Feature Article - April 2015
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Pool Procedures Overview

Expert Tips on Maintaining a Safe, Healthy and Sustaining Swimming Pool

By Rick Dandes

"I would recommend having a licensed contractor make the inspection," Little added. "In California, pool inspectors must be licensed, but that might not be the case where you are." Still, your best bet is to have a licensed contractor thoroughly evaluate the pool a few times a year, looking at the components of chemistry, electrical and mechanical subsystems, filter, pumps, heaters, valves and links.

"Where we are in California, we never close pools," Little said. "They are open 365 days a year. So, we do thorough inspections once at the traditional start of summer and once at the traditional end of summer: that is, Memorial Day and Labor Day.

"You must also maintain the proper pool water balance, said Juliene Hefter, executive director/CEO, Association of Aquatic Professionals. Improper pool water balance can cause many types of failures at your facility such as the staining of equipment, and shorter life cycles of equipment. The use of too much or too little chemicals, cleaning of hair and lint baskets, and backwashing only when needed, are other maintenance issues, she said.

It's All About Chemistry

Your pool can be a hostile environment, with a daily, ongoing battle in the water against pathogens, Mart explained. Acids and caustic chemicals can attack your concrete pool interior. Chlorine, acids, salts and pool chemicals splatter on the deck and can dramatically shorten the normal life expectancy of concrete, tile and grout.

Even body oils over time, he said, can make the deck surfaces too slippery. Acids destroying the plaster can make pool interior surfaces far too rough for patrons to use comfortably. The best solution is permanent encapsulation.

Something else to watch for, Mart said, are tri-chloramines and other disinfection byproducts, which outgas from the chemical reaction of pool chemicals with the swimmers' sweat and (yes) urine. These gases hang low over the pool and not only make your swimmers miserable but also damage every metallic component in the pool and surrounding environs.

Some people think if they just dump chlorine in a swimming pool, it is safe. But the sanitizer can be completely ineffective if the water is alkaline, Little cautioned. "So, have a licensed professional adjust the chemicals." While in colder areas, he said, the cooler water might retard bacteria and other organic growth, in California and warmer climates, water must be tested more often. "And where we take care of pools, at say a Marriott Hotel, we test the chemistry every day, twice a day. Because the pool water can become an incubator of algae and organic compounds."

As temperatures rise, bacteria and algae production can turn a pool green very quickly. That bacteria can eventually damage the pool's pipes and make people sick. All the more reason to regulate and evaluate the pool chemistry regularly.

Keeping the Pool Deck Hazard-Free

Meanwhile, never forget there are maintenance "musts" to do outside the actual pool to keep people safe, Little noted. Pool decks, for one thing, should be regularly cleaned and disinfected to prevent the spread of disease as well as the inevitable slipperiness that can come from bacteria growth.

The way to clean a deck can vary widely depending on the surface material: brushed concrete, textured modified cement or other cement coatings, tile, stone, brick. Just follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning and maintaining the surface.

Dirt and scum can best be removed from larger decks by pressure washing, but for smaller pool areas, using scrubbing with a stiff brush and using a cleaning solution will usually do the job. To get rid of bacteria and other harmful pathogens, you need to also disinfect your pool deck. Don't forget to immediately wash down the deck after you are through, Little said.