Proper pool maintenance can enhance your swimming experience
By Alicia Stephens
Proper pool care is based on three very important Ps: Prevent disease, protect equipment, and provide the expected swimming experience. Maintaining sanitation is a key element to proper pool and spa maintenance as it keeps bathers safe from disease and allows for clean, clear water.
Shocking your pool on a weekly basis, adding a preventative algaecide, along with good physical maintenance, and select specialty products round out the crucial components of maximizing the sanitizer to provide you a pleasant swimming experience.
There are many different sanitizer options for pools including chlorine, bromine, salt chlorination, and biguanide. While each of these sanitizers offers a different range of features and benefits, chlorine sanitization is the most common choice due to its ease of use and impact on water balance. Chlorine can be introduced to your pool water in many ways, including sticks, tablets, granules, liquid, and chlorine generator systems. Regardless of the version you are using, each form is effective at killing bacteria and maintaining the expected safe and clear environment.
New chlorine on the block
Due to current market conditions, the use of liquid chlorine will be more prevalent for the upcoming pool season, replacing trichlor and dichlor-based products as the available sanitizer in many retail locations. This may be a new approach for many people; therefore, this article will focus on how you can use liquid chlorine effectively.
Liquid chlorine is inexpensive and easy to apply to the pool. However, it has a high pH when added, leading to a need for routine pH adjustment to maintain the ideal level of 7.4 to 7.6. This pH range will ensure the chlorine in your pool is effective and efficient, provides a comfortable swimming environment, and helps to prevent cloudy water and scale.
As part of this water maintenance program, you should test for the cyanuric acid (CYA) residual monthly and ensure it remains at a minimum of 30 to 50 parts per million (ppm).
When applying liquid chlorine, make sure you pour it slowly to avoid splashing. It is strongly recommended you wear gloves and goggles when handling and applying water-treatment products. Liquid chlorine is corrosive and can damage your clothing or cause skin and eye irritation. Further, you should also store liquid chlorine bottles in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. Finally, when discarding your used chemical containers, it is a good practice to rinse the bottles out before putting them in the trash.
The role of preventative algaecides
In addition to balancing your pool water, there are other products available to maximize the impact of liquid chlorine. A preventative algaecide, which should be a part of your pool care maintenance program, is an important addition when you are trying to maintain an adequate chlorine residual with liquid chlorine. Adding an algaecide weekly allows chlorine to be used for killing bacteria, and not killing algae. The less work chlorine needs to do in your pool, the longer it will last. That said, choosing the right algaecide is important. Certain algaecides could cause excessive foaming if you have water features or an attached spa; therefore, you should always refer to the instructions on the label for guidance.
Adding an enzyme product on a weekly basis can also enhance the efficiency of your chlorine-based pool maintenance program. Enzymes break down non-living waste that is typically oxidized by higher levels of chlorine or a non-chlorine oxidizer. By using enzymes to break down things like sunscreens, hair products, body oils, and pollen present in your pool water, the demand on chlorine is reduced.
Removing phosphates is key
Another way to improve your water quality and ensure success with liquid chlorine is through phosphate removal. When the phosphate level gets too high—roughly over 125 parts per billion (ppb)—it can create dull, cloudy, or hazy water conditions and, in combination with high pH and calcium hardness, contributes to calcium phosphate scale on surfaces and equipment.
Keeping your pool at a near-zero phosphate residual is the ideal goal. Testing for and removing phosphate proactively can help you reduce reoccurring pool problems, simplify maintenance needs, and improve both the look and feel of your water. You should look for multi-functional weekly maintenance products that add both enzymes and phosphate removers at the same time, maximizing the potential of a pool care program while minimizing the time commitment and number of products you need to add.
Even more benefits to consider
Besides the addition of chemicals, the value of expanding routine physical maintenance is one of the most overlooked solutions to maximize your pool care program. The benefits of properly circulating pool water, providing good filtration, and even getting in a light workout by brushing and vacuuming your pool is often understated.
Many pools have returns improperly positioned to point up toward the surface of the pool to make water appear to be circulating vigorously. Despite looking great, the circulation is inadequate and leads to problems at the bottom and centre of your pool. These areas of reduced circulation become the landing spot for large amounts of debris, while the areas and seams where the pool floor meets the walls become a haven for the start of biofilm and algae growth. What collects in these spots consumes sanitizers that blindly attempt to react and breakdown these pool contaminants.
With good circulation in place, your pool’s ecosystem relies on proper filtration to remove debris and other contaminants from the water. As your filter performs its primary job, the contaminants fill the empty space between media whether those spaces are pores in a cartridge or the space between granules of sand, glass, and diatomaceous earth (DE). The flow inside begins to decrease as pressure within the system increases and, over time, the efficiency of the media is reduced, increasing the chance for problems within it.
Routine filter maintenance such as backwashing or rinsing cartridges will remove loose accumulations. Periodic chemical filter cleaning during the season removes the more difficult greases, oils, and scale that reduce your filter’s effectiveness. Routine use of enzyme-based products can help break down non-living organic accumulations in the filter media and reduce the amount of backwashing or rinsing needed.
With all these factors in mind, an all-inclusive pool maintenance program is the key to success.
Alicia Stephens is the education and training manager for Biolab Inc. In her 20 years with the company, she has focused primarily on education, training, and development, as well as technical support and new product research and integration. Currently, Stephens supports all education and training initiatives for the Biolab Pro Dealer division. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.