Source water is a vital aspect for pool owners in filling and refilling a pool. Source water for a pool and spa should maintain high standards to ensure safety for all users. Water in pools and spas can be obtained from various sources; however, the two primary ones are municipal water and well water. Source water comprises several microorganisms and pollutants, thus influencing the quantity and type of chemical for disinfection and sanitizing. Therefore, pool owners need to choose the best source water and appropriate treatment process required to guarantee high water standards. In this current article, we seek to address various water contaminants and their impact on pool and spa water.
In the United States, the EPA established directives to control the number of nitrates in drinking water; nitrate must not exceed 10ppm per liter in drinking water. Nitrate and nitrates are the primary contaminants of groundwater, especially in rural areas where there are frequent farming activities. Fertilizers, septic systems, and manure storage are the primary reasons for the existence of nitrates in groundwater. In pools and spas, high concentrations of nitrates lead to algae problems, which increase chlorine’s demand.
In the United States, over 12 million families get drinking water from private wells. Although there are no set criteria for controlling private wells, the EPA provides information on the benefits of purifying water in private wells. Well water is often used in isolated areas where municipal water is inaccessible. The quality of well water is profoundly affected by its geographical location. However, it mainly contains contaminants such as iron, tannins, and iron bacteria, which cause pool discoloration and increased demand for sanitizers.
TDS because of high mineral levels
The total of all dissolved solid matter (TDS) refers to all impurities, microbes, and pollutants found in water. TDS levels vary depending on the geographical area; some areas have source water containing a high concentration of calcium and magnesium. Experts discourage the consumption of water with more than 1000ppm of hardness concentration. In such a case, looking for sources of water that are less contaminated is advisable.
Source water acquires contamination agents either from its source or place of treatment. A good example is calcium, which is intentionally put in water to improve hardness. At times, water comes in contact with metals from corrosion of metal pipes. Certain bacteria known as iron bacteria are found in well water and lead to discoloration of water and pool surfaces. The existence of metals in pools and spas also consumes vast portions of sanitizers and disinfectants. Some sanitizers combine with heavy metal like iron and copper to create increased demand for sanitizers. Dealing with heavy metal in pools involves frequently using metal-removing products.
The EPA recommends protecting pipes against corrosion using phosphates. Consequently, this substance is common in municipal water. Even though phosphate prevents corrosion, it indirectly leads to increased demand for chlorine; phosphates serve as nutrients for algae; algae, in turn, significantly reproduce, causing excessive use of chlorine. Luckily, phosphate can be destroyed using phosphate removers containing lanthanum salt. Unlike Biguanide-based sanitizers that react negatively with phosphates, Lanthanum salt condenses phosphate, which is later filtered out.
One source of pool and spa water is municipal water, which is purified in treatment plants and considered safe for human consumption. When water from rivers and lakes is decontaminated and refined, it is channeled through a pipe to reach its consumers. Old pipes used for water transportation possibly lead to water contamination due to the existence of impurities such as copper, hence affecting the water’s standard. Nonetheless, municipal water barely contains high percentages of contaminants due to specific requirements and guidelines imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Even so, municipal water faces a high risk of pollution caused by heavy metals, nitrates, and phosphates found in pools.
Municipal water is usually chloraminated by facilitating the reaction of chlorine and ammonia in water, which results in a substance called chloramine, which is combined chlorine. During the reaction process, monochloramine is produced; monochloramine and chlorine are used in water treatment facilities for large-scale and small-scale use. Chloramines, however, can be eliminated through a process known as super chlorination.
As seen in this current article, the standard of pool and spa water is significantly affected by source water, which often serves as a habitat for minerals and heavy metal. Consequently, it is crucial to perform frequent tests on source water and decide on the proper treatment plan to avoid adverse effects caused by pollutants.
Summary of Characteristics
- Well water and municipal water are the primary sources of water.
- Aside from heavy metals, source water comprises various minerals like phosphates and calcium.
- At times, water treatment plants purposefully add minerals in the water.
- Most water treatment plants use chloramination to ensure complete disinfection.
- Both inorganic and organic substances like nitrates may be present in the source water.
Chlorine Prices Going Up… Tablet Shortage Continues
Homeowners can expect to pay up to 58% more for chlorine tablets this summer say experts.
Millions of homeowners can expect to pay more to clean and sanitize their swimming pools this summer. According to financial analysts the chlorine shortage we first reported on in September has not improved in the slightest. The fact is that the outlook looks bleak through the summer for the situation to improve.
Why are Chlorine Tablet prices so high right now?
Kate McShane of Goldman Sachs warns in a recent research report released Monday that the chlorine shortage in the United States has not improved. Shortages and price increases stem from an enormous fire at the BioLab factory, one of the country’s largest chlorine tablet manufacturers. The fire put an additional stress on already dwindling supplies.
McShane indicated that prices for chlorine have gone up roughly 37% year over year due to the ongoing shortages. Prices are expected to spike 58% year over year through June to August. This coincides likely enough with the height of pool season. Homeowners are sure to be looking at much higher prices than in previous years.
“Of the 26 pool shops we spoke to, 15 expressed uncertainty or doubt when asked about whether they will have enough chlorine for pool season. Adding to the pressure created by the chlorine shortage, respondents called out a plastic bucket shortage, driven by COVID-related manufacturing slowdowns, which has made procuring certain volume sizes of chlorine more difficult for retailers, and has led suppliers to deliver chlorine in either bags or in buckets with different colored lids, according to respondents,” McShane said.
McShane continued, “When asked about whether the cost and availability of chlorine have improved in the last month or so, several respondents noted that while the supply of chlorine has improved somewhat, cost has not.”
Commentary from the industry’s main pool equipment supplier Pool Corp. on its recent earnings day underscores the severity of the chlorine shortage.
Recent comments from Pool Corp. the industry’s leading supplier of pool equipment emphasize how badly the supply chain has suffered in recent months.
“I mean overall, I would tell you the price on dichlor and trichlor [chlorine tablets], which is the product that was impacted by the shortage, they’re up about 60%. So if you think about how that’s going to shake out for the balance of the year, it will probably remain at elevated level because I believe that the industry is going to be short for the season,” Pool Corp CFO Mark Joslin explained to analysts on a recent earnings call on April 22.
Homeowners Looking for Chlorine Alternatives
Homeowners are bound to look for creative sanitization solutions due to the shortage, Joslin said.
“Now that simply means that people are going to move their method of sanitization to another product, either a granular product or liquid chlorine. But there’s no shortage of ways to sanitize the pool. It just simply means at a certain point people will shift. We’ve also seen certain parts of the country accelerating the use of salt as a method of sanitization too,” Joslin added.
Despite the increasing prices, shares of Pool Corp continue to rise. Shares this quarter are up 11% as Pool Corp continues to absorb market share in a market where seemingly everyone is looking for a pool. First quarter sales and profits rose 57% and 165%, respectively.
Fairview, TX based Orenda Technologies summarized this years price hikes when they stated “Between manufacturing shortages, health and safety protocols and shipping delays, costs in all aspects of the supply chain are higher than ever thanks to COVID-19. This is not just in the pool business, it’s pretty much the entire global economy. Unique to pools, however, is the catastrophe of losing a major chlorine manufacturing plant, responsible for over a third of domestic trichlor production. That hits everyone hard.”
Pool Metals and Metal Staining
Metals are naturally existing elements found in every place; in water, soil and stones. Metals in soil and stones dissolve in acidic rainwater, which is then carried to surface water and groundwater. Through this, the dissolved metals find their way to pools and tubs when filled. Exposure of metals to water cause staining on pool surfaces and equipment. This article discusses the techniques to control the presence of pool metals. It also discusses the different kinds of metal staining and the relevant chemicals to eliminate and hinder stains.
Metals in pools and hot tub water
There are 91 existing metals, but only 6 are problematic to hot tubs and pools. The 6 metals include magnesium, copper, cobalt, iron, manganese and calcium. Here we will only discuss 4 that are cobalt, copper, magnesium and iron.
Fill water, inclusive of almost all municipal and well water supplies that fill hot tubs and pools, contains a few metals. It is advisable to test for metal concentration in source water before filling the hot tubs and pools.
Tests for iron and copper are easily accessible, though the majority only measures the free form of the dissolved metals. They also do not test the sequestered and complexed forms of dissolved metals. A two-phase metal test containing adequate reducing and releasing agents give better results on free, complexed and some oxidized metals.
Sources of metal contamination in the pool and hot tub water are plaster and pebble surfaces, water features, decking materials, metal equipment, galvanic corrosion, chemicals and runoff.
In addition, flagstone, marble and stone contain iron that leaches into the pool after every rainfall. Imbalanced water may cause the introduction of copper from heat exchangers found in gas-fired water heaters. Moreover, copper-based algaecides and mineral-based water treatment may be a source of pool metals. Plant fertilizers can also introduce metals when incorrectly applied or due to uncontrolled flooding. More sources of metal include irrigation methods with well water.
Avoid using untreated water with high metal concentration (higher than 1ppm) in hot tubs or pool. Treat the water when the metal concentration is higher than 0.2 ppm. Sediment filters (10 microns or less) eliminate the majority of the bigger oxidized particles. Use filters that have metal adsorbents to treat water, to minimize dissolved metals concentration.
Primary Sanitizers and Stabilizers
Maintain proper concentration of primary sanitizers and other similar stabilizers to prevent organic contaminants. These include; pathogens, non-hazardous bacteria and algae minimizing the need for a copper-based algaecide.
Bonding of Metals and Water
The majority of the pool and hot tub equipment are metal-made. For example, electrolytic halogen generators, the heating core of electric heat pump, gas-fired pool and hot tub heaters, ladders, light rings and handrails.
To enhance chemical and electrical safety, install a bonding system in the hot tub or pool. The bonding system involves joining the copper wire with all the metal elements and water combined. This minimizes electric potential difference. Lack of this system, enables dissolution of pool metals, causing staining that damages the equipment. This is the process known as galvanic corrosion and can heighten due to several factors such as salt water, stray direct current as well as its power supplies. Anodes (zinc metal) reduce the damage on the equipment but don’t deal with the cause of corrosion. Test the bonding system every year, or any other time there is corrosion.
Pool & Hot Tub pH
pH is the most vital yet most ignored factor in preventing metal release in water. Low pH water (below 7) is acidic and corrosive. Acidic water dissolves metals from the pool equipment.
Improper water chemistry harms pool surfaces and machinery. Always ensure to maintain an accurate pH, alkalinity (carbonate) and calcium (hardness). If inadequate, water draws carbonate and calcium from cementitious surfaces, discharging metals into the water.
Sequestering agents join with the dissolved pool metals to reduce oxidation hence reduces staining. They chelate the metals, not eliminate them. They require a complex modern ultra filtration system to remove sequestered metal particles as the particles are too small for the pool filtration system. Add this agent on a regular basis, as a secondary disinfection and primary sanitizer systems keep on destroying them.
Ways to reduce metal concentration in hot tubs and pool water
- Bind the metals using polymer and water-insoluble natural adsorbents
- Filter the water through a reverse osmosis system
- Remove and replace a part of the water with fresh metal-free water
Removing stains from the pool and hot tub surfaces
1. Metal stain removal from the surface
2. Chelation of the dissolved metals in the water with a sequestering agent
3. Elimination of the metals from the water.
To get rid of pool metals and metal stains, add oxalic acid, ascorbic acid and citric acid or a similar product into the pool water. An experienced pool service expert should only execute the use of Muriatic acid in the removal of metal stains as it can lead to permanent damage to the pool surface. Chelation of dissolved metals and minimizing concentrations of dissolved metal have been earlier tackled.
Figuring out the difference between metal stains and those by organic contamination can be difficult. For evaluation, establish the origin of the stain, asses the water chemistry and test the stain with either citric acid or ascorbic acid.
Note: Some organic stains, similar to those brought about by iron bacteria, vanish after treatment with ascorbic acid but return with the introduction of chlorine residuals.
Selling Automatic Pool Cleaners Online
Amidst the pandemic this summer, Rene Huston, president of Patio Pleasures acknowledges an increase in their sales, of up to 10 pools in a day, if available. The unanticipated pandemic that led to the cancellation of travel plans had people invest that money for their backyard luxury. This is no wonder; there is an increase in the sales of automatic pool cleaners, especially high-quality robotic models. Clients also opt to invest cash they would have used elsewhere to enjoy the benefits of the long-term, cost-efficient APC’s.
Since their introduction in the 1950s, automatic pool cleaners have become part of pools in North America due to their personality and efficiency. They move around the pool on their own, cleaning the pools, hence minimizing the need for manual vacuuming and sweeping.
Jeannie Pearcy, owner of SwimFun Pool & Patio in Olathe, Kansas, United States, tells her clients a pool cleaner is similar to a Roomba for your pool.
Recently, online competition affected APC sales at brick and mortar vendors. Reacting to retailer’s complaints, APC producers began making ‘trade-only’ products. These products are only physically accessible through pool and spa shops. These products come with extra features like additional supplies longer warranties or refundable offers. Furthermore, you can access and depend on service from the vendor and manufacturer. Discussing with pool and spa vendors, there are varying opinions on the sell of automatic pool cleaners.
Store manager for Outback Pools & Spas in Wichita Falls, TX., Jimmy Cooper, appreciates manufacturers for looking out for their welfare too. Clients get to experience what a brick and mortar can do. Customers can purchase these pool products online though you can have horrible encounters with them. This gives the stores a chance to enlighten clients on what they can do.
Online vs Retail stores
It may seem like the ideal service to request for a robotic automatic pool cleaner from your home and have it brought within two days. However, their satisfaction can be short-lived either with the delivery of the wrong product or early failure of the product.
Most clients come to Huston’s store, complaining of an ineffective online product. They use this opportunity to explain the advantages if they had bought it from them. Such discussions and encounters build the confidence of customers in brick and mortar vendors.
Moreover, when online clients take their automatic pool cleaners to Cooper’s store for maintenance or service, he cannot do anything about it because the product is not from his store. He instead offers to sell them a similar product from his store. To ease their frustrations, he explains the benefits of buying from stores.
With this approach, Cooper believes he has changed the opinion of half of the online buyers to in store clients.
For years, Huston has avoided servicing online bought goods. However, now her opinion has begun to change. At times, it depends on how busy they are at a particular time though she’s still unsettled. She’s a bit receptive, taking into consideration the profits they could earn.
One of the significant selling points of an automatic pool cleaner is its ability to somehow get rid of the pool guy, as Cooper states.
Cooper calculates with his clients an hour service each week for a year in comparison to purchasing a cleaner. They realise a $1000 or $1500 cleaners operating two or three hours in a day for a year is cheaper than they thought.
The service crew is not always there, and the pool requires cleaning between their visits. Even with an automatic pool cleaner, manual work like scrubbing the pool walls requires the service crew. Depending on the water environment, manual vacuuming may also be necessary.
Selling Game Plan
Since APCs are more virtually intriguing compared to other pool equipment, retailers depend on popular displays in the store to start a discussion with a client.
After capturing the customer’s attention, Huston urges would-be buyers to go with a unit home and try it out. This program at Patio pleasures permits clients day access to the unit. When returned, they do a far check to ensure the unit is clean, the baskets and other pieces still in place.
The program, try before you buy, has also worked for Pearcy. Even if the Client does not purchase the unit, then, they include it in their purchase wish list and save up for it. Furthermore, SwimFun sells the season’s trial unit at a cheaper price with a limited warranty.
Cooper recognizes that persuading clients on the advantages of an automatic cleaner has become simpler. This is due to the increase of dependence and convenience of technology though some purchasers are still ignorant.
With a number of sales strategies in place, verbal means is the most powerful convincing method in the sell of automatic pool cleaners. This is the reason the product will remain a powerful sale in the retail sector.
Huston notes that pool owners are seeking ways to maintain their pools happy and healthy. Time is of the essence; get an automatic pool cleaner as it is the ideal choice for your pool.
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