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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2/21/2102 - Water filtration revisited

As I was walking back to Siempre Sabado yesterday afternoon, it seemed to me that she looked like she was listing a bit to port. Down below, a glance at the inclinometer confirmed that we were indeed leaning to the left. Not a lot, but some.

Since we haven't changed what's on board, haven't added or subtracted fuel, etc., this can only mean one thing: the water tank is getting low. I had been kind of hoping this wouldn't happen until Lulu returned because she's bringing me some plumbing to make the filter installation neat and tidy. But, she won't be back until Sunday so I decided to bite the bullet and jury-rig the filter setup so I could fill the tank with filtered water.

As I explained in an earlier post, mounting a ceramic filter at the point of use didn't work very well since the foot pump just didn't have the oomph to suck the water through the 0.9 micron pores in the filter element. Pushing the water through the filter with the foot pump was even less satisfactory. However, I also knew that I didn't really want to run every drop of water from the dock hose through the ceramic filter to fill my tank with ultra-filtered water because, if the dock water had any suspended solids in it, it would take forever to fill the tank because the ceramic filter would plug up so quickly. You might remember that I went through a similar experience with fuel filters.

So, here's what I ended up doing...

All the water going to the tank is first run through a Rotoplas 1 paper filter. In the earlier post I referred to this as a 5 micron filter. It isn't. It's a 50 micron filter which is still pretty freaking small. I connected this in series with my new TurMix ceramic filter. The Turmix doesn't have nearly as much information on the ceramic element as the other ceramic filter I bought, but I'm assuming (hoping) that it is as good or better. One thing it does have that the other unit didn't is an active silver element in the center for control of pathogenic bacteria. Nice touch.

Here's what the system looks like:

Notice the belt and suspenders approach here? The little squirt bottle is BacDyn, a local product with an active ingredient of colloidal silver for disinfection. We give the tank fill tube a few squirts of this prior to filling. Then, from the right: white supply hose carrying dock water; black Rotoplas filter housing containing 50 micron element for removing most of the suspended solids from the water; bright and shiny TurMix ceramic filter with silver element for removal of very small particles as well as most bacteria; and then the clear hose into the tank.

From the tank, we draw water through another Rotoplas filter housing. The difference is that this one uses an activated charcoal element with yet again, more colloidal silver and, presumably, a finer micron count than the 50 micron filter.

This water goes from the tank, through the filter, through the foot pump and out the faucet. This secondary filter is just protecting us from anything that might have already been in the tank before we started filtering our incoming water.

I just checked my stash and I see that we have tons of the 5 and 10 micron filter elements I bought in the US for the unit that filters our watermaker's backwash water and they will fit the Rotoplas housings quite nicely. It should be a few years before we have to buy any new filter elements.

This is what the new filters looked like before I started running water through them today

And here's what they looked like after filtering roughly 50-60 gallons (a scientific wild-ass guess) of water:

You can see that the primary filter doesn't show much of anything but the ceramic is coated all around with a light coating of brown stuff. This stuff washed off easily with just a wet dishrag. For the record, it took me 3X as long to fill the tank with filtered water as it did with unfiltered but, fortunately, I didn't have to stop partway through to clean the filter to restore flow.

So that's our filtration system. When we're making water with the watermaker, the only filter that will matter is the final one. But, I'll let you know in a few months how everything is panning out after we have a little experience under our belts.


bill rosasco said...

Steve, does the immune system ever become strong enough to overcome MONTEZUMA'S revenge? Thought I'd ask since you've been down there for one plus years. Is this a crappy question or what? lol Bill.

Steve and Lulu said...

Actually Bill, your immune system CAN get good enough to overcome Montezuma's Revenge. No shit! I don't think either of us have had a really good case since we've been down here. At least I haven't. And you know how lax we are about what we eat and drink. That very well may be the key. We figure that if the locals can adapt to whatever, then so can we. Same physiology, right? Of course, there are some things I choose NOT to adapt to. Menudo is one and tacos de ojos is another. Gracias, pero no garcias.


Anonymous said...

Thank goodness you decided to keep the nasties out of the tank by moving the filter to the hose instead of the tap. The proof - the condition of the ceramic filter at the end of filling your tanks.

Does it really matter that it takes hours to fill the tanks?

Why noy swap the 50Micron element out and replace it with a 5?

Just a thought



Dani said...

a wild ass scientific guess...I wonder if that will work with my boss?

great filtering system..that's something I haven't given much thought to yet.

So are you getting a watermaker? I will look forward to your posts about how that works!

Steve and Lulu said...

Surely you've heard of WAGs and SWAGs. Wild Ass Guess and Scientific Wild Ass Guess.

We already have a watermaker and it works great although it only produces 6.5 gallons an hour and cost as much as a nice used car. But still, when we're anchored out in those nice remote anchorages in the Sea of Cortez, we don't have to wonder where we're going to get water and don't have to tote 40 lb. jerry jugs from some little tienda back to the boat. The filtration stuff is just for making dock water quality less of a mystery.

Not sure if I did a blog strictly about the watermaker but, if I did, it would probably be back in 2009 or maybe early 2010.