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Old 05-12-2016, 05:20   #1
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Tracking down a bilge leak

How often should your bilge pump run before you need to track down the source?

i just put in for season two and cleaned out all bilge areas and lubricated all seacocks with Marelon from the outside before the boat got wet. Now the bilge runs every 35 minutes for 45 seconds to remove water from an unknown source.

Two questions from this...

1) the lowest part of the bilge appears to be the small well where the bilge pump sits. Lloks to me like all drainage goes to that point either via a drainage hose from shower or sink or AC condensate or a laminated ditch/tunnel in the hull. Is there another opening in the bottom of that sump of is the sump just a trough?

2) what is the process used to discover the leak source?
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Old 05-12-2016, 05:28   #2
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

Dry everything out.
Look for water trails along the hull or around seacocks.
Look for water trails from windows.
Look for water trails from stanchions or deck fittings when it rains.
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Old 05-12-2016, 05:29   #3
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

I'd say that your pump is coming on way too often. Since at the dock there should be little to no water coming into the boat. With the only real source being your shaft packing gland. And properly adjusted it won't leak much, if any when not running.
Might water be coming in via the bilge pump discharge? Since if it's exiting the boat via a low mounted through hull, it's possible for wave action to push water into the boat that way. Assuming there's not a check valve. And if there is a check valve, is it working, or possibly jammed?

One option for leak finding is to take a water soluble pen/marker, & draw perimeters around each fitting & area in the boat which may be leaking/producing water. So that if the marker lines get washed out then you know that water is coming from that fitting or region.

Also, check the salinity of the pump discharge. And consider too that when the pump shuts off, there may be a significant amount of water flowing backwards through it's discharge line. So that in reality it's only pumping a small quantity of water out with each cycle.
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Old 05-12-2016, 05:43   #4
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by RKsailsolo View Post
How often should your bilge pump run before you need to track down the source?

i just put in for season two and cleaned out all bilge areas and lubricated all seacocks with Marelon from the outside before the boat got wet. Now the bilge runs every 35 minutes for 45 seconds to remove water from an unknown source.

Two questions from this...

1) the lowest part of the bilge appears to be the small well where the bilge pump sits. Lloks to me like all drainage goes to that point either via a drainage hose from shower or sink or AC condensate or a laminated ditch/tunnel in the hull. Is there another opening in the bottom of that sump of is the sump just a trough?

2) what is the process used to discover the leak source?
Check whether it is fresh or salt for a start.

Are you running the aircon continuously? That can produce quite a lot of water.
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Old 05-12-2016, 05:59   #5
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

Tighten your packing nut
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Old 05-12-2016, 06:19   #6
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

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Are you running the aircon continuously? That can produce quite a lot of water.
This was my first thought. If you are running the A/C continuously, and it is draining into the bilge, then that could easily produce the amount of water that you are getting.
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Old 05-12-2016, 06:20   #7
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

First find out the direction it's coming from. I like Uncivilized's pen idea. I use toilet paper.




Once you know which direction you can start to track it to the source.


Seems like this year a number of my friends suffered leaks from water tanks.
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Old 05-12-2016, 06:28   #8
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
Dry everything out.
Look for water trails along the hull or around seacocks.
Look for water trails from windows.
Look for water trails from stanchions or deck fittings when it rains.

Good advice. The boat is new and it has not rained so no deck issues.
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Old 05-12-2016, 06:29   #9
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
Tighten your packing nut

Could be that. Ill check that today.
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Old 05-12-2016, 06:30   #10
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

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Originally Posted by Tetepare View Post
First find out the direction it's coming from. I like Uncivilized's pen idea. I use toilet paper.

Once you know which direction you can start to track it to the source....

Wouldnt TP clog?
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Old 05-12-2016, 06:33   #11
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

every 35-45 minutes is too often, you have a leak somewhere. to put it in perspective, my boat was out of the water for 10 years, badly neglected, to the point where my "refit" has become a "restore" I removed many of my seacocks, closed up those I didn't have time to get to. and checked everything. When we first launched the stuffing boxed leaked a lot but swelled up after a day. The first day the pump came on every few hours. but since the stuffing box stopped leaking, the bilge pump might run once a week, all depends on how much rain water gets down the masts.

Find your leaks!!! I usually find mine by spreading a line of baby powder around every seacock and skin fitting. you'll see the water trail in the wet talc.

find them and fix them!

Rule #1 of boating: keep the water on the outside!!
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Old 05-12-2016, 06:34   #12
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
This was my first thought. If you are running the A/C continuously, and it is draining into the bilge, then that could easily produce the amount of water that you are getting.

AC is being installed and only testing right now. I did observe the condensate pour into the bilge during tests and accounted for that, but on board yesterday with AC turned off and condensate pan under unit was dry so no apparent water from AC.
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Old 05-12-2016, 06:35   #13
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

PCMM, good advice. Thx
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Old 05-12-2016, 06:37   #14
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

First determine if it is salt or fresh water.

Fresh water can come from leaks in the deck, hatches, ports, cockpit and even the anchor locker. Fresh water can also come from stored water in the fresh water system. If your fresh water pressure pump is cycling on (too frequently) when no faucet is opened.... this is a sign or a leak in the fresh water system. It could be a tank fault, a cracked hose or fitting, a cracked filter, a loose hose clamp faucet and so on.

Dry the interior of the bilge area and look for little trails of water.

If the bilge is filling pretty fast with fresh water the leak(s) are substantial enough to identify the sources.

If the water is salty... inspect the stuffing box, dripless shaft, all thru hulls and sea cocks, engine raw water cooling circuit and components, including water heater, heat exchanger pumps etc.

Uncivilized marker idea is brilliant!
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Old 05-12-2016, 06:50   #15
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Re: Tracking down a bilge leak

While, you are working this water issue, I would disconnect any pressure city water that you might be connected to. If you have a faulty regulator it can be very dangerous! When those things fail, they sink boats! Personally I've removed the "City water" connection from every boat I've owned just because of the number that I have seen fail over the years. Every time resulting in substantial damage to the boat!
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