Sump water irrigation system

I have decided to use my sump water for irrigating my yard. I will combine 4x55 gallon plastic drums for a resevoir to give me enough capacity to run 1/2 hour. So I don't plan on having a "pressure tank". Ill let the pump manage the pressure. HOpefully that is feasible. Im going to use a shallow well pump unless anyone has better suggestion.
A few questions though.
I understand I don't need a backflow prevention system since this must be totally disconnected from municipal water.
IN this case, what type of valve to I need to allow this thing to be blown out in the winter since currently the blow out ports are on my backflow preventer. Where should I put this valve?
Where should I put shutoff valves? 1 on each side of the pump?
Do I need a sprinkler master valve now? That is, when the pump is off, will water still pass through it? I assume so. And if I do need a master valve, should this go before or after the pump?
Thanks!
CL
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It is important that there is no way the pump system can introduce water into the city water system or your house system. If you are going to couple into the sprinkler system you have, you will either have to disconnect the city water from it or have multiple valves and backflow preventers (not just vacume breakers). If you are going to disconnect it from the city water, how will you deal with watering when the pump system fails or runs out of water?
You may be able to build the pump system with unions to allow easy disconnection of the pump for winter so you can store the pump inside. Make sure the pump lines will drain completely in this case. Some pumps are very sensitive to air in the intake line, so you may want to design carefulle so that air is quickly displaced by the water from the tank. Put valves where you will need they to work on things without draining all your water.
A simple spring check valve might be enough to prevent water flow through the pump when it is off, depending on the water height of the storage behind the pump. A small pressure tank and pressure switch would solve this problem and automate more of the process, making the system easier to use. Either way, you do need a switch to shut down the pump when the water runs out, or you will trash the pump.
200 gallons is going to be a pretty light watering unless each zone is pretty small. Deeper watering encourages deeper roots.
Make sure your sump output has somewhere to go after the tanks fill if you are using the sump pump to fill them.
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On Tue, 10 Jun 2008 08:54:23 -0700, Bob F wrote:

each. Former juice barrels. I'm on my way now.
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Have you figured out how you will plumb to the barrels?
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On Tue, 10 Jun 2008 15:01:22 -0700, Bob F wrote:

Ill have to check the phone book. probably take a small drive.

yea, i will connect them together near the bottom with 1 1/2" PVC and some bulkhead fittings. Feed tube in the top and overflow in the side near the top. overflow will be piped back to where the sump goes now.
Getting from the barrels to the sprinkler valves is a bit more tricky. Need to consider blowing out, and mating to the copper pipe, and removing pump and tanks for the winter.
Not sure how to ensure the pump runs steady and smooth while watering the grass. most websites I read have the system using a pressure tank but i don't want to spend that much.
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Some barrels have fittings in the top that fit standard plumbing pipe threads. You can use these upside down to get a good seal on the "bottom". Then cut a hole for the filler. I suggest using a "T" at the top so you only need one hole in the barrel. Water from the sump comes into one arm of the "T", and pours down the vertical into the tank. When the tank fills, water will continue out the other arm to your outlet pipe. You would need a bypass for the winter.
Make sure the pipe/tube from the tanks to the pump are big enough. Pumps don't like working for their water. The pump outlet size is less sensitive.

How deep is the sump? Could you put in a second level switch in the sump so you can throw a switch which lets the sump level rise before you water? Then throw the switch back after you start the watering, or even have a "full" switch in your tanks which causes the sump switch to change as the tank level drops below full. Although this would have to be adjusted to avoid overflowing the tank and losing water.
For heavier watering, You could put a "Full" switch and an "Empty" switch in the tank. Additional circuitry could then turn the pump off when empty is sensed. The pump would turn back on when full is sensed, as long as the pump is enabled by your master switch.
One possibility for water sensing is the tub depth switch from clothes washing machines. You just have a small tube into the tank from the switch. Water pressure pushes air in the tube into the switch to turn it on/off. These can often be adjusted for a wide range of settings, and the depth of the pickup tube in the tank can be adjusted also. Is is easy to scavange these off old washers.
About pumps - look at the pressure and volume (gph or gpm) specs when choosing. You need to match the pump to your sprinklers. Pumps will likely deliver less pressure than city water, so you need to take this into account. How does it affect the sprinkler "throw"? "Sprinkler" pumps probably deliver more water than "well" pumps, but at less pressure.
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On Wed, 11 Jun 2008 10:19:58 -0700, Bob F wrote:

I'm going to have 4 tanks side by side. I'll need a connection between the bottom of the tanks so I can be sure to get all the water out. The upside down is solid idea but I would have to suspend the tanks up a bit. Also it might be tricky to make that good seal under all that pressure. Plus the tank outlets have different threads. 1 thread is normal fine thread, the other is coarse.
The T on top of the tank is a good idea. That will keep me from having to cut an overflow in the side of the first tank. But I wonder how to get the water to flow into the tank through a T and not loose 1/2 of it out the side of the T even before the tank fills.

going with 1 1/2" which is the size the sump uses. Output of the sprinkler pump will be 1" PVC mated to 1" copper.

Haha yea, if only I could dig a 55 gallon sump pit :) I put on some of the piping today and so the sump was off for a few hours. When I finally powered it back on, it ran for about 45m straight. Lots of water had accumulated under the house that quick. The idea would work if it were not for my water based backup sump pump which would kick in.

ill investigate this. problem is when pump is turned off by the float/ pressure switch, the controller wont compensate for this pump off time.

yea, im getting concerned over these sprinkler pumps at the big outlet stores. i don't need much psi. Plus the water is all above the sprinkler system in general. but im not 100% sure if i will go with jet or sprinkler pump.
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each. Former juice barrels. I'm on my way now.

If this is a big worry, use the "T" vertically, so the water comes in horizontally, and pours into the tank. When it fills, the water will back up and out the upward arm of the "T".

As I said earlier, an extra float switch would allow you to let the sump level rise before the sprinkler cycle. Disable the lower float, and the upper float will protect you from overflows.
Make sure that allowing the water to get higher for short period won't cause any damage before trying this.
If the water flow is sufficient this way, you might be able to skip the extra tanks. Just put the pump intake in the sump, and switch in on after the sump rises.
It is also possible that you are currently pumping the sump lower than you need to, and therefore wasteing power. The higher it gets, the more water will probaly run elsewhere naturally. It could be worth checking into.
Another idea - if the outlet from you sump pipe is significantly lower that the sump water level, you design the pipeing to form a siphon started by the pump filling the pipe, which would continue a lesser water flow after the pump switches off in normal pump useage.

You'll quickly figure out how frequently it cycles, then adjust the time.

If you want the sprinklers to perform the same as they do on city water, you will need the same pressure.
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On Thu, 12 Jun 2008 22:41:04 -0700, Bob F wrote:

The issue I have now with the T is that it elevates water above the top of the tank. This will mean I will have to put a vent pipe on each of the other tanks with a height greater than the overflow. I think it will be easier to cut a hole in the side of the barrel near the top for the overflow. This way all I have to do to vent the other barrels is put a small screen over the opening. Or maybe one of those upside U things. But if I do the upside down U, then I may as well do the T as well. Well see.

I could do this, but it would be electrically complicated. Actually no, I recall reading the manual, and they said they turn on the pump during pause periods. So I could use that to effectively turn off the sump.
Anyway, the issue still is my "water backup" sump. This 2nd sump will kick in automatically when the water level rises past a certain level. Since its water based I can't really switch it on and off easily.
I may entertain digging a larger sump pit. There may be regulations to deal with though. The sump is actually in my Home Theater, so turning on less frequently would be a plus.
Then again, one other thing that happens when the sump does not run like this is that the water fills the pipes under the house. This causes all sorts of sand and mud to release when the pump is next activated. So that would be bad...

Yea, this is very true. I may allow the water level to stay higher and see what happens. Its still below the side of the house and the edge of the foundation. Ill let it raise and see what that does to the flow rate. That will have to be a next project. My sump system has been a real mess since I moved in this house 5 years ago. They had to bust up the floor since they had the pipes laid uphill. Plus they obviously did not "sock" it because all sorts of mud and tar gets into the pit. At least he put cleanouts at each entry to the basement. Unfortunately, I have to USE those every 6 months or so...

Im sure I could do this if I ran the pipe all the way down the hill to the rear of my yard. I prefer to keep it simple though. It does not cost much to run the pump. Still that would be a heck of a backup system during power outtages. I have seem fishtank overflow systems that would work well for this.

Now that I think more about this, its basically a sump switch since I want it on when there is water and off when there is not. But it will have to be on until there is no water which is a bit different from the objectives of a sump switch. I see lots of hits when I search for "water level switch" so I should be good here. Just have to find one for the proper voltage level.

Im thinking of just getting a beefy jet pump. Especially if I get one from one of the big box stores. If I get one online from a plumbing store I may go smaller since they are probably more accurately marked.
I may also beef up my sewage ejector. I never realized it was only 1/2HP. I wondered why it was so much quieter than my sump pump eventhough it was so much bigger and with a 2" outlet. My real sump pump was 1HP.
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Get the pump number off the box at the store. Go to the manufacturers web site, and look up the specs. Or, Call them and ask for the specs. Better than shot-gunning it.
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On Wed, 25 Jun 2008 21:59:27 -0700, Bob F wrote:

that is what I have done. but the big box stores are showing stronger pumps for much less. hard to understand what the trade off is. maybe they are just lower price, but thats usually not the case...
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I have seen many 'creek water' systems using just a cheap shallow well pressure pump that includes a small pressure tank mounted right to the motor/pump platform. There are also pump controllers that maintain a set pressure - not sure if they also use a pressure tank.
Harry K
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