What is stronger, a lemon or a belly?

Dirk

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So a while back I noticed a potential danger in my pool. When a contractor installed an actuator on the three-way valve that balances my suction side cleaner and my skimmer (because before the actuator neither worked that great), he set the actuator such that 100% suction goes to one or the other. If the safety flap on my suction port failed or was fooled around with, or one of my monkeys was fooling with the vac hose, there is a potential risk of entrapment or evisceration.

I combated this temporarily by running my vac only in the middle of the night, but it's still possible for that vac to come on during swim time. I'm also wanting to protect my pump, should I forget to put my vac back in after a party. When I remove my vac, it's hose and all, so the suction port flap is closed. In cleaner mode the next day, that'd deadhead the pump.

So I thought I should back off the suction of cleaner mode, to share some with the skimmer, in the event of contact with the end of the suction line, the suction would be shared with the skimmer (similar to what makes two drains safer than one).

With me so far?

Adjusting the actuator was a breeze. But I'm left with determining what percentage of cleaner flow to share with skimmer flow, to make the cleaner mode safe(r). 50-50 would be safe, but my cleaner doesn't get enough flow that way, not without running the pump RPMs at a ridiculous level. So I randomly chose about 75-25.

I wanted to test evisceration, so I took off the end of the hose from the cleaner and exposed a lemon to the hose. Shlerp! Sucked it right up to the end, tight, and contracted the cleaner hose a bit. But the lemon skin stayed intact. The skimmer was still open to water, and I could feel flow through it (though I was very careful not to get my hand too close). I observed the pump and it seemed to be doing OK. Filter pressure gauge rose, and FlowVis indicated the flow took a big hit, but it was, in fact, still flowing. I later removed the vac hose altogether, and started the pump. If took a bit to prime, and never cleared the pump basket of air all the way, but water was flowing, so I suppose that means my pump could run that way in a pinch.

So... which is stronger? A lemon rind, or the belly of a three year old? (Sorry, rough stuff for a Monday morning, but I'm determined to make my pool as safe as possible, and I need to be able to test this somehow before I stick that hose to my own belly!!)

Does allowing any amount of flow to the skimmer render my cleaner suction safe? Or do I need to know exactly how much each is getting (skimmer and vac) to determine the suction port safe? Is 50-50 the only safe setup? Or is a suction port dangerous no matter what I do?
 

JoyfulNoise

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Lemon skin likely tougher.

Simple fix - ditch the suction side cleaner and get a Dolphin Robot cleaner!

I used a Kreepy Krawly suction vac for 4 seasons before making the switch. Nowadays, the only time I use my vacuum port is when I manually vacuum the pool (over the winter months). I always pulled the vacuum out when it was swim time as well as adjusted the valve to 100% skimmer and removed the vacuum hose. My kids were not strong enough to open the flapper door on the port and they were told, in no uncertain terms, that messing around with it meant a time-out on the deck chair. They never messed with it once.

This is simply a case of something that you have to teach the kids NOT to do. You cannot fool-proof everything and kids (or grandkids) need boundaries, not bubble wrap. You have to teach them to think critically and understand the concept of following the rules rather than trying to protect them from every bump and bruise. The law of natural consequences is one of the best teachers around and learning the hard lesson that breaking the rules means losing privileges is a powerful motivator.
 

Dirk

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Lemon skin likely tougher.

Simple fix - ditch the suction side cleaner and get a Dolphin Robot cleaner!

I used a Kreepy Krawly suction vac for 4 seasons before making the switch. Nowadays, the only time I use my vacuum port is when I manually vacuum the pool (over the winter months). I always pulled the vacuum out when it was swim time as well as adjusted the valve to 100% skimmer and removed the vacuum hose. My kids were not strong enough to open the flapper door on the port and they were told, in no uncertain terms, that messing around with it meant a time-out on the deck chair. They never messed with it once.

This is simply a case of something that you have to teach the kids NOT to do. You cannot fool-proof everything and kids (or grandkids) need boundaries, not bubble wrap. You have to teach them to think critically and understand the concept of following the rules rather than trying to protect them from every bump and bruise. The law of natural consequences is one of the best teachers around and learning the hard lesson that breaking the rules means losing privileges is a powerful motivator.

Lemon skin... that's what I was afraid of. No robot for me just yet, though I can't argue that is the ultimate safety solution to this problem.

I fundamentally agree with your premise about how to deal with the danger to the kids. And that would work with #1 and #3. But #2 is our "contrary child." No ideas but his own are acceptable, and he would just as likely want to test something out for himself before he took my word for it. I haven't mentioned any of this to him yet, because he's almost safer not knowing about it. If I teach him there is something not to be done, he'll need to do it. Not just want to, need to. It's uncanny. And while consequences are all fine and good, the problem is: this kid is consequence proof. There is no punishment he is not willing to endure to have his way. He takes his lumps. More importantly, the real consequences are injury or death, and I'm stuck on how best to avoid those. Threatening to punish him is not going to matter if he ignores me and kills himself.

The probability that he could turn on cleaner mode, and pull off the hose and open the flap enough to seal his belly to the opening are virtually zero. But the vac hose at the vac end is an issue. I suppose I should remove the vac each time they swim.

Any ideas about how to simulate the safety of two drains with a skimmer and suction port? Is nothing other than 50-50 going to render the suction port "safe enough?"
 

Dirk

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Still stewing... Removing the vac and hose each time kids are in the pool is the right thing to do. That along with running the vac at night, and never allowing them near the pool without supervision are together a reasonable solution. There are a dozen ways a kid could die in a pool that are considerably more likely than my concern about the suction port...

But I just have to remember to put the vac back in each time. I can leave the 75-25 setup to protect my pump, I suppose... I forgot once, and the flap was closed against 100% suction for 1.5 hours. Nothing happened. Not sure what the pump was doing that whole time, as it happened at 4:30AM.

Does my Pentair pump have some built-in protection from deadheading? Or no water, for that matter? Two things I've wondered about.
 

ajw22

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I know you didn’t like your pressure cleaner when you had it but you are demonstrating why i like pressure side cleaners over vacuums.
 

jblizzle

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May 19, 2010
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I have a similar setup and have my vac set to at least 75%. When I have put my hand over the vacuum Port or hose you can feel an initial vacuum but then it releases and pulses as the pump pulls more through the skimmer. As long as there is two paths for the water to be pulled into the pump, I'm not sure there is very much risk.
 

Dirk

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Thanks Jason. I'd like to feel it for myself, but I'm first trying to put something on that hose that will convince me I won't do any damage to my palm. The lemon was somewhat convincing, it only had a slight indent afterwards. But it really sucked on there, and contracted the hose. Not really a whole lot more than a vacuum cleaner would do, but it did seem a bit more powerful. I guess I could cut the RPMs in half and work up my way up to full cleaner speed (about 2200 RPMs).

Allen, no doubt a pressure cleaner has some great advantages, and safety is one of its biggest, for sure. My booster pump was going out, so I made this decision based on contractor advice, well before I found TFP. I don't miss the tail, or cleaning the bag. They clean the pool about the same. But now I'm stuck with a slightly less safe situation. Now that the drains are gone, I only have this left to solve.
 

JamesW

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Mar 2, 2011
27,079
Some pumps have SVRS (Safety Vacuum Release System). However, they tend to be finicky and nuisance trip a lot.

You can buy a device like Vac-Alert, but they are expensive.
 

JoyfulNoise

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In reference to your previous comment about dead-heading the pump - the IntelliFlo pumps sense when they lose prime and will go through a series of high RPM priming cycles with zero RPMs in between to re-establish prime. The number of cycles are limited before the pump will shut itself off and then error-out (requiring a manual reset from the front panel). This is designed to protect the motor from burning out. The repriming parameters and prime sensitivity setting is controlled at the pump interface through the system menu. I do not believe the parameters are accessible from the ET panel or ScreamLogic....
 

Dirk

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Thanks James. I've yet to read anything glowing about SVRS.

500 smackers for the Vac-Alert. Yikes. Wonder what happens to the pump while you're fishing your victim out of the pool... Not that my kids aren't worth more than a pool pump!
 

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kimkats

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Hey Dirk! Fly me to CA and I will stand by the pump controls to shut off the pump if needed! I am thinking of you using a rubber ball instead of a lemon. It has more give and flex. You know those red bouncy ones. They are called "playground balls" NOT the smooth vinyl ones. The textured rubber ones.

Kim:kim:
 

Dirk

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Hey Dirk! Fly me to CA and I will stand by the pump controls to shut off the pump if needed! I am thinking of you using a rubber ball instead of a lemon. It has more give and flex. You know those red bouncy ones. They are called "playground balls" NOT the smooth vinyl ones. The textured rubber ones.

How about throwing a brick at me, or hitting me with a stick?!? Oh, wait, that was someone else's idea for messin' around with their breaker box!! ;)

I thought you were going to say you'd put your hand on the hose!! Chicken!! Hmmm, chicken might work. I'd use a gopher if I could catch one. Solve two problems at once!

I thought of a toy ball, but I need something that can be eviscerated, and something that has a chance of clearing itself in the middle of my pipes, should it get sucked in. A rubber ball could get stuck, and of course it would get stuck under my deck!!

Peach is too soft. Lemon cucumber? Thin-skinned orange? Water balloon? What else ya got?
 

Dirk

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OK, gotcha. But I need something that has the approximate strength of human skin.
 

ajw22

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OK, gotcha. But I need something that has the approximate strength of human skin.

The answer is above, a raw chicken breast. Or a raw steak?
 

Dirk

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Thanks Allen. Yes, chicken breast. But I'd have to tension it somehow, so that if it ruptured, it'd just get a hole in it, not get sucked up into my pump!

All academic. I can't picture myself going through with all that. I think I'm going to just remove the vac completely when the kids are in the pool. They might get the safety flap open with the pump off, but if it somehow came on during the day, no way they'd pry it open. And I'm going to leave the 75-25 split between vac and skimmer, for added protection. I think both together (that, and only running it at night), is reasonably safe. Considerably safer than what numbskull #2 can do all on his own with the jumping rock! ;)
 

JoyfulNoise

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Air craft engines have whole turkeys thrown into them to simulate birds strikes. Turns out that a 15lbs Butterball does a pretty good job of helping the engineers induce the various failure modes causes by a direct bird strike....of course, a Pratt & Whitney engineer did reveal to me that they learned quite quickly that you have to defrost the bird first or else the test results are not meaningful....
 

Dirk

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Is that with or without stuffing?
 

PoolguyinCT

In The Industry
Jul 21, 2014
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The only way to eliminate risk is to eliminate risk.

Ever sit on a safety panel with the mother of a 7 yr old who drowned with his arm in a wall suction?

I do.
 

Dirk

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The only way to eliminate risk is to eliminate risk.

I agree. But I'm not going to take out my pool, so pool = risk. We do what we can to minimize it, all the while supervising children attentively as the primary safety "system."

Would you care to share? What were the circumstances of this 7 yr old's drowning that could have better been guarded against?
 

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