As anyone who has ever worked in a commercial pump room will tell you, Murphy’s Law – that anything that can go wrong will go wrong – is not just an adage, but a fact. Oftentimes it seems as if the universe itself has conspired against the valiant efforts of the operator and has chosen the pump room as its malignant avatar of soul crushing frustration! What to do?
Before the fear sets in, repeat after me: Don’t Panic. Some of you may have caught our title reference to “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. We figured the advice is as good in this situation as it ever was in the book. “Don’t panic” is always a smart start to any issue and a towel sure does come in handy in a pump room.
Whether it’s a leaky pipe, failed equipment, the always terrifying “code brown”, that one chemistry controller that decides to do whatever it wants regardless of the many threats and curses shouted its way, or (if you are from my neck of the woods) the occasional alligator that has decided that it has found a new home, the most important thing an operator can do is keep calm and utilize some simple everyday common sense.
First things first – have a plan. I know, that’s easier said (err, written) than done, right? Well, let’s take a minute to consider the world we live in today. The fact is, the internet is almost everywhere and YES, the internet can be used for more than Facebook and the latest evil incarnation of “flappy bird”. On your phone/tablet/computer is a whole cornucopia of knowledge. Don’t know how to backwash a filter? If the instruction manual has walked away, there is a good chance that it’s online. Lose an MSDS sheet? That’s probably online as well.
But let’s say it’s something urgent, like a leaky pipe, and your phone was soaked while you were valiantly trying to stem the flow with your faithful towel. Again, this is where good ol’ common sense and a dash of preparation will serve one well. First, shut off flow to that section of pipe or, if no bypass is present, shut off the pump and find the main isolation valve. Then, call a plumber. Better yet, call the plumber whose number is already on the wall. Instead of heading to Google or a phone book (remember those?), why not have a clear, waterproof page protector with a list of important numbers (like that plumber who is needed right then, or your support company for that controller that has just started reading in Chinese) tacked on the wall by the phone /door. Save yourself time and hassle with just a few minutes of preparation.
Over the next few installments of this blog I will be collaborating with TMI’s very own pump room MacGyver (mullet included) to answer your questions and hopefully, offer some insight on how to constructively deal with the frustration, pain, and sometimes hauntings that occur in a pump room.
We’d love it if you would share with us some of your current frustrations or some of your best pump room horror stories. We’ll see if we can’t dig out a pearl of wisdom or help you out with your question. If nothing else you will have a partner in misery. Remember, Don’t Panic.