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Thread: Filter Maintenance Part III: Vortex Chamber

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Filter Maintenance Part III: Vortex Chamber

    This is easy, right? Each day you just open the discharge to waste and let the waste that has settled on the bottom get flushed away. If you are on a hill so that the waste discharges to a designated area at a lower elevation, it is simple. I am not so fortunate. Having a flat yard, waste is discharged to a sump where it is pumped through a pipe system irrigating the garden. The sump pumps cannot move water at as rapid a rate as it enters from the settlement chamber, and wads of algae glarf can block the pumps. So, I have a net at the discharge point to capture the glarf to minimize the amount entering the sump.

    Once per week, I turn off the pumps drawing from the chamber, close the entry valves and empty the chamber entirely. It is a 52-inch diameter chamber holding a good deal of water. It receives input from 2 4-inch lines connected to the bottom drains. A substantial amount of waste settles onto the sides of the chamber. This is rinsed off with a hose. Then, I open one of the in-flow valves to flush that line. The amount of settlement waste within the line used to surprise me. I have come to expect waste-laden brown water to rush into the chamber. I am now only surprised if the flushing does not produce a lot of yuck. After the chamber drains fully, the second line is flushed. After the chamber fully drains again, any large debris items on the bottom are removed. In my case, that can include whole-hull pecans. Then, both lines feeding the chamber are opened. After it re-fills, the pumps can be turned on and the unit placed back in operation. (Of course, the pond needs dechlorinated water added at that point.)

    Because I have to control the rate of flow to waste to match the sump pumps' discharge into the garden, this procedure takes more time than I would prefer. If I was on a hillside, it would take only a few minutes. If I was re-building the filter pit (where the sump is located), I would make it much larger and have two discharge lines to the garden. That would save me about 20 minutes per week. Those minutes add up on a Saturday when you would prefer to be watching your favorite team playing.

  2. #2
    Oyagoi gcuss's Avatar
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    Without a vortex, I have a raceway system fed from a single 4" bottom drain. Originally I installed a drain in the raceway but in my infinite newbie-ness I only installed a two inch drain thinking it would suffice. Well, it didn't, for two reasons. I figure my raceway is about 500 gallons and that alone is almost a 10 % change without dumping my static filter media.. too much water loss. So now I have a daily 10 min. chore..

    I built a little 1 1/4" pipe with a vaccum brush (from a shop vac accessory thing) on the end of it. This is hooked up in turn to a little 2500 GPH submersible pump. The discharge of the pump is connected to a sprinkler system for the flower beds and I have these nifty little sprinklers that have no problem with pine needles/solids etc. The pump sits below the water line and I put a valve on my "crap wand" so when I'm done cleaning I shut off the pump and close the valve to save me from having to prime it every time.

    It's definately more work than I would like, but the raceway stays nice and clean this way and I only dump about 50 gallons of water. Since I like to boil off my static media daily I end up doing about an 8 - 10 % water change daily. Luckily I'm not metered for my water use so it's not expensive and I try and use all the water I pull from the pond for the yard so as not to be so wasteful.

    A sieve is definately in my plans for next year prior to the raceway. I'm hoping that the sieve/raceway combo would illiminate the need for me to boil off my static K1 so often and reduce my labour as well as my water consumption... live and learn I suppose.


    Grant

  3. #3
    Daihonmei
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    Gcuss
    give it up...what is the exact name of the sprinkler that can handle the debris?

    Now my two cents....
    when wells were popular people would keep one bass or one pike in it just to make sure that when a rat fell in the well it didn't drown and sour the well...
    I keep some koi in my 1500 gallon Vortex chamber to keep the walls cleaner..you might consider keeping one or two worthless koi in yours....but then again i can't empty my vortex chamber, i just run a few hundred gallons out of it..just enough to were the water is clear. i have eight four inch bottom drains emptying into the vortex. I couldn't afford eight ball valves just so i could stop the flow coming into the vortex chamber....and it would be a pain to lift all the boards on the island to get to them anyway.

    Gcuss,,,,don't forget we could use a non fouling sprinkler head

  4. #4
    Oyagoi gcuss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luke frisbee View Post
    Gcuss
    give it up...what is the exact name of the sprinkler that can handle the debris?

    Now my two cents....
    when wells were popular people would keep one bass or one pike in it just to make sure that when a rat fell in the well it didn't drown and sour the well...
    I keep some koi in my 1500 gallon Vortex chamber to keep the walls cleaner..you might consider keeping one or two worthless koi in yours....but then again i can't empty my vortex chamber, i just run a few hundred gallons out of it..just enough to were the water is clear. i have eight four inch bottom drains emptying into the vortex. I couldn't afford eight ball valves just so i could stop the flow coming into the vortex chamber....and it would be a pain to lift all the boards on the island to get to them anyway.

    Gcuss,,,,don't forget we could use a non fouling sprinkler head

    I'll take a picture of it tomorrow for you and then you too can have a non fouling sprinkler. It's basically a cast iron disc. In the middle there's about a 1/2" hole. The water enters on the outside (if memory serves me right) and swirls around to the middle where it fans out of the 1/2" hole. I orginally bought them when I saw them because my dogs generally like to trash anything plastic and these looked dog proof. Turns out they are dog proof, and don't foul.

  5. #5
    Daihonmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcuss View Post
    I'll take a picture of it tomorrow for you and then you too can have a non fouling sprinkler. It's basically a cast iron disc. In the middle there's about a 1/2" hole. The water enters on the outside (if memory serves me right) and swirls around to the middle where it fans out of the 1/2" hole. I orginally bought them when I saw them because my dogs generally like to trash anything plastic and these looked dog proof. Turns out they are dog proof, and don't foul.
    "Pound of rain"
    ?

  6. #6
    Oyagoi gcuss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luke frisbee View Post
    "Pound of rain"
    ?
    That's the one.

    Works great.

    Grant

  7. #7
    Oyagoi Flounder's Avatar
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    Grant, where did you get it?

  8. #8
    Oyagoi gcuss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flounder View Post
    Grant, where did you get it?
    To be honest Ryan I can't remember. But here's some:

    Amazon.com: Nelson Pound Of Rain 30-Foot Circular Spray Sprinkler, Cast Iron #2151: Home Improvement

    Grant

  9. #9
    Daihonmei
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    i got some of them from sears last year on the discontinued rack

  10. #10
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    I have two sets of three nitrotech vortex chambers. Each set is gravity fed from a 4 in bottom drain. Orginally the 1st chamber was completely empty to act as a settlement tank. The 2nd & 3rd chambers had a large open cell foam filter about 9 inches thick.

    I made some significant modifications.

    Both of the 1st chambers now contains about a dozen filter brushes. I have found that with the brushes the amount of solids collected in the first chamber vs when empty is at least 3X more.

    Both 2nd chambers were converted to DIY moving bed type filters with kaldenes media.

    Both 3rd chambers contain the small pore matala pads about 8 inches thick.

    I open the drains on all vortex chambers according to feeding levels. Daily if possible during high feeding season and on the other end of the spectrum weekly or even bi-monthy during the winter fasting season.

    However, several times a week during the high feeding season I completely drain and also rinse all the vortex chambers using pond water via my skimmer circuit and a 1-1/2 in. pool hose. I discovered after draining the chambers that there is still a significant amount of mulm left behind in the chambers. I remove the covers and wash down the inside of the chambers and all the filter material until the water coming out of the drain is clear.

    The settlement chambers with the brushes has the most residual left behind. And even though I shake the brushes before draining the chamber there is still a lot of mulm stuck in the brushes.

    The middle chambers with the kaldenes has some mulm scum around the top of the chamber but I see very little settlement in these chambers.

    The last chambers also have quite a bit of mulm that is washed out when rinsed.

    If I had a way to collect all the mulm I am able to rinse out after completely draining the votex chambers I would be it would fill 2-3 gallon buckets. Which is quite a lot to leave to rot in the chambers.

    Warning, You cannot use chlorinated water to rinse your biofilters without damaging the benficial bacteria. ONLY USE POND WATER TO RINSE BIO MEDIA!

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