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The bilge pump is your life jacket

A luxury yacht, a working boat or a small boat… It does not matter what you are going to leave the shore on. The most important question for all cases is how you will pump water out of the bilge. A small leak, downpour, or accidental rock shoal. Who will come to the rescue in the midst of endless expanses of water? This is the Bilge Pump, a seemingly insignificant component of such a complex floating organism as your vessel. And, fortunately for many sailors, the bilge pump turned out to be the most valuable piece of equipment in the world.

What is a bilge pump?

A bilge pump is a pump designed to drain the bilge water off your boat when the liquid has accumulated in the hull. These are fairly simple devices, usually of a mechanical or electrical type. They are placed in the lowest part of the boat in the hold. In this case, the intake device (strainer) or the pump itself is lowered as deep as possible into the hold where water accumulates. Each boat accumulates a certain amount of water. This could be condensation, rain, splashes from waves, or housing leaks. It is advisable to get rid of the water as quickly as possible so that it does not accumulate and does not pose a danger. Bilge water sometimes contains engine oil or fuel.


People have always been looking for ways to efficiently throw bilge water overboard ever since the first boat was invented. As civilization developed, the designs of bilge pumps changed. The first mechanical way to move water from the bottom to the top, at least as far as we know, was the invention of the Archimedes screw, also known as a water or screw pump. Technological progress has led to the fact that pumps have become much more advanced and use various physical laws to move water.

  • Centrifugal

  • Membrane

  • Flexible impeller

Bilge pump types

In practice, there are two main types of bilge pumps: manual and automatic.

The hand pump is usually a diaphragm type and is a backup pump. They are installed on the boat in case something goes wrong with the main pump, for example, the battery runs out or components are damaged.

But the main workhorse on the boat is usually the 12 or 24 Volt electrically driven bilge pump. They are powered by the boat's battery and are turned on automatically using the bilge switch or manually.

What is a bilge switch?

The bilge switch is a very simple device. They are also known as float switches, which says a lot about how they work. Basically, when water accumulates in the bilge, it causes the bilge switch to move up. When the water level rises high enough, the bilge switch "closes the circuit" and turns on the bilge pump. To date, there are mechanical, optical and touch switches.

Backup pump.

If it is possible to duplicate the water pumping system, then this must be done. Modern bilge pumps and switches are designed to stand the test of time, but they are not invulnerable. Like any electronics, they are subject to wear and tear and are not immune to failure.

Selection of the manufacturer of bilge pumps.

There are a wide variety of brands on the market and the ads are pushing you with cheap unknown brands. As a rule, all cheap equipment comes from East Asian countries and it is very difficult to get reliable guaranteed quality and reliability. In order not to risk and not be left alone with the elements without a reliable bilge pump, choose only well-known manufacturers that have been symbols of legendary quality for decades:

-SPX FLOW Johnson Pump (Sweden, USA);

-MARCO (Italy);

-KOSHIN (Japan).

The bilge pumps of these manufacturers have the appropriate certificates and approvals of classification societies, a 3-year warranty and are known all over the world in any marina.


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