Archive for the ‘Sanitizers’ 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!

 

 

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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

 


Pool and Spa Winter Maintenance

Bob Russell | February 12, 2015 in Equipment maintenance,Pool,Pool equipment,Pool safety,Pool Service,Sanitizers,Winterize | Comments (0)

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Winter And Your Outdoor Pool/ Spa

New England winters are long and harsh. You may have noticed :)

Protecting your outdoor pool and spas however, is pretty basic.

Here are 4 basic things you must do to protect your outdoor pool and spa:

1) Make sure the water is balanced and sanitized when pool or spa is closed.

If you are unclear how to do this, I suggest you consult with a professional.

There is a science to minimizing winter damage through good water chemistry.

This step is critical to protecting your investment and conserving water.

2) Make sure circulation system and all related plumbing is properly winterized.

The reasons for this may be obvious- ice can break or damage just about anything. As a pool inspector I am still amazed at how much ice damage I see. My advice, hire a professional to handle this aspect of seasonal maintenance. If you prefer to do it yourself, make sure you obtain good instruction from a professional.

3) Minimize damage to masonry by keeping ice below pool tile and coping.

Pool tile that is rated as “frost-proof” can be misleading. Ice against pool tile expands and contracts every day as temperatures go up and down, this will break any tile and can also lift pool coping off it’s setting bed. Masonry damage is very expensive to repair.

Winter ice must be maintained below tile. Care should be taken to NOT exceed the levels specified by your winter cover installer as the cover is designed to float on water when bearing the weight of heavy snow. Typically you should not exceed 8″ below the bottom of pool tile.

Maintenance of ice levels in pools often requires 3-4 pump outs between fall closing and spring opening- this is based on average rainfall.

4) Utilize a good quality winter safety cover to keep pets and people safe as well as keep fall debris out of pool.

Our #1 reason for using a good quality winter cover is safety.

#2 is to keep the massive amounts of leaves and debris out as these will overwhelm the sanitizer and allow pool to turn green with algae by spring.

Failing to maintain clear, sanitary water will encourage staining of the finish that will require draining pool to remove. Unsanitary water also provides a breeding place for mosquitos.

 

There are other things a pool owner should be aware of, such as protecting critical components such as heater and filter, but these are the (4) critical things for protecting your investment.

For more information please contact Glen Gate Company.

 

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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


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!


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!

Salt/Chrlorine Generators

Bob Russell | June 17, 2010 in Eco-friendly,Pool chemicals,Sanitizers | Comments (0)

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Salt/ Chlorine generators.

Over the past couple years there has been a lot of buzz about “new” and improved pool water sanitization systems for residential pools.

While Salt/Chlorine generators are  not “new,” the technology has certainly improved since being introduced to the residential pool industry decades ago.

Pictured above- example of a modern salt/chlorine generator- This one manufactured by Pentair Products. Note the diagnostic and status display lights.

We have tested several salt/chlorine generator models and heartily recommend them as an alternative (and upgrade) to the traditional erosion feeder.

A brief review:

1) “The water feels better…”   One of the most common reports I hear is that “…the water feels better!” Salt/chlorine generators produce chlorine from common table salt (NaCl or sodium chloride) dissolved in pool water. The improved “feel” of the water on skin and eyes is largely due to the presence of salt in the water. If you’ve ever used saline solution (e.g. eye drops) it is very much the same effect. 

Salt levels required by these units is about 1/10th the salinity of seawater. Some claim they can taste the salt, others say they cannot. But all say, “…it feels nice…”

2) Eco-friendly:  Another reason to consider a salt/chlorine generator is the fact you are manufacturing your own sanitizer and no longer need to store or handle chlorine tablets on your property. Fact is, with every salt/chlorine generator installed, there will be that much less chlorine transported across our highways by pool service trucks or being manufactured in plants and stored in our communities- that’s a positive contribution to the planet. 

Another reason to feel ecologically responsible: Water with these [low] salt concentrations is not considered hazardous to the environment.

3) Easy to upgrade: The low levels of salt required to run today’s salt/chlorine generator is safe for use with your existing filtration and heating equipment making it pretty easy to install them!

I’ll be talking about other sanitization issues and “hot topics”  in future blogs as the temperatures rise. 

Hope you are enjoying your summer swimming season!