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Float Switch Failure
In a survey of the U.K. fishing fleet, 37-percent of the respondents said they or someone they knew had failed to receive warnings of high bilge water. The first indication of trouble was often when the lights failed or the engines began to falter.

Because float switches are normally an "open circuit," a defective switch or wire splice won't be known until a bilge alarm fails to warn of high bilge water. The only assurance that a float switch bilge alarm is fully operational is to periodically flood the bilge to simulate an actual emergency. The next best thing is to go into the bilge and raise each float switch by hand, but this still won't tell you whether or not the float will float.

Float switches may not float due to damage or blockage by floating debris, or a float may have an imperfect seal. Over time, changes in air pressure between the inside and outside of the float, due to water temperature and atmospheric pressure, may cause floats to"exhale" air and "inhale" residual bilge water until they can no longer float.

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