Extreme DIY – Corrosion to our giant tanks!

2015-11-21_0004It’s one thing dealing with a faulty water tank in a residential property, that I’m used to, but an exploding high pressure water filtration tank the size of a small car? Not so much.
Up til June of this year I knew absolutely nothing about swimming pools. Lots about old buildings, renovations and a little about restorations but absolutely zilch about pools, let alone ones 105yrs old. Don’t get me wrong, I still know precious little about them but I definitely know more than I did four months ago.

Here’s a tip. When you see a huge old tank dressed like a turkey – PANIC!2015-11-21_0001
I arrived on site after a worried phone call about the pool being half empty and water exploding around the filtration room. Blog fail on my part I didn’t get a Vine but when you’re knee deep in H20 and can’t for the life of you work out where the jets of water are coming from, it’s the last thing on your mind. There was gallons of the stuff pouring down the walls, but on closer inspection, it became clear that the water was firing out of the top of the tank at huge pressure and hitting the ceiling, creating a cascade effect to make it look like it was coming from above.

Dennis turned the water off to reduce the pressure and the leak slowed to a trickle rather than a torrent, then that ‘lovely’ neat silver wrapper was peeled back to reveal the a corrosion horror story beneath.


2015-11-21_00032015-11-21_00062015-11-21_0008Wrapped around the tank by the previous management, the jacket had maybe saved a weeny teeny bit of heat loss but much more negatively had trapped moisture between the warm metal and the water proof silver material, making the whole tank sweat and corrode. Small leaks dripping from above combined with a poorly maintained internal skin had resulted in the metal being eaten away and eventually, the high pressure water inside forcing its way through the thinning shell.

What on earth were we to do? The pool was rapidly emptying, swimmers were banging their knees on the bottom of the shallow end and people could stand up in the deep end!! Without this important filtration system, our water would rapidly become cloudy and unfit to swim in and we’d need to close 😦

Nothing could be done that day but apologise to our members – who were just LOVELY about the whole thing –  and make lots of phone calls. Help came in the form of welder Steven (thanks to builder Dan for the contact!). Off went the water, out came his metalworking tools. Sparks flew, high temperatures sealed a new patch of steel to our tank and we breathed a sigh of temporary relief.


IMG_1945You can see the water below pouring out of the top of the tank before she was patched up. This is when the pump had been turned off so there was a vastly reduced pressure, imagine it firing at the wall at a rate of knots!2015-11-21_0005And amazingly look what we found….. lots of other welded patches showing the problem had happened before but someone had STILL re-wrapped the tank in silver insulation compounding the problematic issues tenfold. Terrible!DSC00598

Honestly, sometimes I look at the way this beautiful building has been treated and I could cry. I just don’t understand how people or organisations can have so little respect for heritage or understanding of good maintenance. There are so many challenges in running an old building with old equipment, but when people have made awful decisions and not passed on information, it makes it all a hundred times worse.

We’re now looking at lots of options, as we juggle other restoration projects elsewhere in the building, but one thing is for sure…. life running Withington Baths is never boring!!

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