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    Just South of Atlanta
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    Efficient pool use and maintenance.
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Spa Savant

Spa Savant (3/5)



  1. Hi Tony I have an extenda-swim and I discuss it here: http://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=27383&st=0&p=123053&hl=extenda&fromsearch=1entry123053 http://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=11234&st=0&p=79958&hl=extenda&fromsearch=1entry79958 Everything I said there pretty much still stands - although I haven't used it this year at all because my work suddenly to a turn for the busier. If you still have questions, let me know.
  2. That was probably my post that you read and while I don't post much here, I do monitor from time to time. I guess this is a good time to update my experience. I've had it for a few years now and I now better understand the laws of physics. The point is that it takes a huge amount of energy to move that much water from cold to warm despite mine being a small pool, and so, in the Atlanta area, the word "Extenda-Swim" really is appropriate. Since my pool is in a lot of shade, about all I can do with the heater is extend the season - open early and close late. Some of the finer points I've learned: - This particular brand of heater is not very efficient. While it is well insulated, I think a huge percentage of the actual heat goes up the chimney. If I had enough time and energy I would make some design changes to this one that involved a small fan of some kind blowing air in to the fire box through a lot of well distributed small holes, and then routing the gases in a zigzag around all of the heat exchanger using some steel plating in between the heat exchanger layers. I would also set it up so I could open the fire box and clean the pipes without having to reseal it with caulk each time. - I ordered the middle sized heater for a small (7800 gallon) pool and that was certainly not overkill. I'd guess it takes about a day to get a 10 to 15°F rise, depending on wood. - Cover the pool when you're heating but not swimming. I have two solar covers on it on cool days, and I'm not going to do much off-season heating until I can build some kind of building around the pool making it "semi-indoor". Heat lost to the ambient air is huge and fast. - Type of wood will make a large difference in how fast the temp rises and how often you need to add. Since you heat your home with wood I'm hoping you know more than I do about the BTUs contained in different types of wood, but of the several large trees worth of wood I have, I've noticed that a white wood (I think it's white oak) burns a lot hotter. So I tend to try to put several smaller pieces of white wood to get things started, then one or two pieces of white wood with large chunks of the slower stuff for the long burn. - I don't recommend doing this if you don't have a cheap to free source of wood. If you have to pay someone to cut, season, haul and stack, you'd probably be better off paying the $500/month to I've heard it costs to run a gas heater. - They do generate smoke so doing this in a suburb subdivision is not as smart as in the woods. I've learned how to keep the smoke to a minimum, and I am also constantly asking my very nice neighbors if they are having any problems. They have been banned in some suburban areas. Sooo.... - Do you have the facilities and desire to work with steel to improve the design a bit? - Do you really enjoy hauling, stacking, cutting, etc wood? - Do you have a cheap to free source of fire wood? - Is your pool indoors or will you keep it well thermal covered when not in use? - Are you in the boonies where wood smoke won't make the mall shoppers cough? The more emphatic yeses you answer, the better the fit. Hope this helps, let us know what you decide!
  3. Thanks for the bump and sorry it's taken so long. This is my third attempt due to various PC problems - gotta love modern technology. My initial conclusions remain pretty much the same, here are some random thoughts after a year of using this heater. We made the decision in late February or early march to go ahead with the liner replacement so I stopped heating at that point. The liner was done in April and except for a brief initial period, the weather heated the water enough so that burning wood was not necessary. The heater available at woodstovepools.com was not available when I purchased mine and it may be better in several aspects: - The door is insulated and from the description it sounds like the rest is insulated better than mine. This will of course help efficiency. - The exterior is stainless steel and besides making it look nicer (matter of taste) that will also eliminate the routine sanding and spraying with black spray paint to remove surface rust on mine. Caveat; while stainless steel is normally rust resistant, it can still rust and if it does I'm not sure how much effort would be involved in removing the rust. - Also from the description it looks like they did a much better job designing the heatbox and burn area. The air intakes appear more finely tunable and they talk about baffles to reduce unburned gases. However, they also claim that one bush cord will heat the entire season and that is a blanket statement that simply cannot be made without considering other variables like wood type, desired water temperature, weather, pool cover, etc. But their website doesn't state how much it costs and that would be an important factor deciding whether to buy on or the other. They also haven't solved the problem of what to do if the water stops. Groo, I like your idea of having the heater below water line but with the size of these heaters I think that would be impractical. Still, I wonder if the heat exchanger could be installed vertically or at an angle to allow at least some convection powered flow - not for normal use but enough to protect things when the water stops. Maybe even a simple hand pump built in to keep the water flowing while the fire cools off. Either way I think any solution to this would require expensive engineering which given the low numbers of these heaters will probably not happen. I found and bought at a local chain hardware store (Lowe's and Home Depot did not have them, Ace and Gilroy's did) an 8" cast iron flu damper and a 2 pieces of 8" stovepipe. While the assembly was not as straightforward as I hoped (problems caused by the male/female matching), it was an easy and not too expensive way to make it look a bit better and provide better draft & draft control while also moving the smoke up a few feet higher. Was not a very impressive change. Most important for maintaining a pool at a warm temperature is keeping it covered. I was in the pool in February with it over 80° but I was under an oversized solar blanket and my main goal at the time was to find some way to support the cover high enough so it could remain on the pool while we swam. I was unsuccessful at the time but I'm not done tinkering with that yet. The point is that an outdoor uncovered pool in the Atlanta area will cool off so quickly in the winter that it makes no sense to bur the wood unless someone is spending several hours daily in the pool. I will continue looking for some kind of cover solution but most of the commercial products (removable in summer, swimmable and insulated in winter) I've seen so far are just too expensive. The best way to look at this kind of heater is really in the name; "Extenda-A-Swim". Without additional protection it will simply extend the swimming season. I still believe that for those communities that have outlawed these there must be a better way to prevent local air pollution. Mine would probably deserve a restriction too but I am as careful as possible. I never burn anything but wood (paper and cardboard to get the fire started) and I always ask all of my nearest neighbors if they are having any problems with the smell or smoke. So far, not even the elderly person on constant oxygen whose kitchen is about 12 ft from the heater has had any problems. I also now have enough experience (and my wood pile is a bit more seasoned) to keep the worst of the smoke down and it usually burns fairly cleanly - albeit very inefficiently. One topic that is rarely broached in the emissions discussions is the source of energy. Oil is solar energy that was deposited on the planet a long time ago and consuming fossil fuels converts that stored energy into heat, warming our current environment. Solar thermal, photo voltaic, and wind are all solar energy sources that were deposited on the planet recently and are energy balance neutral. Wood is a form of solar energy that was deposited on the planet generally within the last hundred years and it is renewable. Not as good as direct solar but certainly much better than fossil fuels. While this new heater model may change things and I don't have any experience with it to be certain, my primary conclusions remain the same. The appropriate installation for a wood-burning pool heater is one in which the owner/user: - doesn't mind the manual labor involved with burning wood - doesn't mind spending time to feed and care for the fire - has a cheap or free source of wood - has a large enough area around the heater or is conscientious enough to ensure that no neighbors are bothered by the emissions - is willing to keep a thermal cover on the pool except when swimming - wants to extend the season by a month or two on either side
  4. I don't own a spa (yet) but I agree with many of the posts above including ... - large, easily readable controls and display reachable from inside the tub - maybe a wired remote? - LCD Monitor(s) for DVD, tv or PC - built-in PC which monitors water quality, allows web surfing, music playing, DVD playing, tv watching, etc. Also weighs and dispenses required chemicals, provides alerts for water quality and can change it automatically when needed, has a power usage meter, and can control all aspects of the tub including room lighting - Underwater sub-woofers and good quality speakers - Easy access to the pumps and other hardware - QUIET! - foot wash as described above - repositionable seats/recliners - repositionable jets - warming storage for towels - dry storage for everything that needs to stay dry - fogger for effect and mister for cooling - refrigerator accessable from inside the tub - maybe even complete bar with small microwave for snacks. - some kind of aroma generator (Actually it sounds like a pool already) And of course price. If I found a hot tub with all this I would be willing to pay $200 - maybe even more if it was the right color.
  5. I also have a multi speed pump and I can really recommend it. If larger diameter piping doesn't cost much you can save but make sure you get some sort of variable speed pump to realize the savings.
  6. Sounds about right to me. If you want to make sure it's not the main drain, cover it up with something so no water can drain through and see if the leak goes away.
  7. Another possibility is an electronic pH meter. I have one that measures pH and ORP very quickly (just dunk it into a sample of the water and the reading stabilizes in a few seconds). ORP generally gives an indication of how well the chlorine is working but there are a lot of factors that that go into ORP. Still, just for the pH (and temperature) values alone it's great, and even reads down to ±0.01 with an accuracy of ±0.02. Google "handheld pH meter" and you'll find a pletheora of these small instruments at a range of prices.
  8. My nearest pool store is Leslie's and I am happy with them, but I think there is great variability among the individual stores. I saw someone mention that a pool store is like a boutique - you can get some really fancy, expensive, high-heeled shoes there but we generally head to one of the discounters if we need several pairs of cheap jeans. Sometimes it just has to be the fancy shoes and you can't get them anywhere else but the pool store. This includes things like stain removers, pump parts and complicated water testing. For the bulk chlorine, bags of salt, or anything in large quantity the local discounter is probably a better deal. I also agree about the TF-Test kits. That's a good source of the testing reagents.
  9. Are you certain there is nothing blocking the return lines anywhere? Check and make sure none of the outlets eyes have turned in their sockets. Also make sure you have all the valves opened to the correct position. A back-pressure that high with no normal explanation isn't good. I have an over-dimensioned pump (1.5 hp for an ~8000 gal pool) and mine starts high and goes higher, but not that high. Another possibility - the gauge. I replaced mine last year but this year on opening it showed a base pressure of ~10 - with no pump running - so I had to replace it again. It was only about $8.00 and an easy fix.
  10. I have a similar situation and I've learned to just live with it. On my system I believe that the water is cavitating because there are some bends and turns a bit too close to the intake side of the pump. However, I have a two speed pump and when running on high speed, no water collects in the pump basket because it is all passed through to the sand filter. On low speed it takes a day or two but eventually the pump basket fills with air. And like you, I notice a big difference in how much air comes in if the filter is clean or dirty. There is also more air if the pump basket gets leaves in it, or if the skimmer or drain gets a little plugged with leaves or debris. I'I have 2" above ground and 1.5" below ground.
  11. That gets my vote also - definitely go with 2" plumbing. The cost difference is minimal but it can add up to a lot of savings over the lifetime of the pool. I recently installed an over-dimensioned two speed pump and I really wish the builder had used the 2" pipe because I now get cavitation (bubbles appear in the water without a leak present). I am able to use the high speed to have a fast turnover - good for mixing or quick filtering on dirty conditions. For daily filtering I leave it on low speed and that reduces energy usage and pump noise. I also recommend putting ball valves, disconnects and labels on every pipe coming out of the ground. Helps a lot with troubleshooting, holding prime when cleaning pump basket, and other cleaning tasks. I would also recommend the variable or multiple speed pump. High speed on mine is 1.5 hp, low speed is perhaps .75 hp but it uses less than half the electricity because flow resistance drops exponentially as flow speed drops. I found mine online for perhaps 10% more than my local pool store would have charged for a replacement single speed pump.
  12. Another easy test would be to turn off or disconnect the heater and flip the pump to high. If the breaker still trips it will probably be the pump.
  13. See my answer to your other post.
  14. Seems to me it's probably going to be your pump, but the circuit breaker could be at fault too, and that is probably the easiest and cheapest to change. If you know what you're doing with electricity, I believe a lot of home improvement stores would have a replacement breaker. Another thing you could do is measure the actual current draw, and if you aren't handy around electricity then getting an electrician out would probably be the best bet. He should be able to measure the current, diagnose the problem and fix it immediately if it's the breaker. If it's the pump he'll at least be able to tell you that. Let us know what it turns out to be.
  15. Probably not. Take a sample of your pool water AND your well water to your nearest pool store and have them test it for everything, including metals. Let us know what they say - and what they think you should do.
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