A boat’s bilge pump is used to get any sitting water out of your boat’s hull by using an electric water pump.
The bilge pumps are almost always automatic and come on when it detects enough water in the hull of your boat. The keyword being your hull!
Pontoons are a bit different, in that they don’t have a hull like a traditional boat and a bilge pump is not needed. But that doesn’t mean a Tritoon, which is still a pontoon with a center toon, doesn’t have one. There are a few special cases of pontoons that actually do have a bilge pump, which will make sense when we go over them in this post.
Do Pontoons Have Bilge Pumps?
A standard pontoon boat does NOT have a bilge pump as there is no bilge to fill up with water.
A bilge pump is used to get water out of the hull of your boat. A pontoon boat doesn’t have a “hull” like a normal boat, and instead uses two aluminum tubes on each side to keep it floating. These tubes are sealed from the factory and water getting into them is super rare.
On modern pontoons the tubes are sealed and have chambers, so even if you got a crack and water got in they would not fully fill up.
The top deck of the pontoon is a flat platform and water can roll off without issue; nothing there to hold water that would need a pump to remove it.
Even the storage under the seats have holes for the water to flow out, so a bilge pump is not needed for a pontoon boat.
Tritoons Sometimes Have Bilge Pumps
A tritoon is a pontoon boat but with a center toon, and while a pontoon may not have a bilge pump, a tritoon could.
To maximize storage on a tritoon boat, many manufacturers make the center toon open, so they can add ski-locker storage. This means the center toon is a big tub that can hold water.
Since the center toon is open on some models, they will add a bilge pump or siphon tubes to remove any water that may accumulate. Unless you’re hitting massive waves or have really wet gear you put in the ski locker, having a lot of water in the ski locker is not normal.
If you have a tritoon boat with a ski locker in the middle and don’t see a bilge pump, then don’t panic, as not every manufacturer will include them. There are other ways to siphon water out or the manufacturer deemed it not needed, but still keep an eye on it.
Bilge Pump Is Pointless On Pontoons
It would be pointless to add a bilge pump to a pontoon boat, but a tritoon with a ski locker would not be a bad idea if you get a lot of water build up.
A pontoon boat should not be holding water, even in the toons, as they’re sealed up from the factory.
The Sea-Doo Switch Has A Bilge Pump
While the Sea-Doo Switch is a jet-powered pontoon boat, it’s not sealed up like the other pontoon boats and does have a bilge pump.
In fact, the Sea-Doo Switch owner’s manual expects you to have water in the side toons and at least once a year you need to flush them out.
The center toon of the Sea-Doo Switch is a modified Sea-Doo PWC hull, and the engine and jet pump rest in there. This area of the Sea-Doo Switch will have a bilge pump and will come on if water gets in the boat.
Since the Sea-Doo Switch has a bilge pump, it’s ideal that you keep the battery charged and in good shape. Don’t forget to put in your drain plugs, as the Sea-Doo Switch will have them because it’s not completely sealed up like other pontoon boats.
A Pontoon Can Sink
Even though a pontoon boat is sealed up, it doesn’t mean it can’t sink.
As talked about in our post on pontoon boats that don’t sit even in the water, a pontoon boat can sink if the toons are damaged.
Overloading a pontoon boat can also sink it because there is too much wait for the toons to keep up. Once you remove the weight, the pontoon will balance out. To completely sink, the toons need to be damaged.