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.
If 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.
When do you need to call in the experts?
The 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.
When do you change your filter sand?
The answer in a lot of cases might be “Never!”
As 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.
When to do preventative maintenance on your pool heater. The answer is based on numerous conditions:
- How 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
Looking 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to get it for you.
How do you know when to clean sensors?
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 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.
Verifying Savings Claims
Fortunately pools are fun, relaxing exciting and a whole lot of work. For the unsuspecting though they are also riddled with many false claims and the aquatics business more than most can have an over abundance amount of false claims such as:
- “Save 70% in water usage”
- “Save 40% in chemical costs”
- “Save 50% in labor costs”
Get the facts substantiated by third party professionals, not the person selling you something. Use quantifiable, real world case studies from multiple sites. Use the laws of physics, math, and always remember the local health codes need to be maintained.
Example: 75% of water usage in outdoor, arid, western states pools is due to evaporation, up to 1/4″ a day in many places, there is no getting around it, a particular choice of filter system won’t stop this natural event.
Trying new and innovative ideas are good for the pool industry, please just be a good consumer in the process.
An idle pool in the winter time can be a corrosive pool
Many pools are seasonal and we know better than to drain them so that the plaster does not dry out. But did you know that cold water is corrosive water? Utilizing your Ryznar Index Calculator, factor in a pool temperature of 60° and you will soon find out, with all the other parameters the same, you may have a corrosive water condition on your hands.
What to do: It may be as simple as adjusting your controller pH setpoint to a higher value or manually adjusting some of your other chemical values. Whatever best meets your site conditions, just don’t ignore it!