Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
When it comes to replacing a filtration system for a float tank, there’s sadly no easy answer. There isn’t a one-stop shop place to get replacement parts for float tanks (yet). Most systems are piecemealed together by manufacturers to work specifically for their systems.
In addition to all that, they also often use internal customized materials to accommodate the specific needs of float tank solution. So without some serious internal knowledge of how those systems work, it’s nearly impossible to safely and accurately just swap out one piece for another.
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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Graham: Alright, welcome everybody. Graham over here.
Ashkahn: Welcome, this is Ashkhan.
Ashkahn: We got a question for us.
Graham: Which is, “where can I find parts for my filtration unit? I might also be interested in completely replacing my unit, where can I find already built new ones?”
Ashkahn: Yeah, just come on down to Kahn’s Tank Parts Emporium. It’s a little spot here in Portland, we’ll fly you out so you can peruse it.
Graham: We’ll fly people out?
Ashkahn: It’s not a very good business model eh? Admittedly.
Graham: Yeah, we’ve been losing a lot of money.
Ashkahn: Huge amount of money but people have been buying small bits of PVC pipe from us.
Graham: So, there’s whole different manufacturers that manufacturer different parts of your filtration system.
Graham: You know, the most easy to replace, just being, PVC pipes that you can grab from pretty much any Home Depot or regular hardware store.
Ashkahn: If you’re getting the right ones. Because they’re different grades of PVC pipe.
Ashkahn: Mm-hmm. Yeah, you’re trying to fix something on your filtration system, or-
Ashkahn: Or upgrade or replace the entire thing. Well those are two very different things I think. I need to replace this one little piece because I’m trying to build a whole new filtration system.
Graham: Right, and it says find parts for my filtration unit.
Graham: I’m guessing that’s like, if they want to upgrade their UV or if they wanna add in a flow meter.
Ashkahn: So not like, because if something broken, I mean, the obvious answer is to contact the manufacturer and get another part. I mean that’s the easiest way to make sure you’re getting the right thing.
Graham: Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Ashkahn: And there are certain parts that are pretty generic, that you’re gonna be able to get. Depending on the filtration system, you can certainly replace parts that are a little more customized with more generic versions of them or some of the pieces on your system are probably just going to be very generic like the PVC piping and corners and
Graham: Ball valves
Ashkahn: Ball valves, you know things like that so, I mean, that stuff you can get from Home Depot all the way to usually, pool company parts is often what you see for those kinds of pieces of it. So for things that, the valves close sections of your pipes so that you can unscrew sections and your entire float tank liquid doesn’t just come pouring out. You might get something from Home Depot, it could do the job. It’s probably not specifically what your float tank came with there, maybe going one level higher and going to some specific pool manufacturing company like Hayward or Waterway or something like that and getting maybe a slightly nicer kind of union to put there. Knowing those kinds of big names in the pool world is gonna likely lead you to many of the parts.
Graham: And I mean that’s the easiest stuff. And to be honest, at this point, we do all of your filtration system repair or our managers at the shop do it. If we get a leak even, just in a union or in a piece of PVC pipe, we’re the ones who are hack sawing that thing apart, re gluing it, re putting this together, but you could also hire just a regular pool, what would you call that? Like a pool plumber almost, or a pool maintenance, pool worker
Ashkahn: Yeah, I get really hesitant about having people like that come in. I have not seen it generally go well for people. Like when I’ve gone to float centers and they’ve gone that direction, they often end up with the wrong equipment. Because in my mind
Graham: I’m just talking about once you have the pipes, you’re replacing the ball valve let’s say, totally generic filtration system, you’re not even like adding on any new component other than piping which is leaking, you still think just do it yourself? Don’t bring in a professional?
Ashkahn: I mean you could, usually what happens, is what I’ve seen. Is if someone brings in a pool person, then that pool person comes in and has all these opinions, like, “you don’t need this thing here, I can just do this and”
Graham: Sure, sure
Ashkahn: And then I see it, I’m like oh boy, yeah, they did pool logic and that makes sense for pools but you know, there’s almost always something where, I’m like “no, they really shouldn’t have done that. That is something that makes sense for pools that doesn’t make sense in this context for float tanks”. And if that’s not the case then it’s probably simple enough to just be, we’re just talking about cutting and gluing PVC together.
Graham: But let’s say someone felt uncomfortable with that process, with the actual cutting apart their filtration system, putting it back together, again, we’ve done it ourselves, we’ve trained our shop managers to do it, it’s not the hardest thing but if you do need to hire a professional.
Ashkahn: Yeah, it just seems like really petty thing to hire a professional for. Beyond literally just cutting a pipe and gluing it, I would feel nervous having a professional like that come in and start providing information or advice that I wouldn’t know whether is good or not. And I feel like the cutting of PVC and gluing it is something that is simple enough that someone should probably learn it. It’s a small enough change and maybe something that has to happen often enough that, I would recommend in the shop needs to do that.
Graham: And you can definitely do it yourself. Like it’s not the hardest thing in the world, again, like our shop managers can do it so anyone can do it.
Ashkahn: Yeah, those guys are a bunch of buffoons and they figured it out.
Graham: It’s really not and you can actually have your regular plumber come in and do this too. It’s just you’re paying a premium at that point for actually having them come in and work with the systems and stuff like that. Also, keep in mind, I guess we should have just started with this, if you’re doing your own adaptations to the filtration system, you’re probably breaking warranty, unless you’ve actually had it approved by a manufacturer to go in and change these things so.
Ashkahn: Or possibly, if you’re under regulations, sometimes you need to report that stuff or get approval before you just start changing parts of your filtration system.
Graham: Yeah, so there’s like a little background work that needs to get done before you even launch into doing any of this stuff.
Ashkahn: And let’s go back, I feel like I can categorize the equipment a little bit that you see on a float tank. And in my mind, there’s stuff in there that’s just pulled straight from the pool and spa world, is kind of one category of stuff. There’s other stuff than is used in other industries but not the pool and spa industry. In a lot of float tanks there’s industrial equipment that is used widely for some other application or multiple applications but not specifically pools and spas.
And there’s a small set of components that are, I think, specific to float tanks. Or very rare items that are specifically well suited to –
Graham: Uncommon at the very least.
Ashkahn: Yeah, like an inline heater, I would say is an example of that where they are making these inline heaters and there’re tons of inline heaters out there you can buy. But for a float tank, you’re gonna want a really specific one that has a certain type of metal, like a titanium heating element to hold up against that salt and you’ve narrowed the huge field of inline heaters down to an extremely small subset of ones that are actually going to work for you. And then there are other pieces that I think manufacturers just, have slightly altered themselves or adjusted in a way that makes them more suitable to float tanks or have maybe replaced certain metal parts on with things that won’t rust or be distorted in the float solution.
Graham: Yeah, some of the intense ones involve ozone and actually going in and finding check valves and things like that, that won’t get clogged up with salt and, there’s some pretty, it goes everything from just adding in extra gaskets so saltwater’s not leaking out of the filter to almost adjusting the internal mechanisms on some pretty advanced filtration equipment. Again, not that these things are items you couldn’t do yourself, but just know, even if you’re just going into try and replace one of the parts of your filtration system that’s not functioning properly, a direct replacement might still not be with the manufacturer had installed so always reaching out to the manufacturer first is the best thing to do. Even if you’re going to making the repairs, just to find if you’re on the same page.
Ashkahn: For sure.
Graham: And if you’re doing the right kind of repair, you know?
Ashkahn: I feel like, here’s an example. I don’t know if they still do this but Superior would, with their dell ozone, kind of solar eclipse units that do ozone and UV, they would put a little check valve into that ozone tubed. Because that’s a very float tank problem is that this tube that’s supposed to be putting ozone gas into your system will get a little bit of saltwater up there and the water will evaporate and the salt will crystallize and you’ll get salt clogging this tube up. Which is not a thing that pools, any other application that this device is used in, is gonna encounter, but for float tanks, they went in there and installed this little check valve. Unless you open this thing up, you’re not gonna really know. It’s pretty much invisible to you when you just get that equipment from them.
And pumps have impellers in them
Graham: Yeah, I was just gonna say that
Ashkahn: Those impellers are the things that are spinning to actually move the liquid have a certain diameter that’s supposed to match the density of liquid that it’s moving so if you’re getting something for float tanks, I wouldn’t be surprised if the float tank manufacturer specifically asked the pump company to trim those impellers to a specific diameter.
Graham: Almost all of them do. I actually don’t know of a single manufacturer that doesn’t have those pre trimmed going into the float tank.
Ashkahn: For the magnetic ones especially.
Ashkahn: So, you know there’s stuff like that, that is, that’s just a piece of equipment that’s inside your pump and you would never know by looking at it that some custom work has been done.
Graham: Yeah, so it’s just one of the things where you wanna make sure you’re informed going into. I guess, as to the question, where would you find these parts? It’s from all over. All different manufacturers. That said, the second part, and by that the UV manufacturer is almost certainly going to be different than your pump manufacturer which is gonna be different than your filter manufacturer. It’s not like, there are companies that offer many arrays of types of products for the pool world and for filtration but for a float tank applications, it’s really unlikely you’re gonna be getting, even more than a couple elements of your filtration system from the same manufacturer. And, likely, every major element is going to be a from a totally different manufacturer. So there’s not like a singular place where you’re just going to go and, the Kahn’s Emporium of Spare Float Tank Parts does not actually exist yet.
Ashkahn: Yet, and then it will and it’ll be great.
Graham: We’ll fly people out.
Ashkahn: That will just be the answer. And each piece of PVC will cost a 1000 dollars.
Graham: So I was leading up to the complete replacement though.
Ashkahn: Oh hold on, before that, the other thing to
Graham: Yeah, back up a little. I was getting way ahead, I put the horse before the cart again. Sorry, inside joke, the carts come before horses.
Ashkahn: The other variable is that, often where your float tank is manufactured, can influence a lot of what pieces of the equipment are. So even simple pieces, of you’ve got a float tank that was manufactured in Europe or in England specifically, they may be buying local
Graham: The space station
Ashkahn: Kind of local parts that, the threading may not match exactly or there’s little things like that, or even the simple pieces can be a little deceptive depending on geographically where you got the float tank from.
Graham: Even here, there seems to be two different types of union threads. When you’re joining things together, it’s just a gamble if you’re just replacing one side of your plumbing union, the part where you can unscrew it. And you go to just buy the other half, there’s a good chance the threading won’t actually match, there’s like double standards even within just the US, which is interesting.
Ashkahn: I have a few more warnings still too. Alright, next on the list. Some of these components require electricity and community with the brains of your float tank, some things, like a piece of piping or a filter may be easier to replace than others.
Graham: Unless you get smart pipe.
Ashkahn: Yeah, where it’s just detecting all the salt crystals
Graham: Monitor it with your iPhone. Here sorry, go on.
Ashkahn: So some of these other components that connect, that have electronics, need to be run and need to be turned on in coordination with your pump turning on. Those are things that get wired into the control system of your float tank and that control system is almost always custom built and may not have enough power to supply a new component you’re looking at getting. That adds a layer of complexity. And my other warning is just that, this stuff is complicated, in general.
Ashkahn: I would be careful to just start deciding that you can replace certain components because these things are a system, they work together. If you wanna drop your turnovers, or do faster turnovers, you can’t just get a bigger pump. Because everything is sized to the pump and so this will have to get bigger and that will have to get bigger and you kind of have to be aware of how all this stuff works together and so just be careful. Be careful out there and if you come on down to Kahn’s Tank Pieces Plaza, we’ll get you a guided, make sure you have the right stuff.
Graham: Cool, and I had more too.
Ashkahn: More warnings.
Graham: You know, not more warnings, just more questions. The second part of the question was, “what if they wanted to replace the entire thing?”
Graham: So for that, just to cut you off because you’ve been talking for awhile, this episode, I thought I might just get a few words in edgewise you know. So, honestly, tank manufacturers. It’s not the most uncommon thing for float manufacturers to sell their entire filtration system as an add on that you can put onto a float tank. And, it will vary what you need or actually the length of time to run your filtration cycles will differ depending on the full volume of your tub. If you’re buying a filtration system that’s normally attached to a 200 gallon tank and you’re putting it on a 400 gallon tank, obviously the kind of cycles, the length of time it takes to one full volume metric turnover of your solution is gonna be longer because it wasn’t made for that. But yeah, if the volumes there, I know at least two to three manufacturers who will sell their entire filtration pack and I wouldn’t be surprised if almost the majority out there will sell huge parts or the entire thing out to another tub.
Ashkahn: Yeah, and I feel like it’s getting harder to do stuff like this. Like as float tanks get more sophisticated, their control systems are controlling the temperatures and turning heaters on and off and adjusting all sort of different stuff and turning the lights in the system on and off. It’s gets more and more complicated as float tanks get technologically more advanced, to decide to just swap one thing out with another.
Graham: Yeah, it’s not the easiest thing. So I guess, is there any other place where they can get a full fledged system other than from a float tank manufacturer?
Ashkahn: Yeah, I mean a float thank manufacturer or really learning enough about all this to do it yourself.
Graham: Yeah, that’s still piecemeal, everything is just so specific.
Ashkahn: Just buy whole filtration systems?
Graham: Everything is so specific to float tanks, there’s just no other place to get it other than the manufacturer.
Ashkahn: And again, I would not trust the pool person to build me a float tank filtration system.
Graham: No, okay, so here’s the scenario I was curious about, it’s going to be a long episode, but this is like hairy stuff. Let’s say they build their own filtration system, or a pool person talked them into it, or whatever, right? And now on bit of their plumbing piece is leaking and they realize they want to upgrade to a more serious UV in it right? What’s the best thing to do in this case? They have kind of a custom set up already or they just decided that their UV unit is underpowered. How do they go about just upgrading the UV to a new unit? That they think is going to be right?
Ashkahn: Yeah, really the complicated part in there to me is the electrical part of it. So I mean, I would recommend having an electrician or at least a low volt electrician or someone do that part of it. Connect it to the brain and make sure all that stuff is working and the rest is, I mean mostly just cutting PVC pipe and gluing PVC pipe.
Graham: And I guess like Ashkahn said earlier, sizing it properly as well. Making sure that the UV that you’re getting now is matching the gallons per minute of your pump and that you feel that’s it’s actually sized for the amount of water you’re gonna be cranking through there, you know?
Ashkahn: Yeah and again, I have not seen pool people make good decisions in those situations. When I’ve been out to float centers and they are like, you know, I hired this pool guy and I’m looking at their thing and I’m like, no, that’s not big enough at all. They’re really under the assumptions of what they’re used to and I feel like that leads to some weird stuff, in general. That’s just been my general experience, like if I were to hire a pool guy for almost anything other than just literally cutting and gluing pipe, then I would want to have enough knowledge and feel confident enough in my knowledge to tell them exactly what I want and not listen to their opinion. And at that point, when you’re just hiring someone for cutting pipe, I feel like it’s not worth it.
Graham: There you have it. Don’t trust any pool people. And if you have your own questions, head on over to floattanksolutions.com/podcast and we will explore them live right here on the air. Well live of us, we made this joke before but it’s not, it’s recorded for you.
Ashkahn: I feel like they understand that. You’re smart people. Alright we’ll talk to you tomorrow.
Graham: Bye everyone.
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