How to Troubleshoot a Bilge Pump

by Contributor

The bilge of a sailboat or ship is the lowest inner part of its hull. Over time, water collects in this area and must be pumped out regularly. That's the job of the bilge pump. There are several things to check when your bilge pump malfunctions.

Troubleshoot a bilge pump by first checking the switch position. Make sure that it is in the on position. A bilge pump is supposed to turn on and off automatically when needed. It has a type of float device sensor that causes the pump to automatically turn on when the water reaches a certain level. Once the water is pumped out, the pump should turn back off.

Consider the possibility of a worn out or defective switch if your bilge pump won't come on at all. Check for a blown fuse. Look for worn or broken wiring. If you replace your fuse and don't have any bad wiring, you may need to replace your switch (or the whole pump).

Make sure that you are using the correct size fuse when you troubleshoot a bilge pump. If it keeps blowing fuses frequently, you may be using a fuse that's too small to handle the job. Also make sure that you clean out the strainer of your bilge pump regularly. If too much debris builds up, it can cause a strain on power and cause a fuse to blow and could overheat the motor of the bilge pump.

Check for a loose or leaking hose as another possibility when you troubleshoot a bilge pump. If a hose has become disconnected or developed a hole, then the bilge pump can't do the job. Your problem may not be in the pump itself, but in the connections.