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Old 08-27-2010, 09:01 AM   #1
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ANOTHER return pump failed

The problem:

I woke up this morning to find my return pump has failed again. Here's the chronology for my return pumps:

1. Mag Drive 12. Worked great for a year, then it stopped working.
1a. replaced the impeller. Worked for a couple of days, then quit again.
1b. replaced the impeller and cover. Worked for a couple of days, then quit again.

2. Mag Drive 12. I bought a new one, installed it from the box, it worked great for about a day and then quit.

3. Mag Drive 12. I exchanged the last one for another new one. Installed it, it worked great for less than two days, and then quit.

4. Quietone 6000. I exchanged the last one, and asked the LFS what they would recommend. They said this brand, since it's the one they use there, and it happens to be the same brand as my backup pump (below). I ordered one of these, but it seemed to provide the same amount of flow as the backup (half of what it was rated). I installed it anyways, and it worked for about a week. It quit this morning.

Backup. my backup pump is a Quietone 2200, rated for 600 gph. It doesn't give me nearly what I want, but it has worked and never failed every time these other pumps do.

I'm getting really frustrated with this situation. I've gone through a lot of trouble and I still can't get a decent return pump working that will stay working. I'm going to return this Quietone 6000 after work today and I don't know what I'm going to do for a return pump at this point. All I care about is that I have a return that will actually give me at least 1000 gph.

Possible causes (in alphabetical order):

ATO Switch: I currently run an auto-topoff switch, but I have it mounted so that it protects the pump. That is, if the water level in the refugium gets too low, it will shut the pump off so that it doesn't run dry. What sometimes happens is that evaporation makes the level get low enough that it trips the ATO to turn off the pump, but then gravity kicks in and there's an oscillating of on/off every second or so. At worst, this could happen for a few hours until I get home to top off the tank. I'd like to think that pumps are made to turn on and off, and with a couple of these pumps (the ones that lasted for a day or two), there wasn't much opportunity for this to happen. I don't think this is realistically a cause, but please correct me if I'm wrong. I've tried pumps with and without this setup and it doesn't seem to affect whether or not they work, but I haven't tried *every* pump in *every* possible configuration.

Battery Backup: I have an API battery backup/surge protector that I run all of the fish tank stuff on. I'm not happy with the battery backup part, I'm pretty sure that's shot, so at this point everything is just on the surge protector, but I've tried every configuration for these pumps I can think of: plugged into the battery backup, the surge protection only, and directly into the wall. The differences in configuration seem to make no difference in the performance of the pump.

Plumbing: I use flexible tubing to do from my return pump back to the display tank. There is a "T" branch, so there are two return nozzles that come from this one pump. The returns are about 5-6 feet above the return pump. I have a spongey-thing in front of the pump's intake to try and get out any large bits that might clog up the pump. This is the same plumbing (at least the same plumbing surrounding the return pump) I have used for most of the time I've had this tank, so it's worked with the first Mag Drive 12 pump for several months before it failed.

Here's a video of the most recent setup of the tank. The backup pump was installed when this video was taken. Maybe there's something else I'm missing...

LFS
is tired of me coming back and saying that their pumps don't work.

My main questions are: what return pump should I get at this point? Is there something wrong with my setup that is causing all of these pumps to fail?

I would appreciate any feedback or suggestions. I'm at a total loss right now.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:25 AM   #2
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I just cant for the life of me understand that. I`ve used mag pumps for a long time and hardly ever had problems. Are you using the sponge filter. I cant get the video here at work.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:35 AM   #3
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Yeah, it's the sponge filter that comes with the Mag 12 and attaches over the intake. I put it in front of the Quietones too but I doubt it helps that much...
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:46 AM   #4
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How much head pressure are we talking? As I said I cant see the vidoe.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:00 AM   #5
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I'm not sure I know what else to tell you besides this: there's a "T" going from the pump to the two returns, and the returns are 5-6 feet above where the pump is...

I can't see videos at work either, but I can link to them
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:22 AM   #6
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That could be significant. I have my two pumps that are individually plumbed to their own return. I use a plastic hose to the return. That T could be a big player in the problem. Are you able to go to two return pumps and plumb each to it`s own return. Might want to wait on our General hardware and equipment discussion guru ccCAPT (Larry). He`s good at stuff like this.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:33 AM   #7
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I'm *able* to use two return pumps the way you said. I was actually hoping to do that in the near future because it was suggested in another thread I made about this topic earlier in the process. I was hoping to have two working pumps before that happened.

I also suspected the underlying problem was something else since the pump with less flow is working fine, or is there some better reason for this?
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:38 AM   #8
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I`m thinking that the more pressure that is hitting the T with the more flow pump is binding up there compared to the less flow pump pressure hitting the T. I sent a PM to LArry. Hopefully he will tell us if I`m right or not.
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:12 PM   #9
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Exactly what is going bad on the pumps? Which part is breaking?

When any of the pumps died, did you try taking it apart, soak it overnight in vinegar, drop the impeller back in (but not putting the cover back on) and plug it in?

Did they get real hot when running? If the motor burned out on all of them, I would says it's the ATO when it malfunctions and toggles the pump on/off.
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:32 PM   #10
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I can only guess as to which part is breaking: I'll tell you what I've done and what I know at this point:

The first pump (Mag Drive 12 #1, the one that I tried replacing the impeller and cover on) I tried soaking in vinegar at several times during the process, though I don't remember exactly when. That alone never got it working again -- it seemed like the only thing that would get that to work again was to take the impeller/cover off and put it back on. With that particular pump, I was sometimes able to get the pump to work, but I would turn it off and back on and it wouldn't. Sometimes it would seem like it would "try" for a while and quit, which made me believe impeller/cover was the problem, but after replacing as much as I did and not seeing it work for longer than a couple of days at a time, I decided to buy a new pump. I still have this pump.

The second Mag Drive 12 I tried soaking once in vinegar after it stopped working the first time, but I didn't take it apart (I was afraid of screwing up the impeller/cover at that point). I ran it for a little bit in the sink with a diluted vinegar solution, but I didn't see any change after doing that -- it wouldn't run even by itself in the tub I have for water changes with new SW.

The third Mag Drive 12 I took back immediately after it stopped working. I decided to try a different brand at this point.

The only one that got hot was this most recent one, the Quietone. I woke up this morning, took it out and put the backup in, gathered the box and the receipt, posted this, and went to work. If I burned out the motor, I don't know if I'm going to have much luck returning this one...

I've tried running the pumps with no cover (with impeller) once, on the first Mag 12. I don't believe I've ever had that not work with that pump, but it's been a while since I've tried that. When I get home tonight I can try that test again and see what happens: would there be any harm in doing that without water? I made a mess last time I did that (part of why I haven't done it much recently).

Hopefully that helps... let me know if I can tell you more. I'm mostly concerned with finding a setup that works, and before I go changing the plumbing to two pumps it would be ideal if I could know that I have two pumps that will work and nothing else will go wrong.

Is it possible that I'm doing more harm than good by trying to "protect" my return pump with that ATO? From what you said, it sounds like turning it off/on like that is worse than running it dry...
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