Septic alarm

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I'm hoping someone here has experience with septic system alarms and can give me advice on my next step.
I will give you the scoop (no pun intended) if someone responds.
Thanks!
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On 12/1/2011 4:13 PM, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

OK, what are the symptoms?
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OK thanks for the responses. Here's the story.
I'm hoping someone will be able to give me advice and possibly how-to direction.
We had heavy rains a couple of days ago. My septic alarm went off during the rain (when no water was being used in the house). The alarm has stayed on ever since.
System is 13 years old (with pump replaced 5 years ago).
Today I had the chambers pumped, but first I wanted to check the pump well to see what the problem is. The water level in the well was low (below the pump float threshold). The alarm float was dangling straight down, a couple of feet from the top.
The septic worker diagnosed the problem to be with the alarm float. He raised the pump float and the pump turned on, so the pump is fine.
After jiggling the alarm float I checked the alarm inside and it was still on.
So my questions center on the alarm float.
I have a couple of quotes at around $250 (parts and labor).
Can I do the repair myself and would it be worth it?
There is a alarm box in the basement that plugs into a power receptacle. The alarm box has one cord running from it through the basement wall, underground and feeds into the pump chamber.
The hole in the basement wall is sealed with soft putty.
Thoughts? Thanks in advance.
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On 12/1/2011 8:36 PM, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

As far as the alarm part of the system goes, there should be a pair of wires, or a two wire rubber cord going from the alarm box to the alarm float in the pit. The problem is either a bad float, or a bad cord, where the wires have shorted together internally, causing the alarm to stay on. Depending upon how the wiring was installed, it could be a very easy installation.
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Thanks for your reply. I agree with your assessment. The question is though, would I be able to troubleshoot this myself? I have a multi-meter and some electronics knowledge, but I'm not a elec. wiz. Granted this situation isn't rocket science. :)
Is there a quick way to get to the core of this on my own?
TIA
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On Dec 1, 10:25pm, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

How accessible is the alarm float? If you totally remove power at the house, and then cut the wires going to the float at a point where you can replace the float, then you can cut the wires, make sure the ends of the two conductors coming from the house are not touching each other, then plug it in back at the house. The alarm should be off. Assuming it is off, then the float alarm is defective and you should replace it. If the alarm is still on when you repower it, with the wires cut, then there is a defect/short in the wiring somewhere. Sounds like you are reasonably capable, just need some reassurance.
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On 12/1/2011 11:25 PM, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Yep, just follow Bob Hofmann's advise. He's got it nailed. If the system was installed in a proper fashion, it won't be too difficult. Often, the wiring to these systems is done in an ass backwards Rube Goldberg fashion, where wiring and junctions are buried or otherwise inaccessible.
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I had another hunch last night.
I said to myself, maybe there is a problem at the alarm box inside the house? After messing around with it for a few minutes, it would turn off, but there was a hum/vibration coming from it, so I knew it wasn't stable.
So I decided to unplug the unit completely and go to sleep.
Today when I just plugged it in, BINGO! It was reset, no hum/vibration.
If only I had done this test before the septic guy came over. :)
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On Dec 2, 2:35pm, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

OK, now I'm confused and pissed. :(
The alarm just went off again, Two hours after I plugged it in after it was reset.
No rain outside, no water was used in the house for the last two hours.
I went downstairs just now to play with the alarm box again, and before I could reach for it, it turned itself off!
Guidance as to what I should do now (at minimal cost) would be appreciated.
TIA
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On 12/2/2011 4:25 PM, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

On the basic residential systems, there is no "reset". There is usually an on off switch, an alarm test switch, and an alarm off switch. To prove the alarm box is OK remove the two wires from the alarm terminals. There should be some sort of marking, or take a picture and link us to it
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Thanks RBM.
I'm not sure where you are leading to in your post.
On my alarm box I do have a 'reset' switch. The 'On' is coupled to a 'reset'. It says 'On/Reset'. The other pole is 'Silent' and just shows a red light when it turns on. There is another switch called 'Test' and this is a release one-pole switch which sounds the alarm when the test is positive.
When you say remove the wires from the alarm terminals, you are saying open the box to do this? When you say there should be some sort of marking, do you mean a marking to show where the terminal is, or do you mean that once the wires are removed I would see a marking due to a short that occurred?
Since it spontaneously turned on and then off again around 4:30 pm this afternoon it has been silent! It's now 10:45 pm.
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On 12/2/2011 10:43 PM, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Yes, you'd need to open the panel. Inside the box there will be some wire terminal strips, usually with markings indicating what wires are attached. There is probably a wiring diagram. To determine if there is a fault in the control itself, and not the float or float wiring, you need to disconnect the float wiring from it's terminals. It would be two wires often marked A1-A2 . I would recommend killing the power to the control before opening it. Keep in mind there should be two separate power supplies entering the control. One for the pump, and one for the alarm
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On 12/2/2011 11:07 PM, RBM wrote:

The setup in my old house had direct burial romex from the breaker box directly to the pump and 2 floats, and a separate alarm with two terminals on the side with a pair of wires that went to the high level warning float. No reset button but it had a silent switch to kill the buzzer and light a warning LED. Oh, the alarm also had a cord to plug it in for power.
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OK, I think I see where you are going with this. Because you didn't say what test I should do after, it wasn't clear.
Here's the story now.
As I mentioned, yesterday the alarm went off spontaneously* at around 4:30 pm for one minute. It was silent from then until today. Today it went off spontaneously at 10:32 am for one minute.
So yeah, I'm going to open the box today and investigate.
Here's my thinking. Tell me if I'm going in the right direction. I remove the alarm float wires going into the alarm box. I then do a continuity check of the alarm float wire. If there is a loop, then the alarm float is stuck ON. If there is no loop, the alarm float is OK (for now) and there must be an intermittent problem with either the wiring from the float to the alarm box, or somewhere in the alarm box.
My hunch now is the following. The alarm went off with a true positive a few days ago with the big rain we had. I silenced the alarm (just the red light was turned on) and it stayed like that for more than a day. At some point the water level went down (pump was working) but the alarm didn't turn off (stuck) despite the alarm float being in the off position. The 24 hr. + on, inside the alarm box must have fatigued it in some manner, and now it is 'flaky'.
spontaneously* = no rain, no water use in house
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RBM wrote:

google3luo359,
If you take a picture of it, you can upload the picture to http://tinypic.com/for free, and you can get back a URL link to the picture that you could post here.
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On 12/1/2011 1:13 PM, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Do you mean the alarm that sounds when the pump fails to operate and the tank is full?
Paul
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On 12/1/2011 6:04 PM, Paul Drahn wrote:

Heard there can be alarm when tank is full and pump works but field is saturated and can't take any more grey water.
I've had neighbors with pump failures. Thankfully mine is strictly gravity fed.
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On 12/1/2011 4:13 PM, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Just post the question and get it over with.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote the following:

So the Septic cleaner guy didn't know how to fix/reset the alarm? I would think that it would be part of his training. I have a septic tank, but no alarm. Try this google search result https://www.google.com/search?q=septic+tank+alarm+troubleshooting
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
  Click to see the full signature.
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Yeah I was hoping that the septic cleaner guy would get at the alarm problem. After all, that was really the whole point of the call to him.
I figured once someone is coming over to get at the alarm, they may as well clean out the tanks, because it's been five years since they were pumped out.
Well after he was done pumping out the tanks he said he couldn't fix the alarm and gave me the name of a company who could do it! $367.25 CAN later.... :(
I'm curious how you get by without an alarm? Do you have a pump with your system that pumps out to higher ground? What if the pump should fail? How would you know about it before the sewage backs up into your house?
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