Mid summer swimming pool care involves working around vacations, hot weather, heavy pool use and the busyness of life. Unfortunately, many people look at their pool and say, “hey, the water looks great!” Then they wonder why in just a couple of days, they’re dealing with cloudy water, algae and other pool water care issues.
Whether the pool is residential or commercial, water care must be consistent. If care is not consistent, the pool can quickly go from sparkling blue to dull and cloudy or worse sometimes within hours. What are the contributing factors to cause these changes? There are many. Here are the most common.
Heavy bather loads cause the pool’s sanitizer to be exhausted more quickly. If the pool owner is a expecting a party or large additional number of swimmers, it would be a great idea to shock or super chlorinate the pool about 6 hours PRIOR to the party. The slightly higher level of sanitizer (in this case chlorine) will get used up over the course of the party. After the party, consider shocking again to remove the swimmer waste (sweat, urine, body lotions, etc) left by the party-goers. A maintenance dose of algaecide will also help.
Lack of swimmers. Yes, lack of swimmers. When a swimming pool is not used, you eliminate a great way of “natural” brushing and wiping of the pool’s surfaces and the better circulation the swimmers bring to the pool. “Dead spots” of poor water circulation are made alive. Even just one swimmer per day splashing around for 30 minutes can make the difference between sparkling water and cloudy water.
Summer temperatures means much higher water temperatures. Keep in mind that for every 10 degree rise in pool water temperature will result in a doubling of the chlorine use. In other words, if your 15,000 gallon pool typically uses about 1 pound of slow dissolving tri-chloro sticks or tabs each week at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, when the water temperature rises to a really comfortable 85 degrees, you will now use 2 pounds of chlorine to maintain the same sanitizer level.
Lack of a good, consistent pool water care program. The best way to maintain a sparkling, blue pool is to add shock and algaecide weekly. The customers that we see in our store having the most frequent problems with algae or cloudy water are those folks who only add shock and algaecide when the pool is opened or when they get into trouble. At that point, it can easily cost double or triple the amount of what a normal program would cost them. Not to mention the down time and the question of, “dad, when can we use the pool again.” A typical maintenance program for a 10,000 gallon pool would be, 1 pound of granular calcium hypochlorite shock per week followed by a maintenance dose of a good quality algaecide the following morning. When you’re shocking the pool, don’t skimp. It’s always better to add a little more (i.e., a 14,000 gallon pool should use a full 2 pounds of shock rather than 1.4 pounds). If you’re expecting a party, then follow our tips above. It’s also a good idea to have some “party shock” available, just in case unexpected company drops by. Party shocks are great because you can add them to the pool, then resume swimming in about 15 minutes. Your pool gets the extra sanitizer boost to handle the larger swimmer load and the odds are that your pool will actually look pretty good once every one has left!
Keep you pool water properly balanced. I can’t tell you how many people just don’t test their pool water. Sorry to say, but water balance can’t be eyeballed. You’ve got to test it. When the water is in balance, your sanitizer works more efficiently and effectively, swimmers eyes and skin aren’t irritated, and the pool equipment – filter, pump, heater, etc. – are damaged by corrosion or scaling. All it takes is a few minutes to perform the test at home. But be accurate. Don’t settle for close to the range! Better yet, find a good qualified local pool store with a computerized analysis center AND with someone who knows pool water chemistry and can ask the right questions. Water balance is simple, pH 7.4 – 7.6, Total alkalinity 100 – 140 ppm, Calcium hardness about 200 – 250 ppm. Each of these factors are interlinked. If your pH is constantly changing, you can be sure that the Total alkalinity is LOW causing “pH bounce.” If you notice that the water is getting hazier as the temperature rises and you use calcium hypochlorite as a regular sanitizing product, you can be sure that the Calcium hardness is high and mostly the pH and total alkalinity are also high. If the water is “crystal clear” but your blonde haired children are coming out with the latest green hair do, pH, total alkalinity & calcium hardness are dead low.
Solar blankets are a constant source of bacteria and algae. Solar blankets should be properly and thoroughly chemically cleaned at least 2 times during the swimming season. Many pool water quality issues are the result of algae and bacteria “bio-films” growing on the water side of the solar blanket. You don’t even know they are there until you feel that little bit of slime. That’s all that it takes to start a pool problem that could be a major mess and clean up. Instead, consider using one of the many “chemical” solar blankets such as Ecosavr or Tropical Fish solar blankets. They’re up to 75% as effective as a traditional solar blanket and you don’t have to worry about cleaning them or removal and storage.
Finally, a dirty filter can contribute to pool problems. Whether your pool is equipped with a sand, cartridge or diatomaceous earth (DE) filter, give it a proper CHEMICAL cleaning. Don’t just backwash it or hose down the grids. A good filter cleaner will strip away accumulated greases, oils and lotion and help to bring efficiency back to the filter. Look at it this way. Would you rinse out dirt clothing or would you launder it with the proper detergent? The same goes for your filter. Chemical cleaning of DE and cartridge filters also extends the life of the filter media itself.
If you do run into pool problems this summer, it will be worth your while to talk to an expert. Otherwise, you run the risk of spending lots of money treating symptoms of the problems rather than the root cause of the water problem.