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

Simplifying the Process

There are ways to simplify pool maintenance. Labor is the biggest driver of cost of swimming pool maintenance, and smaller municipalities might not be able to afford the everyday cost of a licensed inspector. If you are an entity that wants to take care of the pool you can save money: Perform the labor yourself and trust the professional with the chemical adjustments. "In our market," Little said, "we have customers who do a lot of the physical maintenance and we come by twice a week and adjust the chemical balance in the pool." Little advises you to know what you are capable of, and know what you need a professional for and their professional capabilities.

Make a daily checklist and a weekly checklist of the items that need to be checked for safety, added Hefter, "as well as what needs to be done on a daily basis to keep everything in working order and what should be done weekly and checked weekly."

Common Mistakes

Pool inspection studies show that many pools and spas are not operated by trained staff, and often 10 to 20 percent have public health code violations like the improper disinfectant level or pH. A common mistake is the assumptions of false assurances.

"I hear this every day," Little said: "'If I smell chlorine, I know my water is safe,' when in fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. The presence of smelly chlorine is actually an indication that chlorine has already done its job. Smelling chlorine means there is no chlorine in the water. So false assumptions and not taking the time to verify is a mistake. The way I train my staff is trust in your actions. Trust in your staff. But verify. And when you are done verifying, verify again because people's lives are affected by what we do."

Richard LaMotte, VP of sales and marketing, for a water quality and analytical testing company based in Chestertown, Md., offered up some mistakes in water quality inspections, and how to avoid them. One mistake, he said, is using old reagents or improper test procedures to evaluate water quality. "Look for expiration dates or ask manufacturers to confirm shelf-life. Read instructions carefully."

Lamotte explained that dosing the water with enough chemicals to correct a deficiency or over-dosing and causing another problem is a recurring mistake he sees. His solution? Use software to confirm dosing requirements. Leaving test reagents out in severe heat all day long can lead to problems. So store kits indoors, and if possible take a sample to the kit or bring it out only when needed for testing. Sporadic checking is one more mistake that pool managers often make. Or blindly trusting your team. Embrace new technologies and new learning. Don't be complacent or apathetic.

Mart cited another mistake made by operators: not properly caring for their pool interior surface. "Using too much acid for cleaning plaster, for instance, is a frequent problem area because the acid can take the alkaloids out of the cement that is in the plaster and can make it fail faster. That's a common problem and one that is avoided through proper training and care in getting the formulation proper. Over-acid washing is one of the biggest causes for plaster and grout failure."

Make certain that your filters are clean. Periodic washing of the filter with a filter renew type product to clean it—or replacing it on a regular schedule—is a very good idea for avoiding channelization issues.

If you have a cartridge style filtration system, maintain a separate container of TSP water to soak the filters in, Mart said. "And soak them until the day they need to be changed out. Then wash them down with an appropriate filter cleaning system. Take the older filters you've just taken out into the TSP soak bath. That will make for much cleaner filter and extend their life expectancy by simply having an extra batch that you trade out. Maintain two sets and rotate them."