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Old 01-29-2016, 10:11 PM   #1
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High Water Alarm

Its been raining in south Florida for days. Heavy rains with local flooding. We live aboard. Last night the high water alarm began to SHRIEK at 3:30 in the morning. I learned that it will wake me, that I'm a whole lot faster than I thought, and that dogs freak out.

I entered the holy place not knowing what to expect and I found absolutely nothing. Minimal water in the bilge and the alarm sensor well above the small amount of water in the bilge sump. I shut the alarm off and went back to bed. In the morning I switched the alarm back on and it has remained silent all day.

Could the alarm have triggered from high humidity from days of downpours? Ideas anyone?

Thanks to all.
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Old 01-29-2016, 10:20 PM   #2
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What kind of sensor?
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Old 01-29-2016, 10:26 PM   #3
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It's an electrical type sensor. Looks like two metal contacts. It's not a float switch. Specifically:

The Bilge Alert system uses a patented Mirus™ field effect detector cell, which produces a micro-electrical field that detects disruptions caused by water and fluids. When activated the sensor will trigger a 100db piezo alarm and an LED light on the control panel.

It's made by Johnson Pump and called "Bilge Alert."
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Old 01-29-2016, 10:28 PM   #4
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How is your alarm activated? The one in our boat is simply a standard float switch mounted on top of a wood pedestal in the bilge of the forward cabin which is the lowest point in the boat. It's in the circuit of a loud single-tone alarm in the lower helm console. So unless the float is pivoted up the alarm can't sound. Unless something managed to close the circuit.

Don't know if this is still the case today but when I lived in Hawaii the island of Oahu had tsunami warning sirens spaced out around the island near the shoreline. Many of them were mounted on the same poles that held streetlights. Every now and then, usually at night, a siren would suddenly start to spool up. It would start howling up the scale and then would die off to a growl and go silent. My mother, who was an executive in the city government, told me what caused it.

The street lights attract bugs, particularly termites during their mating flights. The bugs attract gecko lizards. Every now and then a gecko would get inside the control box for the siren and close the circuit with its body. This would allow enough current to get the siren started and then the lizard's body would fry away and the siren would shut down.

Got any geckos on your boat?

PS-- Saw your reply above. Your system sounds much more sophisticated than what we have. So it might be gecko-proof....
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Old 01-29-2016, 10:29 PM   #5
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Humidity shouldn't do it but dripping water might.

Really just a fuess, but could have some rain worked it's way in?
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Old 01-29-2016, 10:30 PM   #6
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Really Marin? Now I'm afraid to go down there. Don't want to tangle with the Geico gecko.
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Old 01-29-2016, 10:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
Humidity shouldn't do it but dripping water might.

Really just a guess, but could have some rain worked it's way in?
No way for rain to get there. Perhaps the crazy weather caused some condensation. Not visible though. It may remain a mystery.
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Old 01-29-2016, 11:47 PM   #8
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That is one reason I'm not a fan of those type of switches.
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Old 01-30-2016, 01:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hmason View Post
Really Marin? Now I'm afraid to go down there. Don't want to tangle with the Geico gecko.
Aha, if not a gecko, maybe a rat or mouse, possibly even a cocky crossed the magic sensor zone and set it off. I had issues for the first time ever with both cocky and either a rat or mouse in my boat last year. I gassed the cockies and put out baits, and also a mousetrap and a rat trap. The cockroaches were all dealt with by the fumigation, and I suspect the rodent died from eating the cocky baits, as they all got cleaned out, and then he/she must have vacated the boat from hunger, because I never found a rodent carcass, and I accidentally set off both traps under my tool chest (it has legs), when I moved it last weekend when out, having forgotten they were still set...the bait on them was rather...well...dried out and unappetising...
Just a thought..?
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Old 01-30-2016, 02:10 AM   #10
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Very interesting thought. I will keep this from the "you know who" as she would promptly jump overboard.
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Old 01-30-2016, 06:28 AM   #11
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I think the problem with that type of sensor is it's hard to test. I have a float switch mounted about 3-4" above the center bilge pump switch hot wired to the engine start battery and electrically runs parallel with a panic switch in the aft stateroom. It's connected to a loud siren and strobe light on the radar arch. Using a boat pole I can lift the float switch to test the system. It's also connected to a cutout switch on the helm that will disable the siren but not the strobe light.
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Old 01-30-2016, 07:16 AM   #12
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The newer Johnson switches I have are reliable and easy to test in my mind...only difficult if you cant get your finger across them or a hose stream across the terminals.


Have had one in my shower sump and it has been excercised maybe 20 times a day for 2 years now (cycling during showers and laundry dumps).


My Johnson switch DOES NOT like to be hooked into a circuit with a lit warning light. My on/off switch for my high water alarm has an LED in the switch and the Johnson switch would allow the buzzer to buzz on a very low volume but enough to be unusable. Tried several ways of hooking it together with no success, works fine with a simple on/off float switch.


Howard when I said rain...between air vents and a few leaks around the boat, trickles of water get in but you have probably read my catchup effort to get rid of all those nagging issues. Just thought some stray drops of water were enough to set it off. Is it a latching horn? Meaning if set off, even if the water goes down it stays on?
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Old 01-30-2016, 10:33 AM   #13
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Well there doesn't appear to be any means for water to get to the switch other than high bilge water. I can easily test the switch and it tests fine. As for latching, I really don't know.
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Old 01-30-2016, 10:41 AM   #14
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Howard

How old is the unit? Some have a shelf life not unlike a smoke/CO detector.
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Old 01-30-2016, 10:43 AM   #15
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It's about 2 years old.
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Old 01-30-2016, 10:58 AM   #16
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It's about 2 years old.

Does the manual suggest a cleaning protocol?
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Old 01-30-2016, 02:07 PM   #17
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I lived in Mississippi once and found out that fire ants are electrically conductive. The moved into one of the ground transformer boxes and before you know it, enough of them bridged the three phase power on the 5200 volt side and everything blew up with a arc welding flare, blew the top off and shut down the whole neighborhood.

Power company guy says that between fire ants and squirrels, they stay pretty busy.

So, how about the conductivity of a bug?

Could a bug have shorted out the contacts and set it off?
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