Yard & Pool

It’s been really gross outside the last couple of days … hot, sticky, humid, just plain gross.  And we’ve been enjoying our swimming pool a lot … it’s a great way to cool off and feel refreshed!  The last few weeks have been so warm out that the pool water has been heating to bath-water like temperatures on its own.  The recent challenge has been cooling the pool off rather than heating it.

About a month ago, though, the situation was pretty much opposite.  Back then, the pool was actually on the chilly side (such a foreign thought now!) and we thought we’d run the heater for a bit so it would be more comfortable in time for our Fourth of July cookout.  Unfortunately, though, we just couldn’t get the pilot light on the heater to stay lit.

removing the access panel to light the pilot

We were bummed and thought we would have to call a plumber (or pool guy?) to come fix it.  Before we made the phone call, though, Chad decided to Google the problem and found that a likely cause could be that the powerpile needed replacing.

Some (not-so?) little-known pool heater facts:

  1. A pool heater works a lot like a water heater.
  2. The powerpile converts heat from the pilot to electricity that’s used to power the thermostat and gas valve … just like in a water heater.
  3. Our Pentair Minimax CH 200M heater is full of Honeywell parts


removing the old powerpile

To be sure this was our problem, we removed the old powerpile from the heater and tested it by connecting the leads to a volt meter and holding the conductor over the flame from a lighter.  We got no reading on the volt meter, which told us that the power pile wasn’t working correctly.

the pilot that just wouldn't stay lit

We looked online and found a few plumbing / HVAC supply sites that sold replacement powerpiles (Honeywell part number Q313A), but no retailers that we were really all that comfortable ordering from – they all looked pretty small and chances were good we wouldn’t be able to get the part in time.  So, I called the local pool store who happened to have the replacement part in stock.  After talking with the pool guys, I realized part of my problem with searching online was that I was using the Honeywell part number rather than the Pentair part number (6270-27B) … under the Pentair part number, the powerpile (or “pilot generator” as it’s labeled in the Pentair documentation) was available on a number of swimming pool supply sites for a little less than we paid at the local pool store.

the reading on the volt meter after the new powerpile started generating

Once the new powerpile was installed, we still had to hold the pilot switch for a few minutes for things to warm up enough that it would start generating enough electricity to keep the pilot going, but, after a few minutes, the pilot stayed lit and we’ve had no problems since.

It was such an easy fix that avoided a service call, so we thought we’d share in case anyone else runs into similar problems!

Kirby "helping" to diagnose the pool heater problems

When I posted last week about all of the raccoons that have been invading our yard, I’m sure you thought “oh, what’s one or two little raccoons.”   Yeah … right.

This was the view outside our patio doors tonight … the picture isn’t too good (I wasn’t quite fast enough), but there are five.  FIVE raccoons … all enjoying our mulch and sod.

We’re really going to have to work on a raccoon-relocation program …

This weekend, we’ve decided to tackle a long overdue project: replacing the worn out, rusted out flag pole in the front yard with a new one.  The flag pole’s never looked great, but since the new landscaping work in the front yard, it’s really started to stand out … and not in a good way.

Replacing the flag pole actually wasn’t our first thought about how to fix it up.  We had originally planned to wire brush it, paint it, fix it up with new hardware and re-use it, but we just couldn’t find a good solution to how you’d go about painting a 20′ tall flag pole that can’t be taken out of the ground and that has a little more sway to it than we felt comfortable with when it comes to supporting a ladder.  We were pondering all of that when we went to a local store that sells flags and banners and saw a telescoping flag pole there that solves so many of the problems we have with this one – it’s shiny and new, it collapses to a manageable size, it comes out of the ground for easy storage … all good things.  So, we decided maybe this one was beyond its useful life after all and decided it was time to get a new one.

We bought the new flag pole and flag about a week ago … and this weekend’s project is to replace the rusty old one with the nice new one.  We got a head start tonight by cutting the old flag pole down to a manageable height and digging out a little around the concrete at the base.  After looking over the concrete situation a little more closely, we’re thinking the project to dig out the old pole may not be as simple as we’d originally thought … guess we’ll find out for sure tomorrow.

Anyone ever replaced a flag pole before?  Any tips on how to make this a painless job?  Or were we silly to think it had to be replaced in the first place – any great ideas on how one would go about cleaning up and painting a non-removable 20 ft. tall pole?

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