Friday, March 25, 2016

Wet chlorine, Dry Chlorine, and Concentrated Tabs. What’s the difference?

The good majority of all pools, in one way or another, use chlorine to prevent the buildup of algae and other contaminates. Chlorine can be added in the form of a liquid, dry powder, or tabs (salt - sodium chloride - is another method to generate chlorine using a salt system. That will be explained in a later post). A lot of people ask me when’s the best time to use each type, and well that’s largely dependent on the pool, environment conditions, other chemical levels, and personal preference. I find that in the hot summer months using all three forms of chlorine provide the best results when I am only servicing the pool one time per week. The liquid chlorine gives the sudden boost to get the chlorine levels balanced, then the dry and tabs help provide the stabilizer and longer term chlorine to keep the levels from dropping before my next visit. For pools more susceptible to issues, I will generally leave a jug of liquid chlorine for my customers to add in the event of a hard rain or problem.

This post assumes familiarity with stabilizer (cyanuric acid). Refer to the post on stabilizer here for more information.

Liquid Chlorine:
This form of chlorine is what most people are familiar with. It comes in those 2.5 gallon
 yellow or orange jugs and is very obviously a bleaching agent. These are normally ~12% chlorine by volume with the rest of the volume being water and are about at 13 on the PH scale (that’s the top of the chart).

  • The benefit of liquid chlorine is it is burned up very cleanly in the pool and doesn’t leave any residue. 
  • Most people can’t even notice when it’s been added to the pool since it’s added in at a liquid state and very quickly is diluted in the pool’s water.
  • Liquid chlorine contains no stabilizer (Cyanuric Acid). Stabilizer protects the free chlorine from being burned up naturally by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Since liquid chlorine contains no stabilizer, it must be added in either manually, or from another source. 
  • The liquid chlorine results in a sudden jump of chlorine in the pool. This level slowly dissipates as the days progress until either more chlorine is added or all the chlorine is gone. 
  • High in PH, so acid must be added to manually decrease the PH of the pool if it becomes to high.

Dry (granular) Chlorine:
This type of chlorine comes in the form of a coarse powder. It’s often marketed as “pool shock”. It’s typically ~69% chlorine by volume. Using dry chlorine can be very beneficial as a supplement to wet chlorine in the hot months of the summer.

  • Much more concentrated dose of chlorine than wet. 
  • In the stabilized version, contains stabilizer (cyanuric acid), which helps protect the free chlorine from being consumed by the sun’s rays.
  • It’s pretty expensive compared to liquid chlorine 
  • Needs to be manually dissolved in the pool water. Many people think seeing it floating around is unsightly. 
  • When the chlorine is burned off, it leaves behind a powder residue that the filter must pick up. This normally requires brushing the pool surface to remove it from the pool and get it in the filter.

Concentrated (tabs or pucks) Chlorine:
Another form of chlorine that most people may recognize as the hard white pucks in blue
floaters in the pool. These are about 90% chlorine and are the most concentrated. They act as a slow time release of chlorine and are packed with stabilizer to help maintain the chlorine from being burned off by the sun.

  • Very low in PH 
  • Slow release helps add chlorine through the week (see cons)
  • Releases some stabilizer into the pool. If the existing stabilizer is already low though, it may still need to be added manually. If the stabilizer is already high, this may create a problem (see cons)

  • Contains a high amount of stabilizer which can cause problems if it’s too high. Refer to the article on stabilizer for more information.
  • Slow release is very slow. It’s not meant to provide chlorine when levels are already low. It should be used as a supplement when adding other forms of chlorine, but can be used to maintain already stable levels of chlorine.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pool Stabilizer (Cyanuric Acid) - Best Friend, or Worst Enemy?

Pool stabilizer, also known as cyanuric acid or conditioner, is my best friend in the hot Florida summer months. The level has to be monitored just as much as chlorine, and if left unchecked it can end up causing one of the worst problems a pool owner can face.

Cyanuric acid can be found in many chemicals added to a swimming pool. It’s most notably found in dry granular and concentrated pucks of chlorine. Though it can also be added by itself as raw cyanuric acid/stabilizer. By adding in dry chlorine or tabs you are usually adding stabilizer along with them. This is a very good thing in the majority of cases, unless it’s the only form of chlorine you are adding and your cyanuric acid level is high.

What’s its role:
Cyanuric acid performs one crucial role: It helps stabilize and protect the existing free chlorine in the pool water from being burned up naturally by the sun’s intense ultraviolet rays. This makes the balance of sanitizing chlorine last longer, which in turn helps keep the cost of maintaining the pool at a manageable level.

Recommended level:
A safe level for the cyanuric acid in most pools is between 30-50ppm (for salt system pools this number is between 60-80ppm) and most pool testing strips can provide this level. Too little stabilizer, then the free chlorine in the water won’t last very long against the sun’s UV rays, which decreases the sanitizing power of the chemicals. You will find yourself having to keep adding chlorine or shock to keep your pool from turning green. The price of all that chemical can quickly put a drain on your wallet.

So what happens when the cyanic acid level is too high? The stabilizer binds to too much of the free chlorine and reduces its power against killing the bacteria and algae in the pool. The water will also become very cloudy, and if left unchecked green very fast. The most common mistake I see when this happens is a worried homeowner will go straight to the pool store and buy pool shock, which more often than not contains cyanuric acid and just compounds onto the problem. No matter how much chlorine you put in your pool at this point, the pool will continue to turn greener and slowly become toxic as the sanitizing power of the chlorine is drastically gimped. I call this situation “chlorine locked”.

Lowering the cyanuric acid level:
There’s only one sure fire way to lower the level of cyanuric acid in a pool that’s become chlorine locked because the stabilizer is too high. Drain it. Pure and simple, you have to remove the water that is high in cyanuric acid and replace it with fresh water. Say, for example, your pool is at 90ppm of cyanuric acid. You will have to drain half of your pool water and replace it with fresh water to dilute the stabilizer to a safe level of 45ppm. You can try and lower that acid level other ways if you want, by using oxidizers, various concoctions, or black magic, but as a pool professional I’ve tried many options to spare the homeowner from having to drain and refill their pool, and the only viable option I’ve found is to just drain and replace the water.

Keep in mind that that drained water has to go somewhere and it can’t be the yard around the pool. When you drain your pool, the wetter the surrounding earth around your pool is, the more likely you can have a problem with the pool cracking or in severe cases literally popping out of the ground. Not to mention refilling all that water will cause a large dent in your wallet, though some utility companies will give you a break on the sewage charge of the water if you notify them in advance that you are refilling a pool.

Test your water occasionally and watch the cyanuric acid level. If your test kit doesn’t test that level, get a new one. It’s an expensive mistake some people only learn from the hard way. If you notice the level getting higher than the acceptable range for your pool, stop adding in chlorine tabs or dry chlorine and only add in wet until that level balances back out.

Not sure if your pool has too much stabilizer being used? Contact us and we can easily let you know.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pool Vacuum Types: Pressure, Robotic, or Suction

Pressure Driven Vacuums:

The biggest part of buying any pool vacuum is choosing the best one for your pool’s specific needs. Many people who have existing vacuums may not realize that there are different vacuum types available. One of the most popular vacuums is the Polaris. They have a pump, which pushes water out of the back of the vacuum and into a chamber, both propelling and pushing debris into a collective bag or net. These are typically the most expensive, requiring a separate pump to be added or used. These are best for pools with large debris: acorns, twigs, and leaves are the main debris that this vacuum is best at picking up. The bag that the Polaris has does not hold on to dirt in many cases, and many people find themselves disappointed if there is dirt still in their pool. There is normally one speed for the Polaris as well, so there is little control on how fast he speeds through the pool.

Robotic Vacuums:

Pool Vacuum
Many other people choose a Hayward automatic robot. These typically are the second most expensive. These pool vacuums are known for their programmed patterns on the bottom of the pools. Instead of water pushing or pulling them randomly, they have patterns that are supposed to help them hit all areas of the pool, more specifically the hard to reach areas. The water is sucked through the bottom and is normally deposited into a canister or basket. These are best at picking up medium sized debris. Acorns and big leaves may become stuck or clogged, but smaller leaves and dirt will be sucked up easily. Many people find that their robots might not be consistently moving on the bottom, this may be because something is jammed in the vacuum. In this case, the jam will have to be manually cleared from the vacuum. Suction can be a positive and negative aspect of the Hayward. If your water flow is too fast he may climb up walls and linger at the top causing your pump to pull in air. If the water flow is too slow your vacuum won't move fast enough to pick up debris or reach all of the pool.

Suction Driven Vacuums:

The third kind of pool vacuum is a suction vacuum, and a popular one being the Baracuda G3. These pick up dirt the best, along with small debris. They are based on suction and many prefer them since the cling to walls and pool bottoms. These also have fewer moving parts, and are normally the least expensive in both price and repair. A Diaphragm inside the vacuum pumps the vacuum around the pool. These run off suction and their performance is based of how fast the water flow is. As a personal preference I find the single chamber suction vacuums are best, but others may prefer the dual chamber option. My preference is based of the single chamber being easy to take apart, easier to repair, and in my own experience seem to clean faster. 

While any vacuum is better than none, choosing the best one for you can help avoid a lot of headache and frustration. Not sure which vacuum is right for you? Contact us and we can easily let you know.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

What is a Leaf Canister, and Should I Get One?

Leaf CanisterSubstantial amounts of leaves and debris can wreak havoc on your pump and circulation
system. If your pool isn't screened in and has large quantities of leaves or debris like pine needles that will constantly fall into your pool, your circulation system could end up running at a diminished capacity, or worse clogged, when your vacuum picks up too much of it.

A leaf canister is a simple part added on to your vacuum hose to pick up debris that are collected from the bottom of your pool. If you have a vacuum, you know that debris is collected as the vacuum runs throughout the day. Where are those leaves and debris going? Best case, they end up in a small collection basket in your motor assembly, and this fills up fast. When this basket gets full, it could end up slowing your pool circulation and putting unnecessary strain on your motor. The motor basket is small, and is meant for collecting small, stray debris. These fill up easily and water cannot pass. A leaf canister allows leaves to collect in a safe chamber, which allows water to pass by. They can be emptied easily and are effective for collection. We can place a leaf canister in for your pool, and you can take that strain off your filter and allow your vacuum to collect more of those pesky leafs. 

Have a question or want a leaf canister installed? Contact us and we answer your questions. Or check out getting a leaf canister yourself at

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

How-To Guide: Cleaning Out a Skimmer Basket

Full Pool Skimmer
Some pools can have a pretty bad time with getting debris stuck in the pool skimmer and basket. Leaves and dead animals can not only clog the skimmer system, but add bacteria into your pool. The skimmer basket should be cleaned out at the minimum once a week, some pools even require it more often than that. If your pool has heavy and large amounts of leaves in the surrounding area, you should consider checking up on your skimmer basket every few days. Or at the very least taking off the lid and checking up on it. Your pool service should always clean out your skimmer basket, but in between visits the debris can build up fast. Here's how you should go about cleaning out your skimmer:
  1. With the pool still running, remove the skimmer lid.
  2. Check how high the debris build up in the skimmer is. If the debris is close to or past the top of the skimmer basket, manually remove it with your hands until the debris is at a minimum of a few inches below the top of the removable basket. This is done to ensure when we remove the basket no leaves spill out over the basket and get sucked into the circulation system.
  3. If you know how to, turn off your pool circulation system. If not, just be very careful with the next following steps.
  4. Remove the skimmer basket and empty it. It is important to not have any loose debris sucked into the skimmer line, as it can create a clog or build up in your system.
  5. If needed, hose any of the debris stuck within the plastic mesh of the basket, and then replace it back into the skimmer.
  6. Replace the lid to your skimmer, and if your turned off your circulation system, turn it back on.
Empty Skimmer Basket
Now look how more efficiently your pools skimmer will be pulling in water and removing newly added pool debris.

Not sure if you're doing it right? Contact us and we can easily let you know.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tips for Keeping Your Pool Blue - Water levels, Where is best?

Pool Water Level
I've been asked before, how much water is too much or too little? An easy answer is always keep your water level at least one inch above the skimmer. If water drops below the skimmer your pump will be pulling in air. This will lower the life of your pool pump’s motor, and those aren't cheap to replace. Many people ask me to lower their water for them because they think it’s too high. If the water level is one inch above the skimmer, and does not overflow out of the pool or cover the skimmer opening then your water level is fine. Keeping the water too high on the skimmer opening can lower the flow rate of water into the skimmer, which can cause debris to pass by the skimmer opening. Some people like it higher and some lower. Just remember it’s important to keep the skimmer in mind! 

Want to learn how to take water out of your pool? Contact Us, I’d love to show you how.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Q&A: D.E. Filters - What's Different About Backwashing and breaking it down?

When talking about a D.E. filter, there are a couple of terms you should be familiar with First, D.E. stands for Diatomaceous Earth. This is actually a white powder with the consistency of flour. Attached to your filter is valve with a lever. This is used to change where we want the flow of water to go. When backwashing, I use this lever and point it from filter to backwash. What this does is “backwashes” or dumps all of the D.E. powder out of your system. The D.E. powder has been working hard, collecting dirt and particles. When we remove the water and D.E. powder mixture, it might be gray to black depending on how much dirt the filter has collected. The process for this takes a few minutes. When done, I take fresh powder and add it back into the filter.

Some times the filter can get backed up and clog. About once every year we need to breakdown the entire filter system. To begin I must release and pressure, and remove the band for around the middle of the filter. Inside the filter is a element which can be compared to a cartridge filter, this holds the D.E. powder. This element needs to be physically removed and cleaned thoroughly. When the element is replaced and the filter put back together, we can add fresh D.E. powder to the filter.

Both kinds of cleaning should only be done if you are comfortable with the system. Many things must be done in order, and properly, or the system may break in several places or cause harmful damage to the person. We do both these methods for D.E. filters. If you think your D.E. filter needs to be broken down contact us, we would love to help!

Pool DE Filter

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