By Denise Bittner
Ask any water treatment field technician about the daily difficulties of doing a typical service and you’ll hear things like, “the bed was cemented,” “the lady had white carpet and we had to lay down 20 tarps to get in and out of her house,” “the iron was slopping all over the back of the truck in the bucket,” “after a couple of hours, I still couldn’t get the water to run clear,” “the well pump couldn’t deliver enough water to properly backwash the iron out of the media,” “that tank was so heavy, I couldn’t lift it by myself to get it out of there,” etc. What do these statements have in common? They are, simply put, a day in the life of your average service technician. Let’s walk through what it takes.
Problem 1: Siphoning freeboard water and subsequent disposal
A typical yearly service call can become a nuisance when the water needs to be removed. Get a siphon tube and a bucket; just try not to get any media in your mouth while creating the siphon effect. Successfully remove the water and you are almost home free…not. The buckets still have to be carried through the house to the outside and hoisted into the truck. How was the quality of that water just removed? Was it possibly full of iron and debris?
Problem 2: Tank removal
For technicians involved with tank exchanges and/or tank removal, one can envision the muscular ability necessary to lift a tank (with media) full of water, out of the home and up into a truck—and extremely difficult in non-walkout basements. The considerable amount of trouble with this (including possible workers compensation claims) underscores the need for a better alternative. Of course, you have to begin by removing the tank’s water.
Problem 3: Complete winterization
For dealers who have clients that vacation and/or live in a region where freezing potential exists, winterization is a key concern. It’s easy to drain down plumbing pipes and fixtures, but attempting to remove all the water from a tank without removing the media presents other issues. Some dealers remove and store the tanks at their warehouse, which still requires a great deal of physical effort, only to have to repeat the process in reverse when the client returns. Most importantly, dealers have to guarantee that nothing will go wrong with the system during all this commotion, which can be costly to the consumer. There must be a better way.
Problem 4: Removal of iron and debris and breaking up compacted beds
In geographical locations where iron and its related constituents oxidize into the media bed, the task of effectively removing the debris collection not adequately removed by the backwash process is, at the very least, problematic. Sometimes
media beds have become compacted due to neutralization media, or consistently packed with iron and debris without good removal. More often than not, well pumps don’t deliver adequate pressure and the volume of water necessary for bed expansion to remove debris and break up any compacted or cemented beds. Control valves currently on the market are constantly improving backwash capability, but without pump delivery and pressure, total performance is often compromised.
Service calls to rectify these situations can become an exorbitant expense, resulting in customer dissatisfaction due to unexpected costs, if these tasks are not done properly. This is a no-win situation for both dealers and end users.
A solution devised
Existing problems in POE service have spawned the creation of many new products. This case study is focused on one which was developed as a result of another, larger project requiring a chambered, full-access system still in the design stage. That innovation provided full and complete removal of water from tanks and media just by adding compressed air.
The chambered system featured compartmentalized, individual chambers that were removed by unlocking each section for access to media inside the chamber and/or removal of the section. This required the manufacturer to develop a way to quickly and easily remove water before removing each section.
This newly developed device was designed to use the existing drain line on the control valve as the conduit for water removal. It allowed for compressed air to be added to the system, which would then form an air cell that pushed standing water in the tank or system to the bottom of the vessel, up the riser and out the drain line for complete water removal.
One key element was pressurization regulation. Using pre-calibrated valves and springs, the device automatically vented over-pressurization back out of the device, thereby limiting the maximum amount of air that could be added into the vessel. Once the process was initiated, the water was removed and it allowed the backwash process to be repeated without any resistance from water in the tank.
By repeatedly backwashing the system and allowing water to enter without resistance, a much higher level of expansion and lift was achieved. This forceful backwash was instrumental in breaking up the bed, allowed for better removal of debris, and additionally resulted in a 25- to 28-percent increase in bed expansion.
Most innovative products, solutions and inventions spawn from necessity and often, one innovation results in yet another function. An optional feature of the water-purging device allows the riser tube to lock into place when removing the control valve, solving another age-old problem.
The unit was screwed on to a 2.5-inch (63.5 mm) standard tank, between the vessel and the control valve. To add it to an existing system, the riser tube was extended to provide greater height, achieved through the use of a riser-tube extension. Some re-piping work was also performed, in order to change the height of the connecting pipes once the unit was installed on an existing system.
Each unit was tested for operational function, as well as pressure (a standing pressure of 300 psi was applied). This resulted in a mark on the O-ring and/or residual amounts of water in the unit. The units were also disinfected and followed FDA compliance for potability, utilizing NSF 61 materials in all aspects of production.
By only allowing an acceptable amount of air to enter the tank, by virtue of the self-regulating feature, the unit allowed enough force to push water up to a second-story drain line, protecting other fittings and drain lines, in addition to maintaining manufacturer’s tank specifications and warranties.
Areas most likely to use this product would include cold weather areas (for the practicality of complete winterization), regions with iron and manganese or other debris issues, and those where neutralizing media are used for pH correction. Generally, technicians will also benefit any time buckets are required for water removal or lifting and carrying of tanks.
About the author
Denise Bittner, EVP and Sales Director/Solutions in Aqua and President of Solutions in Aqua Services since 1984, has been involved in manufacturing and marketing of the company’s products since 2001. She has a diversified background in finance, business marketing and water treatment, and acquired CWS-IV level certification in the 1990s.
About the product
The ‘Air Thruster’ in the PODULUS System 7™ chambered unit was the focus of the study. Redesigned to fit any existing residential, 2.5-inch standard tank, it is now known as the RED HEAD™, a water removal device that can be used quickly and effortlessly with a small air compressor. For questions or comments regarding this product, contact the company by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, call (877) 552-3322, Option 1 or visit www.solutinsinaqua.com for a descriptive video of the product and its benefits.