The joy of owning a swimming pool can quickly be diminished if you spend more time performing maintenance tasks than relaxing in the soothing water and sipping your favorite drink.
Pool maintenance has two main components: water chemistry and debris removal.
You don’t need a degree in chemistry to maintain the proper water balance, but understanding the properties of water is imperative.
Pool plaster expert Jana Auringer, board member of the National Plasterers Council, quality control technician for Pebble Technologies and owner of The Pool Lady, provides insight into the importance of maintaining proper chemistry proper water or, as she prefers to call it, “balancing water.”
“It’s not just about adjusting pH and chlorine levels,” Auringer said. “There are other elements in the water that require assessment.” She suggests using the table on page 7D for a good water balance.
“When ideal ranges are maintained, there will be proper sanitation for safe swimming and good balance to avoid equipment and interior finish issues,” said Auringer, who is an independent consultant on plaster issues. pools in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas. , Kansas, Florida and Missouri.
However, to test these items, you need the appropriate test kit. Auringer recommended a complete test kit capable of performing the following tests: free and total chlorine (which will define the combined chlorine level), pH (acid demand, base demand), total alkalinity, calcium hardness and cyanuric acid (stabilizer) .
Once a week may be fine during winter and low usage months, but during hot summer and active swimming season more frequent testing is required.
Auringer, who has more than 25 years of experience solving plaster problems, said there are many contributing factors that will cause changes in water chemistry. Large groups of swimmers, pets using the pool, infants and young swimmers, and outside influences such as weather, landscaping, and fertilizers are all factors that affect water balance and possible discoloration of the interior surface.
“Not all pool chemicals are created equal,” she warned. “Each type of chlorine differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, and some chlorines contain a stabilizer. Too much stabilizer can damage the interior finish and give false total alkalinity readings.
“Another mistake pool owners make is placing chlorine tablets directly into the pool skimmer or pump. When the system is turned off, the chlorine continues to dissolve, sending a surge of high concentration, low pH chlorine into the return lines. Over time, the high dose of chlorine can corrode the equipment or interior finish at the return site.
As for apps, Auringer couldn’t find a specific one that provides all the data needed for water balancing.
“No two swimming pools are the same; it often comes down to trial and error,” Auringer said. “If you continue to have water balancing issues, seek information from the manufacturer’s website or support department.”
For those who are intrigued by chemistry and want a deeper understanding of water balancing, Auringer suggests using the Langelier Saturation Index. “It can be a bit daunting and requires some math, but there are websites with calculators out there,” she said.
These are often found as apps, but it is important to note that calcium hardness is used for LSI, while some tests are for total hardness, which is not sufficient for LSI.
Arguably, one of the most frustrating and misunderstood maintenance tasks for pool owners is dealing with calcium buildup in the pool and on tiles, rocks and stones.
Calcium deposits come in several ways: from mineral deposits resulting from the evaporation of water, which are commonly found in raised areas under and around bodies of water; leaching through planter box retaining walls that are not properly sealed; and precipitation of calcium on the surface of the pool following a high pH event (addition of water to the pool, rain or excessive shock with high pH chlorine) or when calcium exceeds the point of saturation in water.
“A good moisture balance will go a long way in preventing calcium buildup,” Auringer said, “as well as regular use of a stain remover or sequestrant.”
It is inevitable that debris and organic material will enter the pool. Organic matter such as leaves, flowers, and living matter will contribute to the difficulty of maintaining proper water balance.
“The removal of debris and organic material is important for several reasons,” Auringer said. “Debris such as dirt can stain the interior, and organic material will quickly deplete the chlorine.”
Most pool owners are familiar with floor cleaners and automatic pressure or suction cleaners. While these cleaners do an excellent job, they depend on clean filters, pool pumps, and skimmers to operate properly at efficient operating hours depending on pool usage as well as seasonal temperatures.
Another option for debris removal is the robot cleaner. Robot cleaners have been around for a while, but the evolution of the units may be worth investigating.
Zodiac’s latest generation robot cleaner, the Polaris 9550 Sport, looks more like a performance vehicle or ATV than a pool vacuum. Its characteristics and performance will certainly encourage you to buy one for your swimming pool.
A test run of the unit revealed that it was very easy to assemble and operate. It looks like the designers took inspiration from popular Polaris off-road vehicles and incorporated those elements into the cleaner, including four-wheel drive and the ability to climb pool walls and clean line tiles. of flotation.
If the 9550 Sport flips over and lands upside down on the bottom of the pool, it will right itself back up and continue cleaning.
Similar to a canister-style household vacuum cleaner, the 9550 Sport plugs into an electrical outlet and has a canister with a debris filter inside the unit. A light sensor warns when the filter is full.
The unit can be operated via the program or by remote control. The motion sensor remote control is ideal for directing the device on a specific path and in difficult areas.
The robot cleaner is an independent system not connected to pool equipment. This is advantageous in that the unit has its own motor and does not draw current from the pool pump or cause resistance in the water flow.
It also has its own debris filter that is easily removed and cleaned. Plus, it operates on low voltage power which minimizes power consumption and can be used even when the pool system is off. The 9550 Sport comes with a lightweight transport cart.
The price of robot cleaners ranges from $1,000 to $1,500.
“Although robot cleaners are effective at picking up debris, if the debris is not cleaned from the unit, they will continue to deplete sanitizer from the pool water,” Auringer said. “It is necessary to monitor the sanitizer level during these times and adjust the chlorine level as needed.”
Joseph M. Vassallo is an internationally renowned and award-winning swimming pool designer. President of Paragon Pools, Vassallo has co-authored five books on pool design and is currently a featured designer on HGTV.com. He can be reached at 702-400-0679 and www.paragonpools.net.