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Iced pipes or broken pump?


Sue
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Something isn't right..

 

No water flowing, no pump running. The water tank itself has no ice in it, nothing at all floating on the top. We have tried putting hotwater bottles around the pump, put our camping stove into the back cupboard where our hot water tank is, the engine has been run during the day and we have been using water through the pipes during the day previously.

 

The pump itself is inside the boat..

 

So some advice please, is our waterpump up the shoot or do we have a frozen bit of pipe somewhere, and if the latter, any idea where that might be?

 

I guess the pump would not run if there was a froxen bit of pipe stopping waterflow? Am I right with that theory?

 

Edit: To add, last night, according to a local dog walker the temperature dropped to a chilly -18C

Edited by Sue
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The pump would run unless the water in the pump impeller is frozen. Then a fuse or trip switch would probably go. If you get stuck then isolate the tank (there should be an isolating tap between tank and pump). Disconnect the pump intake pipe and then gently open the tank isolator very briefly to see if there is any flow. If there is, the pump or its electric feed is the problem. You can check the feed with a multimeter.

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The pump would run unless the water in the pump impeller is frozen. Then a fuse or trip switch would probably go. If you get stuck then isolate the tank (there should be an isolating tap between tank and pump). Disconnect the pump intake pipe and then gently open the tank isolator very briefly to see if there is any flow. If there is, the pump or its electric feed is the problem. You can check the feed with a multimeter.

 

THANK YOU!! Got precisely the same problem. Will look to sort it on Thursday when next at the boat. Spent today keeping full kettle of hot water on the stove...luckily nearby water stand is working as it's been kept on a constant dribble since the freeze started.

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The pump would run unless the water in the pump impeller is frozen.

To be slightly pedantic, most boat fresh water pumps don't have an impeller, I think ?

 

Most use a diaphragm arrangement.

 

Does the pump make any noise at all Sue ?

 

Do you have an ammeter, and does it show any amps being drawn when you think the pump should be running ?

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I guess the pump would not run if there was a froxen bit of pipe stopping waterflow? Am I right with that theory?

Yes,

 

If you have any frozen pipework, particularly on the "outlet" side of the pump, (i.e. beyond it), turning on a tap will not cause the pressure drop at the pump that it needs to get it to switch on.

 

I think this is your most likely scenario.

 

As well as what Dominic suggests, if it is possible to temporarily disconnect the pump outlet, and see if it pumps then, then the problem is probably a frozen pipe after that point.

 

1) Turn off isolator valve at tank, (assuminng threre is one!).

2) Turn off power to pump

3) Arm yourself with way of catching water (!)

4) Turn on isolator valve, and supply to pump.

5) If it then pumps freely, well turn it all back off again rapidly (!)

 

You then know problem is beyond pump. If not, it is pump, if Dominic's test has already indicated water getting as far as pump.

 

Sorry - could probably have said it better, but hopefully you can follow.

 

A working pump can easily deliver 10 gallons a minute, so if it does start to flow, you'll need to be able to stop it pronto, if you have a pipe disconnected!

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To be slightly pedantic, most boat fresh water pumps don't have an impeller, I think ?

 

Most use a diaphragm arrangement.

 

Does the pump make any noise at all Sue ?

 

Do you have an ammeter, and does it show any amps being drawn when you think the pump should be running ?

 

I'm going to possibly expose my ignorance about how these work by asking this but hey ho..

 

Surely if the pump and/or the pipes are frozen or if a fuse is blown it won't draw current either way??. The pumps (or rather ours which are Sureflo)sense a fall in water pressure and activate, if the pipes/pump are frozen the pressure won't drop so pump won't activate, if a fuse is blown it won't activate so checking whether it is drawing amps or not won't help identify the root cause - will it?? :unsure:

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It's my guess you have frozen distribution pipework. The pump runs when it senses a pressure drop on the pressure side. No point in testing anything else until things have thawed out.

 

First test, when it all thaws, if it doesn't start working and if there is no water leaking from the pump body, get someone with a multimeter to check there is power to the pump terminals. If there is, then it will be the pump motor that has coughed its last.

 

Tone

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I'm going to possibly expose my ignorance about how these work by asking this but hey ho..

 

Surely if the pump and/or the pipes are frozen or if a fuse is blown it won't draw current either way??. The pumps (or rather ours which are Sureflo)sense a fall in water pressure and activate, if the pipes/pump are frozen the pressure won't drop so pump won't activate, if a fuse is blown it won't activate so checking whether it is drawing amps or not won't help identify the root cause - will it?? :unsure:

No ignorance I can see there.

 

My guess is that when Sue opens a tap, no current is flowing, probably because a freeze up means that the pressure switch at the pump is not sensing a drop, and hence not even trying to turn the pump on.

 

However, (and bear with me!), if current is flowing when Sue tries to draw water, it means that the pump is trying to run, but not actually managing to, (properly, at least), and the frozen supply pipes suggestion comes into doubt.

 

I don't think she will actually find current being drawn, and din't when I asked the question, but if it is, it would mean you would look at different things first, when trying to identify the cause.

 

I don't think most pumps will typically blow a fuse if they freeze up, but it's not impossible.

 

I still have frozen pipework beyond the pump as the most likely cause, but without knowing where Sue's runs, or just how cold it was allowed to get, that can't be more than a "best guess" without more information.

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Got the same problem, and wondering - if it is to do with no water supply/pressure due to something frozen somewhere and not the actual pump malfunctioning - is there a way to check/test the pump by attaching a temporary water supply either direct from a tap (the one next to the boat is actually still working) or by rigging up one of those large plastic large water containers?

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Got the same problem, and wondering - if it is to do with no water supply/pressure due to something frozen somewhere and not the actual pump malfunctioning - is there a way to check/test the pump by attaching a temporary water supply either direct from a tap (the one next to the boat is actually still working) or by rigging up one of those large plastic large water containers?

 

It's more likely to be frozen in the distribution pipework, as has already been mentioned, but if there is a valve on the tank supply, and another on the pressure side of the pump, you could feed a towel under it, switch off power, disconnect the pump from its inlet and outlet and very briefly see if it runs when the power is switched on, if you're concerned that it might have failed.

 

Tone

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Hooray we are sorted..

 

I was sure living aboard in a warm environment would keep the pipes clear of ice, and maybe they were. With help from posts in this thread and a phone call to Mo on Balmaha I checked that power was getting to the pump. That was OK, then I disconnected the pressure switch, took it out of line by joining the two wires and hey presto the pump fired up!

 

So it must have been total coincidence that the switch failed.. I can't see the freezing weather breaking that bit somehow.

 

With running water again the only inconvienence now is to run up and down the boat to the circuit box to turn the pump on and off until we get a new part! With all that exercise I can have two helpings of Christmas pudding!

 

Many thanks all, and I hope this thread has/will be help to others in this rather cold weather.

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Hooray we are sorted..

 

I was sure living aboard in a warm environment would keep the pipes clear of ice, and maybe they were. With help from posts in this thread and a phone call to Mo on Balmaha I checked that power was getting to the pump. That was OK, then I disconnected the pressure switch, took it out of line by joining the two wires and hey presto the pump fired up!

 

So it must have been total coincidence that the switch failed.. I can't see the freezing weather breaking that bit somehow.

 

With running water again the only inconvienence now is to run up and down the boat to the circuit box to turn the pump on and off until we get a new part! With all that exercise I can have two helpings of Christmas pudding!

 

Many thanks all, and I hope this thread has/will be help to others in this rather cold weather.

 

Nice one. Glad you're okay.

 

Tone

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Many thanks all, and I hope this thread has/will be help to others in this rather cold weather.

 

Well it helped my because I hadn't fully appreciated the pressure switch and the pump were separate - I'd assumed the switch was integral within the pump...

  • Greenie 1
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