Friday, August 03, 2007

Pool Fun

I got a phone call last night as I was passing through Hicksville en route to the fabulous Steviemanse. 'Twas Mrs Stevie, who wanted to know if I was going to join her and the Stevieling for a "family swim" in the pool when I got home.

This transparent attempt to assuage my wrighteous wrath over the poisoning of the pool by the Stevieling was tempting, if only I could confirm one thing.

"Is the water clear yet?" I asked dubiously, knowing that it took three days and much effort on my part to clarify the bugger when I kick-started the pool this season.

"The Stevieling says so" answered Mrs Stevie, which reassured me not at all.

I eventualy arrived home and donned swimming gear in the hope that the pool had fixed itself in spite of the attempts to kill it, and found the womenfolk a-frolic in the water. The Stevieling was vacuuming again. This time she had assembled the equipment in such a way as to guarantee air would be drawn into the system. I attached the hoses properly with a growl and took a look at the water. The bottom of the pool was a misty blur, obscured for the most part by milky particulate matter worse if anything than yesterday.

"Did you not notice how cloudy the water is?" I sighed. "I'm not getting into that, and if you take my advice you'll leave it and get a shower ASAP".

Mrs Stevie ceased her youthfull frollicking, looked hard at the water, let out a squeak and exited pool right, followed by the perpetrater of the pool poisoning. I did some checking. The filter pump was running but the water pressure it was building was poor. I diagnosed a blocked filter and removed the cartridge for cleaning.

Mrs Stevie, sensing a need for hitherto absent middle management, came over to advise me on how to do the job. I pointed out to her the green-black folds of the filter, then spent about two minutes washing off one fold to expose the underlying white filter accordion pleat. I pointed out the existence of about two hundred similar folds around the circumference of the cartridge cylinder, and asked her to estimate how long she thought it would take me to get the filter clean enough to effectively remove the rubbish from the pool. I pointed out that the last time I had had a filter this badly clogged, I had ended up buying a new filter. As she opened her mouth to enquire as to the cost of doing that, I mentioned $54.38 or thereabouts as an estimate of doing so. I ended our little tete-a-tete by pointing out that there wasn't a word on the English language to describe exactly how much I loathed cleaning a badly crocked filter, and she suddenly remembered she hadn't had any coffee for an hour or so and left to remedy the situation.

With the filter installed again, I discovered that the pump was still not shifting any water to speak of. Blast that kid! She'd finally done it. She'd de-primed the filtration system and I would now have to get it going again the hard way.

Water pumps often won't draw unless their pump-chamber (whatever design it is) is full of water. The old hand-pumps you see in Western Movies won't draw if you don't keep the cylinder full of water, which is why you sometimes see a bucket of water standing next to such pumps. The draw pump is usually a simple piston and clack-valve affair that pulls water up into the cylinder as the piston rises (when you push down on the handle). A valve then drops closed to trap it and when the piston drops another opens to allow the water to be forced out of the spout. Sometimes the second valve is installed in the piston itself so the water gets pushed out of the spout by one side of the piston as the other is sucking up the next load.

The pool pump is a rotary type, using a high-speed spinning disc with vanes on it to propel the water through the pipes. The water enters at the middle of the disc and vanes then throw it to the outside where it drains off. Both these systems rely on one simple fact of physics: the water is relatively uncompressable and forms an excellent seal around the valves or vanes of the disc. Air, on the other hand, is easily compressed, and leaks past the primitive leather seals of a draw pump and just swirls around inside the rotor of the pool pump, preventing either pump from drawing water. To get it working again the pump must be filled with water. This process is called "priming the pump", a phrase you might have heard used metaphorically in other contexts, particularly at the start of a manly drinking binge. I digress.

Grabbing the hosepipe I turned off the filter pump and blew water backwards through the system. It took forever for this to dislodge the air from the pump rotor, long enough for me to reflect on what other vengeance methods I could bring to bear on my sabotage-obsessed daughter. I decided that encouraging Mrs Stevie to participate more in her life would fit the bill1 and powered up the pump. I was rewarded with a veritable torrent of water circulation.

Taking another look at the water, I decided to try a straight eight hour cycle and simply rotated the timer clock dial to achieve that, not being in the mood for lengthy reprogramming in twilight and mosquito conditions. Only time will tell if the water will come clean without recourse to a new filter altogether.

By now my feet were soaked with poluted pool pondwater, which interacted with the wounds on my toes2 to produce great pain with every step, so I decamped for a shower and a change to dry footwear.

Thus ended another day in paradise.

  1. And incidentally fix that vile harridan's chops too. They deserve each other
  2. Caused by a virulent and treatment-resistant strain of athlete's foot I picked up in Canada years ago (in a swimming pool, ironically). It flares up occasionally, stripping the skin off my toes in less than a day if I don't get prescription-strength stuff on it tootsweet. This week was made more lovely by a breakout of Alberta Footrot on Monday. I stop anyone else getting it by wearing thick socks at all times and scrubbing places I walk barefoot (such as the pool ladder) with bleach when I'm done. So far, I am, predictably, the only one to have fallen foul of this dastardly Cannuck germ warfare

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