Friday, March 28, 2008

About the Waterbed Guy

My humble entry into the wonderful world of waterbeds began in 1981, at age nineteen. The flotation sleep industry was growing out of it's infancy, and was about to ride it's own wave into a decade long boom. I first began as a part time salesman hawking mostly at area malls and home expos, eventually working for a few waterbed retailers in the metro New york area. I was initially a salesman, but quickly became the top service and installation provider in the region, contracting for most of the local big and small players at one time or another. Having felt that i found my niche, I coasted for a few years, finding little or no competetion locally. As time went on, I created my own regional waterbed service, company, doing set ups, removals, moves and the like. This allowed me to also chase my dream as a musician and to create my own work hours which provided for that lifestyle. I still play every weekend with the same band. After having ridden that wave myself for over two decades, and seeing dozens of waterbed dealers come and go, came a sobering reality; The boom was long over. It became apparent that I was the only remaining die hard that still wanted to sell and service waterbeds for the greatest city in the world. Having done a bit of market research, I soon learned that there actually was still a market for these things. A pretty good one at that. People still wanted to buy waterbeds, however, for most people across the country, the only place left to buy them was the internet. Nearly all my customers tell me so! So my plan here is to provide you with a free "virtual waterbed service" to people who may find themselves in need of it. From today onward, i will build upon the knowledge and tips i have accrued in the last quarter century and share it here. Please share your experiences, good or bad with us as well. I will be doing the same. There is a surprisingly large number of topics to explore, from product selection, to horror stories, and this will be the place to find them. I have also come across many myths and bullsh*t stories that will be debunked here. So let's get to it!

Filling Your Watermattress

What is the ideal waterbed depth? In my quarter century + of experience as a professional waterbed installer and service provider, this has been the most insideous problem that has faced the waterbed industry. First of all, water cannot be compressed. It is physically impossible. That said, overfilling a watermattress can only be problematic. It can't get firmer, but it will get rounder (hemispherical). You want it to be box shaped. It is cut to be filled to a certain depth (usually 6-8"). Exceeding the recommended depth will:
-Stretch the vinyl and weaken the seams.
-Increase electrical consumption (more water to heat).
-Stress and warp the sides.
-loosen screws and break brackets.
-Cause undue stress to supporting structures.
-Make it more difficult to tuck in sheets and bedding . (excess weight to lift)
-Make your bed LESS comfortable.
I have seen this all happen firsthand.
An air mattress will get firmer as you add more air, because air beds are filled with a gas, not a liquid. Gasses will compress. liquids cannot.
Underfilling is the lesser of two evils. It only causes bottoming out on the deck when sitting or kneeling, but that can lead to overheating the heater and damaging the vinyl (and the heater).
I have seen properly filled waterbeds last 20+ years. The best advice i give to my customers on filling a waterbed is to lay a broomstick, or similar device across a wide corner of your hardside or softside waterbed at it's lowest point. When the water level begins to lift the broomstick off of the wood or foam frame, shut off the water. Adding more water is of no benefit to you.
Now, disconnect your hose from the sink, and as you coil it, hold it higher than the bed to let it drain into the bed. After that, couple both ends of the hose together to prevent spillage.
Next is the burping process. this is easy if you didn't overfill your watermattress. Gently use the broomstick to influence any trapped air bubbles to move toward the open valve. You can usually see them in sufficient light. Lay the stick flat on top of the mattress like you are floating cement, gently pushing the air towards the valve. Repeat this a few times. The air will easily vent out until there is no more splashing noise inside. This should be done again as necessary. The best time to do it is when you change the sheets. But, if you like a noisy bed, leave the bubbles in. It is not a critical step.
Before replacing the cap, you now should now add the waterbed conditioner. Which will be the subject of the next blog.