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The Chlorine Shortage Isn’t Over – Alternatives You Should Consider

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The Chlorine Shortage Isn’t Over - Alternatives You Should Consider

The pool industry has been facing a chlorine shortage since last year. As a result, pool experts are doing their best to deal with this surge in demand. The sudden chlorine shortage resulted from the fire that occurred in the production facility in Louisiana. Luckily, there are other alternatives you can use in place of chlorine. Some of them include calcium hypochlorite and liquid chlorine. Saltwater systems are also a safer alternative to chlorine. Therefore, pool professionals are trying to encourage homeowners to use other sanitation systems.

The Chlorine Shortage Isn’t Over - Alternatives You Should

At present, a good percentage of pool owners are trying to identify ways of using less chlorine. Keep in mind that chlorine sometimes poses a danger to your health. It causes skin and eye irritation when in excessive amounts in the pool. So, it is essential to use little amounts of chlorine. Alternatively, use other disinfection agents that are less abrasive.

The different types of pool sanitation systems

Typically, there are no products that serve as a total replacement for chlorine. Nevertheless, pool experts have invented different systems that provide efficient sanitation for the pool. Some of these systems include Ozone and UV systems. Each pool system is unique and offers exceptional benefits. Therefore, your needs often determine the best pool system option for you.

UV pool systems

Ultraviolet sanitation systems can also help you reduce chlorine usage in the pool. These systems destroy all harmful microorganisms in the pool using ultraviolet light. Usually, water flowing past the UV system is exposed to UV light. The light destroys the genetic composition of microorganisms present in the pool water. Therefore, UV systems deactivate all the microbes in the water and prevent them from reproducing. The longer you expose the water to UV light, the more sanitation you receive. Installing a UV system in your pool, therefore, helps you reduce chlorine usage. In addition, Ultraviolet sanitation systems can work with different chemicals like bromine and chlorine. Pool experts, therefore, consider pool sanitation systems safe and effective.

Ozone pool system

How does an ozone pool system work? These systems foster the formation of a strong oxidizer, O3, by breaking down oxygen molecules into two. The single broken-down molecules then attach themselves to other O2 molecules to form O3. The presence of O3 in the pool water can help you reduce chlorine usage by approximately 70%.

AOP pool systems

AOP pool systems often generate hydroxyl radicals which act as strong oxidizers. These systems use both UV and Ozone technologies to provide maximum sanitation for the pool. When water flows through the AOP system, it gets exposed to UV light. Also, the AOP system starts creating O3 to provide disinfection to the pool water. Thus, this pool system helps you lower chlorine usage in the pool.

Using minerals to sanitize your swimming pool

Did you know you can use minerals to keep your water free from harmful microorganisms and pathogens? Pool professionals report that mineral sanitizers provide adequate disinfection. They destroy all microbes in the pool. Hence, they help you reduce chlorine usage in the pool. Some pool systems contain minerals like copper and silver. Copper usually acts as an excellent algaecide, while silver oxide kills all microorganisms in the water. You can use minerals with saltwater systems. Doing this helps you minimize the usage of chlorine chemicals.

Pool maintenance reduces the need for chlorine

Other than using different pool sanitation systems, it would be best to implement other ways to reduce chlorine usage. One of the most common ways to do this is to keep the pool in good condition. You have to ensure that your pool has balanced water chemistry if you want to use less chlorine. Therefore, it is essential to check the pool pH and calcium hardness levels and adjust them accordingly. As a pool owner, ensure you conduct a pool shock from time to time; it would be best to use non-chlorine products for this. Adding preventative algaecides in your pool also lowers chlorine usage.

Using other pool sanitation systems helps you deal with chlorine shortage

The shortage of chlorine forced most pool owners to turn to other alternatives. Fortunately, pool owners are positively embracing other pool sanitation systems. However, there need to be more training programs to educate pool owners on the importance of using non-chlorine pool systems. This way, it will be much easier for pool experts to deal with the shortage of chlorine.

Moreover, every pool owner is trying to lower chlorine usage in their pools. One of the best ways to do this is practicing proper pool maintenance. Pools in good condition don’t demand a lot of chlorine. Ultimately, everyone in the pool industry should take up the responsibility of dealing with the chlorine shortage.

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 mpacker@poolmagazine.com your story idea.

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Cleaning and Service Equipment and Supplies

Best Robot Pool Cleaners & Pool Monitors

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Best Robot Pool Cleaners & Pool Monitors

Swimming pools are indisputably excellent sources of enjoyment and relaxation. Even so, cleaning and maintaining a pool is not a walk in the park. Pool maintenance usually consumes a lot of time and effort. Unfortunately, you can never skip pool maintenance if you want to maintain crystal clear pool water. On average, you need to clean your pool at least twice a week. Moreover, you need to ensure you have balanced water chemistry at all times. Fortunately, there is a wide range of pool cleaning equipment you can use to keep your pool in good shape. In this article, we look at the best robot pool cleaners of 2021.

Best Robot Pool Cleaners & Pool Monitors

2021 best robot pool cleaners

The pool filter is usually responsible for getting rid of dirt and debris in your pool. However, some particles may be too large to go through the filter. As a result, you need to use a vacuum or robotic pool cleaner to clean the pool. At present, there is a wide range of robot pool cleaners in the market. Each offers unique functionality.

There are two primary types of automatic pool cleaners; pressure cleaners and robotic cleaners. Both deliver excellent functionality. But pressure cleaners usually depend on the pool filter and pump to function. At times, they rely on a booster pump to operate. On the flip side, robotic cleaners depend on electricity to function and work independently. Also, some robotic cleaners use smart technology like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to function.

Factors to consider when buying a robotic pool cleaner

Typically, robot pool cleaners incorporate a head unit responsible for running all operations of the cleaner. You can set a robotic cleaner to work at your preferred timings during the day. Most robotic pool cleaners have floor and wall cleaning options. In addition, pool professionals usually advise getting a robotic pool cleaner that cleans the waterline. Such pool cleaners reduce the need for brushing your pool surfaces. Nevertheless, these robotic pool cleaners tend to be more expensive.

All robot pool cleaners use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi systems to function. Thus, you can easily control the robotic cleaner using a smartphone app. You can start and stop the robotic cleaner at any time. When buying a pool cleaner, always buy one with a quality debris canister. The debris canister is responsible for trapping debris in the pool. After cleaning the pool, you need to empty and remove the canister according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Another factor to consider when buying a robotic pool cleaner is the size and shape of your pool. If you have a complex pool design, buy a robotic cleaner that can navigate tough corners. Also, if your pool has steps, choose a robotic cleaner that can go up the steps.

Different types of robot pool cleaners

It is important to note that robot pool cleaners are costly. Thus, before purchasing this equipment, ensure you analyze your requirements. Even so, pool experts report that robotic pool cleaners are worth the purchase.

DOLPHIN Sigma Robotic Pool Cleaner with Bluetooth and Massive Top-Load Cartridge Filters, Ideal for Pools up to 50 Feet.

Hassle-free clean. Easy-to-use, robotic pool cleaner equipped with an anti-tangling swivel cable, allowing Sigma to move freely around large residential pools up to 50 feet with ease. Backed by a 3 year quality assurance.

$1,497 on Amazon

Polaris Alpha IQ+

This is one of the best robotic pool cleaners you can find in the market. The Polaris Alpha IQ+ incorporates a fast and straightforward installation process. Also, it does an excellent job of helping you maintain crystal clear pool water. You can find it for about $1,458.96 on Amazon

Aquabot Turbo T4RC

Another robotic pool cleaner is the Aquabot Turbo T4RC. It is lightweight and uses a series of brushes to keep the pool clean. You can find it on Amazon for as low as $1,999.

Polaris 9550 Sport

Best Robot Pool Cleaners & Pool Monitors

Another Polaris robotic cleaner is the Polaris 9550 Sport that goes for approximately $1299 on Amazon. This cleaner is ideal for getting rid of dirt on pool surfaces of inground pools.

Smart pool water monitors

Maintaining balanced water chemistry is essential. Currently, there are several pieces of equipment specially designed to check the pool pH, calcium hardness, and chlorine levels. Smart monitor systems do this job and send measurements to your smartphone app every day.

WaterGuru Sense

This smart monitor system is specially designed to stay in the pool skimmer. The WaterGuru Sense smart monitor measures the pool pH and chlorine levels. You can find it on Amazon for as low as $295.

cFloat

Another smart monitor system is the cFloat. This system helps you improve water quality at all times. It goes for approximately $399 on Amazon.

Sutro Smart Pool Water Monitor

This smart monitor helps you know your pool chemistry. Also, it advises you on all the chemical adjustments you need to make. Purchasing a Sutro smart pool water monitor costs approximately $199.

Ultimately

Today, there is a wide range of smart pool equipment. Before purchasing any pool equipment, ensure you evaluate all your requirements.

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Cleaning and Service Equipment and Supplies

Dealing With the Trichlor Shortage Head On

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Dealing With the Trichlor Shortage Head On

The recent fire that destroyed the chemical plant in Louisiana is the main reason for the current chlorine shortage. As a result, a good percentage of pool companies were adversely affected. At the same time, some pool companies remained unaffected by these events and have been able to carry on business as usual. Such companies relied on other pool sanitation systems like saltwater systems and baquacil.

Dealing With the Trichlor Shortage Head On

But generally, the shortage of chlorine is a big challenge for many pool owners. There has been a significant rise in the price of chlorine due to increased demand.

How did pool professionals deal with tricholor shortage?

Once the news hit home, pool experts came up with several strategies to deal with this sudden shortage of chlorine. President of Patio Pleasures Pools & Spas, Rene Huston, said that trichlor shortage forced them to stock up in excess. This way, they would still have supplies in the next swimming pool peak season. Although this was a good idea, they realized that the demand was too high. In particular, the demand was three times than what we would sell in normal seasons.”

Most pool companies stocked up the chlorine in excess to deal with the shortage. Even so, this strategy also comes with other challenges. When you decide to stockpile chlorine, you need to create safe storage space. As a result, pool product suppliers have had to expand their warehouses to accommodate excess stock. Aside from creating a stock house, you need a lot of money to purchase chlorine in bulk. Unfortunately, very few pool experts have enough cash to stockpile.

What were the early signs of chlorine shortage?

People started noticing the shortage of chlorine by a sudden hike in prices. Before, pool owners bought a 50-lb buck of 3-inch unwrapped tablets at $70 to $75. Last year., the price rose to $125. Thus, pool owners had to pay almost twice what they used to pay to get chlorine tablets.

CEO/RMO of Cline Commercial Pool Service in California, Lori Ann Cline, says that she received a notice that the price of chorine would rise by approximately 15 to 20% during summer. Therefore, her company had no choice other than increase their prices to retain their profits. Contrary to popular belief, the increase in prices has not helped them deal with scarcity. In fact, most of their suppliers are currently reducing their purchases every week. So, they cannot buy as much chlorine as they would wish. Unlike before, they cannot order multiple buckets of trichlor.

Dealing with the situation beforehand

The owner of Richard’s Pool Service, Richard Garnai, says that the shortage of trichlor has not been a big problem for them. They already had a solid plan for dealing with the shortage. Their suppliers advised them to purchase trichlor in bulk. This way, they would be able to meet the expected surge in demand during summer. If they run out of stock, he considers manufacturing the chemical himself. Additionally, he plans to use cyanuric acid and liquid chlorine if he runs out of stock.

Garnai advises pool experts not to depend on tabs this summer. He says that looking for other options is a great idea. Trying to reduce the use of chlorine tabs is a great idea to deal with this problem. Some of the alternatives to trichlor include calcium hypochlorite and liquid chlorine. Although bromine is also a great alternative, it tends to degrade when exposed to sunlight.

Education programs

At the moment, it is essential to educate customers about this sudden shortage. Most customers are angry about this whole situation. Consider informing your customers that you are suddenly experiencing a chlorine shortage, and it would be best to look for other alternatives. Explaining the sudden increase in prices is also a good idea. Pool professionals are also encouraging customers to stock up tabs before summer. Fortunately, most customers are responding positively.

Using alternatives to chlorine

At present, there is a broad spectrum of techniques that can help you lower chlorine usage in your pool. These techniques help pool experts deal with the trichlor shortage well. When reducing the pool’s dependence on chlorine, the first thing to do is keep the pool in good condition. Using UV, Ozone, and AOP pool systems also helps you reduce chlorine usage. Consequently, pool experts are trying to encourage customers to consider other pool sanitation alternatives. Fortunately, most customers are responding positively. Nonetheless, pool experts hope that they won’t experience these challenges in demand and supply come next year.

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Cleaning and Service Equipment and Supplies

Cleaning Pools After a Wildfire

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Cleaning a Pool After a Wildfire

The recent fires significantly affected the pool industry. After this sad ordeal, pool experts discovered better ways to prevent and deal with such unexpected situations. As a pool owner, it is essential to do your best to protect yourself from such unfortunate circumstances. But first, you have to take time to analyze the problem.

Protecting yourself from the fire

Pool professionals should also carry protective clothing and equipment at all times. For instance, they should carry gloves and respiratory masks at all times. An inflammable blanket and safety flares also help pool operators handle emergencies.

Wildfires undoubtedly interfere with the quality and pressure of water. Contrary to popular belief, a hose is not always effective in the case of a wildfire. More often than not, fire brigades use pumps to source water from the pool to protect your home. Therefore, pool owners should consider buying pumps for these specific pumps. Such pumps usually facilitate a water flow of 150 gallons per minute. Subsequently, they are effective in soaking down your home.

Cleaning a Pool After a Wildfire

What you should do in the event of a fire

In the occurrence of a wildfire, the first thing to do is ensure everyone around the area is safe. Then, attend to your property once everyone around the site leaves. Working with the emergency department in your local area would be best if you experience a fire.

It is always dangerous for pool companies to try saving pools by going past an emergency barrier. Remember, fire can travel to any side when there is a strong wind. Create multiple escape routes in the property to keep everyone safe.

Avoid areas of heavy smoke where emergency crews are still set up. If there are wild animals in your area, do not try to handle them on your own when they come to your property looking for shelter. In such a situation, try contacting your nearest wildlife management authorities. Ultimately, be very careful when you have active wildfires going on in the area, this holds especially true for pool professionals.

If it’s your home that is in immediate jeopardy – evacuate as quickly as possible and worry about the pool and house later. If you have ample notice that the fire may be headed in your direction, you may have time to prepare your property using some of the suggestions outlined at the end of this article.

Dealing with the aftermath of the fire

What happens after a wildfire? Large fires make pools dirty. Your pool is likely to have leaves, smoke, ash, and branches after the fire. Also, fire extinguishing chemicals may still be present in the pool. These substances can adversely affect the pool filter. Also, a dirty pool is likely to attract extensive breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Pool owners should take time preparing their pool for a wildfire as well as time cleaning it after one.

The air quality itself is something that pool companies should focus on while out servicing pools after a wildfire. Cole Daasnes owner of Poseidon Pool Service said he limits the exposure his employees have to heavy smoke when the air quality is very poor. He said that they take care of their service technicians first and foremost. “The AQI (air quality index) is their standard on monitoring the air quality for the safety and well-being of the staff, once it reaches an ‘unhealthy’ status at 150 we limit our service to chem basket service only to minimize their exposure.” Consequently, when the air quality is very poor, homeowners should expect abbreviated service from many of the local service providers.

Usually, it is advisable to employ a pool service expert when it comes to cleaning pools after a fire but again, plan ahead and ask whatever pool contractor you hire if they are offering full service at that time. Also, note that you should take your own time before coming back to the site of the fire. Ensure you identify the cause of the fire and deal with it appropriately before revisiting your property again. Once you’ve ascertained that it’s safe – now is when you can begin to start worrying about the pool. The first thing though is to avoid running your pool pump before checking whether everything is okay; a pool contractor can help you handle this job effectively.

Ash in the swimming pool can contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to your pool. Photo Credit: Brad Rittiman

Effects of ash in the swimming pool

Typically, expect a lot of ash in your pool after a fire. A build-up of ash on the pool filter can lead to an almost limestone cement type of coating on the filtering equipment. Ash coming from buildings also contains toxic substances like lead that can pose a danger to your health. Additionally, it is essential to note that ash repels water. Thus, it is tough to get rid of ash in the pool. Enzyme-based products are the best for removing ash.

Do fire-fighting suppressants affect the quality of pool water after a fire?

As mentioned earlier, one of the substances you are most likely to find in pools after a fire are fire suppressant chemicals. According to experts like Orenda Technologies who’ve seen their fair share of wildfires over the years, flame retardants can be up to 10% fertilizer. Many of these fire suppressants contain di-ammonium phosphate. The presence of phosphate in the swimming pool significantly lowers the quality of water. Also, phosphate reacts with calcium to form calcium phosphate, which reduces the efficiency of pool heaters.

Do fire-fighting suppressants affect the quality of pool water after a fire?
Photo Credit: National Interagency Fire Center

According to Jeffery Johnston of Quality Clear Pools, the flame retardant that is dropped from the air is called PHOS-CHEK Fortify. The brand name Phos-Chek stems from it’s active ingredient, ammonium phosphate (made of 85% water, 10% fertilizer and 5% minor ingredients). Key words here are phosphate and fertilizer. “When these two elements enter the air and find their way into your pool, it puts a very high sanitizer (chlorine) demand on your pool, AKA food for algae.” said Johnston.

Tips for Cleaning a Pool After a Wildfire

  • Remove debris as quickly as possible.
  • Brush the entire pool surface completely.
  • Skim debris from the pool with a net.
  • Check that your pool filter is clean and functioning properly.
  • Do an inspection of all of your pool equipment.
  • Use a quality chlorine-free oxidizer to super-chlorinate your swimming pool to 20 parts per million (ppm).
  • Use a water clarifier to assist in clearing ash from the pool filter.
  • Enzyme products can also assist in breaking down non-organic matter that cannot easily be filtered.
  • Once your chlorine level falls lower than 5 ppm, test it again and treat with phosphate remover if necessary.
  • Mineral algaecides such as PoolRx can can also help cut down the time & chemicals needed to bring the pool back to life.
  • Backwash the filter if necessary throughout this process.
A sparkling blue pool can quickly turn into a disgusting mess of ash & debris after a wildfire.
A sparkling blue pool can quickly turn into a disgusting mess of ash & debris after a wildfire.

What if it’s too far gone?

Sometimes the best way of cleaning a truly filthy pool after a fire is just to empty them, refill and start over. It’s definitely a final remedy but doing this will help you avoid all the hassle involved in cleaning the pool. Besides, the toxins found in the water can really do a number and damage the pool equipment if you don’t have the patience or proper resources to clean it right. Moreover, these substances are likely to lead to unbalanced water chemistry. Still, with that said – draining the pool should be the last stop on the bus. Try some of the tips above before you give up and do a refill.

Is your property near the fire scene?

If the wildfire happened near you and your property was not at risk of damage, there are several things you need to do as a pool owner in order to prepare. Ultimately, pool owners should do their best to safeguard their pools from fires. During a wildfire, cover your pool with a safety cover if possible. You can use sandbags to hold the cover in place to try and prevent anything from getting into the pool. Make sure to inspect the pool for damage after the fire and then clean out the pool and make all repairs as soon as possible. Ensure you clean the pool using the right equipment. Check to see whether all pool equipment is in good shape. Also, oxidize the pool by conducting a pool shock. Hopefully, your property is undamaged and if you follow all of these steps bringing your pool back to crystal blue should be a snap.

Featured Photo Credit: Pool Chemistry Institute

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