Pressure Tank Plumbing Genius Think Tank

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dryhero

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Long time lurker and over-thinker. Mad respect for the Terry Love forum, I consider it the most competent, old-school experts with wrenches older than some plumbers. What also draws me in are the elegant solutions members come up with.

Both of my 82 gal. pressure tank bladders failed (months apart). The system seriously gives me night sweats. Time to repair but I want it to be a thing to marvel at. No regrets, no shortcuts. Something a plumber would have in his own home. (Well, maybe not all plumbers.) I've been smoking copper and melting valve seals for decades so trust me when I say, I know enough about plumbing to know that I don't know squat about plumbing. I'm paying an old, retired (emphasis on tired) plumber to help with all the important surgery. He had his own small well business for decades so he hates people. I'm lucky to have his help. I'll do the heavy, ugly work, knock things over and to a lesser extent, block his light.

Hoping for input from the TL Genius Network. Best practices, unique approaches or just really smart twists to this old concept.

What we're working with:
1. 4 year old Goulds 1.5HP 2 wire pump about 90' deep, 1.25" from pump into basement
2. Family of 5 with 2 geothermal pump and dump units (3 ton @ roughly 4.5 gpm and 1 ton at 1.5 gpm)
Have 2 Well-X-Trol WX-350 replacement tanks (26" dia vs 21.5" dia Flex Lite...valveman is already putting duct tape around his head)
3. Plan to install new pressure T (brass or stainless?) with boiler drain, 100 psi pressure gauge and relief valve
4. Plan to replace check valve
5. Plan to leave deadhead shut off before pressure switch (handle removed, so I don't have to drain the entire well supply)
Considered installing shut-offs to each tank to isolate "just in case"
6. Would like to install cycle stop valve with by-pass loop "just in case"
7. Add pressure gauges at each supply line (inside, outside, geothermal)
8. There is a sediment filter plumbed in before the geothermal
9. Is there a good temperature gauge (for geothermal supply temp.)?
10. Ever install a permanent pressure gauge on the pressure tank schrader valve?
11. Blue Gorilla tape is my botch job...I will NEVER do that way again.
12. I like using unions for flexibility, but mostly because I lack confidence. Are they ok to use?
13. I've learned to use FNPT fittings vs MPT at pressure T
14. Is there a best way to tie in both pressure tanks?
15. Is there a best way to tie in stop cycle valve?
16. Are there pressure monitors/alerts for any of this
17. Currently no expansion tank, but will be added at time of 1983 water heater replacement
18. Does anybody place something between the tank and floor to create a capillary break, prevent rust?
19. Switch is also 4 years old...have a backup on the shelf
20. Plan to set cut in/out pressure to 40/60 again (2nd floor showers run a bit slow so dialed it up to 50-70)
 

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Reach4

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As expensive as those Wellmate tanks are, they are not as long lived as some. They have bladders. The bladders are in theory replicable. The bladders contain air, and the water is outside of the bladders.
1. I have no idea of the geothermal needs. That pump would be way overpowered for just a house.
3. I think you are talking about what is normally called a tank tee.
4. The only check valve should be down at the submersible pump normally. I don't know if a geothermal system also uses one.
5. When you turn off the pump, water stops coming up.
14. 1.24 pipe would be great. But many have a lot more flow resistance without a problem.
15. It would be unusual to use such big tanks with a CSV.
17. I think you mean for the heating system.


10. Potential for air leak. It is the cap that provides the main seal to keep the precharge air.
 

dryhero

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As expensive as those Wellmate tanks are, they are not as long lived as some. They have bladders. The bladders are in theory replicable. The bladders contain air, and the water is outside of the bladders.
1. I have no idea of the geothermal needs. That pump would be way overpowered for just a house.
3. I think you are talking about what is normally called a tank tee.
4. The only check valve should be down at the submersible pump normally. I don't know if a geothermal system also uses one.
5. When you turn off the pump, water stops coming up.
14. 1.24 pipe would be great. But many have a lot more flow resistance without a problem.
15. It would be unusual to use such big tanks with a CSV.
17. I think you mean for the heating system.


10. Potential for air leak. It is the cap that provides the main seal to keep the precharge air.

Thanks you!
 

Valveman

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It took me a while to get enough duct tape around my head to reply to this. Lol! Running the pump and dump geo is the biggest demand on your water pump. The system needs to be set up to be as efficient as possible and last as long as possible when running the Geo. Everything else is a secondary concern.

When your Geo is running, is the well pump on more than off or off more than on? If the well pump is off more time than it is on, the well pump is much too large for the Geo demand. If the well pump is on more than it is off, the well pump is very close to the size needed for the Geo.

If the well pump is close to the size of the Geo demand, using a Cycle Stop Valve to make the pump run continuously will be efficient and will make the pump, tanks, switches, and everything else last much longer.

If the well pump is much too large for the demands of the Geo, letting the well pump cycle on and off will be the most efficient. However, I have heard from many Geo owners in the last 30 years that say it doesn't matter how efficient the heat pump is, if the well pump and tanks are cycled to death in a short period of time. Even with two 119 gallon size tanks (60 gallon draw) a 15 GPM heat pump demand can still cycle the pump every 8 minutes, which is still 180 cycles a day on the well pump, tanks, and pressure switch.

Adding a Cycle Stop Valve, even with the two large tanks will stop the destructive cycling and make the pump last much longer. This maybe advantageous even if it increases the electric bill, as well pumps are very expensive to replace.

Like was said, no reason for a shut off valve before the pressure tanks. Simply shut off the breaker to the pump and no more water will come in from that direction.

Install a CSV prior to the pressure tanks or any tees in the line. No need for a bypass on the CSV1A. If you do not want all the benefits that the CSV offers, simply tighten the adjustment bolt a few rounds and the CSV is disabled and works like a piece of pipe.

No expansion tank is needed as long as there are no check valves in the line other than the one down on the well pump.

If you have rust in the pump room, adding a vent fan is best.

I would run 50/70 with a 2 story house. When using a CSV1A with those two huge tanks the CSV will need to be set just 2 PSI below the pressure switch shut off point. With a 50/70 switch the CSV would hold 68 PSI strong and constant in the house, at least after the tanks are empty. You won't need a spare pressure switch if you install a CSV, as it won't cycle enough to wear out the switch, pump, or tank bladders.

A lot of this also depends on the sizing of your heat pump. Many heat pumps are way oversized and only run for a minute or two at a time. This will cause a lot of well pump cycling as the heat pump itself is cycling on and off. A properly sized heat pump will stay on for quite a while when it starts, making well pump cycling an issue when not using a CSV.

There are lots of things to consider when using a heat pump. They can be very efficient and long lasting when set up properly. The sizing of the well pump compared to the demands of the heat pump is the first thing to consider. That will determine if letting the pump cycle and using as many tanks as you can is best, or if it is better to just use a Cycle Stop Valve.
 

LLigetfa

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If you have rust in the pump room, adding a vent fan is best.
I generally find that increasing venting in a cool space increases the humidity and so causes more condensation since the the air that replaces what has been removed usually has higher RH. The R in RH is Relative to temperature. Better IMHO to enclose the space so there is less air change.

Why is the valve labelled "geothermal pump/dump" partially closed?
 

Valveman

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I generally find that increasing venting in a cool space increases the humidity and so causes more condensation since the the air that replaces what has been removed usually has higher RH. The R in RH is Relative to temperature. Better IMHO to enclose the space so there is less air change.

Why is the valve labelled "geothermal pump/dump" partially closed?
Might depend on the humidity in the area. It is very dry in our area and a fan works very well. The only time I have a problem is when I go into an enclosed underground vault and everything is raining on me from the roof down. But I can see where in some more humid areas the fan and vent may not be good enough and some kind of de-humidifier could be needed.
 

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Those old ones are not my favorite brand of tank. Even so, if both bladders failed in 4 years the pump must be cycling on and off a lot. Looks like your heat pump demands are less than 6 GPM total. A 1.5HP at 90' can do 25 GPM. A 3/4HP would be more than enough to supply the Geo and the house.

A Cycle Stop Valve could be installed where the unnecessary check valve is located. It would be an easy swap. However, there is really no way to make a 25 GPM, 1.5HP efficient at 1.5-6GPM, which is about a 1/3HP load. I am afraid the electric bill would go up if you install a CSV. However, a CSV would have saved you a couple thousand dollars worth of pressure tanks and make the pump last longer. It would take a long time for any inefficiency to make up the cost of those tanks, not to mention the cost of a replacement pump from all the cycling.
 

dryhero

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CYCLE STOP
Great discussion. I didn't realize the csv would be such a hit on power consumption. The pump is definitely off more than on when geothermal is running. Hoped the back pressure of the csv on the pump would also throttle back power consumption a bit more. There goes my free lunch. Is there any other way to protect a pump? Soft start/stop?

TANKS
Regarding the tanks, I guess I drank the cool-aid on the amtrol brand. Hope they last a decade?

INCOMPETENCE OR COMPLACENCY
It's frustrating. Why would the well guy install such a big pump? I admire how you all seem to be men of science. Actual data/math/forethought to make recommendations, not superstition, tradition or complacency. Maybe he just replaced it with the same pump as last time? Maybe that was the only 2-wire pump on the shelf that day? Maybe my well guy just isn't that good? I need to re-evaluate my help. Poop!

I must say, you guys love what you do. You've been more than generous with your time and experience. In my work (water damage restoration, mold remediation), I spend a LOT of time with my clients. I don't get paid for it but I just can't help myself, like to problem solve. But it kills my day. What you are doing on this forum speaks volumes for your passion. Or maybe your cable is just out. Thank you for taking it easy on me.
 

dryhero

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I generally find that increasing venting in a cool space increases the humidity and so causes more condensation since the the air that replaces what has been removed usually has higher RH. The R in RH is Relative to temperature. Better IMHO to enclose the space so there is less air change.

Why is the valve labelled "geothermal pump/dump" partially closed?
Dang, you guys are detailed. I'm afraid to throw any more crap on top this post. I partially closed that, here's why. I discovered the first failed bladder 3 months ago because pump was short cycling, one tank was 100% water logged. I drained system, re-charged to 38ish psi, and all seemed fine again, thought I bought some time. Each tank was approx. 1/3 full (red tape line on tanks), but one still had the bladder in tact. (FLIR camera)

This week I noticed pump was short cycling again. Already? Now both tanks 75% water logged. So, I tried draining, pressurizing and filling again. It's working...except for... phantom boom! boom! boom! at 530 AM. WTF was that? No clue. Later that night it did it again. Found the source...from the basement! With both heat pumps running, there's an occasional, brief but significant pressure drop right after the pump switches off. Pressure gauge showed pressure can drop down to cut-in for fraction of a second, then back up to cut-off for a fraction, and repeat for 4-5 cycles. Like a trampoline. Holy baby Jesus!

I throttled that valve back to slow the flow rate to the heat pumps and hopefully stop the issue. For the most part it has. But in the morning if two showers are running with heat pumps, it's more prone. Yeah, it's a real Mongolian cluster fudge over here. Sorry you asked, huh?

This is the purpose of the this post. I try to have a sense of humor but it stinks. I've been in my money pit for 6+ years. Flex Lite tanks were installed in 2014. Well pump in 2020. All "professionally in Nebraska". I guess I'm searching for the best advice to give me the best chance of having things setup where I'm proud and confident of the work. Hopefully avoid kicking myself in another 5 years. I swear it's not that I'm afraid to spend the money, I just hate to spend good money for a bad result. Damned either way.

I appreciate all the help you've given me, more than you know.
 

Reach4

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The Well-X-Trol tanks should last well over a decade. I would go for two decades or more. I would have preferred the 26-inch wide tank, but that would have taken a lot more floor space. Those tanks have butyl diaphragms, and have "multi-dome" construction. That means if you let the air precharge get too low, that still should not be nearly as hard on the diaphragm as if you did not have that feature. You will still check the air precharge annually, at least at first, stretching that period out is unlikely to be a problem.

Keep a copy of well data on the wall nearby your install. Watch out for any well service person who comes in to slap an adhesive sticker over anything that looks like it might be from a competitor.
You could set your tanks on 24 inch pavers if you wanted to.
 

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Thanks for the compliments. No cable anymore. Streaming these days. Lol! Still streaming but think I have seen everything already. Sort of semi-retired. So, when not trying to keep up with the grand kid, nothing I like to do more than help people with their water systems. Fixed my first water well pump for a neighbor J. O. Dane in 1968. Never forgot it, and still doing it 55 years later. Came up with Cycle Stop Valves in 1993 as a way to solve many of the problems I saw with pump systems, and still doing that 30 years later.

Having started at such an early age all of my teachers, mentors, even co-workers were older than me. Unfortunately that means I have seen literally hundreds of good pump men and well drillers pass over the years. Many of them had forgotten more about pumps than I will ever know. I tried to do the Vulcan mind meld on them when I had the chance. Lol! These forums are a way for me to pass on any knowledge I soaked in from all of those who have passed, hopefully even after I have passed.

Sorry for the rant. But now I will spend some time writing up answers to your many questions as heat pumps are one of my favorite topics.:)
 

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CYCLE STOP
Great discussion. I didn't realize the csv would be such a hit on power consumption. The pump is definitely off more than on when geothermal is running. Hoped the back pressure of the csv on the pump would also throttle back power consumption a bit more. There goes my free lunch. Is there any other way to protect a pump? Soft start/stop?
There is no free lunch! Anything other than running a pump at full speed and at it best efficiency point (BEP) is a waste of energy. There is no magical variable speed drive (VFD) or any other control including the CSV that is going to make a pump any more efficient. The back pressure from a CSV certainly makes the amps drop almost the same as when reducing the speed with a VFD. However, even though the amps to spin the pump and motor are reduced, both the VFD and CSV make the pump produce fewer gallons per kilowatt used. There really is no more efficient way to pump water than to run a pump at full speed and at its best efficiency point.

Without a VFD or CSV and using a pressure tank only for pump control, the pump is either running at its best efficiency point or it is off and using zero power. For this reason, considering power use alone, there really is nothing wrong with using a 1.5HP pump when the heat pump only needs a 1/2HP worth of water. The 1.5HP is only running 1/3rd of the time, which is still only a 1/2HP load on the electric bill. However, as you have seen, even with large pressure tanks the pump cycles on and off many, many times per day. This cycling destroys pressure tanks, pressure switches, check valves, and greatly shortens the life of the pump/motor as well as any control boxes. For this reason, it may be worth a little loss of efficiency to stop the cycling and make everything last many times longer. Using a CSV would also let you start off with a couple thousand dollars less in pressure tanks, which makes up for a lot of the electric bill for years to come.

When using a Cycle Stop Valve on a well pump with a Geo heat pump, sizing the pump as close to the total load will make it very efficient. Choosing a pump with a good drop in horsepower when restricted will help even more. There are also ways to use the discharge water from the Geo to feed the house, which cuts the total demand for GPM in half. But that is a story all of it’s own, and I have described it in writing in a couple of places.

As far as protecting the pump and using soft start/stop, the CSV is still the best way to do that. Eliminating the cycling is the best way to protect the pump. The CSV also gives the pump a mechanical soft start and soft stop. Starting a pump against a closed or almost closed valve as with a CSV, and starting the pump against as much pressure as possible greatly decreases the duration part of in-rush starting current. And while a soft stop doesn’t really help a pump in any way, abruptly stopping the flow can cause water hammer. The CSV shuts down to 1 GPM to fill the tank before the pump shuts off. This makes the check valve only open the thickness of a piece of paper, and there is no water hammer on shut off.

The CSV is just a valve and does the mechanical soft start/stop with the pump/motor running at full speed. It is hard to electronically soft start or stop a pump as with a VFD since the motor thrust bearing needs at least 50% speed to be lubricated and cooled properly. The motor must get up to at least 50% speed and decrease from 50% speed in less than 1 second to prevent bearing damage. This makes the mechanical soft start/stop of the CSV much better for the pump than the electronic soft start/stop of a VFD.

If there is any possibility of pumping the well dry, a dry well protector like the Cycle Sensor which reads motor amps is also good protection. The Cycle Sensor also shuts the pump down if it rapid cycles, like if the CSV fails for any reason. But the Cycle Sensor is just secondary protection as the Cycle Stop Valve is what is doing the work preventing cycling to begin with.
 

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TANKS
Regarding the tanks, I guess I drank the cool-aid on the amtrol brand. Hope they last a decade?
I believe there is no better tank than the Amtrol. However, the company was recently bought out so time will tell if that causes any problems. Amtrol is the oldest and first captive air tank. I met Joe Lane the inventor years ago, he was one of those mentors where I tried to memorize everything he said. Lol. Joe was more helpful to me than he knows. Thanks!

I think you did well to purchase original Amtrol tanks. However, I am not sure they are that much better than the no brand tank they sell as the Water Worker over the Internet. Seem to be almost exactly the same to me.

Large pressure tanks are also your only option with a well pump so much larger than the demand of the heat pump. Without replacing the well pump with a smaller one closer to the size needed for the heat pump, you may want more than 2 tanks.
 

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INCOMPETENCE OR COMPLACENCY
It's frustrating. Why would the well guy install such a big pump? I admire how you all seem to be men of science. Actual data/math/forethought to make recommendations, not superstition, tradition or complacency. Maybe he just replaced it with the same pump as last time? Maybe that was the only 2-wire pump on the shelf that day? Maybe my well guy just isn't that good? I need to re-evaluate my help. Poop!
Sizing for a heat pump is not in most pump guys wheelhouse. That is probably the most common size pump used in the area, and one he had on the truck. It would be great if you had’4-5 houses, a large irrigation system, or a heat pump than uses 20 GPM. There is really nothing wrong with having the capability of using 20 GPM, even though a house rarely uses more than 5 GPM. You just need large enough pressure tank(s) to keep the cycling to a minimum. You could also use a CSV with a small or large pressure tank(s). Even though the CSV may cause the electric bill to go up a bit with a heat pump, it could be well worth it for other reasons.

There is a lot of science to this, and there are also a lot of misconceptions of how pumps work out there. But a good pump guy is one who will show up on New Years day, even though it is really cold, with enough supplies in the truck to get your water going, and not overcharge when he is done. If you want to get technical about efficiency and other things it needs to be done long before you open the faucet to no water and say “crap”. Lol!
 

Valveman

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I must say, you guys love what you do. You've been more than generous with your time and experience. In my work (water damage restoration, mold remediation), I spend a LOT of time with my clients. I don't get paid for it but I just can't help myself, like to problem solve. But it kills my day. What you are doing on this forum speaks volumes for your passion. Or maybe your cable is just out. Thank you for taking it easy on me.
A lot of pump guys don’t appreciate me giving advice on the forum. Pumps are something you really can’t learn in school. Most of what a pump guy knows he learned the hard and expensive way. Just telling a possible customer how to fix something he spent a lifetime figuring out is not in his best interest. Having sold my pump and drilling company in 1998 and relying completely on the sales of Cycle Stop Valves for my living leaves me in a different position. It is now best for me that everyone understands cycling is what causes most pump system problems and for them to understand how to solve that problem.:rolleyes:
 

Reach4

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Amtrol Water Worker tanks are made to a lower standard than Well-X-Trol including:
no multi-dome
butyl+EPDM diaphragm
100 psi max.
 

Valveman

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Dang, you guys are detailed. I'm afraid to throw any more crap on top this post. I partially closed that, here's why. I discovered the first failed bladder 3 months ago because pump was short cycling, one tank was 100% water logged. I drained system, re-charged to 38ish psi, and all seemed fine again, thought I bought some time. Each tank was approx. 1/3 full (red tape line on tanks), but one still had the bladder in tact. (FLIR camera)

This week I noticed pump was short cycling again. Already? Now both tanks 75% water logged. So, I tried draining, pressurizing and filling again. It's working...except for... phantom boom! boom! boom! at 530 AM. WTF was that? No clue. Later that night it did it again. Found the source...from the basement! With both heat pumps running, there's an occasional, brief but significant pressure drop right after the pump switches off. Pressure gauge showed pressure can drop down to cut-in for fraction of a second, then back up to cut-off for a fraction, and repeat for 4-5 cycles. Like a trampoline. Holy baby Jesus!

I throttled that valve back to slow the flow rate to the heat pumps and hopefully stop the issue. For the most part it has. But in the morning if two showers are running with heat pumps, it's more prone. Yeah, it's a real Mongolian cluster fudge over here. Sorry you asked, huh?
Didn’t know you could use a FLIR camera to see a bladder in a tank? Didn’t even have down hole camera and cell phones where still a new thing when I was in the pump business.

You should not need to close that valve to regulate flow to the heat pump. There should be a flow regulating valve on each heat pump that will only also so much through, no matter if that ball valve is wide open. You maybe even starving the heat pump for flow. But again, all the problems with the failed bladders in the tank point to a tremendous number of cycles.

The banging and booming is probably because you have water on the air side of the bladder tank. This causes the torn bladder to seal over the inlet/outlet hole, especially after adding more air. It is like having too much air in the bladder tank, as the bladder plugs the inlet/outlet hole before the pump starts, causing the water hammer and booming you hear.
 

Valveman

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Amtrol Water Worker tanks are made to a lower standard than Well-X-Trol including:
no multi-dome
butyl+EPDM diaphragm
100 psi max.
I think that is just what they say to their contractors so they can say they are not selling the same thing in the box stores. I don't think the dome thing is important, and maybe even a hindrance. Also, can't see them tooling up an entire different production line for the same damn tank. The 100 PSI rating also sounds like a CYA thing. At least I don't think there is enough difference to pay twice as much. Lol!
 

Valveman

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This is the purpose of the this post. I try to have a sense of humor but it stinks. I've been in my money pit for 6+ years. Flex Lite tanks were installed in 2014. Well pump in 2020. All "professionally in Nebraska". I guess I'm searching for the best advice to give me the best chance of having things setup where I'm proud and confident of the work. Hopefully avoid kicking myself in another 5 years. I swear it's not that I'm afraid to spend the money, I just hate to spend good money for a bad result. Damned either way.

I appreciate all the help you've given me, more than you know.
5-7 years is the design life of most pumps and related controls. Most people just get use to replacing equipment every 5-7 years and the manufacturers like that. There are ways to make appliances like the well pump last much longer than normal. But you will not hear about them from the pump industry. The biggest adds you see are for their most profitable items. It is always best to educate yourself on the subject instead of just falling for a flashy add campaign. It can make the difference between replacing your pump system every few years or only once in your lifetime.
 

Reach4

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I think that is just what they say to their contractors so they can say they are not selling the same thing in the box stores. I don't think the dome thing is important, and maybe even a hindrance. Also, can't see them tooling up an entire different production line for the same damn tank. The 100 PSI rating also sounds like a CYA thing. At least I don't think there is enough difference to pay twice as much. Lol!
Water Worker: Malleable Iron connection (with stainless steel insert) vs stainless steel connection for Well-X-Trol. If somebody is handling one of these, check that connection with a magnet. Assuming that is non-magnetic stainless, that would be an easy difference verification.

Maybe I will take an extendable magnet to a display unit in a store.
 
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