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Monthly Archives: May 2017

  • 4 of the most common shower problems and how to fix them

    A shower is a staple of the daily routine and, more often than not, it provides ten minutes of refuge from an otherwise hectic day. A refreshing, cleansing, process that prepares you to face whatever the day has to throw at you. Therefore, we are understandably annoyed when our shower doesn’t work the way we want it to. To make sure you will be able to restore your shower to proper working order as quickly, and as painlessly, as possible, we have assembled this list of common quick fixes.home booster pump

    Low flow/ low water pressure

    A common culprit for a temporary dip in water pressure is the build-up of limescale on the shower head. In this case, descaling the shower head can restore the normal speed of flow of water in this case. In others, however, a more permanent solution is required. One such solution is to invest in a home booster pump. With an intelligent monitor system that can counteract any loss of water pressure caused by water usage elsewhere in the home, the home booster pump is an adaptable and efficient answer to low flow showers.

    Infrequent bursts of scalding hot water

    Someone, elsewhere in the house, flushes the toilet and the cold water that was being used to temper the hot water of your shower rushes away to fulfil this flush, leaving you with scalding hot water. Ouch. One way of avoiding this painful problem is to install high efficiency toilets. By reducing the amount of cold water that the toilet needs to flush, the shower has enough cold water to temper the hot water even when someone else is using flushing the toilet.

    Blown pressure relief device

    Pressure relief devices have got your best interests at heart, but it never seems like it when they shut down the shower completely. Fashioned to blow when internal pressure becomes too much for the shower to handle, a pressure relief device is designed to stop the whole tank from exploding. It is relatively easy to identify when your pressure relief device has blown.  Normally, apart from the fact that your shower won’t work, your shower will be leaking slightly. PRDs are inexpensive to replace, but first, you have to investigate what caused it to blow. Blockages and restrictions in the shower head and the shower hose are two hypotheses worth investigating.

    Noisy shower

    The sound of the streams of water should only be interrupted by your angelic singing voice, not an overly loud whirring shower that sounds on the verge of collapse. Fortunately, a noisy shower isn’t a terrible problem to have - five minutes of work should suffice. Each unit needs to be properly secured to the wall, and the pipes that provide the water need to be secured with brackets. Once you have checked that the blanking plugs have been inserted into spare inlet fittings inside the unit, the problem should be resolved.

    Of course, because of the complex network of pipes and pumps that serve your shower, there isn’t always just one simple fix.  But, with luck, this guide helps you understand and, more importantly, solve, some of the issues that may have been plaguing your shower.

  • How the human race is defending itself against flooding

    Although it might not feel like it, the UK is widely expected to suffer a drought in incoming months. And whilst it may seem like the worst time to start preparing for a flood, it is arguably the best. Floods are often so damaging because the defences made to combat them are often a case of too little, too late. And, unlike a waterlogged garden, you can’t just use drainage pumps. Through months, and sometimes years of preparation, areas of the world have been able to successfully defend themselves against floods. Here are some of the most interesting cases.

    Flood barrierdrainage pumps

    The Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier in the Netherlands is the largest of its kind in the world. Designed and constructed in response to the devastating 1953 North Sea Flood that proved fatal for thousands, the Oosterscheldekering (as it is also known) incorporates 4 kilometres sluice-gate-type doors that are only closed during adverse weather conditions. It has been so successful that (as part of the broader Delta Works project) it has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

    Hydroelectric dam

    Whilst the Oosterscheldekering is essentially a flood barrier, the Three Gorges Dam in China also doubles as a hydroelectric dam. Because of its 22 cubic km flood storage capacity, the dam is slated to reduce major downstream flooding as an incidence from one in every ten years to one in every hundred years. Alongside its proficiency as an anti-flood measure, the Three Gorges Dam also provides enough electricity to provide for 3% of the national demand.

    Channel modification

     In order to circumvent the pooling of rivers that causes flooding, the river course can be widened, deepened and straightened, to make the speed of flow of the water faster. Channel modification has been carried out on 25% of all the main rivers in England and Wales. While it is clear that channelisation has helped to reduce the risk of flooding, it can also have negative ecological repercussions - the dredging of the Charlton River in northern Missouri in the US caused the number of species present in the modified areas to fall to 13. In the natural areas of the river, 21 different species remained.

    Managed/ ecological flooding

    Ecological flooding is a more recent approach to combatting flooding. Why would you encourage the very thing you are trying to prevent? The answer is that, whilst you are allowing flooding to occur, you are only allowing it to happen in areas that you specify, which prevents it from happening in the highly areas you do not want it to happen. Aside from - diverted floodwaters away from settlements, managed flooding also aids the animal kingdom. An investigation of the ramifications of managed flooding in south-eastern Australia, found that it promoted the diversity of species present.

    Afforestationdrainage pumps

    Afforestation is potentially the most environmentally friendly anti-flood measure. By introducing more greenery, more rainwater is intercepted and used for photosynthesis and consequently prevented from ever reaching the river. The Mississippi River is one notable example of how this approach has paid dividends. As a counter-measure to the 1993 floods, a programme of afforestation was pursued and it has ultimately helped to reduce flooding by reducing the river discharge.

    With global warming making summers drier but winters wetter, do you think we should be doing more to combat the threat of flooding?

  • From the watermill to the dam: How water has fuelled industry

    Grundfos watermill Watermill

    Despite being used for everything from washing to drinking, there is one use of water you might not be aware of - hydropower. The Ancient Greeks first invented the horizontal-wheeled watermill in 3rd century BC and humans have been harnessing the power of the movement of water ever since. Of course, today, the Grundfos watermill serves the altogether different purpose of increasing water pressure. To chart this evolution, we have put together a list of the most significant hydropower developments.

    Watermill

    Before electricity became widely economically viable, the mechanical action of a mill was necessary in the production of important material goods like flour, paper, textiles and metals. Often intentionally diverted from a river, the movement of incoming water was used to drive the blades of a wheel or turbine, which, in turn, would power the milling, rolling or hammering of the mill. The watermill is the earliest example of water being used to serve an industrial purpose and the use of this technology has become increasingly complex as time has progressed.

    Hushing and hydraulic mining

    From its emergence in the 1st century BC, the mining industry has been reliant on the power of water for their work. The technique of hushing was the first to be used with any sort of regularity. It involved directing streams of water towards gravel to erode the rock and expose the ores beneath.  In the midst of the California Gold Rush in 1853, hydraulic mining emerged as a more profitable technique. Very high pressure jets of water were used to erode hillsides at a rapid rate, and whilst it was effective, it did cause widespread damage to Californian agriculture and the local environment.

    Trompe

    Like the watermill, before the advent of electricity, it was necessary to wield the power of water to compress gas. A trompe is composed of a vertical pipe, a separation chamber and two exit pipes - one for the exit of compressed air and another that allows water to leave. As the water falls down the vertical pipe, it travels through a constriction, where an external port allows air to enter, which then causes bubbles to form in the pipe. As the bubbles travel further down the pipe they become pressurised, and the compressed air rises to the top of the separation chamber where it leaves through a takeoff pipe. Trompes were most commonly used to provide for bloomer furnaces, where the compressed air was used to smelt iron from its oxides.

    Hydroelectric dams

    Itaipu Dam

    Since their creation in 1870 in Cragside, Northumberland, hydroelectric dams have superseded watermills to the extent that watermills are now virtually extinct. The principles are the same and the only notable difference between the two is the end result - the production of electricity rather than mechanical energy. By corralling water into a structure, the potential energy of the water could be used to power a turbine, which, in turn, produced electricity. In 1870, the first hydroelectric dam provided enough energy to keep an arc lamp alight. Today, electricity from, the Itaipu Dam on the Brazil-Paraguay border, produces 104 million megawatt hour (MWh) - enough to meet worldwide power consumption for two whole days.

  • How pumps are being used to save lives

    Water for Life - shower pumpsBy definition, a pump is a device that moves fluids by mechanical action. The form which this mechanism takes is becoming more and more diverse. We are all familiar with central heating pumps and shower pumps, but pumps are increasingly being used to save lives across the globe, thanks to the latest technology. From people suffering from heart problems in the UK, to those struggling with respiratory problems in Malawi, pumps have been able to grant them all a new lease of life.

    Preventing death from waterborne diseases

    In many areas across the world, people do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. Often dependent on a single body of water, residents often have no choice but to consume contaminated water plagued with disease. Inevitably, this leads to countless deaths from diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid and cholera.

    That is why it is so important that wells are built to provide safe drinking water. Fresh water can be transported up to ground level from hundreds of feet below using submersible pumps, providing residents with water they can consume without risking death.

    Saving those that are too ill to undergo a heart transplant

    A research programme headed by world renowned heart surgeon, Sir Magdi Yacoub, has made huge strides towards saving the lives of those who would otherwise die waiting for heart transplants from cardiomyopathy. Instead, a 3 by 5 inch pump is implanted into the abdomen and attached to the left ventricle. Deputising for the failing left ventricle, the HeartMate 2 allows the heart to continue to pump fresh blood around the body.

    While the heart is bolstered by the pump, the patient is given high doses of heart failure drugs that the diseased heart would not otherwise be able to cope with. Many patients, who were so ill that they were taken off the heart transplant list, were able to make a full recovery thanks to this pump without even having to undergo a transplant.

    Innovations that are saving people in the developing world

    In the developing world, conventional medical technology is invariably too expensive to procure. Fortunately, researchers at world leading universities like Rice and MIT have created viable, cost-effective alternatives for those in developing countries in desperate need of medical assistance.

    Bicycle pump nebuliser

    One such example is the spawn of MIT’s Innovations in International Health; a nebuliser constructed using a bicycle pump. For the unfamiliar, a nebuliser provides emergency relief for patients suffering from respiratory diseases. The bicycle pump replaces the air compressor of the nebuliser, and allows it to run in the absence of electricity, making it a more cost-effective and versatile replacement.

    Fish tank pump CPOP machine

    Another example of innovation at its finest is the fish tank pump that is being used to ensure the survival of premature new-borns in developing countries. Researchers at Rice University have created a functioning Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine for a tenth of the price - using only a box and a fish tank pump. Trialled in Malawi, the device had an immediate impact, the survival rate of premature babies jumped from 43% to 71%.

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