Sunday, May 29, 2016

Mounting the rain barrel water pump.

I've had a lot of rain the last few weeks.  My new under-deck barrels are now completely full.  I attached a clear tube to the outlet so I can see exactly how full they are. 
I have some very minor leaks.  If these barrels ever end up empty I'll seal them.  Anyway, now that I have water I can finally mount the pump and make use of it.

I started by screwing a board to the under side of my deck.  Then I screwed the pump to it as high as I could.  
I replaced my washing machine hoses last summer and kept the old ones.  They seemed perfect for this application.  I connected the output of the barrel system to the input on the pump.  I connected the second hose to the output of the pump and put the other end in the nearest barrel.  Then I plugged in the pump for a test.  It worked great, but there was just one problem.  I quickly realized that the pump was filling the barrel faster than it was draining back into the other barrels.  I had to scramble out from under the deck to unplug the pump.  Oops.
My next step was to rig up some PVC pipe.  The vertical pipe in the picture below has a male hose fitting at the bottom.  This is what the output of the pump connects to.  I kept it vertical so it would drain easily for winter.  At the top of the vertical pipe I put a 90* elbow with a shutoff valve.  Not visible in the picture is a 1/2" brass Pex fitting after the valve.  That is for future expansion.
I added a horizontal pipe to the tee fitting.  On the end of that I placed a hose bib.  I glued all of my PVC fittings since they'll be under pressure.  The pump has a built-in pressure switch which turns the pump off at 55 PSI.
I can attach a hose to this hose bib and move water wherever I need it. 
The final step was to plug in the pump and test it.  I attached a garden hose to the hose bib and much to my surprise, the pressure was better than I expected it to be.  I was able to spray water pretty far across my yard.  When I let go of the trigger and stopped spraying, the pump automatically shut off.  Everything worked exactly as I wanted it to. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Adding a float switch to a Shurflow 4008-171-E65 pump

About a year ago I got a Shurflow 4008 RV pump to move water out of my rain barrels.  I've used it on and off since then.  I ran into a few issues.  The first is that I ran out of water frequently.  I'm hoping that I have alleviated that problem by adding more barrels.  The other, and bigger issue is that the pump doesn't shut off when the barrel is empty.  It just continues to run and get very hot.  I needed to add a float switch to keep this from happening.
The float switch opens and closes a circuit depending on the angle of the float.  When the barrel is empty the pump will shut off.

I started by putting 3/16" quick disconnects on two wires of the float switch. I had to order the male disconnects from Amazon.  The female ones came from Auto Zone.
One end of the pump had two wires going into with with female disconnects. 
I filled a barrel with water and put the float in it.  I had to play around with the location of the weight.
Then I connected the male disconnect on the float switch to the female disconnect on the pump.  The female disconnect on the switch connected to the pump.
 Below is a picture of it all hooked up.
I plugged in the pump and drained the barrel.  When it was nearly empty the pump shut off.
I did have to play with the weight and the length of the cable a little bit to get things just right.  I don't want the pump to shut off when there's still plenty of water in the barrel, and I don't want it to run when there's no water left to draw.

The final step was to drill a hole in the lid, insert a grommet, and run the 10' cord through it. 
I put the lid on one of the newly installed barrels.  Now I just need to get the pump out there in a more permanent location.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

I added more rain barrels.

I have quite a few rain barrels already.  I have enough to capture and store 590 gallons of water.  That isn't enough though.  I've had to get creative and find ways to fill the barrels from my house water when they are low.

Anyway, last year I put a short barrel under my deck to hold additional.  It fills from the barrels under the downspouts.  (All of my barrels are plumbed together with drip irrigation tubing.)  I decided that it was time to add more barrels under my deck.

I started by removing and inspecting the original barrel.  To my surprise, the chain on the float valve was very rusty.  I thought it was going to last longer.  I picked up some new zinc coated chain from Home Depot.  The chain cutting guy recommended it.  Hopefully it lasts longer.

Old vs. New.

New chain installed.
I contacted the guy I got barrels from before and he no longer had any.  I checked craigslist and found some in a town 45 minutes away.  That wasn't as convenient as the local guy, but what can you do?
I picked up five 50-gallon short orange barrels.  The first step was to drill a hole in the bottom of each one and install a 1/2" Uniseal bulkhead fitting.  I used a 1-1/4" hole saw to get a nice clean hole.
 I installed 1/2" PVC pipe through the Uniseal. 

Barrels ready for installation.
I had to level the dirt under the deck and place 12" patio stone so the barrels would be off of the ground and the pipes would extend from in under them. 
I had an extra float valve, so I installed it on the barrel on the opposite end.  This one will fill from the top.  The barrel on the other end fills closer to the bottom.  I figure two inputs into these barrels will fill them faster.  That's the theory anyway...

Float valve from the inside.
The next step was to add 3/4"x3/4"x1/2" tee fittings to the PVC pipe coming out of each barrel.  I only have 1/2" pipe going into each barrel, but I wanted to tie them together with 3/4" pipe to reduce bottlenecks when pulling water from the barrels.  I don't know if that was necessary or not, but it seemed like a good idea. (I'll just throw out the reminder here, that I'm no expert with this stuff.  I'm making it up as I go along.)
The last step was to cut 3/4" PVC pipe to connect the tee fittings.
The last fitting on the end barrel was a 3/4"x1/2" elbow.  A tee fitting wouldn't have worked there.  On the other end I have a hose fitting and a Y-valve. 
Now I just need to open the valve and hope that nothing leaks!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Garden Update -- May 2016

It's May already, and the garden is doing well.
All of the raised beds.
The spinach is taking off, and the peppers are doing well.
More spinach, and of course the oregano that I can't get rid of.
This is kale left over from last year.  I don't even remember when I put it in.
Tomatoes and lettuce.
More tomatoes.
I'm going to have a lot of tomatoes this year.  I guess I didn't realize how many seeds I had started.  I still have more in the garage that I need to get into the ground.