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    Thread: Low head up-flow bead filter

    1. #1
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      Low head up-flow bead filter

      This is my attempt to improve upon existing designs on bead filters. The following pic was a concept drawing I made during another discussion. Since that time one person has used the concept making one out of a 55 gal barrel (Luke) with good results.

      There is another build going on with the same concept by Steve.

      Here is what I was able to do with a used Triton sand filter body.

      Garrett
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    2. #2
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      Scored some freebies.

      My original idea above was designed around a tank with a top mount head similar to my Ultima. But beggars can’t be choosey so I was able to get the tanks. Only one still had the side mount valve and it was the old style plunger type. I wasn’t planning on using the head anyway but it does pose some problems with the holes.

      Oh and if anyone is interested they came off of ponds using a mix of sand and gravel for the filtering. That was one nasty mix that had to be cleaned out of these.

      Garrett
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    3. #3
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      The theory.

      Most people use bead filters for two reasons. The first is direct suction from the pond, no need for settlement or vortex tanks. The second is ease of use. Typically there’s only one valve to operate, a multi-port, which depending on how the handle is set can do many functions.

      The downfall is most are just converted san filters like the ones pictured above. They have minimal modifications to the internal piping to make them up-flow and use a floating bead (some). By still using the multi-port head and tight fittings for the internals the head developed by these can be in the typical 8’ – 10’ range. It takes a lot of power to overcome that. Plus on some of the older ones a larger pump was needed to help with cleaning. Later on blowers were added to help the cleaning process. While it was a large improvement there were still some flaws.

      The blower and water pump cannot be operated at the same time. There are several reasons. The first is that blowers develop large volumes of air but very little pressure. Even the higher horse power ones won’t do much over 3 PSI. That means even our lower pressure pumps can easily overcome them. The second reason is there is no where for the air to go. This large volume of air needs somewhere to escape, the only way out is to force water out of the drain piping. Depending on how the valve is set up in relation to the internal piping it may have to be operated to another setting to continue backwash after running the blower.

      As the water is displaced the entire bead pack falls within the body. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it will help break it up.

      So, after all that I’ll say the concept of mine is to be able to run the blower and pump at the same time for the most effective cleaning. They key to that is the vent which I’ll discuss more later on.

      While I’m forced to use conventional valves I did manage to get them very close and only a few need to be operated for cleaning so ease of use is still there.

      Garrett

    4. #4
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      The beads.

      While some of the commercially available filters have done some modifications to help with flow and design it’s the beads that do the filtering. So no matter what any of the manufacturer’s claim that is the bottom line. The smaller the beads in the pack the finer it will filter. The one stipulation to that would be depth of pack.

      While depth of pack is important, you want the water to travel through as much pack as possible, the surface area is probably more so. Depending on the load going into the filter the first few inches of beads are going to do most of the work. So if you have a wide tank you will have more area remain clog free for longer.

      So when choosing a barrel for a project like this you have to look at both diameter and height. Or if you’re like me you work with what was free.

      Anyway, the beads I chose were ones used for stuffing dolls. The price was good and its virgin plastic so no worries about contamination. Sizing is probably the most important thing. These beads are fairly consistent in size yet large enough to have a decent cut in the laterals so as not to restrict flow too much.

      Garrett
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    5. #5
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      On to the build.

      Because the tank already had two holes in the side the original plan was to use one for water entry and the other for air. After mulling this over for a while it was hard to get the pipes to cross over internally and I scrapped the idea. While trying to think of a good way to plug the upper hole I got the idea for a viewing window. Not sure how feasible this will be but it will allow me to see how steady the beads are in run mode and how well they fluidize with the blower on.

      The curve of the tank made it a little difficult. I had to use a very thin plexiglass to keep from cracking. I made gaskets out of scrap liner and also made a flap to keep sun & dirt off.

      Garrett
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    6. #6
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      The incoming lateral.

      I like to slot my own pipes and make the flow go the way I want. For this set up I’m going to try and get a gentle swirling of the water and hopefully any settled debris in the tank will gravitate towards center where I will have a drain.

      I had to dig up and old plywood blade out of the garage to get a thinner kerf so the slots would not be wider than the beads. As it is they are probably on the large side but with the beads being floating contact with this pipe should be minimal.

      I glued a internal pipe cap on to plug the one end. The plan is to use a Uni-seal and force the slotted pipe through.

      Garrett
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    7. #7
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      Best laid plans

      While I’ve been able to use slotted pipes with Uni-seals before the slots on the one I made were too close and started to fold over. I made the mistake of trying to open the hole a bit for less pressure but the Uni-seal wouldn’t work at that point.

      Once again I’m so grateful I bought that cheap plastic welder from Harbor Freight Tools. It’s made some of my DIY stuff so much easier.

      I took a sheet of 3/8” PVC and cut it out for a ring around my pipe making a flange. I then heated that sheet to fit the curve of the tank for a better seal and welded it to the lateral. Problem solved. I used my favorite Poly sealer, Vulkem, to make all connections. I drilled right into the side of the fiberglass tank and everything seems to hold well. Time will tell how that holds up.

      Garrett
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    8. #8
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      The Drain

      As mentioned earlier I wanted a sludge drain for this unit. This turned out to be trickier than I thought. I started by drilling the bottom of the tank in the center to fit a 2” Uni-seal. I was a little shocked at how thin the tank was at the bottom. Not much you can do once the hole is drilled though so keep going.

      I then took a 2” nipple and cut off one side of the threads. I needed one side threaded to reuse the 8-way manifold that came out of the sand filter for the laterals. I guess now would be a good time to mention that the drain will double as the blower feed for the unit. So by reusing the existing laterals with very small slots I should get enough air back pressure to distribute it evenly around the tank.

      Because of the curve of the tank and the length of these laterals the nipple had to come up a way off the bottom of the tank. This allowed me to cut some slots for a complete drain down and also a more effective purge drain.

      Garrett
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      Last edited by Harveythekoi; 01-08-2007 at 12:45 AM.

    9. #9
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      Tight on space.

      It looked like there was a lot more space under the tank than there was. This called for some modifications to the nipple and 90°. I had to cut so much of the 90° down than I took a hole saw and made the glue up area deeper into the fitting. With the pipe going in deeper now it interfered with the curve and had to be trimmed down.

      I got it to fit and it seemed to glue up well. Time will tell. If there is an issue I may have to break out the welder again.

      Garrett
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    10. #10
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      Here's what the inside looks like

      There were 8 good laterals left between the two tanks. I spaced them so most of the air should go around the inlet pipe. If you look close you can see the slots on the inlet pipe and how they will swirl the water. At the flow rate I'm planning (4K GPH+) and the number of slots hopefully the current wont be too strong.

      Garrett
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    11. #11
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      Home made multi-port head.

      This had me puzzled a bit because the top hole on these sand filters is much smaller than the tanks like my Ultima that have a top mount head. Remember the key to this filter is being able to run water and air at the same time so a pipe needed to be large enough to handle both flows. I didn’t have much choice and went with a 4” tee for the main body. Because my plan was to use 3” to drain the unit and keep things a little more compact I decided to vent the tee out the top. For the flow rates I’m planning the 3” should easily carry the water and the vent help remove the air.

      I drilled a hole in the top to accept a 2” pipe and used a street configured 90° to keep things tight again. Because I wanted it smooth inside I precut some of the plastic away and then ground it smooth once glued in.

      Garrett
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    12. #12
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      Reducers

      I reduced to 3” using insert bushing rather than bell reducers to keep things compact. I also managed to find knife valves with spigot ends to further tighten things up. All in all it turned out pretty clean. Those three valves on top are the main ones that need operating for backwashing the filter. So as far as ease of use it’s not much different than a regular multi-port with out all the flow restrictions.

      Even though I will go to 2” pipe from filter to pond I wanted a 3” valve on that side also to minimize restrictions of a 2” valve. Cost difference is minimal so it was a no brainer on that.

      Garrett
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    13. #13
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      Got a little ahead of myself.

      Mounting the head.

      The threaded cap for the sand filter had a domed top and originally had a pressure gauge on it. I needed a 5” hole for a Uni-seal and cutting that with a hole saw was no fun. In retrospect once the hole was cut it didn’t turn out right because the Uni-seal had no room top expand below. I took it too the table saw and trimmed a little more off and got it to work. I should have just cut the top with the table saw to begin with and saved myself some hassle.

      Garrett
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    14. #14
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      The basket

      This was another poser. How to get a larger enough exit area without going too deep into the tank. Because you want the beads to have plenty of room to travel around during backwash the tank cannot be too full, I’m estimating near half. So the closer to the top the exit is the further debris will have to travel through the bead pack. Slotting a pipe was my first thought but I couldn’t get the area I wanted, again air and water need to flow out this exit.

      I found a strainer basket with small enough squares to hold the beads. I wish they had one a little squattier but you take what you can get. As it was this basket only cleared the top hole by about ½” all the way round. I cut off the niched portion of the basket and it only needed a little shimming to fit snug on a 4” pipe. Once it was in place I took the hot air welder and just tacked the shim to the basket all the way round.

      I then attached it to the pipe with some stainless screws.

      Garrett
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    15. #15
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      The drain piping

      Once the head was mounted I needed to connect the vent, drain and sludge drain to the exit piping. To keep everything removable I went with rubber couplers for these connections.

      It’s good to know what fittings are available in DWV in order to keep things compact. The 3” bend with a 2” exit is called a low heel inlet. The other is just a 2” tee with s street or spigot end on one side. This got me to drop down in 3” taking the bulk of the water out quickly.

      At the bottom I found a 3-way fitting in 2” that would work for connecting the sludge drain and main drain. I tried my best to go 3” all the way but could not find anything good to work. If the reduction becomes and issue I will have to revisit the issue.

      The good news is that the length of 3” vertical pipe has enough height (elevation head) to drive my projected flow rate out that 2” fitting. The sludge drain is just a quick shot item and pressurized if needed so that part is not an issue.

      Garrett
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    16. #16
      Harveythekoi is offline Senior Member
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      The blower

      I used a rubber tee to attach the blower to the sludge drain piping. I would have preferred something sturdier but needed everything to be removable so that’s what worked. I used a 2” spring check valve for safeguard and added a 2” knife valve in just in case. They are cheap enough so it wasn’t a big deal.

      Once mounted it worked out that I could attach the blower using the existing ears directly to the 3” drain pipe from the top head. I screwed right into the side, not worried about leaks as this pipe is only full of water during backwashes. These blowers have the switch right on top so operating it and the valves is all right in the same place.

      Garrett
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    17. #17
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      Pressure gauge.

      While I'm hoping it doesn't even read it's there for a reason. I do have some elevation head on this circuit which should give me about 1 PSI and even though the piping isn't very restrictive I do expect some resistance. If I can get a 2 PSI reading I'll be happy.

      I also swapped out the regular 3" valve for one with the spigot end. This allowed me to use a rubber coupler without having to extend a piece of pipe out.

      Garrett
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    18. #18
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      The finished product.

      So the completed product looks good, and we all know if it looks good it works good too, and is fairly compact. This was important in that one of the selling points of bead filters is space savings.

      I finally got around to filling it with water to test for leaks and all is fine.

      The next tests will be to temp a pump and flow water and test the blower/vent to see if that works. I know it may react differently when full of beads but I don’t want to fill it yet because of the weight and pain of cleaning them out if adjustments are needed.

      If all goes well with the flow tests then I will try the beads and see.

      I’ll update as I get things done.

      Garrett
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    19. #19
      birdman's Avatar
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      Nice looking set up Garrett. You always do such good work. Can't wait to here how it does.

    20. #20
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      in post #11, did you use your plastic welder, or did you use just basic cleaner / primer to glue the 2" into 4" tee?

      your #9 post, with the bottom elbow. now that more looks what i did for some airlifts i recently done. ughs it was abit abit of hair teasing it was!

      starting to think, i went abit overboard on me airlift pipes if ya just used basic cleaner / primer.
      Last edited by boggen; 01-08-2007 at 09:25 PM.

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