Terrible Advice Tuesdays: If you are going out of town, rig up a float switch to turn off your return pump if the water level in your sump gets too low. This way you won’t burn up your return pump. Whenever you get back into town, just add water to your tank and turn the pump back on.
The rest of the story: This person clearly hasn’t heard of this nifty invention called an “auto top off system” (ATO) that will replenish any water lost to evaporation. Problem solved.
Taking the solution a step further, if you did have an auto top off on your tank, and you wanted to save your return pump from burning up, you could use a float switch to turn off your return pump if the water level got too low in your sump. Here’s the really important part that just a float switch leaves out:
What happens to your display tank when you turn off the return pump for hours, maybe days on end?
Here’s what happens: dissolved oxygen in the tank gets depleted and stuff dies. Perhaps a couple of fish and/or coral will live and if they do, nutrient levels in the tank will rise quickly due to the dead and rotting fish. These elevated nutrient levels will likely kill the fish/coral if the lack of oxygen doesn’t.
While I do like the idea of a float switch that senses a low water level in your sump, if you want that float switch to turn off your return pump, make sure the float switch sounds an alarm such as through a controller so you can be informed there is a problem while you are away.
Here’s another way to prevent your return pump running dry: grab a webcam (or this one) and point it at the return pump chamber in your sump. Check the webcam daily to see if your ATO has failed and the water level has dropped too low.
Just turning off your return pump and waiting to refill your tank till you get back is a horrible idea.
Thanks to Duncan P. for sending in this T.A.Tues idea.
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