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Helping prevent bilge pump blockages

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What is the issue?
Bilge pumps can suck up floating debris that clog up their internal mechanisms and render them useless.

Why address this?
In a critical situation, where the vessel has taken on a quantity of water and the boat is in turmoil, it is the most likely time for large blocking items to be in the bilge water. This is just at the time when the pump operation is most required and a time you could be, literally, sunk!

How to address this?
Place a filtering mesh case around the pump to prevent it sucking in blocking items. If you give your bilge pump a little helping hand it will keep your bilge dry and maybe even keep your boat afloat long enough for you to figure out where that water's coming from.

A plastic tray covering bilge pump inlet
Photo: Tony Gibson

The case may range from anything from a plastic shopping basket to a pair of plastic sieves screwed together depending on the pump or pipe outlet that requires protection.

It is always good to inspect the condition of the bilge pump from time to time. Maintenance of an electrical centrifugal bilge pump is generally limited to clearing the strainer in the base and waterproofing all connectors. You can open up a diaphragm pump and clear out any chamber debris. It is also worth checking the diaphragm and valves for any signs of damage or deterioration. Check for torn or damaged valves which can cause problems, and occasionally diaphragms can also fail though they tend to typically outlast several valve changes.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.
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