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How to Overcome Interference in Pool Water Tests

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How to Overcome Interference in Pool Water Tests

When chlorine and bromine are in excessive amounts in water, they lead to false pool water test results. In such cases, it is difficult for pool owners to identify the water’s pH and alkaline levels. Thus, drop tests, and color-matching test techniques are vulnerable to discrepancies.

How to Overcome Interference in Pool Water Tests

Test results are not only affected by excess levels of sanitizers. Other factors could also lead to inaccurate pool water test results. Nonetheless, the leading cause of incorrect test results is the presence of excessive sanitizing agents. So, let’s find out how to fix these types of inaccuracies.

Color matching 

When the sanitizing agents are more than ten or 15ppm, partial or full bleaching of DPD reagents may occur. As the pool owner, you might conclude that the pool lacks chlorine or bromine, which is not the case. The pool is, in fact, loaded with excessive sanitizing chemicals.

Therefore, if you are sure that chlorine and bromine exist in your pool, and there is no discoloration, dilute the sample and pour in the right concentration. For instance, if you have an affected sample of 10ml, lower it by 5ml, and add 5ml of pure water. Afterward, follow the test guidelines as indicated. Check the resulting color and match it with your chart to identify the pH levels. Every color in the chart is usually paired with a value. Once you determine your test value, multiply it by two to get the accurate reading.

Other interferences:

There are cases where traces of DPD are present in the test cell. This can interfere with the test results, thus ensure you cleanse test cells thoroughly before usage.

Drop test 

Fortunately, drop tests can identify samples with 20ppm of sanitizing agents. But if the sanitizer is more than 20ppm, bleaching occurs and could lead to false readings. Fixing the problem entails diluting the sample with pure pool water and adding an indicator until the example achieves a pink color. Afterward, you should add a titrant until a colorless color appears. Make sure to calculate the titrant drops and double the number to get accurate results.

Other interferences:

A non-chlorine oxidizer known as monopersulfate could interfere with the combined chlorine readings. The quick chemical reaction with DPD will indicate this discrepancy. Usually, it results in an unusually high reading. To solve this problem, use a deox reagent to erase any traces of monopersulfate and perform another test.

Total Alkalinity test (drop-test technique)      

When checking for the pool’s total alkalinity, ensure the pool water turns from green to red for correct results. You will know there is excessive sanitizer if the color of the water goes from blue to yellow. Suppose this is the case, get a new test sample, and add at least five drops of indicator to eradicate any excess halogen. You can then read the correct color and determine total alkalinity.

pH test 

Suppose the sanitizer levels are more than 15ppm; the organic color of the indicator could become affected. You will know this because the sample color will turn purple instead of yellow or red. Once you encounter this problem, pour out the pool water from the test cell, and cleanse it thoroughly. Afterward, get another test sample from the pool and use a dipper to put in one drop of thiosulfate. The chemical thiosulfate makes the pool sanitizing agents in the sample test neutral. Once the sample becomes neutralized, put in the indicator in the test. Then, read your color against the value in the test chart. Be cautious while adding thiosulfate; you will get a false high reading when you add more than a drop of this chemical.

Other interferences: 

Default or old indicators could lead to inaccurate test results. Therefore, upon purchase, ensure your indicator is far from its expiry date. But if you encounter this issue, use a fresh reagent as an alternative.

A chemical known as Poly(hexamethylene) biguanide leads to a peculiar reading when present in the sample. Even so, you don’t need to correct the test sample, the blue to yellow color change is correct. If the sample contains over 30ppm of cyanuric acid, the test results become inaccurate.

Copper/iron test

Copper tests give false readings when large concentrations of iron are in the test sample. Presuming that you encounter this type of problem, dilute the test sample and identify how much concentration of iron is in the sample. Or you can employ a digital reader to identify concentrations of copper and iron.

Calcium hardness test (drop test) 

Calcium hardness tests get affected by metal ions from pipes, water, and algaecides. Some of the most common metals are copper, iron, and manganese. You will identify the presence of these metals in the test sample when there is a purple or red color. If you wish to fix the problem, get a mew sample and put in 5 -6 drops of the titrant. Afterward, add the buffer and indicator and continue with regular pool water testing.

Ultimately, don’t get shocked by false readings. From this article, you can identify what problem your pool is facing as well as fix it.

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Pool News coverage brought to you by Pool Magazine's own Marcus Packer. Marcus Packer is a 20 year pool industry veteran pool builder and pool service technician. In addition to being a swimming pool professional, Marcus has been a writer and long time contributor for Newsweek Magazine's home improvement section and more recently for Florida Travel + Life. Have a story idea or tip you'd like to share with Pool Magazine? Email [email protected] your story idea.

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BioLab Plant Reopening Will Impact Chlorine Prices for 2023

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BioLab Plant in Westlake, LA - Reopening Will Impact Chlorine Prices for 2023

The news of BioLab’s plant burning to the ground during Hurricane Laura in 2020 had a ripple effect on chlorine prices that has lasted for the past two years. We first reported that BioLab was rebuilding the plant back in July of 2021. A recent announcement that construction is completed and in time for summer production has pool industry analysts optimistic. “We are delighted to reopen our BioLab facility in time to support the 2023 pool season,” said Michael Sload, CEO of KIK Consumer Products.

BioLab is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of dry chlorine products. An announcement that the Westlake, Louisiana facility is fully operational means that one of the driving factors for the initial spike we saw on the price of chlorine has been removed. Prices for dry chlorine products soared in 2021 due to concerns about shortages and remained high through the summer of 2022.

Understanding The Correlation Between BioLab & Price Increases

The conditions for a sudden surge in the price for chlorine stemmed partly from the fact that BioLab was out of commission. The main factor that was driving prices to explode during the past two years was largely due to the pandemic in general.

A large percentage of the population was quarantined, which meant more people than ever before, were at home and using their swimming pool. This put a much higher glut on demand than anticipated. With the pandemic shutting many plants down, and logistical delays plaguing distributors throughout most of 2021, these conditions as well as rising inflation in 2022 kept prices high through the summer.

The reopening of the BioLab facility will certainly impact the supply chain in a positive way. “BioLab will be actively supplying the pool market for the 2023 season which should provide some relief,” said plant manager Donald Brunette.

BioLab ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the reopening of the Westlake, LA facility.

Prices are predicted to begin dropping a bit in light of that fact but will certainly not sink lower than they were prior to the pandemic. As the population starts to adjust to a post-Covid world, the surge we saw for swimming pools has already begun to recalibrate to pre-pandemic levels. The only remaining catalyst for keeping chlorine prices from truly resetting back to 2020 is the cumulative rate of inflation is roughly 14.7% higher than in 2020.

While this should certainly factor into the equation, most experts agree that with this news, the chlorine shortage is finally over and a bucket of chlorine tablets should cost substantially less next summer than it has in previous years. This comes as welcome news for both consumers and pool professionals.

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Ultimate Water Taps Jeff Jones for Sales of Chlorine Genie

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Jeff Jones

Ultimate Water, whose flagship product is the Chlorine Genie, is pleased to announce the addition of industry veteran Jeff Jones as the new Regional Sales Manager and Buying Group Liaison for the company’s residential and commercial divisions.  Based out of Texas, Jones has been in the swimming pool industry for over 40 years spanning a broad range of roles including the VP of Sales for DEL Ozone, National Sales Manager for Letro Products, as well as work in construction management and sales for Blue Haven and Riverbend Pools.  Most recently Jones managed buying group sales for Florida Water Products. 

“We are very pleased to have Jeff join our team,” says Thomas Vessiere, National Sales Director for Ultimate Water.  “Jeff brings deep experience, industry knowledge, and strong relationships that will be especially helpful as the demand for the Chlorine Genie grows exponentially in our industry.” 

Having sold and designed pool water sanitation systems for many years, Jones is very enthusiastic about being a part of the growing success of the Chlorine Genie.  “The design and functionality of the Chlorine Genie makes it an ideal product for our industry and is especially welcome right now as builders, retailers and service professionals grapple with the most efficient way to continuously produce chlorine safely, cost effectively and immediately for their customers,” explains Jones. 

Jones will be at the AQUALive Show booth # 416 and can be reached directly at [email protected] or by calling 214-415-2510.

More information about the Chlorine Genie can be found at:

www.chlorinegenie.com

San Diego, CA

(800) 970-7616

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A Borates Shortage is Looming on The Horizon

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A Borates Shortage is Looming on The Horizon

One of the specialty chemicals being talked about a lot in light of the chlorine shortages and rising prices are borates. As strong proponents of borates, it troubles us to say that our go-to sanitzer supplement may soon be facing the same shortages and rising costs that we’ve been seeing on the trichlor side.

What The Boron Shortage Means For The Pool Industry

If you’re in the pool business you already know, borates are becoming increasingly difficult to find. What inventory is available is vastly more expensive than in previous years. We’re already knee-deep into the dog days of summer and prices for chlorine have skyrocketed well past analysts’ projections.

A lot of pool service professionals have been turning to borates as the savior during this time of inflation and rising prices. Many technicians already use borates as a buffer against upwards shifting pH. When your pH level rises above what is deemed “normal” (about 7.8), using borates achieves optimum results.

Pool service professionals have been turning to borates in a time of rising prices for sanitizers like trichlor.

Why Pool Professionals Are Turning To Borates

Bacteria can thrive in water with a high pH level. When this happens it makes chlorine less effective. Pool professionals use borates to alleviate the issue, because it works to keep pH from drifting upward. In addition, there are other positive aspects to using borates in your pool. For one, it keeps the pool clear of algae and calcium scaling. Pool equipment repair specialists will be the first ones to recommend borates. When it comes to maintaining ideal water chemistry for your pool equipment, borates does an amazing job.

For the past few years, the adoption of borates by pool pros has steadily increased season after season. The concern now is that we may have hit maximum capacity as demand has increased well beyond available inventory.

Dwindling Boron Supplies Driving Prices Higher

The global boron market shortage is driving prices higher this season. For those who’ve been thinking of switching to using borates, this definitely is something to consider. When it comes to getting trichlor at affordable rates, it already feels that pool pros are a lower priority as far as it goes to maintaining pricing structures. Now, it appears the same thing has begun happening with borates.

Although borates and boric acid are near synonymous with pools, the swimming pool industry itself is actually a lower priority in terms of its consumption of boron. The industrial glass industry is the largest consumer of boron, roughly 48%, followed by the ceramics industry (15%) and agricultural industry (15%); the cleaning industry of which the pool industry represents a fraction consumes roughly 2% of the world’s boron.

Boron is in high demand. There are a myriad of applications for it aside from pool cleaning.

You’ll find boron in everything from industrial fertilizers to high-end ceramics and solar panels. Boron also has medical applications which improve wound healing and boosts the body’s usage of estrogen, testosterone, and vitamin D. It improves magnesium absorption, reduces inflammation, increases antioxidants, and boosts brain electrical activity in both cognitive performance as well as short-term memory.

What is absolutely certain is that we (the pool industry) didn’t cause a borates shortage. Clearly, demand is higher in these other industries which are causing prices to surge. Right now the boron supply chain is very weak. Over 60% of the material comes from mines located in Turkey which is the top producer, followed by Russia, South America and the United States.

For the time being, production is gradually declining. As existing boron reserves deplete, we’re seeing demand far exceed supplies, resulting in higher prices such as $1,250 per ton, far exceeding analysts’ predictions for $739 per ton.

While the demand in the U.S. by pool professionals may be high, the top consumer of boron is China, followed by India and Japan. Boron is produced domestically only in the State of California and it appears very little of it is earmarked towards maintaining supply chains for borates.

Final Thoughts

The story isn’t all doom and gloom for pool professionals who want to switch to borates. Fortunately, folks like Natural Chemistry, Brenntag, and others are still intent on keeping inventory on the shelves so you should still be able to find their products through distribution. If they don’t have borates available, demand that they replenish their stock. This may be the only way to guarantee the pool industry remains a priority at all.

Listen to our entire discussion on the Talking Pools podcast.

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