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Do Jet Skis Have Bilge Pumps? [Explained]

Do Jet Skis Have Bilge Pumps? [Explained]

Despite its importance, the majority of jet skis still don’t come with a bilge pump. Although the newer models are typically equipped with a “bailer,” this feature is less efficient than an electric bilge pump. Not having a bilge pump carries many risks, as a little water leak can cause the jet ski to sink. This is why every owner should install an electric bilge pump on their jet ski!

If you want to find out more about jet ski bilge pumps and bailers, keep reading.

We at JetDrift have compiled all you need to know into this post!

Do Jet Skis Have Bilge Pumps?

Unfortunately, the bilge pump is still not standard equipment on jet skis. While certain Sea-Doos and Yamaha WaveRunners come with automatic bilge pumps, most jet skis are still manufactured without this key piece of equipment.

Instead of a regular bilge pump, jet skis are typically equipped with a special siphon system, known as a “bailer.”

What is a Bailer on a Jet Ski?

A jet ski bailer is a unique siphon system designed to remove bilge water. The bailer uses the suction of the jet pump (venture effect) to drain out water from the bottom of the hull. When the impeller is spinning, especially at higher RPMs, it creates a suction effect in the pump. There’s also a water inlet in the hull that is connected to the pump fitting with a hose.

The bailer works well – until you get into an emergency! Why?

This is because this bilge siphon system is intended to remove the water that accumulates naturally in the bilge.

The major drawback of a jet ski bailer is that it only works when the jet ski is in motion. Since it only relies on the vacuum of the jet pump, if your jet ski is stopped or goes at a lower speed, the pump can’t create an adequate suction force.

And in most cases, when you notice that a significant amount of water has penetrated the hull, it’s typically too late to remove it with the bailer system.

If your hull is filled with water, the last thing you want is to fire up the engine, as it may end in major engine damage. In these situations, a bailer system won’t help.

Another downside of the bailer system is its low capacity. Even if you can ride your jet ski, if a lot of water enters the hull, the bailer is probably too inefficient to remove it.

Again, this feature is intended to siphon the “natural” bilge water that commonly accumulates in the hull but it can’t remove large quantities of water. Therefore, if water is quickly coming into the ski due to hull damage or a broken carbon seal, a factory bailer won’t keep you afloat.

This is why an electric bilge pump is a must on every jet ski!

How Does a Bilge Pump Work on a Jet Ski?

If a jet ski is equipped with an electric bilge pump as standard, it’s more than likely to be an automatic bilge pump system. This factory jet ski bilge pump only works when the engine is running. The pump also features a “float-switch“ that turns the pump on when necessary.  

These automatic bilge pumps have the same problem as the bailer system; they require the engine to be running. If your hull is already filled with water and you can’t fire up the engine, the factory bilge pump won’t be able to remove the water!

This is why many owners install a secondary bilge pump on their jet skis.

Where is the Bilge Pump on a Jet Ski?

Factory jet ski bilge pumps are typically mounted in the rear portion of the bilge. While riding, water accumulates in the rear portion of the hull, this is why bilge pumps can be found close to the pump and the driveshaft. They are sometimes connected to the footwell drain system as well.

Conclusion – Do You Need a Bilge Pump on Your Jet Ski?

There’s no question that a bilge pump is a must on every jet ski. What’s more, some careful owners install two pumps, an automatic and a manual bilge pump. They work as insurance since you never know when you will need them!

Many riders say that an electric bilge pump should be standard on all Sea-Doos. Why?

This is because their owners are in fear of the dreaded carbon ring failure. What does this mean?

In a nutshell, the carbon ring on a Sea-Doo is actually the sealing around the driveshaft, which is prone to wearing out or even breaking over time. A damaged carbon seal results in a significant water leak, which can cause the Sea-Doo to sink.

Besides carbon seal issues, water can also enter the hull due to cracks or loose fittings. When you notice that a significant amount of water has already accumulated inside the hull, in many cases, it’s too late.

In the worst-case scenario, it leaves you stranded on open waters!

This is why you need a bilge pump on your jet ski. A good quality bilge pump can help you remove the water from the hull, or at least keep you afloat while you get towed back to the dock.

Compared to the price of a jet ski, a bilge pump costs virtually nothing, so there is no good reason not to have one.

If you want to install one (or two) on your ski, you may find our step-by-step bilge pump installation guide to be a helpful start!