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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone!

I'm in the process of designing my new 300 gallon's filtration (custom designed wet/dry sump) and would like to incorporate an automatic water changing system. My aim is right around 3GPH for a water change rate of about 20% per day. Since I will have to pump the waste water out of the sump (drain will be uphill, so gravity is not an option), I have come up with a couple of viable options:

1) Install a dual action float valve which turns the drain pump on and then back off again at separate set levels (allowing the water level in the sump to rise/fall continuously = less frequent, longer periods of pump operation)

2) Install a single action float valve which turns the pump on when the water reaches a set point and then back off again when it drains below that same point (creating a constant sump level = more frequent bursts of pump operation)

I know that it's pretty easily doable either way, but I'm wondering about the integrity of the pump under the conditions of each situation. In my mind I'm comparing it to a car, with continual starting/stopping being harder on the engine than letting it run for longer between starts/stops.

Is there really any difference between these two options (besides plumbing), or am I just over thinking things? Are there any other options that I've overlooked here?

Thanks for your input in advance!

- Eric
 

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Option 1 is definitely better. Option 2 can potentially make the pump shutter as it turns on and off very quickly.

Do you have any idea for a failsafe? A selonid that turns off the inflow of water if the pump/valves fail? I had an auto top off system that the selonid stuck open on and got the carpet in the room pretty wet it was a pain.

Are you filling your tank from some kind of larger vat of treated water or straight from the house supply? If the latter is true I would consider some kind of automatic dripper of dechlorinator as well.
 

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I just skimmed your post so apologies if i missed something

at 20% water change per day, I suggest you give some thought to capturing the heat from the drain water, to lower the amount your heater has to work to bring cold tapwater up to tank temp.

One easy way to do this would be to have the new water flow past the drain water and have them average out temps.
 

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This topic always makes me think of how a toilet valve works. The toilet valve lets water (which is under pressure in the pipes) into the tank until the level raises enough to cause the float to close the valve. It does so without any electricity or pumps. I have often thought that one could use a toilet valve to top off a sump automatically if it were plumbed directly to the water source. A toilet also has a failsafe in the form of a tube that lets water that rises above a certain point drain out a vertical pipe. Such a vertical pipe could be employed in a sump as well, as long as it could drain via gravity (Unfortunately gravity is not an option for you.)

If you had a pump on a timer that removed water periodically from the sump, it would cause the water level to drop enough to activate the toilet valve, which would fill until it reached a certain level then shut off.

Hmmmmm, could the ideal auto topoff system be inspired by the humble and reliable toilet? Think about it... what happens when you flush the toilet? The answer is an automated water change in the tank conducted by simply depressing the lever, using no electricity.

I'm sure someone reading this will wonder if the all-plastic toilet valves are "fish safe". If you ask my dog, she will tell you that they are perfectly fine for drinking water ;-)
 

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IN principle a toilet valve would work great... they aren;t all that reliable though... as long as you have that overflow plumbed though, it should be OK.

There are even simpler plastic float valves that are sold specifically for topping off tanks, with a side-entry bulkhead to go inot your sump. they sell for about $17.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
tannable75 said:
Do you have any idea for a failsafe? A selonid that turns off the inflow of water if the pump/valves fail?
I have a normally open solenoid planned that if my max level float switch is triggered will lose power and close the incoming water supply.

tannable75 said:
Are you filling your tank from some kind of larger vat of treated water or straight from the house supply? If the latter is true I would consider some kind of automatic dripper of dechlorinator as well.
This is actually how I got the idea for the automatic water changing system. There is an automatic dosing system that I have planned that will add pre-diluted Prime to the incoming water supply.

mikesl said:
at 20% water change per day, I suggest you give some thought to capturing the heat from the drain water, to lower the amount your heater has to work to bring cold tapwater up to tank temp.
Thanks for the suggestion. That is something that I hadn't thought of yet. The average temp in the house is right around 78F (yes, that's air conditioned - I'm in Phoenix). The heaters already get a bit of a break because of this highish ambient temp, but I'll see what I can come up with as an additional help to the incoming supply.

zugbug said:
take a look at this system that is already in use and works
Been there... done that. 8) The system I'm planning is a "bit" more intensive though, but that site gives a good place to start for those people who want a fairly simple setup.

tannable75 said:
For OP he doesn't the floor drain being below the tankand would still need a control to turn an pump on and off to lift the water back to the drain.
Exactly. Which was the reason for the post in the first place. :thumb:

Sooo... Pretty much from the feedback I'm getting, I'm going to go with Option 1 (which luckily for me was the way I was thinking during the whole planning process).

I am going to check later on today though when I head over to the house again. Rather than going uphill to the laundry room, I may be able to go downhill to one of the bathrooms (both on the same floor level, but the laundry drain is about 4' above the ground and I believe the sink is plumbed to the floor level). Going downhill would eliminate the need for any of this pump mess and I just have to put a simple bulkhead in the side of my sump where I want it to drain at and let gravity do the rest. Wish me luck!

Thanks for the feedback!
 

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I used a drip system on a 200 gallon tank I had. I also needed a pump to empty the sump. I had tried several methods and flooded the fish room a few times until I got it correct.
1. Don't use a Rio pump, as they age they have a hard time starting up when the float switch turns it on.
2. Have a back up system if the first pump fails.

What worked the best for me was to have 2 float switches and 2 pumps. I used two Mag Drive 2. each of them had a check valve and they pumped the water through a common line. I also had a computer battery backup so the pumps would keep running if I had a power outage. I never had any problems with this setup.

The biggest problem I ever had was the pump not starting when the float switch switch turned on. Also be careful of power outages. I lost power one time for about 6 hours the water was still dripping in but no power for pumps. I noticed it when the sump was about 1/4" from overflowing
 

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I do heating and air for the reliable refill go to your local plumbing and hvac supplier, ask them for a refill kit for a cooling tower or chiller. once you see the part it will be self explanitory
 
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