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POOL SCHOOL 122 DE FILTERS

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Hayward DE 2400 Filter

Every pool must have a filter, if you don’t the pool is going to turn cloudy and green. The purpose of a filter is to remove particulate that form in the pool water. There are three types of filters on the market today. D.E. (an abbreviation for Diatomaceous Earth), sand, and cartridge. They all have pluses, they all have minuses. Today in class we are going to discuss D.E. filters.

When it comes to filtration you will not find a filter, on the market today, that will remove a smaller particle from the pool water. If you use Diatomaceous Earth in a D.E. filter, the filter will remove particles down to about 2 microns. A grain of sand on average is 100 microns, to give you a comparison. You can also use cellulose fiber in a D.E. Filter. Cellulose fiber filters just as well as D.E. but, has some advantages over D.E. First, it does not require as much cellulose fiber volume wise as D.E. Second, it backwashes better than D.E. And third, it is biodegradable, D.E. isn’t, D.E. is in its elemental form. There are a lot of localities that have banned the discharge of D.E. so cellulose fiber is an excellent substitute.

D.E. filters can be configured on a filter system several different ways. Some, in my opinion are better than others. One of the least common methods is to simply plumb the pipes into the filter and then out of the filter. That means when the filter is dirty and needs to be cleaned you have to take the filter apart and hose everything down. A messy job at best, hence this is my least favored method of hooking the filter to the system. If you currently have this type of setup, don’t despair, you can always upgrade your connection to make your life easier. I will discuss that in just a bit.

The next method is to use what is called a push/pull valve. This valve will allow you to easily backwash the filter by simply turning the pump off, then pulling the handle on the valve up, then turning the pump on again and running the pump until the filter is clean. Then you would turn the pump off and push the handle down, lock it then turn the pump on. Once the pump is on you will need to put more D.E. into the filter. How much you need to add we will discuss in just a moment. This, also, is not my favorite method of connecting the filter to the system because; it is very limited in what it can do. You have two options, either filter or backwash, that’s it.

The last method, my favorite, is a multiport valve. The multiport valve allows you to not only backwash the filter, it allows you to drain water without backwashing the filter (something you cannot do with a push/pull valve), it allows you to bypass the filter, and it allows you to stop the flow of water out of the filter when you turn the pump off and open the strainer lid on your pump. Proper operation of this valve requires you to turn the pump off before moving the handle to a different position on the dial.

If you have either no valve, or a push/pull valve you can switch to a multiport valve easily. All that is required is some re-plumbing, if you are not comfortable doing that type of work an Aegean Pools service technician can do that for you.

A D.E. Filter is a great filter, but not so great a backwashing device. Let me explain why; the way a D.E. filter works is the water comes into the bottom of the tank and is spread evenly inside the filter and over the grids inside the filter. When you add D.E. to the skimmer, by the side of the pool, the D.E. is delivered to the filter and the D.E. coats the grids evenly. As the water passed through the D.E. it leaves behind all the solid particles that will not fit through the D.E. As the D.E. gets clogged up with debris the pressure goes up on the filter tank. When the increase in pressure goes up ten pounds higher than the clean pressure you will need to clean the filter. Here I want to note that when you charge your filter with D.E. it is important that you make a note of the pressure reading because that is your baseline or reference pressure to determine when you need to backwash the filter. When we backwash the filter we are going to reverse that process filter process. The water will be entering the filter from inside, instead of outside, the grids. As this happens the D.E. is pushed off the grids and goes out the backwash line. If you are using a multiport valve to do this, you will watch the sight glass on the side of the multiport valve, when it is clear you will be done. Next, you want to turn the pump off (remember any time you change the position of the multiport valve you have to turn the pump off) and rotate the valve to the Rinse position. You then turn the pump on again and run the pump for twenty seconds. Next, you would go back to the backwash position again, this time for not quite as long, again waiting for a clear sight glass. You can repeat this process two times after the initial backwash. After you have done the backwash/rinse thing three times you have reached the point of negative returns and you should stop.

Your filter is now empty, well, almost empty. Remember, I said the D.E. filter is not a very efficient backwasher? Well, when the water enters the grid assembly during the backwash cycle it shoots straight down to the bottom of the grid. It usually misses the top four or five inches of the grid, so not all of the D.E. gets knocked off the grid. This said, if you put the full amount of D.E. that the manufacture calls for back in the filter you will end up with too much D.E. inside the filter and a higher starting pressure than normal. So I recommend you take one pound of D.E. off the recommended re-charge of the filter to compensate for the D.E. left in the filter.

For maintenance you need to take the filter apart once a season and clean it completely. D.E. will get caked up between the grids and not backwash out over the course of the summer. Taking it apart and hosing it down helps keep the filter working efficiently. You also want to, once a season, chemically clean the filter grids with BioGuard Kleen It® to keep the girds in top order so you get maximum flow through the grids.

There are nine rules of engagement for D.E. filters; I am going to list the top three rules for you today. For the other five rules, visit our store or visit our blog on Word Press:

Rule One – You NEVER run the DE filter without the DE powder in the filter.

Tip: if you need to circulate the water and you do not have DE in the filter, and you have a multiport valve on the filter, you may run it with the valve in the re-circulate position. This will bypass the filter. If you don’t have a multiport valve you cannot by pass the filter, sorry.

Rule Two – NEVER SKIP RULE NUMBER ONE.

Rule Three – Always use the proper amount of DE in the filter. This amount will depend on if you are backwashing the filter or you are taking the filter apart and cleaning it out completely. If you are taking the filter apart and cleaning it out you must use the full amount the manufacture indicates in the owner’s manual. If you are backwashing the filter take one pound off the manufacture’s recommendation and use that amount.

So that is everything you need to know about D.E. filters. See you next class.

Pool School 121 Salt Generator Update

Aqua Rite wTCell_RGBThe first thing I want you to understand about Salt Generators is that the salt is not what is sanitizing the pool water. The salt is being converted from sodium chloride (salt) to sodium hypochlorite (chlorine). If you don’t take anything else away from this lecture remember that. One reason I want you to remember that is that this is the basis of the design of all salt generators, most go about it a little differently, but the end result is chlorine is being created from salt in the pool water.

Now that we have the foundation, let’s talk about how the systems work. As I stated before, each system is a little different, but they all operate on the same principal. First, you have a control device that allows you to change the output and gives you feedback on how the system is operating. The control device sends power to a cell. Inside the cell is titanium plates, these plates are coated with a special mineral call ruthenium. The ruthenium is what causes the salt to be converted to chlorine when a small electrical charge is applied to the plates. As this process occurs a small amount of ruthenium is released from the plates and the cell’s efficiency in producing chlorine is reduced. Over a period of time, several years, the cell will be worn out and have to be replaced. How many years it will take the cell to wear out will depend on how many plates are in the cell, how much ruthenium is coated on the plates, and how much time you send power to the cell.

Your goal is to find the lowest possible output that will give you the proper amount of chlorine in the pool (assuming the output level is based on the amount of time the control box sends power to the cell.). In order to know if you have the salt generator set at the proper level you will have to test the water once a week to insure that you have a sufficient amount of chlorine in the pool. If you do not test the water once a week, you run the risk of either over chlorinating the pool and wasting you salt cell, or not producing enough chlorine and developing algae in your pool.

Now that we have covered the salt conversion process, let’s talk about what happens next. You have this chlorine floating around your pool. It is either going to meet up with something it is going to oxidize (kill), or it is going to evaporate. In either case you don’t lose because when the chlorine is done, it goes back into the form of salt and stars all over again. Win, win! They only time you lose salt from the pool is when you add fresh water to the pool. If you have an indoor pool you will rarely add salt. If you have an outdoor pool and it never stops raining you will be adding salt all the time. However, on average you don’t lose much in the way of salt over the course of a year.

Salt generation has many advantages over other types of sanitizers; the biggest advantage is you have an endless supply of chlorine in your pool. If you are gone for ten days and you have a chlorine tablet feeder chances are you will run out of chlorine before you get home. With a salt generator the pool will still have chlorine in the water and it will be clear and blue.

When it comes to troubleshooting a salt generator problem each manufacture’s design is different, so it would be impossible to go over troubleshooting in general. But if you are having a problem with your salt generator get the brand and model of your salt generator then give us a call at Aegean Pools and tell us what your unit is doing and we will help you resolve your problem.

No homework today so go out and enjoy your pool!

© Aegean Pools 2015

Pool School 120 In Ground Replacement Liners

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BEFORE

In Ground Vinyl Liner Pools first appeared in 1954 with the introduction of the first package pools using cinder blocks as a wall structure to support the vinyl liner. The liners they used were all one color, usually aqua, and all one thickness 20 mil. Time marched on and processes improved and package pools improved to the point in the early 1970’s manufactures were making pre-constructed wall panels of steel that would fit together

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AFTER

and liners now had patterns on them, making them more attractive.

The early vinyl patterns were cumbersome to produce taking many man hours to design and then translate to machines that would transfer the print pattern to the liner. For this reason liner patterns in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s rarely changed. Then the computer revolution occurred at the end of the 1990’s, what that did for the vinyl liner industry was made changing patterns easier and less costly. Now liner patterns are changing like fashion, you see multiple patterns go away and new patterns show up every year.

What most people don’t know is the company that manufactures the vinyl with the print pattern is not the same company that manufactures the liner. They are two different companies. The companies that make the liner are purchasing the material from a vinyl manufacture then they take the material and assemble the liner you see in your pool.

The other thing that happened over the years is thicker liners became available. In more northern climates, where the weather gets below zero, they need thicker vinyl to stand up to the freezing and thawing. More recently the demand for 27 mil liners have increased. A 27 mil liner is 35% thicker than a 20 mil liner and better suited to handle abuse. The thicker liners resist punctures better than their 20 mil siblings. But, don’t confuse the thickness of the liner with the durability of the print pattern on the surface of the liner. The two are not related.

The pattern you see on the liner is just on the surface of the vinyl, the thickness of the liner does not have any effect on the print durability. The print pattern will, over time, sercombe to the effects of UV light and chlorine. The average life of a pool liner is about ten years if you take care of your water chemistry. At the ten year mark your liner will be noticeably faded, this is normal and it is what usually drives pool owners to change the liner.

To keep your liner in the best condition possible you need to maintain your pool water chemistry. The mineral balance of the water is critical to protect the liner against degradation. Water wants a certain mineral balance, if it does not have that balance it will go looking for something to satisfy its need in whatever is holding the water. Think of it like someone who is spoiled and throws a fit until they get what they want. That is what water is, out of balance. If the calcium hardness is too low for too long a period it will draw plasticizers from the vinyl and make the liner brittle to the point that if you step on it, it will crack. On the other side of the mineral balance is Total Alkalinity and pH, if they are too low for too long a period it will cause the vinyl to relax and stretch leaving wrinkles all over the pool. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of maintaining your water balance all year long.

A more recent development in vinyl liners is a new process by Latham Pool Products called UltraSeam®. This new seaming process makes the seams between sheets of vinyl virtually invisible. In addition the process makes the seam stronger than a standard seam.

When the time comes to search for a new liner the two things you want to look at are the thickness of the liner, you really want a 27 mil liner, and you want to get a liner with the new UltraSeam® construction. The liner pattern is really a personal choice, however, one point of note; if you have a pressure side automatic pool cleaner that runs on wheels you may want to stay away from dark liners printed on a white background. These cleaners sometimes will wear the print pattern off the liner surface and the white background will stand out like a sore thumb against a dark liner.

Welcome back for another semester of Pool School, now go out and have some fun in your pool until the next class.

Pool School 119 Winter Chemicals

Winter Kit Safety Zone

Winter kit for pool with mesh covers and no covers

We are going to wrap up the semester with the perfect end of the pool season topic, winterizing chemicals. There are many schools of thought about how you should treat your pool water during the off season. The schools run from, “Don’t do anything,” to, “Buy lots of stuff.” Having been in the business for over forty years now I have seen and heard a lot of different processes and I can tell you that doing nothing is a huge mistake and doing too much is a waste of money and time.

Let’s go over some basic facts. Fact, even if you are not using the pool the water still has needs. If you don’t satisfy those needs the pool water, equipment, and pool surface will suffer badly. Regardless of use bacterial and algae are still active in your pool and need to be controlled. You control these enemies by keep your basic water chemistry in check, I am referring to pH and chlorine (or whatever type of sanitizer you are using). The other thing that needs attention is your mineral balance. We have discussed this fact in Pool School 103 to 105 where we talk about pH, Total Alkalinity, and Calcium Hardness. If you are not familiar with this class or would like to review them you can find them on Word Press. Fact if you don’t add winterizing chemicals you run the risk of developing Algae and Scale in the pool.

First and most important step before you winterize the pool water is to have your water professionally tested at our retail store. There are some people who think I will tell you that to get you into the store to purchase more chemicals, however there is a reason for this very important step, I will use a recent event to illustrate what happens when you don’t balance your pool water. We had a customer who was desperate for a new liner because he developed a hole in the liner which he attempted to patch, however he had not balanced his pool water in over two years. When he went to apply the patch, at the bottom of the pool, the liner cracked. No I did not say split, I said cracked. The vinyl had become brittle because the water wanted a certain mineral balance, if it does not find that balance it will begin pulling minerals from the surface of the pool water. Thus the liner, in this case, became brittle. The other common problem is the liner will wrinkle all over the entire pool. So do not skip this step because you don’t think it is important, as I have just demonstrated that it is VERY important. I have a customer who has a vinyl liner that is over twenty years old (that’s right 20 years!), the reason she had been able to keep the liner that long is because she has the water analyzed and makes adjustments as needed. The liner has no pattern but it is not brittle or wrinkled! Water balance is very important even in the off season.

The final chemical step you will need to employ are winterizing chemicals. What you need will depend on what type of cover you will be using. For over 34 years I have been selling a winterizing kit that provides excellent protection. We have two types of kits, we have a kit for people using solid pool covers, and a kit for people who use a mesh cover or no cover at all. The kit for solid covers contains a winterizing algaecide, a scale inhibitor and a floater that contains a non chlorine chemical. You do NOT want to put a chlorine floater with chlorine tables in it in a vinyl liner, fiberglass, or painted pool. If the floating chlorinator ends up at the side of the pool (and it will at some point during the off season) then it will seriously damage the surface of the pool. The floaters in our kits are exclusive to Aegean Pools and contain a non-chlorine chemical that does two things; first it is a slow release algae inhibitor. Second; are natural enzymes that will breakdown body oils. Body oils will float on the waters surface and find their way to the water line of the pool. Once at the edge of the pool they will stick to the pool surface and begin to trap dirt which turns them black in color. This is what most people refer to as bathtub ring. The natural enzyme will break down the oils into a biodegradable product and will keep the oil from forming at the edge of the pool. This trifecta of chemicals will keep your pool algae, scale and bathtub ring free!

The other style of kit is for pools that use a mesh cover, a solid cover that has drain panels that allow water to drain into the pool, and for pools that do not use a cover at all. This kit has all the same items as the solid kit but it also includes a phosphate remover. A phosphate remover takes the food away from algae and reduces the possibility of developing algae during the off season.

If you have a mesh safety cover and you do not treat the pool properly you will develop algae. Algae will develop because the mesh cover creates an environment that algae loves, indirect sunlight (shaded light). Because of this environment I developed a winterizing program, that is exclusive to Aegean Pools, that stops algae dead in its tracks. This also applies to pools that are not going to be covered during the winter. If you follow these general guidelines it will be very rare for you to develop algae, if you miss any one of these steps all bets are off.

  1. Have the pool professionally tested at least three days before you winterize the pool, and add the required balancing chemicals
  2. The day before winterizing clean the pool
  3. Add the On Guard Safety Zone Winterizing Kit available exclusively at Aegean Pools
  4. Winterize the pool late in the fall. Best time frame is November 1st Keep in mind the pool will winterize best if the water temperature is consistently below 60°. If you have a leaf problem you can cover the pool at any time you just won’t shut your system down until November.
  5. Between Super Bowl® and Valentine’s Day you will add a gallon of winterizing algaecide to the pool by mixing it in a bucket of water and pouring it through the cover, if you have a cover.
  6. Start the pool up no later than March 31st. This means getting your system running and having the water professionally tested and balancing chemicals added. If you want to recover the pool when you are done opening the pool you may, however you must keep the filter circulating during this time.

Following these steps faithfully will insure an easy start in the spring. So there you have it the conclusion of another Pool School year. Congratulations! See you in the spring! Enjoy your winter.

 

Pool School 118 Heaters

Aegean30YearsEmbossedToday we are going to talk about swimming pool heaters. We will discuss the different types of heaters and how to size a heater to a pool. So everyone take your seats we have a lot to go over.

Heating your pool seems simple, you put a heater on your system and you get hot water. But then the questions come up, what kind of heater do I get, gas, electric, or solar? What size heater do I need? All important questions and all the answers will be different for everyone. So let’s start with the types of heater and their advantages and disadvantages.

H-Series_1

Hayward H Series Gas Heater

Gas heaters come in two different styles; natural gas, and propane. If you have natural gas available that is the best option because propane heaters are considerably more expensive than natural gas to operate. Gas heat’s advantage is that it will heat your pool quickly. When I say quickly that is relative to the other types of pool heaters available. Depending on the size of your pool and the size of heater you have a gas heater can heat your pool in several hours. Another advantage a gas heater has is that it will heat the pool all year long and this is important if you have an indoor pool you plan on using all year. Gas heaters can be placed indoors or outdoors, however since they involve fire they have to be properly vented both indoors and outdoors. Also because of the fire and explosive nature of the fuel and carbon monoxide they produce gas heaters require multiple building permits in order to be safely installed to code. So to review good side of gas heaters: They heat the pool quickly, they heat the pool all year long, and they can be placed indoors. On the down side: They are expensive to operate when compared to other types of heaters, gas heaters require three permits in order to be installed according to the building code.

AquaComfort-HeatPump-HIRES

Aqua Comfort Heat Pump

Heat pumps are very energy efficient and cost considerably less to operate than a gas heater, however they take longer to heat the water than gas heaters. When heating a pool with a heat pump you should allow at least 12 hours or more to heat the pool to the desired temperature depending on the starting temperature. With a heat pump the colder the water is the longer it will take to heat the pool. Heat pumps however do not require a building permit like gas heaters. Heat pumps cannot be placed inside a building; they can only be placed outside, but heat pumps don’t emit CO2 into the environment. Heat pumps can only convert heat from the air from a certain outdoor ambient air temperature, with Aqua Comfort Heat Pumps Aegean Pools sells, the heat pump can convert down to 40° ambient air temperature. Aqua Comfort also offers a line of heat pumps that will not only heat your pool but if your pool water gets very hot during the summer they can cool your pool water! To review the good side of heat pumps: They are considerably less expensive to operate than a gas heater and much easier on the environment than a gas heater. Aqua Comfort heat pumps will heat down to 40° ambient air temperature. If you select the heat/cool model you can not only heat your pool with the heat pump you can also cool the water, gas heaters cannot do that. Heat pumps do not require a building permit to install like a gas heater. On the down side: They take longer to heat the pool water than a gas heater and will not heat the pool all year round. They also cannot be put inside a building.

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Solar Blanket

Solar heat comes in several versions; solar blankets, solar panels, solar pods. Regardless of the type of heating system you decide to employ it is recommended that you use a solar blanket. Solar blankets look like bubble wrap packing material but the plastic is much thicker, eight to twelve mils thick depending on the model you choose, and usually tinted a deep blue color. Solar blankets have two functions; first they collect radiant heat from the sun and transfer that heat to the pool water. This will reduce your dependence on any other type of heating system you may be using reducing the cost to operate that system. Second, they trap heat in the pool by stopping evaporation. When you see steam coming off the surface of your pool what you are seeing is the heat escaping from the water. The solar blanket blocks that process. If you want to try and heat your pool without spending thousands of dollars a solar blanket is your best option. If you decide to employ a solar blanket you will also want to invest in a solar reel. While solar blankets are not heavy they are bulky and un-wieldy to handle. If you don’t have a reel for the blanket you will end up dragging this hulking mass across the deck. When that happens you will puncture holes in the air bubbles of the blanket, when that happens you destroy the heating capability of the blanket and make it much more difficult to handle. The solar reel will stop you from dragging the blanket across the deck extending the life of the blanket. In addition it will make moving the blanket around simpler and less messy. If you use a solar blanket you don’t want to leave the blanket on the pool to the point the temperature goes over 95°, keep in mind the hotter the water is the faster algae and bacteria will grow. Also, the solar blanket creates a shaded environment which algae love and helps enhance its growth. So when you get up to temperature take the blanket off the pool and store it out of the sun. The good side of solar blankets: The initial investment is substantially less expensive than conventional heaters. There is no cost to operate because it uses heat from the sun. It keeps the heat in the pool as well; no other heating system does that. On the down side: Solar blankets can be un-wieldy to handle without a solar reel. If you don’t get at least six hours of sun on your pool the blanket may not warm the pool up to your desired temperature. If you leave the blanket on too long it can promote algae growth.

SmartPoolIGSolarHeatSolar panels/pods come in all kind of styles roof mount, rack mount, and ground mount. In ground pools usually use panels and above ground pools usually use pods. If you are going to go with roof mount solar you should consider having it professionally installed to protect your roof from leaking. However there are do it yourself solar kits if you feel comfortable working in that environment.   For this type of solar heater to be effective you have to have correct exposure to the sun on your roof and sufficient length of exposure, otherwise your pool will not warm significantly. The great thing about solar heat is that it does not cost anything to operate. Another nice feature is when the pool water gets hot during the summer you can run the water through the panels at night and it will lower the water temperature several degrees. Now granted the heat/cool heat pump will lower your water temperature far lower than the solar panels will but, you will get some temperature reduction from the panels being used at night.   Most solar panels are flat and go on the roof of a structure. Above ground pool solar pods are usually modular, compact, fit in a very small area and are easy to connect to the filter system. The good side of solar panels/pods: The only cost you have is the equipment once you have made the investment the panels begin paying you back, the longer you have them the more the cost of operation goes down. Solar panels on the roof of a structure will drop the water temperature several degrees if you run them at night. The down side of solar panels: Professionally installed panels can cost thousands of dollars. Solar panels are definitely not an attractive feature on the roof. Solar panels will not work if you do not get sufficient exposure to the sun. Solar panels will not heat the pool year round, you will still need a gas heater if you want to warm you pool water all year.

One of the most important things you must know when you are trying to determine what size of a heater or solar system will be right for your pool is your pool’s surface area. Surface area is important to determine heat loss. The heating system you are considering has to be able to overcome that heat loss. Time for some geometry:

Here are the examples for all three pool types:

For a kidney shaped pool that was 36’ long 16’ wide at the shallow end and 18’ wide at the deep end the formula would look like this:

PoolSizeCalculation

Surface Area= (16 + 18) x 36 x .45   the answer would be 550.8 square feet.

For a round pool that is 24’ round the formula would look like this:

Surface Area= 12 x 12 s 3.14 the answer would be 452.16 square feet.

For a rectangular pool that is 20 x 40 the formula would look like this:

Surface Area= 20 x 40 the answer would be 800 square feet.

So if we are going to determine what size gas heater we would need for this pool we will need a chart from the heater manufacture showing the maximum square footage that the heater will handle like the one below:

HeaterSizingChart

So in our 16/18 x 36 kidney pool we would need to install at least a H200 model heater. If you want to go larger it is not a problem, it will just heat the pool more quickly. However, if you go too small your heater will struggle to maintain the desired temperature and you will wear it out faster and spend lots of money on fuel to heat the pool. So determine what size heater you need for you pool them go up at least one size for efficiency sake.

To size an Aqua Comfort heat pump consider that bigger is always better to achieve quick heating. The largest heat pump is a 175k btu unit. The most popular is a 155k btu unit, this unit will usually handle pools up to 800 square feet.

To size a solar blanket you will buy it based on the size of your pool. In our kidney shaped pool example you would want a cover size 18 x 36. When you lay the blanket on top of the pool water you will leave it on the water for a day or two to allow the vinyl to shrink slightly in the sun, then you will trim it with scissors to the shape of your pool.

For solar panels/pods you should consult with the specific manufacture for sizing requirements.

This is a pretty comprehensive review of swimming pool heaters, however there are usually questions and as we are not in an actual classroom you cannot raise your hand to ask a questions, if you do have a question please feel free to contact me or visit our retail store to have your question answered by one of our pool experts.

We have one more class this year so don’t be late you won’t want to miss a minute of class.

Pool School 117 Metals in Pool Water

KeetrolpluscropImageJpegAlright class settle down, when you read this say “Here,” so I can count your present. Thank you. Now in this class we are going to talk about metals in pool water. Metal in pool water can work both for you and against you, it all depends on the metal and how your treat your pool water. Let’s start with metals that can help you. Way back in roman times “They” (whoever “They” are) discovered that copper had properties that kept algae away. Over thousands of years since “They” have improved on the application of copper to the pool water to fight algae. (See Pool School 116 Alga and Algaecides in our Word Press Blog) But, copper is a double edged sword, one side helps you the other side hurts you. Any metal in the pool water can potentially cause staining on the surface of the pool, fittings as well, and anything in the pool when the staining occurs. When you are using copper in the pool you have to be careful about treating the pool water, it is vitally important that you maintain proper water balance. In particularly pH is extremely important, if you let the pH go to low and then attempt to bring the pH up again too quickly it will cause a chemical shock to the pool that will cause the copper to come out of solution and stain the entire pool and everything in it. So make it a rule that if your pH level drops below 7.0 bring a water sample to Aegean Pools Testing Lab to get a prescription to adjust your water chemistry to avoid a bad reaction.

If you use an ionizer in your pool you are adding copper and/or silver or zinc to the pool water on a routine basis. (See Pool School 102 Alternative Sanitizers in our World Press Blog) We just talked about copper in the water, so we don’t need to rehash that topic, but we did not discuss silver or zinc. I am not aware of any issues with zinc in the pool water and potential staining; however the same is not true of silver. Silver can leave a black stain on the surface of the pool if it were to come out of solution, so the same rules that apply to copper when treating the pool water apply to silver.

If you are using a Frog® mineral system then staining is not an issue as the minerals stay in the cartridge and are not dissolved into the pool water. This is a great system for reducing chlorine usage regardless of the type of chlorine you use; chlorine tablets or salt generator it does not matter.

Now on to the topic of bad metals; any metal we have not talked about so far are all bad. Thanks for coming to class have a great day! Just kidding; the most common problem metal for us in the Coastal Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina area is iron. In the well water in this area iron is a common occurring problem. The best way to avoid problems with iron is to not put them in the pool. The best way to start, if you have well water, have it tested for iron before you put your well water in the pool. If you have iron present in your well water you will want to run it through a filter like the X10 water filter available at Aegean Pools retail store. This filter will significantly reduce the amount of iron and other metals in your source water. The X10 will treat up to 8,000 gallons of water before it will need to be replaced. This is a great way to prevent iron staining issues with well water, but what many people don’t realize is that there are trace amounts of metals in all city water. As you add city water to your pool over time you will build up these trace levels and if you have a salt generator the salt conversion process and the chlorine in the pool will cause the iron to come out of solution and stain the pool stairs a rusty brown color. If you use the X10 on all your fill water it will take substantially longer for this staining process to occur. If you already have a stair staining issue the Jack’s Magic The Step Stuff or On Guard Step Magic will remove the stains from the stairs. If you have iron in the pool water and it has not yet stained the pool surface you will need to add a stain control chemical. Which chemical to use will depend on the type of sanitizer you use; for chlorine tablets you can use On Guard Keetrol, for salt generator pools you will want to use Novatrol to prevent the iron from staining the pools surface and to help remove the mineral through the filter system.

The thing to keep in mind about staining is that the stain is on the surface of the pool and it can be removed chemically without draining the pool. Brian our lead water lab technician is a trained stain removal expert. He has been trained by Jack’s Magic a leader in the swimming pool industry in stain removal and prevention. There are many circumstances that can fool you into thinking you have a stain when you don’t have a stain and putting stain treatment chemicals in your pool will not solve your problem. If you have staining issues bring a sample of your pool water and a picture of your stain to our water test lab for a professional analysis.

So to review, if you have metals in your pool water you need professional assistance in treating them before you add ANY chemicals to your pool water. If you have metals in your pool water for any reason you have to be VERY careful in how you maintain and treat your water chemistry or you may end up with major staining issues in your pool.

Thank you for coming today, now class is dismissed so you can go out and enjoy your pool!

Pool School 116 Algae

Algae MonsterFront

Don’t Let The Algae Monster Get You!

Let’s start with a basic understanding of algae, because in order to win the algae battle we have to know what we are up against. There are three key points I want you to keep in mind during this class; first, alga (one single cell of algae) is a microscopic organism. You cannot see it without the aid of a microscope. Second, you always have algae in your pool, ALWAYS.  Third, algaecide by itself cannot cure an algae bloom.

So now we have the basic understanding I will get into more specifics. Please don’t take offense to the fact you always have algae in your pool water, it is just a fact of nature. Algae are everywhere and when your pool is exposed to the environment it will end up with algae. Which leads to the inevitable question; how do I get rid of all the algae in my pool? The simple answer is you don’t.   What you do with the pool chemicals, and filtration system, is you keep the growth under control so you cannot see it with your eye. Remember the first key point is alga is microscopic so you will not actually see it until it is way out of control. Algae found in pools is not harmful to humans, there are some forms of algae that people actually eat for protein. However, algae are unsightly (no one likes to look at a green pool) and when you dry off after having swum in an algae infested pool you will not like the feeling on your skin. In addition when the algae die they give off a horrible order that smells like three day old dead fish.

What is a pool owner to do to win the algae war? Your first line of defense is proper water chemistry and routine chemical testing and treatment. When I say routine I mean weekly checks and treatment if necessary. Your second line of defense is your filtration system, weekly you want to check your equipment to make sure it is working properly and the filter does not need backwashing. Your third line of defense is weekly cleaning the pool; this includes vacuuming the floors and/or brushing the walls of the pool. Your forth line of defense is an Algaecide. If you follow these simple rules in most cases you will successfully beat the algae, however circumstances may override your diligence and you may lose the battle, but you will not lose the war!

Now that we are engaging the enemy we need to know the enemy a little better. There are literally thousands of types of alga. In pools we are usually dealing with five basic forms; green algae, yellow algae (also referred to as mustard algae), pink algae, brown algae, and black algae. Each one of these enemy combatants has it’s own special characteristics and what we want to take as a weapon into battle will depend on this information. Let’s review the different types of algae:

First up is enemy number one green algae; the first thing we need to know is green algae prefers shaded sunlight. This helps us know where to look, because green alga likes to hide from you so that you will not find it until it is too late. Places you will want to look will be; the shaded side of the pool, underneath the ladder treads on your ladder in the deep end of the pool, and the most forgotten site, behind the underwater light. Your first wave in battling green algae is to brush it off of whatever surface it is clinging to. It is easier to kill the algae when it is in the body of the pool water because the chemicals cannot efficiently reach the algae when it is attached to something. Then you would vacuum the pool followed by a shock treatment along with either Banish® by Bio Guard or 90 Day Algae Preventer and Remover by SeaKlear.

Second up is the most difficult algae to get rid of, yellow or mustard algae; this alga requires a decontamination process to rid yourself of this enemy. Mustard alga will cling to stuff that ends up in the pool and subsequently introduce itself back into the pool later or into another pool. Classic case; I had a customer who managed an apartment complex. She came to my test lab and slammed her bottle down on the counter and said she just wanted to know one thing, “Can you get mustard algae from a test kit?” The answer is yes. To that she said that is what I thought. It seems the health department, three days before, had visited her pool for a routine surprise inspection. After the inspector tested the water the inspector made the comment of how nice her pool looked, the inspector said that every pool they had been to that day had mustard algae. I don’t think I need to say more. So to successfully get rid of mustard algae you will need to follow these steps; first, brush and vacuum the pool. Second, shock the pool (assuming you are using chlorine to sanitize your pool, if you are using something else consult with Aegean Pools before proceeding) using one pound of shock for every 10,000 gallons of pool water. If you have an odd number of gallons rounding up is a good idea. You will need to make sure your pH level is correct and possibly add additional pH adjusters, it is best to have the water professionally analyzed at Aegean Pools before proceeding. Third, add either Banish® by Bio Guard or 90 Day Algae Preventer and Remover by SeaKlear. Fourth, let the pool circulate overnight then the next day take anything that was in the pool while the mustard algae was in the pool and put it back in the pool for 20 minutes. By anything I mean anything; floats, toys, games, bathing suites, friends and neighbor’s bathing suites, your family’s bathing suites, pets, maintenance equipment, testing equipment, automatic pool cleaner, anything you can think of that had been in the pool. Fifth, take a buck of water from the pool and clean any deck furniture you may have sat in and clean it with the pool water. Sixth, take another bucket of pool water and clean the pool deck with the water from the pool. This should kill any residual of mustard algae and reduce the chances of getting it back again. However, once you have had muster algae you are always susceptible to getting it again, it can hide like a sleeper agent.

Third up on our least wanted list is a pink alga. This is actually a combination of both a bacteria and algae. As usual you will want to brush, vacuum and shock the pool then apply Back-Up® by Bio Guard.

Fourth up Brown alga; this algae usually is introduced from a salt water environment like a creek, the ocean and so on. The best treatment for this alga is the same as mustard algae (see second up on our list above).

 

Fifth and last on our list is black alga; this algae is a very stubborn algae, it actually secretes a waxy substance that protects it from harmful chemicals in the pool water. This alga loves little nooks and crannies and is more often found on concrete pools. To treat this algae we take the same first steps; brush, vacuum and shock. Then apply Algae All 60® by Bio Guard or Algaecide 60 from Pool Season. One more step in the removal process and that is brushing. When you brush the algae on a concrete pool that has a masonry surface you will want to use a stainless steel bristle brush, in a concrete pool that is painted, a fiberglass pool, or a vinyl liner pool you will want to us a plastic bristle brush so you don’t damage the surface of the pool. When you brush the locations where the algae is located you will only remove a small amount of the algae, the dead layer that the algaecide has help permeate. You will need to continue to brush the pool until you can no longer see the black algae, however you are not done brushing, remember algae is microscopic and you will brush it until you can’t see it any more but it is still there and if you stop brushing it will make a comeback in a few days. So you will continue to brush it for at least three days after you lose sight of the spots.

Rather than trying to combat algae after it has invaded your pool, let’s look at ways of preventing a full fledged war on algae. When it comes to preventing algae the king of this process is BorX by N. Jonas. BorX renders algae incapable of processing carbon dioxide, algae being a plant life exchanges carbon dioxide. So by blocking that process it suffocates algae. It does such a good job that it will substantially reduce the amount of sanitizer you use. If you want the Cadillac of algae prevention this is the King.

These three algaecides are good preventers you will use on a routine basis; Back-Up®, Algae All 60®, Algaecide 60, Banish®, or 90 Day Algae Preventer and Remover. Banish® and 90 Day Algae Preventer and Remover are also excellent killers.

One topic I am going to pass on is phosphates; if you have been in school and not skipping class (and you know who you are) you would have already learned about phosphates in Pool School 107. If you have not been to this class then you can review it on our Word Press blog.

 

One other thing I would like to cover today is an alternative use for Back-Up® Algaecide. This unique product helps prevent algae by making the water wetter. I know that sounds weird, but that is the best way to describe what it does. That process can help you eliminate spiders that float on the pool water and help keep ducks out of your pool. When spiders float on the pool surface they do so by creating an air pocket under them. Back-Up® takes the air pocket away and they end up sinking in the water like an ocean liner with a gaping hole in its hull. Ducks on the other hand will not sink, that would be messy, but duck feathers are covered in oil and they are designed to keep the water from coming into contact with their skin. Back-Up® making the water wetter allows the water to permeate the feathers and the water makes contact with their skin, the ducks will be doing a touch and go in your pool. They will learn that your pool water is weird and not to their liking and off they will go in search of a more friendly body of water.

So your battle plans have been drawn for you, time to suit up do some re-con then to battle! Good luck and don’t forget your best ally in your war against algae Aegean Pools Test Lab, our lab technicians are highly trained algae ninjas. Algae hates our test lab! Class dismissed until next time…don’t be late for class!