Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Cottage Maintenance & Service Excellence


Aquarobic Air Pump
Originally uploaded by Big Dadoo.

The Aquarobic System is what powers our septic system at the lake. Somehow, when it was installed over 22 years ago, I became the custodian of the system. This involves some shutting down and opening up maintenance that some might find objectionable, but it doesn't seem to bother me especially after learning to deal with diapers. For many years the system ran with very little attention. Then there was a period where the belt between the electric motor and the compressor seemed to fail on a regular basis, followed by failures of the electric motor itself. A more careful alignment of the motor and compressor pulleys seems to have solved the rapid belt deterioration and the return to putting the whole unit inside for the winter seems to make the electric motor last longer.



Breakdown is inevitable as the unit runs 7X24 May long weekend to Thanksgiving every year. But, over the last couple of years a new problem has arisen. The system is comprised of the air compressor, a holding tank, a settling tank and the actual septic field. Cottage waste water arrives in the holding tank where it is aerorated to speed the breakdown process. An air lift send a small amount of effluent over into the settling tanks where of course it "settles" and the more or less clear liquid rises up through a filter and out into the field. On a twice daily schedule the air flow from the compressor is diverted from the holding tank into the settling tank which causes a pump back action, forcing the contents of the settling tank back into the holding tank for a "re-mix".



Here is where the problems begin. The diverter valve started to malfunction and was not closing either of it's paths completely. This resulted in high water levels in both tanks as each tank was umping into the other at the same time. Not a good situation. After testing some stuff and poking around with he diverter mechanism, I determined it needed to be replaced. However, the company that sold the Aquarobic System is long gone and a source of parts is not available. After some searching on the web determined that I need a Honeywell 4044 diverter valve. I stop by the local Honeywell distributor only to find their doors locked and nobody to assist me during business hours on a week day. Bad on you! But, there is a nearby valve place so I explain my problem to them but they can't help me, but I do get referred to Central Controls.

This really the highlight of the story and the reason for the post. The guys at Central Controls were really great. Vince and Jim went out of there way to help me solve my valve problem. Vince called a valve manufacturer and came up with two great solutions and emailed me a quote in short order. The solutions were good, but a bit of overkill for my application. Since Vince went on vacation, Jim picked up my case and located a Winnipeg dealer who could supply an exact replacement for the Honeywell 4044 and even ensured that they had it in stock and sent me over to pick it up directly without any markup. This is what all customer service should be like. Well done guys, and thanks.

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