Installing a Bilge Pump

The bilge pump stopped working on the Rock ‘n Row, and it inspired me to spend some serious time in the engine compartment. Since I was going to all the trouble to access the bilge pump, I decided to shoot some pictures and video to help give beginner boaters an idea of how to install a bilge pump in their boat.


How to Install a Bilge Pump

The best place to install a pump is in the lowest point of your boat. This isn’t always easy to access, but the lower you can get the bilge pump, the better. If there is any question about where the lowest point in your boat is, just dump 5 gallons of water into your bilge and see where it ends up. Make sure you have a hand pump first, so that you can get the water back out.

I always recommend gluing your bilge pump to the hull rather when installing it, rather than screwing it. While many boat owners may argue that screwing a bilge pump is fine, with the proper sealant, I think it’s a bad idea. To glue the pump to the hull, do the following:

  1. Clean and dry the spot on your hull where you’ll install the bilge pump.
  2. Sand the spot with rough, 80 grit sand paper.
  3. Glue the mount for the pump with 4200 adhesive sealant.

The purpose of sanding is just to rough up the surface to allow the sealant to adhear well to the hull. Don’t go so crazy that you sand past the gelcoat. I also prefer to use the “fast cure” 4200 that dries in 24 hours.


Boat Bilge Pump Switch

I’ve been using an Attwood Sahara 500 GPH bilge pump on my boat. The Attwood V500 and S500 bilge pumps are the best bilge pumps in my opinion. It’s economical, comes with a great three year warranty, is easy to mount, and comes with an integrated float switch. Many bilge pumps require an external float switch in order to turn on, so it saves a lot of money if you can find a pump with an integrated switch. Another feature I really like about this pump is a little knob that lets you manually lift the float switch and test that the pump is operating properly.

When I initially installed this bilge pump, I glued the pump and mount down together. As a result, the adhesive squished up through the mount and glued down the float on the float switch. I had to pull my batteries out and carefully remove the float switch away from the adhesive – another good reason to use 4200 instead of 5200!

best bilg pumps

Installing an Attwood 500 GPH bilge pump

attwood bilge pumps v500

Attwood Sahara bilge pump with integrated float switch.

Related posts:

Maritime Safety – Best Practices
How to Install a Raw Water Pump
Blind Bay, Shaw Island
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