Pontoon boats are the medium and large sized boats that have two, or even three big tubes – or pontoons – at the bottom of them.
But do pontoon boats have a bilge pump? The answer is no, they do not have bilge pumps. If water enters the pontoon boat, there is no pump that can suck out the water to avoid a fill-up. Also, pontoon boats do not require bilge pumps because the pontoons keep the boat away from the water.
Of course there is more to know, so keep reading to learn more about pontoon boats and bilge pumps.
What Do Bilge Pumps Do?
The bilge pump is a device that serves to evacuate accumulated water, oil, or heavy liquid from a boat.
Basically, if you have an excessive fill up of water, the bilge pump is used to suck up as much as its capacity can handle, and reduce the weight of the liquid to avoid any capsizing or overboard situations.
It also provides a convenient way to keep the boat dry from rain or small splashes that might make it into the boat. If any negative situation occurs, it can save you time by draining the pontoon boat of extra water that doesn’t belong inside of it.
Where is a Bilge Pump Located On a Pontoon Boat?
The bilge pump is located…nowhere! Because pontoon boats do not come with bilge pumps attached to them. The reason for why there isn’t much of a need to place a bilge pump on a pontoon boat is because of the pontoons – or large tubes beneath the boat.
The pontoons are sizable tubes of air that keep the boat at least 2 feet off of the water. Meaning that when water does splash, very little of it will get inside of the pontoon boat.
And the pontoons also keep the boat from nosediving, therefore causing less of a chance for water to have to be sucked out of the boat.
How Much is a Bilge Pump?
Bilge pumps are constructed with heavy power and are capable of running off of 13.6 volts of direct current power. The cost of a bilge pump can range between 70 dollars and 120 dollars. The range is based on several factors.
You can either have a hand-held manual bilge pump to scoop water out of the boat, or you can have an electric pump which can either be automatic or manual.
The electric bilge pumps are typically more money, and they do a better job at taking water out of a pontoon boat, if it were ever needed.
Alternatives to a Bilge Pump
There are several ways to get water out of your pontoon boat outside of using a bilge pump. For starters, you can use your hands! It won’t be as fast, but it’s still a fairly acceptable method of reducing water levels inside of your boat.
You can also use a self-priming diaphragm pump, which you can deck next to the engine because it’s plugged with heavy bolts. There is also a kayak pump. It isn’t as strong as a bilge, but it has the same mechanism of sucking out water from a boat and placing it back in the ocean.
How Do You Check For Water On a Pontoon Boat?
Checking for water on a pontoon boat is very easy; all you have to do is look down at the floor! If you look at the floor of your pontoon boat and you see water, then there is water on the floor and should be released as soon as possible.
Also, you can check for water on your boat by listening; you could hear splashing of puddles, or step in one, which is a significant indicator that there is water on the boat.
There are also sensors that you can attach to your pontoon boat which will tell you if you have too much water inside the boat.
How Do You Pump Out Water on a Pontoon Boat?
Most pontoons have plugs that sit below the water level that aids in lifting the boat and draining the water from it.
There are typically two of them within most pontoon boats that allow for the water to drain from the floor of the boat down to the surface of the water. This is the most efficient way of pumping water out of a pontoon boat.
You could also use a bilge pump that is suitable with the type of pontoon that you have. An electric bilge pump would be effective because of the power behind it, versus a hand-held pump.
Bilge Pump Sizes
Choosing the right bilge pump is based on two major factors: the size of the boat and the power behind the bilge pump. Boats less than 20 feet should use a bilge pump measure at 1,000 gallons per hour (gph).
Boats 20 to 25 feet should use pumps that can absorb 2,500 gallons per hour, while boats between 25 and 32 feet can use a pump that can suck up 4,000 gallons per hour. Boats up to 36 feet can use a pump that absorbs 6,000 gph, and boats 37 to 45 feet need a bilge pump that can soak up 8,500 gallons per hour.
What Are The Features of a Bilge Pump?
Bilge pumps are circular or in a cylinder shape depending on if it is hand-held or electric. Which leads to the next feature, you can have an automatic or manual bilge pump to assist in removing bilge water from your pontoon boat.
Also, bilge pumps are safe because the electric bilge pumps are designed to not cause sparks while in use. Bilge pumps are also very fast when it comes to soaking up water; gallons per minute is the range that it uses to determine how much water it can absorb.
Which Boats Have Bilge Pumps?
Most boats do not have the need for a bilge pump. The reason as to why is because most boats have drainage systems installed into them which allows for excess water that enters the boat to exit it as efficiently as possible.
Bilge pumps are simply an apparatus that handles the suction of small amounts of water to catch and release back into the sea to reduce the boat’s water level. You can use a bilge pump on just about any boat that needs to be drained of a surplus amount of water.
Can a Pontoon Boat Sink Without a Bilge Pump?
Most likely, no, a pontoon boat will not sink if it doesn’t use a bilge pump. The bilge pump is used to scoop up small puddles of water within the boat. If there is more than a small amount, then using a bilge pump would not be effective.
Additionally, pontoon boats don’t come with bilge pumps, and are kept afloat by the two, or three pontoons that sit beneath it. This is what keeps the boat from filling up with water and sinking. So because of the drains and pontoons, the bilge pump is not necessary.
Can You Install a Bilge Pump on a Pontoon Boat?
To install a bilge pump onto a pontoon boat, you’ll first have to cut an opening in the top of the log big enough to slide the pump into. Then, you’ll create a bracket and top patch with both an entrance and exit hole for the hose of the bilge pump to fit into.
You’ll want to ensure that the bilge outlet hose does not go down to the water without a check valve or “vacuum breaker hole” for extra safety for both the bilge pump and the pontoon boat. This installation process should keep the bilge pump in place while you’re out in protected water.
Can Bilge Pumps Be Used on the Outboard Motor?
Bilge pumps can be used around the outboard motor. The outboard motor is the motor that sits outside of the internal body of the engine, and tends to make some heavy noise.
Bilge pumps are capable of being used around or near the outboard motor to protect it from excess or external water getting inside of it.
A bilge pump cannot be installed in the outboard motor, but can certainly be used to keep the outboard motor clean of debris, water, and other unforeseen incidences that may occur from it.
Will a Bilge Pump Hurt a Pontoon Boat?
No, a bilge pump will not hurt a pontoon boat. On the contrary, it will help it. Bilge water may not be able to get inside of the boat, but it can get into the tubes of the pontoon boat; and pontoons with bilge water in it can cause serious damage to the tubes if left untreated.
Therefore, a bilge pump will do well in effectively extracting bilge water from the pontoons, and the areas surrounding them.