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Exploring Bilge Pump Styles - Jabsco


There are many choices when designing a bilge pumping system for your vessel. Aside from the common submersible bilge pump, there are engine driven and manual options to fit any application. The following is a quick overview of different types.




Manual Diaphragm Pumps

These are the traditional mainstay of small craft bilge pumping systems and can offer surprisingly good flow rates, as well as a variety of installation options. Yacht racing rules state that at least one pump must be capable of being pumped from the cockpit with all hatches shut. The best way to accomplish this is with a through deck kit which allows the pump to be in stalled safely below decks while the operator pumps from above. A well designed manual bilge pump is very hard to block due to its large bore hose and valves and one piece diaphragm. The larger pumps in Jabsco's line of manual bilge pumps are also suitable for ballast and waste transfer.





Electric Submersible Pumps

Now by far the most popular type of electric Bilge Pumps, submersibles give very high outputs, are cost effective , have low amp draw and are easy to install. They are designed to fit in the lowest part of the bilge and only require discharge pipe work and electricity supply. However, flow rates decrease more rapidly than other types of pumps as the discharge head increases, so check our recommended maximum discharge heads and if in doubt, always increase the size of the pump. Although our submersibles can be run dry for up to 2 hours, pump life can be extended by avoiding dry running whenever possible. All submersibles can be operated using a float or hydro-air switch, and remotely controlled outside the bilge compartment by using a Jabsco switch panel.





Electric Diaphragm Pumps

These pumps are excellent for shallow bilge boats where the water left behind by other types of pumps will slop from side to side. With the small size of inlet plumbing they are very effective as bilge pumps, removing all but the last drops of water. Diaphragm pumps can be run dry which removes the need to watch overboard outlets while the pump is running. The ability to self-prime means they can be mounted in an easily accessible high and dry location to simplify installation and improve serviceability. Most models in the line are supplied complete with a Pumpgard™ strainer to protect the pumps from bilge debris.





Electric Flexible Impeller Pumps

Flexible Impeller pumps make excellent bilge pumps, principally be cause of their ability to handle bilge debris without damage. Because of the robust design many owners still use our 12 volt DC or 24 volt DC flexible impeller motor pump units that are up to 25 years old! Flexible Impeller Pumps also give the benefits of good flow, low cost, low size and weight, and are easily serviced and maintained. Most Flexible Impeller pumps must not be run dry, as this will damage the impeller which will require replacing. However, the Utility Puppy 2000 and 3000 both allow a maximum of ten minutes dry running after initial prime. Flexible impeller pumps can be operated using a float or Hydro Air switch, and remotely controlled from outside the bilge compartment. There is a wide range of flexible impeller pumps to choose from giving a range of flows, discharge heads, and self-priming options for a wide variety of applications such as ballast transfer, bait tank circulation, and deck wash duties.





Engine Driven Flexible Impeller Pumps

Jabsco engine driven pumps are probably the strongest and most reliable pumps produced today. Combined with other benefits such as self-priming and very high flow rates, these pumps are now the firm favorites of commercial and professional mariners world wide. All the pumps are easily maintained and can fulfill a variety of duties on board both modern and classic vessels. Jabsco engine driven pumps come in a very wide range of performances and sizes and can be direct driven by either a clutch, pulley, hydraulic drive, or close coupled to a suitable power take off on the engine. These pumps are suitable for applications such as:

  • High flow, heavy duty bilge pumps.
  • Emergency on board bilge pumps.
  • Fire fighting pumps.
  • Engine cooling.
  • Water ballast transfer.
  • Circulation duties.

Of course each application requires different features from each pump and drive type. Either manual or electromagnetic flexible impeller clutch pumps are ideal for bilge pumping. Each type of clutch has different benefits from the other. Manual clutches will operate as long as the engines are still running which provides added security when operating as an emergency bilge pump. Electromagnetic clutches can be operated remotely via float or Hydro Air switches, while fitting a vacuum switch eliminates all risk of dry running damage. However, electromagnetic clutches will only engage as long as electrical power remains available.



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