The O-Zone: Today's Lesson: Troubleshooting Ozone Water Treatment Equipment Problems

Infrastructure Security Article March 11, 2003
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Troubleshooting an ozone system is no different than
troubleshooting any other water treatment system. The main principles apply;
only the specifics change slightly.

Ascertain the Problem

Your job is to find out as much information over the phone
prior to dispatching your service technician. Certain questions must be asked.
It is best to ask direct questions that require an exact answer.

* Does
the problem occur on the hot or cold?

* Where
do you notice the problem?

* Is
it isolated to one location?

* When
did the problem start?

* How
many people use the water?

* Does
the water system supply only the home?

Our technicians are trained to follow a set protocol from
the time the customer calls until the service call is finished. Everything that
has been discussed, checked and discovered is recorded on a service form. There
is no such thing as having too much information.

How to Locate the Problem

The tools you will need are a clean, white five-gallon
bucket, appropriate test kits, 200 psi gauge and a short hose to adapt to the
backwash outlet fitting.

* Use
your test kits to test the water at the location the customer has indicated.

* Test
the water immediately after the filter. This will determine that it is not the piping
giving off accumulated contamination.

* Test
the raw water to verify that the ppm levels are within normal parameters for
the system installed.

* Draw
the treated water after filtration into the white bucket. Is there any yellow
color? Is the water milky/cloudy?

Equipment checks--ozonator. normal'> Most manufacturers will have set guidelines and troubleshooting
procedures to follow. Generally, there is an indicator light that is on when
the ozonator operates. Check the inlet and outlet tubing and be sure they are
securely fastened to the appropriate fittings. Loose fittings are air leaks.
(Air is a very weak oxidizer compared to ozone.)

Testing for ozone residual. normal'> Unfortunately, this is not a practical method of troubleshooting for
two reasons.

* Accurate
test kits on the market are too expensive, thus making them impractical as a
diagnostic tool. The inexpensive kits are very inaccurate and cannot be relied

* Small-scale
ozonators for home well water use are not designed to have an ozone residual
detectable by the less expensive test kit.

Principle: It is not necessary to have detectable ozone
residual to oxidize iron, sulfur and manganese as it is with chlorine. While
this is a benefit of ozone it makes troubleshooting slightly more difficult.

Checking for ozone injection. normal'> Once you have established that you are producing ozone, you must be
sure that the ozone is getting into the water. There are two methods of
injecting ozone.

* Ozone
. A positive displacement injector
similar to a compressor. This device is easy to check. Disconnect all tubing,
fittings or check valves from the outlet of the pump and connect a 200-psi
gauge. A standard ozone pump must have a minimum of 80 psi. Consult the factory
for details and service specifications.

* Venturi style='font-weight:normal'>. This device creates a vacuum that sucks the ozone
into the water. It is imperative that there is 100 percent suction through the
entire well pump cycle. You can check this by connecting clear tubing to the
venturi's suction port. Take the other end of the tubing and dip it in/out of
water. You will see water/bubbles rushing toward the venturi while the well
pump operates. There should always be movement/suction in the tubing while the
well pump operates. If the suction stops at any time before the well pumps
stop, the venturi will have to be serviced or changed for a smaller model.

Off gas tank (OGT).
This device is either water logged and venting properly or air logged and
letting air/ozone carryover. Complaints of continuous air spitting from the
faucets, indicates air/ozone carryover.

* Run
water down line of the OGT and verify that there is a spitting problem.

* While
the water is running, sound/ knock on the tank. The tank should be almost
completely full of water. If it sounds hollow or you can hear water splashing
inside then the gas release device is not venting properly.

* If
it is full of water, you will need to check for gas/water bypassing around the
head as if the risor/baffle became dislodged.

Filtration. Use a
five-gallon bucket and catch the first 5?30 gallons of backwash water.
Let the bubbles rise. Can you see the bottom? If the media are fouled, you most
likely will not be able to see below the surface. The water might be discolored
and dirty, but never so bad that you cannot read a quarter on the bottom.
Problems associated with filtration occur from the following.

* Insufficient
backwash psi, flow or time to raise the bed for cleaning.

* Water
usage during the backwash cycle.

* Backwashing
with the same muddy/slimy water that you have been filtering.

* Media
dose during the backwash cycle. This can occur if the OGT is passing gas.

* Too
much water usage between backwash cycles.

* Wrong
media for the water quality.

In closing, treat service calls as a new opportunity to make
money and inform your customer of your potential. Plumbers never run away from
service calls. They have set charges and everyone expects to pay for their time
and material. Water treatment customers are no different as long as they have
not been promised something that you, the dealer, cannot keep. Proper
troubleshooting techniques will save time, increase profit and the professional
impression left on the customer will be invaluable.

About the author: 
Roger Nathanson is president of Ozone Pure Water, Inc., Sarasota, Fla. His background includes mechanical engineering, plumbing/pipe fitting, swimming pool remodeling/repair, sales and marketing. Ozone Pure Water has been a full service ozone/water treatm
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