ALL HANDS TO THE PUMP
Avoid nasty surprises with your water systems when you prepare to cast off next year, by getting your boat ready for winter
Are you putting your boat away for the winter? If so, here are a few pipe and pump-related tips to ensure it’s fine for the spring
With yellow lawns and sun-burned legs, it’s a stretch to start thinking about laying up your boat for the winter (assuming you don’t boat all year). But poor weather and long periods out of use can take also their toll without the correct preparation - particularly on water systems and pumps.
To ensure your vessel is ready to cruise when spring finally returns, Richard Call, UK Marine Sales Manager at Xylem, explores four key areas to consider.
Engine Cooling Pumps
The rubber impeller inside an engine cooling pump can degrade over time, so replace annually when the boat is ‘put to bed’.
A lot of people plan to replace the engine cooling pumps in early spring, just before the first trip. Here in Britain, however, we know all too well how quickly the weather can change, and this can mean that maintenance jobs like these are easily forgotten.
At worst, if the rubber degrades while you’re on the water, this can cause the engine to fail without warning leaving you stranded. Replacement is a very simple job: you can buy the impeller from all good chandlery shops. It’s also easy to identify which impeller you need because the pump will have the number engraved on the cover plate. Once you’ve purchased the impeller, remove the cooling pump’s cover screws, lift the cover then take out and replace the impeller. Secure the cover plate back in place to finish.
Fresh water systems
The fresh water system provides water to the galley and toilets of the boat. To regulate the flow, the pump has a sensor fitted which maintains the pressure in the pipes. The pump itself requires little ongoing maintenance and can last for many years. However, it’s recommended to drain the tank and flush the pipework to prevent frost damage and avoid standing water. To do this, disconnect the supply pipe from the tank and drain the water. Then open the tap furthest from the pump to empty the pipe. Don’t forget to turn off the pump when you have finished.
This is also a good time to replace any activated carbon aqua filter (such as our Jabsco Aqua Filta), which takes the taste and chlorine out of the water before use. These become ineffective over time, so we advise changing them once a year to maintain water quality.
Bilge pumps are at the bottom of the boat, which, of course, is often a wet and damp environment. Unwanted water in the bilge is common and is often caused by rain or minor leaks, but if left unchecked, it can cause problems for the electrical systems and leave a stagnant smell around the boat.
Most leisure boats have a submersible bilge pump. They often get forgotten, but now is a good time to check them. Take the pump out of its base filter (which stops objects from going into the pump) and clean it by removing any debris. If there is water in the bilge, sponge it out, before leaving it to dry. We also recommend leaving the floorboards up over winter so that the boat can be aired.
You should also check all electrical connectors to make sure the power supply and cable are in good condition this usually requires a quick visual inspection to confirm there is no moisture, which, if left, could lead to rust.
It can be tempting to moor your boat up and leave the maintenance until the last minute, but doing so can cause its condition to deteriorate while out of use. Take the time to properly prepare your boat for winter storage in order to ensure you’re good to go when spring arrives.
The LP900, part of the Rule LoPro series of bilge pumps
Submersible pump with flow switch