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Looking to dissolve plant matter without affecting rubber.

  1. Oct 30, 2016 #1
    Hello! I'm having a bit of an issue here, and I came across this site while searching on how to dissolve plant matter. The thread I found had some ideas, but said a reason would be needed before any concrete advice could be given.

    So here's my request - I need to instantaneously dissolve plant matter or at least, within a few minutes... Without damaging rubber seals or PVC pipe.

    Here's my reason - while trying to help out and clean, one of my tenants popped the filter on my still full hot tub without disabling the pump, and as a result, about 30 leaves have been sucked into the filtration system, blocking the jet compression nozzles and sticking in the impeller.

    I am still paying on this hot tub, and would rather not deal with an 800 dollar disassembly and cleaning fee. I've found a few spa chemicals meant to help, but they are more for lime buildup and the like, and although I'm sure those chemicals would slowly destroy the plant matter - I am worried about burning out the motor in the pump from the stems and veins getting wrapped up inside.

    I've seen some mentions of sulfuric acid, and while I can buy a concentration at Lowe's, pouring it straight into my pipes seems... Ill advised.

    Any help here would be greatly appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2016 #2


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    Gold Member

    Power washer .
    Compressed air .
    Bugs .
    Rot .
    Time .
  4. Oct 30, 2016 #3
    I don't see how any of those would get plant stems unwrapped from an impeller.

    Backflow is a moot gesture. Power washer would probably damage something with the proximity to the wall of the piping you'd have to utilize for any effective flow. Compressed air again will not help the impeller. Rot I have no faith in - leaves appear to be immortal when in water... Ever scraped along the bottom of a pond or seen a disused pool? Time I would agree with, but with winter approaching, I have to either winterize this thing while in the bitter cold - virtually impossible, or find a way to do this while it's still got hot water in it.
  5. Oct 30, 2016 #4


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    Pump impellers are usually pretty easy to remove (assuming its a centrifugal pump) for cleaning. Maybe not with your set-up however.

    Rot and time will work, with high temperature they will work faster. Oxygen also helps.
    Depending on the kind of leaves, draining and drying things out maybe make they brittle and crumbly (AKA friable) and easier to get out.
    I would bet backflow would also be helpful, maybe with a hose rather than a pressure washer.

    Unlimited money? Buy some enzyme that will breakdown cellulose get things to the enzymes operating temperature.
  6. Oct 30, 2016 #5


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    So if some chemical approach that you hear about on the internet doesn't work and causes lots of damage to your pump system, how much will that cost to fix? And as mentioned, have you looked into doing the maintenance yourself (sweat equity)?
  7. Oct 31, 2016 #6
    As a scientist of Field A, do you just go charging into Field B with no clue as to what you're doing? No? Then why would I? I'm not a plumber or electrician. I work with computers.

    As for having someone here tell me something improper, I can easily do research on their suggestions myself to see if I'm comfortable doing it.
  8. Oct 31, 2016 #7
    Also, technically, my tenant has to pay for it, it's in his lease that if he damages anything, he has to pay for it. He's been made aware of this at this point, he wasn't earlier. Nor was I to be truthful, my wife pointed it out.

    Either way, it's a headache for me.
  9. Oct 31, 2016 #8


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    If anything, household bleach would be relatively safe (much safer than concentrated acids) and should speed up decomposition a bit. But I wouldn't hold my breath in anticipation of an instant success.

    Have you tried contacting the producer of the hot tub? Perhaps they will have some suggestions.
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