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Old 23-06-2014, 02:56   #1
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Spectra Model 380c Membrane Question

Here's a Spectra Model 380c question that I already think I know the answer to, but I thought I'd throw it out on the forum for information sake.

We purchased the boat along with the Spectra 380c three summers ago, the water maker membrane had been pickled for a minimum of five years time.The history of the membrane dating back to 2001 is unknown.Last season, I began using the watermaker, and on average used about two hours per day over a two month period producing maybe 30 gallons per day and generating test numbers in the 360-400ppm range.Pickled the system last September using the Spectra solution.

This season, I unpickled the system and started out with test numbers around 360ppm which rapidly increased to 600 over the next 2 weeks.I called Spectra, the tech recommended testing flow and possibly a good cleaning using their solution which I haven't done yet.Today, at the three week point of now having used the system to produce an average of over 100 gallons per day (three females onboard plus me) my numbers have shot up to over 800ppm.I'm thinking the membrane has seen better days and is now toast.Has anyone experienced success in this situation by just giving the system a good cleaning out with the recommended base and acid spectra solution?Can a membrane sustain having been pickled for over five years and still have any life left in it?I have to assume the membrane to be 13 years old.

I'm not opposed to declaring the membrane dead and purchasing a new one, but should I waste any time trying to make this one work?

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies.

Ken
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Old 23-06-2014, 09:20   #2
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Re: Spectra Model 380c Membrane Question

Hi Ken,

You are right, you already know thew answer to this but thanks for the opportunity to answer it. The average life expectancy of a membrane I usually qoute is 5-8 years. This after years of working on all kinds of watermakers seems to be a good average. I've seen them last longer and I've seen them go bad sooner even with the best of care. The fact that this membrane is at least 13 years old, had been pickled at one time for five years, and still produced 360-400PPMs when started up again is in my opinion amazing. But I've learned never to say never in this business. Cleaning a membrane, and this may go against conventional thought, is a waste of time, especially one this old. Proper membrane cleaning needs to be done on a routine bases to be effective. It doesn't really make sense for most boat based watermakers to be on a cleaning routine, it's just easier and more effective to replace the membrane. But even though it's time to replace this membrane there are a few things to check. A 380C is an older model which may have other issues that need to be checked as well. The 380C is still the energy efficient standard all other companies wish they could achieve. Basically a watermaker works on a balance of pressure and flow across a membrane. If either of these two things are out of balance it will affect both production and PPMs in either direction. Anytime I work with a Spectra 380C that is having a problem with PPMs I always start with the two feed pumps first. This is where the pressure and flow begin in this particular system. If either of these two pumps is not performing to spec then you will see higher PPMs. First I always check voltage at the units terminals when the system is operating. You want at least 12.5V or 25V at the terminals. Always check connections on an older system. Once voltage is established start one feed pump, let it operate for at least three minutes first then record both the pressures on each stroke of the Clark pump and the flow meter readings on each stroke. Repeat this with the other feed pump running alone as well. Then, with only one feed pump running, pinch off the brine discharge line completely and observe the pressure gauge. The pressures should quickly rise to the 125psi range (give or take 10psi) and the pump should shut off on it's own. If the pressure does not rise to this mark and continues to run at a lower psi threshold then your feed pump head is worn and needs to be replaced. Of course repeat this with the other pump running alone as well. If both pumps work well then the flow test is pointless and the membrane is bad. If either pump or both pumps are worn then replace them first then decide to condemn the membrane or not.
One of the great things about Spectra is they are truly designed and engineered with the thought of an owner in far flung places needing to do service work themselves. Though these feed pump heads are proprietary to Spectra they are the easiest ones to replace, especially on a 380C. Two 5/8" hoses (in and out), two wires on spade connectors (non directional) for the pressure switch provided, and three screws (new ones provided with the new feed pump head with loctite). Provided your system is not buried in the bowls of the boat it should take about ten to fifteen minutes to change it out. The membrane is not hard at all. Spectra makes the best membrane vessel to work on in the industry. On your 380C Spectra uses the flexible high pressure hose line which does not need to be removed. You should be able to spin off the end cap ring with hand pressure alone. After sitting for 13 years it might need a bit of gentle persuasion but it will thread back on and hand tightened down. No special tools, O-rings that shift on installation, nuts, bolts wires, etc. You know how to get a hold of me if you need advice. I always enjoy interacting with fellow CF members, they tend to get a little better special treatment.
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Old 23-06-2014, 12:34   #3
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Re: Spectra Model 380c Membrane Question

Thanks Tellie, I'll order a replacement today.

Ken
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Old 23-06-2014, 21:17   #4
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Re: Spectra Model 380c Membrane Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
Cleaning a membrane, and this may go against conventional thought, is a waste of time, especially one this old. Proper membrane cleaning needs to be done on a routine bases to be effective. It doesn't really make sense for most boat based watermakers to be on a cleaning routine, it's just easier and more effective to replace the membrane. .
Amen Tellie.
I think the membrane cleaning has been over sold. Maybe it buys you a little extra time, but at the end of the day I'm not sure a cleaning is worth the time/effort/money. Lets put it this way, if I'm casting off on a cruise where I'm really depending on my water maker and I can't get a replacement membrane easily....heck then I'm replacing it NOW and not messing around with a cleaning. Telling my wife she can't take her spa treatment showers at anchor would be a "romance" killer for sure!
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Old 24-06-2014, 07:30   #5
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Re: Spectra Model 380c Membrane Question

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Originally Posted by SV THIRD DAY View Post
Telling my wife she can't take her spa treatment showers at anchor would be a "romance" killer for sure!
I would think she would be more concerned about YOU taking a shower…

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Old 24-06-2014, 10:51   #6
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Re: Spectra Model 380c Membrane Question

Save water...shower with a friend! ;-)
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