Starting & ending your swimming season with properly balanced water is extremely important to the health of your swimming pool.
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Pool water chemistry is the most vital yet misunderstood component to overall pool care. Proper water chemistry protects not only swimmers but also the swimming pool itself. Heaters, filters, vinyl liners, and even plaster can all suffer severe damage from improperly balanced pool water. Four key components of swimming pool water chemistry are….
Total Hardness refers to the amount of calcium and magnesium in your water. Depending on your pool surface, hardness should measure 200 – 400 ppm. When total hardness is too high, scale forms causing the water to appear cloudy. When total hardness is too low, the water will corrode metal fixtures (including copper heater components), reducing heater effectiveness by as much as 75%.
Chlorine is a disinfectant designed to sanitize and oxidize contaminants in your pool water. To be optimally effective, chlorine must be continually active so that it can react instantaneously with bacteria, algae and other organic matter as they are introduced into the water. The level of active chlorine is called “free chlorine” and should measure 1.0 – 3.0 ppm.
Total Alkalinity measures the amount of alkaline substances in the pool water. When total alkalinity is too low, the water will corrode metal fixtures. Low alkalinity can also cause staining and weaken vinyl liners causing wrinkles.
PH refers to the intensity of acid or alkaline materials in your pool water. pH is measured on a pH scale from 1 (extremely acidic, like lemon juice) to 14 (extremely alkaline). A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral, but ideal pool water pH should measure 7.4 – 7.6. pH higher than 7.8 can cause skin irritation and red eyes. High pH will also reduce the effectiveness of chlorine and cause the water to appear cloudy. Low pH, or pH less than 7.2, causes eye and skin irritation and corrodes metal fixtures, especially copper heater components.
There are many items worth checking throughout the season, especially upon spring start-up, to help ensure you to have a fun & trouble-free swimming season.
Inspect all o-rings, making sure they are not split or cracked and that they are properly lubricated. Products like magic lube can give the proper lubrication to o-rings to help maintain longer life.
Check your pump basket for cracks and splits. A cracked pump basket can allow debris to clog your pump impeller. This can cause loss of flow that can lead to poor filtration and other water clarity problems.
Another area you will want to check is your skimmer baskets. Check for cracks and splits. These can cause unwanted debris to get into your underground plumbing and possibly causing a clog. Also, check the skimmer housing for cracks. Most small cracks can be repaired before they crack completely through. Keeping on top of these inspections can eliminate costly repairs down the road.
For D.E. filter owners it is a good practice for you to clean the filter elements or fingers thoroughly in the beginning of your pool season. Opening the filter and removing the entire grid assembly and hosing off all the D.E. from the grids is a good idea. During regular backwashing it is very difficult to remove 100% of the D.E. inside your filter. The D.E. that is left behind to accumulate over time can cause the filter elements to bridge together, causing high filter pressure and poor filtration.
Ladders and Diving Boards…
It is VERY important to inspect your ladders, handrails, and diving boards for cracks, rusty bolts and hardware. If you have a diving board with cracks, replace it immediately. Also, check your ladder and handrail bolts. It is important that they are tight. Do not allow the ladders or handrails to become loose. When the bolts are not tightened properly it can be dangerous, and cause injuries.
You should check your filtration equipment area for leaves, high grass and overgrown shrubbery. While it may look nice to have a heavily landscaped equipment area, often it can cause problems. If equipment is covered with various types of debris it can cause pumps to over heat, wear out or even burn up.
Heater owners should occasionally inspect the heater area for leaves, high grass and overgrown shrubbery. These conditions can restrict air circulation, which can cause heaters to over heat and shut down. It is also helpful to inspect inside your heater compartment. Rodents and insects are drawn to heaters for shelter, especially during the winter months. These pesky critters can do a lot of damage to heaters.
Check to make sure all wire connections and conduit is intact. If it is split or cracked… electrical tape is not the proper repair… have it replaced. Unsafe electrical conditions can cause serious injuries.
An un-repaired hole the size of a pencil tip can result in hundreds of gallons of water lost per day. A leak in your pool will increase chemical demands, and may lead to more serious structural and mechanical problems. Fortunately, effective leak location and repair solutions are available.
By far the most common indication of a leak is that the water level is dropping faster than what is normally attributable to evaporation or splash-out. Often leaks are big enough that excess water loss is obvious. If you wake-up to find that your pool has dropped several inches overnight you know you’ve got a problem. The bigger challenges are the smaller, yet just as serious, leaks that may develop slowly. In these cases it is important to determine what is “normal water loss” and thus avoid wasting time looking for and worrying about a leak that really isn’t there. A simple way to account for evaporation and confirm a leak is to do a Bucket Test.
Air in the pump or air bubbles blowing back into the pool
A pool leak in the suction side plumbing (from skimmers and main drains) may pull air into the plumbing lines that will show up in the pump or be blown back into the pool through the returns. Air leaks such as this can be just as damaging to your pool even though you may never notice symptoms of water loss. Evidence of air in the system can also be caused by a blockage or obstruction in the suction lines. Either situation will require professional attention to avoid causing mechanical damage to your pool equipment.
Finding and fixing your leak
Once you know you have a pool leak it’s time for action. The longer a leaking pipe, liner or pool shell is left un-repaired the more costly the eventual fix will be. You have options, some pool leaks can be easy to find and fix yourself. In most cases however a qualified and experienced pool professional using sophisticated electronic equipment will be able to provide more efficient and effective pool leak and repair.