27 August 2011

First Fix's First

After the initial fill up and test run of the filter system we identified a number of small drips and a few leaks which would need our attention. Despite our best efforts to create a leak free system by taking care when gluing the pipework etc together, we knew that a few leaks would be inevitable.

The first areas to come under scrutiny were the leaks. These being around both pumps and the bead filter. A change of connector on one of the pumps rectified that leak whilst application of PTFE tape followed by a good tighten up rectified the other pump. The bead filter quickly followed after repositioning a rubber ring on top of the unit that seals the lid, then tightening up the bolts a little more then we'd previously done. We also had to tighten up more the bypass connectors as these were dripping water, which was duly done.

We then set about curing the other drips around the pipework which we completed as and when they were found with some good old "gunk" or tape. We systematically worked our way around the pipework and cured the drips until we couldn't see anymore.

After rectifying the leaks it was time to start the pumps up and get the system running. The switch was flicked and the pump surged into action. For a minute or so everything was working well - water was gushing into the vortex and we had a good flow into the Nexus with levels being maintained in both. However the bead filter seemed to be spluttering a bit. AIR !!! After fixing the rubber seal issue on the bead filter we'd forgotten to purge the air, which was quickly done. Take two!

The pump was switched back on and the levels etc checked in the vortex and Nexus. A quick check of the pond returns outside followed where we noticed that the flow out of the returns seemed to ebb. Back into the filter and we soon identified the issue. The pump was almost sucking the Nexus dry. We valved the flow from the Nexus to the pomp down which made a difference, however it was nearly shut. The pump was obviously too powerful.

On the flip side, we noticed that with the skimmer there didn't seem to be any significant pull whatsoever. The conclusion being that the pump on the skimmer line was too small. We swapped it over and tried our old Aquamax 10,000 and it made a vast improvement straight away.

After a quick phone call, Paul at A19 Koi & Pond Supplies was more than happy to help us out with our little predicament, as he has done throughout our pond build. Armed with two Superfish 12,000 we returned home eager to set the pumps up and get switched on as soon as possible. However first we had to deal with one last leak .......

23 August 2011

Yet another week has passed since the last blog update and we've certainly seen some changes in and around the pond. I don't know if there's something in the air (perhaps it's the glue vapours) but we seem to have shifted up a gear and have made considerable progress in the last week as follows :-

First thing to report is ..... the window's in! Gaz who completed the block work for us came round last Thursday evening to give us a hand putting the window in (no it's not Gaz in the picture).The water used to combat the ballooning bottom was drained during the day so it didn't take us long to fit the window once we'd started.

We also finally fit the aerated bottom drain. At this juncture, and after months of planning and building, we finally turned on the tap to begin filling our pond through a flow meter so we'd have an accurate figure at the end of filling of the overall pond volume.

The first job on Friday was to turn the water back on in order to continue filling the pond. We'd turned it off the night before as we wanted to present just in case something happened. After then purchasing more bits & bobs first thing Friday, the rest of the day was spent finalising and titivating the plumbing for the filter system, whilst all the time the water level in the pond slowly increased. We also switched filling position from the main pond to the header pond which when full, would flow into and fill the main pond anyway. At 11.10 pm we'd reached maximum levels in both the header pond and the main pond!

 Saturday morning and we were eager to get out into the garden and take stock of the situation in day light. We weren't disappointed! In our opinion, all the hard work, ups & downs, time and effort we'd put in to reach this point had finally all been worth it! It was now time to open up all the valves and fill the filter system so that we could then have one final top-up and achieve total pond volume. It wasn't long before this was achieved and ...... 19,640 litres or 4,320 gallons !!!

We also started the pumps up on the filter system but unfortunately had a few leaks and drips which form our list of first fixes.

We've still got a chunk of work to complete to finalise the actual pond building stage such as laying the facing bricks and applying the render where it's required, after which we'll then be able to apply the coping stones to finish off the pond and complete our pond build.

14 August 2011

When In Doubt - Improvise!

"Improvise" is definitely the buzz word around here at the moment whilst trying to plumb all the filter equipment into the filter house. Everything looked fine on paper and in our heads however in reality it's proving to be a different matter.

The plan initially (and what we've been working to) is for the pipework from the bottom drain to feed into the filter house to the right hand side, then flow from right to left through a vortex, then a Nexus 200, through the pump, then the bead filter, through the UV unit and then back into the pond via two returns. On paper and during planning this seemed absolutely fine with enough room to achieve this. In our heads and on paper that is!

The reality of actually achieving this hit home yesterday after finally locating all the equipment into the filter house for a dry run. Although there's enough room physically, when you start adding in the pipework and valves plus taking into consideration the actual positioning of the inlets and outlets on each piece of equipment, the issues start.

What seemed hours of man handling and re-positioning of filter equipment etc (not to mention the headaches caused by all the thinking) we concluded that the original configuration just wasn't feasible, not if we were to retain and use all the equipment in our original plan, therefore a new schematic was required.

After more man handling and maneuvering we finally arrived at a new configuration which actually worked in the available space and utilising all the equipment still whilst at the same time making it a lot easier to connect the various inlets & outlets. This is achieved basically by swapping the equipment around so that the flow runs from left to right, instead of from the right to the left. Water from the bottom drain still enters the filter house on the right as this can't be moved, but is then sent the full length of the filter house via a 4" pipe.

It then enters the vortex which is situated at the left end of the filter house and proceeds to flow from left to right through the Nexus 200, through the pump and then into the bead filter which is located at the right end of the filter house. From here the flow then starts its journey back, now flowing from right to left through the UV unit and finally to the pond returns.

This system is a lot more convoluted than our original plan but will work nevertheless, it simply means the water has to travel further and around a few more bends than first anticipated.

13 August 2011

August (Not April) Showers

To quote Billy Ocean (and to a lesser extent Boyzone) ... "When the going gets tough, the tough get going". If that's true, then we must be as hard as nails by now, especially with the latest ups and downs in the crazy world of koi ......

The first thing on the agenda for this particular post strangely enough concerns the latest weather we've been experiencing. To say we're pretty precipitated off is a complete understatement to say the least. We just about managed to finish off boarding the filter house last weekend when once again the heavens opened, and stayed open! "Downpour", "storm", even "deluge" are all words that simply can't put into context the ferocity and amount of rain we experienced. With the sheer volume of water coming down it was inevitable that it was going to cause us problems and on Monday morning the problems could be clearly viewed. The bottom of the pond was bulging with the amount of water underneath.

A quick check with Matt (GRP Lining Services) confirmed what we'd already diagnosed ... we needed to get water into the pond asap to put pressure on the fibreglass to hopefully dispel the water that was present below. However as the pond window hadn't been fitted yet as we were still waiting for more "gunk" the volume of water that we could put in was restricted. After a full day the water level had reached an inch below the window aperture, therefore approximately half full.

Tuesday morning soon came around and although we'd experienced pretty much the same weather conditions as the previous day, the pond floor appeared to have returned to its normal level. A few days after that and the water in the pond appears to have remained at the same level. Hopefully this means no untoward damage which in turn hopefully means no leaks, which hopefully means we've been very lucky.

So we entered this weekend still feeling a little drained from all the man-fluenza etc that we've been suffering with, but with every intention of getting the filter equipment plumbed in etc. Surely by now though you realise that nothing ever goes according to plan ......

7 August 2011

Cold & Damp

They say time flies when you're having fun. If that's the case then we must have been having an absolute thrilling time as i can't believe it's been two weeks since our last Crazy World of Koi blog update!

Progress has been hindered somewhat again due to cold and wet weather. I use the term "wet weather" very loosely as we've experienced downpours lately that would have seen Noah rubbing his hands together in anticipation! In fact we perhaps should have been building an Ark instead of a Koi pond?

As for cold, i'm not actually making reference to temperature at all, it's actually been quite warm, in fact extremely "muggy". No, the term cold refers to the fact that we've all been quite ill with a cold (aka man-fluenza). The dreaded bugs knocked the three of us for a six and we're only just beginning to feel human again .... well human with immense headaches, bunged up sinuses and snot!

Despite these set backs we've still managed to make some progress ........... (drum roll)

Keiran's pond is finished (fanfare) !

The home made filtration system (thanks to Wifey) is working a treat and Keiran's original fish have given it the fins up too! And seeing them swimming around through the window is absolutely fintastic, we're really glad we decided to go this route as we're chuffed to bits with the outcome. Can't wait to get the window in the main pond installed, which will hopefully be soon.

As for the main pond, again we've made considerable progression. The framework for the filter house is in place and now ready for boarding. We completed putting the roof on yesterday and have just finished fitting the UPVC filter house window, which looks out of the pond. We'll hopefully finish boarding soon (weather permitting of course) so that we can then move on to plumbing in the filtration system.