Decks and Balances

My family belonged to our neighborhood pool, and every summer we would attend the 4th of July party there.

The ice-cream eating contest and free hot dogs were great, but it was the final game of the day that always gave me pause.

After the hot fudge and hot dog buns were cleared away, one of the lifeguards would grease a large watermelon with Crisco, throw it in the deep end of the pool and invite a handful of men and women to simultaneously dive in, fight for the melon at the bottom of the pool and successfully bring it back up to the top.

The winner got to keep the greasy, bruised, chlorine-soaked watermelon. The losers were nearly drowned.

Though this may sound like something straight out of the Appalachian Hunger Games, we were actually in a nice, suburban part of Maryland. And yet contestants and lifeguards alike seemed to have no issue with adults wrestling one another in 9 feet of water for a large piece of fruit.

However, a watermelon isn’t the only thing that doesn’t belong in a pool.

One community recently placed new, 4-foot-tall flower pots by its pool, only to find them in the deep end a week later—the victim of a stupid resident prank.

As the pool filter had run all night long, the fine topsoil from the flower pots had completely clogged the sand filter. Fortunately, no Crisco residue was found.

The incident underscored the importance of not only backwashing the pool filter regularly, but also performing this task properly.

A technician knows when it is time to backwash by looking for a 10psi pressure increase on the pressure gauge found on top of most sand-filter tanks. When this occurs, the technician needs to turn off the pump, change the valve setting to “backwash” and run the water down the waste line until it is clear. This process reverses the flow of water inside the filter so that trapped debris, such as watermelon seeds, will be flushed out.

Once this is completed, the pump is once again turned off and the valves are set to “rinse.” This allows the water to flow normally and reset the sand in the filter. The water will still go out through the waste line. The pump only needs to be run for 30 to 45 seconds. Once complete, the pump is turned off again and the valve is reset to filter to return to normal.

Repeat the process as necessary, or when a melon and a tub of lard are introduced.

For more, check out Paul Rhodes’ article, “Dive Into Pool Season,” in the April issue of units Magazine, which mails April 11.