Enjoying the Summer Swim Season
Ahh, Summer is here. The kids are home and out of school, the weather is warm, that pachanga is planned with family and friends. We crank up the tunes, grab a favorite beverage, cigar, and that tray of steaks, go outside to start the “pit” and jump in the pool or crank up the spa —– life is good.
That is a basic story line for many of those great times we day dream about or actually plan to have in our own backyard paradise that has a pool/spa. Most of the time it works out just like we planned but sometimes things can go wrong.
The best way to head off problems with anything we own is through preventative maintenance. We do this commonly with equipment around our home or the vehicle we drive. Our cars are a great tool to use as a comparison to a pool. In our car, we have the oil changed, the tires checked, and the brakes replaced when we hear the first little squeak. We also have the transmission and fluid levels serviced routinely. We even have the dash light warning system to help us catch problems before they occur. The need for a good preventative maintenance program for a swimming pool is no different. Extra thought needs to be given to the attention a pool needs because in most cases there is no “pool warning light system” for us to see. Proper knowledge and education on the best way to operate your pool unless you invest in automation.
So what do we do for our pools to help keep them operating and in top shape? We combine our knowledge on operating the pool with the visual expectation of what we want to see when we look at the pool. Hamlin Pools refers to the visual expectation as CBS, “clear-blue-sparkling”. Here are a few tips on the mechanical side of pool operation to help make sure you maintain that pool at CBS.
Water Chemistry —- MUST BE BALANCED. I list this first because 99% of the problems most pool owners face is understanding and properly caring for their pool water balance. The nature of a pool is that it is an open vessel, full of water and exposed to many elements that critically effect water balance. Most common are WIND, SUN, LEAVES and actual SWIMMING LOAD. Other factors effecting the pool are the yard man mowing and blowing the grass into the pool, birds using the pool as their personal bird bath, kids throwing everything not tied down into the pool and the simply uneducated treating the pool improperly. These factors individually or combined immediately effect the water balance in a pool.
There are 5 basic tests that must be performed on a pool to assure proper operation. 3 of them can be done weekly or even monthly and 2 should be done daily or more frequently depending on operating conditions of your pool.
The 2 tests most frequently needed are the CL (chlorine) and pH tests. The load factors mentioned above can make them change throughout the day. Many regulatory agencies require that they be tested hourly in commercial applications to assure safe water to swim in.
The 3 tests that can be done less frequently are TA (total alkalinity), CH (calcium hardness) and CYA (cyanuric acid). They simply are not effected as quickly by the elements mentioned above. A couple of others that may have to be added to the first list of 5 are salt and phosphate tests. These are only necessary if the pool is operated with products requiring they be monitored. If you are using a CG (chlorine generator) and or phosphonic based product there will be a total of 7 test required. If you are on well water or water with other mineral content high enough to cause staining, additional testing is required. Education is the solution on what testing is needed to properly maintain your pool.
Automation can help you monitor and automatically adjust or maintain CL and pH. This is becoming more common and increasingly popular even on residential pools. People are realizing the importance of maintaining the value of their pool and the major role it plays in the overall investment in their backyard paradise.
Pumps —- MUST BE FULLY PRIMED. Check the top of the lid and make sure there is little or no air showing. The pump should operate reasonably quiet. Keep the area around the pump and its motor clean from grass, leaves or other debris that can block air flow that is needed to keep the motor cool. Heat and water are 2 major factors effecting the life of a pool pump motor. If your pump is on the west or south side of a building with no protection from the blazing sun and no air circulation, give it some shade. Protection from falling water directly on the motor is important as well. Guttering or motor covers are a popular method used to help protect the pump motor. The VARIABLE SPEED pump is becoming the pump of choice for either new installation or replacement. The energy efficiency resulting from the use of this pump offsets the initial added purchase cost. The motor on the variable speed pump utilizes enclosed magnetic drive technology that provides tremendous benefits in durability and economy as well. Hamlin Pools has been using the Pentair variable speed pump with great success.
Filters —- MUST BE CLEAN. A swimming pool if properly designed is engineered for strength and hydraulically engineered to operate in the manner intended. Engineered strength, hydraulics and chemistry are the critical components to the successful operation of a pool. In an analogy to our body, the human heart is the pump on a pool and the human kidney or liver is the filter on a pool. Our blood tests, blood psi, hormones, etc could be equated to the water balance in a pool. Any time the pump, filter, or the chemistry is off in a pool, then problems will occur.
The filter is designed to clean the pool based on the gallons in the pool and the gallons per minute or GPM the pump is designed to operate at. Initially this calculation is designed around the turn over rate required by various swimming pool codes. Some other factors considered in the pump/filter design are the anticipated load the pool will operate at and any added optional equipment requiring extra GPM. All these factors combined create the total GPM of water that must effectively flow thru a filter. This is critical information for the proper sizing of the filter. Once determined the filter must be maintained properly in order for it to perform at those engineered levels. The best ways to assure a filter does this is to back wash frequently and disassemble, clean and inspect its internal components annually at a minimum. There are multiple types of filters suitable for a variety of operations. With over 65 years of experience, Hamlin Pools promotes and installs DE on local residential pools, Sand filters on commercial and rural residential pools, and cartridge for specialty applications. In all 3 cases, the single best way to assure the longest life and best performance is frequent back washing and the annual filter cleaning. Many people have a different opinion about the need for the annual filter cleaning. We are open to those other opinions which is why our service department will promptly schedule and repair the added service these filters will require by not being on an annual preventative maintenance program.
Cleaning Systems —- MUST OPERATE PROPERLY. There are many kinds of cleaning systems on the market today. Some systems use cleaners attached to hoses that hop, jump, vibrate, or float through the pool. Others build their system into the floor and steps of the pool and are referred to as “floor systems”. If properly designed both systems provide the pool owner several benefits such as, enhanced circulation, better filtration, better distribution of the chemistry, enhanced heating characteristics, a cleaner pool, and more FUN. Speaking of fun, the industry has some funny folks in it particularly on the floor system manufacturing side. I know a company whose CEO thought up a great selling aid that he trained his reps to use when they were having trouble convincing a builder to use their style of cleaner. He developed a kids story and built it around safety and humor. His story went something like this:
He told his reps that back in the day when he actually worked and cleaned pools, he had actually seen a cleaner attached to a hose act like a giant octopus with tentacles. It suddenly jumped up out of the water and grabbed the pool float the kids were floating on and drag it away from them. The kids were small and became afraid to swim so their mother asked him what she could do? An inspiration came to him in a flash so the told the mother and her kids that if she sold her home and bought a new one with a new pool, he had a floor system that came with a “Protector”. The Protectors name was “Buzz the Octopus Blaster” and they would never have to worry about tentacles in their pool again. She did, he made the sale, the kids swam knowing Buzz the Octopus Blaster was nearby so they all lived happily ever after.
The actual story the CEO trained his sales manager to tell, has been slightly modified from this version but the point and outcome are similar.
FUN is the whole point of pool ownership. At Hamlin Pools our motto is actually, “We Build Pools For Fun”. Our floor system of choice is Paramount’s PV3. We love it and our customers love it as well. The heart of the system is the valve and module. There is not any preventative maintenance to be performed on it, so it’s more of a case of just staying observant that the nozzles are rotating properly and the filter PSI is at the correct level designed for the PV3’s proper operation.
I hope these tips help. Enjoy your pachanga and happy swimming.