On Vacuum-Pumping Water Out Of Large Things Filled With Water

If you, like I, have a boat full of water (and sticks, and leaves, and dirt, and other crud I was scrubbing out of it), then you also may not want to just tip it up and let all that trickle through the hull drain at a slow an increasingly clogging rate. Never mind the residue left inside the hull.

My trusty garden-hose siphon was not going to cut it this time, either. I could have used a bailer… but that’s just not as much fun. And no, thank you, I didn’t want to use my trusty Rainbow vacuum cleaner to pump a gallon at a time again (an often dicey and tedious prospect). And more splashy-messy. So I used good ol’ R2VAC2 as a suction pump/super-siphon starter.

There are a number of thing I generally preface my posts with, one of which is “don’t try this at home” because if I’m writing about it I probably did exactly that. However,  in this case I feel the need to urge you do not try with a regular vacuum cleaner. I don’t care where, just don’t don’t. Because vacuuming water is a bad thing for normal vacuum cleaners. This is what shop-vacs were made for.

Of course I don’t have a shop-vac – just ol’ R2 – or I wouldn’t be writing this. So I hooked him up to a bucket and hooked the bucket up to some sump-pump hose I had kicking around and Ta-Da! Instant Shop-Vac.

This has a couple major drawbacks.

First, the bucket is still pretty small. This can be remedied by using a bigger bucket, or trashcan, or, as I discovered very late in the pumping process, you can just get the siphon effect going, detach the vac, and let it go.

Second, you know those plastic toy hoses that you swing around your head and they do something between whistle and howl? Well, sump-pump hose is pretty much the same thing except when you hook up to high-speed air (like a vacuum cleaner) it is an awful lot louder. This is solved by either keeping the hose full of water or using the siphon method.

Nothing fancy. The vac hose is just stuffed into a slighly-undersized hole cut in the bucket lid. I cut hole for the sump-pump hose too large so a I made a gasket from a scrap of Ice and Water Shield (adhesive rubber roofing underlayer). The ribs on the hose make it hard to fit, too.

And that’s it. Saturday afternoon hack for the win!