Saturday, June 26, 2010

Reverse Osmosis Maintenance: H2RO

I have had a reverse osmosis system installed in my kitchen since 1995. I love the benefits of tasty drinking water right out of a special tap. These systems require occasional maintenance. This system just required some maintenance so this post covers: replacing the tank, the Filmtec membrane and the Omnipure filter. I had replaced the other two filters about a month ago.

The Location of the 3-Gallon Tank

I chose to store the large tank in the left corner cabinet, rather than directly under the sink in the double doors to free up space needed under the sink.

The Original Water Storage Tank:

The bladder in the middle of the tank had developed a hole and the air charge had apparently escaped, according to a family member who is in the RO business. This made it nearly impossible to get a glass of water, let alone a pitcher of water. The prognosis? This tank needed replacing. I could tell by lifting it. It should have been light. It was full of water even though the RO faucet appeared to be empty.

(Note: The leak was only on the inside of the tank. There was no exterior leak so no damage to the cabinet etc.)

The Replacement Water Storage Tank:

Placed in the same location as the previous tank. I only had to disconnect the plastic nut and tubing and reconnect it to the new one. Easy! I left that other knob alone on the lower portion of the tank. (Once I lifted the tank into this pull-out drawer, I was able to lift it over the edge and into the back corner of the cabinet. The bright blue lever on the top is the "tank shut-off."

The Location of the Filters and Membranes:
Here is a view of my kitchen cabinets. The filters and membranes are stored in the narrow cabinet to the right of the sink and dishwasher, rather than directly under the sink in the double doors. This freed up space needed under the sink.

The Filters and R.O. Membranes:

In addition to the tank, here's two additional items that I replaced. The smaller peach and light blue filter on top is labeled "OmniPure K2333". It notes for "chlorine taste and odor reduction". Note the arrows pointing to the left for the direction of the flow. Pay attention to that arrow when installing.

The other bright blue item is a "Filmtec membrane", model number TW30-1812-36 made by Dow. "The membrane consists of several thin layers or sheets of film that are bonded together and rolled in a spiral configuration around a plastic tube." (according to my RO manual)

According to Dow's website:
FILMTEC™ elements from Dow feature a spiral wound design and are based on the FT30 thin-film composite polyamide membrane, which has long been the industry standard for RO performance. The FILMTEC FT30 membrane consists of three layers: an ultra-thin polyamide barrier layer, a microporous polysulfone interlayer, and a high-strength polyester support web. The FT30 membrane has been continuously updated and refined to provide higher rejection, improved membrane flux, and low fouling performance. Today's FT30 membrane is uniquely uniform in performance and quality, without the taped or glued defects that can cause other membranes to fail.
Sort of a complicated mess of tubing that also runs to the ice maker on the opposite side of the small kitchen. The gray tubing on top goes to the drain in this instance. It has a "Waste Flow Capillary Tube" installed inside of it. This "looks like a piece of clear nylon fishing line held by a piece of red rubber stuck in a plastic insert. The H2RO could not operate without it, since it allows the contaminants to be washed off the surface of the membrane as a slow but steady rate."

Bird's Eye View:
I replaced the small orange and blue Omnipure Carbon Post Filter. The long white tubular container was a bit challenging to open. That is where the new Filmtec membrane goes. (The white cylinder container has a blue "KE" on it in this photo.)

I ended up using the side of a wrench to slip into that embossed section on the cap of the white cylinder. Be sure to not lose the black rubber ring inside. You will reuse it again when you replace the Filmtec membrane and tighten it back up.

I left this portion of the unit out of the cabinet, on the towel for 24 hours to check for leaks. Once I was certain there was nothing dripping, etc. I felt OK to put it back in the cabinet out of sight.

Note: I had also replaced the two filters that go inside the wide blue vertical cylinders. They both measure 4-1/2" x 9-7/8" and fit large heavy duty housings. They are labeled "S" sediment.

The first one, POS5, is for "Fine Rust & Sediment - 5 microns."
The second one, POW30, is for "Medium Filtration Rust & Sediment - 30 microns."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Insulating Windows With Fabric

As part of my quest for getting my home-office as cool as possible for summer I determined that much of the heat gain was coming from my window.

I went to JoAnn's Etc. and discovered a special energy efficient fabric called Warm Window, (which is available in white or ivory). It's available in 60" or 45" widths and is sold by the yard for approximately $22-$29/yard.

According to JoAnn's website: "The Warm White Window fabric consists of four layers of different fabric quilted together in 4"-wide lengthwise channels. It is designed to reduce the flow of energy through your window glass. The layers are lined with fabric protector; Made with high density needled holo fibers; Produce a reflective polyethylene moisture vapor barrier; Have metallized mylar with air-trapping fibers."

I say: "Neat-o!"

Here's a close-up of the layers. It keeps out street noise and is room darkening as well.

Note: I do not have a sewing machine so I hand-stitched this. The person who cut the fabric did not give me much extra and the cuts were not square with the stitches. I used a triangle to get the side hems perpendicular with the rows of horizontal stitching so I rectified her sloppy cutting.

I bought a round spring tension rod (28" - 48")from Target for just $2.99, and stitched a pocket to slide that in.
I then installed it BEHIND my current Hunter Douglas Duette Honeycomb Shades so I have double insulation on this window.

On Hunter Douglas's website regarding energy efficiency they offer a download brochure entitled "We make Green Beautiful". Regarding the Honeycomb Duette that I currently have in the office they state:

"Air contained within the honeycomb cells proved to be an effective insulator, keeping heat inside in winter and keeping it out in summer."

Apparently their newer edition Duette called the "Duette Architella" claims better energy efficiency.

Here are three views of the Warm Window fabric installed behind the Honeycomb Duette. On the left is just the Honeycomb Duette Shade. The middle shows the Warm Window shade installed behind the Honeycomb Duette Shade, with the shade half open. On the right shows the Duette closed over the Warm Window shade. Hopefully this will give me maximum insulation for this room!

Here's what my finished window looks like in my 35" x 59" window:

Adding Attic Insulation

The room in my house that I use for my home-office faces west. Here in Phoenix, it's not unusual for us to have summer temperatures ranging from 100* to 115*. Sometimes the mercury even soars beyond that! This room, where I spend nearly all my time, really heats up.

I have computer equipment that kicks off some heat as well, making this room not so comfortable. I've configured my computer equipment in such a way that my scanner and printer are on a separate power plug so they can all be turned off when not in use, minimizing power usage.

GOAL: To add more insulation above this home-office so that room is cooler in the summer.

I had blown-in insulation, but I wanted to add extra insulation over this room. On one of the last remaining good weather days of the season (still in the cool 70's), I ventured up there with mask to protect my lungs and my oldest work clothes (long sleeves and pants). I would've worn googles, however I wear glasses so it was too much around my face.

First task was to measure the rafters. Mine were 24" apart. As you can see there was already "blown in" insulation. My house is 15 years old. It definitely would have been easier to just call a company who does this and they could have added more blown-in insulation to what was there already. However I wanted to take care of it myself and for as little money as possible.

Also you'll notice there are lots of wires and plumbing etc. crossing over the rafters. I went in with a piece of sturdy cardboard and scooped all the existing insulation from one rafter section to the next, giving me room to install the pink insulation as a foundation.

You can see the extra blown-in insulation piled up temporarily on the neighboring rafter section.

From Lowe's I purchased Owens Corning Pink Fiberglass Insulation R-30 (one package was approximately $68.) Specifically I purchased: R-30 Kraft-faced Insulated Batt. Batts are 48 inches long, 24 inches wide, and 9½ inches thick. Square feet: 88.00.

On their website they describe it as follows:

"Homeowners prefer Owens Corning PINK FIBERGLAS® Insulation 7 to 1 because it maintains insulating power over time. Since fiber glass does not absorb moisture, PINK insulation will not hold water, preventing permanent loss of R-value. When properly installed, PINK FIBERGLAS® Insulation will not settle or deteriorate to maintain insulating value. The insulating materials in PINK FIBERGLAS® Insulation are also noncombustible."

I used a sturdy board to kneel on when threading the roll insulation in between the rafters and under all the wiring. I would not recommend this task if you are not a fit person. It took some abdomen strength and upper body strength and good balance to install this. And remember that if you misstep you can actually fall through the ceiling. Fortunately I did not have any accidents, however I was quite sore after this and my knees were bruised and skinned a bit from balancing on that board.

Note: As a safety precaution if you are working up there alone, be sure to bring a charged cell phone and put it in your pocket. If you were to get stuck or in an accident in the attic and needed help, that phone may really come in handy.

Here you will notice that there is a brace and the electric box the lighting fixture, which, in this case, is a ceiling fan. The instructions on the pink insulation advise keeping the insulation away from this a few inches so it does not heat up. I cut around it and added blown-in insulation in that spot instead.