Sump Pump Float Switch

Repair or modification of Boston Whaler boats, their engines, trailers, and gear
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dg22
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Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby dg22 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:14 pm

Who makes the best cockpit sump float switch?

I need a sump float switch that is well sealed as our lake has a lot of sediment.

TFrere
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Re: Bilge Pump Float Switch

Postby TFrere » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:44 pm

In addition to my 1985 15’ Whaler Sport, I own a 38’ Morgan sailboat with two bilge pumps. I used to buy the Rule caged switches, but I would replace them at least once a year because they would fail. I tried the Sure Bail caged switch about four years ago, and I haven’t replaced it yet. The Sure Bail has a mercury switch while the Rule is mercury-free.
1985 15’ Sport with Yamaha F70

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Bilge Pump Float Switch

Postby Oldslowandugly » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:07 pm

When I used to use float switches the RULE mercury switch never failed. Newer switches with the ball failed regularly.

Mercury is rarely used as it is toxic.

I now use a Johnson electronic water-sensing switch. After five years of perfect performance all it requires is wiping the slime off the contacts once in a while.

jimh
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby jimh » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:35 am

The original 1990 float switch in my Boston Whaler boat cockpit sump still works fine. The second float switch I installed in the aft live well about 10-years ago works fine. I think they are RULE products and use a ball inside; I can hear it moving.

I do not know which manufacturer makes “the best” float switch. I don’t know what the criteria are for assessing the switches. If still working after 29-years is not good enough, maybe there is something better. But how do you test a float switch? Do you wait 40-years to see if it fails?

dtmackey
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby dtmackey » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:45 am

In one of my boats I'd get 2 - 3 years out of the Rule float switch before it'd fail. My guess is the banging of the hull in rough seas would bounce the switch around causing premature failure. The concern with that is you didn't know of the failure until you came back to the boat and there was standing water where you didn't want it.

I took the recommendation of someone with the same concern and they told me to buy a Water Witch switch and I'm on year 6 with no problems. There are no mechanical or moving parts to fail.

https://waterwitchinc.com/bilge-switches/

The company only designs and sells bilge sensor and switch related items.

D-

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dg22
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby dg22 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:43 am

My boat is used for 3 months in the Summer and almost every year or every other year I run into problems with my float switch usually toward the end of the Summer. Last year I purchased a Rule float switch and it worked the entire summer but then became faulty this Summer -- the float switch would intermittently turn on which would drain my battery. Since I leave my boat at the cottage during the week, I would not notice this. At first I thought my battery was bad so I replaced my battery but the problem continued of course. I eventually figured out it was the float switch intermittently turning on even with the float switch down. Our lake has a lot of sediment and tannin in it. I'm thinking it is getting into the switch and then causing problems with the ball bearing.

Thanks for the feedback. I think I'll try one of the electronic switches and wipe clean the contacts once in a while.

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dg22
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby dg22 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:03 am

dtmackey, which model of the water witch did you buy?

Oldslowandugly
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby Oldslowandugly » Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:37 pm

"Our lake has a lot of sediment and tannin in it. I'm thinking it is getting into the switch and then causing problems with the ball bearing."dg22 the switch should be water-tight. Nothing is supposed to get into it. I think the ball rolling around is just a poor design. I know mercury is not used anymore because if the switch breaks the mercury gets out and causes lots of problems. But I think it was a superior design. Aside from keeping it clean I have had no problems at all with the electronic switch.

jimh
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby jimh » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:02 pm

All these reports of float switch failure have me worried.

As soon as it stops raining I am going aboard to check the float switches.

svsonora
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby svsonora » Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:08 am

I got an electric field sensor on my sailboat and never looked back. nothing will ever get stuck and cause the switch to fail. I'll be installing this on the whaler as well.

https://www.hodgesmarine.com/Whale-Elec ... B&click=19

dtmackey
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby dtmackey » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:04 pm

dg22 wrote:dtmackey, which model of the water witch did you buy?


I have the model 230 which is rated to 20 amps, but if you run a smaller pump (1500GPH or less) then the model 217 switch is fine.

D-

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dg22
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby dg22 » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:16 am

dtmackey, thanks, the 217 model sounds good for my smaller pump.

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dg22
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby dg22 » Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:36 am

An important tip to others who may buy the electronic sensor switch instead of the float switch. They work great but the water needs a certain level of minerals to activate the switch. Normal lake water or ocean water has minerals in the water and will activate the switch fine but rain water as I found out the hard way has little to none so the switch does not activate. If you get a lot of rain water in your boat, one solution is to put a nylon sock filled with rock salt and put it in the back of your boat in the bilge area; this will add the minerals needed to the rain water to activate the switch.

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Todd
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby Todd » Tue Jul 28, 2020 11:52 am

I just replaced the original Rule 1100 bilge pump with the current model Rule 1100 and found the new version has offers an automatic system that checks the water level ever 2.5 seconds and pumps when water is detected. It eliminated the need for a float switch so I removed the old switch when I hooked the pump up. I found the new pump worked well and made the bilge area less congested due to the removal of the old switch.

In my 160 Dauntless the rain water drains overboard through the two drains in the back of the boat. The bilge is sealed from the deck so it doesn't tend to get pure rainwater.

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dg22
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby dg22 » Tue Jul 28, 2020 12:17 pm

That sounds like a great option. Hopefully I'll be ok now with what I have but will keep this in mind for down the road if I still have problems.

Don SSDD
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby Don SSDD » Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:29 am

I used the sensing electronic rule bilge pump and the first one failed in a couple of months, replaced on warranty and the new one failed the following year. I keep my boat on a salt water mooring and our water is very clean.

I went to a rule ball bearing separate switch and separate pump, been working good now for 3 years. It seems much of the new parts for anything is not as good a quality as in years gone by, like Jim’s old bilge pump.
1986 Outrage 18 with 2001 Honda 130 HP
Former Owner 1991 Guardian 19 with 1994 Evinrude V4 140HP
Former owner 1987 Montauk with 1998 Mercury 90HP
Nova Scotia

jimh
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby jimh » Fri Jul 31, 2020 12:36 pm

dg22 wrote:An important tip to others who may buy the electronic sensor switch instead of the float switch. They work great but the water needs a certain level of minerals to activate the switch. Normal lake water or ocean water has minerals in the water and will activate the switch fine but rain water as I found out the hard way has little to none so the switch does not activate.


Your warning is very cogent. The WATER WITCH electronic sensor sounds good for saltwater boats. Here in northern Great Lakes I am skeptical that the water would be significantly different than rain water. The water clarity is outstanding: you can see the bottom at depths of 20-feet or more routinely. I recommend testing electronic sensors if you are a freshwater clean-water boater.

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dg22
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Re: Sump Pump Float Switch

Postby dg22 » Fri Jul 31, 2020 4:32 pm

Thank-you Jim. The tip was actually given to me by the manufacture of the Water-Witch. They really stand behind their product and offer great customer support. They do put a note at the bottom of their specifications sheet in regards to this but I didn't notice it. I'm going up north this weekend to add a sock of rock salt to the back of the bilge area. May sound a bit odd but if this solves the problem, I'm fine with this solution. I've had so much bad luck with bilge switches over the years, I'm hoping this will be the ticket.