Feature Article - April 2019
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Keep Your Head Above Water

Proper Pool Maintenance Procedures

By Dave Ramont

What's In the Water?

To keep pool water safe, it should be properly circulated and filtered. Therefore, the pump and filter are of utmost importance. The pump strainer should be regularly cleaned out, and worn gaskets and seals replaced. A flowmeter can be used to ensure that the gallons-per-minute are correct.

There are three common types of filters: sand, cartridge, and D.E. (diatomaceous earth). Post said that each type has its own pros and cons. "Sand is still the most common for commercial applications," he said. "It's fairly simple and inexpensive to operate, but does not have the best filtration ability. The newest technology is regenerative media (new style D.E.). This has the best filtration ability, but is more costly and does require a more sophisticated operator to deal with the automation."

Whichever type of filter is used, regular maintenance and cleaning of the filter and media are crucial. Cartridges and D.E. grids should be inspected to make sure they're intact with no holes to allow debris to escape. Sand filters should be backwashed and the sand checked periodically for channeling. Since filters screen out debris and particles from pool water, if the filters aren't working properly then the water quality is compromised. Worn or broken filter parts must be addressed, and replacing valves, gaskets and gauges can head off bigger future problems.

Each pool at the Apex Centre uses regenerative media filter systems. "All systems are monitored daily and maintained per the manufacturer's specifications," said Mullins.

Sand filters are used at the Homewood Pool, which Stephens said are easy to work with once you learn them. "The filters we have actually have a Plexiglas viewing area that I love because I'm able to see the sand turning inside during backwash."

Pool water makeup can change quickly. Therefore, it's critical for operators to test water quality frequently.

Pool water makeup can change quickly. Therefore, it's critical for operators to test water quality frequently. "As a general rule, chlorine and pH levels should be checked before opening the facility and then regularly throughout the day, including at peak usage times," said DeRosa. "The Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) recommends testing every two hours if chemical levels are not monitored by a chemical controller and testing every four hours if an automatic disinfectant feed system is in use. Some jurisdictions may require hourly testing."

DeRosa said that some codes only require testing two times a day, but added that these are outdated and far outside generally accepted industry practices. "Infrequent testing could result in diminished water quality and/or clarity, contributing to illness or injury."

Post agrees. "Small outdoor pools may need to be checked every hour. Other chemicals like alkalinity and calcium hardness can be done on a daily or weekly basis."

"Although the Apex Centre has automatic controllers on each pool, water chemistry is still checked every hour during operations to ensure water quality," said Mullins. "Also, each pool's chemicals are checked prior to opening each body of water."

Over in Homewood, Stephens said he personally checks the water once a day at a random time, but the lifeguards on duty are scheduled every two hours to check the water. "It's very important because things like bather load, weather or maintenance issues can make your levels change quickly."

Chemical automation systems simplify the maintenance of pool sanitizer levels. Depending on the system, you can measure pH, ORP (oxidation reduction potential) and sanitizer levels and automatically dispense the correct amount of chemicals to balance the pool.

"Automation of chemical feed system is now standard," DeRosa said. "It is atypical to see a commercial facility operated without automated chemical systems."

Post echoed this, adding "There's a new controller on the market that can also control alkalinity, but other water balance factors still have to be done manually."

The Apex Centre uses automated controllers, and Mullins said they're equipped with chlorine ppm probes as well as ORP and pH probes. "With the addition of the ppm probe, the controller is able to automatically compute the Langelier Saturation Index and Ryzner Saturation Index for each pool."

He explained that each controller is connected to their city network, allowing staff to monitor pool chemistry conditions for each pool in real time on a monitor from their office. "This does not eliminate the need for manual chemical tests, but helps staff to spot trends in water chemistry before they become an issue."

Mullins added that they also utilize a water chemistry photometer, which is a more accurate way to test water chemistry over a regular titration test kit.