Technology – Out With the Old, In With the New (Pump Room Survival Guide!)

In Blog by David Stringfellow

Pump Survival Guide

Does this still look familiar? It shouldn’t!

I recently sent out an email to a few of my clients who, believe it or not, still have a dial up modem in their chemistry controllers. I informed them that “ol’ Wheezy”, my one and only, less than trusty, megalithic desktop with a modem (possibly built by Alan Turing himself in the 1940’s), is starting to make noises that resemble an enraged gerbil on a rocket and will soon go not so gently into that good night. Once that computer gargles its last blue screen of death, TMI will no longer be able to support these clients remotely. This got me thinking about all of the other outdated pump room technology that cause us (the operator, support team, and management) immense stress as well as money to fix these electronic dinosaurs, time spent on constant repairs, and in the case of a failure, loss of revenue.

In the case of “ol’ Wheezy”, you may be asking yourself “Why not just go get another computer and put another modem in that?”

Yes, I could do that. But let’s be realistic. Modems have been going the way of the dodo bird since the day they rolled off the assembly line. That 1 out of 10 times you make the connection, it’s either luck or you determinedly ran through a series of rituals as if the computer were an original Nintendo® (you know what I’m talking about…open lid, blow on the game cartridge, hit the power button 3 times, insert, eject, insert, etc.) If you have no clue what I’m referring to, let me tell you, the struggle is real. Advances in communications left the modem in the dust years ago. Now, the internet is at our fingertips, in our pockets, even in our home thermostats. Most quality chemistry controllers can now be connected directly to their facility’s Ethernet and some can even be controlled from an app on a phone. So why, at this point, should I invest money in maintaining bygone technology?

The same is true for many items in the pump room. Take a look at your pumps, for instance. Are they 5 years old or older? Do they have a VFD (Variable Frequency Drive)? How many times have you had to replace the motor, impeller, bearings? How often has it gone down, forcing your front staff to turn away less than understanding swimmers?

What about that elephant sized filter, cast iron heater, and chlorine feeders? Take a few minutes to go over your pool logs and budgets. How much are you really saving by throwing hundreds (thousands?) of dollars at a 10 year old machine that has been going down almost annually? It may be more money upfront, but a new, efficient pump with a VFD typically pays for itself through energy savings alone in just 6-14 months. Additionally, you have the peace of mind knowing that you are contributing toward global conservation by not wasting energy.

I can respect a classic as much as anyone. There are few things that get me excited like a classic Chevy, sporting a massive 454 big block, whose main job is to turn high octane fuel into noise, tires into smoke, and that can pass anything on the road… except for a gas station. Still, that doesn’t mean I would or could afford to drive one cross country. So why, after a point, would you waste your money on repairs when you can replace with equipment that will not only save you money, but keep your current members swimming happily and perhaps encourage new members to walk through your door? Maybe it’s time to embrace what modern technology can offer.