Replacing our 12 volt water pump

12 volt pump

Most of the time, items are replaced when they fail, break or quit working. We decided to get a jump on replacing a critical piece of our daily life before it stopped working, I’m referring to our 12 volt water pump. I have written about our water system before, the pump is an integral part of our water system.

We had a 12 volt Shurflo pump, it came out of an old RV and has served us well. I liked having a 12 volt system because it hooks up directly to the batteries, not going through the inverter, so even if everything else is not working, as long as the batteries have juice, the pump will work.

old pump

We replaced it with a newer 12 volt Shurflo pump, but an improved model, this one has greater flow and it’s quieter. Honestly the noise factor for us isn’t such a big deal, PB has isolated the pump as much as possible from the structure of the SkyCastle, and most of the time, it’s just us here and we are used to any potential noise it might make. Also, there is a light switch type switch over the sink to cut off power to the pump should we wish it.

new pump

A day after the pump arrived, PB went to work exchanging the pumps. That went smoothly enough, we have the capability of draining the outside pipes/hoses so we don’t have to worry about it freezing and breaking. The pump needs to be able to draw the water up some 6 feet from the water tank and this one does it quite nicely, the first time. The second time we drained the water and turned the pump back on, no water.

12 volt pump
Plumbers and electricians may cringe at this, but it works :)

The pump came on and make the appropriate sounds, but it was clear that it wasn’t pulling the water up. After some reading and troubleshooting, we discovered this pump has a bypass system built in, I’m not up to speed on all of this, but it has to do with the size of the pipes/hoses used, apparently if you are using smaller diameter hose/pipe on the intake side than you are using on the outgoing side, it doesn’t work. BUT after reading the info on the paperwork it came with, it turns out you can adjust the bypass part, once PB got back under there and fiddled with it, it works like a charm.

12 volt pump

Our water system is fairly simple, it starts out in a tank outside, gets drawn into the SkyCastle, through the pump, next the pipe/hose is split with one line going back into the water tank, we merely have to turn a valve to drain the system for freezing weather. It goes next into the pressure tank, that keeps the pump from having to cycle every time the water is turned on.

From there it splits again into 4 directions. One goes to the on demand propane powered water heater in the shower area. The other two lines go to the sink in the kitchen, one goes directly to the cold water side of the kitchen sink, the other goes to the secondary on demand propane powered water heater then on to the hot water tap. The 4th and final split goes up into the Berkey Light water purifier system.

OK, I said this was simple, it did start out very simple and has grown over the years, like everything we have done out here, we started out small and built up what we needed as we needed it. I have not had a chance to try out the shower with the new water pump, but that will happen very soon, I expect to have more water flow, though in the winter, there is a fine line between having good water pressure and having warm enough water to comfortably shower…. ohhhhh the trials of living off-grid in the SkyCastle :) I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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