Tuesday, July 07, 2015

trouble at the swimming hole

I was not raised on a farm.  But, now and then, I wish I had been.

My friend Lou has a wealth of experience in working with things electrical and plumbed.  I count on him to provide me with the inductive input for my deductive reasoning when things go amiss here in my personal small municipality.

And that is what this house is.  A tiny city.  With its utilities and infrastructure -- all requiring massaging from someone.

On Sunday afternoon the well-oiled machine began squeaking.  Or leaking.

My pool has an incredible design.  The pump causes water to overflow into an artistic drain that then fills a large reservoir under the patio.  You know what your radiator overflow looks like?  Think of that -- but on a much grander scale. 

The reservoir is the source of water to replenish the pool water that evaporates.  And, in our heavy rains, it also acts as a drain-off system.  I didn't know the details.  Now I do.

I have a water pressure system that usually activates briefly when a toilet is flushed or a sink is filled.  On Sunday, while I was in the pool, I noticed it was running constantly.

My brain switched to problem-solving mode.  And it should have been easy.  I checked the toilets.  None were running.  I checked the sinks.  Bone dry.

Having eliminated the low-lying fruit, I took a closer look at the pool.  Its water level was a bit higher.  And that artistic overflow?  It was filled with water.  Something was obviously wrong.

The reservoir is covered by a heavy concrete cover.  When I pulled it back, I could immediately see the problem.  Water was gushing out of the tank, and its drain-off system in the hole around the tank was nearly full of water.  Even though the tank was full, the pump continued pushing water into it.

I shut off the water flow and looked for some sort of float mechanism that would shut off the water when it reached a certain level.  Most of these tanks have on that looks as if it could have come out of a Brobdingnagian toilet tank.  I couldn't find one -- even when I felt around.

That left me one option.  I needed to surrender and call Lupe, my pool guy.  I was out of my pay grade.  (Lou was not available.)

He was at the house within five minutes.  On a Sunday.  I told hm the problem -- in rapid English.  He asked me to re-wind.  His English and my Spanish could be first cousins.

Once I finished my description (relying heavily upon what I learned in the University of Marcel Marceau), his eyes brightened as if he knew immediately.  The crest-fallen look on his face when he looked into the tank did not give my confidence a boost.

He then did just as I had done.  He stuck his hand in the tank and started feeling around.  But he found what we had both been looking for.  The head of the float.

No wonder I could not find it.  The mount for the head had rusted off.

Being Sunday, he could not find a replacement.  But he promised he could do the job on Monday.

And he was correct,  After spending most of the day in Manzanillo, I returned in the afternoon to find a float package on my courtyard table.  Better yet,the overflow system was working perfectly.

What did I learn?  I was pleased that I had logically isolated the problem.  But I was disappointed in myself that I did not search further for the missing head.  Had I found it, I think I could have repaired it.

Maybe.  If you look at the photograph, you will notice the float arm is not merely oxidized.  Its diameter has increased probably by three times -- and all of that is rust and other deposits.

I also learned from Lupe.  Follow your logic to its natural end.

I feel just a bit smarter.  And content that my pool will continue to cool me down.

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