Pro Tip #12

CO² pH control, why bubble up your pool?

When CO² is added to water it creates carbonic acid which we can utilize to lower pH in our pools. The residual side-effect is that it will promote Total Alkalinity (TA) rise. CO² alone will require the additional maintenance procedure of column poring acid directly into the pool. This is undesirable for a few reasons we won’t discuss at this time.

The combined use of CO² and acid has both chemicals feeding at the same time when you need to lower pH. With this method, both lower pH and they counteract the TA side effects created by the other. You use less sodium bicarbonate for TA adjustment and less acid as well. Win win.

 

Pro Tip #11

What does UV do?

Ultraviolet light (UV) provides a non-chemical, environmentally friendly treatment option for a wide range of processes. Most microorganisms, even cryptosporidium, are inactivated in less than a second by high doses of UV light, leaving no undesirable chemical residues. Due to their compact size, low ownership costs and simple maintenance requirements, UV-disinfection units have been installed by many of the world’s multi-national soft drink companies, breweries, pharmaceutical giants, municipal waterworks, and wastewater treatment plants.

Applications for UV light treatment continue to grow. In addition to inactivation of microorganisms, UV will break down inorganic and organic pollutants in water. This is particularly true in the swimming pool industry, where, in addition to the disinfection benefits, a significant reduction in combined chlorine levels can be achieved.

Using the proper UV product for each specific application insures that you are getting the right equipment to meet your needs. There are two major “classes” of UV for aquatic applications- low pressure UV and medium pressure UV.

Medium Pressure UV systems emit a “wide” spectrum of UV light (200 nm- 315 nm).  This wide UV spectrum not only effectively deactivates pathogens (such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, E- coli, and Pseudomonas), but also destroys all three chloramine compounds.  This type of chloramine control is vital- not just for the safety of the bather and the comfort for those both swimming in the pool and those on the pool deck.

By emitting most of its UV energy at 254 nm, Low Pressure Amalgam UV is excellent at deactivating pathogens.   Low Pressure UV uses much less electricity to operate and is more user-friendly for the typical spray park customer.

Pro Tip #10

What does total alkalinity (TA) and dominoes have in common?

Like the first tipped domino in a line-up, total alkalinity has reaching influences on pH, corrosion indices, ORP and chlorine levels controlled by ORP.

  • When TA is out of range, <50 PPM or >150 PPM, pH becomes unstable and control can be very difficult.
  • The amount of chlorine required to yield target ORP set point is dependent upon stable pH. This can result in either lower or higher than desired chlorine levels in the pool.
  • The stability of TA produces a stable pH which is the cornerstone of all corrosion water balance indices.

The lesson here is that when TA levels are a problem, so are pH levels. When pH is in trouble, often so are chlorine levels.

Always fix TA first and pH is likely to tall in place as will chlorine.

Pro Tip #9

Do you have too much chlorine in the pool?

KSI Thinking 2Perhaps you are swimming in a heavily used pool; or maybe you are in the bleachers at the natatorium watching the big swim meet. You notice the smell of “chlorine” in the air. And – it’s bad – really bad. If you are in the pool, your eyes may be stinging and swelling. Even if you are up in the bleachers, you realize that your eyes are becoming red and irritated. Either place, you smell “the smell.” “Too much chlorine, again!” you think. “I told them last week that they were using too much chlorine, and they obviously weren’t listening.” You resolve to go talk to the pool manager again, and make sure that she hears you – loud and clear – this time.

You find the pool manager in her office, and you begin reading her the riot act. Fortunately, she is a patient person, and lets you say your piece. Her response, though, is not what you expected.

She explains to you that the smell, eyeburn, and irritation weren’t a result of having too much chlorine in the pool water, but from not having enough! And she tells you why:

Swimmers’ sweat and other organic pool water contaminants contain nitrogen-rich ammonia. As long as the pool water maintains at least ten times as much molecular weight of chlorine than nitrogen, the nitrogen off-gasses to the atmosphere. Outdoors, it blows away; indoors, it must be evacuated from the natatorium (and it usually doesn’t get all evacuated, which leads to big problems). But if there is less that ten times as much chlorine in the water than the nitrogen being introduced, then the nitrogen combines with the chlorine, making chloramine.

A pool can be “heavily” chlorinated (20 ppm+) and, as long as there are no chloramines, the water will not have “the smell” and it will not cause irritation. But just a little bit of chloramine (0.4 ppm and higher) leads to eyeburn, irritation, “the smell”, and contributes to respiratory damage. Chloramines are created when the chlorine residual in the pool water is lower than what is required to treat the nitrogen load. Chloramines can be destroyed by adding enough chlorine to the water to overcome the molecular weight imbalance and restore the 10:1 chlorine/nitrogen ratio.

“So” the pool manger says “I need to do some water testing when the pool closes, and calculate how much chlorine I need to add to destroy the chloramines. I will multiply my chloramine level by ten, then add this much chlorine directly to the water. I’m going to add it tonight, and the pool will be closed tomorrow until the chloramines are gone and the free chlorine residual drops to an acceptable level.”

You ponder this as you drive home: The red eyes, irritation, and smell are not caused by too much chlorine, but from actually having too little chlorine during a high organic load. And – even stranger – more chlorine, in the right amount, needs to be added to the pool water to get rid of the smell and other problems.

Pro Tip #8

Is your bleach any good?

Unlike other commodities, the pool bleach (sodium hypochlorite) delivered to your facility may vary widely in quality, purity, and chlorine content. In addition to having no easy way to verify bleach purity and quality, bleach also begins to degrade and lose its strength from the minute it is made.

Bleach is made by “cracking” salt brine (sodium chloride) with a high electrical charge. Brand new bleach contains about 15% elemental chlorine and has a pH below 10. This fresh bleach begins to degrade almost immediately, and this degrading process kicks into overdrive if the impurities from the manufacturing process (iron, manganese, and other metals) are not thoroughly filtered and removed. Then caustic soda is added to the fresh bleach to raise the pH well into the 13-15 range. This pH increase gives the bleach longer shelf life and slows the degradation of the bleach’s elemental chlorine strength. It is assumed (but not verified) that the bleach delivered to your facility has an elemental chlorine content of 12%-12.5%. Also, do not forget that every gallon of bleach contains a pound and a half or two pounds of salt.

How quickly your bleach will degrade depends on many factors. If your bleach was not properly filtered, the chlorine will begin to oxidize the unfiltered iron and manganese and can lose as much as one third of its strength in the first few days. If the bleach in your storage tank appears reddish or blackish, it contains iron and/or manganese. If you do not remove this tainted bleach, it will continue to contaminate any fresh refills. Good bleach should be yellowish and clear; the bottom of the tank should be able to be seen through the bleach, even when the tank is full.

Unfortunately a lot of low-quality, poorly filtered bleach  makes its way into aquatic facilities. Many agencies consider all bleach to be the same, no matter the manufacturer or supplier; that is not the case.

There are a couple of good rules of thumb to judge if you have good bleach. If the bleach in your storage tank is translucent (clear yellow and you can see the bottom of your tank when it is full) then your bleach is probably pretty good. If not, use up all the bad product and start over. Second, if you begin using more bleach than normal (and you are not having unusual conditions like a week long water polo tournament) then you were probably delivered low-strength bleach.

KSI Crossed arms smallIf you are concerned about the quality of your bleach, the best option is to take a quart or two of freshly delivered bleach to a qualified bleach testing facility. We can assist in finding the closest facility in your area. Filtration tests reveal impurities that destroy chlorine content and strength test show the actual chlorine strength. Poorly filtered bleach may be delivered at acceptable chlorine content but will quickly degrade. Even the best bleach will lose elemental chlorine strength with time, Even if stored in a sealed drum, year old bleach has only 6%-8% elemental chlorine; somewhere close to the strength of typical laundry bleach.

Pro Tip #7

When do you need to call in the experts?

KSI ConfusedThe pool service business is an interesting phenomenon. Lots of facility owners perform their own service, while there seems to be no shortage of service companies claiming to be able to perform work at your facility. We find the best type of care for most pools is to have a well trained facility employed operator with a vested interest in having a well run swimming pool. Someone who performs day to day functions and looks for problems before they occur. Most swimming pool equipment these days is very sophisticated and requires specialized parts, training and tools to perform maintenance and/or repairs, just like today’s cars! The best advice is to have a beneficial plan and agreement with your service provider and know when you want to call them in.

Pools are a unique amenity. They are governed by public health codes and have to go through regular County inspections. Remember, people’s health and safety rely on proper pool operation; there is no room for “good enough.”

A good interactive relationship with a truly qualified service provider creates a great running pool. Start you service relationship with KSI today.

Pro Tip #6

When do you change your filter sand?

The answer in a lot of cases might be “Never!”

Thinking with KSIAs one of the leading authorities on high rate sand filtration after 40 years, we can honestly say most facilities are still operating with their original filter sand. Contrary to popular belief, sand does not wear out. The most common reason for changing filter sand is contamination. Contamination leads to breakdown of filtration properties of good silica sand. Typical examples are:

  • Filter system not backwashing properly
  • Poor water chemistry
  • High oil build-up in the pool (lotions, sunblock, etc).

Any one of these factors, or a combination of all, can lead to poor filter performance and cloudy water conditions. After our experts have determined which factor is the problem, and then fix it, then it might be time to change the sand – to get a fresh start with your filtration system.

Remember, all sand is NOT created equal. KSI has a sieve analysis machine to verify the good from the bad, as there is a lot of non-conforming sand in the market place.

Replacing filter media sand can be expensive, time consuming, messy and cause a shut-down of your facility. So, before you do it, contact KSI for sand testing. If it’s found that you really should change-out your filter media, hopefully you only have to do it once in your career.

Pro Tip #5

When to do preventative maintenance on your pool heater. The answer is based on numerous conditions:

  • KSI CheeringHow often does the heater fire?
  • Is the pool seasonal or year round, indoor or outdoor?
  • Does the heater have a hour meter on it?
  • Is the heater combustion air source extra dirty (windy conditions) or is it possibly laced with pool chemicals?  Example: A pool operated year round in the semi arid climate of California will see its heater run 4-5 times more than a seasonal pool in the same area.

If you are lucky enough to have a visual inspection port on your model via a fire box a qualified technician can view the heater flame and heat exchanger while the system is firing and will reveal much information on the condition of your heater and help to prepare maintenance interval.

Bottom line: Service your heater per manufacturer’s recommended once per year minimum (seasonal or year round) or much sooner if it is a high demand application confirmed by a qualified technician.  In either instance, don’t ignore your pool heater. These systems have gotten very expensive over the last 5-7 years and a small problem can mean a costly repair in a short period of time

Pro Tip #4

KSI Crossed arms smallLooking for parts for your pump, heater, filter, or any other piece of equipment?  You’ve come to the right place.  Find all the latest parts breakdowns for the items in your equipment room, click here.

We have organized the parts breakdown by manufacturer for easy accessibility.   Just click on the document you want to view on the web or print out for future reference.

If you can’t find what you are looking for, feel free to call our customer service at 714-754-4044 or email us at custsvc@knorrsystems.com and we would be happy to get it for you.

Pro Tip #3

How do you know when to clean sensors?

pH sensor:
pH sensors are usually very stable and predictable but also require routine calibration to your test kit reading.  Calibration may be needed once a week but more frequent calibration indicates the need for cleaning.

ORP sensor:
ORP levels are based on chlorine levels and consistent pH.  Be sure to clean ORP sensors at the same time as pH sensor.  If you see a trend with ORP levels 30mV different than prior to cleaning, you waited too long.   Adjust cleaning schedule accordingly.