Here’s an interesting dilemma for you readers who are mechanically inclined…or even if you’re not.

Last week my bilge pump just stopped draining the bilge. I say it like that because the pump didn’t stop working, it just stopped pushing water from the bilge.

I went to check on things and to get some much-needed sailing time in, so as part of my routine I checked the bilge and bilge pump. I was delighted there wasn’t much more than the normal amount of water present. That’s a relief…I think most of my leaks have been diagnosed and corrected.

So I flip the switch to activate the bilge pump. I hear it running, but there’s no water coming out the port side discharge hole.

I turn it off and back on and still the same nothingness happening. Immediately I thought there was something blocking the discharge tube [such as spiders, dirt daubers, or some other insect since I hadn’t been to the boat in several weeks], so I used a wire hanger to reach as far as I could into the tube [from outside the boat], but nothing was dislodged and still no water being pushed out. I didn’t want to spend my entire afternoon diagnosing that problem instead of sailing, so I went sailing instead. I knew I was coming back a few days later, so I’d tackle it then.

Old bilge pump, still attached to hose.

Old bilge pump, still attached to hose.

Fast forward a few days [during which we went to the annual Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland….post will be coming soon]. I considered that maybe the impeller was bad on the pump. I don’t know how old the pump is, so I figured it’d be a good investment to just replace it anyway.

Before removing the old pump, I simply disconnected the hose and activated the pump. It pushed water just fine from it’s discharge hole. So I knew the impeller was fine and I resumed my thinking that there’s some blockage in the hose. I used a garden hose and pushed water both ways [from inside the boat out and from outside the boat in] through my bilge pump discharge hose and water flowed freely, so I’m certain now there’s nothing blocking the hose.

My dock friend mentioned that maybe the bilge pump is just old and not working as efficiently as it should be. Good thing I bought a replacement, huh? 🙂 So I removed the old pump, a Rule 500 gph and replaced it with a Rule 800 gph pump. All the while thinking what a relief it was that I’d have a brand new bilge pump installed and working within no time.

New bilge pump

New bilge pump

Well, the installed part was correct….and working was correct as well…to an extent. The new pump turned on, but I still had NO WATER being discharged out the side of the boat. I even considered that maybe I had switched the wires and the pump was running backwards, so I tried reversing the wires [at the bus bar] and that didn’t solve the problem. I removed the hose from the pump and confirmed that it was pushing water, but just not through the discharge hose.

There’s about a 3.5 to 4 foot rise from the bilge to the discharge thru-hull. The 500 gph bilge pump never had any issues pushing water out the side, so I know the 800 gph pump is plenty of power to do the job.

So now I’m completely befuddled as to what the cause of the problem might be. Anyone have any ideas or suggestions? Dealt with this issue before? I’m all ears!