Z-Wave Valves and Well Pumps (Leak protection)


#1

I like the concept of using a z-wave valve to shut the system down in the event of a leak. But on a well system, I think it would have to be multiple devices.

If one places the valve immediately AFTER the pressure tank it wouldn’t do much good if the leak occurred at the tank or between it and the well pump. However if one placed it as close to the house ingress as possible, and a leak occurs after the pressure tank (valve shuts) you risk burning the well pump up because the pressure tank thinks it’s under pressure and therefore turning on the pump against a closed valve. I think one would have to have a z-wave breaker as well so if the leak occurred, both the breaker could be shut off AND valve being shut.

Is my method of thinking correct here?


#2

I have same problem even with a constant pressure franklin electric high end pump controller. If if put a z-wave $500 valve at ingress, the controller despite all its smarts will burn out the 1.5 hp pump or blow the underground line or attached irrigation lines open trying to pressurize up to 100 psi (as the pressure sensor is downstream at the pressure tank) I need protection at ingress because everything in the utility room is subject to leaking, including the latest leak i had at the venturi aerator required for an iron fliter that leaked for 2 days at the air intake due to iron gumming it up. It is installed at ingress so air is oxygenated for the filters. The plumbing is tight fitted copper welded between pressure tank, softner and iron filter. If i z-wave water valve after all that it will miss leaks in the 4 devices ahead if it. Even the simple pressure tank is a likely leaker through its 75 psi relief valve. If my smart controller sensor gets gummed up or even a mechincal spring design sticks, you have 10-20gpm pouring out onto the floor from the relief vavle.

The only way to handle this was to build up 2x2 frame screwed to floor around all 4 devices plus the water heater in the utility room then caulked to the cement floor. Any water leaks will be conatined and evetually drain to weeping tile drain in the centre that is connected to a sump pump.

Then I am going to find a $100 240v relay z-wave switch to the knife switch that powers my pump controller which will be activated by a z-wave water sensor on the utility floor, one by dishwasher and one at washer (as these two appliances are most common to leak when their plastic solenoid valves fail).

This will cover me expect for the max 20-25 gallons that may leak on the basement utility floor if a leak is from one of the 4 devices - this would be the residual pressure from the pressure tank after the power to the pump is cut by the z- wave controller. On the main floor this is about max 10 gallons and about max 5 gallons for 2nd floor as the residual pressure cant pump as much vertically. I can live with a bucket of water or two spilt on the uppper floors. Most important design here is to kill power to the $3,000 25 gpm pump as quickly as possible when you have a leak anywhere past a 1" ingress pipe.


(Gary McCready) #3

I was thinking something similar for my well pump. Cheaper and more reliable to have a z-Wave pump switch than a valve, Did you go this route, and what switch did you use? Thanks.


#4

Here’s what I did and has saved me a lot of grief with several nuisance leaks over last 2 years.

-bought 11 of the “Aeon Labs Aeotec Z-Wave Water Sensor (DSB45-ZWUS)”. Been almost 2 years and I haven’t had to change the batteries in any of them. They have never gone offline or needed to be reset. They cover every plumbing device in house (taping to back of toilet in bathrooms is a good way to hide them). A 5-star product.
-at the pump controller, I installed an “Intermatic CA3750 InTouch Wireless Multi-Volt 120-277VAC Contactor Module” . I think they are discontinued. My only complaint is I have to re-add it to the z-network after a whole house power failure. But it does its job with shutting off the pump within a second if a leak detector sends a signal. A similar model from GE or Aeon will work. I like the Intertac, as it looks like a regular high quality electrical disconnect switch
-at the pressure tank, i installed a 24v home depot 3/4’ irrigation vale to the drain spigot, and a z-wave leviton house outlet nearby for a 24v AC humidifier wall transformer (also home depot). I leave the drain spigot fully open, and the irrigation valve is closed by default with no power. At the end of the irrigation valve, is a 3/4" hose that runs to the floor drain. When a leak is detected, the pump turns off, 1 second later the z-wave controller turns on the irrigation valve and 25 gallons of pressurized water in evacuated in about 15 seconds to the floor drain. It turns off after 5 mins, But all that stored water doesn’t leak upstairs to the laundry if that’s where the leak was. Barely a cup of water makes it to the leak area, once the pressure tank is blown. I use this nifty feature now to just manually turn on this irrigation valve to flush the pressure tank once a month of the gunk that collects in there,
-will this setup, my insurance company gave me 9% rate decrease, and increased surface water coverage from 25K to 50K no charge.
-setup saved the day recently, when the pump pressure switch got stuck and ended up opening up the pressure tank’s 75 PSI pressure relief valve, Leak was detected by sensor on the pump room floor, shut the pump off, and opened the irrigation valve at same time, so only a gallon or so hit the floor (the relief valve quickly closes once pressure drops off from above 75PSI). This has been further fixed with a 3/4" hose attached to the pressure relief valve and tee’ed to the irrigation valve drain hose. Now if the tank is over pressure, even that 1 gallon goes to the drain.
-my pump is 25 GPM…like having a mini firehouse go off if you don’t plan to contain it when there is a problem. Worth every penny I spent on this leak detection system.


(Gary McCready) #5

Thank you for the detail explanation. I was orignailly going to use a valve inline, but after I thought about ti it seemed like just another moving part that could fail. The Aeotec Heavy Duty Smart Switch, 40 amps, is less expensive too.
Great idea about the evac irrigation setup. I have a a Rachio with an extra “zone” that I can control from Smartthings. I’m using the FIBARO Flood Sensors, which I picked up 1/2 price, open box. I’ve just had them a few months, so not sure about battery life, but they do have a DC option.
You convinced me to try this route, the the evac is a great idea! You ROCK, dude~!!


#6

I have the 16 zone Rachio too - Fantastic product. I have extra zones leftover too, but it is 100 feet away in the garage, and the pump room is in the basement. Its why I bought a wall plug transformer for $7.95. Orbit 3/4" irrigation value was $22.95. And I trust z-wave network protocol more than I do wi-fi (unless you have your router on a UPS). A lot cheaper than a $500 z-wave in-line valve - and you right, reliability is a concern (I have over 20 irrigation values buried, thorough summer and winter for over 10 year and they don’t ever fail) . My Aeon batteries are between 46%-53% capacity as reported in the controller after two years - and that is with the cheap no-name “AAA” batts they ship with. So probably 3+ years total before i get an alert to replace at less than 20%. Then with new Duracells…even more life,

If you use a z-wave 240v switch for the pump, remember you have to leave the existing knife “service disconnect” switch there as part of the circuit. Doesn’t matter much if you wire the z-wave just before or just after, but just about all North American Electrical Codes need that switch there for service personnel to visually see and know power is off and stays off before servicing equipment (a breaker at the main panel is not enough, as someone (homeowner) could turn that back on by mistake, or a z-wave controller remotely turns on a 240v smart switch). Same set up you see at A/C compressor outside the house, or why there is a furnace switch next to furnace.

And after rehashing this, I made a new z-wave controller scene to flush the pressure tank weekly now at a set time, just like the other filters do once a week. Just 10 seconds to get the big sediment out. Heavy iron in my water. Further, I’m now going to get another 3/4" irrigation valve and replace the hot water drain spigot for the same function -maybe once a month. No matter how much filter equip you have with well water, your hot water tank collects what ever is missed at the bottom of its tank. Its a function of how the water is heated in a column under pressure - the crap precipitates out and collects at the bottom, as does the particles that flake off the 'sacrificial anode" metal rod in the tank there to prevent rust. Water from a hot water tank should never be used for drinking or cooking for that reason. Boil from cold water only.

Final tip - I have a huge 75 gallon natural gas , powered exhaust hot water tank, electronic ignition. The control and fan wiring from the tank is plugged in to a z-wave leviton outlet. Saves a bit of money. I set the tank thermostat to highest it can go - 150+ f scalding temp - but the mixing valve on top of tank (crossover of cold to hot output) (building code) injects cold water to ensure that temp doesn’t reach faucets. It fires up at 5:00-7:00 am M-F (cheaper electricity overnight for on time of day use where I am). A super hot tank (with that tin foil air bubble blanker i added around it can provide hot water for up to 3 days). On weekends, I let it go super hot all day as the electricity is also lowest rate on weekends and more use all day. Does this make sense? Most people just turn down the temp setting of the tank to save money. I say to those people google “Legionnaires’ Disease”. Won’t happen in my tank - everything is killed off every morning at a 150 F setting. Setting your tank down to 100 F is a bacterial sauna for bugs. Boil it off, kill everything once a day and save money at the same time by putting your tank on a timer or z-wave or other controlled switch.


(Gary McCready) #7

I’ve got a tankless rinnai propane water heater. Thing has been very quirky though. Not sure I’d do it again, but it did switch me from electric. Here is a vid I made about my problem with it… https://youtu.be/umbAWj2TQ6w
Once again, thanks for your input!
Gary