11 February, 2017

In the Pool Again

It's still cool, even brisk, getting into the pool. But after you freeze the nerve endings, it seems to be quite comfortable.

The hardest part of getting in the pool at this time of year is, as you might expect, getting in. Yesterday, the temperature in the pool made it up to a bit more than 80° (f).

Denis and I Breaking It In
You might say, what' to complain about? And, you'd be right. We ain't complaining, we're enjoying. But keep in mind, we're used to daytime temps being in the low nineties, even in winter, so to get into the pool, is a breath-taking experience.

After you've been in for a minute or so, it becomes a very comfortable experience.

Construction work for the pool is all done. That doesn't mean that all 'work' is done. For example, I still have to install the solar heating system. I already have the pump and the solar panel for that. Just yesterday I ordered the heating collector - a plastic panel, 2' x 20', that is filled with little tubes, that heat the water as it passes through them.

It's been tempting to over-engineer the heater bit. Everyone wants to sell you a heating system that will make hot water. I don't want to make hot water. I just want it to be warm. At the most, I want the water to go up eight degrees. Eighty-four degrees is about optimum for us. that's quite comfortable.

Thanks to Denis, who found a website that talked about determining BTU's (British Thermal Units), which in turn, led to me finding a website that gave a good method of determining what size heating system we need. I'm not saying this is absolutely the most correct way to do things, but it is the most logical-seeming to me, and that's what I'm going by. And, it's relatively cheap and easy to do to.

Here's the nitty gritty on what we found.


Serious Mathematics Ahead. Proceed at your own risk.

First, you have to know (or calculate) how many gallons of water your pool contains.

We did that. It's 9,000 gallons.

Then you have to determine how long it takes to increase your pool water temperature by 1° (f).

To do that, multiply the total gallons of water in the pool by 8.3 (One gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds). This will give you the total weight of the water in your pool.
(9,000 gals. x 8.3 lbs = 74,700 lbs)

Then, divide the total weight of the pool water by your heater's or collector's BTU rating. Finding the BTU for some of these heating systems can be a challenge. I stumbled on one that was similar in size to the collector I was thinking about buying. It was rated at 40,000 BTU. That seemed reasonable, so I used that as my BTU rating figure (hey, it's not an exact science here. We're talking ballpark guestimation all the way around). Call it an experiment.
(74,700 lbs. / 40,000 BTU = 1.87 hours)

Now, determine the total time required to increase the pool water temperature the desired amount.

I used 76° (f) as my current water temp (which seems that ours is most of the time during the winter here, as long as we keep the pool covered at night and when we're not using it).

I want to raise that temp to 84° (f) for a total of eight degrees.
Multiply eight degrees by the time it takes to raise the temperature 1 degree (f)
(8 degrees x 1.87 hours = 14.96 hours)

So, the best minds in the business (Denis and me) think this is acceptable. Roughly 15 hours of heating to get the pool up to the 84° (f) threshold. Since we really didn't get into the pool until it was 79° (f), we should be able to shorten the time. But we really don't care. It can take two or three days to heat up. That's fine. Again, we're not creating hot water for household use, just warming the pool.

Once I get the solar panel and the pump installed, it's simply a matter of waiting till the collector arrives, and hooking it up. Then we can begin keeping track of pool temps and how fast/slow things heat up. Till then, it's all guesswork, which is our forte anyway. I'll let you know how things progress.

We'll probably get it hooked up in time to shut it down for the summer season anyway. But, if that's the case, we'll be ready for the cooling days of next fall and winter.

Serious Math Warning Terminated. Relax and have a beer

 I don't remember if these shots were taken before or after the math workout. In either case, we have safety Belikins in hand.

Very Comfortable Dry Run
 The pool is functioning superbly. The waterfall (the stone area in the background) also works great. We don't have it turned on in these photos for some unknown reason.

Even Maggie Gets In the Act
Thanks to Vivien for taking these photos for us. I wanted to show folks that, yes, the pool is back functioning. She did a nice job of it too.

Their little dog, Maggie even helped.

06 February, 2017

Waiting For the Warm

Thanks for the prod, Julian. I appreciate it. It's always amazing just how quickly time slips away here in paradise. Especially watching the developments up north. My jaw is still agape. Well, that's enough of the political doody here. I'll save that for Facebook or heaven forbid, Twitter.

Here we are, the pool project is all done. Everything works better than expected. Everything, that is except for the warm weather and water.

It really isn't all that bad. Yesterday, I was in the pool for a good hour. The temperature was a brisk 78°(f). Now, I know for you folks up north (like Billy Waldon in Oregon) 78 would be great, but for us down here in paradise, 78 is just a hair above freezing.

I do have the beginning of a solar pool heater (the pump, solar panel to power the pump, and the frame to hold the panel). What I don't have yet is the actual heating stuff.

Originally, I was planning to use ½" black vinyl tubing. My friend, David Wright, has tried that and was able to raise his pool temp by only one- or two-degrees. Close, but not quite enough. So, I've been looking at other alternatives.

Neither one of us needs to make 'hot' water like you would want for washing dishes. We just need to raise the water temp about five or six degrees to get it up to about 84°(f). We both have solar powered pump and panel. What I'm thinking of using is a set up similar to the photo below.

Changes For the Pool?
Only, not on the ground. I have the room up on our flat roof over the kitchen to run a twenty-foot length of this system. I'd have to get some sort of frame constructed to hold it at the proper angle (roughly 12-13° from horizontal), but everything else is ready to go. Inlet and outlet from the pool are already in place to the pump house, where the pump will be installed, I'd only have to run piping to the kitchen roof. I think that would supply enough warm water for my purposes.

It would also be fairly economical to do. After all, it is still experimental at this stage. Stay tuned.

Little Noel Growing Up
On to other subjects, like our new little kitty, Noel. She's really not so little anymore. As you can see from this photo, she and Nelson have pretty much completed her training to be a grown up kitty. Just a few days ago, she finally figured out how to use the kitty and doggy doors (we have five, believe it or not). Once that happened, she's been unstoppable.

In fact, this morning, Carlos, our caretaker, told Dianna that he saw her catch and kill a fairly good-sized bird. No longer a kitten, I guess.

Further evidence that she's growing up is that she weighs a bit more than five pounds, so we made an appointment with Dr. Sheila for tomorrow to get her spayed.

Another small project I've got going on is our circular staircase steps. For whatever reason, the angle iron of the steps is actually upside down. It's uncomfortable enough to climb up the stairs, but it's really uncomfortable to come back down.

I was looking for a solution, thinking about using one-inch thick wood inserted. That would look really cool for a while, but it would also require frequent varnishing, and would probably be slick, not the most desirable feature in stairs.

Denis and I had gone to Contour Concrete Products the other day to pick up some pots for plants, That got me to thinking after I got home. I wonder if I could get something cast in concrete that would work, and that was affordable.

Next time I went to Contour, I asked Ruel Hall, the proprietor, if that was something he might be able to do. I had come up with a template in plywood to give him an example. Below, is what he came up with a couple of days later.

Changes For the Steps
It's only ¾" thick with some chicken wire embedded for strength. It might work, but I decided thicker would be better. I've asked him to make them about 1½" thick, and resize them to better fit the space. Ruel also suggested that he might try ¼" rebar for additional strength. I'm hoping to get a sample done this afternoon or tomorrow.

If that is a go, however long it takes Ruel to make eleven more inserts and that project will be done. I think that's a great solution. It also won't be a problem in hurricane season like wood potentially could be.

One last thing, before I forget. Colleen and Bruce have started construction (using Mario, who was our contractor) of their new house in Ranchito. Colleen has also started a new blog, at long last, titled Rent They Said (http://renttheysaid.blogspot.mx/2017/02/but-did-we-listen-part-1.html). She's doing some looking back in time, but plans to chronical their construction experience. Should be fun to follow.

15 January, 2017

Last Friday For the Pool Project?

And, wouldn't you just know it, it's Friday the 13th. Must be my lucky day.

Any way, I thought I'd show you a detailed description of the pool valves.

Outgoing Valve Arrangement

First off, these three are all outgoing, that is, water flows from the pump house to the fittings, the spa jets - which finally, after all these years, really work well, and the two sets of 'eyeball' jets - the 3-eyeball set at the end, and the 2-eyeball set in the middle of the pool.

More Valves

Next, these are all incoming - water flows from the pool into the pump house.

Here's the newest valve - the main drain ball valve. That was just installed yesterday. Adjusting that valve with the Vacuum valve open allows Huey, the automatic vacuum to really zip around the pool and give it a good cleaning.

When the vacuum is working, the skimmer must be turned off. That's the function of the large three-way valve.

All the water from those fittings flows through the 2-Hp main pump

And Yet, More

The waterfall valves, there's two, the outlet one prevents water going to the waterfall. The other allows water to flow into the ½-Hp pump dedicated solely to the waterfall.

There is one other valve that isn't mentioned here. It's the one on top of the big filter. That valve controls backwashing - sending water and debris out the drain. It also controls rinsing the filter, as well as the normal day-to-day pool filtering.

The last thing of the project for Mario and crew, is for Bani, the electrician and plumber (he did the masterful arrangement of piping and valves in the pump house), to reroute the gate doorbell and transformer, so that we can begin to use some new equipment at the main gate.

Late-breaking news... Real news, not that fake stuff we're inundated with anymore. So, I found out from Mario that Bani is just Emanuel's nickname. That's right. His actual name is Emanuel. Who knew? I sure didn't.

Anyway, Emanuel, or Bani, or vice-versa, was going to show up Friday, to do the doorbell bit. That didn't happen. I know, that's just totally unheard of down here. I thought maybe, Saturday would do it and texted Mario to see if Bani was coming then. No, he doesn't work on Saturdays, and the reason he didn't reach on Friday was because of a family emergency.

So, now, we're rescheduled for Monday morning. Stay tuned for more late-breaking news on that front.

Enjoy your weekend.