We have come up with a list of frequently asked questions that have come to our attention in the past and have tried to answer them in the most concise way.
What is balanced water?
Service technicians who have had long experience with pools are acutely aware of the damage that can cause when in contact with plaster, grouting and metals. Water can either corrode such surfaces or deposit a white crusty, coarse substance called scale. Water that corrodes or forms scale is called unbalanced while water that cause little or no damage is balanced.
What factors influence water balance in my swimming pool?
Definition: The measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the water.
Ideal range is 7.2 to 7.8
pH range: Acid (0)———-Neutral(7)———-Base(14)
|LOW pH||HIGH pH|
|Corrosive Water||Scaling Water|
Definition: The measurement of sodium bicarbonate dissolved in pool water which determines the ability of water to resist changes in pH. In other words, the ability to “buffer” water from wide pH swings.
Ideal range is 80 -120 ppm.
Definition: The measure of the hardness or calcium ion content in water.
The ideal level for calcium hardness (as measured by CaCO3) is 200 to 400 ppm. Calcium levels below 200 ppm will cause pool/spa water to become increasingly aggressive and will corrode plaster and grouts. When the calcium hardness approaches 1,000 ppm, it is essentially impossible to maintain pH and total alkalinity in the proper ranges. As calcium hardness exceeds 500 ppm, extreme care must be taken to maintain lower total alkalinity and pH levels to avoid scale, especially in hot water environments. – Source: 2005 & 2007 Edition of NSPF Certified Pool & Spa Operator (CPO) Handbook.
Too much calcium hardness will cause:
- High pH
- Cloudy water
- A decrease in flow rates.
- When the Calcium Hardness approaches 1,000 ppm, it is essentially impossible to maintain pH and Total Alkalinity in the proper ranges.
For several reasons, the water temperature has a significant influence on water’s tendency to etch swimming pool plaster or scale swimming pool tile and/or plaster. Most importantly, hotter water accelerates the loss of carbon dioxide from the pool which causes pH to drift upward toward a more basic reading. More generally, the higher the water’s temperature, the faster chemical reactions will occur.
Another important aspect of water temperature is related to the unique property of calcium: It is more soluble at lower temperatures than at warmer ones which means cold water is more corrosive to plaster and grout. In Houston, it is not uncommon to see water temperatures reach 90 to 95 degrees in the summer therefore creating conditions for scaling during the summer months.
Water temperature affects water balance:
- The amount of chemicals needed increases with warmer pool & spa water temperatures.
- Chemical usage, therefore, increases as temperature increases.
- Calcium is less soluble in warm water and is more likely to buildup on pool surfaces during summer months.
- Calcium is more soluble in cold water and is more likely to corrode pool surfaces in winter months.
TOTAL DISSOLVED SOLIDS (TDS)
If all the water in a swimming pool were to evaporate, a residue would be left behind made up of particles too small for the filter to catch. These solids consist of salts, minerals and metals that have come from the water supply, water balancing chemicals, environmental debris and swimmers. TDS is the measure of impurities while they are still in solution and invisible. The measurement is generally taken as an indication of how “aged” the pool water is, since TDS increases over time. Although it is true water becomes slightly more corrosive as TDS increases, most pools have a TDS under 2000 ppm – a reading that has little effect on pool water balance. (Note: salt pools will have TDS readings in and around 4000 ppm which is completely normal.)
When TDS levels increase:
- Chlorine effectiveness is reduced
- Algae growth rates increase
- Water becomes cloudy
- Scaling increases
- Galvanic Corrosion will occur
- Staining of plaster increases
CYANURIC ACID (CYA or Stabilizer)
- Cyanuric Acid levels above 100 ppm start to directly affect the water chemistry by increasing the waters Cyanurate Alkalinity which must be taken into account if the Total Alkalinity reading is to be accurate.
- Cyanuric Acid functions as a stabilizer for free chlorine helping to prevent the hypochlorous acid molecule from being broken down by UV light and heat. For optimum chlorine protection, the Cyanuric Acid level should be maintained between 30 to 80 ppm.
- The ONLY feasible method of reducing Cyanuric Acid concentration is to drain the pool water and replace it with a fresh source water.
How long should I run my pump?
The pump should be run as long as it takes to cycle all the water through the circulation system. This is called Turnover Rate, and it varies from pool to pool based upon the size of the pool, the plumbing, and the pump. A general rule of thumb is to run the pump for 8 to 12 hours daily.
My motor is making a howling and screeching sound, what could be causing this?
If your motor is making high pitch screeching noise, it is usually the motor bearings. 2 things can cause bearings to fail:
- As the motor ages, the grease lubricating the bearings breaks down & deteriorates causing the bearings to screech and the armature to wear down.
- or the main shaft seal has ruptured, allowing waterto travel down the shaft, reaching the bearings and causing them to fail. If the shaft seal ruptures on a saltwater pool, the bearings will fail even faster. To prevent this from happening, have ALL seals replaced in the pump at least once every 2 years.
My automatic pool cleaner doesn’t work as well as it did when new. What could be wrong?
The most likely causes would be incorrect pressure leading to incorrect water flow or the condition of the cleaner itself. Make sure the filter is clean, when the filter is dirty and your pressure gauge is reading 8-10 psi or more over the starting pressure, the cleaner will not be receiving the required water flow for optimum operation. The result could be that the cleaner might slow down or even stop the cleaner completely. If everything appears to be correct but the cleaner is still not functioning, bring it to us for an inspection. Parts are readily available for most cleaners, a wide variety of which we keep in stock. Others are available from manufacturers.
Can algae make me or my family ill?
Algae itself does not make people ill, however, algae does harbor disease-causing organisms and bacteria which can cause illness. Algae can also make it surfaces slippery and dangerous. To avoid these problems it is best to prevent algae growth by keeping the water balanced, properly chlorinated and using an algaecide when necessary. We use a 90 day algaecide applied once in April and again in July to prevent algae blooms from developing during the peak season.
I only get algae in certain areas of the pool, why?
This is most likely as a result of poor circulation within your the pool. This means that not all your water is being sanitized. Places where the water does not circulate well are called “dead spots.” To eliminate these dead spots you could install eyeball fittings in your return lines to move water to those dead spots.
How often should I drain my pool?
You should change the water in your pool every 2 to 3 years. Las Vegas has very hard water and due to our high temperatures we evaporate 10 to 12 feet of water each year. Only the pure water in your pool evaporates leaving behind lots of minerals which build up to undesirable levels. As the hardness and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) build up, it becomes increasingly difficult to balance the chemicals. High calcium hardness and TDS levels can also cause staining on the pool’s plaster or galvanic corrosion when there are dissimilar metals within the system. Galvanic corrosion would be observed by the discoloration of metal parts in the water.
What causes the “ring” around my pool’s tile line?
The ring around the pool’s tile line can be caused by 2 different things:
- The first is calcium scale (white ring) caused by calcium carbonate. This calcium scale is more likely to occur during high water evaporation events and high temperatures. The warmer the water the less soluble calcium becomes. The result is scale forming on pool surfaces and inside pool heaters. Here in Texas we have very hard water so there is nothing that can be done to 100% prevent scale from forming.
- The second is known as a scum line (brown, grey or black in color). A scum line is usually caused by skin, suntan oils, body oils, fertilizer dust, cosmetics, detergents and other organic materials. In hard water regions scum lines may be combined with calcium scale as oils and debris may attach within the protection of the scale ultimately causing algae to grow. The best way to prevent a scum line from forming is to prevent suntan oils, etc. from getting into the pool by rinsing your body off with fresh water before going swimming.
The easiest and most cost effective way to remove a calcium or scum line from your pool is to have it mechanically removed. (See our )This process quickly removes the line and restores your pool’s tile to a like new condition. There are other chemicals that can be added to the pool to help remove the calcium or scum line however these chemicals require multiple doses and several weeks to show any visible improvement, in the end the cost is near that of glass beading.
Why does my pool still need service in the winter?
Your pool still needs to be cleaned and have the chemicals checked and adjusted weekly just like in the summer. Most of the damage to a pool happens in the winter when the pool is being neglected. Protect your investment, trust me, it gets more expensive to fix when you let it go. This is why consistency is the key. If you stop adding acid to your pool in the winter because you think it doesn’t need it, or you never vacuum the pool in the winter because you aren’t going to use it, well guess what, this is when you get the nice calcium buildup around the pool, the dirt stains the bottom and the pool turns dingy. That adds up to $600+ to have the calcium line removed, $295+ to have the stains removed and another $285+ to have the green pool cleaned up.
Does Quality Pool Service Offer Bi-weekly Service?
Quality Pool Service does NOT offer Bi-weekly Service for the following reasons.
Myth: If my pool is only serviced once every two weeks (Bi-weekly) then I will only have to pay 1/2 the price.
Fact: A pool that receives Bi-weekly service will only notice a slight reduction in service price with a maximum being roughly 1/3 of your total monthly service cost. The factors listed below will help to explain this.
All pools still require the same amount of chemical regardless of the number of times the pool is serviced each month. ( Lets say your pool requires $20 of Acid per month when serviced weekly and then you reduce the number of service visits from 4 to 2; your pool will still require the same $20 of Acid per month the only difference is that the dosage amounts per service visit will be double.) One of the drawbacks to Bi-weekly service is that there is a maximum allowable dosage for certain chemicals (i.e. Muriatic Acid) that can be added at any one time. By only servicing the pool once every two weeks, I am unable to guarantee that the pool will be properly balanced at any given time, let alone when the pool does in fact receive service the needed amount of chemical may and usually does exceed the maximum allowed dosage per day.
The amount of debris that will accumulate in a pool over a two week period will almost always be double that of a pool that receives weekly service. This will increase the time needed to service the pool, simply put if you double the debris you will double the service time. This increase in service time cancels out any perceived savings associated with the idea of Bi-weekly service.
If a part of the pool’s equipment breaks or requires unscheduled maintenance between service visits the amount of time that passes before the next service visit may cause an increase in repair costs and/or parts needed.
The biggest drawback to bi-weekly service is that if your pool has any kind of warranty on it from the pool builder, the builder will usually void the pool’s warranty simply because the water is NOT able to be kept within the proper water balance ranges. This is especially true when warranty issues arise for pool heaters, filters, and/or the pool’s surface (i.e. Plaster, Pebbletec, 3M, etc.). The first and one of the most critical water balance factors that becomes unbalanced is pH. If your pH is allowed to become out of balance then all other water balance factors will soon follow causing the pool water to become either corrosive or scale forming both of which will damage the pool and its equipment.
Why is it important to perform preventative/regular maintenance on the pool equipment?
Remember the old Aamco Transmission commerical? “You can pay me now or pay me later.” It’s just that simple.
Can my dog swim in the pool?
Dogs and other pets should NOT be allowed to swim in the pool or spa. A single dog in a pool is equivalent to 3 or more people, it will raise the pH and quickly consume the pool’s chlorine. Animals ALWAYS have small particles of fecal matter stuck in their fur. This fecal matter WILL contaminate the pool’s water aiding in the transmission of Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI’s) such as E. coli, Giardia, Hepatitis A and Cryptosporidium. Besides the affect on the pool’s water chemistry the fur of a dog will get caught in the pools equipment resulting in more frequent service and/or replacement of parts and higher service and maintenance costs.
What service does a D.E. (Diatomaceous Earth) filter need?
Diatomaceous Earth pool filters should be backwashed when the operating pressure rises 8 – 10 psi above the filters baseline pressure. D.E. filters should also be carefully disassembled and thoroughly cleaned every year (more often on pools with heavy usage; pets, parties, high foliage/debris levels, etc.). We inspect the grid fabric and structure, the manifold, the air relief screen, the tank clamp and o-ring, and the air relief assembly.
What service does a Cartridge filter need?
Cartridge filters should be carefully disassembled and thoroughly cleaned 2 – 6 times per year (based on the size) or when the operating pressure rises 8 – 10 psi above the filters baseline pressure. Cleaning will be needed more often on pools with heavy usage (pets, parties, high foliage/debris levels, etc.). We inspect the fabric and structure, thoroughly clean the elements and re-assemble the filter.
What service does a Sand filter need?
Sand filters should be backwashed every 2 to 4 weeks depending on environmental conditions surrounding the pool. Sand replacement should be performed every 5 years or when the filter consistently runs at high pressures. Suntan lotion, body oils, dirt and chemical residue cause the sand bed to clump together which prevents the sand from efficiently filtering the water. When this occurs the sand filter will usually operate at a very high psi level and/or algae will form.
When is a good time to do an acid wash?
An acid wash should be performed when the air temperature is consistently below 85 degrees F. When temperatures are higher than 85 degrees the plaster can delaminate and crack.
Does my pool need an acid wash?
If the pool has stains, dark and light spots on the plaster, then yes it needs an acid wash. Staining on the pools plaster occurs when the water is out of balance (high pH, calcium & TDS levels). If your pool water hasn’t been drained every 2 – 3 years as recommended then an acid wash is a good idea. Acid washing is basically taking a very thin layer of plaster off to remove staining and make the pool look new again. An Acid Wash procedure can also be applied to Pebbletec and other brands of pebble pool surfaces to remove stains, deposits, etc. and will have the same revitalizing effect as when applied to traditional plaster pools.
Does my pool need a chlorine wash?
The only time your pool should need a chlorine wash is if the pool is or was green. If there are traces of algae in the pool, then a chemical wash is the best choice, since the chlorine will kill and destroy the algae. You can’t just do an acid wash on a green pool since the algae will not be affected. You must first do a chemical wash to kill & remove the algae and then the acid wash to remove the stains.
Is a salt pool better than a chlorine pool?
Myth: Salt pools do not use chlorine.
Fact: The truth is that salt pools are in fact chlorine pools. The primary difference is that the salt pool does not use chlorine tablets to sanitize the water. If you have ever purchased a salt system you probably have heard the salesman say “just set it and forget it” or “virtually no maintenance required” or “salt pools don’t use chlorine” while saying this the salesman is not technically lying but they are definitely not giving you the whole story. In reality salt pools require just as much maintenance as a chlorine pool. Salt pools tend to have a higher pH level than a typical chlorine pool. The higher pH means that in most cases you will need to add a greater amount of muriatic acid weekly. Salt pools use a chlorine generator to convert the salt (sodium chloride) into chlorine gas and a byproduct called caustic soda which is the cause of the higher pH. As the chlorine sanitizes the pool it reacts with bacteria to convert back to sodium chloride (salt). Chlorine gas is not a stabilized form of chlorine and will be quickly broken down by sunlight (UV rays) and heat, so the addition of cyanuric acid (stabilizer) is required to promote the killing of germs, bacteria, etc. Also additional salt will need to be added as water is splashed out or carried out of the pool by swimmers or backwashed from the filter.
Myth: Salt pools cannot turn green.
Fact: Salt pools that are not properly maintained can and will turn green. The chlorine generator used by salt pools is only effective as long as the water chemistry is properly balanced. In addition to balanced water the majority of salt systems will not produce chlorine if the water’s temperature is too cold (usually less than 55 to 60 degrees F.) or too hot (above 95 to 100 degrees F.). When the water temperature exceeds these ranges the pool can easily turn green.
Myth: Salt pools need less maintenance than a chlorine pool.
Fact: The truth is that salt pools require just as much maintenance as chlorine pools. In fact some might say that a salt pool requires more maintenance since the chlorine generator needs to be taken apart and given and acid bath every 2 – 3 months on average. The acid bath is done to remove calcium buildup from the plates within the chlorine generator. So as the calcium hardness in your pool rises the chlorine generator will need to be cleaned more frequently. If you fail to perform this cleaning process you will find that the chlorine generator is unable to produce chlorine and it will eventually need replacement which can cost $300 to $1,000 depending on brand and model. See an article written by Industry News about an IPPSA studying addressing maintience issues with salt pools.