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why should bilges be kept clean

why should bilges be kept clean

why should bilges be kept clean

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why should bilges be kept clean
why should bilges be kept clean

why shouldAny combustible material in a bilge is a potential fire risk. In the glory days of the English navy, so I have read, sailors would chaw tobacco instead of smoking it, as open flames and gunpowder would be intolerably risky. Since a bilge would be pumped out, you would also want to minimize the risk of pollution of the water ways. All of these answers are speculative. bilges be kept clean

Hazards associated with dirty engine room bilges

The Club would like to highlight to Member’s the potential fire hazards associated with oily engine room bilges and the checks and steps that a ship’s crew should undertake to address this issue. A recent analysis of the Club’s Condition Survey Programme highlighted that approximately 25% of the vessels surveyed reported contaminated engine room bilges.

Whilst an oily bilge may not be the immediate source of a fire, any fire that arises in an engine room or machinery space has the potential to escalate and spread rapidly. The presence of oil accumulated in bilges or drip trays act as additional fuel to sustain burning and increase the likelihood of the fire reaching further areas.

The Club recommends that bilges, especially in the engine room, should be kept clean and free of oil at all times and chemical cleaning should be completed periodically. Members are also advised to paint engine room bilges a light colour to assist in visually identifying a fresh leak.

It is imperative that the source of any oily water in the bilge is fully investigated as oil and water leaking from machinery, pipes and valves within an engine room will seep into the bilges. However, a bilge filling up with oil or water could also be a tell-tale sign of a greater problem, such as a leaking propeller shaft, stern seal or cracks in the hull or tank bulkheads.


We recommend Members refer to the Safety Management Systems bulletin for guidance on ship-specific procedural systems, also to allow for periodic checks on the engine room bilges and ensure that written procedures regarding oily bilge transfer and discharge operations are established.


why should bilges be kept clean
why should bilges be kept clean

We trust Members find these recommendations useful and if further assistance is required please contact the Loss Prevention Team.

Bilge Care

Any oil in the bilge puts you at risk for an overboard discharge. Petroleum products discharged from the bilge are no different than spills at the fuel dock. Any spill that creates a sheen on the water can bring hefty fines. Here are some tips to prevent petroleum products from mixing with bilge water:

  • Keep your engine tuned to minimize oil leaks.
  • Check that clamps and filters are sealed properly.
  • Inspect hoses and belts for peeling or cracking.
  • When replacing hoses ensure they are the correct length, hoses that are too long or stretch to fit are prone to kink or collapse.
  • Place an oil-absorbent pad under your engine and an absorbent bilge sock next to (but not interfering with) your bilge pump.
  • Another alternative in dealing with dirty bilge water is an inline bilge filter. This device is designed to remove petroleum products from your bilge water without restricting bilge pump performance, allowing for a clean discharge. You must periodically check these products for oil saturation and replace filters as needed.
  • Bilge cleaners can be a tempting solution to an oily bilge, while they can seem effective, many of these cleaners just suspend the oil in the soap and then both are discharged. If you use bilge cleaners try using a small amount on a cloth and use a hand bilge pump to remove to a bucket and dispose ashore.

A Note About Bioremediation

Absorbent products such as booms and socks that contain microbes or claim to “eat oil” may be used in the bilge of a boat. It is not legal for boaters to use loose or contained bioremediation products on a spill in open water. Only a trained spill response professional can legally apply these products to an open water spill.

For bioremediation products to work in your bilge they require the presence of a small amount of water, air temperature above 40 degrees and several days or weeks to be effective. In theory, after given enough time, the microbes will consume all of the oil or fuel, leaving behind clean water. Bioremediating products make disposal easier but do require time some as long as weeks to months to get rid of the oil.


How Do You Dispose of oily bilge water?

why should bilges be kept clean
why should bilges be kept clean
Ask at your local fuel dock or your marine mechanic where they dispose their oily bilge water. Many marinas will have facilities on site or can recommend a solution for you.
  1. Oil absorbents are the least expensive method boaters can use to control oily discharges.
  2. Use oil absorbent sheets, pads or commonly known as “diapers” for oil drips under the engine and in the bilge and to remove oil sheen on the water.



Also asked, how Do You Dispose of oily water?


  1. Drain The Water Out. Pour the oil and water mixture into a see-through container like a milk jug.
  2. Freeze The Water. Put the oil and water mixture in a pot and freeze it overnight.
  3. Force The Water To Rise. Pour the oil and water solution into a pot.


How do you pump out a bilge?

How to prime the bilge pump

  1. Before starting the pump , open the suction valve and close the discharge valve.
  2. Start the priming unit to the suction line.
  3. Start the motor.
  4. Keep a watch at the priming process ( It will start when you start the pump)
  5. Once priming is done, open the discharge valve slowly , turn by turn.

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Treating Bilge Water

Most of us boaters have to deal with bilge water on a daily basis. There is no question that thinking about it is just as much of a daunting process as dealing with it, though unfortunately, leaving it alone can have far worse consequences. You need to find the right way to handle bilge water.

We’re going to be honest, your boat is often referred to as a vessel, and there is no way to completely avoid getting bilge water down below. It’s just a part of boating life. Of course, what matters most is how you decide to deal with it.

Bilge water can get into the hard-to-reach, lower compartments that sit at the bottom of your boat, leaving you with expensive and labor-intensive consequences in the long run, if not taken care of. Having good bilge pumps can minimize the amount of bilge water that your vessel carries around. But to keep your boat in pristine condition 100% of the time requires a lot of labor, or an Arid Bilge System. Keeping your bilges dry can also help to keep your vessel free from possible failure, while keeping your family, guests and crew safe.

If you’re sick of dealing with the negative consequences of bilge water or the labor intensive wet shop vac, we highly recommend picking up an Arid Bilge System. Simply use our dry bilge vacuum system, and there will be no need to further concern yourself about pesky bilge water. The bilges will remain dusty dry automatically.

The Do’s And Don’ts

DO make sure to keep your bilge clean as often as you possibly can. A dirty bilge can lead to a whole mess of problems, including rust, corrosion, odor, humidity, mold growth, and more. These problems can lead to a smelly and uncomfortable boat. They can even eat away at the electrical, bonding and electronics systems. These sorts of damages can easily cost you thousands of dollars in repairs.

DON’T continue using temporary “solutions” to clean out your bilge. Many people rely on temporary fixes such as ozone machines which cause other issues, the wet vac which is very labor intensive and bilge cleaners which end up polluting the surrounding waters. All these “solutions” merely put a Band-Aid on the problem. You’ll still have to continuously stress about your bilge water and make sure that you are taking care of it all the time.

DO install a dry bilge vacuum system. Of course, the Arid Bilge System is the only multi-compartment system on the market. It slowly and efficiently vacuums liquids across a range of up to 75 feet from the central unit, keeping all your bilge compartments 100% dusty dry.

why should bilges be kept clean
why should bilges be kept clean
Why Go With Arid Bilge System

We could think of a long list of reasons as to why you should purchase the Arid Bilge System over the companies that sell just pumps, though we’d have to write you an entire article just for that. The proof is in the vacuuming.

Do Install an Oily Water Separator if you can’t legally discharge overboard without one. Once you have an Arid Bilge System installed, we also offer the Eco Friendly Discharge Companion which is a permanently installed oily water separator. The Eco Friendly will retain the oil-found in many bilges. It holds the oil and fuel inside the separator, passing treated hydrocarbon-free water through, which is then normally discharged overboard.

The three different Eco Friendly Discharge Companion models can also be fitted with any one of three different alarm systems, to let you know that oil or fuel is accumulating in the separator. Now, you are often able to identify that there is a developing oil or fuel leak, long before there is a big mess down below.

Once there is a big mess down below, you often end up hiring a local company to show up with expensive equipment for the clean-up, and then you still have to locate and fix the leak that caused the big mess in the first place. With the Arid Bilge – Eco Friendly combination on board, you have dry bilges with small trails leading off the the source of a developing leak. Often it may be as easy as changing a hose or fitting, after the alarm had gone off, long before the big mess occurs. So it’s not just about avoiding the high fines, but the main caveat is the preventing of a big mess, and saving your equipment.


Safety Management System (SMS)

What is a Safety Management System (SMS)?

SMS is the formal, top-down, organization-wide approach to managing safety risk and assuring the effectiveness of safety risk controls. It includes systematic procedures, practices, and policies for the management of safety risk. (FAA Order 8000.369)

SMS introduces an evolutionary process in system safety and safety management. SMS is a structured process that obligates organizations to manage safety with the same level of priority that other core business processes are managed. This applies to both internal (FAA) and external aviation industry organizations (Operator & Product Service Provider).

This website will evolve; please continue to visit this site periodically for enhancements, updates and the most current information about SMS, Aviation Safety and the interface with FAA.

SMS Explained

Get quickly up to speed! What is SMS? Where did it come from? How does it work?

SMS International Collaboration

Information about our SMS international collaboration efforts.

Reference Library

Information at your fingertips. Access a wide range of guide books, articles, websites, and training materials for you and your staff.


Random Posts

Get the answers to some frequently asked questions.

Specifics by Aviation Industry Type

Information tailored to your specific sector (ex: Air Carriers, Air Taxi, Air Tour, Maintenance under 121, Repair Stations, Non-Certificated Repair Facilities, Flight Schools, Simulator Facilities, Airports, etc.)


Contact information for FAA offices working with SMS.

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