03 October, 2011

Weekend = Busy, Busy, Busy

The other name for that could be the question we ask alot - How did we find time to work when we worked?

We were kind of busy this weekend - all weekend, it seems. First, let me say that for purposes of this discussion, last weekend began on Thursday as that's the day I worked on the pool pumps, valves, unions, piping, etc.

Would you believe I worked from 7:30 AM, Thursday morning until 4:00 PM that same day? I did. It was a severe day as well. Working in that cramped little octagonal-shaped building, where there never is a breeze, and where the heat just multiplies as the day goes on.

In fact, to give you an idea of the heat, around 11:00 AM, I took my phone and my keys/gate remote and left them in the pool house as I was afraid condensation would damage them. It was so be that, by the time I knocked off, I noticed I was dripping sweat from my shorts!

Anyway, here's what I worked on. First, I have wanted to raise both pump motors off the floor for a long time. I took the opportunity when I removed the main pump to service the pump seal of raising both motors on concrete blocks. This naturally entailed re-doing the plumbing going into and out of each pump. You can see the waterfall pump (the orange thing below) sitting comfortably on its block.
Waterfall Pump Raised
The main pump (the black thing below) was what started this whole project. About two weeks ago I noticed leakage out of the back of the pump, just in front of the motor. Oops. Not a good sign. I learn quickly. Last time, I didn't notice that leak and that lead eventually to water going onto the front motor bearing which caused it to scream progressively louder until it failed. Thankfully, Terence Leslie, a small engine mechanic here in Corozal, is also a veritable wizard when it comes to replacing electric motor bearings and such.
Main Pump Raised
Anyway, this time I was able to pull the pump out of service before it self-destructed. I also took the opportunity this time to re-route the outlet pipe to each pump so that it's joining union was off to one side of the pump. That way, when I do remove either pump, residual water in the piping will fall harmlessly to one side of the pump instead of cascading over the pump and the motor. In my mind, the design of these pumps is pretty poor. They should be designed with the outlet on the pump's side. It won't care which way the water leaves the pump.

I also took the opportunity to add two more valves on the inlet and outlet side of the main pump to facilitate removal of the pump without the gyrations I previously had to go through. Things like a little plug I had made to stopper up the skimmer as there had been no valve installed when it was built to stop water flowing from there to the motor. Since the motor was lower than the water level in the skimmer, without the stopper in place, a flood in the pump house developed rather quickly. I also had to turn off the valves for the floor drain and the spa jets. Now all I  have to do is turn two conveniently located valves and presto!, the main pump can be disconnected easily. You can see the two red-handled valves in the photo below and at the bottom, you can see the outlet union for the pump is now off to one side.
New Valves and Piping
I also had to replace a union on the filter (the cream-colored round thing below). The inlet union is now white. The dark gray union it replaced had been leaking for quite some time. When I went to tighten it, it snapped into two pieces - the threaded part was one piece and the top piece that connected to the other part of the pipe. I suspect it had been broken for some time and that that was where the leak was. When I attempted to tighten it, that was all it needed to fail completely.
Pool Filter and Piping
Next thing that happened, was the union at the pump refused to quit dripping. So, on Friday, Carlos (who's building our patio area) and I looked at it and decided that epoxy would be the best thing to stop the leak. I applied that and it almost worked perfectly, with still just a little, little leak left.

Well, anyway,jumping ahead for just a second, now on Monday, no leakage anywhere. First time in ages that the floor of the pump house has been completely dry.

So, back to Friday... Carlos was there and cast the bar/counter top, with only the barbecue area left to build for the basic parts of the structure.

Carlos needed the barbecue grill itself to see how to build the whole structure for that. I had to go to Dr. Sheila's to get some heartworm meds for the dogs. As I drove past Pancho's Welding shop on the way to Sheila's, I saw he had a BBQ standing out in his yard. I whipped in to take a look.

After a quick look, I thought that was just what the doctor ordered and for $150BZD, it was perfect. It's made from a medium-sized butane tank and some 3/8- and 1/2-inch rebar, oh, and about an eight-inch piece of exhaust tubing.
Our New BBQ Closed Up
Here you can see the grill opened up. It's got an expanded metal grate. Hey, not a Cadillac, but, certainly up for some fine barbecuing. And if it lasts for a few years, all the better.
Next thing that happened was our pressure tanks - one for the reverse osmosis drinking water system and the other for the well.

We've never had spectacular water pressure here. I just assumed that was what we had. Our pump/pressure switch was automatically set, so I wasn't sure how to adjust it or that it could be adjusted. And the reverse osmosis system. A couple weeks ago, it began to loose pressure such that it was able to maybe have enough water to fill one liter water bottle before running out of water. Here's the RO system pressure tank below.
New BBQ Grill
Reverse Osmosis System Pressure Tank
Anyway, I asked Doug (my neighbor and dog walking accomplice) if he knew anything about pressure tanks and how to adjust them. Turns out he did. Good thing too because when I read the manual for one of the tanks, all I could say was, "huh?"

So, Sunday, Doug comes over and we started to look at the RO tank. He said let's start instead out at the pump. We need to find what your start and stop pressure on the switch is anyway. You can see the well pressure tank below and the pressure switch.

Now, we have amazing water pressure in the house - about 40-45 lbs which the most we had before was 30-45 lbs. Quite nice. The water pressure for the RO system now can fill at least several bottles and do it quickly. Yea!!!! What a relief that is.

And finally, well almost finally, our orchids, which we've had growing on trees an posts here and there, mostly ignoring them and never watering them at all. This morning, as I was coming back in from shopping, some delicate white flowers among the orchids caught my eye.

I decided I'd take a few pictures of them for the blog as well, so I did. Here's the one that caught my eye. Quite nice.
Well Pressure Tank
Our Orchids Flowering
And here's some more. Like I said, we don't do anything with these guys. They continue to thrive.
More of Our Orchids
Here's Cody, our caretaker trimming hedges this morning. The front yard is beginning to really look nice..
And Yet More of Our Orchids
Cody Trimming Hedges

And the reason for that is Dianna. It's finally getting cool enough she can get out and garden, which she has been wanting to do for quite some time.
Dianna Seeking Shelter
Now, last but not least. The only other time I've seen one of these critters here in Belize, was a couple years ago when I snapped a photo of one on one of our gate lights. Here it's on our front stair railing. He (or she) is about six or seven inches long, so they're pretty good sized.
Praying Mantis on Stair Rail
Alright, that's officially the end of the weekend. We're both exhausted.

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