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sump pump weight type switches. Where did they all go?

ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,332
What happened to the type of sump pump switch that used two weights on a cord?

This is just something I've been wondering and I'm thinking with the amount of seasoned plumbers on this site someone will have an answer . In the house I grew up in we had some serious water problems that required three sump pumps to keep up with at times. We had quality pumps all of which had a switch that had two weights. When the water got half way up the top weight the spring loaded switch clicked on, when it got half way down the bottom weight it clicked off.

All 3 pumps never had switch problems. The oldest was a 1958 Homart 1/2 HP submersible and was still in use at least until 2006. The switches clamped onto the pipe via a simple hose clamp if I remember correctly.
Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment


  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited January 2014
    Float Switches:

    Myers sells a ALC 18P in either 120 volt or 240 volt. I always used them on new installs or replacements for broken float switches mounted inside the sump tank.

    ALC = All Liquid Control, 18p= 18' cord with appropriate plug. They mount on a braided nylon cord and are held in place with a stainless steel set screw for adjustment for any range desired.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,332

    So you still can get them.

    Any idea why they seem rare?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    Well, because the other float type aren't cheap. The mercury bulb  ones are cheaper. And you can't set the range unless you use a controller. Then, you need two switches. One for ON and one for OFF

    The mercury ones are nice because you can clamp the wire on the discharge pipe inside the pump chamber. When the wire breaks after MANY times of bending back and forth, they stop working. Or, if there is a crust that develops, it hangs up the float and the pump either doesn't stop, or it doesn't stop. So, you have to disconnect the piping and hope that you don't get covered with dirty water because the cheapskate original installer didn't put a valve in the drain or union at the tank. The float switch is usually separate with one of those unavailable queer plugs that plug in to a wall socket and you plug the pump in to. All is not in vain though, because if you direct connect the motor plug end into power, and the motor isn't jammed or burned out, you can pump out the pump chamber. Then, knowing that the pump is working, you can pull that nasty thing out and slap a new float switch on it. Which will again break from continuous bending of the wire.

    Or, you can leave that whole nasty mess in place (as long as the motor is still working and pumping) and install the ALC-18P in the other hole in the tank top, where there is that extra hole in the cover, just perfect for that new external switch.

    They also work well in septic tank overflow chambers that take the "clear" water from the discharge of the tank and pump it into the leach field. You can install the switch so it is accessible in the top opening so you don't go inside that nasty, smelly hole to change the mercury switch.

    How do you cut a piece of wire when you don't have a pair of wire nippy's? Bend it back and forth until the wire breaks. Same way as the wire breaks in the mercury float switches.

    Why don't more use the ALC types? I don't know. They're smart and I'm not. Last Spring I had a customer with a 1,000 gallon septic tank so that he could pump sewerage up hill to the town sewer. The switch dies. I showed up with a ALC switch and I would have put it in. I had it in the truck. It would have taken me 1 1/2 hours both ways to change it to a ALC. The septic guy showed up and brought his septic sucker, and it took him all day to replace the switch with the old broken wire switch. He climbed into that nasty hole and changed it. He wanted no part of any switch that didn't require him going into that nasty, smelly tank. He's smart and I'm not.

    Snark-O-Meter switch is full on.

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