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siphoning hack--a solution that sucks! (for right-now transferring needs)  RSS feed

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Posts: 567
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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So I was trying to think of a way to get the water from my rain barrel (which leaks, and is propped up only about 6" above ground level) into another barrel (which for various reasons I can't use instead of the rain barrel without doing a bunch more work).  Let me see, I thought, I'll just shrink myself like Ant Man, climb down inside the bottom of the barrel, suck on the end of the hose, then the water will start to siphon out, and voila! 

Only problem is the lack of an Ant Man suit.  Which is the reason I haven't joined the ant village also.  But I digress.

So then I had my bright idea--I had a little bucket, and I crouched down on the ground level to get low enough to start the siphon and got that going into the little bucket.  I filled that bucket enough with the rainwater that it formed a seal around the end of the hose [hope my graphic comes out]:

   I
|  I    |
|~I~ |
|____|    (where I = the hose.  the ~ thing is the water level.  Cute, right?)

Then I could bring this bucket up and over the high wall of the next barrel while keeping the seal, and lower it back down to the bottom of that barrel, and the water started flowing again.  It didn't flow when I had it going up over the wall of the second barrel, but it did keep the seal.  In other words, I let the water do the human's job.  I let the water suck for me! 

I hope this makes sense. 

Now, maybe all you engineers already knew all this, but in case anyone needed a way to get water out of a leaky rain barrel fast before it all dripped out into the ground, watering exactly nothing you wanted to water, this might help you.  I am pretty sure it has other applications too.

Of course, if anyone has a spare Ant Man suit or sees one on freecycle, that solution would also be rad.  Paul Rudd, national treasure! 
 
Cody DeBaun
Posts: 89
Location: Denton, TX United States Zone 8a
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I for one didn't know this, and your explanation did make sense to me. If I understood correctly, this means that once created a siphon will hold its seal (at least temporarily), even if you bring the 'receiving' container above the 'giving' container.

Thanks for the insight!
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Posts: 567
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Exactly, it will hold its seal probably for hours, but I don't know for sure.  All you need it is for a few seconds while you go above the "giving" container's height and come back down again.

And now that I think about it, it wasn't even just for siphoning, you can do it without any siphoning at all:
you put a bucket lower than the "giving" container, and open the valve to release water into it till its well submerged
then bring the bucket up over the wall of your receivign container and lower it back down inside.

No mouth grossness.

If I were doing this for siphoning tub water out of the second floor tub, I could do the same thing--submerge the whole hose, put a bucket under the end of the hose and keep enough water in it to keep the end of the hose submerged, bring the bucket up over the wall of the tub and out the window, lower it with a rope to the ground while feeding it more length of the hose, and then it will be pouring out already without my even having to go downstairs.    And no dripping throughout the house and down the stairs either.



Cody DeBaun wrote:I for one didn't know this, and your explanation did make sense to me. If I understood correctly, this means that once created a siphon will hold its seal (at least temporarily), even if you bring the 'receiving' container above the 'giving' container.

Thanks for the insight!
 
Jerry Sledge
Posts: 52
Location: Rockwall, TX
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As long as you are not too slow and the siphon pulls the water out of your bucket. Siphon works both ways. All I've ever done is hold my thumb over the end of the hose to prevent the loss of water and maintain the seal.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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All I've ever done is hold my thumb over the end of the hose to prevent the loss of water and maintain the seal. 
  This is all I've ever done as well.  I think for me it came from cultural knowledge; watching my dad or someone do it when I was young.  I've pretty much always known this.  But I might not have if someone had not demonstrated it when I was young. 

It's great that Joshua has reinvented the wheel in this case, as I got quite a peak of interest as I read through his figuring his way out of the situation.
 
Don Goddard
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Actually it is quite common to start a siphon using Joshua's method but one can dispense with the bucket altogether.

Make sure that the hose is clean of anything that might be a contaminant to the source vessel and the destination vessel.   Then lower one end of the hose into the source making sure that as the hose is lowered in so that the fluid can flow up into the hose without trapping a bubble in the hose.   When the entire hose is in the source and the end intended for the destination vessel is submerged the hose will be entirely full of the fluid.  Place a thumb over the end of the hose and pull it out and down in to the destination vessel  before removing your thumb.  As long as the source end of the hose remains covered and no air gets in the siphon will start. 

It should be noted that  a siphon  can only work if you do not have to lift the fluid (assuming it is water) more than about 33.9 feet before it starts flowing down hill. (that is because at atmospheric pressure, the water where the hose goes down hill has to suck the water up hill and a suction will not lift water more than that and as a practical matter not even quite that high.  If siphoning some lighter fluid such as gasoline one could not ever lift the fluid that high on the suction side of the siphon.

I have planned a siphon to water my garden from my pond.   this is possible because my pond is higher than the elevation of my garden which is in a low spot about 70 yards away. I have the ability to use a hose from the faucet but that is chlorinated water and I have found that some plants do not like chlorinated water as much as they like pond water or rain water or the condensate from an air conditioner (all of which are non chlorinated).

The scheme is possible because the garden is lower than the pond surface, so this calls for
1 place a pipe into the pond and run it over the intervening high ground (aka the hump) and down to the garden
2 at the highest !!! point put a "T" into  the siphon pipe with the "stem of the "T", a pipe projecting upward,  a convenient height (about waist high).   I call this the "filler pipe", and have a valve  at the top end of the filler pipe.
3 put a shut off valve at the low end at the garden
4 put a "foot valve" on the end in the pond.  (note, a foot valve is simply a check valve that prevents flow from the pipe back into the pond.)
5  With the valve at the garden end closed, open the valve at the filler pipe and pour water into the filler pipe to fill the siphon pipe.  The foot valve and the garden valve will allow the pipe to be filled.  When it is full close the valve on the filler pipe.
6 open the valve at the garden end and the water will flow.

Note that unless the garden is very much lower than the pond there will be flow but not much pressure, so it will not run a sprinkler of spray from a hose, this will usually be much more of a flow for irrigation trenches, unless you have a really large height difference, pond to garden.  To get a larger flow use a larger pipe between the pond and garden but the filler pipe can be smaller, to keep the cost of the filler valve cheaper.

Theoretically the system would work without the filler pipe and valve, however getting the siphon pipe filled would be difficult, and dissolved air in the water would eventually form a bubble at the high point and break the siphon.  So the filler pipe is there to simply allow easy refilling of the pipe. 

If the duration between uses is long, one might have to top up the filler pipe before each use.

A. --The foot valve is necessary to get the pipe full in the first place. 
B.-- It would be a good idea to use some pipe fittings above the valve at the filler pipe to create a permanently installed Funnel .
C.-- the maximum lift is about 33 feet as the height to get the water over the hump and hopefully less than that.
D.-- This scheme is easier to install than a buried pipe and poses no risk of a pipe trench becoming a leak or drain for the pond and flooding the garden.
E.-- The pipe into the pond should extend to the lowest level to which you would be willing to drain the pond in a drought
F.-- When the system is turned off and idle, the low pressure near the hump will tend to pull dissolved gases from the water in the pipe and break the siphon,  If the garden end valve is opened when the siphon has been broken, the pipe to the garden will be drained and that is all you will get. So if you can have the stand pipe made of transparant pipe or tubing it will be easier to see if such a bubble has formed and refill just the bubble volume  rather than refill the whole pipe, or you could just top up the filler pipe every time before drawing water at the garden if this is a problem.
G.-- For protection of the pipe during winter freeze, just open the filler pipe valve and the valves of the siphon pipeat the garden  and pond endsto drain the siphon pipe.   Another valve at the pond end would aid in draining that end of the pipe.

If the pond water has an excess amount of dissolved gases, it is possible that the siphon may be broken by gases accumulating at the high point during the siphoning process. Which would require refilling the siphon and filler pipes.

As there is a slight slope to my garden plot I already, have the rows laid out across the slope to prevent erosion during heavy rains.

For a larger area to be irrigated it may be necessary to use the same method to lay out the rows along contour lines as is done when building swales.

If you wish to experiment with this before you go and buy all the pipe, you can experiment with garden hose if you have them or can borrow some and even get an idea what flow rate you can get with a pipe of the same size.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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Here's a cool use for siphoning:


 
It's a pleasure to see superheros taking such an interest in science. And this tiny ad:
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