27 March, 2014

Who'da Thunk It?

What would be your guess as to the one thing in someone's yard that would be among the items least likely to go kerflooey? Hey, that's spelled right - I even looked it up! Come on, take a guess. What do you think?

How about playing twenty questions?
  • Is it Animal, Vegetable or Mineral? Other
  • Is it used for entertainment? Partly
  • Is it black? No
  • Would you use it in the dark? Sometimes
  • Do most people use this daily? Unknown
  • Is it harvested? No
  • Does it fold up easily? No
  • Is it hard? Yes
  • Is it smaller than a bread box? No
  • Can it scratch? No
  • Does it use numbers? No
  • Does it have a handle? Yes
  • Is it electronic? No
  • Does it get wet? Yes
  • Does it shine? No
  • Is it white? Irrelevant
  • Do you hold it when you use it? No
  • Can you smell it? No
  • Does it usually have four corners? No
  • Do you use it at work? No
  • Is it outside? Yes
  • Does it move? No
The twenty-questions game I found on the Internet guessed it was a bidet. I'm not sure how many people would keep their bidet outside, but what do I know? Actually, bidet was a close guess... Give up? OK, it's a swimming pool filter, which sort of operates on the same principal as a bidet.

This story actually begins about two years ago. A small leak began inside the pool pump house, or I should say more properly, the pool mechanical house. Whatever. Anyway, that small leak caused me no end of hassle trying to localize it. First, I thought it was this, then that, and then the other thing. Mostly I was wrong. Oh sure, I did find several small leaks now and then. I think leaks go with the territory - piping, water, vibration - all lend themselves to creating leaks.

Anyway this one drove me to distraction. I would think I found the source, get it corrected and next thing I knew, more water on the floor. But, I could never really zero in on the source. It was always a mystery.

That is, till five days ago. I came down to the pool Sunday morning and noticed the water level had gone down two tiles. Uh oh, something's wrong. I went directly over to the pump mechanical house, opened the door, and there was no doubt. I could hear water running behind the filter, but I couldn't see or feel anything because the filter was almost right up against the wall.

I checked the small drain valve at the bottom of the tank just to make sure it wasn't leaking. Nope. It was fine. I felt around the top of the tank just in case I wasn't seeing the leak. Nope. Nothing there. Slowly it became apparent to me just what was leaking.

I shut off all the valves that would allow water to flow to the filter. That stopped the strong flow of water. It now became a trickle as the residual water in the tank drained off. I also now opened the small drain valve to help get rid of what water remained.

My next task was to see if there was any way to get a replacement tank in a hurry. The short answer was no. The long explanation was that yes, I could get one from one of several vendors up north. But after purchasing the tank, there was still shipping to our freight forwarder in Florida, their fees, then Belize duty and 12.5% GST, and presto, I would be into real money, not to mention the time delays till I could actually get my hands on the tank.

That took care of Monday. A little research, other daily chores, going out to lunch with friends, etc., pretty well filled up the rest of the day.

Tuesday, I checked with Island Pool Supply over in San Pedro. They could get one, but pretty much the same constraints as me ordering from up north would apply as they didn't have one in stock. However, Don told me they did have several TA-60s in stock (I was trying to replace a TR-60.). He told me I could get a complete TA-60 (tank and 6-position valve) for a bit less than the TR-60 tank alone.

That meant I could order it that morning and have it PDQ. Well, almost. First Wednesday, I had to go to Belize Bank and transfer money from our account to Island Pool Supply (If you're wondering, they don't take bank cards). Then I had to email them a PDF of the deposit slip to their account. That gave them enough time to get the complete filter down to the Thunderbolt water taxi so it would get up here to Corozal by 5:00 PM.

Since we went Jamrock for supper with Denis and Vivien, it was easy for Denis and I to slip away and get over to the Thunderbolt pier - about two minutes away and pick up the box. We were both amazed at how much freight came out of that boat, not to mention a boat-load of passengers. Shipping via Thunderbolt was very reasonable. It only cost $20.00 BZD.

That brings us to Thursday morning. Bright and early. But first, an aside. Wednesday evening, I had been searching YouTube to find a video on easily removing sand from the filter. I already had experience with doing it the hard way and the mess all over the floor that resulted. Dianna suggested trying to borrow a Shop-Vac to speed the removal up. My Shop-Vac is in pieces as I'm currently trying to get the motor rehabbed so that it will work again.

I called Graham Thursday morning. He had one and I could borrow it. I jumped into the Isuzu (did I mention we have the Isuzu back now - after about two-months in the shop?). Ask the doggies about that. They think they've led a deprived life with no rides for all that time. Anyway, I grabbed the doggies and we ran over to the house where Graham is house-sitting (Jim and Melanie's old place for those who remember them, or Don's place for those whose memories are more recent) and picked up the Shop-Vac.

Back home, I got to work getting about 325-lbs of wet sand out of the old filter. After a couple of hours, all the sand had been removed and I was then able to disconnect the filter from the piping and remove it from the mech-house.

Finally, I was able to see the extent of damage. As you can see below, the rip runs almost a whole foot vertically in the fiberglass of the tank. Plus, the discerning reader will notice some discoloration indicating a smaller leak that had existed for some time. How about two years? There's the source of the phantom leak. Finally!
Rip in the Fiberglass Filter Tank
Here's the sand that I took out of the filter. Almost got it all into the plastic bin, but just ran a bit shy.
Sand Ready to Go Back In
Looking at the wall inside the mechanical house, you can see easily where the leak had been going for quite some time. But with the filter right up against the wall, it was impossible to see where it was located.
Showing Leak Traces
 Here's a shot of the new filter, this time with the valve on the top of the tank instead of the side.
The New TA-60D Filter Mock-up
And in this shot, I'm adding the sand back in to the new filter tank. Since it was only a few months ago that I replaced the sand, reusing the sand made perfect sense. Even though wet, it still vacuumed easily and also went back in the same.
Adding Sand to the New Filter
Late Thursday afternoon, the new filter is in place, completely filled with sand. All that remains now is to rework and connect the piping. I'll start of that project tomorrow.
New Filter With Sand Sans Piping
Now, I'm not even going to ask what could possibly break next or go wrong. I'm ready for some uneventful mornings and afternoons - at least for a while.

Oh, I almost forgot. I put the old filter (minus the side valve) in the large cardboard box the new one came in, labeled it conspicuously 'BROKEN' on three side and put it out beside our trash bin. Around 5:00 PM, or so, some Mexican scrap metal scroungers stopped and loaded the whole thing onto their already overloaded pickup truck, and away they went. I just hope I don't head out tomorrow morning and find the filter and box lying beside the highway somewhere, after they discovered 1) it really was broken, and 2) there was no metal in the thing. I really don't want to bring it back.


JRinSC said...

Have you ever considered just selling everything, buying a small caye and just catching and grilling your meal every day? Of course that means no Belikins, no internet, no social interaction -- but then no major breakdowns (except maybe yourself) ever again. Wow... put that way I guess it is worth the fight.

At least we're enjoying watching the battle from a seat very far away.

Keep it up partner! We're having fun and we're on your side!!!


Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian,

The caye would probably sink or something along that line.

One more thing to add to the list - our HP all-in-one printer died. After seven years of working hard, every diagnostic I ran, ended up saying "Buy a new printer."

So, I did. Well, not yet. Fred, at Corozal Virtual Office is getting in some HP wireless, all-in-one printers this week. I've reserved one for us.

Who says things aren't improving?