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Old 02-02-2010, 10:36   #1
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How Much Is Too Much?

I have a question that never came up in my last boat. How do you know when there is a problem with water in your bilge? My last boat had an outboard. No engine or thru hull reasons for water to be coming in. I knew if I saw water to start checking my stanchions for leaks. I have, however, been told that a certain amount of water in the bilge is normal for a inboard diesel. There is always some in my boat, not much but EWWWWW! Nasty stuff. It's brown. I clean it out and it comes right back. I have 2 automatic pumps in the bilge that come on periodically, run for a second and shut off. Not a lot. I guess I'm just worried about what sitting in that gross water all the time is doing to my keel bolts (something else I didn't have on my previous boat). Any wisdom, anyone?

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Old 02-02-2010, 10:57   #2
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Brown? I think I'de try to determand what the brown is and then one would be able to find the source. And see if it's salty or fresh.

With todays technology one does not have to have water in the bilges. The only water I get in is down my keel stepped mast which is contained by a small border.

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Old 02-02-2010, 11:00   #3
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The only water getting into your bilge should be through your stuffing boxes. You can expect a traditional stuffing box to drip water fairly often but slowly. Depending on the size of your engine room, you should not expect the bilge pumps to be turning on more than once a day. If they are kicking in every so often your box needs re-packing. If it bothers you, you could always replace it with a dripless type. These do not let any water in and my old engine room with these boxes was bone dry. Sea water mixed with oil will produce a milky sludge. You need to check that you do not have an oil leek. As long as the water ingress is not severe it's not a big deal but I would check to see where the water is coming from. If it is a thru hull fitting it could lead to more serious problems.
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Old 02-02-2010, 14:09   #4

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I'm working on drying mine. So far I've put a sump under packing that pumps to another sump that also collects fridge drip and shower drain. Still have water coming from anchor locker and mast base and?
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Old 03-02-2010, 14:41   #5
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Sometimes, the water in the bilge is cooling water">engine cooling water leaking from the exhaust pipe, especially if it is made of steel-reinforced rubber that can get hard and porous. It happened twice to me, on 2 different boats. Each time I ran the engine to power the bilge pump, I saw water flowing from the stern.

The first time, there was a crack close to the trough-hull, so I just had to cut a few inches off the pipe and put it back into place. The second time, the whole pipe had become porous and I had to change it for a new one.

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Old 03-02-2010, 16:02   #6
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I just replaced the transom in my cuiser this winter do to water rot from unsealed drilled holes. During my research, I've ran across many times where blisters can be caused from water that sits in your bilge, just as easliy as the lake water. The common recommendation I've read has been no water inside if at all possible.
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Old 03-02-2010, 16:03   #7
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IMO it's a problem when you don't understand where it's coming from and why - no matter the volume.

Me father had a wooden boat for many years, he was always in the bilges. Dust! - he fought a constant battle I'm on GRP and working towards that goal............slowly
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Old 04-02-2010, 06:54   #8
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Well, We did have a coolant leak a couple of months ago. Had to replace a hose after it decided to spray the engine room. Also, the water in our area isn't exactly the cleanest in the world. I let the kids swim in it but showers afterward are mandatory. No oil in the bilge water, thank goodness. Could the slime I'm seeing be residual from the coolant? I wonder if I should try some of those bilge cleaners that they sell to see if that helps.
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Old 04-02-2010, 07:14   #9
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Hi Morningstar,
If you don't know where the water is coming from then even a little water is a reason for concern (as others have said). Why not take advantage of the cooler weather and get down into the bilge with a torch and check everything, through hulls, hose attachments, stuffing box, where the sounder goes through the hull. Everything you can think of, until you find it. It could be something simple like rain water tracking down the mast. Whatever, peace of mind, knowing that it's much less likely you'll suddenly find a foot of water in the bilge 10 miles off shore, is worth the effort.

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Old 04-02-2010, 07:17   #10
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Even traditional stuffing boxes should leak very little to none, when the engine / prop shaft is not running, especially wit hthe new Gore type packing materials. Mine did have traditional flax and still elaked almost none while sitting, and olny a few drops while motoring.
As long as your stuffing box is not getting excessively warm to hot, while motoring, you shoudl be fine. If it's leaking alot, tighten the nut 1/4 turn and see how that is. Just check the stuffing box temperature after motoring for 20 minutes, and hour, 2 hours, etc to make sure it's not getting hot. (shut engine down to check with hand, to be safe as the moving belts, shaft ,etc could take an arm quickly!, or use infra-red temp gun)
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:01   #11
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It might be worth taking a look at the water pump bushing.
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Old 04-02-2010, 09:30   #12
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Brown and stinky water, hmmmm. Check your black water tank plumbing, including 3 ways (they'll leak when pumping in or out), siphon vents, clamps etc. Blisters have a salty/vinegary smell and the water will have a greenish blue tinge (resin breaking down).


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