The original article below was posted as a boating tip at http://boatsafe.com. It caught the attention of one of our readers who adds some additional information about checking and using the bilge pump to keep salt and sand build up from happening.
It is important to frequently test your bilge pumps by switching from the automatic to manual position on the bilge pump switch. However, this doesn’t guarantee that the pump will work when unattended. You should also check the automatic float switch by manually raising it to make sure that it turns on the pump.
Also, check for debris or corrosion that might keep it from floating up properly. If this switch fails the pump won’t turn on and your boat could take on sufficient water over time to do serious damage.
Additional information added by one of our readers :
I was reading through your archives specifically the section about bilge pumps. I agree with testing the pump(s) but I go one further.
I boat in salt water, so I thoroughly rinse my boat as soon as we get home EVERY time.
Once most of the deck has been rinsed, I switch my bilge to AUTO and have my wife or daughter plug the drain hole for a moment letting the fresh water fill the bilge until the pump comes on.
Not only is this a good test of the switch, but runs fresh water through the pump rinsing out the salt and sand that would otherwise remain and eventually damage the pump.
Thanks for the great website
CWO-2 USMC Ret