Frequently Asked Questions
Q. My main
question is that my acrylic steps are getting small cracks in it. Is
there a way to coat them. I think they are causing my leak.
gel- coat on fiberglass or acrylic steps can 'craze', but this isn't
the cause of your water loss. Check with your local boat store for
fiberglass paints and gel- repair kits, the small cracks in the gel-
coat allows pool water to breakdown the fiberglass resin.
Bubbles and Solar Heaters
getting air bubbles in the pool. It started when the solar heater
was installed. The solar man says air can't get into the solar
because it's on the pressure side of the pump. There were no air
problems until then.
pump is probably undersized for a solar system. If original and
typical, it was the smallest pump capable of filtering your pool as
it was contracted and built. Solar systems require at least one
step- up in pump size to push water to your roof. The increase in
pressure causes an equal increase in vacuum. There's not enough room
to do the explanation justice, but the solar system is the cause of
your air leak. You can try greasing the filter basket "O"
ring and if your suction- side piping is 1.5" you can up- size
the suction piping to 2" between the valves and the pump, but
you'll probably have to get a larger pump to get rid of the air.
got three bids here for solar heat. All the companies are
legitimate, but one bid is 25% lower than the others. It almost seem
"too good a deal". The one system is smaller, but the
salesman says his system is adequate. The other two salesmen say the
cheaper system is too small. Whom do I believe?
right in being suspicious of the low bid. The biggest mistake made
with solar is buying an under-sized system. Adequate for whom?
You'll notice that none of the salesmen can guarantee a certain rise
in temperature. They'll 'suggest', but a 'guarantee' lies just
beyond our ability to control the weather. Cheaper prices sometimes
guarantee a sale and have little effect on the temperature of the
water. While you're figuring expenses, don't forget the larger pump
you'll need to get the water to the roof and maintain your present
claim most alternate sanitizers are a rip- off. But, every pool
store I walk into sells them.
most endearing feature of alternate sanitizers is their amazing
profit margin. Hawaiian vacations are a common and popular sales
incentive for dealers who make their quota. Do they work? Well, they
don't 'not work'. In our society, something has to be proven to 'not
work' to be fraudulent; "FTC vs Caribbean Clear Ozonator".
Bugs eating the above-ground liner?
above ground pool started leaking about 2 months after we got it.
Its always leaked at the same rate. That is, it didn't start out
leaking a little and work up to this leakage rate. I had to pay some
guy (sub-contracted by the store) to come out and look at it. He
said bugs are eating the liner. Have you ever heard of such a
have. Now the question is: Should the bugs have been eradicated as
part of the installation?
Most installers treat for bugs, most
instructions call for a non- petroleum based pesticide and herbicide
treatment before an above ground pool is erected. I'd have some
sympathy for the installer if you'd been offered an optional bug
treatment and refused it, but they're supposed to be the pros here.
You paid for a professional installation and didn't get it. I'd say
they owe you a new liner and a refund on the leak finders fee.
Q. My pool
recently has become infested with some sort of very tiny bugs. They
are almost invisible to the naked eye. at first I thought it was an
algae. But when you get up close to them the are very definitely
bugs. I have shocked the pool, increased the chlorine setting, run
the skimmer on high, run the pump 24 hours a day, and nothing stops
come to the right place; whether it's bugs or plants, we can deal
with it !
Have seen two types of such infestations; one
is tiny insects that grow to about 1/8" with fins on either
side of its body and the other looks and acts like teensy 'fleas'.
I'll assume you're talking about the fleas.
What makes eradicating them tough is the habit
they have of clustering on the waterline tile, just out of the
water. Can't use a poison on them. Oil based insecticides will
eventually do to you what you are trying to do to them.
The bugs go into the water for only a limited
time so you've got to hit them hard when they do. Many
interpretations for the term 'shock'. Most people don't realize that
it takes chlorine readings of 8.0 and above to kill things; anything
less only makes them goofy.
Shock your pool with 4 of the 2.5 gallon
containers of liquid chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) sold in a pool
store or 10 (or more) of the gallon jugs if you buy your chlorine at
the home supply store.
All readings will be off the chart for a day
or two. Check again in three and hopefully everything will be back
to normal, and bug free.
screen is covered with leaves and pine needles. It's too high to
brush and the hose just makes them wet and too heavy to move. How do
I clean my screen?
A. Can try
a pressure washer, but this is usually ineffective against pine
needles. One clever homeowner made a 'needle scraper' with a pool
pole and an old ice scraper (used on auto windshields, for some
reason). This cuts the top of the needle off and the rest simply
drops. There are also screen cleaning companies that employ smaller
people to scurry all over your screen cleaning up the debris.
Q. How do
I clean silt?
have a lot of silt/mud in my vinyl pool from not properly covering
it this winter. You have most of the leaves out, but can't filter
the water clear. You've already used 12 pounds of shock and
algaecide in two weeks. When you vacuum the silt, within a minute
dark brown water shoots out of the return jet. I've backwashed
numerous times. Is there a silt vacuum you can get? Or, do you have
to drain the whole thing (20000 gallons) and scrub by hand? you
don't mind the work, but that's about $500 of new water you had
rather not buy.
With a layer of silt problem on the bottom,
you should bypass the filter and vacuum to waste. Take your time;
trying to rush the job will only stir up the silt and take longer to
finish. With a vinyl liner pool, I wouldn't take out more than a
foot of water at one time.
deck has dark spots that are slippery. What am I doing wrong?
got 'bird baths', standing water that allows mildew to grow. Pour a
little liquid chlorine on the spots and broom it around. That will
kill the mildew for the time being. If you can drill a small hole (
a 1/8" will do ) through the slab with a masonry bit, you'll
get rid of the small amount of water that causes mildew spots. Slant
the hole toward traffic or sitting areas and it will be almost
Q. I have
noticed that the white metal side topping that surrounds the pool
isn't as bright and white like it once was. How do I clean it?
metal is aluminum and will eventually oxidize like just about every
other metal around pool water. You can find aluminum polishes and
waxes in any R.V. or boat supply store.
Fiberglass is peeling from the tile line of my pool. The job is only
two years old and the warranty is for twenty- five years but company
won't come back to fix it. They say they've just purchased the
franchise and aren't responsible for my pool. Also, the pool leaks.
Fiberglass franchises seem to get sold every few years or so. I
honestly don't know if this is a paperwork shell game or is, in
fact, new owners stepping into a mine field but 'new companies'
typically refuse to back the 'old companies' warranty. Backing
someone else's work can be one of the pitfalls of buying an
established franchise, or it can be an interesting way of getting
out of your own warranty, depending on the situation. I assume you
have a concrete pool and have always recommended only cement
surfaces on cement pools and only fiberglass surfaces on fiberglass
pools. Fiberglass is no guarantee against pool leaks. Read the
"Excerpt" on leaks and if that doesn't help, go to the
Help Desk, fill out the information requested and we'll solve it
got a concrete pool that looks like a frog pond. The vacuum won't
work more than a minute or so before the filter clogs. Now what?
A. With a
concrete pool, I'd rent a sump pump for about $20 and drain the
thing. Run the water into your grass, green water is excellent
fertilizer. When it's empty, sprinkle the walls and floor with about
3 gallons of liquid chlorine diluted 1: 1 with water and run the
water into the street (The results are shown below). The remaining
algae should pretty well negate the sanitizing effects of chlorine,
but don't put it directly on your lawn. Unless you have an extremely
high water table, draining the pool and immediately refilling is
safe without well- pointing.
got calls out to a few pool leak repairers. The one that called back
tonight said the leak repair involves a diver at 150.00 an hour with
NO GUARANTEES OF FINDING ANYTHING!! That's not an option I want to
hear and this was over the phone, without looking at the pool at
all. I hope your advice will do it for me. I'm frantic about this!
who charge $150 and don't offer a guarantee, aren't 'leak
repairers', just expensive swimmers. They want the income without
the responsibility; the glory without the grief. Scuba divers here
get $25 an hour (2 hour minimum) and without an obligation to get
results, is about all they're worth. Just install the foam the way I
described (draining the pool is up to you) and you'll fix your own
leak with less than $5 in materials.
pool light bulb was just changed. It works, but now it's half- full
of water. Do I need a whole new light?
the light breaker off, water and electricity is a bad mix. When you
change a bulb, you need to change the lens gasket. Pull the light
apart again and remove the rubber seal from the glass lens. Take it
down to your pool store for an exact fit. If the light's still
working, you haven't done any permanent damage.
Q. We just
had the pool Diamond Brited and when the lights are on at night the
surface looks rough and lumpy. It feels smooth to walk on and looks
fine in the daytime. If I hadn't noticed the lumps and gouges, I
would have believed the pool was perfect. thanks.
Throwing a little light across a surface will illuminate every
imperfection (try a flashlight across a counter top) that you could
never see otherwise. It's true of any pool surface, but less
noticeable in say, a commercial pool, where multiple lights soften
shadows. As long as it isn't rough to touch or walk on, this won't
affect the service life of the surface.
You have two options:
Soften the light by using a smaller wattage
bulb or a color cover over the lens (available in blue, yellow,
green and red)
Aim the return 'eyeballs' up and have the
system run at night during the hours you're likely to be out by the
pool. When you ripple the water, imperfections in the pool surface
Is it a Light Leak?
light doesn't fit snugly into the wall, it's loose at the bottom.
Could this be the cause of my leak?
lights are water cooled; that is, they rely on water circulating
into and around the niche to keep the light from cooking itself.
Your leak could be in the niche or the conduit that carries the
light cord out the back of the niche. Light area leaks are both the
easiest to repair and 'least likely to be done properly' leak site.
It's important that you don't seal the fixture
into the pool wall. People who seal up the light cord with pool
putty aren't doing you any favors, either.
You can secure your light by loosening the top
screw; catching the bottom hook and re- tightening the top screw.
marcite surface on my pool has pits and large grey areas showing
through. The pool is not leaking yet, but how long do we have before
we have to re-surface?
should never 'have' to resurface. Pool surfaces are an aesthetic
coating, a pleasingly consistent backdrop for the water. Constructed
properly, the pool will hold water without any surface at all. Watch
for leaks around the fittings, but when you re- surface is entirely
up to you.
Q. I'm so
mad I could spit. After the pool was Marcited, it wasn't filled
until the next day. We discovered many checking cracks which were
filled at a later time. I am wondering if we should demand that the
contractor do the job over. We intend to keep the house for a long
time and need to make the right choice.
immediately filling the pool was unfortunate (dumb), but is rarely
fatal. Have no idea what you mean when you say the 'check cracks'
were filled in. Surface checking disappears when the pool's filled
Was once filling a pool when the owner asked
'When will you make the surface blue?' Thinking he was kidding, I
joked about the 'underwater paint' we applied just as soon as the
pool was filled. Next morning he came out and seemed genuinely
disappointed that the pool was already blue. "I wanted to see
the diver work". He was even going to keep the kids home from
school to watch us paint the surface underwater.
Only damage that may have occurred is
delamination (pop offs) that won't become evident until much later
and on a new pool (marcite applied to gunite), is unlikely. Only way
to find out is to drain the pool and 'tap them out', but don't be
surprised when the 'checking' reappears and the surface turns white
As the questions keep pouring in, our
collection of helpful FAQ's keeps growing....here are the latest. If
You can't find what you're looking for in either our excerpt
archives or in the FAQ's below, please contact us using the online
help page. Also, you can now look in our new "Contractor's
Corner" for tips and tricks by other pool pros.
material used to build the sloping sides and bottom of the pool,
looks like cement, but isn't, has two large holes in it where it was
crushed. I'm replacing the vinyl liner and when I removed the old
one, the holes were there. What is typically used as a surface
material for vinyl lined pools and is there any trick to doing the
you see is probably a mixture of cement and vermiculite or perlite.
The material is typically only about 2" thick and you can
repair it with a bagged cement and sand mixture. Remove any broken
pieces and dig out the ground so that your repair is at least an
inch thicker than the rest of the floor. Mix the cement to the
consistency of peanut butter and sponge the repair smooth.
surface on my pool is in good shape except for two "pop-
offs" . The Realtor says this will have to be repaired before
she'll show the house. Re- surfacing is so expensive, what can I do?
A. If you
can safely drain the pool, you can patch the spots with sanded tile
grout matched to the 'true' color of your surface. You're writing
from Florida, so be careful with the water table when you drain the
pool. 'Pop- offs' in the pool are no problem compared with 'popping'
Q. Just a
gunite pool that needs resurfacing badly, is 'Diamond Brite' the
best material to use?
best material to use is the strongest material the crews in your
area are capable of applying. In Central Florida, 'Diamond Brite' is
a highly respected, but tricky material and requires some hard-
learned experience. You don't want to be anyone's' "guinea
pig'" even the best material will fail if it isn't properly
Resurfacing and Leaks
Q. We just
signed a contract to have our pool marcited. The rep told us it
would solve our leak problem, but now I have doubts.
Resurfacing the pool will repair most interior leaks; when a
breakdown of the surface is the problem. Sign of an amateur when a
pool guy makes a statement, but offers nothing to back it up. If he
thinks his material will repair your leak problem, then he must know
what the problem is. He should have temporarily plugged the leak to
put you at ease.
In My Pool
getting sand in my pool. It's coming out of the water jets going
into the pool. Is this a leak?
didn't mention losing water, so it's not a leak. On the Pool Poll
you indicated that you currently have a D.E. filter and I'd guess
the sand you see is actually filter powder. If you've had the grids
re- skinned recently, they weren't re- assembled properly. If you
haven't re- covered the filter grids in the last seven years, I'd
say it's a rip in one of the grids. Check with your local pool store
about re- skinning the filter grids.
Q. A leak
was repaired at the beginning of the summer and it's leaking again.
The company used silicon caulk to repair on the steps and they say
it needs to be replaced because my water messed it up. They won't do
anything unless I pay them. Does this sound right to you?
like a great idea if you own the pool company. Silicones aren't
generally made for underwater application and typically loosen after
a month or so. I know of only one silicon caulk sold through marine
supply stores that might work on your pool. A better choice is 3M-
5200 marine sealant. Applied like a caulk, this stuff will hold
underwater. If the company won't back their work, call the BBB and
find someone who will.
liner seems to be slipping in the shallow end. This has caused a
wrinkle on the bottom of the pool and a ten foot section of the top
has pulled loose. Is there any way to correct this without draining
the pool and restretching the liner?
water weighs too much to move the liner without draining the pool.
I'll bet the liner pulled loose before the wrinkle appeared. If the
floor support isn't built up high enough at the radius (where the
floor and wall meet); or the radius has eroded, the liner can't
support the weight of the water by itself. Check the depth at the
radius and build it up with builders sand, if necessary, before you
re- attach and refill the liner.
Q. I had
one of the quartz finishes put on my pool about six months ago. Now
there are little BB sized rust stains all over. The contractor said
it's stains from a tree in the back corner of the yard. I don't
think so. For one thing the stains are growing and they're evenly
A. When I
talked to one of the quartz material sales reps, he mentioned that
they sieve all materials that go into the product. At the time, it
sounded like 'fluff' and I didn't pursue it. An engineer mentioned
it later and I asked him about it. What you've got is a metallic
contaminant, probably iron and probably brought in with the lime in
the cement. It's evenly spaced because it's evenly distributed
throughout the material.
Don't think harshly of your contractor. Your
rust spots are probably as much a surprise to him as they are to
you. Material manufacturers can be incredibly creative with the
SideStep when it comes to the 'Warranty Dance' and chances are when
the contractor repairs the problem, he'll be doing it out of his own
Rebar and Rust Stains
rebar on my in ground spa is showing through (rusting) and staining
the walls. I tried using a primer and also paints the spa but
nothing last for very long. I am looking at fiberglassing the spa.
Is this a good idea ? Is this something I can do myself ? I am quite
handy around the house. Is the idea itself worth pursuing?
(or the wire used to tie rebar intersections) rusts through when
it's less than an inch from the surface. If you've got just a few
rust spots, I'd consider cutting them out. Takes a concrete cut- off
(handheld) saw and hammer & chisel. Dusty, but homeowner do-
able. Repair with gray masonry cement and cover with any material
Except fiberglass. One writer pointed out that
a major fiberglass installer uses snarling Doberman pinscher dogs as
a trademark. Said she didn't appreciate the symbolism until she
asked for warranty work.
If you want a surface that will truly (the
Romans did it) last forever and something a homeowner could do, I'd
tile it. Use 'penny' tile, 4"X4", 1"X 1",
doesn't matter. Go slow, in small sections, while you learn the
routine. Start with the floor and the leg- high wall. Use thin- set
to stick it to the walls, wait a day and use sanded tile grout to
grout it in, meld in the fittings. Didn't mention the size of your
spa, but $400- $500 should cover all the costs.
All procedures are in the book. Sounds like an
Diamond Brite Stain?
Q. I had
'Classic' Diamond Brite put in my pool and there's a three foot dark
spot at the bottom of the steps in the shallow end and around the
main drain. The contractor wants to drain the pool and acid wash the
dark areas. Will this stain be permanent?
Brite is finished with an acid wash which takes the 'haze' off the
surface. I'll bet the 'darker spot' is actually where the Diamond
Brite is fully visible while the lighter areas still sport the haze.
Have the contractor drain the pool but ask him to first try lightly
acid washing the lighter areas of the surface.
got a crack through the tile on one whole side of my pool. The pool
is a few years old and it doesn't seem to be getting worse, but it
looks so terrible. What can I do?
crack you describe is actually a deck problem. The edge of the deck
is on top of your pool wall and the tile covers this joint. When the
deck settles, usually in the first year or so, it causes a crack in,
or just below the tile line. As long as the settlement's stopped,
you can either fill this crack with grout colored to roughly match
the tile or pool surface or knock off the old tile and replace it.
Assuming, of course, that matching tile is still available.
Q. A tile
is chipped and I'm worried about one of the kids getting cut. Nobody
will come out for one tile and I have no tools.
A. For an
emergency repair, you can mix a little 2- part pool putty and
carefully form it onto the broken tile. After the putty sets, use a
crayon to color the repair.
Q. How do
you get the water jets working in the shallow end?
A. If this
is an older pool (1960's or early 70's) and the jets are in the
seating area, this was a first attempt at the 'spa effect'. There
will be a valve on the return line at the equipment that controls
them. If the jets are not valved and run constantly, you may need to
put smaller eyeballs in the deep- end returns to increase water flow
at the shallow end.
Fiberglass and Irritation
think the pool is giving them a rash. I ran my hand over the surface
and it feels like a bristle brush. It's five year old fiberglass,
about five years the fiberglass gelcoat begins to dissolve,
especially where it gets full sun. The hair you feel are strands of
glass that were once protected under gelcoat. It's vital that you
move quickly to either repair the gel or cover it with an epoxy
paint; pool water will destroy the resin bonding the glass. If you
can't find your dealer for warranty, don't forget the most
experienced fiberglass repair people are found in boatyards and
said the D.E. filter is better, my builder tells me that the
cartridge filter is better. Who's lying?
in the pool business lies. 'Better' is a relative term and both
statements are true. The cartridge is easier to take care of and
cheaper to install, so it's definitely better for the contractor.
The D.E. requires occasional trips to the pool store, a little
instruction and costs more, but it filters bacteria, algae spores
and other material out of the water that goes right through the
cartridge. The D.E. filter is better for you and your pool.
got a gas heater on my pool. It will cost almost as much to repair
the old one as it would to buy a new one. What
do you recommend?
got an old pool, gas hasn't been used to heat a pool since the Nixon
administration. I'm assuming we are talking about a pool and not a
spa, where gas is still a viable choice. Look at the heat pumps.
That's what I chose and haven't regretted it.
had a constant leak at the top of my pump. The male adapter's been
replaced three times. It works for a while and then it leaks again.
Assuming that you're using PTFE tape or paste on the threads, I'd
guess you've got stress on the fitting. If the pump and filter can't
be be secured to the pad, get a PVC Union fitted with a male
adapter. The rubber seal will absorb a small amount of stress and
keep the fitting water- tight. If that doesn't work, re plumb the
piping between the pump and the filter. Also, make sure the pump is
picking up the prime right away. A dry- running pump will cause
enough heat to melt this fitting.
skimmer is not skimming the surface very well and my vacuum isn't
working very well either. Is this a problem with my pump? I just
bought the house last week, and the pump looks kind of old.
seen some old looking pumps move a lot of water. Turn the pump
'off', open the strainer basket on the pump and check for debris.
Then place a hose in the basket and fill the strainer. Bump the pump
'on' for a moment and the water should disappear instantly. If not,
you've got either a clogged filter or pump impeller that will
greatly affect the pumps performance.
problem is the motor on my Sta-Rite pump. It wants to turn on but
won't. It had been doing that 3 or 4 times then finally turning on.
What will happen is it hums for 10 or so seconds then kicks off when
it gets to hot I guess. It was turning on but not anymore. What can
like bad capacitor. On Sta-Rite, the capacitor is a 1"
diameter, 2.5" long black cylinder under the metal cap on the
back of the motor. Turn the pump 'off' at the breaker, remove the
cover and touch the two leads on the capacitor with an insulated
screwdriver to dissipate any residual electricity. It's a $10 part
at your local pool store or 'Radio Shack'.
skimmer line is clogged in a twenty year old, screened- in pool. The
main drain works fine. I've tried everything to un- clog it. Do I
have to dig up the skimmer line or is it worth fixing?
A. Even in
a screened in pool you'll get material floating on the surface,
which the skimmer removes. If your skimmer valve is original, I'd
replace it. Chances are it's one of the brass boiler valves and
twenty years is more service than I'd expect on a pool. If you have
a brass valve on the main drain or cleaner line, replace them at the
water level stops about two inch below skimmers. I can't see
anything at this level that could leak.
A. Take a
look at your skimmer and see if the inside lip (where the plastic
meets the tile) isn't two inches below the tile line in your pool.
Splash a little water into the skimmer from the pool and 'dye check'
this lip. It's a common leak site repairable with 2- part pool
"As a pool owner, I have a general idea of how to keep my pool
water clean. But frankly, I’m not sure I’m doing it right. How
can you help me?"
Surprisingly, most pool owners don’t really feel confident about
the way they maintain their pools. That’s why we wrote this FAQ
"Well I’m afraid some of my questions are pretty dumb…"
common, is more like it! Look, a swimming pool is a sophisticated
piece of equipment. Nobody expects you to know everything about it
without asking questions or you'll find yourself with a messed-up
"O.K., then. Let me ask you this: exactly what is a ‘properly
maintained’ pool, anyway?"
properly maintained pool is one that is visually and biologically
can tell if it’s visually clean just by looking at it. But how do
I tell if it’s ‘biologically clean’?"
using a test kit, and measuring your pool’s chlorine, Alkalinity
and pH levels. (This is a very easy procedure and your pool supply
dealer will be happy to show you how it’s done.) So, if you
maintain the proper chlorine and pH levels, bacteria and algae will
be killed, and your pool will be "biologically" safe.
heard of chlorine before, but I’m still not really sure what pH
"pH" refers to the acidity/basicity level of your pool
water. The reason it’s important is that unless your pool is
within a certain pH range, your chlorine can’t chemically interact
with the bacteria and algae it’s supposed to kill.
"In other words, unless my pH range is properly adjusted,
chlorine won’t help keep my pool as clean as it should be?"
Exactly. Most pool owners don’t realize how important the pH level
is. The proper range is 7.2-7.8, ideally 7.6.
"Since it is so important, how do I maintain it?"
easy. All you have to do is: 1: Measure your pool’s current pH
level 2: If the level is too high (your test kit tells you how to
determine that), add "pH MINUS" 3: If the level is too
low, add "pH PLUS."
"Where do I get this ‘pH minus’ & "pH plus’?"
pool chemical dealer has it. It’s not expensive, but it is
"O.K. now that my pool’s pH is balanced what do I do?"
A. You add
chlorine. The idea is to maintain a Free Residual Chlorine level of
"That’s a new one for me. Just what does ‘Free Residual
Chlorine’ actually mean?"
Residual Chlorine’ is the amount of chlorine that remains
available to kill bacteria and algae as they occur in your water.
"O.K. how can I be sure I always have enough ‘Free Chlorine’
in my pool?"
Just ask your pool chemical dealer for a test kit that measures the
‘Free Chlorine’ level. It’s easy to use and you should use it
"That sounds easy enough"
A. It is.
"But aren’t there different types of chlorine?"
but basically we recommend just one type.
chlorine ( either granular or in tablet form ) that is what they
call a "Stabilized Tri-chlor" type.
it’s very effective in fighting bacteria and algae, it’s very
easy to use, and it lasts up to 4 times longer than liquid bleach,
shock or calcium hypochlorite.
Is there really a difference?"
A. Yes. A
Stabilized Chlorine may cost a little more initially, but will save
you money in the long run. It protects the chlorine from the sun's
guess I can see the advantages of Stabilized Chlorine - tell me
A. The sun
will cause liquid bleach or shock and calcium hypochlorite to lose
their effectiveness after 4 hours. But if you use a chlorine with a
built-in-stabilizer, it will keep working for over 24 hours. More
chlorine is left in the water to do the job of sanitizing, and less
is wasted - being burned off by the sun. A smaller amount of
Stabilized Chlorine will last you longer than 2-3 times as much
"O.K. I’m convinced that Stabilized Chlorine is better than
the others. Now what do I do?"
have a choice of either Stabilized granular chlorine or Stabilized
tablets. For most applications, we usually recommend using the
3" slow dissolving "hockey puck" style tabs.
"OK, but say I did select the granular. How do I use it?"
Once your pH is balanced, simply add 2 ½ ounces of most brand's
granules for every 10,000 gallons of water. However, be sure to
check the label of the brand you choose.
A. You do
have to add it every day unless otherwise indicated by your test
kit. This is this disadvantage of a granular product.
"Do I just sprinkle it right into the water?"
A. No. You
should mix it with water in a bucket first. This will ensure that
you don't stain your pool bottom. Remember, always add chemicals TO
water, not water TO chemicals.
"Sounds easy, but I think the tablets would be easier. Am I
Simply place the tablets either into your skimmer basket or, if you
have one, your chlorine feeder. Usually only once per week !
same as with the granules: 2 ½ ounces per 10,000 gallons is
typical, however be sure to check the label of the brand you choose.
"How can I tell how many gallons my pool holds?"
is a chart on our Web Site, go back one page to the main Pool &
Spa Tips Information Directory and you'll see it.
"You make it out to sound pretty simple. Basically, it seems
like all I have to do is keep my pH balanced and my chlorine level
got it! The only other bit of routine maintenance you need to know
about is vacuuming, super-chlorinating, and maintaining total
"Vacuuming I know about: once a week I vacuum the bottom and
sides and then backwash my filter. But what’s super-chlorinating,
and how often do I do it?"
Super-chlorinating is just what it sounds like: Instead of putting
in 2 ½ ounces of chlorine per 10,000 gallons, you put in 5-10 times
"Wow! That’s a lot!"
but you do it only when needed, usually after a heavy rain, a very
hot weekend or when the pool’s been heavily used. Before swimming,
you must wait until the free residual chlorine has returned to below
"Got it. Now what’s total alkalinity, and why do I have to
test for it?"
A. This is
the water’s ability to resist changes in pH. The same conditions
that produce the need to Super-chlorinate may also affect your water’s
total alkalinity. A simple test kit will help you keep total
alkalinity at the proper level of 80-120ppm. Your pool chemical
dealer can supply the test kit and the chemicals you need.
Water is generally classified into two groups:
Surface Water and Ground Water. Surface water is just what the name
implies; it is water found in a river, lake or other surface
impoundment. This water is usually not very high in mineral content,
and many times is called "soft water" even though it
usually is not. Surface water is exposed to many different
contaminants, such as animal wastes, pesticides, insecticides,
industrial wastes, algae and many other organic materials. Even
surface water found in a pristine mountain stream possibly contains
Giardia or Coliform Bacteria from the feces of wild animals, and
should be boiled or disinfected by some means prior to drinking.
Ground Water is that which is trapped beneath
the ground. Rain that soaks into the ground, rivers that disappear
beneath the earth, melting snow are but a few of the sources that
recharge the supply of underground water. Because of the many
sources of recharge, ground water may contain any or all of the
contaminants found in surface water as well as the dissolved
minerals it picks up during it's long stay underground. Waters that
contains dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium above
certain levels are considered "hard water" Because water
is considered a "solvent", i.e., over time it can break
down the ionic bonds that hold most substances together, it tends to
dissolve and 'gather up' small amounts of whatever it comes in
contact with. For instance, in areas of the world where rock such as
limestone, gypsum, fluorspar, magnetite, pyrite and magnesite are
common, well water is usually very high in calcium content, and
therefore considered "hard".
Due to the different characteristics of these
two types of water, it is important that you know the source of your
water -- Surface or Ground. Of the 326 million cubic miles of water
on earth, only about 3% of it is fresh water; and 3/4 of that is
frozen. Only 1/2 of 1% of all water is underground; about 1/50th of
1% of all water is found in lakes and streams. The average human is
about 70% water. You can only survive 5 or less days without water.
Q. What is
water is the most common problem found in the average home. Hard
water is water that contains dissolved hardness minerals above 1 GPG.
are hardness minerals?
Calcium, manganese and magnesium are the most common.
Q. How do
you Measure Hardness?
per million or grains per gallon are the most common. One part per
million (PPM) is just what it says: out of one million units, one
unit. Grains, or grains per gallon (GPG) is a weight measurement
taken from the Egyptians; one dry grain of wheat, or about 1/7000 of
a pound. It takes 17.1 PPM to equal 1 GPG.
Should Hard Water Concern Me?
many uses, it would not matter. For instance, to put out fires,
water your lawn, wash the mud off the streets or float your boat,
water would have to be pretty hard to cause a problem. But for
bathing, washing dishes and clothes, shaving, washing your car and
many other uses of water, hard water is not as efficient or
convenient as "soft water." For instance, you use only 1/2
as much soap cleaning with soft water because hard water and soap
combine to form "soap scum" that can't be rinsed off,
forming a 'bathtub ring' on all surfaces and dries leaving unsightly
spots on your dishes. When hard water is heated, the hardness
minerals are re-crystallized to form hardness scale. This scale can
plug your pipes and hot water heater, causing premature failure,
necessitating costly replacement. The soap scum remains on your skin
even after rinsing, clogging the pores of your skin and coating
every hair on your body. This crud can serve as a home for bacteria,
causing diaper rash, minor skin irritation and skin that continually
itches. For many industrial uses, the hardness minerals interfere
with the process, causing inferior product.
Will Test My Water for Hardness?
A. If you
are connected to a municipal supply, call the water Superintendent,
or City Hall. They can either provide the answer, or direct you to
the proper individual. Remember the conversion factor: it takes 17.1
PPM to equal 1 GPG. In other words, if your water has 171 PPM
calcium in it, divide 171 by 17.1 to get the answer in grains. This
example would be 10 grains, or GPG.
If you are on a private supply, you could
contact your county extension agent: collect a sample in an approved
container and send to the city or state health department for
testing: find a testing lab (try the yellow pages): call a water
conditioning company. By the way, if you are on a private well, YOU,
AND YOU ALONE are responsible for the safety of the water you and
your family drink. You should test your supply for bacteria at least
once per year and other contaminants at least every three years --
more under certain conditions.
Water is Hard, Now What?
A. If your
water tests over 3 GPG hard, you should mechanically soften it.
Softening water that is less than 3 GPG, while it makes your shaving
and bathing more comfortable, is considered a luxury due to the fact
that the cost is more than your savings. Over 3 GPG, you will save
enough to pay for the cost and maintenance of a water conditioner.
As of this writing, the most economical way
for you to soften your household water is with an ion exchange water
softener. This unit uses sodium chloride (salt) to recharge man made
plastic like beads that exchange hardness minerals for sodium. As
the hard water passes through and around the plastic like beads, the
hardness minerals (ions) attach themselves to the bead, dislodging
the sodium ions. This process is called "ion exchange".
When the plastic bead, called Resin, has no sodium ions left, it is
exhausted, and can soften no more water. The resin is recharged by
flushing with salt water. The sodium ions force the hardness ions
off the resin beads; then the excess sodium is rinsed away, and the
resin is ready to start the process all over again. This cycle can
be repeated many, many time before the resin loses it's ability to
react to these forces.
Water Conditioning Company should I call?
A. As in
any purchase, talk to your friends and neighbors -- who do they use?
Are they happy with them? Check with the Better Business Bureau for
complaints. The BBB can't prevent shady business, but they can and
do keep a file of complaints filed by people who have had dealings
Ask at least two to come to your home to look
at your plumbing and then give you a quote on their equipment. Have
them explain all the features of the unit, as well as the warranty.
Should I look for in a Water Conditioner?
sure the unit has enough resin to treat all the water you and your
family will use. As of this writing, the average usage per day, per
person (including children), for inside the house is 87 gallons. You
should also be shown two or three ways to initiate recharging the
The oldest way is by a time clock, i.e., your
water usage is calculated and the frequency of recharging programmed
into the timer. On the appointed day, at the appointed hour, the
unit recharges. If all went as calculated, ok. If you were gone --
too bad -- you just wasted salt and water. If you had extra company
-- too bad -- you ran out of soft water. You must pick a unit that
will treat one days supply of water and still have about 40% of the
resin in the recharged state. This will provide you with the most
efficiency for salt and regeneration water.
A second way to initiate recharge is by
electronic sensing. By electronically checking the resin, these
units can determine when the resin needs to be recharged -- this is
a great help when your water hardness changes, when you have extra
company or when you are gone for a few days. These 'sensor' units
can save you up to 42% of your salt and recharge water as well as
keep you in soft water when you have extra guests.
A third way to initiate recharge is by using a
meter. These units have a meter installed in the water line and
simply measure how many gallons of water you actually used. The unit
is set according to your water hardness, and will recharge when the
gallons used approach exhaustion of the resin bed, saving you a high
percentage of your recharge salt and water.
Many variations of these methods are on the
market. Some use computers to calculate in advance, when to recharge
the unit; some have two resin beds (tanks), and switch back and
forth between the two, keeping you in soft water all the time, at
the highest efficiency. These systems are most effective in
high-hardness waters, i.e., over 10-12 GPG, and over 4 people in the
family. Low hardness water and smaller families do not require the
extra expense of these options.
Q. I Have
a Water Conditioner, Now my Water Feels "Slimy"
the hardness minerals are removed, soap no longer forms a soap curd,
or "bathtub ring" on your skin, plugging your pores,
clinging to every strand of hair. You are now truly clean. That
slick, slimy feeling you feel is your natural body oils -- without
the soap scum. The old saying that you get "squeaky clean"
is a myth; that feeling was caused by the soap scum on your skin. By
the way, that soap scum provided an excellent place for bacteria to
hide and grow, causing numerous minor skin ailments.
Water that Smells
Water Stinks! What can I Do?
you must learn a little about your nose: Once you smell some things,
your sense of smell is dulled for a short while, and you can't make
accurate judgments of smell. For instance, if I blindfold you, let
you smell gasoline, hand you a piece of onion to eat and tell you it
is an apple, you can't tell it's not because your nose isn't working
properly!! (Your sense of taste isn't working either -- smell and
taste are closely related and affect each other!)
So, to correctly analyze your problem, you
need to become a detective. The best time to locate the smell is
after you have been away from home for a few hours -- this allows
your nose to become sensitive to "that smell" again. With
your 'sensitized' nose, go to an outside spigot -- one that the raw,
untreated water flows from. Turn it on, let it run a few minutes,
then smell it. If it smells -- we found it. If not, we must look
further. (Many, many smells are not in the raw water at all, they
are introduced into the water inside the house.) Go to a cold,
treated water spigot inside the house, turn it on and let it run a
minute; then smell. If this water smells, and the outside, untreated
water didn't -- you must have a device (cartridge filter, water
softener, etc.) in the water line that needs to be cleaned and
If it is a cartridge, or 'string' filter,
replace the element and sanitize the housing. If you have a water
conditioner call the Company where you bought the unit for advise on
how to sanitize the unit. If you rent the unit, just call! You can
sanitize the unit by pouring Hydrogen Peroxide or Chlorine Bleach in
the brine well of the salt tank, and placing the unit into
regeneration. Check with the seller, or, if they are no longer in
business, any Professional Water Conditioning Dealer for how much to
put in your particular unit.
If the cold, treated water inside didn't
smell, turn on the hot water and let it run a few minutes -- does it
smell? If it does, chances are you have a sacrificial anode inside
your hot water heater that is "coming apart at the seams"
and throwing off a "rotten egg" odor. This obnoxious smell
will drive you right out of your shower! The only solution is to
remove the anode from the heater, voiding your warranty, or replace
it with a new one made with aluminum alloy. This anode is placed in
a (glass lined) hot water heater to seal up any cracks in the glass
lining and prevent corrosion of the heater tank. You will find the
anode on the top of the heater; remove the tin cover and insulation
-- look for what looks like a pipe plug -- about 3/4 inch in size
with a 1 1/16"fitting. Turn off the heat source and the water;
have someone hold the tank to prevent it from turning, and unscrew
the "plug". You will find that the 'plug' has a 30 - 40
" long pipe (or what's left of one) attached to it. Hopefully,
most of the rod is still attached -- just corroded. If so, replace
the plug with a real pipe plug and throw the anode away. If part of
the rod has corroded off, and fallen into the heater, you may have
to try to fish it out. Either way, before you plug the hole, pour
about 2 pints of chlorine bleach into the heater first. This will
kill the smell left in the heater. If, after a week or so, the smell
returns, you must fish out the rod that is in the bottom of the
tank. Good Luck!
It's my Raw Water That Smells -- Now What?
you must determine what is causing the smell, and how strong it is.
Minor, musty smell - If it is a minor, or
low-level smell, you MIGHT be able to solve it with a small,
point-of-use carbon filter. You can place these types of filters on
the water line going to the cold water where you draw you drinking
water. Or, you might solve it with a whole-house filter on your
incoming water line to filter all of the water inside your home.
Because carbon removes smells by Adsorption,
i.e., the smell "sticks" or "adheres" to the
carbon particles, you must be careful not to exceed the manufactures
recommended flow -- some filters even have a flow restriction built
in them. If you run water through them too fast, you will not remove
the smells. Whenever you place a carbon filter in your water line,
you must be sure to replace the element and sanitize the housing on
a regular basis. Carbon filters remove organics from water, and the
bacteria found in water like to eat organics -- the carbon filter is
a nice, dark place, just full of food for them to grow and reproduce
in. Regular and routine replacement will help prevent any buildup of
bacteria in the cartridge.
Strong, rotten-egg smell - Strong, rotten-egg
odors in the raw water is usually the result of the decomposition of
decaying underground organic deposits. As water is drawn to the
surface, hydrogen sulfide gas can be released to the atmosphere. In
strong concentrations, this gas is flammable and poisonous. It
rapidly tarnishes silver, turning it black. It is toxic to aquarium
fish in sufficient quantities. As little as 0.5 ppm hydrogen sulfide
can be tasted in your drinking water.
Strong, musty smell - If you are unlucky
enough to have this problem, you should look for a company that has
local experience in dealing with this problem. There are three basic
ways to solve this problem for homeowners.
Installation of a whole house filter loaded
with a media that is specific for hydrogen sulfide removal is
successful many times. These types of filters must be recharged with
chlorine or potassium permanganate. The removal capacities of these
types of filters are usually fairly low, and must be sized to
contain enough media to prevent premature exhaustion, and subsequent
passage of the smell to service. It is also typical that the amount
of hydrogen sulfide can fluctuate rapidly, causing great difficulty
in sizing the unit. In addition, potassium permanganate is extremely
"messy", and will leave stains that are very difficult to
Feeder systems consist of a small pump that
injects small amounts of chlorine (usually) into the incoming water.
The water must then be held for a short period of time to allow the
hydrogen sulfide to precipitate out of the water. This tank should
be designed in such a manner that the water that enters it will mix
thoroughly with the water in the tank, to assure complete reaction.
The water then should pass through a filter to remove both the
precipitated matter and the chlorine remaining in the water. You
should be aware, however, that whenever you mix chlorine with
organic materials (remember where hydrogen sulfide come from!), the
chances are very high that trihalomethanes (possible cancer causing
carcinogens) will be formed. Also, feeder maintenance is high, you
should be prepared to "play" with the unit frequently.
Aeration consists of breaking the incoming
water into small droplets (spray) into the air, drawing fresh air
through that spray, collecting the water into a storage tank,
repressurize the water, passing it through a particulate filter to
catch any particles that might be carried out of the storage tank.
The air drawn though the spray must be vented outside the house --
remember, it is toxic and explosive. Although this system
necessitates another pump to repressurize your supply, you are not
adding any chemicals to your water, which makes it attractive. This
system is low maintenance and no chemicals to purchase. Initial cost
may be higher, however, and space requirements may be greater.
Water that Stains
I have Red Stains in my Sinks and Other
Fixtures -- Help!
Red stains are normally caused by iron in the
water. You must test to determine the amount and the type of iron
you have. Some types are: oxidized, soluble, colloidal, bacteria or
organic-bound. All are a problem! It only takes 0.3 ppm to stain
clothes, fixtures, etc.
This type of iron is usually found in a surface water supply.
This is water that contains red particles when first drawn from
the tap. The easiest way to remove this type of iron is by a
fine mechanical filter. A cartridge type filter is usually not a
good solution, due to the rapid plugging of the element. Another
method or removal is by feeding a chemical into the water to
cause the little particles of iron to clump together, and then
fall to the bottom of a holding tank, where they can be flushed
Soluble iron is called "clear water" iron. After being
drawn form the well and contacting the air, the iron oxidizes,
or "rusts", forming reddish brown particles in the
water. Depending on the amount of iron in the water, you may
solve this problem with a water conditioner, or a combination of
softener and filter. You may use an iron filter that recharges
with chlorine or potassium permanganate, or feed chemicals to
oxidize the iron and then filter it with a mechanical filter.
You can sometimes hide the effects of soluble iron by adding
chemicals that, in effect, coat the iron in the water and
prevent it from reaching oxygen and oxidizing.
Colloidal iron is very small particles of oxidized iron
suspended in the water. They are usually bound together with
other substances. They resist agglomeration, i.e., the combining
together of like substances forming larger, heavier, more
filterable ones, due to the static electrical charge they carry.
This iron looks more like a color than particles when held up in
a clear glass, as they are so small. Treatment is usually one of
two: Feed chlorine to oxidize the organic away from the iron,
thus allowing agglomeration to occur, or, feeding polymers that
attract the static charge on the particles, forming larger
clumps of matter that is filterable.
Iron bacteria are living organisms that feed on the iron found
in the water, pipes, fittings, etc. They build slime all along
the water flow path. Occasionally, the slimy growths break free,
causing extremely discolored water. If a large slug breaks
loose, it can pass through to the point of use, plugging
fixtures. These types of bacteria are becoming more common
throughout the United States. If you suspect bacteria iron, look
for a reddish or green slime buildup in your toilet flush tank.
To confirm your suspicions, gather a sample of this slime and
take it to your local health department, or water department for
observation under the microscope. This type of iron problem is
very hard to eliminate. You must kill the bacteria, usually by
chlorination. You must use high amounts of chlorine throughout
your plumbing system to kill all organisms. You may find it
necessary to feed chlorine continuously to prevent regrowth. A
filter alone will not solve this problem.
- Organic bound
When iron combines with tannins and other organics, complexes
are formed that cannot be removed by ion exchange or oxidizing
filters. This iron may be mistaken for colloidal iron. Test for
tannins; if they are present, it is most likely combined with
the iron. Low level amounts of this pest can be removed by use
of a carbon filter, which absorbs the complex. You must replace
the carbon bed when it becomes saturated. Higher amounts require
feeding chlorine to oxidize the organics to break apart from the
iron and cause both to precipitate into a filterable particle.
I Have Blue or Green Stains on my Fixtures --
You either have copper in your water supply,
or you have copper pipes and corrosive water. Test for copper in
your water. Test the pH, total dissolved solids content and the
oxygen content of your water.
Copper can be removed by ion exchange, i.e., a
water softener. The removal rate is about the same as it is for
Copper pipes and corrosive water. If your pH
is from 5 to 7, you may raise it by passing the water through a
sacrificial media. By sacrificing calcium carbonate into the water,
the corrosively will be reduced. If the pH is below 5, you will need
to feed chemicals into the water.
If the corrosively is caused by excess oxygen,
the hot water will be much more corrosive than the cold. Treatment
is by feeding polyphosphate or silicates to coat and protect the
plumbing, or to aerate the water to release the excess oxygen.