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Old 29-10-2015, 23:38   #1
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New Membranes in Watermaker

I just installed new membranes in my watermaker but, since we're still at dock and will be for the next three months, I haven't started it up yet.

Do I need to pickle it anyway? I've heard that membranes don't have a very long shelf life and now that mine are out of the plastic bags that they were shipped in, I don't want bad things to happen to them while they're waiting to be used. How long can they sit in the watermaker without being used before they're damaged?

Thanks for the help.

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Old 30-10-2015, 03:38   #2
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

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Originally Posted by nhschneider View Post
I just installed new membranes in my watermaker but, since we're still at dock and will be for the next three months, I haven't started it up yet.

Do I need to pickle it anyway? I've heard that membranes don't have a very long shelf life and now that mine are out of the plastic bags that they were shipped in, I don't want bad things to happen to them while they're waiting to be used. How long can they sit in the watermaker without being used before they're damaged?

Thanks for the help.

Fair winds and calm seas.
Membranes do have a relative short shelf life even when they are still sealed in the two bags they come in. A year or so is about the average. This is the reason we don't recommend carrying a spare membrane. By the time you'd need it chances are it will be no good. Once you've opened your new membranes and installed them in your watermaker they are exposed to more air. If they sit in your watermaker unused or un flushed for three months the storage solution the factory uses will naturally seek to settle down to the lower parts of the membrane leaving the upper part of the membrane expose to the air in the vessel and drying of the exposed surfaces will start to damage the membrane making them useless. So yes, pickling them is the answer. Not knowing which brand system you have I would recommend a good fresh water flushing first before you add any new storage solution.

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Old 30-10-2015, 07:47   #3
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

Thanks, Tellie. Good info. Take the rest of the day off.
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Old 30-10-2015, 07:56   #4
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

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... I would recommend a good fresh water flushing first before you add any new storage solution.
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Tellie's the expert; but I'd add "chlorine-free" to his fresh water. Accordingly, I wouldn't use municipal tap water.
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Old 30-10-2015, 08:43   #5
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

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Tellie's the expert; but I'd add "chlorine-free" to his fresh water. Accordingly, I wouldn't use municipal tap water.
I agree with GordMay about the importance of not using chlorinated water. Fortunately, it's easy to get rid of the chlorine in tap water
  • You can let the water sit for 24 hours so that the chlorine will off-gas. This works if your water contains only chlorine and not chloramine. Some say all you need to do is transfer the water between two vessels 10 times to remove chlorine.
  • Install a carbon-based drinking water filter which absorbs chlorine and other contaminants before they get into your watermaker. A charcoal filter is designed to strip your tap water of chlorine and chloramine, block carbon filters are necessary for effective removal.
  • Chlorine and chloramine can be removed from your water by dissolving potassium metabisulfite into it. The brand name for metabisulphite is campden and one tablet is enough to dechlorinate 20 gallons of tap water.
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Old 30-10-2015, 09:00   #6
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

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Originally Posted by nhschneider View Post
I just installed new membranes in my watermaker but, since we're still at dock and will be for the next three months, I haven't started it up yet.

Do I need to pickle it anyway? I've heard that membranes don't have a very long shelf life and now that mine are out of the plastic bags that they were shipped in, I don't want bad things to happen to them while they're waiting to be used. How long can they sit in the watermaker without being used before they're damaged?

Thanks for the help.

Fair winds and calm seas.
An alternate to pickling that I found worthwhile is to use it - provided you are living close to the boat. Watermakers do not like not being used. Get a good prefilter that captures hydrocarbons in the input water and another that captures chlorine so that you can safely use the watermaker in the marina. Then make water every few days. If you're living on the boat the water will be MUCH superior to dock water. And if you're not living on the boat put it in jugs and bring home. You will have water that is at least as good as the water you buy at waterstores and probably better than the bottled water sold in grocery stores.
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Old 30-10-2015, 10:35   #7
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

While point well taken on using the watermaker being preferable to pickling, if your boat "lives" in a place where the water has lots of sediment or other matter in the water you will find your intake filters clogging constantly.

A cautionary tale: When we bought our new (to us) boat, we tested the watermaker as part of the survey and after running it decided to just have it do its maintenance cycle instead of pickling it again since we had to return home to the PNW and ran out of time. Unfortunately, the boat was in the San Francisco area (Richardson Bay) and the intake filters clogged.

When we came back to the boat about 3 weeks later, we opened the hatch to the smell of burnt electronics. After many stressful hours of searching and troubleshooting to figure out what had burned, we finally figured out the watermaker wasn't working (despite the control panel indicating everything was fine). After the fact, we learned that the previous owner had disabled the intake flow-rate warning to overcome a faulty flow-rate sensor so the watermaker kept trying to pump despite the clogged filter, eventually leading to the failure of the entire control panel with several capacitors literally exploding. It wasn't a cheap fix.

Lessons learned:

1) Intake water conditions may not be conducive to auto-maintenance features on a watermaker; and,

2) Make sure your watermaker fail safes are enabled and working... and if your watermaker doesn't have an intake flow sensor be aware that a clogged intake can lead to catastrophic failure.
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Old 31-10-2015, 07:51   #8
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

Hi Tellie,

I installed new membrane and seals in my Pur 40e a month ago, and was planning to let it sit through the winter (cold, on the hard in Utah) without having run any water through it. It would not get used until early summer. Would you recommend pickling for this small WM?
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Old 31-10-2015, 09:23   #9
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

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Hi Tellie,

I installed new membrane and seals in my Pur 40e a month ago, and was planning to let it sit through the winter (cold, on the hard in Utah) without having run any water through it. It would not get used until early summer. Would you recommend pickling for this small WM?
I certainly would or there's a good chance it will be toast when you crank it up. Use Propylene Glycol. One that protects to -100 with no alcohol added. Worst Marine sells one and its not expensive.

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Old 01-11-2015, 07:40   #10
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

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I certainly would or there's a good chance it will be toast when you crank it up. Use Propylene Glycol. One that protects to -100 with no alcohol added. Worst Marine sells one and its not expensive
Thanks for the response jcapo,

I've always kept the boat over the winter in freezing conditions w/o using antifreeze in the WM, only the metabisulfate pickling solution. Did the job just fine over 17 years. I was asking more about the exposure to air that Tellie describes. Is that why you'd think it could be toast in the spring? Would my very small WM have that concern?
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:59   #11
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

Size doesn't matter...all membranes have the same concerns about the membrane drying out, cracking, and then becoming a trash can filler.
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Old 01-11-2015, 08:14   #12
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

Does anyone know what is to be done in order to store a Spectra watermaker for a long period, say 1 year?
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Old 01-11-2015, 14:07   #13
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

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Does anyone know what is to be done in order to store a Spectra watermaker for a long period, say 1 year?
Ooo, I know someone.

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Old 01-11-2015, 14:17   #14
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

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I was asking more about the exposure to air that Tellie describes. Is that why you'd think it could be toast in the spring? Would my very small WM have that concern?
Like Rich said, yes. Rich and Tellie are the authorities on this subject.
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Old 01-11-2015, 14:24   #15
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Re: New Membranes in Watermaker

In my sick head I just saw Arnold Horseshack from Welcome Back Carter raising his hand saying...uh...uh...uh...pick me.

Ha ha ha

Does Spectra recommend the glycol for longer than 6 month storage?
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