Problem with your pool lights? Check your GFCI

Often times we are called out to inspect pool and spa lights that fail to turn on.  Many times the answer is right beneath the owner’s nose, the GFCI has tripped.  Unfortunately, this was an expensive lesson for the home owner to learn.

There are generally two circuits for a pool that supply power to the equipment.  These circuits are sometimes connected directly to the house breaker panel, sometimes a separate sub panel is mounted, and finally some automated controllers have a sub panel built in.  Regardless of where these circuits originate the reason there should be a minimum of two, is because the light circuit should be dedicated for the light only.

The light always has to be a dedicated circuit because it has to be protected by a GFCI.  A  Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, or GFCI, is a device that monitors the amount of current flowing from hot to neutral. If there is any imbalance, it trips the circuit. It is able to sense a mismatch as small as 4 or 5 milliamps, and it can react as quickly as one-thirtieth of a second.

A GFCI for a pool light circuit is generally located on the controller box for the equipment.  The GFCI Outlet  itself also works as an electrical outlet to supply most tools and/or appliances.  Sometimes, on older sets, it can be located just under the light switch itself, usually by the back door.  It will always be somewhere convenient for the electrician to protect the circuit without too much additional work.

You should take a moment to locate the GFCI for your pool light and test it to make sure it works properly. The procedure to test the GFCI is simple.  Locate the “TEST” button on the outlet, usually between the two sockets.  Then push it in, you should hear it pop.  Then try to turn the pool light on.  If the light does not turn on, and you know the light is working properly, then your GFCI is working properly.

Now that you have tested the light circuit GFCI, you need to reset the GFCI to restore power to the light. This is easily done by locating the “Reset” button on the outlet, usually beneath the “TEST” button, and push it in.  Then, turn the light on, the light should turn on.

GFCIs are put on the pool light circuit to protect the pool user from stray voltage or electrocution.  It is in many ways as important as a smoke detector for your house.   It is a safety monitoring device that should be tested several times a year and swapped out every couple of years by a qualified pool repair electrician.

Next time you turn on your pool or spa light and it fails to turn on.  Save yourself a little bit of a headache and potentially some money by remembering to first check your GFCI.

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Controllers

All pool equipment is operated by switches. A switch closes and opens a circuit. When a switch is open the flow of electricity is stopped, when it is closed it completes the circuit and allows for the flow of electricity to travel to a specified piece of equipment. You recognize open and closed as on or off.

Pool equipment controllers can be as simple as your household light switch, or one with a mechanical timer like an Intermatic mechanical timer, or it can be as complex as a computer, like a Jandy Aqualink, fully automated pool operation controller. One of the most common and simplistic controls is a time clock. Designs are typically digital or mechanical, offered in high and low voltage with freeze protection and heater delay options.

Often one time clock is used for the main filter pump and an additional will be used for any pool cleaner booster pump. Running a pool pump more than necessary will increase your energy bill and the motor will fail prematurely. Mechanical timers are set to operate on desired times daily or weekly using pegs or time trippers. Dependant on the particular timer you can set multiple run times for each pool pump.

Intermatic mechanical timers are easy to install, set times, operate and very affordable. Mechanical pool timers with a center dial typically have a “visual motor check” window to visually check and ensure the gears are working and the timer is functioning properly. Given that the timer works on mechanical gears and not micro circuits, it is very rugged and durable. If a mechanical timer does fail you can swap out the internal motor or the entire mechanism easily while still leaving the weatherproof timer box mounted.

The state of the art computer driven controllers like the Aqualink and Aqua Logic will make automating your pool equipment and backyard a blast. Floating remotes, Pool and Spa side keypads and in home wall mounted control panels will allow the pool owner to turn equipment on or off the touch of a button. Color changing LED lights can be linked into the controls to let you create a backyard lightshow for the entertainment of guests. Computer operated pool control systems can also optimize your solar paneling when used in conjunction with temperature sensors and actuator valves.

An actuator valve is the key to redirecting the water flow as needed for the requested function. Actuators are preset to change the internal valve diverter back and forth from position 1 and position 2. You will set the internal cams within an actuator valve to determine the stopping positions needed. When the motorized valve receives a signal from a timer or a direct command from you the pump will shut off, the valves will reposition, and the pumps will turn back on.

An additional option is to tie in your salt water chlorine generator system which will give you access to control chlorine levels and monitor salt cell operation.

The biggest headache pool owners have is the need to manually redirect water flow, or the need to manually turn different pool equipment on or off. An automated pool controller will eliminate all of the trips to the filter area. Just push a button on the remote, or set the timers for complete, hands off operation.

Repairs for an automated controller can be pricey, depending on component failure. The micro processors and boards are susceptible to power surges, corrosion, and even ants. Any repairs for an automated system will require an experienced pool repair technician to diagnose and repair.

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Pumps

The pool pump often called the filter pump is the heart of the pool system. It is responsible for the circulation and filtration of the water. When a pump is not attached to the filter and provides water for a waterfeature it is called a waterfeature pump.

All pool pumps have the same basic parts. First, the suction manifold pipes tee into the front of the pump called the pump pot. The pump pot is connected to the pump housing. Inside the pump housing are a diffuser and impeller. The impeller is secured to the motor’s shaft by threads and sometimes a reverse threaded screw. A shaft seal is made of two parts, one half ceramic and the other half is carbon. Depending on manufacturer, one half of the seal rests on the impeller and the other half rests in the seal plate. The seal plate is then attached to the motor with a few bolts. The workhorse and last part of a pump is the motor. An electrical whip then connects it to your controller.

Most pool pumps are self-priming; this simply means that the pump can systematically prime itself, as long as there are no air intrusions. Air intrusions are basically any cracks, bad glue joints, or otherwise improperly sealed points along the plumbing or pump that allow air to be drawn into the pump.

When a pump turns on, the motor spins the impeller inside the housing very fast. With the aid of the diffuser helping to remove air from the pump, the pump pot and housing begin to fill with water. Once they are full of water, a vacuum is created which begins to suck water from the pool. It then pushes it through the equipment set and then back to the pool.

All of the above mentioned parts and plumbing are things that can break, melt, or burn out. Since the pump works every day, rain or shine, hot or cold, for 8 or more hours per day, it’s no wonder they require service with more frequency than other pool equipment.

Since everything for your pool depends on your pump to work, you should prioritize a pump repair above all else. Always use a qualified pool repair technician for any pool pump repair. The ability to identify, understand and repair all of the problems that can occur with a pump and associated plumbing requires years of experience to acquire and properly execute.

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Heaters

The efficiency of today’s pool heaters will allow the heating an entire pool without hurting the pocket book, therefore, gas fired pool heaters are not limited to pool systems with a spa.

Pool heaters have also become very safe and dependable. Your standard heater has 5 or more safety switches that can kill the heater if all the needed variables are not within range. The metal cabinets of yesterday have been replaced by composite materials and heat resistant plastics, so they are corrosion resistant. Although pool heaters can be pricey appliances, an investment in a heater will last a lot longer and are a lot safer than ever before.

Gas pool heaters use either natural gas or propane. As the pump circulates the pool’s water, the water drawn from the pool passes through a filter and then to the heater. In order for the heater to ignite, it first passes through a series of safety switches that ensure it is safe to ignite. This integrated safety loop runs continuously while the heater is used. When the heater has verified everything is safe, it ignites. The gas burns in the heater’s combustion chamber, generating heat that transfers to the water through the heat exchanger. This cycle repeats itself until the desired temperature is achieved.

Pool heaters are most efficient when heating pools for short periods of time, and they’re ideal for quickly heating pools and spas. Unlike heat pumps and solar pool heaters, gas pool heaters can maintain any desired temperature regardless of the weather or climate.

The complexity of the ignition control module or board, safety loop, and precise gas pressure demands require a qualified and licensed pool technician to address any ignition failures. Pool heater sensors are so sensitive that a single cob web inside a gas inlet can cause enough of a disturbance to cause ignition failure.

When deciding on the size of heater you should buy, keep this in mind, the price difference between a 250,000 BTU and a 400,000 BTU heater is minimal. Purchasing the larger heater is well worth the money. It will significantly reduce the wait time to achieve temperature, which means you will be able to get in a lot sooner.

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Chemical Feeders

A chemical feeder for a pool can be as simple as a chlorinator, which slowly erodes chlorine tablets, or as complex as a salt system that uses electrolysis to produce chlorine from ordinary table salt. Other types of feeders produce ozone to oxidize and still others produce copper and titanium ions that work as algaecides and oxidizers.

Chemical feeders for pools have become a lucrative market for pool equipment manufacturers. Even though the theories behind the different technologies have merit, the reality is no amount of specialty equipment replaces the physical need to service the pool or the need for an occasional splash of chlorine.

The two most common types of pool chemical feeding equipment utilized in the Austin Metro area are the standard in-line chlorinator and the chlorine producing salt system. Of all the bells and whistles being sold today, these are two pieces of pool equipment that actually have a tangible benefit. They ensure and work by helping maintain a constant presence of chlorine in the pool. Chlorine, by far, remains the most efficient, most effective and least expensive sanitizer and oxidizer for your pool.

A standard in-line chlorinator works by eroding tablets manually placed in the chlorinator tube. A valve controls how much water enters and is released through the canister. The greater the flow of water through it, the quicker the tablets dissolve and therefore the more chlorine is introduced into the pool.

When having an in-line chlorinator installed make sure it is the last thing on the equipment set before going back to the pool. If you have a pool heater, make sure a corrosion resistant check valve is placed directly behind the chlorinator to protect the copper heat exchanger. Also, you should make sure that any suction lines for a cleaner booster pump are plumbed behind the corrosion resistant check valve. An improperly placed chlorinator can cause hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of pool equipment repairs and damage.

A chlorinator is a simple mechanical device and is very affordable. It is a very good investment that requires only the occasional o-ring swapped out or feeder tube replaced.

Most tablets or sticks typically used in a chlorinator are made of a type of chlorine called isocyanurics. These types of chlorines have a chlorine molecule that is chemically bonded to a cyanuric acid molecule. Make sure to check your cyanuric acid levels every month and waste water directly out of the pool proactively so that you don’t overstabilize your pool.

A pool salt system is another great way to ensure constant chlorine presence in a pool without the highs and lows of a manually shocked pool. The process through which a salt system produces chlorine is called electrolysis.

Electrolysis is a process by which bonded elements in a liquid solution are separated by passing through two charged electrodes or plates. The positively charged ions move toward the negatively charged plate (cathode), and the negatively charged ions move toward the positively charged plate (anode).

Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. When saline water passes through the charged plates in the salt cell, the chlorine, which is positively charged, separates from the sodium and is released into the pool water as free chlorine.

One of the biggest cons to a salt system for your pool is the upfront cost. These systems are not cheap and require a licensed and qualified pool technician to properly install. When you combine the cost of the system and the cost for labor to install you would have invested a couple of paychecks. The benefit is 3 to 5 years of chlorine for your pool produced from a few bags of salt and fewer problems.

There are a few things you should consider before installing a salt system for your pool. The first is the misconception that a salt water pool does not have chlorine in it. The salt does not replace the chlorine; it produces chlorine from the salt. Some more food for thought is the corrosive nature of saline water. If you have metallic fencing, metallic pool furniture or metallic doors, the salt will inevitably rust or corrode them and basically ruin your backyard fixtures. The final and most important consideration is one that is rarely mentioned. The most important consideration is the erosive capabilities that salt water has on unsealed coping and decking stones.

Salt is dissolved into the water. Through normal use of a pool, there will inevitably be splash out all the way around the pool and especially heavy traffic areas. When the splash out lands on unprotected stones, it will then absorb into the stones. The water will then evaporate leaving the salt encapsulated in the stone. Eventually enough pressure will form that will break up the stone from the inside out.

Depending on the density of the stones, the irreversible damage can occur as quickly as 6 months. Make sure to seal any stones around the pool if you are installing a salt system, save yourself the headaches.

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Skimmers

Pool skimmers are the first line of defense against a dirty pool. Their primary function is to collect debris floating along the top of the water before it saturates and sinks to the bottom.

The skimmer(s) are plumbed into the filter pump and are considered a suction port. It is this suction that enables the skimmer to pull debris into itself where it is collected in a skimmer basket. The season and number of trees around the pool determine how often the skimmer baskets should be emptied. It is a good idea to get into the habit of empting a minimum of once a week. When the trees bloom in spring or begin to dropout in fall it will be necessary to empty daily.

It is remarkable how effective pool skimmers are in maintaining the pool clear of debris when the baskets are emptied as often as necessary. On the other hand, if the skimmers are allowed to fill up with debris and not emptied the pool will quickly fill up with debris from the persistent trees.

When a skimmer basket fills up you also run the risk of breaking the basket which will in turn allow debris to get to the pump basket. If enough debris is allowed to enter the pump basket, you run the risk of losing the circulation for the pool and burning up your pump seal at best, melting your plumbing and burning up your motor at worst.

Replace a skimmer basket as soon as a handle breaks or you notice any stress fractures or tears. In doing so you would also be preventing a clogged skimmer line, which often requires a CO2 blast to clear. You would be saving yourself a lot of expense for the minimal price of the basket.

Skimmers in the Austin Metro area are susceptible to ground movement. When the soils shrink because of the lengthy droughts typical of the area, and swell after a rain event, skimmers and pool decking can shift just enough to cause a separation between the skimmer mouth and pool shell. A crack the width of a human hair is enough to lose a lot of water from a pool.

Skimmers are tied to the pool shell and if not separated from the pool decking, a shift in the deck can cause a skimmer to break. The plastics skimmers are made of are very durable, but rigid. When enough pressure is applied to the skimmer by a shifting deck, the skimmer always loses.

Replacing a skimmer can be expensive. A quick and temporary repair to a broken skimmer is using two-part pool putty. You simply mix two equal parts of putty and hardener, until you have a uniform color. Then, using your hand, roll and press the putty into the crack. Make sure to apply sufficient pressure as the goal isn’t to cover the crack, but instead to fill the crack. This type of pool skimmer repair is easy, cost effective and can last a good while.

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Lights

An underwater pool light is designed to provide enough light to illuminate the pool for swimmers and make it visible for those outside the water. A pool light is both a safety piece of equipment and a means to beautify the back yard pool setting.

Properly installed pool lights should be on a dedicated circuit protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or GFCI. A GFCI will open the circuit powering the pool light when it senses electric current going through an unintended path (such as a person) and quickly shuts off power before fatal current can be delivered. To ensure safety, the GFCI must be tested periodically.

Pool lights have all conductors in the fixture itself encased in an epoxy resin in the back of the fixture which makes it very difficult for water to come in contact with the voltage being applied. If the fixture itself becomes super heated by the heat coming off the bulb, the protective resin could melt or become compromised. This is why you should never turn a pool light on above the water unless it is a quick ”on” to check a replaced the bulb. When submerged the water serves as a radiator which cools the interior.

Pool lights have made tremendous gains in safety over the last few years. In the City of Austin pool lights are now required to be 12 volt. As the light in your pool ages and unfortunately fails, it should be swapped out with a low voltage light. This means it will require a low voltage transformer to reduce the voltage from 120 to 12 volt. The additional piece of equipment is very affordable, and will make the amount of voltage going to the pool 1/10th the standard voltage.

A real world way to appreciate this is, let’s say there was stray voltage due to a failed GFCI that came in contact with the pool water. Someone swimming alone in the pool with a 12 volt light could theoretically survive the shock. With a 120 volt light installed under similar circumstances the outcome would likely be fatal.

Today, pool lights can achieve multiple colors by turning a color wheel in front of white light. Now that LED technology is being implemented, a dizzying array of colors can be produced including white in a single fixture. If you add fiber optic lights that can bend with the water it illuminates, you can start to appreciate how far the concept of pool lighting has come.

Pool lights are now safer, last longer and have become an important component of the backyard landscape. Even though the design of the lights makes them easier to repair, a licensed appliance installer electrician should be called to verify the integrity of the entire system and to bring your system up to code, if needed. The primary goal of any pool lighting system is safety.

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Main Drains

The main drain for a pool is a suction port that should be located at the deepest point on the pool floor. A main drain is responsible for aiding in the circulation and filtration of the pool water. Having a properly working and dedicated main drain line can also allow you to fully drain your pool if necessary.

Main drains on older pools are often attached to the skimmer lines back to the equipment. When this configuration of the plumbing exists, a vacuum plate is necessary in order to vacuum to pool. A vacuum plate will block the port in the skimmer that the main drain line is attached to and isolates the skimmer to provide the suction necessary to effectively vacuum the pool.

As of December 27, with the passage of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act, all public pools should be equipped with anti entrapment/anti vortex main drain covers. Public pools with a single main drain require the addition of a Safety Vacuum Release. A vacuum release system is capable of providing vacuum release at a suction outlet caused by a high vacuum occurrence due to a suction outlet flow blockage. Pools with a dual main drain system, two main drains measuring 36” apart (three-feet from center to center) or more are exempt from the addition of a Safety Vacuum Release system.

Once suspended material in a pool drops below the level of the skimmer(s), the only way for it to find its way into the filter is through the main drain. When a pool does not have a working main drain it simply settles to the bottom where it will sit until vacuumed out. While main drains do assist in the circulation and filtration of a pool, many pools have a disabled or capped main drain line.

In the Austin metro area which includes Round Rock, Georgetown, Cedar Park and Pflugerville, soils shrink because of persistent drought and then swell after a heavy down pour. This constant movement could break or compromise the main drain line. The location of the line makes it expensive and unfeasible to repair. The end result is the capping of the main drain line.

Main drains in the Austin Metro area often become blocked due to the tremendous amount of debris that our trees rain down every spring and fall. While this is very annoying, it is easily avoidable by maintaining the pool more regularly during extreme drop out. Even with vigilant pool maintenance, main drains will become blocked. A blocked main drain is not the end of the world, all that is needed is a stiff CO2 blast of the line.

A CO2 blast is done from the pump back to the pool. The main drain line is isolated from the rest of the plumbing and then a specially tipped hose is inserted in the pump suction port. The hose is attached to an 1800 psi CO2 tank, which is slowly opened to begin to pressurize the line. When enough pressure is applied to the blockage, the blockage is flushed back into the pool clearing the line.

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Filters

Pool filters are primarily tasked with the purification of pool water through filtration. Filters clarify water by removing particulate matter suspended in the water.

All conventional filters, simply stated, work by passing water through some type of filter media. The biggest distinctions between the different types of filters are the size of the particle it can remove and the media it uses to achieve it.

The three different types of filters used for swimming pools are diatomaceous earth (D.E), cartridge, and sand. The type of filter you should use is determined by the landscaping, setting the pool is located in and geographical location. The size of the filter is determined by a number of factors including the volume of water, the size of the pump and the desired turnover.

As with most things mechanical there are pros and cons, better and worse. Even though some of the points are subjective to the user, there exist real world realities that someone should be made aware of when considering the purchase of an expensive piece of equipment.

In the Austin, Texas metro area the best performing filter is a D.E filter or diatomaceous earth filter due to the tremendous amount of pollen released by the bordering hill country and drought conditions we suffer every summer. Add to that, the fact that most neighborhoods have Live Oaks and Cedars, the choice becomes obvious. D.E filters have the capacity of filtering particulate as small as 4 microns. For reference, a human hair is 70 microns across. Pollen and spores can be as small as 9 microns and dust particles can be smaller than that.

A D.E filter has the ability to filter particles that require magnification to see, which gives pool water a polished sheen. This ability dramatically cuts downtime by effectively and efficiently filtering a heavily used pool or after a bad storm.

On the other hand, because a D.E filter does its job so well, it does require more maintenance and service. A D.E filter should be backwashed and recharged with D.E powder as needed; usually every 4 to 6 weeks during the swim season to prevent the powder from becoming too compressed which in turn could damage the filter grids. Additionally, a D.E filter does require a D.E filter service performed every year. A D.E filter service is a complete breakdown of all internal components to remove and clean out compressed material and to inspect and replace anything torn or broken.

A cartridge filter is the second most effective, in terms of filtering power, as its ability to remove particles is limited to particles greater than 15 microns. A large percentage of the particulate in the Austin area is made up of particles smaller than its effective filtering ability. The use of a clarifier will be required to help with the finer particles.

The best possible application for a cartridge filter is when used with a salt pool. A salt pool has a chlorine generator that produces chlorine through electrolysis. It stands to reason that you would not want to backwash out your salt since it should be maintained within a specific range. The pairing of a cartridge filter with a salt pool system is the closest you will come to achieve the idea of perpetual chlorine presence.

Since a cartridge filter does not have a multiport valve, it does not have the ability to clean itself or the ability to waste water. A cartridge filter has only one setting (filter) and requires a complete breakdown in order to clean. The task of cleaning a cartridge filter should be done every quarter or 10 psi (per gauge) and can take upwards of one hour. If the elements require a soak, it could take longer. The elements should be replaced every couple of years and can cost $70-$100 each.
Another con and reality of a cartridge filter is that it will inevitably raise the presence of everything water soluble or total dissolved solids. The total dissolved solids include salts, calcium and other minerals, stabilizer and metals. This occurs because it lacks the ability to use pool water to clean itself or the ability to periodically waste water directly out of the pool system to reduce the levels. The end result is an over stabilized pool with very hard water that is difficult to balance and sanitize.

A sand filter has the ability to remove particulate with a size range of 25 to 50 microns, thus making it the least effective filter in the Austin metro area. Its reduced filtering ability requires heavy use of clarifiers to assist in the filtration process. Along with the use of clarifiers, occasional flocculation is necessary to turn a pool around.

Sand filters are often chosen because they are easy to use and require little maintenance. When a sand filter is backwashed it does not need to be recharged and does not require an annual service. Unlike a cartridge filter it is self cleaning, which means you don’t have to spend hours cleaning the elements with a garden hose and then struggle to get the tank to seal.

The sand bed in the filter starts off very coarse and textured. This texture gives the sand bed the ability of trapping suspended particulate. Once a filter is employed, the constant agitation of the sand bed begins to polish the individual sand grains. When the individual sand grains lose their texture they effectively lose their filtering ability.

Filter sand should be changed out every 3 to 5 years due to the polishing that occurs during regular use. If the pool chemistry is out of range, the sand bed could harden due to calcium and cause channeling, which will cause the filter to become ineffective. Finally, every time the filter is backwashed, you lose a small amount of the finer grains. When the finer grains are lost you are left with only the larger polished grains which will not be effective in filtering particulate.

To summarize, all filters will help remove suspended particulate introduced into a pool. A D.E filter is the most effective and efficient in achieving this task in Austin, TX. The next would be a cartridge filter, and lastly a sand filter. Even though there is more maintenance needed for a D.E filter, the pool always looks beautiful and is ready to use.

When purchasing a filter of any type the manufacture order you should obey for quality is Jandy, Pentair, Hayward, and then everyone else.

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Spring is Over, Lets Talk About Summer Maintenance in Austin, TX

Spring, here in Austin, Tx appears to be over. The days are longer and hotter which means summer is around the corner. The trees and pollen off of those trees have completed their yearly assault, and will now provide wonderful shade for those of us who have trees around the pool. The nuisance of the green giants transforms into something more pleasant and useful, by shading, an otherwise blistering pool area. I always remind homeowners when they tell me they are going to chop down the trees that cause them so many problems, about the benefits of lush trees incorporated into their pool setting.

Now that we have made it through the unbearable spring season here in Austin, the next thing we will need to be concerned with is the super long and super hot summer season.

Let’s start by making one simple observation. The longer and hotter the days become along with rising pool water temperatures, the MORE chlorine the pool will require. If you add in the fact that the pool is now being used with some frequency, you should expect a higher chlorine demand. The chlorine demand is the amount of chlorine required to eliminate all contaminants in the water and leave a chlorine residual.

It just makes sense that if people are using the pool, the pool will be contaminated with whatever might be on the people using the pool. If you think about all the different things that might be on a person and multiply it by the number of people, it will far exceed Baskin Robbin’s 31 flavors. This is also the reason many commercial pool settings have a shower at the pool, not so much for you to rinse off after you use the pool, but before you use the pool at all. The point of today’s news bulletin is to give you a heads up on what you should be thinking about as far as a chlorine regiment for your pool.

I have dealt with many pools in the Austin area for many years now, and have come to this reality. If you try to maintain your chlorine levels at ideal, you will be fighting the algae all summer long. Ideal chlorine residual for a pool is between 1.5 and 3 parts per million. Try to keep an ideal level of chlorine in your frequently used pool during the scorching Texas summers and you will be fighting the algae all summer long. Have you ever noticed when at the neighborhood pool that the lifeguards ask patrons to get out of the pool so they can check the chlorine every hour or so? What they are doing is checking and adjusting the chlorine level every time they do that. My point is this, unless you have the time or desire to check your chlorine level with this kind of regularity, then err on the high side when adding chlorine to your pool.

Ideal levels of chlorine residual is just that, in a perfect world, your chlorine levels would always be in the ideal range. Ideally I would be a millionaire and never have to work. Trying to achieve this kind of ideal levels is hard without the continued daily supervision of the homeowner.

I will say this, however, some of these new salt system chlorination devices out these days, do a pretty good job at this task. If you happen to own one, remember to monitor the chlorine residual in the pool on a weekly basis to make sure your system isn’t over chlorinating the pool and adjust as necessary.
Because the salt cell produces chlorine everyday for the duration that the filter pump is running, it can actually achieve a constant level of chlorine residual that will not allow for algae to ever get a foothold in your pool.

For those of us who don’t have a salt system in place, the task of making sure the pool is always well chlorinated is a bit trickier, but there is a simple solution to the problem as well. Don’t try to keep chlorine levels at “ideal”, and figure out how long a slightly elevated amount of chlorine product will get you through the week, and then adjust it until you find a level that is ideal for your real world setting.

Free chlorine residual in a pool has no detectable taste, odor, and causes no irritation at levels as high as 10-20 parts per million. With this in mind you potentially have a big enough range to be able to elevate your chlorine levels to well beyond “ideal” and spent less time fighting the algae. This statement is only meant to make you aware that you can comfortably enjoy the pool even if you were to have a chlorine level somewhat higher than the established “ideal range.”

Along with elevating your chlorine residual to a summertime dosage, you should be proactive and shock the pool after a long weekend or after a day of heavy use. If you have a social event where the pool took center stage, after everyone is done enjoying the pool, your pool will likely not have much to any chlorine and will be very easily overrun by the algae. Algae can coat the entire surface of the pool overnight. In order to prevent an algae bloom of this sort be proactive, drop a few more tablets into the chlorinator and turn it up while the pool is being used. Then shock the pool hard after the party is over, especially if the water has a haziness to it. It would also be a good idea to run the equipment for a 24 hour period after you shock it, this will circulate the chlorine and filter particles. The end result should be a beautiful sparkling pool the next day. Not doing anything about it will inevitably result in an algae bloom.

I will summarize with this simple statement, if you are using the pool, make sure to adequately chlorinate the pool. The chlorine demand is different for every pool out there because the amount of use is different from one pool to the next. The chlorine demand for a pool that is never used will obviously be a lot less than one that is used daily by the entire family and some friends. The chlorine demand for your pool is determined by the amount of use and the environment around it. Yours will not likely be mine, take some time to figure yours out specifically and you will have less down time and more uninterrupted use of the pool.

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