Feature Article - October 2011
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Maintenance Series: Aquatics

What's in the Water?
Prevent Problems With Proper Pool Maintenance

By Dawn Klingensmith

The most common pool water issues are also (arguably) the most manageable and preventable, tracing back to two basics of pool maintenance: water chemistry and filtration.

Equipment Innovations

When it comes to pool care equipment and innovations, "Three main things have come out that we're promoting to people," Sherwood said.

The first are the energy-saving variable speed pumps on the market. Variable speed pumps enable the pool pump to move water at slower speeds for significant energy savings, adjusting their speed according to need.

The second are commercial-grade automatic vacuums. "They have gotten really good for professional pools. The ones they have now are incredible," Sherwood said. "They can climb walls and clean tile, and they have a microchip that can figure out the size of the pool" and its dimensions and navigate accordingly.

Sherwood said an automatic vacuum, which can operate overnight, typically pays for itself in about a year by decreasing labor costs.

The third technology Sherwood recommends are commercial electrolytic chlorine generators, also called salt or saline systems. Basically, these are miniaturized chlorine manufacturing plants that dissolve natural salt (sodium chloride) into the pool water, which then flows through an electrolytic cell. Electrolysis separates the saline into its basic components, sodium and chloride. Chlorine gas is produced by this process and goes to work to oxidize bacteria and purify the pool water. Following this process, most of the chloride and sodium re-bond to form salt again in a closed-loop system, so additional salt only needs to be added on occasion to make up for splash out and backwashing.

"The generator creates chlorine right in the water," Lachocki said, "reducing the amount of chemicals purchased, handled and stored at facilities."

Salt systems have come down in cost while chlorine prices have risen, making them an economical as well as an eco-friendly choice. In places where the swimming season is year-round, a saline system can pay for itself in a year, Sherwood said.

In addition, patrons enjoy them, as the salinity is not detectable to the taste but is noticeable on the skin. "Female clients say it's like a day at the spa. It makes your skin feel really good and your hair feel great," Sherwood said.

Besides being gentler on patrons' eyes and skin, saline systems also cause less damage to equipment, Satterly said.

One other technology Lachocki recommends looking into are UV pool sanitation systems that utilize a high-intensity UV light to inactivate germs as they move through the circulation system. These systems are a supplement to chlorine, not a replacement, he said.