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Old 01-11-2011, 08:25   #1
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Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

I have a Ruleamatic standalone float switch that surprised and concerned me when it began sticking "on" when testing it by running water into the bilge. I looked at customer reviews on WM, and thru the threads here, to learn that this is not uncommon.
Specifically, when it does this, it does it repeatedly, i.e., when I lift the float and lower it gently. Letting it drop onto the mounting bracket seems to kick it off. The behavior is sporadic, though. That is, next time I test it some days later, it may not misbehave, or it may.
Any insights, or product recommendations for an alternative model/maker? It would be good to know if this issue has been researched systematically. Didn't find anything on Practical Sailor or anywhere else.
Thanks all
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:55   #2
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Re: Rule bilge pump float switch problems?

If the switch is less than a couple of years old, just take it back where you bought it and ask for a new one. Rule has a very liberal return policy. If it's more than a couple of years old just buy a new one. All float switches and electronic pump controls will fail eventually. Float switches are cheap enough that there is no reason to worry about a bad one or try to fix it. Twenty years ago we used to get a lot of returns on Rule float switches but since the change to mercury free switches we've only gotten very few returns. I think they are very reliable.
Rule-A-Matic Float Switch
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Old 01-11-2011, 08:55   #3
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Re: Rule bilge pump float switch problems?

Float is probably sticking due to "gunk" that has accunulated.......take it out and hose it down with a stron stream of water from a hose........make sure that you get in all the corners and crevices.
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Old 01-11-2011, 09:39   #4
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Re: Rule bilge pump float switch problems?

I have given up on pumps with float switches. There has been nothing but trouble over the years regardless of which pumps or float switches

The "automatic" pumps that run occasionally which then measure the current being drawn I find are far more reliable.

Example...
http://www.amazon.com/Rule-Mate-2000...0162231&sr=8-7
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Old 01-11-2011, 09:44   #5
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Re: Rule bilge pump float switch problems?

the float switches fail after a certain length of time-- mine did intermittent fail jut before it did final fail--stayed on--i had to replace it--i believe mine was 4 yrs old at the time.
no--there was no "gunk"in it or around it--they just fail. good luck. i would buy and install a new one--if old one is only failing intermittently, mebbe save for a back up. they arent expensive.
my lil tiny automatic pump works all the time, so far-- havent had but a small amount of trouble with it--stays on , but when i reset it with breaker it works just fine.
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Old 01-11-2011, 09:51   #6
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Re: Rule bilge pump float switch problems?

The Rule-A-Matic float switches are commonly subject to failures.

For a much more reliable, and expensive, float switch, see the Ultra Safety Systems "ULTRA PUMPSWITCH" line
TEF-GEL - Ultra safety systems - Home page
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:11   #7
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Re: Rule bilge pump float switch problems?

I have an Ultra Junior on my big crash pump for the last year and a half. Can't say how reliable it is, since it has practically not been used.

The Jabsco float switch on the smaller pump usually does not work. I have dry bilges, so I have been ignoring that, relying on the crash pump to come on in case of any trouble. I just had it out and gave it a good cleaning and it seems to be working again, however. Perhaps keeping them very clean is necessary for their reliability. I will replace the switch and pump, however, with a Whale Supersub IQ, which has some kind of electronic switch integrated with it. On a bilge pump, I don't want to risk it.

I have Jabsco float switches in both my gray water boxes. They are apparently 10 years old and both working flawlessly. The only fault I had was when one of the gray water boxes -- never cleaned during my ownership -- got completely fouled with accumulated cr*p. After cleaning out the gray water box and pressure washing the float switch, everything works perfectly again. That's just a single data point, but I'd say that's pretty good performance.
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:30   #8
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

I always carry a spare float switch and bilge pump that are identical to what is installed so they can be switched out on the fly. It is not fun to discover your boat isnt pumping out when you are not near land
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:37   #9
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

I have never had a float switch that ever worked for more than about 6 mo. before failing. There is a very nice alternative that works just like the water level switch in a domestic washing machine. I have never heard one of those failing and flood the basement. I can't recall the name of the manufacturer but a friend of mine with a Nor'Sea installed one after repeated float switch failures and now is happy as a clam at high tide
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:37   #10
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Re: Rule bilge pump float switch problems?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
The Rule-A-Matic float switches are commonly subject to failures.

For a much more reliable, and expensive, float switch, see the Ultra Safety Systems "ULTRA PUMPSWITCH" line
TEF-GEL - Ultra safety systems - Home page
yep, buy one of these and "fugettaboutit"
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Old 01-11-2011, 22:33   #11
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

The switches made by Ultra Safety Systems are very good if a little expensive. The Ultra Switch Junior is just a pump switch.
Ultra Pumpswitch JR

The Ultra Switch Senior includes an extra circuit to set off an alarm.
Ultra Safety Systems UPS-01 Ultra Pump Switch SR 12 volt

These switches are voltage specific so be sure to order the correct voltage if you buy one.
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Old 01-11-2011, 23:36   #12
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

Just to be clear. The prices quoted are for the switch not including the pump, right?
kind regards,
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Old 02-11-2011, 00:10   #13
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

I went through Rule float switches about every two years though had one fail in a few months. Used a Johnson Controls float switch the last time the Rule gave up. It's going on three years and still working fine.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:38   #14
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Re: Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems

SkiprJohn, The Ultra Safety System switches on my website do not include the pump. Thanks for the heads up on that. I'll make a note of it on the website.
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Old 02-11-2011, 14:25   #15
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Re: Rule bilge pump float switch problems?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
I have given up on pumps with float switches. There has been nothing but trouble over the years regardless of which pumps or float switches

The "automatic" pumps that run occasionally which then measure the current being drawn I find are far more reliable.

Example...
Amazon.com: Rule-Mate 2000 G.P.H. Automatic Bilge Pump: Sports & Outdoors

David,

I think there is a serious flaw with that design as I understand it. The turn off feature only works to some minimum voltage, below which the pump stays on.

So...consider this scenario.

You leave the boat for a couple of weeks and develop a slow leak.
The pump turns on and turns off cycling for some period.
The battery depletes and at some point the low threshold is exceeded.
Then the pump stays on until the battery is completely depleted and dead.
The boat sinks.
You return the next day to a real mess.

Differing views entertained.
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