Although the average modern boat is well-sealed, bilge water is something seasoned sailors have been dealing with for centuries. Bilge water is water that does not drain off the side of the deck or through the scupper, and is typically caused by rough seas, excess rain, or untreated leaks in the boat’s hull. It is also commonly caused by mast drip, window leaks, excess condensation, or hose pipes that have been compromised by rot and rust. This results in water sitting inside the boat, collecting underneath the floorboards or in storage areas, and sometimes even under the engine.
The scale of contributing factors means that most boats will experience issues with bilge water. While common, ignoring the issue can lead to longer-term problems down the line. To start, bacteria thrives in dark and damp environments. Neglected bilge water can lead to mold and mildew growth, which results in lingering odors which are difficult to eliminate. Additionally, when confronted with humid environments, standing bilge water can lead to rust which will compromise the boat’s interior – and possible structural integrity – if left untreated.
To deal with bilge water, most modern boats are fitted with a network of pumps to service the water out of different pockets within the bilge. The most common pump is the lineup of Rule centrifugal bilge pumps. While effective, the shape and design of the pump means it can’t be mounted in every location and so, it can’t be used to service the bilge water in its entirety. Every centrifugal bilge pump will leave behind, by design, about ¾ inch of water. They are designed to remove copious amounts of water rapidly (up to 4000 gallons per hour). They are not designed to remove all of the water due to the overall design.
However, by adding an additional specialty pump for the job, boaters can collect and expel almost all of the excess water to achieve a dry bilge.
The ultimate pumping performance
The Rule Dry Bilge Pump helps keep a boat’s bilge clear of the last bit of water. As a diaphragm pump, the Rule Dry Bilge Pump can self-prime up to 9.5 ft. (3 m), creating a vacuum that effectively removes almost all of the water from the bilge to keep it fresh, clean and dry. The pump can also run dry without damage, handling a flow rate of 4.0 gallons per minute (GPM) for fast and efficient removal. Built-in backflow prevention also protects against water re-entering the bilge during operation.
The compact and simple design, coupled with the 360 degree rotation of the pump head and ports, also makes for flexible installation. As the pump is not submersible, it can be mounted anywhere above the wet portion of the bilge to get virtually every drop of water out. The pump also comes equipped with connections for 3/4 inch hose barbs and a 90 degree thru-hull fitting to expel water from the bilge efficiently.
In this short video, angling enthusiast and broadcaster Tom Nelson puts Xylem’s Rule Dry Bilge Pump to the test and explores how to remove every drop of water using a boat’s existing pump network. The solution leverages the boats’ prevailing pump to service the water, and taps into the existing wiring for quick and easy installation.
With various types of bilge pumps available, including electric, manual, engine-driven, and self-priming solutions, we’re certain we have the right type of bilge pump to meet your needs.