Soundings - - Contents - Paul Mirto is a dig­i­tal il­lus­tra­tor, long­time boater and for­mer Coast Guards­man. mir­ BY ROGER HELLYAR-BROOK PAUL MIRTO IL­LUS­TRA­TIONS

Fol­low sev­eral im­por­tant stan­dards to en­sure that bilge pump cir­cuits are up to snuff.

Bilge pumps are one of the crit­i­cal sys­tems on board, and sev­eral stan­dards must be fol­lowed to en­sure safe op­er­a­tion. On the elec­tri­cal side, all con­duc­tors must be sized for the small­est pos­si­ble volt­age drop, never to ex­ceed more than 3 per­cent. This is cal­cu­lated for the com­plete cir­cuit, to the pump and back, us­ing the man­u­fac­turer’s am­per­age rat­ing. The power source should be on a 24-hour cir­cuit so that it can­not be in­ad­ver­tently switched off.

The feed con­duc­tor to the bilge pump switch panel can have over­cur­rent pro­tec­tion that pro­tects the wire, but any con­duc­tor go­ing to the pump mo­tor must use the man­u­fac­turer’s rated fuse size (dis­played on the pump). It’s easy for a pump to stall or jam, and with a fuse that’s too big, the pump would con­tinue to draw cur­rent and over­heat.

Also, be sure to have an in­di­ca­tor show­ing that power is avail­able to the pump. The in­di­ca­tor is wired on the man­ual side so that the light comes on when you se­lect man­ual op­er­a­tion or when the bilge switch com­pletes the cir­cuit.

Roger Hellyar-Brook runs a ma­rine con­sult­ing busi­ness, re­pair­ing and up­grad­ing boats of all types. He has spent more than 40 years in the ma­rine in­dus­try and is the for­mer man­ager of the sys­tems pro­gram at The Land­ing School in Arun­del, Maine.

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