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Old 05-08-2015, 06:15   #1
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Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

I have a Spectra Newport 1000 MkII Watermaker, 24V system, which was installed in my FP Eleuthera catamaran in October 2012. Tellie was of great assistance at this time when I was going through the watermaker decision making process.

The system has performed very well but I have noticed recently that the GPH produced has dropped and so has the PSI & the Salinity has increased.

After consultation with a Spectra Dealer in Australia I have recently replaced the Boost Pump and also the Feed Pump but this has made no difference at all & the same issue exists.

Here is some historical production stats over the past few years.

November 2012 (1 month after install) GPH 44.6 Salinity 276 ppm PSI 184

March 2013 GPH 41.3 Salinity 272 ppm PSI 114 Hours = 62

August 2013 GPH 38.1 Salinity 204 ppm PSI 118 Hours = 435

July 2015 GPH 23.6 Salinity 772 ppm PSI 103 Hours = 1,301

Since initial installation the system has never been put into storage and pickled as the 5 day Autoflush process has been running continuously when the boat has not been in use and producing water.

BTW the boat is based in Vanuatu and there is no local Spectra Dealer.

I would appreciate any advice on this situation and what my next course of action should be.

See photo below which shows the Spectra Information of my system.
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Old 06-08-2015, 07:17   #2
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

I expect Tellie will chime in, but sounds like a possible membrane issue to me. Though that would be a short lifespan for a membrane. Dramatic change from 2013-2015. Have any problems or made any repairs during that time?

Could also be as simple as a salinity probe needing calibrating. Do you have a known good hand held meter(s) to compare to calibrate against?

Chlorine can damage a membrane. Have you filled your tanks with chlorinated water? What has your charcoal filter change schedule been (they are only good for about 6 months)?

Could also be a pressure loss problem somewhere in system prior to the membranes. This can be an external leak (are there any...even a drip?) or an internal seal issue in the Clarkson Pump. Good old manual gauges in strategic points in the system are good for trouble shooting. Barring that you can get some pressuring readings from the MPC (yours is a 5000?) and/or from Spectra field tech software (Windows). Tellie/Spectra can advise on ranges you should see.

Does the Clarkson Pump sound normal? It should have a nice symmetric (same on both strokes) pumping sound on each cycle. Any odd noises or asymmetric sound (different on one stroke vs the other) could indicate a problem.

Dropping PSI could also indicate a feed pump problem. This could be as simple as a wiring issue. Check voltage drop at connection to feed pump. This could also be as simple as a flow obstruction or a dirty filter. When were all filters last changed?

My suggestion (in addition to the other checks above): confirm that the internal salinity probe reading is correct. If so the clean the membranes an see if performance improves.

Also Tellie/Spectra provide excellent tech support. I would get them involved (Spectra directly or Tellie depending upon where you bought the unit).
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Old 06-08-2015, 19:45   #3
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
I expect Tellie will chime in, but sounds like a possible membrane issue to me. Though that would be a short lifespan for a membrane. Dramatic change from 2013-2015. Have any problems or made any repairs during that time?

Could also be as simple as a salinity probe needing calibrating. Do you have a known good hand held meter(s) to compare to calibrate against?

Chlorine can damage a membrane. Have you filled your tanks with chlorinated water? What has your charcoal filter change schedule been (they are only good for about 6 months)?

Could also be a pressure loss problem somewhere in system prior to the membranes. This can be an external leak (are there any...even a drip?) or an internal seal issue in the Clarkson Pump. Good old manual gauges in strategic points in the system are good for trouble shooting. Barring that you can get some pressuring readings from the MPC (yours is a 5000?) and/or from Spectra field tech software (Windows). Tellie/Spectra can advise on ranges you should see.

Does the Clarkson Pump sound normal? It should have a nice symmetric (same on both strokes) pumping sound on each cycle. Any odd noises or asymmetric sound (different on one stroke vs the other) could indicate a problem.

Dropping PSI could also indicate a feed pump problem. This could be as simple as a wiring issue. Check voltage drop at connection to feed pump. This could also be as simple as a flow obstruction or a dirty filter. When were all filters last changed?

My suggestion (in addition to the other checks above): confirm that the internal salinity probe reading is correct. If so the clean the membranes an see if performance improves.

Also Tellie/Spectra provide excellent tech support. I would get them involved (Spectra directly or Tellie depending upon where you bought the unit).

Yeah, what he said. (belizesailor= working to be the next roving tech)

One more thing you might want to check is to make sure the system is running in "HIGH" mode. This unit has an energy saving "LOW" mode which would give the gph rating you are seeing and higher salinity readings.
When the system is running press the "STOP" button and hold it for about five seconds. The system will either slow down to the "LOW" mode or pick up to the "HIGH" mode. If it picks up re-check your psi, gph, salinity, and pressures.


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Old 06-08-2015, 22:52   #4
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

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Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
Yeah, what he said. (belizesailor= working to be the next roving tech)

...
Thanks Tellie. Coming from you I take that as a high compliment.
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Old 09-08-2015, 20:18   #5
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

Thanks Belizesailor for your very comprehensive reply, i don't have a salinity probe but i'm sure it wont be too hard to get one, I'll go online to see what I find.
I've filled my tanks about 7 - 10 times from Port Vila's town water hopefully that hasn't damaged the membranes!
The Clarkson pump sounds the same as the day it was fitted so no noticeable changes there, the filters have always been changed regularly so I don't see that being the issue.
I did contact a dealer where I live in Sydney and he suggested to change the Feeder pump due to the unit having 1300 hrs so I did that and still have the low production, Tellie suggested I check if the unit has been placed into Low production mode (didn't even know it could do that) now if thats the problem I'll be a happy man. You would think the dealer in Sydney would have suggested i check that before advising me to change the pump.
You also suggested to clean the membrane if i have no luck with everything else, how is the safest way to clean the membrane without causing myself more problems.
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Old 10-08-2015, 19:28   #6
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

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Originally Posted by Popeye62 View Post
Thanks Belizesailor for your very comprehensive reply, i don't have a salinity probe but i'm sure it wont be too hard to get one, I'll go online to see what I find.
I've filled my tanks about 7 - 10 times from Port Vila's town water hopefully that hasn't damaged the membranes!
The Clarkson pump sounds the same as the day it was fitted so no noticeable changes there, the filters have always been changed regularly so I don't see that being the issue.
I did contact a dealer where I live in Sydney and he suggested to change the Feeder pump due to the unit having 1300 hrs so I did that and still have the low production, Tellie suggested I check if the unit has been placed into Low production mode (didn't even know it could do that) now if thats the problem I'll be a happy man. You would think the dealer in Sydney would have suggested i check that before advising me to change the pump.
You also suggested to clean the membrane if i have no luck with everything else, how is the safest way to clean the membrane without causing myself more problems.
I would to focus on the low pressure issue first. Check for low output operation. Check voltage drop at feed pump. Could be a simple as a corroded splice.

Basic TDS meters (salinity probe) are not expensive and are handy to have for troubleshooting. If there are other boaters around with water makers then they may have one.

Be sure and check for simple stuff like a partially clogged intake.

Cleaning the membrane is simple using Spectra supplied cleaning chemicals. Similar process to pickling. Directions in Spectra manual. Your distributor should be able to provide them. But, usually by the time a membrane has gotten in poor condition, cleaning is just a short-term solution. If contamination is the issue it may improve the PPM numbers for a while, maybe squeak another season or two out of it, but it wont bring a membrane back from the dead.

If none of the above works then try swapping out the feed pump. Or take it by a good electric motor shop for testing.
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Old 10-08-2015, 20:06   #7
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

I would suggest finding the TDS meter as well and test all three membranes individually. Each one will have a different reading and an average between the three is a fair rule of thumb for the over all PPM on the control panel. But before you condemn the Feed pump you'll need to do a flow test. Before starting this test you'll need to install new filters, check for any air leaks starting at the intake thru hull and working your way to the feed pump module. Air leaks can cause low production and erratic TDS readings. You'll need to set up the unit so that the brine discharge line and the product line can be directed into a bucket that is measured at gallon intervals. You may need to direct the brine and product to the bilge until you see a constant flow. Once the system is up and running normally direct the brine and product into the measured bucket The NP1000 should flow 3.5gpm. The 1000 pump head has an internal regulator. If this regulator is set too low you could have the problems you are dealing with. It would be rare (not unheard of) that the feed pump is worn. They either work or they don't for various reasons. Your system also has a variable speed drive controller. This may be out of whack as well. This I would suggest a call to Spectra directly to help you walk through it. But if your feed pump checks out and your product flow rate is still low then I'd suspect the Clark pump. Just listening to the Clark pump is not good enough. It would take an analog pressure gauge to really see what is going on with both sides of the Clark pump.
I'm not a big fan of cleaning membranes either, for the most part it is a waste of time on a boat based watermaker. The NewPort1000MKII is a very reliable and strong system, but just changing out parts to see what works can get expensive fairly quickly on this system. You should have, at the least, your tech working on the system get a hold of Spectra as well because these tests are essential before buying $1000+ parts. I'm flying out to the land of Fruits and nuts tomorrow and will be at Spectra for a few days this week. Give them a call and ask for me and I'll put you in touch with the right guy. Use my name (J.T. Halden) not Tellie.


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Old 10-08-2015, 22:49   #8
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Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

Guys, in Popeye's (best friend of mine) initial post he mentioned that he has already replaced the Boost Pump & the Feed Pump based on advice received from a Spectra Dealer in Australia so he would certainly agree with you Tellie that he doesn't want to do any more random replacement of components.

Would you think that an issue with the membrane would be the least likely cause of his current issue based on the number of hours on the system and it gets regular use as well as the autoflush process?

How much of an impact would filling the tanks with Vanuatu Chlorinated Town Water have on the longevity of the membrane?









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Old 11-08-2015, 04:11   #9
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

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Originally Posted by Ozbullwinkle View Post
Guys, in Popeye's (best friend of mine) initial post he mentioned that he has already replaced the Boost Pump & the Feed Pump based on advice received from a Spectra Dealer in Australia so he would certainly agree with you Tellie that he doesn't want to do any more random replacement of components.

Would you think that an issue with the membrane would be the least likely cause of his current issue based on the number of hours on the system and it gets regular use as well as the autoflush process?

How much of an impact would filling the tanks with Vanuatu Chlorinated Town Water have on the longevity of the membrane?









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chlorine is not the only killer of membranes if any petroleum product gets picked up it can damage the membrane as well.

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Old 11-08-2015, 17:33   #10
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozbullwinkle View Post
Guys, in Popeye's (best friend of mine) initial post he mentioned that he has already replaced the Boost Pump & the Feed Pump based on advice received from a Spectra Dealer in Australia so he would certainly agree with you Tellie that he doesn't want to do any more random replacement of components.

Would you think that an issue with the membrane would be the least likely cause of his current issue based on the number of hours on the system and it gets regular use as well as the autoflush process?

How much of an impact would filling the tanks with Vanuatu Chlorinated Town Water have on the longevity of the membrane?


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Over chlorinated water can have a real effect. Even though there is a carbon filter inline with the fresh water flush it is really only capable of reducing the chlorine content in I guess what would be considered normal levels. If a municipal system over chlorinates then yes it could be too much for the carbon filter. That being said, chlorine is not a healthy chemical, I'd wonder how much more any municipality would be willing to risk over chlorinating their drinking supply. Popeye's PPM reading have gone up about 500PPM. Though not what I would consider ideal it is still within acceptable levels to consume at 700PPM. Most other major systems that use electronic salinity detection are set to shut down at higher levels some up to 1000PPM, a Spectra will shut down in high salinity at 750PPMs well before you would even taste a difference in the water quality. The red flag here with Popeye's watermaker is not the membranes but the 23gph production, that is the clue. This system is rated at 41gph. If this system is producing only 23gph I would naturally assume it would also be giving the higher PPM readings in the range that it is. Spectras NewPort1000's are a well engineered and sophisticated watermaker. They are designed with bypasses and go arounds that no other watermaker has. One of the bypasses is the "High" and "Low" mode settings. This serves the purpose of operating the watermaker at full speed while still being the most energy efficient watermaker made in it's class. It also provides the "Low" mode which if an operator wants to use an inverter and does not want to operate the system at full speed he can simply choose the "Low" mode which will reduce the pressure and flow enough so that the watermaker will use even less power/amps and can still be operated without an A/C generator. This is also a built in safety feature. If the membranes do get bio-fouled for example and the system is sensing an over pressurization it will automatically revert to the "Low" mode on it's own to protect the system and also allow the owner to still make water in a remote places until he can service the system elsewhere. Spectras are really the only watermaker truly engineered with the understanding that we do not live in a perfect world and with the realistic understanding that things break, especially on boats. So with that in mind it is designed that an average person with average skills can perform the vast majority of repairs with very few tools and a spares kit designed for the type of cruising he, or she, is undertaking. It is designed that if one part fails it can most likely be bypassed. If this system takes a lightning strike it will burn out the electronics to be sure. But a simple flip of a toggle switch and the system will bypass all electronic features and still operate without any ill effect. Pressure switch failures, salinity probe failures, false filter warnings, false warnings, operator error, etc. all can be bypassed and the owner still has a functioning system. If all these bypasses have failed then there's a good chance this watermaker has not been properly taken care of.
So this is why I'm reluctant to suggest to start changing out parts just to see what happens, he may get lucky the first time but maybe not. Really the first step Popeye has to do before we can go any further is the few simple things Ive suggested. I still need a few more answers before I can figure out what's going on.


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Old 11-08-2015, 20:01   #11
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

Thanks Tellie for your additional information which is very informative as usual. As you say that a Spectra will shutdown when salinity reaches 750 PPM as Popeye's units last reading was 774 PPM and still operating is this significant in any way as it had not shutdown? It seems like a shutdown is just around the corner?

I have also been studying the Owners Manual and read about the impact chlorine has on membranes so I'm sure that there won't be any more town water fills in the future.

Will be speaking to Popeye later today.


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Old 13-08-2015, 18:11   #12
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

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Originally Posted by Ozbullwinkle View Post
Thanks Tellie for your additional information which is very informative as usual. As you say that a Spectra will shutdown when salinity reaches 750 PPM as Popeye's units last reading was 774 PPM and still operating is this significant in any way as it had not shutdown? It seems like a shutdown is just around the corner?

I have also been studying the Owners Manual and read about the impact chlorine has on membranes so I'm sure that there won't be any more town water fills in the future.

Will be speaking to Popeye later today.


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The 750 cut off limit is a bit dampened in the program. So it is possible that it would run for a bit at 774PPMs but it should eventually shut down. If it does not then this might, and I say might, be an indication that somehow or someone has played around a bit with the settings. These numbers can be changed to allow for the system to keep operating a bit longer so one can get back to a place where repairs can be facilitated if not repaired at sea. This is where a simple hand held is critical so we know what is really happening in the product water. So Popeye needs either to borrow or buy a hand held meter and he has to take the flow readings I described before. I'm out at Spectra right now for some other things so they are now aware and apprised of the issue. Keep me up to date on what you find.

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Old 19-08-2016, 07:59   #13
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

Hi Tellie, just to close this thread & to assist others who may read it in future i believe that the problem turned out to be the Clark Pump. Many thanks to you for your technical advice & problem solving skills provided to Justin from Vanuatu Yacht Services which led to the necessary repairs being carried out on the SV Rendezvous.

As always, your assistance is greatly appreciated by me & all CF members. Regards, Steve


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Old 19-08-2016, 18:12   #14
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

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Originally Posted by Ozbullwinkle View Post
Hi Tellie, just to close this thread & to assist others who may read it in future i believe that the problem turned out to be the Clark Pump. Many thanks to you for your technical advice & problem solving skills provided to Justin from Vanuatu Yacht Services which led to the necessary repairs being carried out on the SV Rendezvous.

As always, your assistance is greatly appreciated by me & all CF members. Regards, Steve


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Do you have any more specifics on the issue? Was it bad seals/valves in the Clark pump?
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Old 20-08-2016, 07:05   #15
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Re: Spectra Watermaker Low GPH & High Salinity

Hi belizesailor, no, I am not aware of the actual specifics of the repair to the Clark pump. I received this information from the boatowner , Popeye62, who is here in Australia but he did mention that before the repair the Clark pump was not making a symmetrical pumping sound like it used to.

It was Justin in Vanuatu who conducted the repair under Tellies guidance.

Thank you as well for your earlier feedback on this matter so I can certainly understand why you would like to know the full details of the resolution.

Hopefully, Tellie will soon chime in to add the specifics of what the actual problem was & what needed to be done to repair it.
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