Nine Tips for Safe and Effective Pump Installation
1. Though several of these livewell pumps are designed for direct through-hull installation, the American Boat and Yacht Council recommends the use of seacocks and through-hulls for added safety should a hose or fitting break.
2. Use Teflon tape on threaded fittings and double clamps on hose connections to minimize hidden leaks.
3. To prevent corrosion, connect pump wires with heat-shrink butt connectors or waterproof Deutsch connectors.
4. Pre-installing Deutsch connectors on a spare pump cartridge makes for even easier emergency repairs.
5. Install any pump on an appropriately weighted switch with a circuit breaker to protect the wiring.
6. To protect the pump, also install a fuse of the appropriate size in the positive terminal lead to the pump nearest to the switch or device.
7. Use an adhesive sealant, like 3M 5200, on all through-hull fittings. Allow the sealant to cure overnight before tightening the nut the last one-quarter to one-half turn.
8. Route intake hoses lower than the pump to facilitate priming; mount non-self-priming pumps below the waterline.
9. Install switches on the helm, when possible, to minimize the likelihood they will be unnoticed and left energized.
Seacock or No Seacock?
During testing, we discovered a disconnect between marine industry practices when mounting pumps and ABYC standards that promote, absolutely, the use of a through-hull fitting and seacock to shut off the water, should the pump system rupture. We endorse the use of a through-hull and seacock because they offer better reliability and safety.
However, pumps with capacities of less than 1,000 gph are commonly molded with a plastic, threaded through-hull fitting and are sealed to the hull with a nut, gaskets and sealant on the outboard side. This practice is common in top-shelf bass and bay boats for a couple of reasons. First, it’s not always easy to mount the pump, as required, below the static water line when stacked on a through-hull fitting. Second, in boats where these small-capacity pumps are used, they are mounted in tiny compartments where a through-hull’s greatest enemy — an errantly placed foot or elbow — is prohibited anyway. So, we’ll nod at the practice in those circumstances.
And, we’ll reinforce one more tip all captains worth their salt should already know: Carry along a variety of cone-shape, softwood pegs, or bungs, to tap into a burst hose or fitting should a through-hull break. I have pals in Alaska who carry wax toilet ring seals to mold into such holes as well.