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Although the bilge pump is a very essential part of any watercraft, boat owners tend to not pay them much attention until something goes wrong. This is unfortunate, because without the bilge pump, your boat could be sitting at the bottom of Lake Erie. The bilge pump has a rather self-explanatory function as it pumps water out of the bilge. The bilge is the area in the lowest compartment of a boat where the two sides meet at the keel. While having water in your bilge is common, more than 1-2 inches could mean that there is a problem with your bilge pump. Luckily the bilge pump is not an overly complicated piece of machinery so fixing it is relatively simple. Here are some steps you can follow to troubleshoot your boat’s bilge pump:

  1. Test Helm Switch – Try to start the bilge pump with the manual switch at the helm. If this works then the issue is most likely with the float switch.
  2. Clean Float Switch – Debris in your bilge area may be preventing your float switch from operating. Clean any dirt or other particulates, return the switch back to automatic and lift the switch to ensure it is functioning properly.
  3. Check Battery – The next area you should check is your boat’s battery. Make sure your battery switch at the helm is turned on and see if the pump is still ceasing to function in the automatic and manual modes. If this is the case, test to see if other electrical equipment is functioning. If not, your battery may need to be charged. Also check if any battery connections may be loose or corroded.
  4. Replace Fuse – If the battery appears to still have a proper charge, it is possible that a fuse has blown in your bilge pump. Replace the blown fuse to see if this fixes the issue.
  5. Inspect Wiring – Check all visible wiring for any corrosion or disconnections. If everything looks good but the float switch still won’t function when elevated, it is possible that it needs to be replaced altogether.
  6. Short/Overload – If you notice a burning smell or the pump is hot to the touch, this may indicate a short or overload caused by a jam in the pump itself. If this is the case, the entire pump will need replacing. Disconnect the battery and remove the pump from its mounting bracket.
  7. Manually Turn Impeller – Now that the pump is disconnected, attempt to turn the impeller by hand. Normally the impeller should turn without any problem. If you do not notice any debris that may be jamming the part, the pump will need replacing.
  8. Clean Screen – With the pump removed, clean off any debris such as dirt or hair that may be blocking water from going into the impeller.
  9. Reroute Outlet Hose – If your bilge pump appears to be running properly but little water is coming out, your outlet hose may need to be rerouted, rerouted or replaced. The problem may be hose that is partially disconnected, split, blocked, kinked or air-locked. Visual inspect to find the root of the issue.

Are you having issues with your boat or simply need help getting it ready for summer? GK’s Custom Polishing, Inc. is your North Eastern Ohio headquarters for all boat detailing, storage and transporting. Our knowledgeable team of boat experts can help you find the root of the problem and refer you to the proper solution. Give us a call at (440) 937-4457 to speak with our staff. For more information about the services we offer, visit our website.