Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Acid Injection Pump

In the years I've had this pool I have gotten increasingly frustrated with having to check it often to be sure the pH is correct.  Chlorine generators on salt water pools tend to raise the pH a little each time they run.  The chemistry of this is described out there, but us pool owners have to deal with it.  The sad part is that the pool companies don't tell us in advance.  I would still have a salt pool, but it would have been nice to know what to expect going in.

Anyway, I finally decided to build an acid injection system and stop having to worry about the pH all the time.  It is described on the Swimming Pool tab above, or click here to go direct to the description.  This is yet another ongoing project that will evolve over time as I get or steal new ideas.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Swimming Pool Fittings (part 5)

 Those that are following this are probably getting tired of me spouting off about 2 inch fittings for a swimming pool.  Well, this should be the last post for a while about this.  I have finally found the solution I was looking for. A way to connect rigid pipe to flexible pipe to support a solar heater without having to go to ten different stores or wait weeks for parts to arrive.  I made my own barb fitting.

First get a union and cut a ring about 3/8 of an inch wide off the end of it.  This can be made easier by putting the union on the end of a pipe (no, don't glue it on) and clamp down the pipe.  I used a reciprocating saw for this, but a hack saw will work fine.

Now glue it to the end of the fitting you want to convert to a barb.  I used a street ell in this example since that is the fitting I need.  You can use a piece of pipe just as easily.  However, there is a possible problem.  The recommended way to glue these is to use a primer and then the glue.  That can fall apart when you put it under pressure.  Especially if you have cyclically changing pressure like a pump turning on and off at various times.  Exactly what I want to use it for.  Well, a call to the glue company solved this problem for me.  Use the "Red Hot" version of the glue WITHOUT any primer.  It seems the primer and glue combination is actually weaker than the regular old glue used alone and to get a really good bond, use the "Red Hot" version.  Some areas require that you use the primer; if that's one of your problems, just paint it with primer after you're done.  They can't tell the difference. 

Wait an hour for the glue to set up some, go to the bench grinder and bevel the ring.  If you don't have a bench grinder, use a rasp and finish it off with sand paper.  If you don't have a rasp, go to the store and get one.

This is the end result.  The barb can be tailored to fit the flexible tube exactly the way you want it to and it will hold.  My solar heater is back online running just fine at less than 8 pounds of pressure.  Here is a picture of the 'real' fitting that is needed.  If you can find this thing, it will make your life easier, but none, that is exactly zero, of the places in town that I managed to contact had even heard of anything like this.  If it wasn't for the price of gasoline I'd take this thing to each of the stores and show them that it exists and they should carry a couple of them.  But, I noticed during this project that Home Depot doesn't even carry a 2 inch street ell in their store stock; I had to go to either Ace Hardware or Lowe's to get one.  It's also nice to know that I can take this fitting and reuse it even though I cut it off the end of a pipe and it has a piece of 2 inch inside of it.  All I have to do is use either an inside coupler or a pipe extender to hook it up.  These two pieces of plumbing apparatus are basically unknown and not carried by stores.  So, this project has bumped up my experience level and now, I pass it on to you.

Now, I promise I won't talk about fittings again until I get the flexible tubing in that I ordered.

Next project??

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Swimming Pool Fittings (part 4)

OK, I think I have the plumbing problem for solar heating on my swimming pool under control.  The latest set of plumbing parts came in and I've been testing fit and construction.  Everything seems to work.  I can create a connection that is short and will hold a flexible hose clamped around it just fine.  I used the pipe extender I mentioned below.  I'm still at least a week away from having the proper flexible tubing, but I only need that for one joint because I already have enough for the rest.

Shown above is the fitting before I cut some of it off and then how it can be inserted into fittings and pipe to make a secure connection to a flexible tube.  This way I can construct a fitting anyplace I want to, like the end of a pipe or a street ell.  I hope other folks that have to deal with this stumble across this set of posts because this kind of thing can be a real pain.

This will all be installed day after tomorrow early in the morning.  It's 135 degrees F on my roof right now and there's no way I'm going up there.  So, now I move on to the automatic acid injector project for the pool.  The injector is actually running right now, but I haven't started writing it up.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Swimming Pool Fittings (part 3)

 For crying out loud.  In my continuing battle against stupid 2 inch fittings for a solar pool heater, I've had some successes and some failures.  Mostly failures.  As I described previously, these things have to be fitted together with flexible hose so they can move a little and to allow them to be taken apart for servicing the roof.  However, nobody wants to sell the connectors needed to hook a pressurized 2 inch pipe to a 2.375 hose.  I finally got in a set of barb fittings that turned out to be too small, so I ordered another set that were the right size for the hose, but a little loose on the pipe.

The white one is a 2" x 2" barb fitting.  It is the same size as 2" pipe, so you use a coupler, but the barb is too small.  The other one is a 2.5" x 2.5" barb fitting and will fit around the 2" pipe with 1/10" of free play.  Turns out that this tiny bit of play is enough to cause it to fail if you're not totally careful about gluing it in place, but the barb is the right size.  Since this setup will operate unattended for days at a time pumping hundreds of gallons of water around, I'd like to feel a little better about it.  So, I tried the fitting below that is called a "pipe extender".

It is designed to fit INSIDE a 2" pipe and stick out so you can attach something to it.  The fitting was designed for situations where you just don't have enough room or a pipe is broken off in concrete or some other bulkhead.  It's basically a repair fitting.  I sawed off some of the end of it and, if you push the uncut tube into a pipe a ways, leaving a separation, you have a nice place to put a hose clamp.  I can't post a picture of this right now, it's installed on the roof and I didn't take my camera up there.  However, I used up all my fittings and stuff experimenting so I'll have to get more and I'll get some pictures of the combination then.

Interesting items for the do-it-yourselfer:  All of the fittings above are hard to find.  The various chain hardware stores don't carry them, and I couldn't find them at plumbing supply houses either.  The plumbing supply houses didn't even have a clue what I was talking about.  They were in one supplier's catalog, but they cost twice what I paid and I'd have to wait a couple of weeks to get them. Even Grainger, the huge wholesaler didn't have them in their catalogs.  When you start adding fittings to PVC pipe, you have to cut something off; that shortens the pipe and gives you less room to work.  Then you add stuff that lengthens the pipe and you run out of space the other way.  Be darn sure to look at it closely and do the very best you can to figure out what is needed before you order stuff.  Else, you'll be stringing the job out over weeks like I am. But, on the bright side, the "pipe extender" fitting above can be a life saver because it fits INSIDE the two inch pipe and doesn't take a lot of room; it also can be partly inserted to make up for being a little short on something else.  There's also something called an "inside coupler", this fitting connects two pipes by going INSIDE them.  Saves space and allows the reuse of a fitting that you had to cut off.  Nice little fittings to keep around; I'm going to order a few of them just for repair purposes and keep them on hand.

More later on this little plumbing drama (after the next set of parts comes in the mail)...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Swimming Pool Fittings (part 2)

I'm still working on the pool solar heater and it is really getting frustrating.  This is not a field frequented by the do-it-yourselfer, except to experiment a little with black water hoses.  To connect two solar panels or to connect a panel to a pipe, a person needs a piece of hose that can handle around 40 pounds of pressure and survive in the outdoors.  Automotive radiator hoses are designed for this kind of thing, but they are generally smaller than the 2 3/8 (2.375) inches diameter needed to join the panel to a 2 inch plumbing pipe.  So, during a search of the web that encountered massive information overload, I found the following possibilities:

Aquatherm/Solar Industries part number 02-0070 @  $6.70 for 4 inch piece.
Dayco 76238 straight radiator hose @ $43.90 for 3 feet.
Gates 24438 straight radiator hose @  $65.00 for 3 feet.

Based on the prices, the Aquatherm hose would be appropriately priced if it wasn't for the shipping.  So, the task is to find something that will hold up under the pressure, take the desert outdoor exposure and last a few years.  Wrapping the hose in metal will eliminate direct sun deterioration, and if I can find thin stainless, it will help reinforce whatever I wind up with.

Sooooo, looking around the web even more I found out that Dayco is one of the companies that deal directly with  That means that I can order the Dayco hose through Amazon and avoid all the pitfalls of having to drive to several auto parts stores using several gallons of gas, but I still have the problem of not knowing if it will actually work.  As luck would have it (sometimes) I happened on a page at Amazon that listed the Dayco hose for 13.13 with a 4 week delivery time.  However, as sometimes happens, this page wasn't there in a normal search of the Amazon site for a Dayco 76238; this search turned up the 40+ price.  Therefore, being the honest and forthright person that I am, I ordered it quickly before they discovered the mistake.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Swimming Pool Fittings

I've been running for a few months with my solar pool heater hooked up for low pressure operation.  On the swimming pool tab above I describe how I put a valve in to close off the vacuum break to prevent air getting into the system when the pressure was so low it wouldn't close the break.  Well, seems you need to use special fittings when you go to a flexible hose from a two inch pipe.  This configuration worked fine for months, then a storm came a loosened something and the pipes blew apart, dumping a few hundred gallons of water on the roof.

A little research shows that one needs to use a barb fitting for this kind of thing, but no one sells them.  There is a special adapter to adapt 2 inch pvc pipe to a flexible hose, but none of the plumbing supply places carry them.  Solar specialty companies are especially reluctant to talk about them because they want to come out and charge me for a service call.
Notice that it has a barb on one end and the other end is the same as two inch pipe.  I found one source online that had 2 inch barb fittings, but the barb was too small.  I found this out when it arrived.  Sigh.  Without being able to actually hold something like this in my hand it's tough to work out the details.

Meanwhile, my solar heater is back to the original configuration while I rattle around trying to find the right parts.  When I get it working again, I'll post updates on the swimming pool page to show people how to do this kind of thing and NOT lose several hundred gallons from the pool across the roof into the yard.