21 February, 2010

Another Sad Thing

Just a short one this time. Our current main pool pump motor gave up the ghost. Dang it. I had hoped that after rebuilding it, that it would continue running till its replacement arrived. That isn't to be. The new pump motor won't arrive till sometime around the end of March.

It's abrupt end occurred the day after we had a rather large wildfire. The fire was over on the Ranchito side of the road, normally not much of a problem for us as the prevailing winds are from the east. Guess what? Not that day. Right out of the west. The fire was started by someone in Ranchito who was apparently just burning some trash and the wind picked up and ... Well, you know.

Anyway, it was just like a cane fire - huge amounts of long, stringy, slightly oily ash. I bet you can't guess where it all went... That's right. Smack-dab into our pool. We had the solar cover on, so that was a help. The day after the fire, Denis, our neighbor across the street, helped me roll up and hose off the cover, to keep even more of the ash from going into the pool.

Denis had come over to watch and learn how to vacuum the pool, having never had experience with pool maintenance before. So, the first thing was to limit what we needed to vacuum by cleaning the cover, which we did quite nicely. Rolled it up and got it out of the way. Then we went to get the vacuum hose and head (the vacuum's business end).

On the way over to the pump house, I realized we were not hearing the pump motor running. Uh oh. Not a good sign. Since the bearings started going, hearing the pump motor was not much of a problem. It wasn't so much irritating as just being louder than it should have been.

I opened up the pump-house door, and flipped the switch on the pump a couple of times - nothing. So, there we are. No more vacuuming the pool till the new motor arrives. At least the waterfall pump motor is still working. Of course, they're not interchangeable. That ended Denis' pool maintenance lesson for the day. We declared victory, retired and had a beer instead.

The waterfall pump has had a problem of seizing up every now and then since we got it. Yesterday was no different. So, since I had become proficient at opening up the main pump, I thought that I was qualified to tackle this one.

I disconnected the pump and hauled it into my 'basement' workshop. It had always had a slight leak since we had it installed, but wasn't enough to really get upset (read do something) about it. As I was hauling it into the workshop, I used the PVC fittings as a convenient handle to carry it. I noticed that, as I was carrying it, the inlet fitting was wiggling just very slightly as I carried it.

After placing the pump on the workbench, I used my pipe wrench to gently loosen the fitting. Oops! It almost immediately snapped off right even with the pump, leaving all the threaded parts in the pump body. Crap! How'm I going to get that out of there without goobering up the pump itself?

So, I went ahead with dismantling the pump, which went smoothly. I found the impeller, connected to the motor, was slightly stuck. My guess is, the bearings in this unit will probably go south one of these days. Freeing it up was easy. Just a slight turn of the impeller and viola!, it was spinning freely.

Then, I tackled getting the threaded PVC fitting bit out of the pump. I took a very sharp wood chisel and my rubber mallet, and being careful not to nick the chisel by contacting the metal threads of the pump, began to dislodge the PVC stuff from the pump.

It went pretty smooth, for the most part. There were a couple bits that fell down into the pump as I was dislodging the PVC. I thought, not a problem. I'll just hose out the pump when I'm done and blow out the bits. Mostly, that's what happened. There were about three odd-shaped and fairly large pieces that got themselves wedged in the pump - of course.

Dianna has some dental mirrors on a stick (I don't know their proper name) and some dental picks. Her dentist in the states had given them to her since Dianna's hobby is scratch-building miniatures (furniture, iron-work, plants, etc.). I absconded with one of each and, using the mirror could see one of the pieces, but couldn't reach it with the pick. I could stick my pinky finger in and just barely touch it.

I hollered upstairs to see if Dianna would come down and help for minute. I needed somebody with a smaller pinky, and that might be a tad more dexterous than I am. After about a half hour with both of us taking turns, we managed to dislodge the first, so I could fish it out with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Then, we noticed, using the mirror again, that there were two other bits in there. It took a bit of work, but we got them out too.

I flushed out the pump once again. All was looking good. I had to make a trip yesterday to the Corozal Men's Group meeting yesterday, so I took the opportunity to stop at Lano's Supply and get a replacement 1" union. I already had a new threaded piece (I think it's called a nipple, actually) and enough 1" pipe to make up a new fitting for the pump. That I assembled this morning, and then reassembled the whole pump.

I took it down to the pump house and hooked it back up to the piping. I turned the water back on and made sure the pump was primed (important to not burn up the motor) and fired it up. Perfect. I added chorine and algicide to the pool and let the waterfall pump run for most of the day. At least doing that, I'll get some circulation in the pool and spread the chemicals around to keep algae, etc., under control. I can't do a thing about the ash in there till the new motor arrives, but, since the ash is really fine once it breaks up, it shouldn't hamper pool time - assuming it warms up enough to use it.

The forecast is for warming over the next few days, so it's looking like - pooltime!


JRinSC said...

I guess I shouldn't have asked you about the pool pump motor last week. Sorry! I'll try not to mention the new motor -- ever! *grin*


Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian,

Ah ha! So it's all your fault! Well, don't worry, we'll get through this. I am getting pretty good at dismantling pumps and motors, so that's a good thing - I guess.


Liberating Recycling Leaders - LRL said...

Dave is the water especially heavy in minerals in your area of BZ? We live in the Jacksonville, FL area and have had two pools over a span of 20 years. Never had the kind of pump problems you've experienced.
I wonder if a water softener would help.

Dave Rider said...

Hi Harry,

It has tons of calcium in it. But, I don't think that's really the issue. I think I just got one of those that kinda looks yellow and is somewhat tart, y'know?

Really, what happened was it developed a slow leak and I didn't know enough about pumps, etc., to do anything about it until it was terminal. I learn best under stress apparently.

The leak eventually destroyed the front bearing and caused the through-bolts to rust in place. I'm still working on it with the thought that I can rehab it enough to be a backup motor. We'll see.

A water softener might be the answer, but too spendy down here. I have one for inside the house. No one else with pools has had a similar problem and they're not doing anything special with their equipment.

I've now become much more cognizant and expert with pumps, so hopefully, no repeats.