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New septic lift pump won t shut off

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2010-01-23          168186


Yesterday the alarm went off telling us the septic tank level was too high. The pump was not running so I pulled the pump (a Meyers brand pump) and took it to the pump store who matched it up to a Little Giant pump. It fit fine and, when fired up, pumped like a champ.

Unfortunately it never shut off when the water level got low and had to be shut off when it started sucking air.

The tank has an external float assembly with two floats about 18" apart vertically. I have no wiring diagram that shows how pump cycling is supposed to be controlled.

Can anyone offer suggestions on why the pump may not be shutting off when the water level is low?

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New septic lift pump won t shut off

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2010-01-23          168187


KW;
Can you make the pump stop if you push the lower float down with a wooden stick or something non conductive?
The ones I'm familliar with have only one float that slides up and down on a rod with adjustable stops on the top and bottom to stop the pump when the water drops below the float when the weight of the float pulls the rod down tripping the on/off switch. ....

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New septic lift pump won t shut off

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greg_g
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1816 Western Kentucky
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2010-01-23          168189


I installed overflow pumps on my three cisterns. They too have float switches, although only one per pump. I'm guessing your dual floats are simply for redundancy, as float switches on the cheaper pumps don't always seem to last as long as the pump itself. Anyway, my pump housings have a guide slot on the top edge. I have to run the float wire through the slow, and adjust it to a length that effective shuts off the pump at a level of my selection. Perhaps your floats are not routed through such guides, and are floating out too far away from the pump body (?)

//greg// ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
New septic lift pump won t shut off

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2010-01-23          168190


Hi Frank,

Both the upper and lower float are hanging by their cords so when the water rises they should float up to the horizontal position and drop to vertical as the level falls. So they are both in the "low water" position now. Moving the floats up and down didn't shut off the pump. I think the upper float controls only the in-house high water alarm (that works) but I'm not sure how the lower float is supposed to work. Are they generally wired in series with the pump? Do they go bad? I expect they have a mercury type switch in them which shouldn't generally go bad, but ???

I also am suspicious whenever two things fail at the same time. The old pump was definitely bad, maybe a failing float switch caused it to burn out. ....

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New septic lift pump won t shut off

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greg_g
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1816 Western Kentucky
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2010-01-23          168194


Ah, so you just bought a replacement pump - and used the existing float switches? I have a single float switch that's just gathering dust in my plumbing parts box - if you're interested. This one too is almost certainly a mercury switch.

//greg// ....

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New septic lift pump won t shut off

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2010-01-23          168195


OK, a different design than I've dealt with. Your floats must be on an arm similar to a toilet tank float? ....

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New septic lift pump won t shut off

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2010-01-23          168196


Greg, yes, I just bought a new pump and installed it in place of the old one. The floats were never touched. Tomorrow I'll go out and put a meter across the float inputs and make some measurements to see if it works. It appears that the float switches full voltage, can that be right? I'll just disconnect it and do a continuity test with wires disconnected while moving it up and down.

Frank, there is a pole in the tank that has two hooks that are adjustable for height. They each have a float that pretty much just hangs over the hook. I haven't been close enough to see just how they are attached but that's pretty much it.
....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
New septic lift pump won t shut off

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JD-855-in-WI
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 36 Wisconsin
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2010-01-23          168197


Top float is for the alarm. Bottom float is for the pump control, it should be wired in series with the pump. The question is where is splice was made. Either a bad float switch or shorted at the splice. Meter the switch, check it for operation. ....

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New septic lift pump won t shut off

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2010-01-23          168198


Thanks, JD, that's sort of the conclusion I had come to. The splices were made just as they originally were unless I screwed it up. I cut the old wires and pigtailed the new in the same locations but there was some question as to the color coding. The old pump was hardwired with black (hot), white (neutral) and green ground. The new pump had green, blue and brown. When I cut the plug off I tested the colors at the plug and concluded that blue was hot (the wide spade on the three prong plug).

Is the float switch supposed to switch hot or ground?
....

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New septic lift pump won t shut off

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greg_g
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1816 Western Kentucky
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2010-01-23          168199


Green/blue/brown is the color coding of British 220v wiring. Blue=line, Brown=line, Green=ground. Where was your replacement pump manufactured?

//greg// ....

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New septic lift pump won t shut off

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JD-855-in-WI
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 36 Wisconsin
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2010-01-23          168200


Here is the color code comparison: In the US = Black is the Hot, White is the neutral & Green is ground. In Europe = the Brown is the hot, Blue is the Neutral & Green/Yellow is the ground. Looks like you have an international pump. That wide blade on the plug is always the neutral side of the circuit.
The power should come from the house or where ever, the Black source would go to float switch. (It could go to the black or white wire), lets say the black. Then the white wire from the float switch would be the switched conductor. That switched conductor should go to the Brown on the pump. The Blue would go to the source White or neutral coming from the house. In the past Iíve found the gas escaping from the tank would corrode the electrical connection. Iíve switched to the direct burial wire nuts with the sealant inside. .
Use caution, between the explosive gas, electricity and moist conditions there are dangers involved. The above circuit is typical but may not represent your situation.
....

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New septic lift pump won t shut off

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JD-855-in-WI
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 36 Wisconsin
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2010-01-23          168202


FYI: greg_g is correct. Those colors are used in the UK also at 220 volts, but one side of the 220 is bonded to ground or is a neutral as we refer to it. It is not unusual to find 220 3 phase in European homes. My Uncle in Switzerland had a 220 V 3 phase table saw with a tiny 3hp motor, but tons of power. If a European power cable has 2 ungrounded conductors it would have 2 brown or black conductors in it.

....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
New septic lift pump won t shut off

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2010-01-24          168204


Thanks fellas, I'll give it another go tomorrow. I think blue was wired as hot and will check tomorrow. An online reference said that the wide terminal was hot but you can't always believe what's online. That probably won't fix the problem but you have supplied lots of good information to check out. The new pump is a "Little Giant" brand, didn't know that was European.
....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
New septic lift pump won t shut off

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2010-01-24          168210


Well, no luck. The hot and neutral were backwards but it didn't fix it. The bottom float always reads closed. That probably caused the last pump to burn out but it was 11 years old.

I'll have somebody out next week to fix it since I don't want to burn any more time off messing around with it in the cold and rain. Let somebody who has parts on their truck fix it. ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
New septic lift pump won t shut off

View my Photos
kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2010-01-25          168217


A Russian friend from work told me the easy way to remember European color coding. Brown (hot) is the color of your pants if you touch it.
....

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New septic lift pump won t shut off

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harvey
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 1543 Moravia, NY
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2010-01-25          168218


Our big slurry pumps only have 1 switch. It is a Square D and it triggers a relay because of voltage. But essentially is is a on/off like a light switch. Just a rod on a float thru 2 guides and 2 Set screw to trigger switch on or off. ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
New septic lift pump won t shut off

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2010-01-27          168263


Well the guy came out and replaced the float. $445 for an hours work. Seems like a rip but at least it's done. He said the old pump had puked it's guts out and dumped oil in the tank. Figures.
....

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