilge to show a pressure differential, if used with a commonly available timed relay it would pump dry.
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Old 15-06-2015, 12:20   #113
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

You might try running one in a bucket of salt water To see how long it might last. My guess is salt water would eat it up.
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Old 15-06-2015, 12:36   #114
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

The switch would never see the water, it sits in a dry place and senses pressure change in a tube you would have in the bilge.

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Old 15-06-2015, 12:38   #115
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

That's very interesting. You might be on to something!
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Old 15-06-2015, 13:19   #116
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

"Is there a boating association working on behalf of boaters, not equipment manufacturers or sellers? Some advocate for our interests should be pressuring the likes of West Marine, Defender, et al, to cease selling Rule float switches. "


Leo, I guess I fall into the Et Al classification. I'll stop selling them as soon as people stop buying them or start returning defective ones. I've spoken to Rule about this thread and others bashing Rule float switches. They are aware of this displeasure with their product but they don't get enough returns to justify a design change.
Following is the response I received when I wrote to Xylem about this thread.

Hi Parks

We would love to get back any bad switches to review We know people are talking but we are not seeing the returns to support the complaints. It's strange.

Steven J. Tilders
Global Director of Sales, Marine & RV
Xylem Inc.

This is my experience as well. I just don't get returns on them. If you have a switch fail during it's warranty period, please return it to where you bought it. Rule makes it easy for dealers to handle warranty claims.

If you have some old ones kicking around, please send them to me before August 31, 2015. Put a note in with it as to how it failed, didn't turn on, float stuck in on position, float won't float, that sort of thing. I'll see that they get to the right person at Rule.

In the mean time there are dozens of other switches on the market using several different technologies.

Lifeofreily, There are two diaphragm type bilge switches that I am aware of. One made by Groco.

And one made by Jabsco.

The computerized ones that people refer to use a field effect sensor. Someone else will have to describe how they work but Rule, Whale and Johnson Pumps all make them.

Then there is the Water Witch which uses the conductivity of water to sense the presence of water by passing a small current through it.

There is one more type of water sensor that I'm aware of but it is only available on some Rule pumps. It turns the pump on for about a second every few minutes. If it feels resistance on the impeller the pump stays on until it spins freely. This seems very reliable but if you can hear the pump, it can be annoying.

Please don't get mad at me, I sell what people want to buy. If someone asks me, I recommend the Ultra Bilge Pump Switch.
Ultra Pump Switch SR.

Of course then I get accused of trying to sell the most expensive one.
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Old 15-06-2015, 13:41   #117
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

Here's my old Tartan diaphragm switch. Advantage is that it can be mounted anywhere dry,in any direction,and just a tube went to the bilge. Unfortunatly it has no makers name!
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Old 15-06-2015, 13:45   #118
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

Hopcar: I think there are two primary issues at work here:

1. Returning defective equipment, especially relatively inexpensive equipment, not usually worth the efforrt.

2. Even after returning the item, too often the response is:
Owner fault
Out of warranty
crickets...
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Old 15-06-2015, 13:50   #119
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

You get what you pay for, quality costs.
Unfortunately I don't think there would be enough room in the deep sump to mount it, the primary pump is there along with the strainers for the secondary pump and emergency diverter to the motor raw water pump. I have a second submersible pump that was mounted to the original stick in the bilge(Dont ask, it was a real jury rig) that ran off the other float switch, I'm not sure I really need it.
It had a smaller version of a similar float switch originally but it would foul with bilge schmuck from time to time.
There was also a different float type switch that was a rectangular box with the float captured inside, it tended to get fouled more often.
There is a "SeeWater" brand probe type switch which looks like it's been there quite awhile, it runs the secondary system and has never failed, I'm not familiar with that brand but must say it has been dependable. That one runs a remote pump that is mounted above water line and is connected to one of the strainers.
My thinking at this point is that any switch submersed in a murky bilge will have a higher failure rate than a remote pressure sensing (diaphragm) type switch thats not subject to the various slime that inhabits the average bilge. Any feedback from people with this type of set up?
I'm currently sticking with what I have but if it too turns out to have a limited life span I'm not averse to change.
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Old 15-06-2015, 14:01   #120
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

"We would love to get back any bad switches to review We know people are talking but we are not seeing the returns to support the complaints. It's strange.

Steven J. Tilders
Global Director of Sales, Marine & RV
Xylem Inc."

From my reading this thread, it would seem likely that failures of Rule float switches is far from an uncommon problem. Mr. Tilders' assertion that, "we are not seeing the returns to support the complaints," must be due to one or more of the following:

1. The retailers receiving the returned switches just dispose of them rather than paying to return them to Rule.
2. Boaters just toss the old switches without returning them.
3. The faulty switches account for an acceptably small percentage. That is, acceptably small to Rule, whatever standard they choose to use; I doubt it's six sigma.
4. Mr. Tilders is either uninformed about the degree of failure or chooses to be so.

Does he really mean, "we'd love to get back ANY switches to review?" Does this mean they get none back, or just a very small number? Do they perform any kind of stress testing or establish a mean time between failures? If so, should this be included in the product information?

Granted, the Rule float switch is not a Takata air bag, and I don't know of actual loss of life due to a float switch failure, but it's not a trivial concern; a float switch failure could result in a great deal of damage.

As for selling what people want to buy, would it not be ethical to inform customers that many have experienced unhappy results with the Rule float switch resulting in pump failure or worse and another product is strongly recommended? I should think customers would think highly of you for informing them and buy more products from you. Everybody wins.

No, I'm not "mad at you" for selling Rule float switches, but I do think you might consider your decision to do so. When I returned my last Rule float switch to West Marine, I advised the salesperson to consider all the negative reviews on their own website. He responded that, "he wasn't paid enough," to gain product knowledge by reading the reviews on the West Marine website. Wow. HopCar, I do appreciate your reply; it shows you care about your customers. Thank you.

I would not be surprised if one day a nice young attorney's boat is damaged by a Rule float switch failure and Mr. Tilders receives an invitation to a court where the contents of threads like these is discussed.

Fair winds (and dry boats),
Leo
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