Several customs and practices in pool and spa chemistry are reliable, although some are becoming obsolete. Unfortunately, some of these habits were ineffective in the first place despite being approved by industry professionals. Present information on water and pool chemicals is continuously changing with time. Therefore, it is proper for us to evolve as well; we must stay up to date with the latest information on chemicals and pool water treatment. Misconceptions on pool and spa chemistry may lead to devastation when figuring out how to deal with specific issues and eventually result in inefficiencies. In this present article, we shall discuss popular misconceptions about pool and spa chemistry and explain what happens in reality.
Sanitization and disinfection versus oxidation
Although sanitization/disinfection and oxidation are two different terminologies, industry experts employ these terms exchangeably. Complete sanitization of pools is obtained by destroying harmful microbes to ensure safety for human use. An essential sanitizer should do away with 99.9% of microorganisms in the swimming pool in 30 seconds. Disinfection, on the other hand, destroys all detrimental microbes in 10 minutes. The process is anticipated to have at least 99.999% kill, also known as a 5-log reduction. Disinfection is crucial, particularly in commercial pools where the pool is more vulnerable to outbursts of cryptosporidium, giardia, and antibodies. The majority of pool owners, therefore, prefer using high levels of chlorine and employ consistent draining processes.
Oxidation is vital in disintegrating and eliminating non-living impurities and pollutants existing in swimming pools. The process entails more than just using chlorine to burn out microorganisms in swimming pools, and it is a complicated procedure involving several reactions. In simple terms, chlorine, the oxidant, gets rid of electrons from a contaminant, which in turn decreases its oxidizing power. Most industry experts miscalculate the degree to which oxidation leads to depletion of chlorine. Conversely, some theorists state that the sun can lead to loss of chlorine, and specific amounts of cyanuric acid, say 30 ppm, can prevent this. However, 30ppm is considered too much stabilizer, and there is no proof that the sun causes loss of chlorine. For instance, in the human body, a lot of reactions, including oxidation, take place. During the excretion process, eliminating waste like urea and ammonia in sweat or urine requires hypochlorous acid (HOCL). Getting rid of 1ppm of ammonia requires 15ppm of hypochlorous acid. It is thus possible for the oxidation process to consume vast amounts of chlorine. Ultimately, it is safe to conclude that despite chlorine being an effective sanitizer; it is a relatively weak oxidizer.
Breakpoint chlorination: Not necessarily what you think
Breakpoint chlorination and super chlorination (also referred to as shocking) are two distinctive processes though one may think of them as the same thing. It is achieved after all chlorine has reacted with all the contaminants like urea in the pool, forming a free chlorine residual at the end. Once a chlorine-free residual is created, it indicates regular and proper oxidation of ammonia. However, at times, chlorine does not reach its breakpoint; this is where super chlorination comes in. The shocking process enables chlorine to continue reacting with pollutants until a breakpoint level, and a chlorine-free residual is obtained.
Micronutrients can indirectly contribute to chlorine demand
Microbes require nutrients to survive and procreate. Specific micronutrients affect pool treatment in a variety of ways. For instance, nitrogen manifests in distinct configurations like ammonia, ammonium, urea, and nitrates and provides food for living microorganisms in water. Nevertheless, the substance also reacts with chlorine through a complicated procedure involving several phases leading to increased demand in chlorine. Consequently, chlorine gets depleted due to over-usage.
Phosphate, another micronutrient, indirectly causes an increased demand for chlorine. These micronutrients foster the flourishing of algae, which in turn, use up chlorine. Contrary to popular belief, phosphate does not react with chlorine while in water; instead, it facilitates the growth of algae, which in turn exhaust chlorine in the water. Think of it, have you ever come across a pool dominated by algae? Did chlorine levels reduce after a certain period? Even if there was no chlorine after some time, high chances are that algae destroyed chlorine. Yes, chlorine is very useful in eliminating algae, although these microbes keep reproducing hence using up all the chlorine.
The nourishing nutrient of algae, phosphate continually encourages the growth of algae, which reduces the efficiency of chlorine. Not to worry, phosphates in water can be eliminated through phosphate removers. It is now evident that the sun does not lead to the use of chlorine; it could be the existence of nitrogen, phosphates, or oxidation of bather waste. Therefore, we suggest complementing chlorine with other elements since we largely depend on it to perform our duties. Additionally, doing this will ensure complete disinfection and sanitization of swimming pools within a reasonable time frame.
Pool Stains, What They Mean & How To Remove Them
There is nothing worse than a dirty pool than perhaps a stained pool. Identifying pool stains and what they mean is important. There are different approaches towards cleaning certain types of stains. Figuring out what is causing the stain is often possible by looking at the color of the stain. Various maintenance issues have a tendency to create a certain colored stain in the pool. Identifying what those colors indicate can help you locate the source of the problem.
Types of Pool Stains & What They Mean
Green Brown Stains
This type of pool stain is typically caused by decaying organic matter such as leaves and debris. Allowing leaf debris to accumulate at the bottom of the pool can cause an unsightly greenish-brown stain.
To remove an organic stain quickly, sprinkle granular chlorine shock directly on them. On vinyl-liner pools, you’ll want to pre-dissolve the shock first in a five-gallon bucket of water before pouring it on and brushing it in.
Red Blue Stains
Berries cause reddish-blue pool stains. If you have berry trees in your backyard, this could very well be the culprit of red-blue stains in your pool. As the berries decay, the juice and skin of the berry can cause a stain that looks almost purple in color.
Again, you’ll want to take the same approach as removing organic stains. Brushing the liner with shock is your best option here and should remove the stain quickly.
Blue Green Black Stains
Blue-ish Green-ish Black stains on the bottom of your pool could very well be berries too. However if there aren’t any berry trees in close proximity, high levels of copper could be the cause. If you have copper piping as part of your pool equipment setup, corrosion could cause stains that are of a blue-green black composition.
Mineral Based Algaecides
The leaching effect of copper intrusion has been known to cause stains that can be difficult to remove. Heavy doses of copper-based mineral algaecides have also been shown to produce similar stains. There are products such as Stain Free, A+ Stain Remover, and Jack’s Magic Blue Stuff that do an admirable job of removing stains on vinyl liners.
Green Brown Red Stains
Pool stains that are greenish brownish red usually indicate the presence of iron in the pool. As iron rusts, it has a tendency to leave a rusty greenish brown-red stain. This is true in all types of pools.
Leaching Metal Stains in the Pool
Metal leaching can occur that produces a stain from the pool coping, decking material, and a variety of other sources. Marble, granite, and flagstone all contain the mineral Iron and can leach into your swimming pool after a heavy rainstorm. Stains of this nature also occur without proper waterproofing.
Brown Black Purple Stains
This type of stain may look like a big bruise on the bottom of your pool. Stains that are brownish, black purple tend to be the cause of high levels of manganese. This can actually come from the local water supply, especially if the source is well water. Superchlorination is the best way to handle the problem as it oxidizes the manganese to a rust like substance that can be vacuumed off the pool floor. The next step should be cleaning out the pool filter as manganese can cling to surfaces.
Testing for Organic Stains & Metal Stains in Pools
You can easily remove organic stains with a little elbow grease and the right supplies. The typical field test pool contractors use for determining what type of stain they’re dealing with is to simply rub some chlorine on the stain to see if it dissipates. Metal doesn’t react to chlorine. This is why components such as pool ladders are made of metal. If the stain doesn’t react to the stain, then it’s probably metallic in nature.
One way to test if it’s a metal stain that you’re dealing with is to apply some ascorbic acid to the stain. If the stain is removed or at least reacts (lightens) in the presence of rubbing with Vitamin C powder, you have a pretty good indication that it’s a metal stain.
Hydration Stains in Pools With a Plaster Interior
These stains tend to look like metal staining but are present in plaster pools. Since these types of stains can be difficult to remove there are some things you need to know first. Plaster hydration stains occur when the pool plasterer plasters the pool while the form isn’t completely dry or moisture or humidity is present. If you’re certain that the stain isn’t metallic (stain doesn’t react to ascorbic acid) then acid washing the pool interior is the best option for removing hydration stains.
Removing Organic Pool Stains
Once you’ve determined that it is actually an organic stain that you’re dealing with, chlorine is going to be your best friend here. Honestly, if you had the right amount of chlorine to begin with, you probably wouldn’t even have an organic pool stain. Superchlorination of the water is your best option for dealing with organic stains. Shocking the pool is going to help remove stains caused by leaf debris and decaying organic material. The go-to solution for many pool contractors is to use Cal Hypo (Calcium Hypochlorite Shock).
- The process here is to test and balance your pool chemistry. Your ideal comfort zone for alkalinity is going to be in the range of 100ppm to 150ppm with 125ppm being the sweet spot.
- The next step would be to shock the pool. For smaller stains a regular dose of Cal Hypo should do the trick. For larger pools or larger stains you’re going to want to up the dose. The typical regimen is 3 pounds per 10,000 gallons.
- The third step in the process is brushing the pool to physically remove the stain. On vinyl liners you’ll want to be careful here making sure not to tear the liner while attempting to clean it.
- Next, run your pump overnight and allow the water to circulate throughout the swimming pool. Make sure to do this for at least 8 hours.
- Brush again in the morning. Repeat the entire process until satisfied with the results.
Removing Metal Pool Stains
The process of removing metal pool stains is a bit different than removing organic stains, however, using the correct products will greatly assist you in getting rid of metallic pool stains. There are a number of products on the market as we mentioned previously that can assist you in removing metal pool stains. Consequently, finding the right product to use all has to do with first identifying which type of pool stain you actually have.
Cleaning a pool stain is only half the problem. Keeping them from coming back is the real issue. Recurring pool stains can be a real nuisance. Moreover, people are less concerned with cleaning a stain and more concerned about why it occurred to begin with. Ideally, people want to keep mineral and metal stains from coming back.
Our top picks for Metal Removal products
There are a number of products that pool service professionals use for tackling metal pool stains. Some tried and true products the pros use are Metal-Free by Natural Chemistry, and CuLator 4.0 Powerpak.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today, there is a wide range of smart pool equipment. Before purchasing any pool equipment, ensure you evaluate all your requirements.
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.
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.
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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