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Old 15-06-2015, 14:37   #121
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

"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"

I will prepare my amicus curiae in advance
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Old 15-06-2015, 21:21   #122
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

"1. The retailers receiving the returned switches just dispose of them rather than paying to return them to Rule."


I have to save any Rule or Jabsco products returned to me and give them to the sales rep in order to get credit. It doesn't cost me anything to return the defectives to Rule.


" 2. Boaters just toss the old switches without returning them."
I think that's exactly what's happening.


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.


About a year ago I was talking to another fellow from Rule about this same problem. I don't recall exactly what he said but as I recall the return rate was less than 2%.


Back in the 1970's the Rule Switches with mercury switches inside were terrible, but they were about the best available. I took several bad ones apart and every one of them had a broken wire where the wire had to flex when the float went up and down. I've never taken one of the new ones apart and I'd love to get my hands on one.

Please note that I'm not saying there isn't a problem. I'm just saying that I don't get many returns on these switches.
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Old 15-06-2015, 21:37   #123
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

Steamgoat, That's an old Jabsco diaphragm switch. It originally had a red rubber cover over the mechanism that made it look like a red hockey puck. They switched to the new style more than ten years ago. The problem with the old one was that the rubber cover deteriorated and came off, as happened to you. The new style is much better sealed. You can't seal them completely as the back side of the diaphragm needs to be at ambient air pressure. Note the tiny breather hole on the Jabsco Hydro-Air in my previous post.
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Old 15-06-2015, 21:58   #124
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

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"1. The retailers receiving the returned switches just dispose of them rather than paying to return them to Rule."


I have to save any Rule or Jabsco products returned to me and give them to the sales rep in order to get credit. It doesn't cost me anything to return the defectives to Rule.


" 2. Boaters just toss the old switches without returning them."
I think that's exactly what's happening.


3. The faulty switches account for an acceptably small percentage. That is, acceptably small to Rule, whatever standard they choose to use.
Thanks for outlining other vendor options. Certainly my behavior from a consumer standpoint follows what you outlined above. I just throw away the defective one because of low confidence the supplier or Rule will honor the guarantee. Often I don't retain proof of purchase, or bought it at another supply house, which I am no longer near, etc... If I still have my recently departed switch I will send it you to look at.

It is interesting that Rule doesn't know these float switches are generally defective, with a depressingly short life cycle. They must know how many they sell each year to each market and get some kind of feedback from suppliers. Surely they must know these cant all be going into new boats...(actually I've found their 2000 bilge pump to be as short lived as the float switch - having bought 6 or 7 of each over the past 9 years for the same sailboat. )

In any event, I won't be able to return any future Rule product, because I don't plan on buying any more Rule products, if I can avoid it....
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Old 15-06-2015, 22:10   #125
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

Brooks, you don't need proof of purchase to return a defective Rule switch. If you don't have the receipt, they will warrant it from the date of manufacture. They really are easy to deal with.
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Old 15-06-2015, 22:13   #126
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

Thanks, I'll go see if I still,have the switch. It was only last week I replaced it.
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Old 16-06-2015, 07:51   #127
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

Every rule float switch I've had failed within 6 through 18 months in previous boat. Went to different manufacturer and style on that boat, lasted 3 years. That boat didn't take on much water, so not much cycling there. New/old boat had one that failed within 6 months of owning, don't know when it was installed. I'm replacing with totally different types and will see how it goes.
The failure rate I've seen on the rule switches was pretty consistent so I'd have to say that it's a design issue.

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Old 16-06-2015, 14:38   #128
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

A company saying that the return rate isn't high enough to warrant a design change is just a poorly managed company IMO. Same type of attitude the American auto companies had when the Japanese started decimating the American auto industry. Good enough they used to say.
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Old 17-06-2015, 13:10   #129
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

In plumbing applications diaphragm switches become unreliable from bent/kinked breather hose, obstructed breather,or damaged diaphragm. In sewage pumps the diaphragm is submerged not just the breather tube, the tube runs with power cord and so is often kinked for that reason, those both likely will generally not be a problem if well set up in a boat, however the possibility of slime, oil, spiders or other small critters plugging the hose end would concern me especially in a wet bilge.
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Old 17-06-2015, 18:00   #130
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

I've seen a lot of neglected switch wiring. Haven't seen a ton of bad Rules switches, but a couple. The old ones the wiring gets very soft and flexible. They also don't seem to have heavy enough wiring for a bilge pump that has any oomph. I went to the Junior and Senior model switches years ago ... forget the manufacturer. I havent seen a failure in those.
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Old 17-06-2015, 18:31   #131
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

I have not had a lot of grief from float switches but I would like to suggest that you call in at a hardware store or an agricultural supplier and see if you can adapt a float switch from a non-marine industry. The float switches I see on home and industrial sump pumps etc might work well, as I imagine that they are made for much higher currents than the flimsy marine ones. In most cases all they are is a switch, but they are likely much tougher than the marine stuff we get. And probably cheaper! Some will be OK for the salt environment - others maybe not.

Another suggestion while I am at it - Home Depot sells a moisture alarm run off a 9 volt battery that is about $10 or so. The contacts on them can be removed from the main box and installed up to about 3 ft lower. They work - in a boat to tell you of a rising water level or at home to tell you your rusty water tank is weeping water on the floor and about to go whoosh! I have been giving them to my family as pragmatic presents. RR.
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Old 17-06-2015, 19:24   #132
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

[QUO. TE=HopCar;1849081]"1. The retailers receiving the returned switches just dispose of them rather than paying to return them to Rule."


I have to save any Rule or Jabsco products returned to me and give them to the sales rep in order to get credit. It doesn't cost me anything to return the defectives to Rule.


" 2. Boaters just toss the old switches without returning them."
I think that's exactly what's happening.
in my experience they are still terrible they stick on your position and burn up your Pump. If rule does not have a problem with that neither do I there are too many other options

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.


About a year ago I was talking to another fellow from Rule about this same problem. I don't recall exactly what he said but as I recall the return rate was less than 2%.


Back in the 1970's the Rule Switches with mercury switches inside were terrible, but they were about the best available. I took several bad ones apart and every one of them had a broken wire where the wire had to flex when the float went up and down. I've never taken one of the new ones apart and I'd love to get my hands on one.

Please note that I'm not saying there isn't a problem. I'm just saying that I don't get many returns on these switches.[/QUOTE]

they are still terrible, these switches stick on the ON position on burns up your pump. I have three and have not had one last more than a year. I am done with all things Rule . if rule does not have a problem with that neither do I there are too many other options
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Old 17-06-2015, 23:00   #133
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

Cheechako, the old style Rule float switches used regular marine grade wire. If they got a small break in the insulation water would wick the length of the wire. This corroded the wire and made it feel strange. The current switches use a type of wire that is blocked to prevent wicking.

i see a lot of people have mentioned that the switches fail in the on position.

I was reading the installation instructions and saw something I hadn't noticed before.

They say that the switch should be mounted 1/4" higher than the base of the pump to insure that the switch turns off. If you attach the switch to a Rule pump with their little clip, it gives you this space. If the switch is screwed to the same surface that the pump is, you won't have this space. I'm thinking this might be what is causing at least some of the failures. I know I've just screwed them down next to the pump with no spacer. If this is the problem, Rule should include a spacer with the switch, or redesign the switch not to need this extra 1/4". Could this be part of the problem or am I the only one that doesn't read instructions?
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Old 29-06-2015, 12:52   #134
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

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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.
Your boat really just dumps AC condensate in the bilge? I recommend what I have in mine- a separate fiberglass sump tray that sits in bilge. It has it's own pump and float switch. It has an overflow hole which would work either way- if bilge rises too high from primary pump failure, etc- the sump pump would work. If sump pump fails, water can spill into bilge and activate bilge pump.

In theory it allows me to have a dry bilge, but only because I have a sump beneath my mast step as well for any water coming in. Now to figure that out...
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Old 07-10-2015, 23:22   #135
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

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Hi Chenega, You're right, I'll let him have the last word on the subject.

I am curious as to why there seems to be a disconnect between failures in the field and returns on these switches. I really don't get many returns but reading this forum makes me think that a lot of them fail during their warranty period. Do people just not bother to return them?

Here is what Rule says about their least expensive switch:
"Our latest design now includes a removable base for easy cleaning and servicing, a mercury free snap switch tested to over one million cycles and marine grade "blocked" wire. Designed for pumps drawing up to 14 Amps. Model 35A and 35FA now includes a 2 year warranty."
We just thrown them out and buy some new ones. Too much trouble to give them back as my nearest West Marine is 10 hours flying away.

So I am looking for switches that don't fail that often. This is mainly the switches in the bilges of our two heads - yes, there will be soap and other things than just water, so they need to be quite sturdy.

Having a bilge pump is a kind of insurance and maintenance at the same time. For either case, you just want to be able to depend on them, hence I am looking for some other switches than Rule. Seems the pumps are OK for us though.
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