When Float Tank Pumps Die


When our pump started making occasional whirring noises I knew I was getting a hint that my pump was on it’s way out. When it started screaming like a banshee, I knew I had waited too long before figuring out how to swap it out. This is a brief account of my experience replacing our Floatarium filtration system.

Click on the image for a video showcasing the sound of a dying pump

The filtration system that came with our Floatarium has always been a pain. It is very difficult to change the filters (and salt water gets everywhere), the 1hp pump never seemed like quite enough power for the large amount of water it has to move, and the UV lights came with a mess of wires.
We have decided that UV light is not required in our tanks. It sounds great when you explain to customers that you have it, but I don’t believe that it is actually doing the work promised. We also decided an easier to change filter would be necessary along with a more powerful pump.

I went online and did my best comparative shopping hoping for a 2hp pump, however high prices led me to a less expensive 1.5hp pump on Amazon. I also found a reasonably priced filter online, and I paid extra so that the parts would arrive on Tuesday (the one day a week we are closed).

I had two days to kick back and wait for the parts to arrive. Everything was going to go ass scheduled, except that our pump died Monday morning. Every time we turned on the switch for the pump it would trip the circuit breaker. We canceled floats in the Floatarium for that day, but that didn’t mean we were safe. We use an inline heater (which I’m a big fan of) for heating our tank, which means that if the pump isn’t run, the water temperature drops continuously. Now I wasn’t just in a rush to get customers back into the tank, I was in a rush to save our salt water!

After a sm292all fiasco involving me driving down a UPS driver on Tuesday, I got to work at the Shoppe and started disassembling our existing equipment. It was an adrenaline fueled experience knowing that this was all or nothing. I would either create a new filtration system before the water cooled or our water would crystallize.

Unfortunately I had to deal with the previous plumbing I had done that worked around my old filtration equipment. That, coupled with the fact that I didn’t have access to flex tubing meant I wasn’t going to build what I wanted. The great news is that I have a plumbing store one block away from me, so I was able to get all the other parts I needed from there.

Plumbing is a surprisingly simple operation. There are a few guidelines I like to follow; 295as few 90 degree bends as possible (it’s not good for water flow), and to try to keep the plumbing the same width tubing throughout. I failed on both of these accounts. There are more 90 angles than I originally planned, and there is a point where my 1″ tubing changed to 1 1/2″, then later back to 1″. It’s not the worst thing in the world, it just adds a little more stress to a system that is already stressed by pumping  incredibly dense salt water. I also wish the entire operation were closer to the float tank itself so that the water spent less time in the hosing.

I still have more work to do such as mounting the pump to a board and getting a more permanent stand for the filter to sit on (that can be removed so that the filter housing can drop down). Finally, I will need to hook up the float tank’s main control box to the pump so that it is switch operated (and tells us the temp of the tank.)

The great news is that we are able to float people in our Floatarium float tank again without canceling on any more customers.

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8 responses to “When Float Tank Pumps Die”

  1. Jen Bernosky Avatar
    Jen Bernosky

    WOW…how terrifying and encouraging all at once. Thank you Dyan, once again for sharing your experience operating a float center. I’m soaking it all in (pardon the pun) for when it’s my turn to panic over plumping/pump issues in the (hopefully) not so distant future.
    Just one quick question…
    If the water/magnesium were to crystallize, would heating up the water again remedy the problem or is it an issue from which you can’t recover without draining the tank?
    Thanks again!!

    1. Dylan Schmidt Avatar

      Hi Jen!

      We had a pump freeze on us once. We removed the pump and looked in the piping; salt crystals make a beautiful design (I’ll have to find the pictures some time). We boiled water in a tea kettle and were able to melt it all away. We re-attached the pump and and it started up without a hitch. That is my only experience with ‘frozen’ salt. I have found that large chunks don’t tend to melt back into the water… But I’ve never poured boiling water on them. Currently I believe that while it would be a big hassle if things froze, we could work with it. With my inline heater connected to the Floatarium, it would mean I would have to turn the pump on and have salt crystals run through my pump, which would be very bad for it. With waterbed heaters, I think it would be an easier (though still possibly a lengthy task).

      I am sure curious if any of my readers have had salt crystal experiences.

  2. Rishi Avatar

    Hey Dylan,
    This is Rishi from India(we were in contact through mails).

    Man, this post is quite depressing. I am a noob at these things, complete noob as far as plumbing and tightening the screws go. I thought all you had to do was buy a tank and that was it(a bit cleaning here and there, adding salts etc). What crap!

    Is there a manufacturer which provides a tank with the least bit of getting your hands dirty?


    1. Dylan Schmidt Avatar

      Hi Rishi!!

      I really didn’t mean for you to be depressed by this post! I should mention that this is an old tank and the company that made it is no longer in business. I don’t think you’d have a lot of the same issues with a more modern float tank.

      If you ever have to replace a pump, I think most companies would be willing to walk you through it.
      I had no plumbing experience before opening the Float Shoppe, but was able to pick up the basics very easily. In comparison to other hurdles we have faced, this isn’t a big one!

  3. Laurie Avatar

    Ha! Never a dull moment. Fingers crossed that I am prepared and with-it as you two. 😉 keep up the good work. – Laurie

  4. Sally Avatar

    Controller for the pump. Is there some sort of controller that you use in conjunction with your tank and filtration system? Or do you manually turn the pump on between floats?

    1. Dylan Schmidt Avatar

      Hi Sally!
      We use timers that turn our pumps on and off automatically throughout the day. We use the ones listed below because they allow us to cover every transition throughout the day.


  5. JJ Avatar

    I’m thinking of making our own tank, which pump… would you suggest using to filter.

    Thank you so much and advance .

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