Do Pontoon Boats have Bilge Pumps

Almost all the large boats and ships have bilge pumps that drain off bilge water from their hull.

Since a pontoon boat is structurally different from a conventional V-hull boat, you may wonder if a pontoon boat also differs from other boats in not having bilge pumps.

Yes, you are going right! A pontoon boat doesn’t have bilge pumps because it doesn’t need one. Let us see how.

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What is the bilge of a boat or ship?

The bilge of a boat or ship is the part of the hull that would rest on the ground if the vessel were not floating on water. It is the lowest inner part or bottom point of the boat designed to collect excess water or any other fluid the boat is leaking.

What is a bilge pump?

A bilge pump is a device that is used to pump out the water accumulated in the bilge or the bottom of the inside of the hull of a boat or ship.

By doing so, it averts the weight of the boat or ship from exceeding the buoyant force acting on it and thus, prevents it from sinking. 

Also Read: What type of gas does a pontoon boat use?

How does water get accumulated in the bilge of a boat or ship?

Obviously, if there is a leak in the hull of a boat, it will lead to the accumulation of water in the bilge area.

However, even if the boat has not developed any leaks, there will still be a build-up of water in the bilge over a period of time.

The reasons can be:-

  • Boats with lower deck
  • Air conditioning condensation sweat
  • Rainwater
  • Engine exhaust leak 
  • Weeping freshwater system

Does a pontoon boat have accumulated bilge water?

The flat deck of a pontoon boat is designed to drain off the rainwater falling on it.

Also, the hull of a pontoon boat sits on two tubes or sometimes on three tubes (in the case of a tritoon) which keep the hull two feet above the water.

So water can’t accumulate in the bilge of a pontoon boat.

However, it does accumulate in the pontoon tubes because the tubes stay in the water during a boat journey. So if the tubes develop a leak accidentally, water enters the tubes, fills them, and makes the boat less buoyant which can be dangerous.

So each pontoon tube in the pontoon boats has a drain plug at its rear bottom that is used to get rid of the water that has leaked into the tube.

Do pontoon boats need bilge pumps?

Since there is no build-up of water in the bilge of a pontoon boat, it needs no bilge pumps.

However, to evacuate the water accumulated in the pontoon tubes, each tube is fitted with a drain plug that drains out the water from the tube.

Most of the modern pontoon boats come with chambered tubes i.e, each pontoon tube is divided into 3-4 separate compartments so that if the tube develops a leak, water will get filled in just one chamber and not the entire tube.

This updated feature has made the tubes airtight and waterproof. So the newer pontoon boats don’t need a drain plug since there is no chance of water build-up in the tubes of such pontoon boats unless they get damaged and develop a leak because of a severe collision against a hard substance.

It must be made sure to keep the pontoon boat raised above the surface of the water while opening the drain plug to evacuate the accumulated water from the tubes.

How to know if pontoon tubes have water in them?

To check if the tubes of your pontoon boat have water in them, you should pay attention to the following things:-

  • The pontoon boat sits lower in the water.
  • Leaks in the pontoon tubes or corrosion of the drain plugs.
  • Increased fuel consumption.
  • The underperformance of the boat.

How to remove water from the pontoon tubes?

If your pontoon boat has got drain plugs at the rear bottom of its tubes, in order to flush out the water accumulated in the tubes, follow the given steps:-

  1. Pull your pontoon boat completely out of the water on a trailer.
  1. Tilt the boat to its rear side keeping it on the trailer so that the water in the tubes will get collected at the back end of the tubes.
  1. Open the drain plugs of the tubes and let all the water get drained off.

But if your pontoon boat is the latest model and you had an accidental encounter with another boat that led to one of your pontoon tubes getting ruptured, you can do as follows:-

  1. Get your pontoon boat completely out of the water on a trailer.
  1. Find out which chamber of the tube has damaged and developed a leak.
  1. Drill a tiny hole at the bottom of that particular chamber and let all the accumulated water leak out from the tube through the hole.
  1. Once the chamber gets completely empty, repair it by welding over the damaged area as well as welding over the hole that you drilled to drain off the water.


Unlike the conventional V-hull boats or ships, pontoon boats don’t have bilge pumps because there is no chance of accumulation of bilge water in pontoon boats. However, the build-up of water in the pontoon tubes can make the boat less buoyant so you need to make sure that you get rid of the water accumulated in the tubes whenever needed.

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