Imagine being stuck in the middle of a storm, with no power supply, backup sump pump has broken down, and rainwater is flooding your sump pit. In such a circumstance, what can you do to save your basement from water damage? Using your bilge pump as a sump pump can be your best, and perhaps only, option.
Now, the question is, how do you repurpose it? Here are the necessary steps,
- Install an outflow path for the bilge pump
- Mount the pump above the sump pump
- Connect the switches
- Insert pump batteries along with the charger
- Test the pump system
A few people may not know much about a bilge pump. So, let’s begin with what a bilge pump is. If you don’t want the background knowledge, feel free to directly jump into repurposing a bilge pump as a sump pump.
Table of Contents
- What is a bilge pump?
- Types of Bilge Pump
- Bilge Pump VS Sump Pump
- Benefits of a Bilge Pump
- Why Repurpose A Bilge Pump into A Sump Pump?
- How to Repurpose a Bilge Pump as a Sump Pump?
- Final Words
What is a bilge pump?
A bilge pump is a centrifugal pump that is used in boats to remove spillage that gets collected at the bottom of the bilge well. It creates suction at the bottom of the well and safely vacates the mixture off your boat.
In some cases, a bilge pump can also be a submersible pump. Both of which run on electricity. There are many ways corrosive water and spillage can corrode your boat from the inside out. These can be from leaky pipes and pumps, propulsion systems, faulty valves, machinery, or accidental spills. This mixture of liquid is called bilge water.
This mixture can get collected at the base of your boat without getting drained out through the hull. So, to get rid of this, a bilge well can be installed along with a bilge pump.
Types of Bilge Pump
There are two types of bilge pumps—automatic and manual.
· Automatic pump
These types of pumps are convenient to use. They are designed with a float switch that can monitor the bilge level inside the well. When the level exceeds, it automatically switches on the pump to remove the excess bilge.
It can be used in any type of vessel; however, if your vessel is over 20 feet in length, then installing an automatic bilge pump will be more helpful.
· Manual pump
These pumps are much cheaper than the automatic ones. They are more suitable for tiny fishing boats. These types of pumps are very basic when it comes to installation and maintenance.
The pump has a simple motor encased in the pump housing, which protects the motor from getting damaged. You can attach an additional float switch to the motor to monitor the bilge level.
Bilge Pump VS Sump Pump
Bilge pumps and sump pumps are very much similar to each other. Both of them are centrifugal pumps that are mounted on top of a well or a pit to remove the water out and discard it away. They only differ from each other in terms of where they are used. The bilge pumps are used on boats, while sump pumps are used in homes to remove floodwater.
Benefits of a Bilge Pump
There are a few advantages to using a Bilge pump
- It pumps out the harmful stagnated water off your boat.
- By getting rid of the bilge, it buys you some extra time to figure out the source of any leakage.
- Under extreme circumstances, it can also act as an emergency pump to remove water.
Why Repurpose A Bilge Pump into A Sump Pump?
A bilge pump can act as a secondary backup sump pumps. In the case of power outages, when your primary pump fails to work, you can repurpose a battery-powered bilge pump into a sump pump to remove the water flooding into your sump pit.
How to Repurpose a Bilge Pump as a Sump Pump?
Step 1 – Determining the outflow
There are two possible ways you can go about this.
By Making Use Of the Existing Pipe
Your sump pumps already have a pre-existing outlet line. You can attach it to a T-connector along with a check valve. For this, you will need two check valves.
The first one is placed below the connector, that is, at the junction of the T and the sump pump. And the second one is fixed at the junction of the T-connector and the bilge pump.
When you are placing the valve, ensure that the flow direction is set correctly.
Placing A New Bilge Outflow Pipe
If you are planning on using a new outflow or discharge pipe, you can simply run it along the same route as the sump pump’s outflow takes to exit your house. Here, you don’t even have to install any check valve to the discharge pipe.
Step 2 – Determining the Installation Location
The control switch of the bilge pumps must be placed above the sump pump’s control switch. The purpose behind this is to ensure that nothing can obstruct the bilge pump during operation. Also, you must ensure that the pump is properly mounted.
Step 3 – Finishing the Installation
After deciding how you want to plug the bilge pump into the sump pit, complete the plumbing installation by connecting the pump either to the check valve of the sump outlet line or to a separate discharge pipe.
Step 4 – Connecting the Switches
To prevent the electrical component from short-circuiting, double-check all the connections and wiring. Make sure that they are above the water level. Doing this will also save them from rust.
Step 5 – Testing Batteries
After plugging in all the connections, switch on the sump pump. Check to see if it is pumping water out. If it is running but isn’t pumping, then make sure that the polarity isn’t reversed.
Step 6 – Plugging the Charger
Now, connect the charger with the batteries, use an ammeter to see the current passing through. There should at least be a trickle-charge flow. Next, re-test the pump along with the battery and charger.
Step 7 – Re-testing
After you are done testing the pump, run the entire system. Ensure that both the pumps work smoothly and efficiently.
Step 8 – Final Touches
Once you are certain that the entire pump system is set up properly, it’s time to add the final touches. Ensure all the wires and connections are properly taped.
Set the charger to automatic mode; this way, it will charge the battery normally. However, if you notice that the battery is acting out, then you can change the settings to charge mode.
A bilge pump is similar to that of a sump pump. They perform the same function in the same manner. While the bilge pump protects your boat from water damage on the inside, the sump pumps protect your house.
At times of necessity, you can easily repurpose your bilge pump to a sump pump by following the steps mentioned above.
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Hey there bud,
James A. Porter here, a veteran plumber, coming to you from New Orleans, Louisiana.
As I grew up in one of the most rain-infested areas of the USA, I had to pick up a thing or two about plumbing. While most people stop after picking up a few plumbing tricks, I began my career in plumbing.
Please click here to read the full bio.