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Old 06-01-2015, 08:17   #1
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Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

I have a 1987 model 508 & 548 toilets with vacuum tanks and a S pump replaced in 2008. And a Sealand 28 gal holding tank with integrated discharge pump. The system was working fine but I did not like the layout (engineer has to fix that which is not broken). I moved the pump and vacuum tanks, holding tank and rebuilt everything including eliminated all the hose for ABS, except for connection points. There a 3 ft between the toilets and the vacuum tanks and 4 ft between the vacuum tanks and the pump.
PROBLEM: The vacuum pump will not shut off. I checked all the connections (using shaving cream) and found no leaks. Water is not pulled out of the bowl, even over days. I do not know how to test/inspect the tank switches. I assume when enough vacuum has been pulled in the tank the switch plunger is pulled back toward the tank disconnecting the power to the pump. I pulled the vacuum switch spring back while the pump was running , it disconnected the power and the pump shut down. Same result on both tanks. Power is wired from a breaker to one side of the vacuum switch them from the opposite pole on the vacuum switch to the + pump (fuse) and return the pump – to breaker.
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Old 06-01-2015, 08:34   #2
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Re: Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

Is any vacuum being created? Do you hear any poof if you flush while it is running?

The duck bills in the S pump are quite sensitive to the torque applied. Too much can mean that they do not close and no vacuum is generated.
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Old 06-01-2015, 08:49   #3
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Re: Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

I rebuilt everything which included all 4 duck bills at the vacuum pump and those in the inline check valves between the vacuum tanks and the pump. There is some vacuum at the toilets for one to two flushes. I have not checked the actual vacuccm reading at each toilet which may help in determining if a pressure switch is bad. The main issues is the pump never shuts off.

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Old 06-01-2015, 12:36   #4
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Re: Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

The main issues is the pump never shuts off.

I'd bet money on a failed vacuum tank switch.. if it's not duckbills or an air leak anywhere including the bowl, that's the only thing left. You can get a replacement from any VacuFlush dealer, or directly from SeaLand in OH if there is none in your local area...800-321-9886.

I suggest you also get a trouble shooting guide...it includes just about every symptom, possible causes and cures that a V/Flush can develop. The V/Flush has changed so little since Mansfield Plumbing introduced it in 1978 that the same TS guide will work for any model or year. It's in all the owners manuals...or I can send you a PDF of just the guide if you'd like to email me: (my[dot]name)atgmail[dot]com

"Normal people believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.
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Old 06-01-2015, 17:19   #5
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Re: Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

Thanks Peggy Thay was my thought Just looking for comfirmation. I have a owners manual but it does not tell you how to test the switchs I will treat it as a standard switch
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Old 06-01-2015, 20:21   #6
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Re: Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

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Originally Posted by earlspoint View Post
Thanks Peggy Thay was my thought Just looking for comfirmation. I have a owners manual but it does not tell you how to test the switchs I will treat it as a standard switch
Not sure what you mean by "standard switch"...so at the risk of telling you what you already know...the vacuum tank switch is on the end of the vacuum tank...it's a round 3" disk that threads into the tank like an inspection port. When you remove it, make careful note of which wire goes to which terminal so you can put 'em on the new one correctly the first time.

To replace it, just unscrew it, switch the wires to the new one, and then--making sure you got a new rubber o-ring with it (if not, it won't seal), thread the new one into the tank.
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Old 06-01-2015, 20:35   #7
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Re: Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

Peggie,

It is a pleasure to read your posts here. Welcome back! I have your book, but I have learned more by reading your troubleshooting advice responding to specific conditions posted here.
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Old 06-01-2015, 20:47   #8
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Re: Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

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Originally Posted by St. Elsewhere View Post
Peggie, It is a pleasure to read your posts here. Welcome back! I have your book, but I have learned more by reading your troubleshooting advice responding to specific conditions posted here.
Thanks for the kind words...but I'm not really back...just can't resist jumping in occasionally.

Happy New Year!
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:39   #9
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Re: Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

Peggy: Thanks again. By standard switch I meant "standard electrical switch" Which is all the vacuum tank switch is, a two pole switch activated (turn the pump on) by the plunger pushing on the switch responding to the lack of vacuum or deactivated (turns the pump off) the plunger pulling away from the switch responding to increased vacuum. The manual states (do not adjust the plunger spring) as it is factory set, which I believe is 10inHg. I tested both of the tank switches by pulling back on the spring which did deactivate the pump, so the actual electrical switches are fine, so may indicate a spring issue. Springs weaken with age like the rest of us losing flexibility. So before I buy new switch assemblies, I am going to try adjusting the springs, haven’t anything to lose. I do see switches only sold “without the mount/spring assembly”. The wiring is straight forward input + on one pole output + on the opposite pole to the pump (fuse). What is not clear per the manual is why there are A poles and B poles as it states use only the B polls. The A polls must be for an additional control circuit like a tank watch??
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Old 07-01-2015, 10:52   #10
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Re: Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

The spring MAY be the problem, but I'm inclined to doubt it. There's a little rubber diaphragm in the switch...over time the rubber wears out and develops a pinhole--that increases in size--leak. That's most often the reason the pump quits shutting off...full negative pressure is never achieved. Unfortunately, you can't buy just the diaphragm or spring or any other part in that switch, you have to buy the whole thing...and for a ridiculous price, considering what it is. But being a resourceful engineer, I suspect you'll have fun rising to the challenge of creating the solution to your problem out of spit and rubber bands...and a spring that fits.
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Old 07-01-2015, 11:18   #11
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Re: Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

I had the same problem a while back. I was prepared to change the switch. I took it out cleaned it lubricated the moving parts with Movit, played with the spring adjustment. There is an adjustment which you make using the gauge and measurement assembly available in a kit. If the vacuum required is too great to allow the switch to turn off it never will. I backed off the adjustment until it would shut off with very little vacuum and then increased it from there. Since you say this happened after you overhauled the system I would suspect it might be something you did. Since you say that water is not being pulled out of the bowl my suspicion is that the pump with the double duck bill valves was put in backwards or the duck bills themselves were.
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Old 07-01-2015, 15:33   #12
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Re: Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

Peggy thank again. I was unaware of the rubber diaphragm behind the switch. That is a defining point to the function of these switches I will pull the switches and inspect before making adjustments.
.
Lancerbye: I said water was not pulled from the bowl "after the flush was complete" (ball returns to closed position) which confirmed a good vacuum seal. Duck bills are fool proof (point to direction of flow).
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Old 10-01-2015, 17:22   #13
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Re: Vacuflush help for dumb engineer

I have the same setup on my boat. Save yourself some headache and replace the vacuum switch. The replacement will be of a better design, with way less ways for it to leak. I've got a pic of the old and new side-by-side somewhere if you want to see it.

It's expensive, but I tried repairing mine when it went out and it worked for a month or so before I had to replace it.

The other option is to put a switch in that breaks the power to the vacuum pump, so you can manually turn it off since the switch isn't working.
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