Grey water float switch

Previously, I have talked about the need to keep the grey water box clean because the waste of soap and shampoo forms a white mush that can block the float switch and stop it working. Causing an overflowing box and dirty grey water in the bilge. Not an ideal situation to say the least.

We have been good at doing this every three to six months and have had no problems.  The gulper water pump has also not been a problem and still empties the box in about ten seconds, if that changes we know there is a problem, especially since having a couple of plastic screw covers effectively acting as valves in the past which meant it took 45 seconds.  We changed the gulper to be the black water version which has wider pipes than the one designed for grey water, I have no idea why that is but it is a set up we prefer.

Now the pump is not noisy at all, especially compared to our water pump, So it is a bit of surprise to return to the boat after putting something in the car to find that the pump is running and nothing is coming out.  As I get on board, I leave it a few seconds to check that it wasn’t about to stop but it is going on. Clearly a problem that needs an immediate fix – how often is that true on a boat!

20190430_195314I open up the grey water box expecting to see the switch stuck in the up position and jammed with the white soapy scum.  It’s a little dirty but not too bad and the switch is down. Hmmm. Now to check if this is a problem in the switch or the pump. It doesn’t take long to determine that the float switch is the problem since it seems to be powering the pump irrespective of its position, although interestingly more power when the switch is activated.  Our friend Mark pops over and is also keen to understand the problem. Using a multimeter we can see that there is some power even when the switch is meant to be off.  It’s a sealed unit, and relatively inexpensive so we decide that we will replace it.  Maria will be shopping at Fox’s chandlery tomorrow morning. In the meantime, we can use it as long as we do it manually at the wall, not ideal.

20190430_195306The next day and Maria has bought two Rule-a-matic Bilge pump float switches,we like a spare! On my return from work, I settle down to the “ten minute job” of replacing the switch. An initial test outside of the box proves that we have made the right decision so now it is getting the wiring in the box and fixing the float switch to its holding bracket.  Running the wires is easy enough.  The wiring on the boat is actually well done, although in places we have water damage from early in the boat’s life.  This area is perfect and I just need a couple of spade connectors to connect up the switch.  But first recheck it is working by jamming the wires in.  All works well. But I can’t find my spade connectors and crimper anywhere.  They are not where they should be. Now, Maria is famous for tidying up things and putting them out of sight rather than where they should be. It is a source of some frustration because there are so many nooks and crannies on a boat that the search takes ages. Anyway, no one can accuse Maria on this count so I am hung by my own petard! Anyway, I wanted a different crimper and there weren’t a lot of connectors so I will buy loads  and that will sort it.  Next day delivery on amazon prime, jobs a good ‘un.  I tell Maria it’s fine to use in the meantime too, and that was my first mistake.  Having washed up, I empty a bowl of greasy water down the sink and wait for the inevitable whoosh whoosh of the pump.  And I’m waiting, I’m waiting…..I’M WAITING! Nothing 😦 so it’s carpet back, floor boards up and look at the low capacity grey water box surrounded by a pool of water in the bilge. Great! And I can also see the gleaming wires of my new switch nicely hanging away from the pump wires. Reconnecting these and the pump works as it should. Right, in true Basil Faulty style I am going to sort this out. Some industrial tape will do this and then they won’t come out. Second mistake, since when I return the next day to do the crimping, the tape is really difficult to get off and is a mucky job! Anyway, spade connectors crimped onto switch wires and plugged in and we have a permanent fix – now to clean the bilge that should never have needed it!

Oh did I mention that, in between taping up the wires and returning the next day with the spade connectors, I found my original crimper and connectors in a bag in a reasonably logical storage location! Typical.

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