New Pool Owner
Horizon Pool and Patio offers the new homeowner assistance in getting their pool and spa ready for enjoyment.
Understanding the process and your equipment will help determine if you decide to maintain the pool yourself or have professional maintenance.
The Pool Cycle
Keeping pool water clean, clear, and healthy is the driving force behind most of your pool’s equipment and plumbing. Standing water is typically not healthy water, so your pool equipment exists to create a continuous loop that moves water through the filter, while also circulating sanitizing chemicals, and returns the filtered and sanitized water to the pool. Let’s look at the primary equipment involved in this endless cycle.
The Main Parts
How It Flows
Understanding the flow of water can really help you troubleshoot your pool and potential problems. From the pool, water passes through the main drains, skimmers, and plumbing leading to the pump. The pump sucks in water and then forces it out, catching larger debris in the strainer basket as it does so. The force of the pump pushes water along to the filter for finer filtration. After passing through the filter, the water will go to the heater (if there is one), then the chlorinator (if there is one), and finally through the returns back to the pool. That is the typical loop for most pools. If there are any additional features, like a waterfall, then diverter valves will come into play to route water where it is needed.
Diverter valves are also used for pool maintenance as different settings will cause them to draw debris from different areas of the pool. For instance, if you have a lot of floating debris, the valve can be set to increase suction from the skimmer. Conversely, for heavy debris that has settled on the pool floor, the suction can be switched to the main drain. It’s always a good idea to make sure these valves are set to the proper position. Normal operation would be with the valve in the half-way open position, pulling 50% from the main drain and 50% from the skimmer. This serves to clear debris from both the surface and bottom of the pool.
Pool Chemical Balance
Pool chemical balance is key to a healthy pool Here is a brief description of pool chemistry:
2 – 5 ppm
80 – 120 ppm
200 – 400 ppm
40 – 100 ppm
Chlorine – The chief of pool chemicals, chlorine is the foundation of sanitization for most pools. Whether you use chlorine tablets or use liquid chlorine (bleach), or granules, or have a salt chlorine system, the recommended level of free chlorine is 1 – 3 ppm (parts per million). Chlorine is either “free” or “combined”. “Free” (or “available”) means the chlorine is not bound to any contaminants and is therefore available to fight them. When “combined”, chlorine is basically stuck to various contaminants and is no longer effective. Adding these two types of chlorine together gets you your “total chlorine”. If using an ozone or mineral based sanitizing system, then the need for chlorine is reduced, typically requiring lower ppm depending on what system you have.
pH – All about balance, pH level is the scale of acid vs alkalinity. pH is a measurement, not an actual chemical, but there are chemicals to adjust pH levels. pH increaser is sodium bicarbonate and pH decreaser is sodium bisulfate or muriatic acid. The ideal level for pools is 7.2 – 7.8. Low pH equals high acid and this equation can result in corrosion of pool equipment. High pH is a problem too, causing cloudy water and scaling on equipment and surfaces.
Total Alkalinity – Related to pH but not the same, this is a measurement of the total alkaline compounds (i.e. minerals) in the pool. Ideal levels range from 80 – 120 ppm. Total alkalinity is actually the buffer against pH change. Too low and the pH will fluctuate, requiring continual adjustment. Too high and the pH level can become fixed and difficult to adjust.
Calcium Hardness – The level of calcium in your pool determines if the water is “soft’ or “hard”. The ideal range for calcium hardness is 200 – 400 ppm. If out of range, the pool surfaces and equipment will face corrosion from soft water or scaling from hard water.
CYA – Its formal name is cyanuric acid, an incredibly important component that serves as sunscreen for chlorine. Chlorine is quickly depleted by UV radiation and CYA, also called “conditioner or stabilizer”, slows this process. Cyanuric acid is already added to chlorine tablets and granules but needs to be replenished if levels fall below the recommended 30 – 80 ppm.
Shock – There are two main types of pool shock, either chlorine or non-chlorine. Chlorine shock will temporarily boost chlorine, increasing the free chlorine level to blast out contaminants. Non-chlorine shock is an oxidizer made of potassium salt. Its job is to oxidize organic contaminants which frees up the available chlorine to kill more bacteria and algae. Chlorine shock will make your pool unswimmable for about 12 – 24 hours; non-chlorine shock allows you to swim about 15 – 30 minutes after application.
Pool Maintenance Options
Considering Purchasing A Home With A Pool?
- A Horizon Pool and Patio manager will come to the home and do a full inspection of the pool and all of its equipment to verify proper operation.
- Horizon Pool will provide a 3-page written pool inspection report after the full inspection of the pool and its equipment. The report would identify items that might need to be addressed prior to purchasing the home
Weekly Pool Service versus DIY
- Horizon Pool and Patio offers weekly pool service, so that your pool is always ready to enjoy without hassles.
- If you would like to maintain the pool and spa on your own, Horizon’s Pool School would be a good option to learn about relevant topics. Click here for the schedule of upcoming topics: http://www.horizonpool.com/pool-school
- Horizon Pool & Patio offers personalized pool lessons specific to the home’s pool and equipment.
- Horizon also offers in store water testing with a readout at no charge.