Atlantic Cord Seal Fitting

A great new way to hide power cords!

Even the nicest water feature installation can be ruined if the cord for a pump or a light is visible, as they often are. Power cords should be removable, so that lights or pumps can be serviced or eventually replaced. They can’t just be buried away in concrete. With open reservoir water features, like ceramic vases or copper basins, a hole in the reservoir that’s big enough to pass a plug is hard to seal, and cutting the plug off voids the warranty on pumps and lights.

Wouldn’t it be great if a power cord could pass through the same bulkhead fitting that the water feeds through? Without leaking? That way, a light could be set inside the reservoir without a cord draping over the edge, or a pump cord inside a basin could pass through a plumbing fitting, virtually invisible. But, even if you ran a cord inside a pipe from inside the reservoir, how would you get it back outside of the pipe, outside of the reservoir?

Atlantic Cord Seal Fitting

Enter the CSF. The Cord Seal Fitting is a nifty gadget that addresses that particular need, to pass a cord through the wall of a reservoir inside the fitting or pipe that is the reservoir’s only perforation. It works much like a plumbing pressure test plug. A rubber gasket squeezed between two plates expands outwards and seals off a 1-1/2″ female socket. But, unlike a test plug, the rubber doughnut is slit to its center to accept a standard light or pump cord. The plates on either side of the gasket are also split, to assemble around the cord and gasket like the cookies around the creme of an Oreo. When tightened, the rubber expands tightly around the cord and into the fitting, creating a waterproof seal.

As is often the case, the Cord Seal Fitting is far easier to use than to describe. Install a tee in the 1-1/2″ waterline feeding the reservoir and pass the cord through the tee and into the reservoir. Loosen the plates on the CSF, slide the cord into the gasket, reattach the plates and tighten the CSF in the opening of the tee. The gasket will expand and seal against the cord and the inner walls of the tee.

The CSF will also allow the cord to pass in and out of a sealed section of pipe, with the addition of a second tee. This is useful where a pump may be hard piped from the inside of a reservoir, out through a bulkhead fitting and up to a spillway. The illustration to the right shows the pump cord passing out of the reservoir through tees through a tee installed on either side of the bulkhead fitting and sealed with Cord Seal Fittings inside and out.

Another great solution from the folks at Atlantic!

The Atlantic Eco-Rise System

Bubbling Basalt Columns and overflowing vases set on buried Fountain Basins are attractive, easy and profitable add-ons for the irrigator, landscaper or hardscaper. These water features are especially popular with contractors who only occasionally venture into water (so to speak) because they are simple to build, easy to maintain and rarely require call-backs. As a bonus, the successful completion of one project usually leads to another, as friends, visitors and neighbors ask about the fountain and decide to put one in for their own enjoyment. But what happens when the next job requires a boulder too big for the basin? A vase too vast? A mountain of a fountain?

The “Old” Way

In the old days, BA (Before Atlantic), installing a one-ton fountain piece, like a 36″ granite sphere, was a month-long project. The contractor would design a concrete basin large enough to catch splash and strong enough to handle the load. Waterproofing would depend on climate. In the north, the design would have to deal with freeze/thaw cycles and excavating below the frost line. After digging to the proper depth and tamping the bottom, the plumbing would need to be set, with no room for error, as it would literally be set in stone. Then the concrete trucks would arrive. After the four-week curing period (ouch!), the sphere could be carefully lifted by machine, plumbed in the air, then lowered into place, hopefully without crushing the plumbing.

The “New” Way

The Atlantic Eco-Rise System allows two men with two wheelbarrows to complete a two-thousand-pound granite sphere fountain install – in two days. Like most good systems, it’s simple, with only three structural components, plus liner, pump and plumbing. Instead of formed and poured concrete down to the frost line, the reservoir is just a rubber-lined hole a single layer of Eco-Blox deep. The Eco-Blox may look like milk crates, but the similarity ends there. Our Blox come disassembled, lock solidly together and support 7 tons of distributed load without crushing.

The Eco-Rise is a load distributor that supports the sphere, and much more. Rated at three thousand pounds, the Eco-Rise spreads the weight of the stone across the tops of the Eco-Box while protecting the plumbing. Install the pipe into the sphere, roll it onto the Eco-Rise on the Eco-Blox. With the flex pipe in place, the sphere can easily be moved and adjusted by hand, without a machine!

The third component, the PV1700 Pump Vault, houses and protects the pump. Hook the pipe to the pump in the Vault, and you can adjust the sphere, by hand, even while running. Then, cover  the Eco-Blox with two wheelbarrows of gravel and go home early.

Atlantic. We’ve got you covered.

Mining Completed Projects for New Business

One of the easiest ways to create new business is to prospect for new work in your existing customer base. For landscapers, hardscapers and poolscapers, getting a past customer to contract a new project can be very profitable, and there are other advantages. For example, this is one of the rare times the contractor gets to pick the client, instead of the other way around.

I go through my customer base and choose past clients who are easy to work with, can afford a new project, and would be interested in what I have to offer. If I choose wisely, my client benefits as well. He or she knows me and my work (and my boys and my dog) and trusts me to do the right job for the right price, no “new contractor blues”, no surprises. The key, then, is to find an attractive and desirable project that has a high perceived value and a high potential for profit, with little risk and minimal disruption to existing infrastructure.

Adding Water to the Hardscape, Landscape or Poolscape

According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, who poll their members every year to determine market trends, Water Features consistently make their ‘Top Ten’ desired enhancements list year after year, although the type of water feature may vary from year to year. Currently, Hardscape water features are very popular, and that puts all those customers squarely in our sights.

Atlantic Formal Spillways Hit the Bullseye

Many contractors already know that Atlantic’s Formal Spillways offer great visual impact, ease of installation and plenty of margin. What most do not know (yet) is that the Wall Spouts, Spillways and Colorfalls, and the Basins that complement them, were specifically designed not just for new work, but to upgrade pre-existing walls as well. Stainless Steel Spillways are exactly 4” tall by 12”, 24” or 36” long, to replace an even number of engineered wallstone. Colorfalls illuminated sheer descents drop into a simple-to-cut profile just under the cap of the wall. Solid brass Wall Spouts install from the front, threading directly onto 1-1/2” MIPT schedule 40 fittings.

Retrofitting – Easy Installation by Design

Choose the Spillway, Colorfalls or Wall Spout(s) and the appropriate Basin Kit, which contains everything needed for the installation – except the water 😊. Determine where the feature will be located, and whether you want the Basin snugged up against the wall sitting at grade level or completely concealed underground. Compact the soil under the basin, then figure out how to pass the included 1-1/2” flexible PVC either under or through the vertical wall. Depending on the depth and the wall construction, a 2” hole may need to be drilled. Plumb the pipe to the Basin using the included fittings and install the pump in the Basin.

Remove the top course or cap directly above the basin, wide enough for your Spillway or Colorfalls, or drill a 2” hole for each Spout. Install the spillway or Spouts following the instructions and replace the cap, caulking rather than cementing or gluing the stones above the spillway to provide access for future maintenance. Fill up and plug in. If the Basin is set at grade in front of the wall, hide it with a 16″ high wall of the same or contrasting stone.

Get Paid

The time these features take varies by size and complexity, with the most complicated installs requiring excavation behind the wall to pass the tubing and perhaps core drilling two or three 2″ holes for Wall Spouts, but they usually take a day or less for a two man crew regardless. The outlay costs are modest. Even the large 36” Colorfalls or Spillway with the 36” Basin Kit runs less than $1800 MSRP (I assume you know your multiplier) plus 1.5-2 man days.

With the going rate at around $4000-$5000 for the completed project in most markets, electrical service not included, this is a moneymaker. If you chose wisely, there will be no question about how or when you get paid, just smiling faces all around. Not a bad day’s work, all things considered, especially off-season. And we’ve haven’t even begun to talk Lighting, the other great add-on – that’s for next time. Meanwhile, get out there and start mining!

 

How to Calculate Total Dynamic Head

Finding the right pump for a water feature can be a challenge, and the stakes are high. The right pump, delivering the right flow at the right head height, while at its Best Efficiency Range, will last and last. Specifying the wrong pump or plumbing can damage the pump, increase operating costs, shorten pump life and lead to pump failure, perhaps even a fish kill if the water feature happens to be a fish pond.

In order to properly size the pump for any water feature, you’ll need to know both components of the work it has to do, the flow and the pressure. The flow is the volume of water it can push in a given time, measured in gallons per hour (GPH). The pressure is the force required to push that flow through plumbing and up to the top of the water feature. We measure pressure in ‘feet of Head”, because it’s easy to visualize. A waterfall four feet high requires the flow be delivered at 4 feet of “Vertical Head”, plus the extra work required to push that flow through the plumbing, the “Friction Head”. The total pressure required is the “Total Dynamic Head” (TDH) of your water feature. Once you know the GPH and the TDH, you can plug them into the Comprehensive Pump Chart (Chart C) to find the right pump.

Follow the steps below to calculate TDH and find the perfect pump for your water feature.

Find the GPH needed to achieve the look you want

determine friction loss

FIND TUBING SIZE & FRICTION

Find the dark blue cell in the row that corresponds with the Recommended Flow (GPH) in the chart below. The column indicates the recommended tubing size and the number in the cell is the Friction Loss in every foot of tubing. Keep Friction Loss low for greatest flow.

To find the Friction Loss of existing systems, estimate the flow through the actual tubing size used.

Chart A


ADD FRICTION IN FITTINGS

Add the equivalent lengths of all the fittings in the system from the chart below.

CALCULATE FRICTION HEAD

Multiply the Equivalent Tubing Length in feet by the Friction Loss in the dark blue cell from CHART A to find the Friction Head of the system.

FIND THE TOTAL DYNAMIC HEAD

Add the Friction Head in Feet to the Vertical Head of the system. Vertical Head is the height in feet from the surface of the water the pump will be TDH sitting in, to the highest point the water is pumped to.

CHOOSE YOUR TIDALWAVE PUMP

Find the TDH at the top of CHART C, then find the pumps below that provide at least the Recommended Flow. Grey colored cells indicate that the TDH is outside the pump’s operating range and the pump will likely not last in this application. The light blue cells indicate the pump is operating within its operating range. Dark blue means the TDH is in the pump’s Best Efficiency Range, where the pump will run best and longest. If the chart gives you a choice of more than one pump, check for the type that best fits your application from the list below, then check for the lowest wattage, to save on operating costs.

  • For Low Head, Low Volume applications, use Magnetic Drive Pumps (MD Series)
  • For Low Head, Very High Volume applications, use Axial Pumps (L-Series) with 3″ or larger tubing
  • For Medium Head, Medium Volume, use Asynchronous Pumps (TT-Series)
  • For High Head, High Volume Applications, use Direct Drive Pumps (A-Series)
  • For Solids and Dirty Water applications, use Direct Drive Solids Handling Pumps (PAF and SH-Series)

Chart C

To learn more on how to Calculate Total Dynamic Head, watch the How-To video on our YouTube channel, AWGtv.

OASE Living Water Acquires Atlantic Water Gardens

 

Hörstel (October 8, 2018) – OASE Living Water (“OASE”) continues its strategy for growth and today announced the acquisition of US-based Atlantic Water Gardens (“Atlantic”), a leading supplier of innovative outdoor water feature products and systems to the North American market. Headquartered in Hörstel, Germany, OASE is the global market leader in water gar-dening products, offering a suite of products that enable the creation of tranquil, inviting out-door oases, from simple to elaborate. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. 

Atlantic Water Gardens has a 30-year history of supplying professional grade water feature products to landscape contractors through distribution channels in the US, Canada and Mex-ico. As part of the OASE Group, Atlantic will gain access to the worldwide landscape construc-tion market. Atlantic is the perfect fit to OASE’s product portfolio and will enhance the range of products OASE sells worldwide. By the same token, OASE’s PRO Line, which is geared to-ward the expert user, will now be available to the professional market in North America. 

“We have been collaborating with European landscapers for years and see an opportunity to build on this experience with professional contractors in the North American market,” said Thorsten Muck, CEO of OASE. “We are excited about this expansion as it gives us the oppor-tunity to work with the highly respected and talented team at Atlantic. Their product range and expertise will enhance our ability to serve an even broader range of customers world-wide.” 

“Joining forces with OASE will provide excellent channels to deliver our state-of-the-art water features to landscapers beyond North America. What’s more, OASE’s wide range of premium water gardening equipment is highly complementary to Atlantic’s systems and projects,” said Jeff Weemhoff, President of Atlantic Water Gardens. “We look forward to providing OASE’s cutting edge, German-engineered technology to our clientele. Together, we will create the most innovative and comprehensive water gardening business in North America.” Weemhoff added, “Whether the beginning hobbyist or the professional landscaper – by reaching out to a more diverse base of water garden enthusiasts, our goal is to transform and inspire the North American water gardening industry.” 

Company information: 

About OASE Living Water: 

Headquartered in Hörstel, Germany, OASE has more than 700 employees worldwide and pro-duction facilities in Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and China, doing business in two seg-ments: 

  • The Consumer Business Unit (Water Gardens, Indoor Aquatics, Drainage & Irrigation) is focused on pumps, filters and equipment for private ponds, swim ponds, water courses and water features with proven success for decades. As the world market leader in this segment, OASE is a benchmark for innovation and quality. Through vari-ous acquisitions, OASE has expanded its activities, most notably into the field of indoor aquatics. The Company also recently launched its drainage & irrigation line. 
  • The Commercial Business Unit (Fountain Technology and Lake Management) has de-signed and executed countless large-scale projects worldwide. Recent projects include the floating fountain at DaMing Lake (China) and the Unirii Square in Bucharest (Roma-nia). 

About Atlantic Water Gardens: 

Headquartered in Mantua, Ohio, Atlantic Water Gardens is a leading supplier of branded con-sumer water gardening products in North America. Atlantic manufactures and markets a full array of water gardening products in a variety of channels of trade with a heavy focus on the landscaping and contractors business in the US, Canada and Mexico. The Company has a strong engineering capability enabling it to bring innovative, new products to market ahead of industry trends. 

For more information about Oase or the transaction, contact: 

Thorsten Muck
CEO OASE Group
+49 5454 80 240
t.muck@oase-livingwater.com 

Tools That Don’t Suck – Wiss W10TM Scissors

As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty, sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls, but we also value anything that helps make the work easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

Making the Cut

Construction Scissors – No, not the kind I use for construction paper when playing with my grandkids. These are exactly the opposite. I use razor sharp, heavy duty Wiss W10TM scissors nowadays when we’re building water features. It took some convincing to make me understand how useful they could be. Once again, I learned from my boys.

We were at a job a couple of years ago when I noticed one of my sons, Edwin or Ely, trimming liner at a job using these scissors. (I don’t remember which. They both had long hair back then, it was hard to tell the difference. 😊) They told me that Koi Market’s Shawn Rosen had turned them on to them. As I’ve mentioned before, Shawn has a good eye for tools, and koi, of course. I was initially skeptical. I’m a blade guy at heart. Plus, I couldn’t help but remember how hard it was to cut liner with the old pair of tin shears I keep in my bucket for emergencies.

Wiss W10TM Scissors

These were a totally different story. With a little practice and the right amount of tension on the sheet you can just glide the partly open scissors through liner and underlayment as fast as you can move your arm. They’re way faster than a cordless cutter or even a razor knife on clean liner. And they don’t just work on liner. We’ve used these to open just about everything from cans to boxes, punch holes in ¼” thick pump vaults, cut aluminum flashing and light gauge steel, strip wire insulation, even eat with. You do what you have to when they forget to give you a fork.

One last thing – if I do happen to need scissors when I’m playing with my grandkids, my old pair still works great on construction paper….

 

How Often Should You Clean Your FilterFalls?

Atlantic FilterFalls are  one of the best designed upflow biological filtration units on the market. The low maintenance FilterFalls works in two ways to remove wastes. It removes visible suspended solids mechanically by trapping them in the filter pads, clearing the water. One type of bacteria that grows right on the filter pads consumes that trapped organic ooze.
Why use FilterFalls
The primary function of the filter is to remove the toxic ammonia and nitrites excreted by fish, converting them to harmless nitrates. This function is performed by a nitrifying bacteria which  lives in the filter pads. Without them the fish and animals in the pond would actually poison themselves very quickly in their own wastes. These bateria require a constant flow of oxygenated water and cannot survive drying or washing in chlorinated water. They take a long time to grow and a longer time to grow back. They are essential to the health of the pond. The longer the filter is left undisturbed, the better it will do its job. The filter should not be cleaned more than a few times a year; once or twice a year is typical. Look for greatly reduced flow as an indicator of when to clean it, or wait till the end of the season before closing it up for the winter.
Cleaning your FilterFalls
To keep the bacteria alive, take the top pad out and keep it in a bucket of pond water so the bacteria doesn’t die. It doesn’t need to be perfectly clean. Only wash the bottom filter pad in chlorinated water. Put the top pad down on the bottom and the cleaned pad on top and fill the filter with pond water. The check valve at the pump will keep the water from draining out of the filter. Reassemble the filter and start the pump. The water from below will help the undisturbed pad reseed the cleaned pad above it, ready for next year.
So relax, enjoy your pond and rest assured that your filter is doing its job without much intervention needed.

Steps for Spring Cleaning your Pond

Well, it’s finally here, a month late in my neck of the woods, but worth waiting for. Time to get your pond up and running after a long, cold winter!

Step 1

The first step is to remove any pond netting installed in the fall. It may be heavy with leaves and debris that have accumulated over the winter. This is good news, because anything trapped in the net would have settled to the bottom of the pond. Clean and dry the net. Use zip ties to repair small tears before storing, you’ll need it next fall.

Step 2

The next step is to clean the filter media without killing all the beneficial bacteria living there. Those are the bacteria that convert toxic ammonia that your fish excrete continuously to harmless nitrates. They cannot survive drying, and your fish can’t live without them. Get a couple of suitably sized buckets and fill them with pond water. Rinse any bagged media in the pondwater and leave the media in the bucket, to prevent the biofilm from drying out. Then take the top filter pad out, rinse it in the other bucket of pond water, and leave it there. Don’t worry about getting it really clean; the bacteria is what counts and you’ve saved enough to reseed the filter.

Step 3

Now you can pull out the remaining filter mat(s) and clean out the FilterFalls with a hose or wet/dry vac. The closer to the bottom the mat is, the more gunky it will be, and will probably need more aggressive cleaning. Use the hose and rinse the other mat or mats really well. The chlorinated water will kill whatever bacteria remain but that’s ok. When you’re ready to reassemble the filter, the clean mats will go back on top of the mat you kept in pond water. When the pump turns on, the flow of water up through the biologically active mat will help recolonize the top pads.

Step 4

Now for the skimmer. Begin by removing the debris net, mat or brushes and clean them well. In the skimmer the bacteria don’t matter as much as ensuring that water reaches the pump. If your pump and check valve overwintered in the skimmer, remove and clean them now. If removed in the fall, clean and inspect your pump and check valve. Lock the weir door into the closed position and remove any debris in the bottom of the skimmer with a wet/dry vac. Reinstall the pump, check valve, net, mat and/or brushes. If you have an auto-fill installed inside the skimmer, test to make sure it is working properly and adjust the level if necessary.

Unlock the weir door and replace the skimmer lid.

Step 5

Remove as much debris as possible from the stream and pond before starting your pump. Remove algae and leaves from the streambed by hand. Use a net to fish out any algae growth and debris from the bottom of the pond.

Once you have cleaned out both the pond and streambed, take the wet mat from the bucket of pondwater and place it on the grate at the bottom of the FilterFalls, then place the clean mat(s) on top of it. If there is bagged media, set that in the filter, then cover with rocks and stones to camouflage the filter. Before the mat/media can dry out, turn on the pump.

As the water clears over the next week, remaining debris will become more visible in the bottom of the pond. Remove the visible debris and rinse out the skimmer mat and net.

ANNOTATION:

When everything is up and running, inspect the pond for any visible leaks. Keep an eye on the water level over the next week, so any problems that may develop can be dealt with early in the season.

After the pond has been opened and water temperatures have reached 50 degrees on a consistent basis, you can begin to use treatments.

Beneficial bacteria will help kick-start your eco-system and get your water clearer, faster. More frequent usage of Biomax+ for a couple of weeks after opening your pond, will help seed bacteria into the biological filters.

  1. ReVive will dechlorinate the water if you have changed or added water in the spring.
  2. If the pond is really cloudy, you can use QuickClear to drop suspended solids to the bottom of the pond and clear the water.
  3. EcoKlean is a great oxidizing product to help remove debris from the stream bed and the bottom of the pond in the spring.

How To Properly Conceal a Biofilter

So, there’s been a lot of good, sensible talk out there about how hard it is to hide a giant plastic biofilter at the top of the stream you’re building. In all fairness, when it’s just sitting there, exposed, before rocking around it, hiding a sizeable biofilter can seem near impossible. But there are simple, solid techniques to hide those big black boxes, and some compelling arguments in favor of using biofilters to start streams.

 

Advantages

The advantages of having an upflow biofilter are well-known and pretty convincing. In general, they hold an impressive amount of filtration that not only removes suspended solids but provides surface area for beneficial bacteria that consume ammonia and nitrites. Their position at the top of an elevated stream usually means they can be plumbed with a drain valve, so they can be rinsed or backwashed easily. More complete cleaning may need to be done only once or twice a year, because of the way upflow biofilters work. The pump forces water up through the filter media under pressure, so the media tends not to clog easily; although the water may channel around the media, it won’t stop flowing. Finally, the ability to securely attach both the plumbing and the liner to the filter to start the initial waterfall has eliminated the most common leakage point in stream construction.

ATLANTIC’S BF1600 COMPLETELY HIDDEN BY ROCKS

technique

SETTING THE FILTERFALLS INTO, RATHER THAN ON TOP OF THE ELEVATED AREA

Hiding a well-designed biofilter is primarily a matter of setting it into, rather than on top of, the elevated area. This is typically formed by mounding the excavated soil from the pond or reservoir. After the filter is properly set, then it’s a matter of simple rock placement. In nature, a stream cuts its way down in the surrounding land; waterfalls form as the flowing water scours out a pocket in softer soil or rock behind a hard surface. In theory, we want to bury the biofalls behind that ‘hard surface’, the rock or stone the water will flow over. What often happens instead? The biofalls is placed on the ground and soil is heaped around it up to the top of the box, then rocked, to form the utterly unnatural ‘water volcano’ we all love to hate.

BF2600 FILTERFALLS HIDDEN UNDER ROCKS

It’s a simple mistake, and just as simple to avoid. I prefer to mound and tamp the soil first, then carve out a space for the filter, then plumb to the front of the filter, but the box can be set and plumbed first – to each his own style. The point is, the soil has to end up higher than the top of the box, so the water flows out from about two-thirds up on the slope. If that requires digging the filter down, so be it. Then, I excavate the tamped soil away from the front of the filter, cutting a vertical wall the width of the filter to either side. I dig down until I reach the level of the bottom of the splash pool at the base of the falls. Then I attach the liner, leaving a couple of loose folds below the lip, to allow for settling and adjustment. Now I can start the stream by setting rock to create the first fall.

The idea is that building the waterfall is the objective, not hiding the filter. That will come by itself if I accomplish three tasks. First, I need two ‘shoulder’ rocks on either side that are taller than the filter, set to cover the ends of the spillway or opening of the filter. Next, I set a spill rock, or rocks, between the shoulder rocks up to the height of the spillway.

Now I need to fill between the rock and the filter to stabilize the falls. I usually have the space behind the shoulder rocks to push soil in behind the liner. If not, I’ll just fill any void on top of the liner with rounded stone. Either way, I’ll foam between the liner and the rocks, sealing the space so all the water goes over rather than around the spill rocks. As a finishing touch, I set small, flat rock on the ledges and grate inside the filter to finish hiding it.

Sounds simple, and it is. Working ‘backwards’ on the falls instead of focusing on hiding the filter actually hides it better. Couple of quick recommendations:

  1. Get the largest filter you can fit. The larger the filter is, the easier to hide, because the stones set on the grate or ledge can be larger without compromising the flow or forcing water up over the sides. Of course, having more media and settling volume can only help as the pond matures and organic loads increase.
  2. Tilt the filter forwards a couple of degrees, on a well-tamped base. Nothing worse than having a filter settle and water leak out over one side or the back.
  3. I always plumb the filter with a cleaning drain, and use Matala semi-rigid mats, to allow for fast periodic backwashing. This reduces the frequency of tearing the filter apart for major cleanings to once every couple of years.

If you have any questions or tricks to concealing a biofilter please comment below.

 

 

Tools That Don’t Suck – The Ryobi ES1500

As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty, sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls, but we also value anything that helps make the work easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

Handy Phone Tool

So, as you might expect, I often get asked to recommend a particular pump for a contractor’s project. The steps are simple and easy (not the same thing.) There are four simple steps to finding the right pump:

  • determine the required flow
  • choose the right size pipe
  • add friction head to vertical head height
  • go to the charts to find a pump that delivers the right flow at the right head

The steps are easy. Multiply the flow per foot by the width of the waterfall, in feet. Pick the right size pipe by finding the flow on a chart. Add up plumbing length. Multiply the length by a decimal. Add that result to the actual vertical height of the waterfall to find the Total Dynamic Head (TDH) – and there’s the problem.

It turns out that most people overestimate the actual height of the water feature they’re planning on building. By a considerable amount. It’s particularly hard for anyone to estimate true vertical height on a slope, where many of our potential projects are situated.

Why does that matter? Well, you need to know the true vertical height of the water feature to find the actual load the pump will be under. Knowing the true workload not only lets you pick a pump that will thrive under those conditions, you can also cut costs by using very efficient low head pumps…IF you correctly estimate the vertical head height.

The Ryobi ES1500

Photo credit: www.ryobitools.com

I have come to appreciate the Ryobi ES1500, a little gadget that takes the guesswork out of measuring height. It fits on any phone with a headphone jack. (Sorry, you need to have the jack.) I found mine at a tool store under a banner advertising Ryobi Phoneworks. For $15, I figured I didn’t have much to lose. I paid willingly, if a little dubiously, and downloaded the free app.

The “Laser Pointer/Transfer Level” plugs into the standard headphone jack on my Android phone and shoots a bright red laser beam on command. The app has a couple of level functions, including a bubble level. The easiest to use is a red dotted line with the numeric value of degrees the unit is tilted displayed right next to the line. Once the phone is level, at 0 degrees, the beam coming out is pretty level too. The accuracy of the unit isn’t stellar, but it’s close enough. It’s just bright enough to be seen in the shade during the day. I do most of my estimates after work, and it’s really visible as the light falls.

I’ve gotten pretty adept at holding the phone level, at head height, while standing where the pond will go. I note of where the roughly five-foot-high laser beam hits on a tree or a slope near the waterfall-to-be. For larger distances, I’ll repeat the process, moving to where the beam struck the ground, until I’ve worked my way upslope, five vertical feet at a time.

I will admit it’s a bit crude, but it works well enough to get a pretty accurate vertical height for the Total Dynamic Head calculations.

The Ryobi ES1600

So, as I’m finishing up writing this, I look up the Ryobi ES1500 to find there’s a new version, the ES1600, that sounds like it has my shaky eye level zapping method beat all hollow. The newer version clamps onto the phone and lets you snap a shot of the site with the camera and get a picture with the level marked directly on it. Sounds a whole lot easier to have the pic right there to refer to. I still see the ES1500 out there for $15-20 and I’d still call it a Tool That Doesn’t Suck.  The newer version is double that, but might be worth the $40 if if gives you a permanent record right on a photograph. I’m gonna pick one up and let you know next month. In the meantime, I’ll continue using my TTDS, the Ryobi Phoneworks ES1500. Might work for you too.