Starting Up a Salt Water Pool

Make sure saltwater pools are properly prepared for the beginning of swim season.

The initial steps in opening a saltwater pool are very similar to traditional pools, but a few key stages are critical to ensure the right start for the summer.

Get ready

First, for both types of pools, remove any plant debris that accumulated on the cover over the winter. Any plant matter that has made its way into the pool must also be removed. If water has collected on the cover, pump it off and away from the pool before removing.

Once the pool is clean, adjust the water level to about halfway up the skimmer face. You may need to add or remove water to reach this level, depending on your off-season climate and whether winterization was necessary. Connect the equipment, checking the pump and filter to make sure they are working properly, and turn it all on.

For saltwater pools, if you removed the electrolytic chlorine generator (ECG) during the off-season — particularly common in colder climates — put it back in place without turning it on. Pool water must have proper salt levels for the ECG to run correctly, so it shouldn’t be activated until after salt levels are checked and adjusted if needed.

Then run the pump for at least 24 hours to thoroughly circulate the water. This will help clear hazy water and filter out any remaining debris that found its way into the pool during the off-season.

Special salt steps

After preliminary opening tasks, startup steps for saltwater pools become more distinct.

For instance, saltwater pools must be shocked with chlorine. During the swim season, the ECG produces a constant amount of chlorine, so shocking a pool isn’t typically necessary. However, this fixed chlorine amount may not overcome the chlorine demand at startup that often is created by organic matter in the pool. A chlorine shock will solve this problem.

Before determining the pool’s salt level, take a water sample from a spot in the pool that is elbow-deep, away from the return lines, and test for and adjust pH, total alkalinity, calcium hardness and cyanuric acid. After the water is balanced, test for salt levels to ensure that the water has the appropriate amount for proper ECG function. The typical ideal salt level falls between 3,000- and 4,000 ppm, but instructions from the ECG manufacturer should be followed for optimum performance.

Run the ECG on its highest level of chlorine output for at least 24 hours to establish the proper amount of free chlorine. Once you’ve reached a level of free chlorine between 1- and 4 ppm, decrease the output according to manufacturer instructions to maintain the proper chlorine level throughout the season.

Benefits of salt water
Research shows that most traditional pool owners who have swam in a saltwater pool believe they deliver superior sensory benefits, and would prefer to own one over their existing vessel. The water created by a saltwater system is only about 1/10 the salinity of ocean water, so it feels softer and more soothing to the eyes, nose and skin.

Saltwater pools also can mean less maintenance. The ECG constantly converts salt water to chlorine, so chlorine levels are more consistent and there’s no need to purchase, transport, store, handle or frequently add chlorine.

Making the switch
If your customer has decided to switch to a saltwater pool, there are special steps needed for a smooth conversion. First, select the right-sized ECG according to pool size and bather load. If your customer has an
average-sized pool that is used heavily during the season, you may need to purchase an ECG that’s sized for a larger pool. This will ensure sufficient chlorine production for the pool’s actual usage.

Add treatment products to protect the pool against staining and scale as usual, but again, make sure these products are specifically designed for saltwater pools. The interior of the ECG has extreme pH ranges, high chlorine levels and relatively high temperatures. Many treatment products designed for traditionally sanitized pools break down into compounds like orthophosphates, which are nutrients for algae. The products used for salt systems should not contain ingredients like sulfates, or phosphorous-based sequestrants that can contribute to scale formation on cell plates.

Always use high-quality salt, especially when adding it to a customer’s pool for the first time. Commodity salt contains naturally occurring contaminants that can hurt your pool. Organic contaminants can cause scale, cloudy water and chlorine demand in the pool. Inorganic contaminants such as manganese, copper, iron, nitrates, silicates, sulfates, calcium and metals can affect water clarity, dissolution rate, and stain and scale potential. Check with your salt supplier to be sure of the type and source of the salt you are purchasing. Ultra-pure, mechanically evaporated salt is best for saltwater pools. Solar salt often has organic contaminants, and mined rock salt should never be used in pools.

When adding salt, use enough to reach the midpoint of the range recommended by the ECG manufacturer. It’s better to add too little salt than too much, as you can always add more; too much salt will require dilution with fresh water. Add salt to the deep end of the pool and brush until dissolved while the pump is running.
Saltwater pools require less maintenance than traditional pools, but they aren’t maintenance free. For residential pools, I recommend weekly testing for pH and chlorine, and monthly for total alkalinity, calcium hardness, stabilizer/cyanuric acid, metals and salinity levels to ensure they are maintained at the proper levels.

Source: Bob Harper- Pool and Spa News | 5.14.2010

Spa Pool

Spas, hot tubs, and whirlpools have all come to mean the same thing in America. The terms are interchangeable because most “spa” products offer a variety of heat, bubble, and whirlpool settings so a person can enjoy a range of benefits. In fact, it is now possible for people to experience the relaxation of a spa or whirlpool while they are swimming.

The spa pool is not necessarily any pool that is heated. The typical spa pool is smaller than average, but it is still large enough to swim in. It also has spots available to sit and rest. The pool will reach heats as high as spas, and jets will have Jacuzzi and whirlpool capabilities.

Heating a Spa Pool

Heating a pool or spa of any size can be expensive if the owner does not have an efficient heater. This is especially true when a person consistently heats a pool up over 100 degrees. At Expert Pools, we carry spa pool designs and the heaters to match.

There are a number of affordable ways to heat a pool. A solar blanket can keep a spa pool at a warm temperature overnight or when it is not being used. Also, automatic heaters do not waste time or energy. Instead, they are set to heat the pool to a certain point over a pre-determined period of time. This allows a person to maintain more control over the temperature of the spa pool and the amount of time the heater is being used.

Spa Manufacturers

Expert Pools is a leading distributor of fiberglass pools and spas. Our spas are built to be much stronger than any others on the market. We employ the use of the latest technology, much of which we have pioneered, to create products that last. Our advances in design (like ceramic cores and closed coping) have revolutionized the pool and spa industry in cold climate states.

When you’re shopping for a spa, there are a few things you should be looking for. First, is the spa easy to heat? It’s always a hassle when you are ready to take a load off and relax in the spa, but you end up having to wait and wait for the water to reach a comfortable temperature. Next, you need to determine if a particular spa has all the qualities you are looking for. There are very basic models, and there are designs that feature jets with five or six different settings. There are also spas that allow for reclining, while others only have upright benches.

Spa Accessories

A number of manufacturers do not carry a wide range of accessories to go along with their spas. At Expert Pools, we offer a variety of options that can enhance the spa experience. We have enclosures that keep spas protected and provide a warm path from the house to the water.

We also offer tools such as vacuums and maintenance kits that will help you keep your spa clean. We also have fiber optic lighting options for all of our spas. This makes relaxing at night a bit safer, and a well-placed, colored light can add to the mood that the spa provides.

Spa Enclosures

There are few things that are as relaxing as spending some time in a warm spa. Spas can reduce muscle tension and they can relieve a bit of the day’s stress. They can also provide a welcome diversion from cold winter nights.

As comfortable as spas are, the mad dash to and from the water when temperatures are low is enough to keep some people from using their spas when it turns cold. Also, when temperatures dip into the low twenties or teens, it can take a long time for a spa to heat up. On top of being an inconvenience, running the heater for extended periods of time can cost quite a lot of money. Spa enclosures can make winter spa use far more enjoyable and affordable. Enclosures keep the air warm, so the trip to the spa is not a painful one. They also keep the water warmer, so the heating process does not take nearly as long.

Protecting a Spa

Enclosures can actually extend the life of a spa. They protect the surface from the elements, reducing the amount of exterior damage that typical spas endure. An enclosure will also keep debris from building up in the water. This makes the spa easier to maintain, and it protects the unit from a number of harmful bacteria.

Part of the joy of relaxing in a spa is taking in the stars, the sunset, or even a view of the city. At Expert Pools, our enclosures allow for those sights in a warm, comfortable environment. Plexiglass and windowed enclosures are available so you can still lean back and look up at the night sky, if you wish.

Solving Stains

With an understanding of galvanic corrosion, stains in salt-chlorine pools don’t have to be a mystery.


Salt   chlorine pools have become popular over the past few years. There are no   hazardous chemicals on site, and water is sanitized and oxidized   automatically. Also, there are little to no chloramines. And many users of   salt generators claim softer-feeling water with less chemical odor and no dry   or irritated skin.

Yet   in spite of all these benefits, some have also reported strange phenomena.   These include discolored water and unusual stains that are hard to remove and   prevent.

Stains   appearing in salt pools include:
• Black flecks on pool bottom
• Black staining on ladders and light rings
• Reoccurring stains and discoloration on light rings around steps or rails,   and discolored water
• Purple haze and debris in pool water

While   these stains seem to be a mystery, typically they are a result of the high   TDS in salt pools and a simple chemical reaction known as galvanic corrosion.

To   understand this electro-chemical reaction, a simple grasp of the technology   of chlorine generators is first needed.

Salt   chlorine

Chlorine   generators work through a process known as electrolysis.

In   nature, chlorine is found primarily in the chloride ion, a component of salt   found in the earth or the oceans. Electrolysis is the means of generating   chemical products from their native state. A salt generator works by passing   electricity through a solution of sodium chloride to produce chlorine as a   disinfectant or sanitizer. The most commonly used chlorine generators are the   in-line type. In these systems, salt water is circulated over electrochemical   cells. The cells used in these systems typically are made of titanium, and   they convert the sodium chloride to free available chlorine. Now it’s   important to understand how this metal relates to galvanic corrosion.

Galvanic   corrosion
Galvanic corrosion occurs when dissimilar metals exist in a high TDS solution   such as a salt chlorine pool.

Some metals are nobler and more cathodic, meaning positive currents flow from   them. They also tend to steal electrons from the less noble anodic or   negative metals. A galvanic corrosion chart is used in industries that work   with fluids and metals, such as cooling towers. The chart shows that the   “anodic” or “less noble” metals at the negative end of the series — such as   magnesium, zinc and aluminum — are more likely to corrode than those at the   “cathodic” or “noble” end, which include gold and graphite.

There   are three things needed in order for galvanic corrosion to occur:
• Electrochemically dissimilar metals must be present
• These metals must be in electrical contact, and
• The metals must be exposed to an electrolyte (salt in solution)

In   a swimming pool, all three of these exist due to high TDS from the salt   content of the water. Most pools contain some copper in the system as well as   in the heat exchanger, or in any brass fittings or pipe that may be in the   hydraulics. As discussed earlier, the electrochemical cells in most chlorine   generators are made of titanium. Copper is a less noble metal than titanium,   and thus it corrodes as a result of the electrolysis in the high salt   solution.

This   electrolysis leaves black stains and debris in the pool. The copper also is   rendered insoluble in the water, which may create a green translucent color.

Solutions   to staining
The simple solution to this problem lies in finding a less noble metal to use   as a sacrificial anode that corrodes but doesn’t cause staining. Galvanic   corrosion occurs because, when these two metals are in salt water with an   electrical current, the weaker, less noble metal (copper) will corrode faster   than normal. Also, the stronger, more noble metal (titanium) will corrode   much slower than normal.

However,   the addition of zinc in these types of systems can prevent corrosion and stop   staining. Zinc is very low on the galvanic chart, and is one of the most   anodic metals found. In salt chlorine pools, zinc can be added as a solid   weight into the skimmer or attached in the circulation system. This slows or   stops the corrosion of copper. If the water is discolored from copper, it is   recommended to use a metal-removal product along with the zinc. This removes   the current discoloration and prevents reoccurrence. Most metal products on   the market tend to be phosphate-based, and this too can cause problems in a   salt chlorine generator. When selecting a metal product, make sure it’s   phosphate-free.

Another   mystery in both salt and regular pools is the occurrence of a strange purple   coloring and debris. This is due to high levels of cyanuric acid and   insoluble copper in the water. If pH and alkalinity drop too low, copper   cyanurate is formed, leaving a purple residue along the water line, and   around lights and steps. The solution here is to lower cyanuric acid down to   35ppm to 50ppm, and adjust up the alkalinity and pH. Also, the addition of   zinc will help keep copper from corroding into the water.

These   simple methods should help solve the mystery…and remove the stains.

Source: Terry Arko- Pool and Spa News | 8.14.2009

Small Fiberglass Pools

At Expert Pools, we carry a variety of small fiberglass pools. By taking a trip to one of our showrooms, you will have the opportunity to see designs such as the Key West, the Chesapeake, and the Freeport. These models range in size between 12′ x 25′ and 12′ x 31′. They are perfect for backyards that would be overwhelmed by larger styles, or for people who want a pool that is suitable for games such as volleyball.

Even if a fiberglass pool is small, that doesn’t mean it has to be shallow. There are small designs that are less than four feet deep, but there are others that reach depths of over six feet. In fact, certain models are flexible, and can be designed to fit the depth requirements of the customer.

Mini Fiberglass Pools

For some people, small fiberglass pools are still too big. Either their yards are compact, or they simply don’t plan on swimming any laps in the near future. At Expert Pools, we have mini designs to fit their needs. These styles, like the Oahu, can be found measuring 8’9″ x 14’3″. They tend to be about four feet deep, and they only require around 2,000 gallons of water.

Adding a heater to a mini fiberglass pool can allow a person to enjoy the benefits of both a pool and a spa. While larger than the typical spa, a mini pool can be heated in a relatively short time and outfitted with massage jets. Designs can also feature ample sitting room, so after a person spends the day swimming, he can turn up the temperature and just sit back and relax.

Sizing a Salt Chlorinator

Sizing a salt chlorinator based on pool gallonage may result in inadequate sanitation — but a few calculations can ensure a correct fit.

While electrolytic chlorine generators (ECGs) for residential pools have traditionally been sized by pool volume, ECGs for commercial pools take bather load into account. Commercial pools are highly regulated, and in order to maintain appropriate chlorine levels, it has proven necessary to know what kind of usage the pool receives. Is it a health club, where exercisers and children swim all day long, or is it a senior center, where members swim only occasionally?

Anticipating usage — and planning for the “worst case scenario” — has made it relatively common to size commercial units based on expected chlorine demand along with volume. Residential units, on the other hand, can be more difficult to judge.

Sometimes new pool owners aren’t sure what their usage will be. Traditionally, it has been easier for homeowners and builders to assume average usage and size ECGs based on volume alone. Gallons are relatively straightforward; usage often isn’t.

But pools with oversized usage and undersized ECGs eventually exhibit problems related to improper sanitation, including hazy water, odors, algae, and even bather illness. An undersized ECG can also lead to shortened cell life, since ECG life expectancy can be decreased when units are overworked trying to maintain proper chlorine levels.

For example, a unit may have a lifespan of seven years based upon a run time of 12 hours per day during the season. If that unit must run 24 hours per day to keep up with chlorine demand, it will last between three and four years rather than the full seven.

It’s difficult to understand the extent of this problem because we don’t know how many salt water pool sanitation issues are correctly attributed to an improperly sized ECG. If a pool owner has repeated issues with maintaining enough chlorine to properly sanitize his pool, do pool professionals ask about ECG size related to pool volume and usage? They may. But they may also attribute the problem to other causes and recommend supplemental chlorine shocks to solve the problem.

So, how can pool builders and retailers size ECGs with chlorine demand as part of the equation?

Calculation factors
Start by having a simple conversation with the pool owner. How many swimmers will use the pool on a daily/weekly basis? Will small children or frequent exercisers be using the pool? (Compared to average swimmers, both tend to add more organics to the water, increasing chlorine demand.) Will pets have an occasional swim? (While not recommended for a variety of reasons, many homeowners still let pets enjoy their pools.) This will start the process of determining whether a pool has a light, medium or heavy chlorine demand.

Then, review other factors that tend to drive up chlorine demand. Are there flowering trees, plants or other vegetation surrounding the pool? Are fertilizers or pesticides used near the pool regularly? Does the climate include unusually warm weather or regular heavy rains? How many hours does the pump run each day? Does the source water contain organic material or added chloramines for sanitation? As one can see, many factors can influence any given pool’s chlorine demand.

These types of questions can help you determine whether a pool will have light, medium or heavy demand during the season. Generally speaking, pools with light demand can stick close to an ECG size based upon gallons (i.e., a 20,000-gallon ECG for a 20,000-gallon pool). Pools with medium demand will need 1.5 times the size (a 30,000-gallon ECG for a 20,000-gallon pool). And pools with heavy demand will
require double the size (a 40,000-gallon ECG for a 20,000-gallon pool).

It’s important to note that these sizing recommendations assume that the pump is running for at least eight hours per day — the minimum recommended run time. Pump run time is an important consideration for sizing ECG units. If the pump will run for shorter periods, an ECG with higher chlorine output should be used.
When in doubt, don’t be afraid to oversize the ECG. While it may cost more for the pool owner initially, that cost will be more than offset by the benefits in water quality and the extended lifespan of the ECG.

If the ECG is sized correctly, it will produce and maintain at least one part per million of free chlorine. (One to four parts per million is the recommended range for salt water pools.) The amount of free chlorine available can be easily tested and measured to ensure equipment is sized appropriately.

Sizing ECGs based on gallons is a fairly straightforward task. Taking usage-related chlorine demand and pump run time into account adds a level of complexity to the equation. However, customers will have better results in the long run if we take the time to factor in pool usage and other chlorine demand factors, which leads to loyal customers, word-of-mouth referrals, and a positive presence in the marketplace.

Source: Bob Harper- Pool and Spa News | 6.10.2011

Servicing Salt Water Pools

Electrolytic chlorine generation can simplify some aspects of pool maintenance — but it requires adjustments in others.

If there’s one ingredient that most pool chemical regimens have in common, it’s chlorine. Almost since the beginning of the pool industry, service technicians across the country have been hauling around drums of the sanitizer, using test kits to monitor its concentration, and adjusting water chemistry to maximize its effectiveness.

But over the past decade, a growing number of pools have switched to a somewhat different system: Electrolytic chlorine generation. By using electricity to drive certain chemical reactions in salt water, electrolytic chlorine generators (ECGs) produce chlorine on-site.

Although the chemistry of an ECG-chlorinated pool bears many similarities with that of a traditionally chlorinated pool, it also involves some unique factors.

Here, through the expert advice of scientists and service techs, we examine these differences and provide some field-tested advice for servicing pools with ECGs.

Practical considerations

Perhaps the most obvious area in which ECG-chlorinated pools differ from traditionally chlorinated ones is in chemical transportation and storage. Because barrels of chlorine (or chemical compounds including chlorine) don’t need to be trucked to the site and stored there, many safety issues associated with these barrels — such as fumes and spills — are no longer major concerns.

However, the ECG itself adds some new tasks to the traditional maintenance regimen. Among the most important is keeping the salt cell clean. The chemical reactions involved in generating chlorine from salty water also contribute to the accumulation of calcium scale within the ECG — over time, this can lead to less efficient chlorine generation, or even equipment damage. Thus, it’s crucial to perform regular checks on the cell, and address any scale buildup with a light acid wash.

“The first year of a new ECG’s life, you can usually get away with cleaning the cell once every three or four months,” says Cliff Brummett, owner of CTB Pools LLC in Phoenix. But year by year, Brummett goes on to explain, the process of chlorine generation tends to drive the water’s calcium hardness and alkalinity upward, making more frequent cleanings necessary. “By the second year,” he says, “you typically have to start cleaning the cell every month.”

Salt water, and the process of electrolysis, can also contribute to certain kinds of degradation, such as galvanic corrosion. In fact, says Alison Osinski, Ph.D., principal-owner of Aquatic Consulting Services in Avalon, Catalina Island, Calif., “Some manufacturers may say their components were not NSF tested in salt water pools, and therefore [using them in a salt water pool] voids the warranty.”

This is especially a concern for small components in heaters, such as gaskets and O-rings. “You’ll need to pay more attention to those components, and replace them more often than you would in a traditionally chlorinated pool,” Osinski says. Weekly checkups of these components, and replacements of any that are beginning to show signs of damage, will go a long way toward keeping the equipment trouble-free.

Another consideration, which might seem obvious but is often neglected, is the fact that the system’s pump must be running in order for the ECG to produce chlorine. “Since pumps on residential pools usually don’t run 24 hours a day, we can get problems with these residential systems that we don’t see with commercial systems, because they don’t circulate the water enough,” Osinski says. Thus, it’s important to be sure the system is generating enough chlorine to maintain a proper residual in the time it takes the pump to run through one daily cycle.

Balance concerns
When it comes to the chemistry of ECG-chlorinated pools, most of the acceptable ranges specified by organizations like the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals and the Independent Pool and Spa Service Association will still apply — in other words, the water’s calcium hardness, total alkalinity, pH and temperature should be maintained in the same ranges as they would for a traditionally chlorinated pool.

However, there’s one important respect in which ECG-chlorinated water differs: its level of total dissolved solids (TDS). Whereas most traditional recommendations place the ideal range for TDS at approximately 300 to 1,800 ppm, salt water often contains 3,400 ppm of TDS due to the salt alone — in addition to as much as 1,000 ppm of other miscellaneous TDS.

ECG manufacturers typically specify an ideal range of salinity for pools using their devices — so it’s important to check the salinity of the water at least once a month. When performing these checks, be sure to use a test method that measures the salinity level in particular; not just the overall TDS — test kit instructions will specify which parameter each test addresses.

“A standard TDS test is going to measure all the salt, plus any other dissolved solids,” explains Ray Denkewicz, worldwide product manager for sanitization and chemical automation at Hayward Industries in North Kingstown, R.I. “So you might get a reading of 5,000 ppm, when in fact the salt contribution to that may be 3,000.”

Thus, distinguishing between these two types of TDS contributions is critical for maintaining balanced water. And an effective way to get a clear sense of the pool’s non-salt TDS is to perform a TDS test when adding salt to the pool for the first time. “That’s your starting TDS,” says Geoffrey Brown, developmental scientist at Pristiva Inc. in Overland Park, Kan. “Once your TDS increases 1,500 ppm above that, then you should start thinking about draining some of the water and replacing it with fresh water.”

ECGs’ tendency to drive pH and total alkalinity upward can impact other chemical parameters as well. “Not only can high pH result in bather discomfort, it also makes the chlorine less effective,” Brown says. This means that while a chlorine test might show that the water’s chlorine level is acceptable, if the water’s pH is too high, that chlorine will exist in a much less effective chemical form. Thus, weekly pH checks are essential for effective sanitation.

In these high-pH conditions, some say they’ve found that higher TDS creates a greater potential for calcium carbonate and other soluble calcium compounds to form scale deposits on surfaces throughout the pool and equipment. “The calcium will want to precipitate out of solution,” Osinski explains. “It can start clogging the pipes up, creating milky water, and causing scale.”

However, other scientists point out that a higher TDS would actually lead to more corrosive water, by lowering the water’s Langelier Saturation Index (LSI) value. “Higher TDS makes the water more corrosive,” says Karen Rigsby, leader of technical services at BioLab Inc. in Lawrenceville, Ga. “It’s inside the chlorine generator where you get the likelihood of scale formation, and that’s because of the high pH inside there.”

If calcium scale does become a problem in an ECG-chlorinated pool, experts say it’s generally reasonable to adjust the pH slightly downward with muriatic acid. Still, it’s a smart idea to calculate the water’s LSI value on every visit to the site, and visually inspect surfaces for any signs of corrosion, as well as calcium deposits.

Additive interactions
Even if the pool’s water has been balanced into an ideal LSI range, it’s still helpful to be aware of some additional chemical traits of ECG-chlorinated pools. Aside from their higher salt-contributed TDS, the other main chemical distinction of these pools is how their cyanuric acid (CYA) concentration must be managed.

As many service techs know, CYA is a chemical that protects chlorine from breaking down under the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Many traditionally chlorinated pools are chlorinated with trichlor tablets, which contain both chlorine and CYA. However, the chlorine in ECG-chlorinated pools must also be protected with cyanuric acid (CYA) — industry organizations like the APSP recommend an ideal range of 30 to 50 ppm — which means it’ll be necessary to add this chemical manually from time to time. Techs say approximately once per year is usually sufficient, but it still pays to test the pool’s CYA concentration every month to ensure that the level hasn’t dropped due to splash-out or backwash.

“But CYA doesn’t degrade,” Rigsby says. “It’s not something you have to replace all the time, but you want to keep an eye on it.”

Some service techs even recommend switching to tablets during colder months, when certain ECG models automatically shut down. “We use tabs during the winter, because our water gets colder than 55 degrees, and most cells shut off at 55,” Brummett says. This can help prevent algae blooms and other microbe infestations during the winter.

Trichlor tablets contrast with ECG chlorination in another way, too — while these tablets tend to drive the water’s pH downward, the pH of an ECG-chlorinated pool tends to drift upward (as discussed in the “Balance concerns” section earlier). This means the water balance regimen that keeps traditionally chlorinated pools balanced can send an ECG-chlorinated pool’s LSI value well above the acceptable range.

Sequestrants can lead to a few problems in ECG-chlorinated pools. Some simply aren’t as stable in the presence of high levels of chlorine — in other words, the levels inside the ECG itself — which can make them less effective. Also, some sequestrants are based on phosphates, which break down into orthophosphates — chemicals that combine readily with calcium in the pool to form calcium phosphate on the ECG. In any case, many manufacturers make sequestrants that are designed specifically for use in ECG-chlorinated pools; the packaging will usually specify this.

Some dry acids — such as sodium bisulfate — can leave sulfates in the pool, and these can contribute to scale problems similar to those caused by phosphate-based sequestrants. “And if you’re unlucky enough to live in a part of the country where you’ve got barium in the source water, then you can get barium sulfate in the ECG, and that is next to impossible to get off,” Brown adds. Pool test kits don’t generally include a test for barium; the best way to find out if it’s in the local source water is to consult the municipal water authority.

Bromine may also contribute to ECG trouble. Though this chemical can be a helpful supplemental algaecide in traditionally chlorinated pools.

“But you don’t want to use it in a salt chlorinated pool,” Denkewicz says, “because the bromide ions interact adversely with the electrodes in the cell.”

As the ECG’s electrodes make chlorine from chloride ions, they’ll also make bromine from bromide ions. “Bromide is harsh on the sensitive electrode,” Denkewicz explains; “it can damage it, and decrease the overall lifetime of the cell.”

Though these potential issues can cause problems for ECG-chlorinated pools, keeping them in mind will help ensure that many pitfalls associated with ECGs are avoided. As many ECG experts point out, chlorine is chlorine, no matter how or where it’s generated and introduced into the pool — but even so, a proper understanding of issues unique to ECG-chlorinated pools can extend the life of both the pool and its equipment.

Source: Ben Thomas- Pool and Spa News | 12.30.2011

Selecting and Installing a Pool Lift

Experts discuss how to select and   install pool and spa lifts to meet the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Last   year, the Americans with Disabilities Act was codified   to spell out exactly what requirements public pools and spas need to meet in   order to become compliant with the law.

The act applies to all public pools, new and existing. This includes nearly   all commercial pools and spas, with the primary exception being apartment and   condominium pools, which are governed by the Fair Housing Act, and registered   landmarks. pools must come into compliance by March 15, 2012.

The ADA mandates that most vessels have at least one primary form of access —   for pools, a lift or sloped entry; for spas, a lift, transfer wall or   transfer system. Pools measuring more than 300 perimeter feet must have a   second means of access, which can include a lift, ramp, transfer wall,   transfer system or stairs. (There are a few exceptions, noted in the ADA   standard. Click here for a link to the law.)

For many, adding a lift will be the simplest way to comply. Read on to find   out how to best select and install these products on existing commercial   pools and spas to make them ADA-compliant.

Menu of options
When helping the client select a lift, the decision should be guided by   budget and how the unit will be used. Property owners can choose between   three basic models: portable, removable and permanent. Lifts can be fueled by   water or a battery and each has its benefits and drawbacks.

Portable   lifts can be wheeled to various locations. When in use, the unit is steadied   by a system of brakes and weights to counter the user’s mass. There is no   installation other than minor assembly, which makes these models the quickest   and easiest to get going. They are, however, the most expensive to purchase,   and they weigh several hundred pounds, so it takes a fairly strong person to   move one alone.

Removable lifts can be pulled out of a sleeve embedded in the deck. This   allows some versatility, as the chair can be moved out of the way when   operators know it will not be used; or it can be taken to another sleeve for   use at a different spot in the pool or a different vessel altogether.

“If you have swim competitions, for instance, you’re not going to want   something permanently mounted in the deck and in the way,” says Craig Sears,   owner of Sears Pool Management Consultants Inc. in Sandy Springs, Ga. “You   may have a referee who needs to be walking up and down the deck.”

A cap covers the sleeve and sits flush with the deck so it doesn’t present an   obstruction.

By contrast, a permanent lift stays in place once it’s set, often attached to   an anchor buried in the deck. This is most appealing when the unit will be   used often or if the client is trying to save money, as they are the least   expensive.

However, both removable and permanent lifts require installation of an anchor   or sleeve in the deck, which adds cost. “On paver decks, you have to pour   quite a substantial concrete ballast,” says Alvaro Mendoza, president of   Commercial Energy Specialists in Jupiter, Fla. “It wouldn’t just be an   anchor, it would be almost a concrete substructure. That does bring the cost   a lot closer.”

Each power-source option also has its own benefits and drawbacks. For those   who want a portable model, there is no choice — it must be battery-powered.   When considering a removable or permanent unit, facilities owners must weigh   the choices.

Water-powered lifts rely on hydraulic pressure to move the chair up and down.   Some like the reliability — all that must be maintained is proper water   pressure, and there is no threat of batteries dying. This may also be the   choice for those who prefer to keep electricity away from the pool whenever   possible.

However, getting water to these lifts requires either running a garden hose   across the deck or installing permanent lines. A booster pump may also be   added to maintain the needed level of pressure. Historically, many owners   have opted for the hose, but some advise against it, citing a tripping   hazard. “Here, the health department doesn’t allow obstructions on the pool   deck, so you couldn’t just run a hose across the deck,” Mendoza says. Some   codes also require that excess water released from these systems be piped   away from the pool, he adds.

Battery-powered lifts run off a 24-volt, rechargeable unit that manufacturers   say will last four to five years with proper maintenance. They don’t require   as much drilling into the existing deck — however, some professionals would   rather keep electricity away from the water, and others don’t like the idea   of having the battery die.

When it comes to installation, portable lifts, as expected, are the most   simple. The product is basically pre-assembled by the manufacturer, and the   contractor only needs to set the brake and place the counter weights to   steady the unit.

Installing either type of lift takes more time, but it isn’t difficult for   those who have experience with other products attached to the deck, like   starting platforms and ladders. The main requirement is knowing how to embed   the anchor or sleeve into the concrete.

The anchor or sleeve must be positioned so that the chair will clear the   coping or gutter — manufacturers can advise on exact placement. Also, the   deck should be at least 4 inches thick, to provide proper support and   accommodate the anchors, which are generally that long. “Otherwise, it’s   really not enough to stabilize the lift,” says Richard Pentoney, Florida   distribution representative for Aqua Creek Products in Missoula, Mont.

(If the deck measures less than 4 inches thick, use the guidelines   outlined here.)

There are two ways to set anchors and sleeves: dual epoxy or cement. Be sure   to consult the manufacturer’s instructions to see if one is more appropriate   than the other.

To follow the epoxy method, core drill a hole just large enough for the anchor   or sleeve to slip through while maintaining the tightest fit possible. “You   can’t use epoxy if you’re making a 2-inch hole for a 1-1/2-inch anchor,”   Pentoney says. “That’s too much space. It needs to be a tight fit for the   epoxy to hold.”

Stop drilling as soon as the bit has gone through the concrete. Otherwise,   the drill may damage plumbing lines hidden beneath the deck.

Be sure the hole is plumb. Put some epoxy in the hole and on the anchor.   Place the anchor in the hole, ensuring it is level with the deck. Pentoney   likes to place a bolt inside the anchor to help handle it and push it all the   way down. Hold it in place for a few seconds, allowing the epoxy to begin   hardening.

Once the material is applied, there is a limited window of time to complete installing   the anchor before the epoxy sets. In Pentoney’s area, installers generally   have about eight minutes.

Cemented   in place
Others prefer to concrete the anchor or sleeve into place. To do this, drill   the hole so it’s a few inches larger in diameter than the anchor or sleeve.   “The [sleeves I install] are usually about 2 inches in diameter,” says   Richard Robert, president of Knorr Systems in Santa Ana, Calif. “You have to   drill about a 6- or 7-inch hole to get the [sleeve] to set properly.”

The hole may need to be flared out at the bottom to accommodate a flange at   the bottom of the sleeve or anchor and provide a thicker footing. “Imagine a   side view of an old school bell,” Robert says. “That’s basically what you’re   trying to duplicate. It provides for a more secure base of concrete going in   to secure this little anchor.”

When installing a battery-powered lift, it’s also important at this stage to   address bonding in states and municipalities that require it. (Even if not   required by law, it’s a good idea.) This can prove tricky. “It’s a bit of an   unknown when you dig or cut through the deck where you’re going to find part   of the bonding around the pool to pick up on,” Sears says. “That could be a   challenge.”

If a piece of rebar can’t be located, the contractor must find something else   to bond to, such as a screen enclosure or metal water pipe.

Fasten the bonding wire to the rebar or rod, then set the anchor in place   making sure it is absolutely plumb. Otherwise, the lift will tip to one side.

Then, backfill around the anchor with concrete or epoxy grout. “Obviously the   anchor has to be plumb,” says John Caden, director of pool lifts for   manufacturer S.R. Smith, based in Canby, Ore. “It can’t be slanted or the   lift will be slanted.”

With the anchor in place, begin assembling the lift according to the   manufacturer’s instructions.

Source: Rebecca Robledo- Pool and Spa News | 4.15.2011

San Juan Fiberglass Pools

San Juan in-ground fiberglass pools offer a durable, low-maintenance alternative to concrete pools. Fiberglass designs tend to cost 10 to 12 percent more than those constructed from concrete or other materials, but they can actually save people money in the long run because far less will be spent on repairs and upkeep. In fact, at Expert Pools we offer lifetime warranties for the structure of our Expert line, and twenty-year conditional warranties on any cosmetic finishes. We also have several different financing options that make it easier for a person to handle the cost of a pool.

There are several fiberglass pool installers that serve customers in Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin but we feel our products are superior to those offered by other distributors. Expert Fiberglass Pools designs have 78 percent more flexural strength and 17 percent more tensile strength, and they are 33 percent thicker than the average fiberglass model. Our pools and spas are also on the cutting edge of technology, utilizing a unique closed beam coping that allows them to withstand the harsh weather across the country.

Fiberglass Pool Styles

Fiberglass pool styles and sizes are as varied as those of concrete and vinyl lined models. Large residential pools like the Dallas  (16′ x 42′) or the Phoenix (16′ x 40′) require anywhere from 14,000 to 22,000 gallons of water and can be over eight feet deep ! Medium-sized designs like the Stockholm (14′ x 27′) and the Savannah (14′ x 32’6″) range from about three to seven feet deep and generally use under 15,000 gallons of water. We also offer small and mini designs for smaller backyards and tighter budgets.

No fiberglass pool is complete without the proper accessories. That is why we offer top-of-the-line pumps, filters, heaters, and salt water systems. We can also install a host of other items such as fencing and power covers that will keep children and anyone else safe from harm.