Ultrasonic Sewage Monitoring System

We had the city sewage flood our house because of a plastic bag which blocked the city sewage pipes below our house. Arrggh. I don't want it to happen again. I have been watching the Arduino system develop from the sidelines and I think that now is the time to tinker around with it. I want to make a system which forewarns me well in advance (however much possible) of a blocked pipe in the city sewage pipes.

Here is my basic idea: I would love your input.

Hook an arduino up to an ultrasonic sensor. Put the sensor under the manhole of the city sewer. [I might need some wiring] Hook some sort of transmitter up to the sensor, which would transmit the distances in the city sewage. Program in parameters that if the distance grows or shrinks to a certain point (meaning there is no flow of water, or there is an overflow of water) than it alerts me of the situation.

What do you guys think? Is it feasible? How difficult is it? What parts would I need to buy?

Thanks in advance.

Hook an arduino up to an ultrasonic sensor. Put the sensor under the manhole of the city sewer. [I might need some wiring] Hook some sort of transmitter up to the sensor, which would transmit the distances in the city sewage.

So the Arduino is just a paperweight? Or, is the transmitter to be connected to the Arduino?

Put the sensor under the manhole of the city sewer.

Aren't those things cast iron? What is going to transmit through an inch of cast iron?

Is it feasible?

Yes, if you can put the transmitter on the outside of the cover.

How difficult is it?

Theft proofing, water proofing, tamper proofing, and idiot proofing (wouldn't want someone running it over) will be challenging. The construction and programming are trivial.

What parts would I need to buy?

An Arduino, a sensor, a transmitter, a receiver, and something to connect the receiver to.

What is going to transmit through an inch of cast iron?

Gamma rays - a mere 10 exahertz ]:smiley:

Hi,

Hmmm… maybe a closer-to-home solution??

All waste plumbing I’ve seen or worked on has a large removeable plug in the house close to the exit pipe. Usually used if it’s necessary to remove a clog from there to the sewer/septic. If the system is flowing normally, there are periodic flows, and the level usually subsides to a small percentage of the pipe.

How about putting a air VS water sensor (a self-heated thermistor would be typical) a few feet past your exit point, supported on a rigid rod from the cleanout plug. A plastic plug could have the rod and wiring epoxied to it. The rod would be as close as possible to the top of the pipe.

This would tell you if liquid instead of air was present, and if you timed that you could determine “normal” flow sequence. A backup would be quickly apparent.

Maybe??

PaulS:

Hook an arduino up to an ultrasonic sensor. Put the sensor under the manhole of the city sewer. [I might need some wiring] Hook some sort of transmitter up to the sensor, which would transmit the distances in the city sewage.

So the Arduino is just a paperweight? Or, is the transmitter to be connected to the Arduino?

I don't understand what you mean by that...a paperweight?

Put the sensor under the manhole of the city sewer.

Aren't those things cast iron? What is going to transmit through an inch of cast iron?

So it seems like gamma rays will work...does that mean I need a special type of transmitter. I was searching around and it looks like these guys have something that does something like I am trying to make. http://www.solidat.com/content.asp?id=870

How difficult is it?

Theft proofing, water proofing, tamper proofing, and idiot proofing (wouldn't want someone running it over) will be challenging. The construction and programming are trivial.

Theft proofing...hadn't thought of that. However, I have a manhole on my private property so that shouldn't be a problem.

AWOL:
Gamma rays - a mere 10 exahertz ]:smiley:

So what type of transmitter would I need. Can you point me to one on sparkfun or some other site?

terryking228:
Hi,

Hmmm.. maybe a closer-to-home solution??

All waste plumbing I've seen or worked on has a large removeable plug in the house close to the exit pipe. Usually used if it's necessary to remove a clog from there to the sewer/septic. If the system is flowing normally, there are periodic flows, and the level usually subsides to a small percentage of the pipe.

How about putting a air VS water sensor (a self-heated thermistor would be typical) a few feet past your exit point, supported on a rigid rod from the cleanout plug. A plastic plug could have the rod and wiring epoxied to it. The rod would be as close as possible to the top of the pipe.

This would tell you if liquid instead of air was present, and if you timed that you could determine "normal" flow sequence. A backup would be quickly apparent.

Maybe??

Are you suggesting that I should put a sensor by the connecting point where my personal plumbing line meets the municipalities? I didn't fully understand what you were suggesting. Would you please expound. Thanks. Sounds interesting.

So what type of transmitter would I need.

If you want gamma rays a transmitter that is annihilating electrons and positrons should do the job.

Ultrasonics are used for level detection in both sewage and water treatment works, so that is practical.
Your problems though are that you will not get a signal out of the manhole, you will need to get power to your device and there is an explosion risk even without the gamma ray transmitter.

Some sort of solution in your property is a much better bet.
What are you going to do if you detect a buildup happening, perhaps a one way valve?

are u suggesting that I should put a sensor by the connecting point where my personal plumbing line meets the municipalities?

Yes, or maybe a little way after the point where your pipe exits your building.

A sensor for air Vs water would need to be located near the top of the pipe.

Thinking of it, you could locate the sensor just before the pipe exits your building. Then the sensor could be put in a hole in the top surface of the pipe, inside the building where you can get at it easily.

You would expect cycles of liquid (like flushing a couple of toilets at the same time) and then air shortly after that. You would need to get some data on the timing and set up your alarm criteria from that. This would warn you of a backup or possibly a developing situation.

This would also work for a septic system, where a slow-down of the liquid draining out of the pipe might indicate a problem before it became critical. Like Thanksgiving afternoon with lots of guests. Don't ask me why I know :0

The air VS water sensor might be a "self-heated thermistor". Or some very small float-valve-like thingie?

---------------------( COPY )--------------------------

Liquid Level/Air Flow
The NTC thermistor can be used to detect the absence
or presence of a liquid by taking advantage of the difference in the amount of heat that can be dissipated by the
thermistor between a liquid versus a gas...
-----------------( END COPY )----------------------
See: http://www.specsensors.com/pdfs/ntc_applications.pdf

if someone with a place to test this does it, please let us all know. I'm in an apartment in Italy with (thankfully) no access to or responsibility for the waste plumbing..

Some sort of solution in your property is a much better bet.

High-molar sodium hydroxide is my solution of choice for this sort of problem.

PaulS:

How difficult is it?

Theft proofing, water proofing, tamper proofing, and idiot proofing (wouldn't want someone running it over) will be challenging. The construction and programming are trivial.

Sewer gas proofing. Hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides might cause just a tiny bit of corrosion.