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Author Topic:   Rule Float Switch Failure
nytugcapt posted 08-17-2006 09:47 AM ET (US)   Profile for nytugcapt   Send Email to nytugcapt  
I have a Rule bilge pump wired to a Rule float switch. The float switch failed after about two months of use. I replaced it with a new larger Rule float switch and it worked fine for about two weeks and now that switch has failed. The boat is on a mooring and rocks quite a bit, but the new switch had a built in delay. The switch still floats up and down with no obvious problems. I will replace it again, but I am wondering if this is a coincidence or an electrical problem.
Chuck Tribolet posted 08-17-2006 11:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Have you confirmed that it's the switch that's failing and not
the wiring job?

The bilge is probably the nastiest single place on the boat
for wiring, and the connections need to be properly sealed.
I'd solder, then cover with with Ancor hot-melt-glue-lined
heat shrink.


jimh posted 08-17-2006 08:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I had a Rule float switch fail after only a few weeks of use. The manufacturer sent me a free replacement.
vkr posted 08-19-2006 09:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for vkr  Send Email to vkr     
Please advise as to what Rule switch you are using. Also, please clarify whether it is sticking or actually failing. Will it function properly when you lift the float, or has it fully failed?

I installed a Rule "Super Switch" in my 1986 Outrage 18. I had problems with the float simply sticking and not actuating the Rule 1500 GPH bilge pump. I would find the boat with a few inches of water in it and when I would jump into the boat the float switch would actuate. I removed this switch and replaced it with a new "Super Switch". However, upon installation of the new one, using the same mounting holes, I placed two or three stainless steel washers under the mounting screw location in an attempt to insure I wasn't twisting the switch upon fastening. The sump area is fairly small, and although it seams I installed the switch in a flat area, I was hoping to eliminate full contact with the sump floor to minimize/eliminate any twisting action. Also, I did not snug the mounting hardware too tight. Too soon to tell whether I have 100% operation with the new setup. It's been too dry in the Chesapeake Bay area lately.

Was your situation similar, or was it flat out failure?

I don't want to hijack your thread, but if anyone has had a similar experience to mine, please comment.

nytugcapt posted 08-28-2006 10:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for nytugcapt  Send Email to nytugcapt     
Sorry, I've been away. When the first switch failed I switched to the Super Switch. That also failed. It is not mechanical. The switch floats up and down easily. The wiring seems very good. All ancor heat shrink connectors are way above the water. The float switch is mounted on a 90 degree piece of aluminum mounted to the side so the float switch is about 2" above the bottom of the well. They have a 2 year waranty so I guess I'll just try it again.
PeteB88 posted 08-28-2006 11:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Sounds like there is a trend regarding these failure modes - could be expensive if no corrective action.


Sal A posted 08-28-2006 11:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for Sal A  Send Email to Sal A     
Serveral of us have upgraded our bilge pumps and switches on our Parkers.

In the follwoing thread, the project is detailed out with illustrations. In addition one of the gents even upgraded the Rule float switch in his neighbor's classic Whaler, and you can see that towards the bottom of the thread: switch

nytugcapt posted 08-28-2006 10:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for nytugcapt  Send Email to nytugcapt     
Thanks for the replies. Sal, I think I will try that Sensa switch. Nice job on the Parker.
vkr posted 08-31-2006 11:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for vkr  Send Email to vkr     
Nice installation on the Parker.

While many people consider the rule float switch an "old reliable" solution, I have been having problems with my super switch reliability and am looking for an alternative.

Does the Sensa Switch draw any current when the switch is open?

antz1975 posted 09-18-2006 11:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for antz1975  Send Email to antz1975     
You could try a JABSCO hydro air operated switch. I believe it is the most reliable switch on the market as no electrical parts get wet and it uses air presure to work.
RonB posted 08-22-2007 01:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for RonB  Send Email to RonB     
Stopped down on my new 2007 190 Outrage and discovered a dead battery recently. Removed battery, charged overnight, replaced back in boat. When re-connecting, heard bilge pump come on. Opened access cover to bilge and discovered no water in bilge. Gave the float switch a tap, and it stopped. Also discovered a loose black half circle tie strap near the switch in the bilge. Not sure if this was the culprit, can't remember if it was poking into the switch or not, but I removed it. I am not encouraged by my findings but am monitoring closely as I have a bad back and was not pleased lugging the battery out and in of the console. All is good now (boat and back)...but the next time the battery is dead I will be replacing the float switch. Is is possible to replace the console toggle from a two way (Manual and Auto) to a three way (Manual, Auto, and Off)? I know that is not the best solution but I'd rather test the float switch while I'm on the boat rather than having it kick on after a rain storm and not getting down to the boat in a few days and discovering a dead battery.
newt posted 08-22-2007 05:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for newt  Send Email to newt     
I recently noticed that my Rule float switch has also failed. I see from this thread that I am not alone.
crabby posted 08-22-2007 07:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for crabby  Send Email to crabby     
I have never had a Rule float switch last more than a month. Just my anecdotal experience.
Chuck Tribolet posted 08-22-2007 08:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Yes, you can generally wire things for an On/Off/Auto
console switch.

Use a SPDT center off console switch.

There will generally be three wires in the bilge. A ground
(often black, or black w/ brown stripe), don't mess with it.
The power wire to the float switch (often brown with red
stripe) . Wire that to the Auto side of the console switch.
The third wire runs between the float switch and the pump,
and also often runs to a pilot light (brown) at the console.
Run that to the On side of the console switch.

It's entirely possible the brown and brown/red wires are
reversed on your boat if the guy who wired it wasn't looking
a the color code.


contender posted 08-22-2007 10:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Crabby is correct the RULE float switches are crap, they never last, After the second one I cut the wire toss it in the trash, and just check the bilge. My boat stays on a trailer so I know its not a problem, After looking at the parker pictures, you have to be careful with the fittings, I only use chrome over brass fittings (made in USA) and I back them up with shut off valves and/or wood plugs that I carry on the boat. The second best are made of nylon, I use those for drain holes. The plastic ones are crap, the sun breaks down the plastic and then they crack and break...good luck
vkr posted 08-22-2007 10:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for vkr  Send Email to vkr     
Possibly, you are better off using a Rule pump with an integral switch. I believe these are called Rulematics.?

Does anyone have experience with a Rulematic set up in a Whaler sump versus the separate Rule bilge pump and Superswitch?

jimh posted 08-23-2007 08:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In the REFERENCE section you will find an article which describes in detail the wiring for control of a float switch and sump pump with a three position switch that allows ON-OFF-AUTO settings. This may be more easily understood than the verbal description provided above. Please see:

Cockpit Sump Pump

Peter posted 08-23-2007 08:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
I've probably had a dozen Rule float switches in various boats over the years many being in the boats from the beginning. Never had a problem with any of them being due to the switch mechanism itself. I have had a few stick open from time to time but in every case it was because some junk in the bilge, such a nylon zip tie, got caught underneath the float and did not allow the float to return to the off position. I've had a few not function because the electrical connection between the Rule float switch wires and the boat wires became corroded due to the fact that the boat wires were not appropriate for the environment (someone didn't use marine grade wiring on the boat side).
teakflex posted 11-24-2007 11:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for teakflex  Send Email to teakflex     
I have owned my boat for 35 years and would usually change my float switch every few years. The last one, a Rule-A-Matic, lasted at least 10 years and then just stopped working. This was two months ago so I purchased another Rule-A-Matic. This lasted less than a month and just kept running. When I shake it, it sounds as if it has water in it. My next attempt was a Rule Seachoice. The float chamber on this switch had hardly any buoyancy and would only switch on if I lifted it up manually. It sounds as if there were a ball bearing inside. I wonder if they used one that was too big and heavy. The RULE bilge pump is fine but I may consider another manufacturer for the float switch.
Jefecinco posted 11-25-2007 10:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Outsourcing at it's best. Thanks for the business model WalMart.


Peter posted 11-25-2007 07:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
The SeaChoice float switch is a knock-off of Rule's float switch. In other words, it is not made by or for Rule. Rule has nothing to do with SeaChoice.
Nauti Tauk posted 11-29-2007 09:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Nauti Tauk  Send Email to Nauti Tauk     
I replaced the RULE bilge switch in our 170 Montauk with the Johnson Ultima bilge pump switch. No moving parts and completely encapsulated, well built unit reasonably priced. They also make combination units with the switch and pump as one unit.
Smithsm posted 06-28-2008 08:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for Smithsm  Send Email to Smithsm     
Will [a Johson Ultima bilge pump] switch drain the battery?
swist posted 06-29-2008 07:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
Yet another example of how big a sample you really need to draw a statistically valid conclusion. I have had many, many Rule switches on 5 different boats with nary a problem. But the complete opposite experience is also attested to in this thread.

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