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Do you get your water from a well? Millions of people do, and how long your water pump lasts depends in part on the size of the pressure tank you’ve got. This is where a simple, effective but little-known valve called Cycle Stop can add years to pump life. I installed one at our place a number of years ago and it continues to work better than I thought possible.
Minimizing the ONs & OFFs
The one thing all private water well systems have in common is a pressure tank. Water pumps last longest when they switch ON and OFF as infrequently as possible, and this is related to the size of pressure tank you’ve got. The bigger the tank, the longer your pump stays ON filling up that tank and raising system pressure. Long run time is a good thing for pump life. By contrast, smaller tanks trigger frequent ON/OFF cycles because they fill up and empty out more often while water is being used. But even if you’ve got a lot of room for a big tank, all that wasted space is still a pain. And if a smaller space demands a small water tank, then frequent switching could easily cut pump life in half.
The Cycle Stop valve (cyclestopvalves.com; 800-652-0207) was invented more than 25 years ago by an engineer named Cary Austin. The valves his small company makes today are in millions of homes and many municipal water systems around the world. To understand how Cary’s valves operate, you need to understand how an ordinary tank-equipped water system works without the help of Cycle Stop.
The heart of every private water well system is the pump, and it’s controlled by a pressure switch. When water pressure in the system tank drops below a preset level – typically 30 pounds per square inch (psi) – the pressure switch energizes the pump that then delivers new water to the tank. As new water accumulates in the tank, internal pressure rises to a preset maximum – typically 60 psi – then the pump turns OFF. Back and forth, back and forth like this.
Besides being hard on the pump, all this switching ON and OFF means that the water pressure you experience at the tap or shower varies quite a bit with ordinary systems. Pump-killing switching and varying water pressure are the two main problems that Cycle Stop eliminates.
Cycle Stop maintains a constant 50 psi of water pressure output as long as any fixture in your house is turned ON and drawing more than 1 gallon per minute. No more ONing and OFFing for your pump, and no more varying water pressure. The pump simply keeps running as long as the water does, delivering a perfectly steady 50 psi.
I installed Cycle Stop in a water system I put into a home on our property with no room for anything other than the tiniest water tank. The performance is excellent, there are no electronics or fragile parts to break.
Cycle Stop works by adding more or less resistance to water flow to maintain a 50 psi output regardless of whether one fixture or more is flowing. It’s essentially an automatic throttle, and though you’d think restricting water flow like this would be bad for the pump, it’s actually mechanically and electrically easier on most types of pumps.
Connect a power consumption meter to a water pump feeding into a Cycle Stop valve and you can see that less wattage is used compared to running the pump without the valve. This effect happens for submersible pumps and jet pumps – the two most common types used in residential water systems. Cycle Stop doesn’t work with piston pumps, so don’t even try if you’ve got this rare type.
It’s surprising how many people think it’s bad for a water pump to have it’s flow restricted. This seems like it should be the case, but it’s not reality. Millions of water systems successfully in action over decades proves it, as does the measurably lower current draw of a pump that is being throttled to maintain that 50 psi output. Like I said before, Cycle Stop only works on pumps that moves water with some kind of internal fan. This means a jet pump or submersible. Piston pumps positively displace water with a piston in a cylinder and this is not suitable for Cycle Stop/
A simple valve, longer pump life, steadier water pressure and a 25 year track record of success. Sounds like a good idea to me.
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– Steve Maxwell