Archive for the ‘Pool chemicals’ Category

Chemical Dangers I Wish I knew Before Blowing Up My Chlorine Feeder

Bob Russell | March 20, 2017 in Indoor pools,Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool safety,Pool Service,Sanitizers | Comments (0)

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If you are a pool owner and love to do it yourself 

please read this short message:

 

The standard 3″ tablet used in erosion feeders is “TriChloro-S-Triazinetrione” (Cl3C3N3O3).

In the pool business, we refer to these 3″ tabs as “Trichlor Tabs.”

Recently, manufacturers of Calcium Hypochlorite have pressed their chlorine product into tablets about the same size as standard 3″ Trichlor tablets. This is where I see potential for disaster.

Every service person in the Pool Business learns chemical safety early, including: How to handle, store and transport pool chemicals and how to avoid mixing incompatible chemicals. Incompatible chemicals are so named because they can release hazardous gasses or react violently if mixed.

“Trichlor” Tablets should NEVER be mixed with Calcium Hypochlorite Tablets.

Even a small amount can cause a strong reaction including fire or explosion.

If you take care of your own pool- even partially, please be careful when shopping for tablets and only use what you’ve been using in your feeder all along- “Trichlor” Tablets.

Below are pictures of some of the new Calcium Hypochlorite tablets on the market. Always check the ingredients when you purchase “Chlorinating Tablets”!

Thank you!

 

 

cch_chlorine_tablets_3inch_50lbs_200_x_200

Calcium Hypochlorite Tablets

Copyright 2008, Tom Altany, www.altanyphoto.com

Calcium Hypochlorite Tablets

 


Preparing Your Swimming Pool For Joquin

Bob Russell | October 2, 2015 in Eco-friendly,Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool safety,Pool Service,Sanitizers,Uncategorized,Winterize | Comments (0)

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Preparing For Heavy Rain And Winds

 

A check list and some frequently asked questions:

 

1) Secure or store deck furniture.

This includes: Tables, umbrellas; anything that can be blown by strong winds and become a potentially damaging projectile

2) Automatic pool coversIf your pool is still open: During periods of heavy downpours, we recommend opening automatic covers so heavy rain can fill the pool and not your closed cover. Heavy rain on top of your cover (a foot or more) could damage it. 

We also recommend this because, should your area lose power, the cover will be “stuck” closed. A sump pump cannot keep up with this volume of rainfall- especially if power is out.

While using your cover pump to remove accumulated water, be sure to run pump discharge into skimmers with system running so water is filtered and added to pool beneath cover.  

If you have a “Grando” or similar style floating automatic pool cover that drains off into pool, your decision to leave it open or closed should be based on the risk of wind-blown branches or debris which could damage your cover.

Yes, your pool will get messy with blowing leaves. This is a preferrable outcome to expensive repairs of a damaged auto cover. Leaves and branches can be scooped and picked out of the pool afterwards.

 

3) If you can winterize your pool before the storm arrives, do it!

 

4) Water table issues: Pools located in areas where ground water can surge should NOT be pumped too low. It is almost always okay if your pool overflows! Consider the following:

Do not lower pool water level excessively to “make room” for heavy rains. There is a real risk of floating a swimming pool or buckling the shell if pool water levels are too low during prolonged periods of heavy rains where water tables surge. Leave pool at normal winter water levels (between bottom of tile and 11″ below bottom of tile.) 

The risk is greater with pools in flood-prone areas including properties adjacent to the LI Sound. An overflowing pool is preferable to an opened hydrostatic relief valve (which requires a diver to re-set). Hydrostat valves can open and become stuck open when water table surges up and above water level inside pool.

The exception to this rule is the odd situation where an overflowing pool creates other problems that must be avoided (you know who you are).

 

Q: What about pool chemicals?

A: Normal levels pool chemicals are diluted during heavy rains and will  NOT cause damage to grass or gardens this time of year. Chlorine dissipates rapidly on the ground. Don’t worry about pool chemicals hurting anything should your pool overflow during a heavy downpour.

 

5) If you are a Glen Gate Client, we will reach out to those in hard hit areas. If you are not a client and need assistance please feel free to inquire about our services by contacting our office at 203 762-2000.  

Our Pool and Property Care teams specialize in storm clean-up.

 

6) If you have a significant amount of landscape soil wash into your pool- call us to assess the situation. It may be we can save the water. In some heavy wash-in situations we may advise draining and cleaning out the pool.

 

7) For those of you on the coast-  Let your pool fill. Your pool structure is safest when full should a wave come inland and reach your property; or there be severe flood tides.

For now, we hope you and your property are safe and sound!

Call if you need anything!

Bob and the service team at Glen Gate Company

 


Managing Pool Water In Extreme Weather- Some Important Things To Know

Bob Russell | July 13, 2013 in Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool Service,Sanitizers,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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2013- A Summer of Extreme Sanitizer Demand-

 

Q: “How did I wind up with algae in my pool when my chlorine levels have been perfect!”

A: Chlorine demand is a term service providers use to describe a pool’s specific sanitizer requirements. It is a term we must consider in extreme weather- chlorine demand is a concept that helps us prevent pool water going from clean to green- something that can occur in a very short time during extreme weather conditions.

As the term implies, sanitizer requirements will vary. We tend to adjust our sanitizer feeder equipment to “normal” and forget about it. The purpose of this post is to help you understand when “normal” sanitizer settings will not maintain sanitary water- under certain extreme conditions a pool’s sanitizer level can drop from “ideal” to zero in an hour.

So far, this summer has included some of the most difficult “chlorine demand” challenges I have ever seen. The following events are examples of things that can dramatically change chlorine demand; my goal is to help you recognize when something is happening and prevent problems:

  1. Hot weather
  2. Heavy rain
  3. Wash-in: Heavy rainfall shedding off lawns and gardens can contaminate pool water with organic matter and fertilizers.
  4. Heavy bather load- such as one might see at a holiday party that features swimming.

The Perfect Storm: This summer has included some long periods of hot weather: we have experienced frequent heavy thunderstorms with local torrential rainfall; add to all this a holiday party around the pool and the “normal” sanitizer levels are overwhelmed. Once sanitizer levels drop to zero a pool water is no longer sanitary for bathing- under these conditions water can cloud quickly and develop significant algae problems- often clouding within 24 hours. Pool Owners should also realize that pool water doesn’t cloud immediately once sanitizer hits “zero”-  it is during this period that water- even though still clear,  should be considered a potential health concern.

One fairly common health issue associated with swimming in pool water without proper levels of sanitizer is an ear infection- nicknamed “swimmers ear.” Such health issues are easily avoided if you understand extreme “chlorine demand” events and conditions and take precautions.

Recognize “Chlorine Demand” and Make Adjustments: Here are some things you can do to prevent losing the use of your pool for a week (or longer)- this is about the length of time it can take to recover and clean up from an algae outbreak or clouded water:

  1. Test water more frequently as chlorine demand conditions rise. You will “see” your sanitizer disappearing when you test and be able to make some good decisions before water clouds. You don’t have to be a certified water chemist to know the condition and quality of your pool water. Consider purchasing some good quality dip strips- this 5-second test is easy and gives you early warning to head off cloudy water and algae before it happens.
  2. Inform your service provider if you are planning a party. There are preventive things that can be done to handle the increase in bathers. It may be as simple as adjusting sanitizer feeder upwards and monitoring levels periodically. Normally a service provider comes weekly and balances the water and sanitizer levels. The point of this post is to help you recognize events or conditions that occur between visits that may be having a big impact on the water.
  3. Recognize when a heavy downpour may have introduced garden or lawn material into your pool- Fertilizer not only ties up pool sanitizer but at certain levels can render it ineffective! We will discuss how to remove Phosphates and Nitrates from pool water in another post; but you should be aware of any wash-ins and inform your service provider if this happens.
  4. Prevention is far easier- Preventing an outbreak of algae or clouded water is far easier and less costly than treating it. Clearing a cloudy pool or killing an algae bloom can be very expensive not to mention the disappointment of not being able to use the pool. Green water is probably the #1 or #2 reason why pool service providers are fired. The other reason being a slow response time. When sanitizer levels “crash” and water begins to cloud or algae has gained a foothold- time is critical.

In our upcoming blogs we’ll discuss some of the specific challenges presented by automatic pool covers and address bather issues such as sensitivity to chlorine or bromine.

 


Snow And More Snow!

Bob Russell | March 8, 2013 in Equipment maintenance,Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool equipment,Pool renovations,Pool Service,Sanitizers,Uncategorized,Winterize | Comments (0)

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It’s been a snowy and rainy winter.

What can we expect when we open our pools in a couple months?

Here is a short list of general things to check out after a snowy/ rainy winter:

Check for winter cover damage. Heavy snow can pull out wall anchors; cause sharp coping to rip through cover; heavy snow on a winter cover can pull deck anchors and deck stones towards pool causing related masonry damage.

Check heaters for mouse damage- during periods of deep snow, mice move into heaters- more than usual.

Water chemistry- heavy snow and rains means your water chemistry has changed. Of primary concern is:

a) Sanitizer levels- these must be maintained to keep water clear and algae-free until opening day!

b) Calcium Hardness- rain water contains about 0 ppm calcium. After about 18″ – 36″ of rain between September and May, a pool’s Calcium Hardness has been diluted making the water “softer” and more aggressive towards plaster finish. Water left in this state for too long will cause finish problems.

For more details on these and related issues we recommend you consult with an experienced and licensed pool service professional.

If you are interested in our pool services, please contact us!

Meanwhile, Memorial Day Weekend is only 12 weeks away!

- Bob


Preparing For Sandy

Bob Russell | October 26, 2012 in Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool safety,Pool Service,Uncategorized,Winterize | Comments (0)

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Preparing For Sandy

Seems like only a short while ago we were preparing for and cleaning up after Irene.

As a Pool Owner, here are some things you should know in a short check list format:

1) Secure deck furniture.

2) Automatic pool covers- Sandy is being called a “Superstorm” because she is merging with a winter storm as she chugs up our coast. This means a LOT of rainfall and flooding over a few days.

If your pool is still open, we recommend opening automatic covers so heavy rain can fill the pool and not your closed cover which could become severely damaged.

We also recommend this because, should your area lose power, the cover will be “stuck” closed. A sump pump cannot keep up with this volume of rainfall- especially if power is out.

(If you have a Grando style automatic pool cover which drains off into pool, your decision to leave it open or closed should be based on the risk of wind-blown branches or debris which could damage your cover.)

Yes, your pool will get messy and filled with leaves. This is a preferrable outcome to a severely damaged auto cover. Leaves and branches can be scooped and picked out of the pool afterwards.

3) If you can winterize your pool before the storm arrives, do it!

4) Water table issues: Pools located in areas where ground water can surge should NOT be pumped too low. It is not the end of the world if your pool overflows! Consider the following:

An overflowing pool is preferrable to an opened hydrostatic relief valve (which requires a diver to re-set). Hydrostat valves can pop and become stuck open when water table surges up and above water level inside pool. It’s just not a good idea to remove large amounts of water to “make room” for the heavy rains. You are putting your pool at risk.

Normal levels of winter pool chemicals are diluted during heavy rains and will  NOT cause damage to grass or gardens this time of year. Chlorine dissipates rapidly on the ground. Don’t worry about your pool over flowing during heavy downpour.

There is a real risk of floating a swimming pool or buckling the shell if it is left empty or partially empty. Leave pool at normal winter water levels (between bottom of tile and no lower than 11″ below bottom of tile.)

5) Contact your pool service professional for special situations or if you are unclear what to do.

6) For downed trees and property damage- please feel free to contact us if you are in our area.

Our service team specializes in storm clean-up. Rest assured we will keep an eye on things.

If you have a significant amount of landscape soil wash into your pool- call us to assess the situation. It may be we can save the water. In some heavy wash-in situations we will need to drain and clean out the pool.

For those of you on the coast- just let your pool fill up as rains increase. Your pool structure is safest when full should a wave come ashore or there be severe high tides.

For now, we pray our customers are safe and their homes protected from trees, high winds and floods.

Call if you need anything!

Bob and the service team at Glen Gate Company

 


Pools And Heat Waves

Bob Russell | July 9, 2012 in Equipment maintenance,Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool Service,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Heat Waves:

Every pool owner should understand two basic concepts about their pool during a heat wave:

1) Chlorine demand (or which ever sanitizer you are using)

and…

2) The Petrie Dish 

Chlorine Demand is basically the understanding that it will take more chlorine to maintain a sanitary and clear pool under certain conditions. Chlorine demand increases during a heat wave because the things that “spend” chlorine tend to increase- these include: increased bather load; heavy thunder showers (including wash-ins); higher temperatures.

The second concept of the Petrie Dish helps the pool owner understand and visualize that without a sanitizing agent present in the water, algae or micro-organisms can grow very fast.

In the “perfect storm” of heavy bather load, thunder storm and high temperatures a pool can go from the ideal of 3.0 ppm chlorine to zero in a day. Generally a chlorine feeder cannot recover to 3.0 ppm by the time algae or micro-organisms have already started to multiply. Once plant and animal life has been established in a swimming pool, the chlorine demand can double or triple quickly. Unless you intervene, you will have a real problem and it all can happen in 24-36 hours.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. First, understand these two concepts. Awareness that something is happening before the pool is green, or someone gets an ear infection is best.
  2. Adjust chemical feeders to handle an increase in bathers.
  3. Careful with use of time clocks! I see this all the time- a pool owner trying to save $100. on their monthly electric bill winds up spending $500. to kill algae that has gotten out of hand. Chemical feeders are only adding sanitizer to pool while pump is running.
  4. Check pool water after a heavy storm or a pool party. This, more than anything, will help you understand chlorine demand and keep you aware when you need to do something between normal weekly service visits.

Enjoy!

For more information about pool and spa service, check out “Water Blog” on our website!: www.glengatecompany.com


What To Expect After A Mild Winter

Bob Russell | March 10, 2012 in Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool Service,Sanitizers,Summerize,Winterize | Comments (0)

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For pool owners in Fairfield, Connecticut and Westchester, New York the winter of 2011-2012 was one of the mildest on record

Here’s what you can expect for your pool (and what we are seeing in our pools):

  • Chances are your winter floaters are empty by March.  Under average winter conditions [chlorine] floaters last till mid-May.
  • Without an established layer of ice, pools will warm up much quicker.
  • Though winter was mild, we still had plenty of dilution- 2011 was described locally as, “the wettest year on record,” with plenty of rain falling after pools were closed and through much of the winter.

Between warm weather and dilution, the sanitizer level in your pool water is very likely running near or at zero right now. Sanitizers, such as chlorine, are critical for  preventing the emergence and growth of plant life (like algae) and bacterias in your pool.

Q: Under these conditions, what should a pool owner do?

A: Here’s what we do, and it’s not as hard as it might seem.

Over the next few weeks, we will visit our Client’s pools, peel back a portion of the winter cover and re-load the winter floaters. That should be enough to keep the water clear and algae-free until opening.

Q: What will happen if I don’t do this?

A: You’ll most likely have a green pool and be breeding mosquitoes when you pull the cover off in May. A green pool is not only more labor-intensive to open and get clear, but will cost you about 2-3X as much to open.

At your service,

B

p.s. Since I’m giving advice let me toss in two more things:

  • Spray for deer ticks. I pulled one off the other day and am being treated for lyme disease as I write this. According to our in-house experts, this is going to be a bad year.
  • Once you’ve treated tick habitat, put up the hammock and set out the Adirondack chairs. The folks at Agway told me today it will hit close to 70 this week (and as all experienced Hammockers will tell you- this outdoor “sport” is best enjoyed before the bugs are out in force and after the ticks are under control).  :-)

Post Irene Clean-Up For Swimming Pools

Bob Russell | September 1, 2011 in Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool cleaning,Pool equipment,Pool safety,Sanitizers,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Cleaning Up After The Storm

In my previous post I wrote out some tips for preparing for storms with heavy rain and strong winds. I hope you found them helpful.

In this post, I’ll lay out some post-storm clean-up  advice in some detail, using the FAQs format.

Q: What about wash-ins?

A: This week I have done a lot of “triage” work- deciding which pools have water that can be saved and which need to be drained and refilled with new water. We can clean up some pools that look “too far gone” while other pools that seem in pretty good shape, we decide to drain re-fill.

The key factors in my decision to save water or drain and re-fill include:

  1. Amount of silt and organic material in pool- Less than an inch of silt and mulch on a pool’s floor is generally easy to vacuum out. Silt that is in suspension (i.e. brown murky water) can be dropped to floor by “flocking” the water with an agent that drops suspended fine particles to floor.
  2. City Water vs. Well Water- If a pool Owner is on a well, or has city water but is in a hurry, I often advise that pool water be replaced. It’s just quicker. If you are on a well and must truck in water- this will add to clean-up expense and will be one of your deciding factors.
  3. Phosphates and Nitrates- This is an important decision-maker for pool professionals.  Often a wash-in will bring with it fertilizers or worse (e.g. in cases where septic systems in area are full with rain water and  overflowing). Phosphates and Nitrates can be detected with a good test kit in the field. The issue is this: Phosphates and Nitrates encourage plant growth AND interfere significantly with chlorination, this will make clearing the pool more difficult, and sometimes near impossible. So, this is a major determining factor for me when making the decision to save or change pool water.

Q: What about power failures?:

A: When power is knocked out and it is unclear when it will be restored, it is critical to protect the pool water – you have about 3 days to do this:

  1. Open up your winterize supplies and locate your chlorine floaters. By adding chlorine floaters to your pool- you can hold the water for weeks.
  2. Remove heavy debris like piles of leaves, branches and other organic matter as this will cloud pool and use up chlorine.
  3. Maintain a 3.0 ppm chlorine level.
  4. Other benefits include: Prevents mosquitoes from breeding in water. Prevents spread of algae- making clean-up much quicker when power is restored. Keeps water potable, or at least suitable for flushing toilets if necessary.

Remember the Health issues in Florida with all those foreclosed homes with pools? It is critical to protect the water and to do so early in a prolonged power outage.

Q: What if sea water got into my pool?

A: Salt water- especially if diluted- is generally NOT going to hurt your pool finish or equipment. However, if salt levels exceed about 4,000 ppm, you should consult with your pool service professional.

Q: My equipment is in a pit or basement that flooded, is it ruined?

A: A gas heater should NOT be activated until a professional, licensed service technician has inspected it. Gas valves that have been immersed under water should be considered unsafe for use. Your pump motor should be inspected as well; sometimes a pump motor can be dried out, reconditioned and saved.  Generally electronic equipment cannot be saved if immersed for a prolonged period of time. Your service professional will need to determine this.

This pool was hit by salt water from the Long Island Sound. We were able to drop sediment to the bottom, vacuum it out and save the water. Not everyone was as fortunate.

 

Summary:

As of 9/1/11 there are still may pool Owners without power- (2) things to focus on in such cases:

1) Minimize organic matter in pool as possible- remove leaves, twigs and branches by hand or with a leaf net.

2) Maintain a chlorine count of around 3 ppm. This can be done using chlorine floaters. If you do not have floaters on hand, you can make your own from plastic jugs or other creative means. Be careful not to allow chlorine tabs to come into direct contact with pool finish as a permanent “chemical burn” mark may result.

I hope you are finding these posts to be timely and helpful. Happy Labor Day!


Preparing For Hurricane Irene

Bob Russell | August 26, 2011 in Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool equipment,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Preparing For a
Hurricane-

Frequently Asked
Questions.

If you are a pool owner, there are some things you can do to
prepare for strong storms.  Here are some questions we are typically asked and our answers:

Q: What about deck
furniture?

A: Secure umbrellas and pool deck furniture, especially anything with glass. Severe storms can carry gusts of wind that
will pick objects up, turning them into projectiles. Anything that can sail
will (e.g. a glass covered bistro table). Stack or store such such objects in a
protected area if there is time. If you do not have the time or muscle to store
all furniture before the storm hits, try to at least remove the glass table tops and store in a safe place.
If no indoor storeage is available, chairs and tables can be massed together and tucked into an area protected from direct wind- perhaps close to a wall of the house.

 

Q: What about deck and yard drainage?

A: Check yard drains to be sure they are clear. Drains
can clog during a storm causing water to mass in areas- if you are able and if
it is safe, you should monitor critical
storm drains and keep them clear
during the heavy rains so water can get
away from area unimpeded. Please exercise great caution.

 

Q: What should I do with my automatic pool cover?

A: If your pool is equipped with an automatic cover:

Open the cover and leave
open during heavy downpour
. If you leave it closed it will collect
water on top. The water on top of cover will displace the water below it
pushing it up and out of the pool. The heavy weight on top of the cover will
damage the cover track system.

A: Open the cover early -
don’t wait till storm is in full swing as water removal during a storm is very
difficult and even dangerous. Also, if you experience a power failure, your
pool cover will not operate.

 

Q: Should I leave my
pool filter pump running?

A: Yes. In most
cases you should leave pump running.

I do recommend turning off the heater.

 

Q: What if my pool
overflows? Will water hurt the lawn?

A: Many pools
have a high water overflow OR they leak above the tile line and will settle
there. The “first response”
for a pool that’s been through heavy rains is to lower water levels, remove
debris, clean baskets and filter, etc.

A: Regarding gardens and lawns- generally a pool’s sanitizer (Chlorine or
Bromine) is much diluted after heavy rains and will not have an adverse effect
on lawns or gardens around the pool
.

Usually the larger problem is when soil,
mulch and fertilizer from the lawn and garden get into the pool.

Fertilizer contains Phosphates and Nitrates- both generally interfere with
sanitization and promote algae growth- this will make clearing pool a real challenge
after the rain.

 

Q: I have a stream beside my pool that floods. What should I do?

A: Monitor the level of the river and turn off power to pool equipment if water reaches that
area.

(Consider calling us about flood control measures that can
be built into your landscape after storm.)

 

Summary Check List:

  • Secure objects like furniture that can become projectiles.
  • Keep drain grates clear
  • Keep automatic pool covers open during heavy rains
  • Leave filter pump running unless advised otherwise.
  • Turn off heater.
  • Call your professional service people if you have concerns or questions.
  • Don’t worry about the grass if pool overflows.

If you would like to experience a higher level of service, please contact us!

Be safe out there!

———————————————————-

“Every little thing’s gonna be alright!”

-Martin Smith

 

 


Hazy, Hot and Humid!

Bob Russell | June 1, 2011 in Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool Service,Sanitizers | Comments (0)

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Sanitization Basics:
You should know these two concepts:
1) Chlorine demand
2) The “Petri Dish”

Chlorine counts can drop dramatically during very heavy bather use.

Chlorine Demand:
When I teach new pool owners about sanitization, I look to make the complex simple. The chemistry behind sanitization is complex. Understanding a principle like “chlorine demand” is easier than trying to understand the science behind it (although understanding the science is helpful if you’re in the pool business).
Chlorine demand is self descriptive. How can you recognize chlorine demand increases? Here are a few things a pool owner should watch for:
1) Increased bather load (number of swimmers)- swimmers (and pets!)  introduce things like ammonia into a pool which complicates chlorination and increases chlorine demand..
2) Water Temperature- high temperatures increase chlorine demand.
3) Sunlight- UV causes established chlorine counts in a pool to deteriorate. To minimize the effects of sunlight on pool sanitizer, “Chlorine Stabilizer” is added (also known as Cyanuric Acid).
4) Wind and Rain- Both introduce contaminants into pool water. Whether wind-borne pollen and debris or waterborne pollutants, both interfere with chlorine effectiveness or just use it up.
This past weekend, many pool owners turned on their heaters, the weather was hot and humid, the pools were used- a LOT; and we had some storms. It was a weekend of very high chlorine demand.
This is why many pools get algae shortly after Memorial Day weekend- chlorine settings that could handle a chilly, unused pool were not adequate to handle a warm and well-used pool.
Think about chlorine demand and you’ll anticipate these things and save yourself a lot of problems.

Pools on the coast have unique chlorine demand challenges:

The Petri Dish:
High School Biology taught me this principle: Introduce animal or plant life into a sterile environment with food and you have exponential growth. This is how you should look at your pool. What prevents the growth of things like: plant life (e.g. algae), Bacteria (e.g. E-Coli) or Parasites (e.g. Cryptosporidium)?
A: Your sanitizer does.
Example: When chlorine levels are at zero, one algae spore can turn a pool green (what is called an “algae bloom”) in about 36 hours.
Using these two principles will help you anticipate changes and prevent problems.
Enjoy the pool!