Archive for June, 2010

“…Is my pool/spa safe?”

Bob Russell | June 30, 2010 in Equipment maintenance,Pool equipment,Pool renovations,Pool safety,Pool Service,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Is my pool/spa safe?

I enjoy writing about the joy and recreational benefits of owning a pool or spa. When it comes to safety, things get very sober and serious for pool and spa Owners and those in the business.

In the last decade there have been several changes to standards and codes in the pool and spa industry.  The question I am asked most frequently is: “Is my pool or spa safe?”

Today’s safety codes are complex. Pools and spas are also complex. Most pool and spa Owners are bombarded with media hype, marketing gimmicks and general misinformation. I’d like to help. Here are the basic things I look for while inspecting a pool or spa. 

 1) Suction Outlet Covers: Floor and wall drain covers should be in place and secured by stainless steel screws. Residential pools and spas built since 2003-2004 are required to have two suction outlets that are spaced 3 feet apart.

Spa above with a single suction outlet- built before 2003.

2) Anti-entrapment Covers- In December of 2008, all [existing] commercial pools were required to install specially designed “anti-entrapment” suction outlet covers. Residential pools were to have existing covers replaced when they failed, or at the discretion of the homeowner. Note: The new covers are designed to prevent an object (such as a human body) from creating a seal over a suction outlet; they are also designed to prevent hair entanglement. As expected, these new covers are much more expensive than the old style; they are also made of extraordinarily strong material- unlike the older covers which are relatively easy to break.

Should you replace your spa or pool floor suction covers now?

That’s a good question to ask your service professional!

Some floor suction outlets (e.g. such as the single suction outlet pictured above) are more of a risk than others- it depends on how the pool or spa is plumbed.

The first and most important “layer of safety” is the most obvious: make sure the suction outlet covers are in place and secured.

Spa pictured above is fitted with an approved anti-entrapment cover.

3) SVRS Or, Vacuum Release System- A vacuum release system is an additional layer of safety that became law in 2005  for new residential swimming pools or spas

Vacuum release units (SVRS) vary in shape and size but are all designed to do the same basic thing: release an object that has made a seal over a suction outlet. 

Some ask, “…how can people get stuck on a main drain?” The answer requires a discussion of physics but in short, there can be tremendous force at a suction port that has been sealed. A one horsepower pump (for instance) has enough force to trap a grown man and hold him fast. Some drowning accidents have in fact happened in this way.

Pictured above is a common mechanical SVRS installed on suction-side of pump.

Is your pool or spa equipped with an SVRS?

Is it operational?

These are questions to ask your service professional!

 

Summary:

When inspecting your pool or spa, look for the following  “layers of protection”:

1)      Secured and approved anti-entrapment suction outlet covers. This is the most important layer of safety!

2)      Dual suction outlets - pools built after 2003-2004. (A second outlet can be added to existing pools.)

3)      SVRS system (vacuum release) - required in pools built after April 2005. SVRS systems can be added onto any pool for an additional layer of [anti-entrapment] protection.

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If you have concerns or questions about your pool or spa after reading this post, you should contact your pool professional and get your questioned answered! Safety is nothing to guess at.


Ozone = Delicious Water

Bob Russell | June 29, 2010 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Ozone is wonderful stuff!

In my opinion, Chlorine or Bromine with Ozone is the best water quality you can get.

Now that I understand pool water chemistry better and how incredibly good pool and spa water can be, I wouldn’t use anything else. For instance, I know now that it was ammonia/chlorine compounds that hurt my eyes while on the swim team years ago and not “Free Chlorine” by itself.

Things have changed since the seventies. Chlorine and Ozone paired together makes for terrific water! This is what the best pools in the world are using-  just ask the olypmpic swimmers

Ozone brief- What it is and what it does:

1) Ozone oxidizes or “burns up” organic matter.

2) Ozone rids pool or spa of ammoniaAmmonia combines with chlorine to form the obnoxious eye and mucus membrane irritants most often attributed [incorrectly] to chlorine. Manage the ammonia and your water quality increases dramatically. The best way to get water that is both pure and sweet is to pair your sanitizer with an ozone generator system.

3) Ozone is NOT a sanitizer. It is an oxidizer- I often explain it this way: “Your sanitizer kills bacterias, viruses and plant life… ozone burns up the dead bodies…”

4) The right unit for your pool or spa- Ozone generators, like most equipment, must be properly sized and selected for your pool or spa. Some of these units will not work if installed where equipment is below water level. Be sure your service company selects the right unit for YOUR system.

Example of a popular ozone generator. 

When employed with a reliable sanitizer like chlorine or bromine, ozone gives you superior water quality- water that delights the senses rather than irritating them.


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!