Archive for May, 2006


May 23, 2006

Perhaps the most common problem encountered by the do-it-yourselfer that I have been most often been called to fix, is the bunching up of the fiber matrix inside a waveless watermattress due to improper handling after being drained, aka fibershift. While some manufacturers internally tether the fiber to the mattress to prevent this from happening, most do not because it requires extra seams to do so, adding expense and vulnurability. After all, the seams and valve are what is covered under warranty, so the less seams, the better. Most hardside and softside waterbed mattresses have a free floating fiber pad inside, requiring a minimum of seams. What is key to preventing this from happening is achieving a vacuum inside the mattress, which will occur naturally when draining, either with a fill and drain kit, siphoning, or a pump. Before you start draining, be sure to remove all air bubbles through the open valve with a broomstick, after unplugging the waterbed heater. This will insure that a vacuum will occur as it drains. When the flow of water slows to a light trickle, remove the hose from the mattress and immediately repace it with the plug and cap. Do not remove the plug and cap untill you are ready to fill it back up. The ensuing vacuum, when maintained, will make your waveless mattress easier to handle, and less "blobby". If it gets puffy, it means either the cap is loose, or it has a leak. If you do get fibershift, the best way to flatten it out is to use a wet-vac. The mattress must be as drained as is possible. First, blow air into the mattress through the valve. When the air starts to compress, turn the vac off and look inside the valve to see how the fiber is shifted. It is helpful to have the room sunlit, or as bright as possible, as the vinyl is opaque. Try to find a corner or two of the fiber and work it into a corner of the mattress. this will probably take some time, and you may need to blow it back up again as necessary with air to see inside the open valve. When you get a corner of fiber into a corner of the mattress, grasp them together and elevate as high as you can. Kind of like when you make your bed up. This will allow the fiber to flatten, just like a comforter. Repeat as necessary until fiber is visually flat. Next reverse the air flow of the wet vac, and suck as much air out of the mattress as is possible, and immediately plug the valve. Do not remove the plug until you are ready with your hose to refill it. Any ridges or buckles in the fiber will usually work themselves out as you refill your waterbed.

Draining a Waterbed

May 10, 2006

There are generally three safe and acceptable ways to drain a watermattress, all of which require a simple garden hose. The length of hose should be no longer than necessary to get the water away from the building by about 10 feet or so. Too long a hose will create excess drag, and can slow the draining process, in addition to causing extra work.

The first order of business when you begin to drain your waterbed is to always unplug your waterbed heater. This is critical because when the heater no longer has a sufficient depth of water, it will overheat and eventually burn itself up, along with your liner and watermattress. This can be dangerous and costly.

Next you will need to remove all the air bubbles that have accumulated inside the mattress, also known as "burping" your waterbed. This is easily done by gently sliding a broom stick (or any similarly shaped device) with gentle, downward pressure, across the top surface of the vinyl, toward the uncapped valve, allowing any trapped gasses to vent out of the watermattress. This is also a critical step to removing as much water as possible. Remember, that last ten gallons is the most difficult to remove because a vacuum is created as the bed empties out, and any air present inside will negate the vacuum, and make the mattress very heavy. So be sure to remove all the air bubbles before proceeding.

The first method of draining is to use a venturi pump. This is the T-shaped plastic fitting found in a waterbed fill and drain kit. Most reputable waterbed dealers will provide this with the sale of a waterbed, and they should have come with instructions. While these do work on free flow and semi-waveless water mattresses, they are not recommended to drain an ultra-waveless mattress. This is because they do not provide a strong vacuum that is needed in order to drain them enough to be picked up. These pumps rely on water pressure and gravity. They are only effective with the water flowing downhill, and with strong water pressure. The tap water must be kept running until the mattress is empty. This is the most inefficent and time consuming method. If you live in a basement, it may be your only choice, unless you can get your hands on an electric pump.

An electric pump is usually the fastest method. How fast is determined by how powerful your pump is, and whether the water is flowing up or downhill. Most will take 60-90 minuites. This is the best way to drain an ultra waveless watermattress. If you live in an apartment building, place the hose deep into your toilet bowl, and close the lid before starting. Most pumps will need to be primed (filled with water) in order to get started. This method, of course, will require electricity.

The siphon method will require only a hose. A male hose adapter, which also comes with a fill and drain kit, is helpful, but not necessary. Following the above instructions, next, place the male end of the hose into the valve of the waterbed. The other end of the hose needs to be placed as low as possible, in relation to the mattress. The more vertical drop, the faster the bed will drain. Next step is to suck on the lower end of the hose to start the water flowing. Once it begins to flow downhill, it will continue to do so until there is no more water left. For the squeamish, a wet-vac can be used to start the siphon.

Whichever draining method you choose, it is also important that you replace the plug and cap quickly after removing the hose from the watermattress, preserving the vacuum. Do not allow it to back fill with air. This will ensure that the fiberfill inside a waveless mattress will not shift, and bunch up into a big lump. This will be the subject of my next blog; Fibershift.