DON CASEY: I’m not a fan of this idea.
A typical raw-water pump can push about
10 gallons per hour, per horsepower. If you
have a 50-hp engine, the cheapest ($20)
electric bilge pump can match this capacity.
Using the raw-water pump as an emergency
pump exposes it to unnecessary and ill-timed risk. Anything that stops the flow of
water to this sensitive pump will destroy
it, shutting down the engine just when you
may be in greatest need. Things that will
ruin the pump are: closing the thru-hull
before opening the bilge intake, sucking up
debris from the bilge, or just sucking air via
the bilge pickup. Also, if your plumbing to
the bilge pickup, including the valve, isn’t
100-percent airtight, it can cause the pump
to lose prime at any time, potentially causing
expensive engine damage.
A better strategy is to install an addi-
tional electric pump as large as you can find
room for. You can activate this pump with
the flip of a switch, not by crawling into the
engine space to throw the handles on (prob-
ably underwater) plumbing valves. As long
as the engine runs — more assured with an
unaltered connection to the seacock — and
as long as your batteries remain above water,
this pump will expel water at a rate many
times higher than the cooling pump can. If
you want the added capacity of an engine-
driven emergency pump, it should be a
belt-driven add-on with a clutch, not the
small-capacity pump your engine depends
on to keep running.
HOT WATER SMELL
What’s the best way to clean a hot-water heater
and get rid of the odor?
Cliff Birtwistle, Oakland, NJ
TOM NEALE: Your water heater probably
has an anode that helps to protect metal
parts of the tank exposed to water. If you
haven’t changed your anode annually, some
of its sacrificed material may be at the bottom of the tank contributing to the odor.
Also, boat water tanks, lines, and hot-water
heaters sometimes grow organic material
over time, even if you have a good source
of potable water. This can cause odor, particularly at the bottom of the hot-water tank.
Check the filter protecting your fresh-water
pump. If you see “stuff” in it that looks vegetative, you can be fairly sure that this is part
of the problem. Try the following:
1. Completely depower the unit at the circuit panel to be safe. Make sure there are
no hot wires, AC or DC, near your working
area. Turn on the hot water and let run until
no more hot water comes out of your tank.
Let the tank cool. Turn off your fresh-water
pump or disconnect pressure from shore
water. Open the hot-water spigot again to be
sure there’s no tank pressure remaining. Be
prepared to dump a lot of water into your
2. Disconnect the external fitting(s) that is
PHOTO: BILLY BLACK
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