My fix for stuck ATO sensors and accidentally flooded tanks!

McJaeger

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Hey guys. I wanted to share my solution to a problem I've had a few times since I installed an ATO a few months ago. I haven't seen any threads with this exact fix and I'm a bit new to the hobby, so pardon me if this is common knowledge.

I'm using the XP Aqua Duetto as an ATO for my Fluval EVO 13.5, and it's worked great, but every so often I'll run into an issue where the sensor fails and doesn't give the pump in the ATO reservoir the "off" signal. The last time this happened it emptied the entire water reservoir into my tank, flooded the room, and dropped my salinity to 1.018. Fortunately everything survived, but I wanted to prevent it from ever happening again. Since the EVO has a relatively small overflow compartment I was a bit limited in my options, but I settled on using an XP Aqua RO/DI Flood Guardian to detect whether the water level in my tank gets above the optimal level and to shut the flow of RO water into my tank off if the sensor gets tripped.

It's a pretty simple setup. I have the Duetto ATO sensor in chamber 3 to detect when the water is low and the Flood Guardian sensor in chamber 1 to detect when the water level is high. The Flood guardian solenoid valve is connected to the tube coming out the top of my RO water reservoir, and its power supply is plugged into a smart power strip that lets me program on/off schedules for each outlet. When the guardian sensor is tripped, the solenoid closes, and and water continually being pumped out of the RO reservoir is shunted back into the reservoir via the backflow valve that came with the Duetto. Eventually the Duetto will should detect when the water is pumping for too long and cut power to the water lifting pump, but this should help stem additional "topoffs" if the water level is too high. The flood guardian activates and opens the solenoid when the power is switched on, so I programmed my smart strip to quickly cycle the power off then on twice a day. I may tweak this program as time goes on, but my rationale for it is that if the sensor erroneously detects a high water level, the ATO will only be shut off for a maximum of 12 hours before solenoid is re-opened. If the guardian sensor is still under water when this happens it'll beep until I notice and deal with it, and if it was just a false alarm the system will re-engage as if nothing happened.

See the attached pics for the sensor/solenoid layout (and a pic of the beautiful work in progress that is my tank :D). We'll see how it plays out in the long run since I just installed it today, but the added redundancy will help me relax when I'm not around. What do you guys think?

20191224_154146.jpg ATO reservoir, solenoid, and power layout.jpg ATO reservoir.jpg Duetto sensor.jpg Flood guardian sensor.jpg sensor placement.jpg tank.jpg
 

Big G

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Very clever fix. My Tunze float switch got stuck (my bad for not cleaning it regularly) after we had a brief power outage. Kinda freaked me out. Thanks for sharing and with pics. Nice. :cool:

Merry Christmas! :)
 

Alex Sadowsky

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Hey, I just stumbled across this. Did you ever reach out to XPAqua about the upper sensor not tripping. If it has happened repeatedly, maybe it was/is defective. The whole point of a duel sensor is to prevent the exact problem you had. I would contact them and maybe they can test it or replace the sensor. Seems like you went through an awful lot of work for something that shouldn’t have happened. Also, what is the grey box on the back of your aquarium?
Edit: I should mention I have the Duetto and it has worked flawlessly. That’s why I’m concerned yours might be defective. Super smart fix using the Flood Guardian.
 
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McJaeger

McJaeger

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Hey, I just stumbled across this. Did you ever reach out to XPAqua about the upper sensor not tripping. If it has happened repeatedly, maybe it was/is defective. The whole point of a duel sensor is to prevent the exact problem you had. I would contact them and maybe they can test it or replace the sensor. Seems like you went through an awful lot of work for something that shouldn’t have happened. Also, what is the grey box on the back of your aquarium?
I actually figured out what causes the problem, the sensor isn't defective. If the intake floss in chamber 1 gets too clogged up it slows the flow into the other two chambers, but the return pump continues at the same speed. This drops the water level in chamber 3, and since that's where the ATO sensor is it gets stuck in a fill-purge-fill cycle until there's water on the floor. So if anything it's a failsafe for if that happens while I'm at work, which is what happened last time.

The grey box is a grow light I velcroed to the back for the fuge I made in chamber 2 :D
 

Alex Sadowsky

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I’m glad you figured it out. How often are you changing out the floss? Ah! Very cool! Thought it might be a grow light, but wasn’t sure. Do you like the Flood Guardian? I was thinking of picking it up. We almost flooded my classroom RODI reservoir because we left the filter running.
 

Zachbud

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Sorry to burst your bubble. I was so disappointed but I’ve had two flood guardians fail me now. I’ll never use them again. Waste of my money
 

theMeat

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Nice, and thanx for taking the time to share in such detail.
Have been using hydor smart level for years without issue or moving parts. Pretty fail safe. After years of seeing float switches fail...
 
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McJaeger

McJaeger

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I’m glad you figured it out. How often are you changing out the floss? Ah! Very cool! Thought it might be a grow light, but wasn’t sure. Do you like the Flood Guardian? I was thinking of picking it up. We almost flooded my classroom RODI reservoir because we left the filter running.
Every three to four days, depending on how much I'm feeding the coral. Reef roids really clogs it up. And yeah it's great! For what I've used it for, at least. It triggers immediately when it comes into contact with water and beeps/flashes to let you know the sensor was tripped.
 

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