Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May I Inspect Your Pool?

(Country) Jeff is on vacation until next Wednesday, and as I have yet to be issued a certification number by TDEC, I cannot perform RP backflow device inspections without him there to sign the paperwork. We don't fudge on that (or ANY) shit, 'cause that's regulatory and serious. People can go to jail. And should, really.

However, any Tom, Dick or Harriet can do pool inspections and certify compliance with local/state codes. Now, I know  what you're thinking... it's all like this, heah :

Photo used under Creative Commons license. Credit: thorius
Sadly, NO!  Remember, I'm doing this between the hours of 8:00a-4:30p. And not on weekends. Most people are at work, let alone the hot, young bi-curious ladies. It's much more like this, in practice. In fact, I saw this, today:

Now, I rise not in vigorous objection to green-toothed Tea Baggers Darwining themselves by plugging in their rusty hotplates that're precariously balanced on the edge of their pool, and carelessly hopping into said pool, but that's only the secondary  issue in this photo hastily-drawn illustration to alleviate the fears that some had of my being fired for taking a photo of a generic backyard with a pool in it. :)  The concern for me  here is that there's a garden hose in the pool, and its outlet is below the water level of the pool. And the tap is on, btw. I saw it dripping. "Now, JP, why  is that a problem," you may ask.

Well, consider. You're filling your pool like the above. The thang about water?  It not only seeks its level, it goes from zones of higher pressure to zones of lower pressure, every damned time. So, let's say Genius Homeowner above is doing what they're doing in the photo. A few blocks away, the fire department opens a hydrant... let's say they flush that hydrant (and they do this all the time) for an hour.

What happens?  The pressure on the mains goes down, while the pressure on the lines in Genius Homeowner's neighborhood remains where it was before the hydrant was opened... but not for long!  Where does Genius Homeowner's pool water go?  Yep -- into that home's plumbing, first, and then into the branch that services Genius Homeowner's home and neighbors' homes. That water could have anything in it, but in the best-case  scenario, it has 4-5x the amount of chlorine in it than the EPA deems safe for drinking water.

All can be set right by using a vacuum breaker on all outside hose bibbs (faucets). This simple, $5 device prevents water from flowing back from the discharge side of the lines into the supply side. Welcome, Chinese and regulatory overlords!

Local building codes have mandated their use on new construction for eight years. But not everyone's home is that new (most are in La Vergne!). Anyway, this is a state regulation now for anyone wishing to have a residential pool, spa, or hot tub. And for those folx upset at having to spend $5-15 to comply, the state tells us we have to give them the choice: Comply, or in 30 days, we'll be back to check, and if we can't check, or we check and you have done nothing, we are compelled to shut off your water. And it doesn't come back on until you DO comply. And no, we don't care if you dine with General Zod every evening. The law is the law.

Photo used under Creative Commons license. Credit: jemingway3
It's serious business, this. Case-in-point: A woman (not local) was applying insecticide to her lawn with a popular product that attaches to the garden hose. It acts as a Bernoulli pump, sucking the insecticide into the stream of fresh water, and dispenses it out a nozzle on the product's bottle. This woman was unfortunate enough to be doing this when a water main not far from her home burst. When she was done, she took a cool, refreshing gulp or three from her garden hose.

Hours later, she presented in the ER with some very scary neurotoxic symptoms. Yes, she had poisoned herself, unwittingly, 'cause the insecticide she was using was back-siphoned into her garden hose, and indeed into her home's plumbing. A second family member became ill after making drinks with the ice from the ice maker in the house.

So... let this be a science lesson, boys and girls. Please don't create cross connections with your fresh water supply!  Be smart, and if in doubt, ask me or a local water professional!