During troubleshooting sessions, often the first thing I will ask for is a print out of the flow rate, pressure and vacuum readings from various points in a system and all current chemistry readings. All too often that request is met with far too little information which leads to lengthy troubleshooting sessions and can delay the diagnosis of the actual problem.
Pressure Gauges, Vacuum Gauges and Flow meters provide a pool operator or technician with much of the information they need when verifying correct operation of their system or located and troubleshoot problems.
One of the first things I recommend clients do after any major change, or, when they are new to the site would be to “baseline” their system. The process is simple, go through and clean everything and then record the flow, pressure and vacuum in various configurations of operation. Typically I will go through a couple operational configurations to get the data.
- The first configuration would be with all of the auxiliary equipment bypassed and just running the pump/filter. We’ll record pump vacuum, pump pressure, filter inlet pressure & effluent pressure and total flow rate.
- Next I will have the auxiliary components brought online one at a time, returning them to their offline state after recording the same readings. This allows the operator to understand the actual impact of each component of the system as they currently exist (and not just design spec.).
- Finally I will have them bring the whole system online recording all of the readings again.
This process creates a “road map” for troubleshooting when something goes wrong. The operator can start looking at what and where the readings least match “normal” and can quickly hone in on the problem area.
To gather all of this data there are multiple gauges and various types throughout the system.
- Pressure Gauges – used to measure positive pressure in a line. These are typically used before/after filters, heaters and bypass loops. The difference in the reading vs baseline would be used to recognize a blockage or restriction like a dirty filter, or calcium deposition in a heater.
- Vacuum gauges – used on the suction side of the system to monitor pump operation and/or suction DE systems. A vacuum gauge measure the “draw” of the pump. This gauge will increase as output is restricted, but can also be used to monitor the motor when everything else remains the same.
- Compound Gauges – a combination gauge that can measure pressure or vacuum with limited ranges, very useful in facilities where high pressure and/or vacuum are not present.
Flow meters play an equally important role in monitoring the system. Typically, installations include a primary meter for total flow, and then a separate meter for each bypass going to the auxiliary equipment (heaters, salt systems, uv systems, etc.)
It is the combination of flow meters and pressure/vacuum gauges that allow an operator to quickly inspect the pump room and ensure everything is running correctly, or, identify a problem and take corrective action.