How to Empty Your School Indoor Pool

Sometimes it’s essential that you completely drain your school’s indoor pool. In our case, the pool needs to be drained so that workmen can erect scaffolding, to replace the swimming pool lighting. This guide is not the same as an outdoor pool winter closing down procedure, as we will be completely emptying the pool of water. Winterising involves blowing out the return pipes and emptying the sand filter. Neither are needed in this case.

The first job is to use your pool net to remove any objects that may be in the pool. I would also recommend using your pool vac, to clean the bottom of the pool before we empty it. Next, I removed the baskets from the pool skimmers. removing the baskets isn’t mandatory but I removed them anyway. Our next thing to do is to work in the plant room, to physically drain as much of the water as possible. This uses the floor drain in the deep end of the pool.

OK, now we are in the Plant Room, where all the tech that keeps the pool in order is kept. Most pool Plant Rooms look a bit like the image below. It is the beating heart of the pool, cleaning and  maintaining the water, 24 hours a day. The Plant Room usually has the pump, the large sand filters, the heater and alot of pipework.

Swimming Pool Plant Room

Our first job is to shut down the heater. Depending how your system heats the water will depend on how you shut your heating system off. Ours is gas, so as well as switching off the heating system, I also switched off the gas isolation cock as well. As we are working on a indoor pool, which won’t be empty for long, (about a week) there is no need to drain down the boiler. Now we can get the pool emptied.

Now go to your pump and at the side of it, you need to close the valve to the return pipe for the pool. You will also need to open the drain valve for the pool as well. In our case, the swimming pool drain goes into the main drains, so we do not need to connect a hose.

Your pump should have a setting called “drain”, you need to turn the controller on the pump to this position, to drain the pool. If your pump does not have a drain setting, switch it to “backwash” instead. I also opened the inspection chambers as well to make sure the pool is draining correctly. any water left in the return pipes will drain out into the pool, during this process. The water level should now of completely dropped, but there may be some residue of water around the drain. I use a hard brush to make this go down the drain, once the cover is removed. Now go back to your plant room, switch off the pump, close the drain cock. The pool return valve should remain closed, to prevent water from the filter entering the pool while work is carried out. I also Lockout-Tagout the main switch for the plant room, to prevent anyone switching on the power to the plant room, while the pool is empty.

Finally, I have put a sign on the doors to the pool area, saying that the pool is closed. As entry to the pool is via PACS System, I used a chain around the handles of the door and attached a padlock, to make sure no one can get in, while the pool is out of use.

And that’s it, one emptied pool. Once the work is completed, (in 1 – 2 weeks time) I will do a guide on filling and setting up the pool.

Laundry Machine Maintenance

So today is the the day that I put all the washing machines in the School Laundry on a self clean. Remember, our school washing machines are going 24 hours a day, Monday – Friday and every evening on weekends. The machines get their fare share of wear and tear, washing over Ten Thousand items a week! that’s is why I maintain the school washing machines on a monthly basis and the dryers on a weekly basis.  (Remember, our machines are large capacity commercial machines and not like the ones you have at home.

My monthly itinerary for laundry maintenance is as follows:

Washing Machines (monthly)

  • Run the machines on a 60°c cycle with Washing Machine Cleaner in the drum
  • Clean the filter and the propeller
  • Inspect and clean the seals around the door
  • Clean the Dosing System
  • Clean the drum, door and porthole

Tumble Dryer (weekly)

  • Empty the Lint Tray
  • Clean the outlet from the drum and the external outlet from the machines
  • Clean the drum, door and porthole

OK, lets crack on…

My first job is to switch off the pumps behind the machines. (So it doesn’t dose laundry detergent and Conditioner) Then I put Miele Dishwasher & Washing Machines Cleaner into the drum. (It’s a powder so it is quite easy to use.) Finally, I put the machines onto a 60°c cycle and leave it to it.

Meanwhile, I turn my attention to the dryers. They also must be maintained weekly, to prevent a buildup of fluff, that can cause a fire. To do this, I remove the side panel and pull out the fittings the lint traps sit in. Once it is removed, I can manually remove the fluff for disposal. I also shove the pole for the Henry in there and give the area round the outlet as well. I also clean the inside of the drum on each machine, using a cloth and a spray bottle of disinfectant.

Once the washing machines  have finished, (which is around 45 mins) I put a bowl in front of the machine and open the filter flap. (Be careful if you are cleaning the filter, as water will pour out! It is best to use a old washing up bowl for this job) It is amazing what gets clogged ion the filter, I have found gum, hair, paperclips and even a few 20p’s. (I put these into the School Charity Box) Opening the flap, lets loads of water out of the machine and is why I have a large bowl below it.

It’s easy to remove the filter, just twist and pull to release it from it’s compartment. To clean it, I take the filters to the sink in the laundry room and use a stiff brush and running water to clear the filters. Pushing my bowl aside, I then use my Mag-light to  inspect the drain pump propeller. Using a screwdriver, I check the blades can turn and that nothing behind it is blocking the pump. (By using a screwdriver to yank out any debris. Next, in between the rubber seals in the drum gets a clean with a old toothbrush and disinfectant. It also allows me to inspect the seals for signs of perishing.

Time to re-assemble… So first I push the filter back into it’s compartment and check it is in fully. (Push and twist, then close the flap) Once I have cleaned up, I inspect the pumps behind the washing machines; which dose and pump the detergent and conditioner into the machines. Remember: Safety First,  switch off the pumps first. I unscrew the front panel of the pumps and inspect the pump mechanisms. If they are clogged up, a can of compressed air and a screwdriver to remove the gunk. Finally, I give the motors a good lubricating with WD40, before replacing the cover and screws. 

Finally, after cleaning the glass and the aluminum doors, I attach a sticker which has the word “I am Clean” and the date the machine was cleaned.

It is a good idea to clean your machine every month. After a month, the machine will begin to smell and will make your clothes smell. Also it is essential to keep the lint tray clear on your dryer, otherwise; it may catch fire! The machines at school automatically switch themselves off when the lint tray is full and will not start until the lint tray is emptied. 

However, the dryers that you have in your home are not Commercial Tumble Dryers, like the ones we have at school. (We have 8 Commercial washing machines and 6 dryers) So your lint trap is usually inside the door. For your sake and your family’s sake, do not forget to check the lint trap; before you switch on your dryer on. (Kyle and I do every time we start the dryer) A fire can kill and cause severe damage, so before it is too late, check the lint trap!

Blocked Toilets are Never Fun!

I have had the not so pleasant job of unblocking one of the toilets on the Birds Unit this evening. What I hoped to be a simple job, became more complex as it went on. One of the younger kids had decided to shove their Pull Ups Training Pants down the toilet, instead of doing the more sensible thing and to put them in the nappy bin by the sink. Flushing the toilet caused the pants to get stuck, thus causing a blockage. At this moment in time, I had no idea what had caused the blockage.

This isn’t your usual plunger jobbie tho. This particular toilet is connected to a Macerator, due to it’s location. Many toilets on this side of the building have macerators, due to constraints on the drains. A Macerator is a centrifugal pump which is equipped with a cutting system to facilitate chopping/maceration of solids that are present in the pumped liquid. The shredded matter is then pumped down narrower pipes, to the drain stack, where it continues it’s journey to the Main Sewer.

Here’s how it works:

sanidraw

Firstly, when you flush the loo or empty the sink, the valve on the inlets open and allow water to be sucked in by the pump impeller. The waste travels into the grinding chamber, where steel blades shred it and turn it into pulp.  Once it has been pulped, the waste shoots through a non return valve, out the outlet pipe and into the drain pipes.  If the pressure of the incoming water is too high, a pressure valve opens in the pressure chamber, allowing the liquid to leave the unit, via the drain pipes.

Of course, training pants will naturally block the system. However, it does not always reach the blades and often can be pulled out using a flexible drain rod, with a small hook fitting. The drain rod, allows you to anchor the hook in the blockage and pull it free. In my case, I it conformed my suspicions that something non flushable had been put down the loo.  So it called for more tools, as I would have to take the macerator apart and clear the blockage.

 

Main-isolator-&-distribution-board
Birds and Jets Units Electrical Distribution Cupboard (Distribution Board)

For this, I had to go to the Unit Distribution Cupboard and switch off the breaker for the Macerators. Next, using a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, I sucked the water out the toilet. Next, I switched off the water at the screw valve and then unbolted the pan from the floor. I disconnected the flush pipe and removed the bowl. Thankfully, the training pants were just inside the macerator inlet, so I was able to use a gloved hand to remove it and then put the toilet back together. Finally, I used the blow setting on the vacuum cleaner to blow the water back into the toilet. (Don’t worry, I disinfected the inside of the machine after and I also cleaned the toilet surfaces and the floor where I had been working. JOB DONE! 🙂