Updated: Apr 19, 2019
Q: Why do I need to add a ground wire to my installation?
A: The sensors on all of our switches detect water by passing a small current (< 1/10,000 Amps) from the tip of the sensor, through the water, to ground. In most installations, the pump, the sump pit, or the basement floor, provide a sufficient ground. However, if you find that the sensor doesn't detect the water when it is touching the sensor's tip, then it may be that the ground source in your installation isn't strong enough for the sensor to work correctly. Adding a ground wire will resolve the missing ground problem and ensure that the sensor will detect water when it's present.
Q: Can I use my switch outdoors?
A: Often times the pump you want to control is located outdoors, and while our switches aren't exactly rated for outdoor use, they can be used that way. The ambient temperature swings of the outdoors won't bother the switches, but moisture from rain, snow or excessive humidity will. The key, then, is to protect the Control Module, the part that plugs into the outlet, from getting wet. Placing it in a garage, under an overhang or bucket, usually will do the job. And, of course, having the Control Module located indoors is the best way to go. No need to worry about the sensors getting wet—That's what they are designed to do!
Q: Can I cut and splice the sensor wires?
A: Sometimes, you would like to have the sensor wires pass through a small opening, like an electrical conduit, so you can have the sensors located on the other side of a wall or panel. The easiest way to do this is cut the sensor wires, pass them through the small opening, and reconnect them on the other side. However, there are a couple of caveats:
Locate the splice as close to the Control Module as possible
Make sure there is a good electrical/physical connection of the wires where spliced.
Make sure the splice is well insulated and positioned so it can't get wet.
The sensor wire consists of 2 "zipped" conductors. Electrically, these are treated as a single conductor so they can all be connected together at the splice.
Q: Do I ever have to clean the sensors?
A: Nope. Except for the HC6000v2, and then only if the switch is used in a pit where there is high iron content or high mineral content (e.g. water softener discharge) and the sensors are not mounted in the manner recommended for those types of conditions. See below.
HC6000 & HC6000v2 Questions
Q: What does the blinking red light (LED) on the front of the HC6000 mean?
A: On the older version of the HC6000 (the one without the "Smart Button"), the blinking red LED indicates that the lower sensor has detected water. The blinking red is normal operation and does not mean there is a problem.
A: On the new HC6000v2, (the one with the "Smart Button"), the blinking red LED indicates that during the last run cycle, the switch determined that the water in the pit did not have a good electrical ground, and that the signal from the lower (black) sensor was unreliable. Because of this, the switch ran the pump in fault mode, which is to run it for a fixed time of 10 seconds, rather than running it until the water drops below the lower sensor. When this happens it will be necessary to add a ground wire into the pit so the black sensor will work correctly.
Q: Why do I have to install the sensors differently in pits with high mineral or iron content?
A: First, understand that the sensors detect water by measuring the resistance between the sensor's metal tip and ground. The desired path for this measurement is through the water in the pit, and in an ideal world, when there is no water in the pit the resistance to ground would be infinite (which is the same as saying there isn't any path to ground), and when the pit was full the resistance would be zero. In real life, there are many paths to ground for the sensor to find (other than through the water). Note that every wet surface in the pit is somewhat conductive, because water is conductive. So, when wet, the surface of the PVC discharge pipe is conductive, the surface of the pump's power cord is conductive, and so on. All off these wet surfaces are alternate paths to ground for the sensors, but in pits that collect "normal" ground water from the home's foundation, these paths generally have fairly high resistance levels, and the HC6000v2's sensors are designed to ignore them.
However, in pits with high iron or mineral content, these surfaces present fairly low resistance paths to ground, and the HC6000v2's sensors can be "tricked" into thinking water is present when, in fact, the pit is empty. For example, when the sensors are mounted to the discharge pipe of the sump pump, the sensor will follow a resistance path that starts at it's metal tip, goes up along black surface of the sensor, over to the discharge pipe, along the surface of the pipe down to the sump pump and ground. Because the resistance of this path is fairly low, the sensor will stay triggered even when the water level has dropped below the metal tip.
The solution that will prevent this "false trigger" from happening, is to mount the sensors in a manner that eliminates all the stray paths to ground. The trick is to mount the sensors to a separate 1/2" PVC pipe which you secure to the discharge pipe using a PVC cross and a couple of hose clamps (all available at your local hardware store). With this type of installation, the sensors cannot find any other path to ground other than through the water. The wet surfaces in the pit will still have fairly low resistance, but the only conductive path the lower sensor will find is up the 1/2" PVC pipe (note that tip of lower sensor extends below end of PVC pipe) where it eventually runs into the dry, non-conductive, part of the pipe above the upper sensor, where it stops! No unwanted resistance paths to ground to confuse the sensor. Refer to HC6000v2 Special Installation Instructions for more information on this type of installation.