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Bilge Pump Switch

Bob S

.
Sep 27, 2007
1,595
Beneteau 393 New Bedford, MA
Well my Rule switch passed away over the weekend. Came to the boat to hear the pump running continuously. I shut the switch off and toggled the switch and it seemed to work correctly. Now it doesn't work at all unless I run it manually.

Anyone familiar with the Aqualarm heavy duty bilge pump switch? Defender sells them and I was going to pick one up.
any insight will be appreciated.
 
Oct 9, 2008
1,716
Bristol 29.9 Dana Point
Not familiar with aqua alarm.
Rule switches are notorious. Many postings in the forum.
However, I found that if you keep it out of the water (what?), it lasts pretty good.
I had 2 new ones fail in my installation, which is bottom of deep keel sump. Both within weeks of installation. Consecutively.
When they sent me a new one the 2nd time, I thought I would try something.
I bought a 3 foot galvanized tang at Home Depot, bent one end into an L, and mounted the switch there instead of on the bottom of the sump. Then I bolted the top of the tang to the cabin sole Frame. Therefore, the switch sits about an inch above the bottom. It works to mostly empty the bilge from ice box draining, etc., then when I leave the boat I use the manual switch on the panel to empty the bilge all the way, leaving the switch high and dry.
The float switch hasn't failed since. 3 years now.
 
May 1, 2011
1,628
Pearson 37 Lusby MD
On Maine Sail's recommendation, I purchased an Ultra Pump Switch mini to replace a failed Rule Switch.
 
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Jun 15, 2012
537
Hunter 50 AC Greenport, NY
Just installed Ultra Pump Switch Senior, cost around $130. Comes with lifetime warranty, others maybe 5 yrs at best. Appears to be very well built with the best installation bracket I have seen. On my boat the generator is below floor, so if bilge floods it would cause severe damage to generator. I wanted to make sure (hopefully) that never happens.
 

Bob S

.
Sep 27, 2007
1,595
Beneteau 393 New Bedford, MA
They look similar but I can't see how long it is warranted
 
May 24, 2004
6,516
CC 30 South Florida
Lifetime Warranty? Before getting all exited about the lifetime warranty feature explore what that will mean for you. How much longer do you intend to keep your current boat?
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,284
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
Well my Rule switch passed away over the weekend. Came to the boat to hear the pump running continuously. I shut the switch off and toggled the switch and it seemed to work correctly. Now it doesn't work at all unless I run it manually.

Anyone familiar with the Aqualarm heavy duty bilge pump switch? Defender sells them and I was going to pick one up.
any insight will be appreciated.
No question, Ultra Pump Switch Junior........ Ultra Pumps Switch Junior

Warranty? A warranty means squat when you've just lost $1400.00 worth of batteries, submerged your engine or destroyed your cabin sole. Heck a large sport fishing boat went up on a ledge three weeks ago here in Casco Bay after the "Lifetime Warranty" anchor failed to reset on a wind shift. The boat was totaled when the strut punched through the hull and the 11' tide came in and filled it.. The lifetime warranty on the anchor also means squat in that situation.
https://shop.hamiltonmarine.com/products/pump-float-switch-jr--12vdc-15-amp--switch-only-33068.html
Bilge switches are a pay now or pay more later device. I have yet to see a single Ultra switch fail or stick on when it did not need to be...... I have seen tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands in damages caused by bilge switch failures. The Rule non-mercury switches by far have the highest failure rate, but they are also the most popular.. I have seen cabin soles, macerators, bow thrusters, electronics, water heaters, engines, battery banks etc. all destroyed by crappy unreliable switches. This summer alone I believe I am over $3500.00 in destroyed batteries, with just one of those events costing $1480.00 (without tax). This guy lost a less than 1 year old bank of 4 Lifeline GPL-31XT AGM batteries when is Rule "nuisance pump" bilge switch was stuck in the on position for what he guesses was well over a week. The batteries had recently tested at 96% of Ah capacity. I tried every recovery trick in the book and only got one of the batteries to deliver approx 32% of its rating the rest could barely muster 20Ah's each... He got an Ultra Junior Switch for that pump as well as his other two emergency pumps....

 
Jul 12, 2011
808
Catalina 36 Bay City, MI
Nice price on that switch, Maine. I was just looking at Amazon, and they want an extra $20. Defender doesn't even carry it.

Since we're talking about bilge pumping, what is your opinion about adding a second, larger pump for emergencies or expected primary pump failures? I've read your excellent article on keeping a dry bilge, but I still have a conventional stuffing box so I get a cup of water in the bilge each time I motor out of the harbor. I'm reluctant to replace it with a PSS/Dripless due to the "massive failure" potential documented on this and other sites.
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,284
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
Nice price on that switch, Maine. I was just looking at Amazon, and they want an extra $20. Defender doesn't even carry it.

Since we're talking about bilge pumping, what is your opinion about adding a second, larger pump for emergencies or expected primary pump failures? I've read your excellent article on keeping a dry bilge, but I still have a conventional stuffing box so I get a cup of water in the bilge each time I motor out of the harbor. I'm reluctant to replace it with a PSS/Dripless due to the "massive failure" potential documented on this and other sites.

A two pump system, at a minimum, plus a manual pump, is the best practice.

The "nuisance water" pump (everyday water) should be a diaphragm style and the "oh $hit" pump the largest centrifugal style (Rule type) you can fit. Each pump should ideally use an Ultra Pump Switch. The "oh $hit" pump and float should be higher than the nuisance water pump. A bilge counter, high water alarm are good ideas. Proper fusing of the bilge pump, at no more than manufacturers specified sizing, is a must..
 

Bob S

.
Sep 27, 2007
1,595
Beneteau 393 New Bedford, MA
Thank you for replying. I will be ordering the Ultra Pump Switch. I already bought the Aqualarm. I wish I held off a little more but I haven't had a functional switch and jumped the gun. I made a Lexan bracket but I like your bent aluminum. I was worried about electrolysis with the SST keel bolts. An area I don't quite understand yet :)
Bilge pump switch (1).jpg
 

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Jun 15, 2012
537
Hunter 50 AC Greenport, NY
I purchased switch from Crook&Crook. Paid $129.87 plus shipping $9.99 for Ultra Senior. Price was $10.00 more than for Junior. Only mentioned lifetime warranty as I thought for only 10 bucks I got the best and built in high water alarm contacts. If the Junior is mechanically identical, perhaps I only paid for the enhanced warranty. I do plan to keep the boat for a long time, but that's not the point. I want to do whatever I can to NOT have a disaster so eloquently described by Maine Sail. Also I think flooding my Fischer Panda 12 Mini generator would make destroying a $3,500.00 bank of batteries seam like a walk in the park.