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Old 30-04-2009, 09:51   #1
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Leaving the Watermaker Running?

Is there any merit to leaving a water maker running if you are living aboard? The pickling and unpickling process seems laborious and complicated and I was wondering if it is just easier to run it once a day in the marina. I have no experience using a water maker so I may be way off.
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Old 30-04-2009, 09:52   #2
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Using a watermaker daily would be a great thing for the membrane. I beleieve at least once a week is recommended
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Old 30-04-2009, 10:05   #3
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Do you run the risk of wearing the membrane out if you do this? Don't you have to replace it after so many gallons?
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Old 30-04-2009, 10:13   #4
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I've never heard of that but it might be true, my guess is more membranes fail from lack of pickling or lack of use though. Also, often the housings and end caps fail from corrosion before the membrane.... I've never heard of anyone having a worn out membrane, but seen a lot of watermakers that were neglected....
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Old 30-04-2009, 10:46   #5
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I'd be careful running a watermaker in a marina. Two things that are death to the membrane are oil and chlorine, and the first one is usually lurking in a marina.

Steve B.
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Old 30-04-2009, 12:56   #6
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If you "live" on that boat, don't you think you should "take her out" once a week or so? If you do, you could run the watermaker then the whole time you're out and have lots of water and the fun and benefits of taking a cruise now and then and not just stay tied up to the dock. IMHO.
The water in a marina is kinda questionable I agree so taking it outwater is a good way to get far from the chlorine (BAD STUFF) and oil etc. in the stagnent water around the docks.

No reasonn to "pickle it" unless you're leaving it un-used for a long period of time, like a month or more. I think Spectra recommends pickling if you leave it un-used more than a couple of weeks. A good flush is recommended too.
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Old 30-04-2009, 13:45   #7
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For the time you are living in the marina no need to pickle it if you're there all the time, just give it a fresh water flush each week if you're not using it. When you do use it give it a fresh water flush after each use. Membrane durability and life is dependant on care. If you reasonably follow the manufacturers instructions you should get 7-10 years of life out of a membrane. All water makers like to be run but it's better to run them for a longer period every few days than very short periods every day. If you like Unbusted, you can PM me and I'll give you all the instructions you'll need to properly operate and care for your water maker.
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Old 30-04-2009, 14:58   #8
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The overall cost of running a water maker, while not exorbitant, is much more than the cost of water out of the hose at the dock (At least in most U.S. Marinas). The membranes have a life, filters will need replacing, motors need servicing. If I were planning to be at a marina for more than 3 months, I'd absolutely pickle my system and put it away. Otherwise, I'd just backflush my system 2 twice a week or so. As Steve pointed out, be careful about chlorinated water, it destroys the membranes. Make sure you run any backflush water through a carbon filter. Make sure you replace the carbonated filter about once a month.

I wouldn't run the unit in the marina, too many possible contaminates.
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Old 30-04-2009, 16:10   #9
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Just freshwater flush every couple of weeks,but use a carbon filter in flush line in case water is chlorinated, chlorine kills membranes. We only fill ours with metabisulphite if boat is going to be laid up for 3 months or more
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Old 30-04-2009, 16:48   #10
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Seems like as a matter of convenience you would not want to pickle it unless you are going to leave it layed up for several months without use. But I would not use it daily in the marina. I don't think oil would be a problem for the membrane like someone mentioned. Since oil floats on water it would not get drawn into the intake. However the pre-filters can be a problem. If I run my Spectra in the marina daily the pre-filters need cleaning or replacing every week or so just from crud in the water. Changing them becomes just as much trouble as just pickling it in the long run.
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Old 01-05-2009, 05:51   #11
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The cost of making water is probably insignificant since the water maker is already in place and came with the boat. The actual initial cost of the watermaker is what makes the water so expensive. I still would advise against pickling the system in your situation. You are there all the time, a regular fresh water flush once a week will maintain your system. Each time you pickle your system the membrane is slightly degraded and leads to an earlier demise. I'd save the pickling for the longer times you'll not be present at the boat. Also as others say be careful of chlorinated water. This is will be introduced to your watermaker when you use municipal water to fill your tanks onboard then that water is used to fresh water flush your watermaker. Your watermaker should have a charcoal filter that will remove enough of the residual chorine so as to be safe for your membrane. The charcoal filter should be changed every six months without exception regardless if you use your watermaker once or a thousand times within that six months. Depending on what make you have be careful of what pickling solution you use. If your unit is a Spectra the use of other metabisulphite based pickling solutions will destroy your pump and void any warranty. You can't get around the nature of the beast, all watermakers take extra care and are not install and forget items. There is a small learning curve to maintaining your unit. It is worthwhile and financially prudent to learn how to properly take care of it. I find that the vast majority of the time I repair a watermaker, regardless of the owners opinion of said watermaker when I arrive, is because of an owner lack of proper care either through neglect or simply not reading the manual.
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Old 01-05-2009, 13:29   #12
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I agree with the posters before me writing to flush it with fresh water. I also put some pressure on until I get rated output, which is around 200 psi. This flushes the product output part. I do the same thing after every use with salt water.

About chlorine: when you're in a marina, don't switch to shoreside water-pressure. Just fill up your tanks with it and use your regular pump. The chlorine will evaporate out the water quickly. But we still use a carbon filter for flushing the watermaker. Don't worry too much if you skip it a week or 2 as long as it has fresh water in there (but it'll void warranty they say... if they could detect that).

Also, I remove the pre-filter elements to prevent algea growing there.

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Old 02-05-2009, 10:30   #13
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Thanks for your responses everyone. When we bought the boat the water maker was already pickled so I think we will leave it that way until we start cruising more. It would be just one more thing to deal with. Are there any considerations I should think about while the water maker is pickled. Is there a length of time it can be pickled before I have to repickle it our do something else?
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Old 03-05-2009, 07:44   #14
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There is, see the manual for the manufacturers instructions on that. You should test the watermaker while out of the marina (nice weekend anchorage etc.) and re-pickle it when all is fine.

cheers,
Nick.
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