Auto refill systems
Auto refill systems when installed properly can be a big help in the hot summer months when evaporation is an issue. However, we frequently come across professionally installed water features with auto refill systems that are plumbed directly to the sprinkler main line that also have overflow drains. The results can be a water bill in excess of several thousand dollars if the auto refill valve sticks open. It’s similar to a leaky toilet tank in that water disappears without a trace, basically down the drain but on a much larger scale. Most auto refill valves are physically very similar to a toilet refill valve in that there is a float ball that rises with the water level in the pond. Once the level reaches the top the valve is supposed to close. A twig or a leaf or any other debris floating in the pond can prevent the valve from closing all the way. If this happens water could run continuously and if your pond was also installed with an overflow drain as many are, you won’t know anything is wrong until your next your water bill arrives. Consequently we recommend that auto refill valves never be installed directly to the main line of a sprinkler system and are continually puzzled by contractors that do this. To prevent this from happening we recommend the following solutions. The simplest and most affordable method that works well on smaller water features is to install the auto refill valve to a sprinkler zone. Basically the auto refill ends up being one of the sprinkler heads on a zone. Disadvantages to this type of installation are refill time is limited to the zone’s run time so depending on the zone and the size of the water feature this may not work. Additionally this method only works when the sprinkler zones are running which means it probably won’t be working in the spring or the fall. The best installation involves installing a dedicated zone valve and then wiring it to the sprinkler controller as a dedicated zone. We then program the controller to run on a 2 or 3 day interval as needed for a specified time and we put this zone on a separate program which runs independently of the sprinkler zones. With this system your adding a specified amount of water on a specified interval as needed as long as your sprinkler system is not winterized. The cost of this type of installation depends on a few factors 1# The distance of the closest sprinkler valve to the water feature. #2 Is there an extra zone available on your sprinkler controller to add a dedicated zone? Almost all the newer controllers are modular which means adding a 3 zone module could be really quick and affordable. #3 Is there 1 extra wire available to power the new zone? – if not we can use a splitter which allows us to run 2 valves using just one wire. When servicing your water feature we can provide free estimates to upgrade your auto refill system, or if you don’t have one, the cost to install a system.