By Published On: March 13, 2024Categories: Blog

How To Prepare Your Boat Before Installing Your Dry Bilge System

Bilge System Installation If you want to keep your boat in pristine condition and prolong its life, it is more than necessary to have an effective dry bilge system installed. If you’ve noticed that your dirty old bilge pump hasn’t been pumping out water as effectively as it should, it is time to look into getting a new bilge vacuum system. Of course, we recommend that you look into our Arid Bilge System, as it is the best of the best! Plus, you can install it yourself. Installing an Arid Bilge System on your boat is relatively simple, usually not requiring the services of a skilled technician! Here is a simple step-by-step guide to prepare for your bilge system installation.


Before you begin installing your bilge system, we recommend a few steps to save yourself money and complete the job quickly and efficiently.

1. Determine How Many Zones or Distinct Wet Locations are on Your Boat

Start by assuring that your boat is in its natural static float position. In other words: if it’s up on the hard or with an engine removed it’s going to be a little hard to determine where and how the water pockets around the boat, compared to when it’s sitting at anchor or at the dock and in normal use. Next, bring a common wet vac on board. Take the hose and hold it in the deepest, lowest elevated location, then wait and relax. Water will often travel, slowly, through limber holes from other compartments nearby. Once the water stops flowing and that lowest, deepest, compartment is dried down to a sheen, then you are ready to move to the second lowest, deepest compartment, if there is one. You repeat this process until you come up with a zone count. Make sure that you don’t make the mistake of skipping compartments that don’t have traditional bilge pumps. Also, don’t expect that the existing, factory installed bilge pumps are even at the lowest deepest points in the first place.

2. Determine a Good Mounting Location for the Central Unit

In most boats we would recommend looking around in the engine room first, as it usually pockets the most water and is centrally located in the boat. Outboard boats like larger center consoles will generally have an aft compartment under the floor, hopefully with a large access hatch. You generally try to mount the system as high as possible. Placing the Arid Bilge System near the bottom of the bilge is a no no, as the central units are not water proof. The unit must be mounted upright, because: like the wet shop vac, it does have a collection bucket or chamber that has to fill with the collected bilge water, temporarily, before sending it overboard.

3. Determine Where the Discharge Water Will go

Next, we look for hoses that go to thru hull fittings, and determine if any are used for the occasional discharging of water. Air conditioning cooling water discharges are not recommended, as they can be pumping water overboard, continuously, most of the time. Hoses that are connected to deck, hatch or vent drains, as well as sink drains are usually preferred. We are looking to T connect our Arid Bilge discharge to an existing outflow, as this is usually much easier than drilling another hole in the side of the boat. We try to locate the unit above this discharge hose, so that the water leaving the Arid Bilge System travels downhill to flow overboard more completely. Then, we look for a power source. The Arid Bilge System can usually be connected to 12 or 24 volt DC or 120 volt AC house power. The Arid Bilge draws very little power and often ends up taking power from an existing bilge pump circuit as a matter of convenience. The ideal mounting location will be in close proximity to discharge and power offering enough space to mount the unit upright. Sometimes, this ends up being under the galley or head sink. Next, we have to make sure that the unit that we need, will fit in the available space. Modern boats are often crammed full with all kinds of pumps, systems, battery chargers, electronics etc. So, occasionally you may have to buy a three zone Series 2 instead of a four zone Series 4, just because there is no room for the larger system aboard.

4. Determine the Correct Bilge Pickup Type Needed for each Compartment

Bilge compartments come in all shapes and sizes. Remember when you held the wet vac hose in place waiting for the water to drain to each of the low points? If the bottom of the compartment was flat – then select the Standard or Mini Standard pickups. If the compartment came to a V at the bottom, then you would select the offset or pickup wand. We do provide a spare for every two zones, so you can often have it both ways when ordering.

Should You Buy An Arid Bilge System?

There are just about a hundred reasons to get an Arid Bilge System. Unlike regular bilge pumps or temporary solutions like bilge cleaners and ozone machines, the Arid Bilge System vacuums slowly and effectively to make sure that your boat remains 100% dusty dry at all times. This will keep the boat young and protect your investment from nasty odors and the damaging effects of rust and corrosion.

When you buy an Arid Bilge System, you are effectively prolonging the life of your boat and enhancing the resale value. If you’re ready to take the plunge check out our shop today. We’re ready to provide you with the best bilge products on the market! Happy boating!