28 November, 2011

Blown Pressure Tank

Our reverse osmosis (RO) system tends to be one of those things we don't think about very often.

Oh, sure, several times a year my calendar software reminds me that it's time to change either  filters, the UV lamp or perhaps the membrane for the unit. Other than that, it's pretty much self-sustaining, providing us with all the drinking water we need - actually, more than enough. It gives us enough drinking water for the two of us and also more than enough for however many workers we may have on site at any given time (at least a couple of gallons each day).

That's been about it... till now.

The other day, I went down to the 'basement' as we call it - the ground level, to do some laundry (I take it downstairs and do the washing, Dianna does the drying - now hanging it on the line, and brings it back up. A team effort), and I noticed a damp spot on the floor right in the vicinity of the RO system, the water line inlet into the house, and the water softener. It didn't look like it was a huge flood, just damp, and I didn't feel like dealing with it right then, so I left it for a couple of days.

When I finally got back down there to scope it out, it took a few minutes to figure out just what was causing the leak. Uh-oh. Major problem. It looked like the RO system pressure tank was leaking.

So, I shut the RO system down, disconnected the line (the yellow poly line in the photos) from the RO filtration unit and used my hand cart to wheel the tank (partially full of water) outside where I opened the stop-cock and let the water stream out. This took several minutes and was shooting the water a good 15 feet or so.

Then, I used my pen-knife to depress the air filler valve (just like on your care tires) to release all the air pressure in the tank. Good thing that I did that too, as when I used a wrench to remove the stop-cock fitting from the tank, the whole thing just twisted off from the tank. If I'd have done that with it full of pressurized water and air, I could easily have caused myself some real damage.

As you can see, the tank obviously suffered some rust damage. early on in its life, I had some driposis occurring that took me quite some time to notice, and the damage just kept on growing. Probably helped along by the humidity we have down here.
Failed RO System Pressure Tank
Here's an expanded view of the fitting that just rusted right off the tank. The first I knew of it, as I said, was some water on the floor. It was coming from this part of the tank. A potentially dangerous situation (Thanks to Dianna for being my hand model).
Closeup of Tank Failure
Dangerous enough that it could have been deadly - seriously! Of course, I read the warning label after the fact. It was just providential that I did everything correctly to prevent a catastrophic event from happening.
Pressure Tank Warning Label
After I got the tank emptied of air and water, I took the old fitting and went around to several hardware stores looking for a replacement (Villa's, Cinty's - two locations, and finally Lano's). It being Sunday, time was of the essence. Everyone closed for the day at noon, so, not only did I have to find a suitable tank, but I had to purchase the right fittings.

Luckily, I had some elbows and a couple lengths of 3/4" PVC Sked 40 pipe on hand. That made the parts acquisition a bit easier.

My old tank was a 14-gal. pressure tank, so that's what I went looking for. Naturally, no one had that animal. Mr. Lan was the only one in town who had tanks and his was a 19-gal. one.

I bought it and the necessary fittings and headed home to put things to right.

You'll notice the fittings on the old tank were on top of the tank, whereas, on the new one, of course, they're on the bottom.

I tried to find some new poly tubing to make up for the increased distance, but that was something else that was out of stock everywhere. Luckily, I hit on the idea of routing the piping back up to the top of the tank where the old poly tubing could still be used.
New Tank and Fittings
New tanks come pre-pressurized to 40 psi. Since Doug and I had recently 'calibrated' both of my tanks (the other tank is at the well head), I knew this one needed to be set at 18 psi. Which meant that all I had to do was vent the valve till I got the tank down to 18 psi.

After hooking the RO system back up to household current and turning the water supply back on, all it took was a few hours of letting the RO system recharge itself and we were back in business with even more water storage capability than we had before - and much safer too.

Just in case you're wondering, here's our wall-mounted RO filtration system. It's mounted directly above the tank. It looks confusing, but is really simple and foolproof to operate. It has a paper filter (the clear tank on the right) two charcoal filters (the two on the left), A UV lamp to kill backteria, etc., and finally a RO membrane to remove all the other bad stuff. I pre-filter the whole thing by running all household water through another paper filter and the water-softener system before it ever actually gets to the RO system, so water is filtered like seven times before we drink it. It tastes as good or better than anything we get commercially.
RO Filtration System
I thought you'd like to know, don't neglect your water system. The life you save could be your own!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you used your head the right way (instead of using it to catch a blown fitting) -- and I wasn't reading a posting by your "better half" about how you were doing in the hospital!

    Seriously, you were lucky and that's good -- you also used common sense - again a good thing!

    Living by salt water creates a whole new additional set of maintenance woes that we lived through when my folks had a summer house on Pawleys Island (barrier island off SC coast). I remember trying every kind of screening made only to see each rot or fall apart in one or two seasons.

    But, living in paradise doesn't mean that you are completely free of the thorns and I'm glad you have the ability to solve so many of your problems! Keeps you sharp(er)!

    Take care,

    Julian

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