Japanese Water Pump Torture

All across the Bali we hear the twitter of the birds, the tinkle of gently flowing water and the soft clicking of the water pump. Some people don’t like the noise but not to worry, the big game hunters from the village will soon put a stop to those pesky birds with their airsoft guns.

Water pumps are another matter and recently water pumps started “going off” all over the island, they are driving people to distraction, it is being called the “Japanese Water Pump Torture.” Some people, however, are pleased; Wayan’s Wig’s is having a field day, Tommy’s Toupees are very busy and even the Mas Merkin Manufactures are flat out replacing tufts of golden tresses torn out in exasperation with those infernal clicking water pumps.


So what is it all about?

In a word “earthquakes”. You see most of us have a water pump to pump water to our houses and we have taps, showerheads and toilets where the water emerges, what happens in between is a mystery as unfathomable as where our odd socks go. The water pipes are hidden deep within the concrete of our walls and floors.

This gives us a problem, we only need a small amount of ground movement and our houses move and crack. The concrete is strong and breaks the embedded pipes and we have a leak which sets the water pump off. Since the recent earthquakes struck plumbers have been very busy repairing leaking water pipes all over the island.


So why does the pump click?

The pump that supplies the water to the taps is operated by pressure. We turn a tap on, a pressure switch in the pump senses the drop in water pressure and the pump switches on, we turn the tap off, the water pressure in the pipe builds up and a second pressure switch switches the water off. The switches make a clicking sound.

We can see that if a pipe between the pump and the tap gets damaged by an earthquake, it starts leaking and the pump will switch on. If the leak is a big leak the pump will run continuously, if it is a small leak the pump will keep switching on and off, it starts “cycling”.

If air starts getting into the pipe we might get splurts (a splurt is, of course, a technical plumbing term that is far too complex for me to explain here) out of the taps or we might not get any water at all. Splurts can be explosive and very annoying and the shock loading on the pump can damage it. No water at all means the pump is trying to pump air, the pump can overheat and destroy itself.


So what do you do if we have water pump problems?

The first thing to do is to make sure you know how to switch the pump off. A good plumber will always install a plug and socket so you can unplug the pump or, better still, a switch so you can switch the pump off. Find out where the switch or plug socket is before a problem arises.

If your pump is running continuously and you do not have water, switch the pump off and call your friendly plumber.

If your pump is running continuously or cycling but you are still getting water then it is alright to switch the pump on when you need water but it is a good idea to switch it off when you are not using it. Call a plumber.

You should bear in mind that good plumbers in Bali are rarer than denticles on a gallinaceous jungle fowl. If your “plumber” learned his technical skills marketing nodding dogs at the traffic lights you might have a bit of a problem.

When your plumber arrives the first thing he should do is to check your toilets and taps to make sure that they are not leaking and causing the problem. He should also check that the pump pressure switches are working correctly.

Once he has determined that there is a leak in the pipes somewhere you might need some patience, he will have to find the damaged pipe so he can either repair or bypass it and this might be a tad more difficult than teaching your pet dog calligraphy.

Finally, it is a good idea (though untrained plumbers rarely do it) to have stopcocks installed so you can turn off different branches in the pipework, this will allow you to isolate leaks while still giving you water where the pipes are good.

Now you can sit down and have a nice cup of coffee and wait while your plumber sits cursing in the traffic – oh but no, you don’t have any water.


Phil Wilson

Previous “Fixed Abode” articles can be found subject indexed on our website at www.mrfixitbali.com. Opinions expressed are those of Phil Wilson. He can be contacted through the website or the office on 0361 288 789 or 08123 847 852.


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