View Full Version : Please help with float valve & aging barrel questions?

02-15-2014, 12:16 AM
Sorry for these silly questions- newbie here- but I'm not a plumber/handy person in any way. I have a 55 g aquarium and plan to use a Rubbermaid Brute 32 g barrel (I believe this is food safe?) for my aging barrel.

1) I have a RO unit 150 gpd membrane - will I need a pump/booster to make making RO water most efficient? If so, where does this fit in?
2) What does one recommend for a float valve in the aging barrel?- I presume you make the appropriate sized hole in the barrel for this- then is any sealant/silicone needed to seal this?
3) Will one air stone work? with a heater used in the barrel.
4) Does water need 24 hrs to age or is 12 hrs enough?
5) What pump would you recommend to move water to my 55 g aquarium ~20 feet away? Would the pump just be placed in the barrel/turned on when needed then removed or would I use the pump somehow to agitate the water for aging as well (instead of an air stone?) I have a python -does this somehow connect to the pump to transfer water or would I just buy vinyl clear hose?

Thank you!

02-15-2014, 08:00 AM
Hi, Nicolette,

These aren't silly questions, they're good ones. I can't answer your questions about RO water, I don't use it myself, just city water.

I've had great success with John at Jehmco when figuring out what float valve to use on my aging barrel. You can google Jehmco for the phone number, and ask for John. They work with large fish breeders, but they've always had time for the hobbyist, too. As for the pump, for your needs I'd recommend one of the smaller mag drive pumps, they are very dependable and quiet. I have the largest one because I pump water up one level in my house. I just keep it in the bottom of the water barrel, it's been there for years.

Good luck.

02-15-2014, 10:28 AM
Don, thank you for your response! What pump do you use to pump up 1 level in your home?- I'm curious because someday I'd like to have my aging barrel in the basement and a large 120-140 g aquarium in my living room one floor up ~45 feet up the stairs.

1) Am I right that you make an appropriate sized hole in the barrel for the float valve then do you need any sealant/silicone to seal this?
2) Will one air stone work for a 32 g Brute Rubbermaid barrel? with a heater used in the barrel.
3) Does water need 24 hrs to age or is 12 hrs enough?
4) Would a Mag Drive MD-7 work? Would the pump just be placed in the barrel/turned on when needed then removed or would I use the pump somehow to agitate the water for aging as well (instead of an air stone?) I have a python -does this somehow connect to the pump to transfer water or would I just buy vinyl clear hose?

Thank you and I really welcome more to chime in!

02-15-2014, 10:53 AM
To answer your questions:
1. Plumbing for my float valve comes from above, rigid 3/4 inch copper pipe. I have a plexiglass cover over the top, loose, with a notch in it for the pipe to go through, but it's not water tight. If you want to come from the side, you should use some type of bulkhead fitting, such as one of these: http://www.jehmco.com/html/bulkhead_fittings.html. Never use silicone with any bulkhead fitting, imo.
2. I have three suspended heaters in my water storage barrel, but it's 200 gallons. I don't use an air stone.
3. The only reason I age water is to give the incoming water a chance to heat up to the same temp as in my aquariums. I know that many people age water with an air stone to remove chlorine and to stabilize the pH. My water doesn't need pH stabilization, and because my water source contains chloramines, aging with an air stone wouldn't help anyway.
5. I don't know if the mag drive 7 would work for you. I use either the 12 or 18, can't remember which. But if you're not raising water more than a few feet, just about any mag drive would work. But oversize it if you can, in case you expand in the future. I leave my pump in the barrel all the time, then just plug it in when I need to use it, and unplug when I'm finished pumping. Then I turn on the water valve to fill the storage barrel, until the float valve turns it off.

Hope that helps.

02-15-2014, 11:13 AM
I leave my pump in the barrel all the time, then just plug it in when I need to use it, and unplug when I'm finished pumping. ... Most of the time!!!!
As a testament to the quality if the pump Don is recommending, he did an experiment once, just for us, where he left it running for 24 hours in a dry barrel. I'm not sure how long ago that was but his pump is still working to this day.

02-15-2014, 11:18 AM
Hey tankster, you've got a good memory! That's why I recommend mag drive, it puts up with some abuse!

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk

02-15-2014, 11:32 AM
Sounds great- thank you for clarifying, answering my questions! Now off to shop

02-15-2014, 05:18 PM
Hi Don. Just wanted to get clarity on something. Do you keep the inlet water supply to the float drain closed, and only open it to refill the aging barrel?

02-15-2014, 09:53 PM
Good question. The inlet is actually controlled by a solenoid valve connected to an electrical switch. So, when the switch is off, or the power to the house is out, the valve is closed. When I turn on the switch, the valve opens, and the water flows into the barrel, if the float valve allows it in (i.e., when the barrel is low on water). I also bought this valve from Jehmco, but didn't want to mention it earlier, figured I was giving too much info already.

One other thing I thought of mentioning . . . do you plan on having an overflow drain? If you think about the tank in your toilet, if the float valve fails and it continues to allow water into the tank, the water harmlessly flows down the overflow valve into the drain. I've got a similar arrangement in my storage barrel. If either the float valve fails, or the solenoid switch sticks open, and water continues to flow into the barrel, it will flow into the overflow drain. Post #5 in this thread: http://forum.simplydiscus.com/showthread.php?72105-Dining-with-Discus&highlight=, shows what I did with my overflow when I was using rubbermaid barrels daisy-chained together.

Let me know if you have any more questions for me, or feel free to PM me. -Don

02-15-2014, 11:43 PM
I've read a bit about solenoid switches being a back up for float valves....I want to do everything I can to avoid an accidental overflow since my aging barrel will be on the second level of our home, above our kitchen! I'm confused- where does the solenoid switch connect?- on the inlet to the RO unit?- so between the tap water faucet and the inlet hose to the RO unit? So if this switch is off/valve is closed but the faucet is on will that stop the water? I may need a booster pump to increase the efficiency of my RO unit- where would the solenoid switch be if this is used?

Your plumbed system is beautiful Don! Your PCV overflow looks great! How do you seal the PCV outflow hole through the barrel so it's watertight? Could this PVC hook externally from the barrel to a flexible pipe I could drop over to my bathroom tub as a full proof system?

02-15-2014, 11:56 PM
Oh, and Don which solenoid switch did you buy?- there's several on their website. thanks

02-16-2014, 08:28 AM

I can't answer about RO, I don't know anything about it. The solenoid switch is installed in rigid copper pipe, just before the float valve, on the house water line. There is no faucet involved. Think about your toilet, while there is a "faucet" so to speak, a valve at the wall, that valve is always in the on position. I also have a valve on my line, but it's always open. So, with the barrel is low on water, I flip the switch, the solenoid opens, and allows water to flow past the float valve. I actually have that electrical switch on a simple bathroom fan timer. I turn the timer past 5 minutes, to whatever I want, and the solenoid is energized and opens. After the prescribed time, the timer clicks off and the solenoid closes. If the barrel fills before the timer turns off, the float valve closes. Whichever happens first will stop the flow of water. If both fail, the overflow will channel the water to the drain.

The pvc overflow goes through the barrel through a bulkhead fitting. These fittings come many ways, threaded, unthreaded for glued connections, whatever you want. It helps to have some plumbing experience. Considering the importance of controlling against water leaks, you might consider, as someone suggested, hiring a plumber or someone with plumbing knowledge, to help out. It could be money well spent in the long run!

I didn't know what solenoid valve to buy, either. I just called John at Jemhco and told him what I was trying to accomplish and he suggested the right parts.

Good luck!

02-16-2014, 09:47 AM
Thanks so much Don!

02-16-2014, 11:14 AM
Lots of good advice here, but I really think you need to re-think your tank placement. Sooner or later your going to have an equipment failure, or overfill your tank when you get momentarily distracted. Happens to all of us. Careful planning can minimize the damage done here, but mark my words, it will happen. It is also much easier to maintain a fequent water change schedule, when doing so isn't such a pita.

02-16-2014, 01:26 PM
I hear your concerns. I will not leave my tank's sight when refilling (because I'm petrified!) and it shouldn't take that long with a good pump. I would make an overflow on the aging barrel for a full proof/no major accident method- I can't imagine how this could fail??!!! in addition to a float valve. It sounds simple enough... I have every Tuesday and weekends off so I will at least not be crunched for time on those days and a large WC twice/wk from what I've read should be sufficient for a BB 55g adult discus tank. I agree, I want to avoid P.I.T.A...which is why I'm really spending the time to research up from and gather the logistical "plumbing" advice from all of you- thanks!