Every swimming pool has a circulation pump and filter. The filters most common these days are sand filters and are much easier to maintain than the earlier diatomaceous filters of a few years back. The pool pump ensures that the swimming pool water moves through the filter every day, thus removing unwanted pollutants and disinfected organic materials as quickly as possible.
The swimming pool pump should run for at least 6 – 8 hours each day. There is usually a timer that cycles the pool pump on and off to ensure this constant filtration. The circulation of pool water will remove floating or suspended particles of dirt from the water, but has no effect on the substances which have settled to the bottom of the swimming pool or “stuck” to the walls.
Depending on the environmental conditions and swimmer load, the swimming pool needs regular brushing and vacuuming,
vacuuming is done, it is time to backwash the filter. Sand filters trap dust and dirt, as the name implies, in a bed of sand. When the filter has accumulated a large amount of dirt, the water cannot pass freely through the sand and the filter loses efficiency as the pressure increases.
REMEMBER too, that the useful lifespan of the sand in your filter is 3-5 years. If you neglect to change the sand, your filter will not be able to remove the finer particles of dirt and your swimming pool can never be completely clean. Has the pool filter opened for inspection at least every 2 years to avoid filtration problems?
pH is one of the most important factors in pool water balance and it should be tested and corrected at least every week. pH is the measure of how acid/ alkaline the swimming pool water is. A pH of 7.0 is neutral – below 7.0 is acidic, above 7.0 is alkaline. The pH of our eyes is 7.2. No wonder that the ideal pH for your pool is just that – 7.2, and should be kept
within the range of 7.0-7.6 .
To measure the chlorine levels in the swimming pool, it is important to remember that there a 3 aspects which can be measured:
– Free available chlorine (or residual chlorine) – is the amount of chlorine in the pool that can sanitise or disinfect the water and is an important measurement for us.
– Combined chlorine – consists of undesirable, bad-smelling, irritating compounds which form when there isn’t enough free available chlorine.
– Total chlorine – is the total amount of chlorine in the water. It includes both free available and combined chlorine.
The total alkalinity (TA) is a measure of how much of the alkaline substances there are in the water. In the swimming pool water, we are concerned with bicarbonate alkalinity,
which should be between 80 ppm and 120 ppm.
When the total alkalinity (TA) is within this range, it prevents rapid pH changes and “stabilises” the pH level.
Total hardness in the context of pool water refers to the total mineral content of the water. This is made up of calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese and other elements. These elements are present in the water used to fill the pool, and the levels can increase through the use of regular pool chemicals (e.g. chlorine composed of calcium hypochlorite – 65%). We are interested in the calcium hardness levels.
The ideal range for calcium hardness is 250-350 ppm.
Total Dissolved Solids
Total dissolved solids (TDS) is, as its name implies, the measure of the total amount of dissolved material in the water.
The level of TDS in the pool is influenced by many factors; the chemicals we add to adjust the pH, chlorine, water hardness, alkalinity, dust, dirt, human waste, . . . all increase its level.
The maximum acceptable level of TDS for swimming pools is 1,500 ppm. At values above this, we begin to notice stains in the pool. It will also reduce the activity of any chemicals you add, preventing them from doing what they’re supposed to. The water may also become cloudy.
Swimming Pool Problems
Most, if not all swimming pool problems are a result of inadequate pool water maintenance. Regular testing and correction of the pool water chemistry will ensure you a low-maintenance, sparkling, clean swimming pool all year round. You will also save money on chemicals by preventing situations requiring expensive treatment such as chlorine shock treatment and the use of algaecide. Very often an imbalance in the pool water or harmful organisms are not visible and their results not immediately apparent; the importance of monitoring the swimming pool water cannot be stressed enough. After all,
our health and the health of our families are at risk.
The most commonly encountered pool water problems are:
+ Burning eyes
+ Chlorine smell
+ Cloudy water
The Saturation Index
Also called the Langelier Index, this chemical equation or formula is used to diagnose the water balance in the aquatic environments (pools).
The formula is “SI = pH + TF + CF + AF – 12.1.”
To calculate the Saturation Index, test the water for pH, temperature, calcium hardness, and total alkalinity. Refer to a chart for assigned values for your temperature, hardness, and alkalinity readings then add these to your pH value. Subtract 12.1, which is the constant value assigned to Total Dissolved Solids and a resultant number will be produced. A result between -0.3 and +0.5 is said to indicate balanced water. Results outside of these parameters require adjustment to one or more chemical components to achieve balance.
This formula is not guaranteed; however, some readings for pH, calcium, and alkalinity which, if taken individually would be considered to be well beyond recommendations, can combine within the formula to produce “balanced water.” SI can be used to pinpoint potential water balance problems.
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