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Bilge Pumps buying guide

Are you all packed and ready to take your boat for long expeditions in vast seas and oceans? Have you packed your lifesaving bilge pump? If no, then you are risking your life with the untamed and monstrous water waves.

Some of the ultimate hulls can even bow down to the strong pressure of water. The water can seep into the minuscule cracks and crevices, which can be an arduous task to remove. This water can damage your boat's integrity and can land you in a very challenging position.

Bilge pumps offer a simple and efficient solution to counter this situation. The pump can easily remove the water from your boat and can save your day.

Need to read a buying guide before selecting the right pump

With different sizes available in the market, selecting the right pump for your boat is vital. Also, other aspects like material, type, and whatnot are crucial to be considered while selecting the right product so that the pump can work efficiently in the required situations.

This buying guide contains all the necessary information about the product. This will allow you to invest your money in the best product and will save your time from looking here and there for all the information.

Come, let us now dive into in-depth detail of all the characteristics.

What is Bilge Pump? Why should you buy them?

All boats have a bilge section in its lowest interior portion. This region is vulnerable to the collection of dirty and often, noxious water that fails to remove itself off the deck in case of rain or splash or from leakage. The bilge does not only contain sea or rainwater but other liquid substances that may have entered through different means.

As a matter of safety and hygiene, the bilge water must be removed. This is where a bilge pump comes in handy. It pumps out the bilge water using low and high air pressure. You need a pump even if you own a small boat, and it is an especially crucial element for the owners of larger boats and ships.

Why is the pump so necessary?

  1. The bilge water that collects can cause your boat to become unstable. A pump ensures that a stable balance is maintained by removing it.
  2. The water that collects in the bilge is unsanitary and causes hygienic issues for all onboard. It is essential that you use a pump and maintain the sanitation of the boat and keep it foul-free with the click of a button.
  3. The bilge may contain not just water, but liquids like fuel. So, special bilge pumps are designed to remove these without causing sparking and endangering the boat to a fire hazard.
  4. They are not necessarily expensive and easily available. So, you do not have to worry about spending a fortune to keep your boat safe and clean.

Types of Bilge Pumps

  1. Electrical or Manual Pumps

Some pumps run on a motor that uses electricity, while others require that you get involved manually. The former may run on batteries or other sources of energy. The latter does not require that energy of any kind be used. It may simply work by the use of muscle to pump air to remove water.

It always comes in handy to carry an extra manual pump even if your boat already has an electric or automatic one. You can use it in case the batteries run out, or there is some other reason that the automatic pump stops working.

  1. Centrifugal or Diaphragm

Centrifugal pumps detect when they are surrounded by water, and so they begin pumping upon this detection. They pump out the water like a turbine and do so quickly. They can remove a lot of water at once.

On the other hand, the diaphragm pumps work like a vacuum that intake water and then expels it. Unlike the centrifugal pump, they do not have a built-in strainer or the speed of pumping out large amounts of water quickly.

  1. Automatic or Manual

Automatic bilge pumps can start pumping when they detect water through built-in sensors, so you do not have to worry about having to remember to switch it on. Manual pumps, like the name suggests, have to be turned on manually to begin working.

  1. Installed or Portable

Some boats come with already installed pumps. However, they may not be of your preferred size or work according to your expectations. So, portable pumps are also available, which you can carry along on your sails and put to use.

Things to Consider When Selecting the Appropriate Bilge Pump

  1. Pumping Capacity

As the name suggests, bilge pumps are made for pumping out water. So, the amount of water a pump can pump out is the most necessary consideration you require when looking for the best product. The number of gallons that your pump can expel within an hour is the pumping capacity.

Depending on the size of your boat and the tendency of water collection in its hull, you will require a fast or slow pump. Smaller pumps claim to pump out bilge water at a rate of 500 gallons per hour, but in reality, it can manage barely 300 GPH.

The reduced capacity in contrast to the claimed capacity is because of the discrepancy of voltage conditions in water, the hose's condition, and the distance that the boat is traveling. Often, then, the best choice of the pump is with the largest pumping capacity.

  1. Compartments

If you have a boat that does not have compartments that allow the water to flow freely, you will require a larger capacity pump. This is because the likelihood of large water collection increases as a consequence of the lack of compartments.

All the compartments where the pump needs to be located must be closely examined. You shouldn't install one but more bilge pumps, depending on the number of compartments and the amount of water they collect.

  1. Boat Size

The size of your boat determines the amount of water it is likely to collect in the bilge, which will determine the type and kind of pump that you must choose. The larger the boat, the larger amount of water will be collected. Also, the larger distance you wish to travel on the boat, the more water is likely to be collected.

The capacity of the pump or the GPH is what you need to choose based on the size of your boat so that water is expelled out at adequate speed and inadequate volumes. If you have a larger boat, a larger GPH will help clear the water speedily and efficiently.

Even if you have a smaller boat, a faster-working bilge pump will not hurt. It will work rather efficiently to get any bilge out in no time for smooth functioning and stability.

Another factor that you need to consider is the amount of freeboard as it determines the volume of the hull. With lower hull volume, you require faster bilge expulsion. This is because a larger freeboard comes with a larger hull volume, which permits consistent riddance of bilge water. But this is not possible with smaller freeboards.

  1. Boat Type

The type of boat that you have can help you determine the type of pump that will cater to your needs the best. If you have a smaller boat, you can make do with manual pumps as the possibility of a large collection of bilge water is low. On the other hand, an electric pump is a smarter choice for larger boats.

Ski boats submerge largely in water, and so, the collection of bilge significantly increases. So, a speedy and higher pumping capacity bilge pump is appropriate. The boats with more compartments may require multiple pumps.

If you go boating only in calmer waters, it is quite unlikely that you would require expelling huge amounts of bilge water. On the other hand, high-speed motorboats may collect large amounts of water quickly, so more powerful bilge pumps would be the wiser choice.

  1. Material

The durability and performance of the bilge pumps are quite dependent on the material that it is made out of. Most of the pumps' housings are made using ABS plastic, which is robust and damage-resistant.

Since they are working with an electric current in the water, it is important the pumps' wires are kept safe, and the ignition of the pumps is also protected for the longevity of the pump. The bilge pumps are vulnerable to corrosion and for longer and smoother functioning. The material used for the shafts should be corrosion-resistant.

It may be neglected, but should not be because the materials used in making a bilge pump should be of good quality and have features that make it long-lasting.

  1. Water Compatibility

The kind of water that you will be sailing in should be given consideration. This is essential because this will constitute most of the bilge water and so the pump should be compatible with that kind of water for efficient removal.

If you plan to sail on seas and oceans, you must choose among the bilge pumps that are compatible with salt water for the best results. If not, then the saltwater can hamper the pump's functioning and reduce its life by damaging its parts. Pumps that are not compatible with saltwater will corrode easily.

You must focus on the material used as the pump's working should not be disrupted upon encounter with dirty water or oil substances. Stainless steel components and rubber seals work effectively in most kinds of water.

  1. Availability of Sensors

Some bilge pumps come with built-in sensors that detect when they are surrounded by water. This automatically turns them on and puts them to work. But the pumps with such facilities should also come with adequate switches which are in proper working conditions.

You must understand how to operate different features. Ensure that you purchase only after making a sound choice with the help of reviews, reading owner manuals, and testing the pump. Even if you are not tech-savvy, they are not very difficult to use. Just pay attention to the guides and manuals.

  1. Portability

If you have more than one type of watercraft or if you want your pump to be multi-functional and put it to use in your house too, you need to ensure that the pump you buy is portable and easy to carry. It should have a compact design that does not compromise the pumping capacity so that you can carry it to your sails and use it later in your homes too.

If, on the other hand, you wish to free yourself of the hassle of installing and removing the pump each time you sail, you can opt for non-portable pumps that are permanently bolted in place.

  1. Sound and Vibration

If you wish that the calm and quiet of sailing remains undisturbed by the continuous buzzing and humming, make sure to check the sounds and vibrations that the pump of your choice makes. There are some pumps that are extremely loud and noisy and may not be ideal.

It is best to look for quieter bilge pumps so that your fishing and sailing trips remain an escape from the hustle-bustle into the peace and tranquillity of water. Although manufacturers do not mention sounds and vibrations, you can look for their mentions in reviews and make sound decisions.

  1. Installation

The convenience of installing a bilge pump is another factor you look out for, especially if you are planning on purchasing a portable one. The botheration of attempting to install the pump in an inaccessible part of the boat every time you sail can affect your frequency of sailing despite your preferences.

Installation of most pumps is quite easy and requires only basic electric guidelines as you need to connect the batteries and ensure that the switches are connected. You can teach yourself through owner manuals or youtube videos. You can also opt for manual pumps that do not require any such installation hassles.

  1. Switching

Electric bilge pumps are likely to come with several switches that use features like detecting sensors, motor movement, expulsion, straining, etc. You must ensure that you understand the switches that put these features to work and understand their operation.

Even if you are not tech-savvy, it is not difficult to learn your pump's functioning and operation. However, you need to ensure that all the switches are in perfect working condition to prevent yourself from the hassle of replacing switches later.

You can make sure the perfect working conditions of all switches and floats by testing them, reading online reviews, understanding the owner's manual to get a clear idea, and install the pump perfectly so that all connections are stable and secure.

Maintenance of a Bilge Pump

To ensure that you have a smooth bilge pump that works for a long period, you need to take certain steps towards its maintenance. Inspecting the functioning of the pump every once in a while and checking its parts for signs of damage can help you replace parts to keep the pump as good as new.

  1. Checking the Fuse Connection

It is possible that the overload of voltage or extreme use could blow a fuse. This will be indicated by the inability of the pump to start even with the batteries in the on position and the perfect functioning of switches. You can easily replace the blown fuse to rectify the malfunction.

  1. Wiring Protection

It is important that the wires of the pump are adequately protected and maintained. You must inspect all cables and wires to ensure they are secured and safe from corrosion. A regular spray-coating of anti-corrosion is essential.

  1. Problems in Outlet Hose

Often, the pump may be entirely in perfect working condition, but the expulsion rate of bilge water may reduce significantly. In such a scenario, the malfunction may be caused by a blocked or damaged hose. This happens due to extreme pressure and can be solved easily by replacing the hose. You must keep plenty of spares handy.

  1. Strainer Clearance

Many bilge pumps come with inbuilt strainers that expel water but do not allow other substances to pass. This may lead to an accumulation of layers of mud and dirt, which can block the passage of water that needs to be removed. So, you must clear the strainer every once in a while.

  1. Inspecting the Pump Impeller

The impeller of your pump should have a smooth movement to ensure fast flow rate and pumping capacity to be prevented from deteriorating. You should be able to move the impeller with your finger. If you are not able to, it may be due to a rock or a similar substance being stuck.

Regular checking, and replacement of the impeller, if necessary, can help keep the pump in perfect working conditions and not compromise the speed of water expulsion.

  1. Ensuring the Working Conditions of Switches

Obstruction of movement or connection due to improper working of switches can cause problems in the removal of bilge water. It is essential that you keep the switches in check and ensure stable connections with their wirings.


1. What is the working of a bilge pump?

Every pump has its own way of working. Like manual and electric pumps work in an entirely different way, the bilge pump also has its own unique way of working. It pumps out water from the bilge and pours it into another water body where you are floating.

2. What are the different safety measures to follow while using it?

There are a few safety measures that you must take care of while operating the pump. Some of them are given below:

  1. Select the ideal pump type and put it in the right place.
  2. Always keep it neat and clean.
  3. Be prepared for the worst situations by keeping a spare pump on the boat.
  4. If there is some fault, don't delay in calling a professional expert.
  5. Keep checking the wire connections to detect any fault.
  6. Take care of the pump regularly.
3. Will my bilge pump create noise?

No, you can be relieved as the bilge pumps are the best ones when it comes to making noise. Many pumps in the market just vibrate to ensure proper functioning. And you will be happy to know that bilge pumps create even less sound than that!

4. How to know that the bilge pump is faulty?

There are several ways this pump can have faults:

  1. Obstruction problem in the pipe can either stop the pump or make it to overwork
  2. Siphoning issue makes the water flow backward
  3. Poor maintenance and cleaning can cause unnecessary accumulation of debris here and there that can cause troubles as well.
  4. Fault in the electrical system can also cause problems as there may be broken wiring or other irritants to stop the pump's operation completely.'
5. Any tips for maintaining my pump?

Here are some easy steps to follow to maintain your pump:

  1. Remove any dirt and waste around the pump to avoid clogging.
  2. Check all the electrical connections properly.
  3. Read the manual of the product properly to ensure proper working.
  4. Clean the screen for efficient use.

Summing Up

With a proper bilge pump under your possession, you can save your sinking boat and prevent further damage. It acts as a lifesaver jacket for your boat. Now it all depends on whether you have selected the right product or not.

We have provided all the necessary details of the product in this buying guide to aid you in selecting the best pump among the other options available in the market. / - © Copyright 2020