Monday, July 6, 2009

The Trials of Pool Ownership

A pruned story
When I started repairing the major leak in our in-ground, metal-walled, vinyl-lined pool I knew exactly what I was doing–or so I thought.

A diver with a reliable Dutch name had showed Marty and me where water was seeping out of the pool at an alarming rate and welling up between the vinyl liner and the metal pool wall. He pointed out how someone had used three chrome-plated screws and one ordinary screw to hold the white plastic ring-plate at the jet opening where the water circulated into the pool from the filter. Of course the ordinary screw had rusted and was likely a major source of the problem. The diver advised us to lower the water level to below the jet-opening and then to replace the rusted screw as well as the washer behind the plate. “It’s not a big deal, you could do it yourself,” he said as he looked at Marty.

Marty was rather tied up with accounting work when the water had drained to the required level, so I picked up the challenge. After all, it was not a “big deal,” we’d been told.

Leaning over the edge of the pool I reached two feet down to the jet opening and easily removed the three chrome-plated screws and then attacked the offending rusted one. I had to use a vise-grip and some elbow grease but I got that sucker out, in two pieces, mind you. I then took the plate and the chrome screws to the pool shop where they sold me a matching screw, a washer, and a piece of vinyl liner to ensure a watertight seal at the jet opening.

I glued this vinyl in place, waited a day and then neatly screwed on the plate. There was only one problem: a quarter inch gap between the end of the pipe leading to the jet and the metal pool wall. I removed the plate and tried again. At this point Marty came out and offered help, but I stubbornly told him I had everything under control.

As the metal wall of the pool was encased with little stones, I figured one of these had slipped between the end of the jet pipe and the pool. All I had to do was dislodge this stone. I could just get my index finger through the jet opening and around in between the end of the pipe and the metal wall. I pulled out a stone and then another and another. Pretty soon I had a pile of stones six inches high, bleeding knuckles and a pipe so dislodged from its original position that even a determined optimist like myself had to throw up her hands in defeat.

Surprisingly, Marty was very understanding. I think the blood on my knuckles helped. Together we decided the best course of action would be to call the pool shop and let the experts handle the situation. About a week later, two young fellows showed up, cut a neat hole in the cement deck and shovelled out the stones above the pipe. They discovered that a flanged coupling at the end of the pipe had been mistakenly installed outside the pool wall rather than where it belonged inside the pool wall to anchor the pipe firmly into the wall. Once this was corrected, they shovelled the stones back over the pipe and left, promising to call a vinyl repair expert.

After this fellow fused a new piece of vinyl in place and reassembled the jet opening, we refilled the pool. Then I set about my major skill–vacuuming. Halfway through this process the motor on the pump cut out. At this point our family left on a two-day holiday.

When we came back, we called a mechanical friend who took the motor apart and found five small stones wedged inside. Now, how did that happen?

As soon as the weather warms up we’ll send the children to collect the rest of the stones we can see resting at the bottom of the pool in the vicinity of the jet opening.

Moral of the story: Self-appointed is not anointed.

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