Pool Bonding – Dos and Don’ts

I recently read an article in “Pool and Spa News” by Rebecca Robledo that highlighted the dos and don’ts of pool bonding.  I have worked as a pool builder for about ten years and thought that what I had be taught about bonding was 100% correct.  One thing that I did learn about bonding that still seems to be true is that to do it right depends on which inspector you get on the job.  We would get different information from each inspector that came out to do the bonding inspection.  One would say “yeah everything looks good” so on the next pool we would do it that same way.  Then a different inspector would come out for that job and say ” well you need to have a lug at each corner of the pool” or something like that.  So it got to the point where we would know the basics and have to be open to whatever the inspectors said.  For some of us this started to become more of an irritation than it should have been.  We all thought that there should be a specific set of rules to be followed when it comes to bonding, and in fact there is.  The problem, I think comes from the confusing wording in which the codes are written which leaves them somewhat open to interpretation.  So by the time the inspector comes out he has his own interpretation of what is written in the code and that may be a bit different from the interpretation of another inspector regarding the same code.  So today I want to use the information I have learned in the article in an effort to help clear up some things.

First of all there is a difference between “grounding” and “bonding.”  It seems as though some don’t know the difference and use the terms interchangeably.  For the record “grounding is meant to protect people against a possible fault in the electrical system by electrically attaching a piece of equipment to the earth.  “Bonding” electrically ties all metallic elements together to minimize the differences in voltage.  Everything from the light, ladders, and hand rails to the steel walls, coping and rebar get bonded.  There are some other elements that would need bonded as well and I will get to those here momentarily.  One of the common bonding mistakes outlined in the article is the failure to bond thoroughly.  This issue stems from not knowing exactly what needs bonded.  To shed a little light on this just know that any metal within 5 feet of the water needs to get bonded.  Including the ladder and all ladder/handrail sockets, hand rails, light niches, dive stands, coping, and the metal walls of the pool.  If it’s metal and within 5 feet of the water then it needs to be bonded.

The rebar must also be bonded as well as any steel supports around the pool.  They must also be bonded within 3 feet of the interior pool wall.  Another thing regarding the rebar is that simply wrapping the bond wire around it is not sufficient.  Doing that will not create a proper connection.  You will need to use the correct connection clamps or lugs to ensure that any current present has a clear path to follow.  When it comes to what type of wire to use for bonding it is recommended to use a solid copper wire rather than a stranded wire.  The reason is that the strands are more susceptible to damage by the environment since the bond wire will be in direct contact with the earth.  Some inspectors might tell you that certain plastic or fiberglass elements of the pool also need to be bonded.  This is not necessarily true.  Being that fiberglass and plastic are not conductive there would be no reason/need to bond them.  The issue may arise though if for instance the filter has a metal tension band around it.

The inspector may see that and think that because it is metal and if it is within 5 feet of the water that it needs to be bonded.  However if the filter is plastic or fiberglass and sits on a plastic or fiberglass stand then the metal band around it is not in contact with any electrical connection and therefore is not required to be bonded.  Unfortunately that may not appease the inspector and you may find yourself relocating the filter further from the water.

For more information regarding proper bonding and grounding of your swimming pool check out the article in the December 13 2003 issue of Pool and Spa News.  Also, always respect the inspector, ultimately it is his say so that allows you to build the pool.  Codes vary from place to place so be sure to check with your local building department to verify the specifics when it comes to electrical bonding.


How to decrease the cost of maintaining/operating your pool

One of the biggest fears among people who are thinking about getting a pool is the cost of maintenance/operation.  They tend to think that owning a pool will be a costly investment over time.  Now, like any investment there will be some cost associated with it but I wan’t to
inform you that it does not have to break the bank.  There have been some pretty significant technological advancements made in the swimming pool industry.  In this age of “going green” many people are looking for the next better, more efficient way of doing things.  That is also true about those who own or want to own a swimming pool.  Not only are more and more people expressing concern for the environment but for the majority of Americans times are tough.  People are finding that they can no longer spend they way they have in the past and are pinching pennies anywhere they can.  So it makes sense that they would be concerned about the cost of operating and maintaining a pool.  To some it seems like every aspect of owning a pool requires money.  Heating and chemicals stand out to them as things that require the spending of money on each month.  That may be true to a certain degree, but with the right components you can substantially lower the cost of both heating and chemical usage.

First let’s look at the chemical usage issue.  First I want to stress the importance of maintaining the proper water chemistry.  Not only will having poor water chemistry cost you more money in chemicals to get it back to normal, but there is also the potential for the water to actually damage components of your pool like the liner, the coping, hand rails, cover, and step to name a few.  It can be a snowball effect if you don’t know what you are doing.  Say you have too much of this, so you buy some of that, and now it affected those, so you get some of that to correct it, and now this is out of whack, so you buy that, or add more of whatever that is, and now……… Get the point.  If you don’t know exactly what to add it is probably best to take a water sample to your local pool supply store for testing, and they will usually be able to tell you what to add and how much of it to add.  The other thing is the chlorine.  Chlorine is something that the pool uses for sanitation purposes.  If you have too much then it can affect the skin and eyes, if you have too little then it won’t be able to do what it needs to do.  You can find yourself buying chlorine frequently to keep the water safe to swim in which can add up.

Another thing you could do is install an Ultra UV and Clear O3 by Paramount to your filtration system.  The Ultra UV uses ultraviolet light to kill 99% of the tiny little organisms and bacteria that live within your water.  The Clear O3 uses ozone to help kill those pesky little things.  The benefit is that they don’t need the chlorine to kill those uninvited guests, so you will need a much lesser amount of chlorine to act as residual sanitizing agent.  This will cut down the cost of chemical tremendously.

As far as heating the pool there are a couple options available.  The first is a gas heater.  These run off of either natural gas or liquid propane.  If you live in a rural area you will know that the cost of these gases is fairly steep.  If you had a gas heater and ran it the way you would likely want to the you could expect to see very large gas bills each month.  Over $1,000 is not uncommon.  On the other hand a natural gas heater is very quick to heat the water in a pool.  For instance if you were planning a Saturday pool party at 1:00 p.m. you could turn the heater on early that morning and have the water temperature where you want it by the time your guests arrived.  If you don’t use the pool during the week very often the this might be a viable option for you.  Operating the heater like this will save quite a bit compared to running the heater daily.

Another option would be to use an electronic heat pump to heat the pool.  They are slower to heat the water, but they are more energy efficient and will save you money in the long run.  This type of heating will usually take a day or two to get the water from say 56 degrees to where you want it but once it is there it will stay there.  Heat pump work like the thermostat of you house.  You set it to the temperature that you want and once the water reaches that temperature the heat pump will kick off.  When the water cools to below set temp, the heat pump will kick back on until the water reaches that temp again.  Another thing that you can do is to when having a pool built is have an auto cover installed.  Here in Indiana sometimes during the summer we get pretty cool nights.  That cool air can suck the heat out of an uncovered pool very quickly.  If you have an auto cover, you can close the pool each night and trap the heat in the pool.  This will also help save money on heating because the heater or heat pump won’t have to work as hard.

When combining these products in a swimming pool you will spend far less on maintenance and operation costs each month.  This will allow you to better enjoy your pool knowing that it is not costing you and arm and leg to have it.  For more information on the Clear O3, and the Ultra UV check out Paramount’s website at www.paramountpoolproducts.com.  For more information on Jandy heat pumps and gas heaters visit click here The Jandy Website

How Much Work Does Owning A Swimming Pool Require

Owning a swimming pool can be a wonderful experience and create lasting memories for those who have them.  Just think about all the good times that can be had without leaving the comfort of your own property.  I’m talking about pool parties, backyard bbq’s, forming bonds with your family members, getting the kids outside for a change, getting well needed exercise, relaxing after a long day, or a special date night with dinner and drinks on the patio overlooking your beautiful backyard resort.  These are all things that owning a swimming pool can provide.  For some though, the requirement to maintain the swimming pool is enough to deter them from making the decision to actually get one.  This doesn’t need to be the case.

Bonus Points Being Earned

When I envision my backyard in the summer time I see my beautiful patio overlooking the pool where my family spend most of their time in the summer.  I see myself teaching the young ones how to swim without having to purchase a Y membership or ever leaving the backyard.  I see lunches on the patio with the family, and dinner being cooked on the grill.  I see my beautiful wife sitting in the sun overlooking the kids as they play.  I see family friends over enjoying the pool on weekends, and the kids having pool parties with their friends.  I see my wife and I sitting outside in the evening after the kids have gone off to bed, wine glasses in hand with the lights from the pool reflecting off the house as we enjoy our time alone.  Most of all I see smiles on the faces of everyone that takes the time to enjoy our pool.

Unfortunately some people do not see those things and instead they visualize themselves spending countless hours cleaning and maintaining the pool.  They see themselves spending far too much money on chemicals and they see themselves spending more time working on the pool rather than enjoying it.  To those who think this way I want to tell you that those days are over.

I have already written about how to have your vinyl liner inground swimming pool clean itself but I want to reiterate it so those of you that have not read it can get a better idea of how it is done.  First of all if you live near a lot of trees you might think that if you get a pool you will be cleaning it every day.  When the leaves fall and get blown around in the wind they will inevitably get into the pool.  This is probably true, but with the technology that is available that does not necessarily mean the you will need to get the pole and net and fish them out every day.  Sounds unbelievable right?  Well believe it because it is true.  Paramount Pool Products has created a system that will remove the debris for you, so all you have to do is enjoy your pool.


They have come up with a system using a special main drain called the MDX-R3 that will suck up any leaves, bugs, or dirt that comes near them.  With the MDX-R3 you will get a secondary drain called the SDX.  This drain gets installed on the wall of the pool to provide some added safety.


So if the MDX ever gets blocked by something the SDX is capable of taking on the full suction of the pump.  This has two benefits, one is that the pump won’t run dry, and the other is that if the object blocking the MDX-R3 is a person they won’t become stuck.  As an added bonus the SDX will remove any small debris that happens to be floating by mid level.


In addition to the MDX-R3 and the SDX Paramount has created a special type of return jet called a SwingJet that will help to push the debris to the main drain so it can be removed.  The way it works is that the swing jet moves in a 90 degree arc and has plenty of power to push debris away.  The key is to have a few of these SwingJets strategically placed throughout your pool to effectively deliver the debris to the main drain where it is sucked up and removed.

As an added benefit the SwingJets will also circulate the water much better than a standard return.  This will allow the heater or heat pump to work more efficiently and reduce the cost of chemicals.  Now you may be wondering where the debris goes from there.

Well I’m glad you asked.  There are a couple things that can be done with it.  You can either let it be strained out by the pump basket, or you can have their Debris Canister collect it for you.  If you expect to have a lot of debris in the pool I would suggest the Debris Canister as it can hold much more than a standard pump basket.  The canister will be installed deck side where you can access it without having to leave the pool area.  You will basically just need to open a lid, remove a basket, dump it, and re-install it in the canister.  Because it holds a significant amount of debris you will find that you will not have to dump it all that often, and when you do you will see that the process of emptying the canister takes far less time than it would to sweep the pool by hand.  I’m talking a matter of seconds versus maybe an hour to sweep the pool.  So with this system you will find that you will be spending far less time if any actually cleaning the pool.  Now you might say “Okay, that’s all well and good for larger debris and dirt and stuff, but what about all the tiny little organisms and bacteria that grows in a pool?  I will still be spending a bunch on chemicals.”  Well to that I would say that Paramount has got you covered.

Clear O3

They offer two products that effectively eliminate 99% of that without requiring you to lift a finger.  The Ultra UV and the Clear O3 are two products that sanitize pool water and reduce the amount of chemicals you will need to maintain the pool.  The Ultra UV uses ultra violet light to kill those nasty little things that grow in the pool and the Clear O3 utilizes ozone to kill these types of things.  When the two products are combined with the SwingJets, MDX-R3, and the SDX you get a virtually maintenance free pool.

For more information on how to have a virtually maintenance free pool take a look at my 3 part blog post titled How To Have Your Vinyl Liner Inground Swimming Pool Clean Itself.  Also check out Paramount’s website www.paramountpoolproducts.com

When to Add Salt to Your Salt Water Pool

There have been many technological advancements made in the field of swimming pool maintenance.  With that there had been a steady increase in the amount of salt water pools.  Some people might think that a salt water pool will be similar to swimming in the ocean, but the truth is that with the proper amount of salt in the pool swimmers will not be able to detect it.  Today I want to give some information regarding salt water systems on swimming pools and how they work.

First of all the amount of salt in the pool will be very small even though it may seem like a lot at first.  You will add about 50 lbs. of salt for every 2,000 gallons of water.  I know this may seem like a lot but when it is all said and done you will not be able to tell its there.  This will give you about 3,000 – 3500ppm (parts per million) and that is the magic range.  If you have more than that then you will start to notice the salt content in the pool.  Also having the salt at a high level will increase the corrosion of any metal elements of your pool.  To maintain the correct amount of salt you will simply have to periodically check the salt content and make the adjustments needed if any.

The way this system works is actually very clever.  Before I get to that it is important to know that “salt” is sodium chloride which is a combination of sodium and chlorine.  The system breaks down the sodium chloride into its separate parts, sodium and chlorine.  Then the chlorine goes to work killing the contaminants in your pool.  After that it rejoins the sodium once again forming salt and the process repeats itself.  So ultimately you are getting clean water through the use of chlorine.  The difference is that you are not constantly adding chlorine to the pool which results in less potential skin irritation, and less of that chemical smell we all know so well.

So the salt water in the pool will flow through a chamber where an electrode interacts with the salt effectively separating the sodium and chlorine.  This process is referred to as electrolysis.  From there the two elements go back into the pool where the chlorine kills any contaminants before rejoining the sodium to again form salt.  After that the process repeats itself over and over again.  Over time through back washing and regular use of the pool you will inevitably lose some salt content.  This is why it is important to periodically check the salt level of your pool.  Usually the salt system itself will have some sort of indication letting you know that the salt level is low, and that you need to add more.

To add salt to the system the easiest way is to pour the salt directly into the pool.  Some people say that it is best to pour the salt directly over the main drain.  I actually disagree with this.  I think you will find that when adding salt a majority of it will settle to the bottom.  When this happens it is your job to help the salt dissolve by using your pool brush to move it around which can take a little bit of time but its better than just letting the salt sit there at the bottom of your pool not doing anything.  After that it is important to let your pump run for at least 24 hours to get all of the salt water circulated through the system.

You are now ready to sit back and let the salt system do what it does.  No noxious chlorine smell, no more itchy skin, and no more time and money spent on chlorine.  Just relax and enjoy your pool.

Superior Vinyl Liner Pool Building Material


As you may or may not know there are a few different types of in ground pools.  In a couple past posts I went into detail about what the differences are between them and what the pros and cons are of each of them.  In one post I pointed out that a vinyl liner in ground pool is in my opinion the best option when deciding on what type of pool to get.  What some might not know is that there are a few different types of vinyl liner in ground pools.  While they all end up looking similar at the end, they start off quite a bit different.  The difference is in the building materials.  Basically a vinyl liner in ground pool is composed of individual wall panels the get bolted together to form the shape of the pool.  It is what the panels are made of that makes the difference.  Today I want to offer some information regarding the different types of material that vinyl liner in ground pool wall panels are made of to give you the opportunity to decide which is best.

I should start by saying that most builders will tell you that anymore there are two basic materials that the in ground vinyl liner pool walls are made of.  They are steel and composite.  What you may not be aware of is that some manufacturers use structural foam to make their pool walls and pass it off as composite material.  Another thing you may not know is that some builders actually use treated wood to make the walls of the pool.  I don’t even want to get into all that because in my opinion that is just silly.  But  before I get too far into structural foam I think we should start with the steel wall.
For years vinyl liner in ground pools have been made using steel wall panels.  Obviously steel is a very strong material that can withstand the weight of the water in the pool and can withstand the weight of the earth around it.  The downside is that it is metal, and metal will rust over time.  We have all seen a car on the road with holes in the metal created by rust.  The same thing happens to steel pool walls.  I have seen some pools that are in pretty bad shape.  Just last summer I replaced a liner in a 30 year old pool.  When I removed the old liner I saw just how extensive the rust damage was.  There were rust holes all over the walls.  Some were to the point where I was able to fit my entire arm through to the other side.
There are some differences in the way that the steel walls are made.  Some manufacturers will use automation to cut and bend the steel into the shape of the panel and some that do not.  With automation you get a more precise outcome with every panel that is made.  Another difference is in the way the different areas of the panel are joined together.  The majority of manufacturers use a clinch or toggle lock system.  Unfortunately these “rivet systems” can be broken fairly easily.
There is one manufacturer that has their own patented “Spert Technology” that they have created to achieve superior strength.  Only Alpha Pool Products has created a system that far surpasses the strength of toggle locks or a clinch system, and not even a man with a sledge hammer can break the hold.  You don’t have to take it from me just check out this video.  Only Alpha Pool Products Steel Abuse Video
    Another thing that manufacturers use to prolong the life of steel is galvanization.  This is a process where the steel is coated with zinc.  Basically the steel is protected from the elements by the zinc which doesn’t allow the steel to break down as quickly.  One manufacturer actually powder coats the steel to prolong its life, but the problem with that is that steel isn’t the best surface to powder coat and the coating tends to chip and flake off thus not providing much protection.  Only Alpha Pool Products has come up with a better solution.
Like other manufacturers they use galvanized steel to make their pool wall panels, but in addition to that they have developed a scratch resistant coating called Alpha Advantage Shield that actually repels water away from the panel.  This works far better than powder coating because the material actually sticks to the panel and being scratch resistant, doesn’t allow moisture to gain access to the steel or even the galvanization.  This process coupled with the galvanization prolongs the life of the panel immensely.
Take a look at this photo to the right.  In a 336 hour salt spray test the steel with the Alpha Advantage Shield yielded only 5% white rust while the standard galvanized steel without the Alpha Advantage Shield yielded a whopping 70%.  While these are some huge leaps forward in steel wall manufacturing there might yet be some skeptics or home owners that just want to have their pool built using non – corrosive materials.  This brings me to the next type of building material… Composites.
Composite material is just that, a non – corrosive material that is available for use in building in ground vinyl liner swimming pools.  As I mentioned previously some manufacturers will use structural foam to make their wall panels and try to pass it off as composite.  However their are some differences in these two types of material.  While other manufacturers use structural foam which is composed of small pieces of material that are heated up and blown into a mold to create the shape of a wall panel, Only Alpha Pool Products uses single solid pieces of SMC (Sheet Molding Compound).  In addition to that their composite panels are made with thermo-setting properties.  This means that once the panel is set, it will not be subject to warping or cracking from temperature changes.
Structural Foam
While the structural foam is smooth and can “look” solid, it is actually filled with tiny little air pockets resulting in a not so strong material.
Only Alpha Pool Products Panel
Only Alpha Pool Products’ wall panels utilize a fused fiber matrix which is comprised of 8 to 12 inch fibers that have been woven throughout the panel giving their panel unparalleled strength.  Check out these videos showing the difference in strength.  Impact test, and Flex Test.  You will be impressed!!!
Today this same type of material is being used in many different ways.  It is used by N.A.S.A for use in space modules.  Boeing uses this type of material for the fuselage of their planes.  The U.S military uses it in their Humvee’s.  Also many sea walls are being replaced with this material.  I also want to add that the true composite material manufactured by Only Alpha Pool Products is the more energy efficient than other types of material.  It is better at keeping the heat in your pool and the cold from the ground out out.  For this reason composite materials like that which Only Alpha Pool Products manufactures are being used for siding on houses as well.
This is just some information that I think is very valuable to have if you are planning to have a vinyl liner in ground pool built.  You may know that there are several different manufacturers of vinyl liner in ground pool building materials, but after reading this you also now know that one of these manufacturers is far more technologically advanced than the rest.  Watch the videos and you will see how their steel panels are superior than those of their competitors.  You will also see how their composite material is far superior to that of other manufacturers.  For more information on Only Alpha Pool Products and what they offer just take a look at the website www.onlyalpha.com you will see that they are way ahead of the game in technological advancements and superior product.

Benefits of Owning a Pool – Swimming Grows Minds

In a couple of my other posts, I have stressed the importance of teaching your children how to swim, mainly because I feel that the ability to swim is an important skill to have for safety reasons.  I also feel that for many the process of teaching your child how to swim will help to develop or strengthen the bond between parent and child.   Well, I came to find out that learning to swim actually aids in the development of a child’s mind.

A recent study was done by Australia’s Griffith University over a period of three years to validate or refute the belief that young competent swimmers become more confident, articulate, and intellectual as they grow.  Researchers at the university surveyed the parents of  nearly 7,000 children under the age of 5 who were learning to swim to determine when their children were reaching important developmental milestones such as counting, walking, talking, etc.   They then compared the results to those of  a group of non-swimming children.   In an effort to keep embellishments by the parents out of the equation, the researchers put about 200 children through a series of tests designed to confirm the results.  What they found was surprising.  They discovered that children with the ability to swim achieved physical feats sooner than those who could not.  Also, they were more cognitively advanced.  Children who can swim were months, and some even years, ahead intellectually than those who could not swim.  They were able to read and write better.

They were also able to count and build with blocks better than those who could not swim.  In addition to that, one test group was ahead of the curve by more than 15 months in understanding direction.  Children around the age of four were ahead by seven moths in grasping.  What I found to be remarkable is that children over the age of four were particularly strong in language being ten months ahead and eleven moths ahead in oral expression.  They also discovered that those who did not learn to swim had a tendency to fall behind in spelling, and also showed signs of weaker motor function by having more a difficult time catching throwing and kicking a ball.

This information definitely makes a strong suggestion that teaching your young ones how to swim will not only serve them in emergency situations related to water but will also serve them in their overall development.  This could be due to the fact that learning to swim requires detailed instruction, visual cues, and concentration.  These are things that will prove to beneficial outside of the                                                                                       pool as they transition into school.

This information was obtained through the February 28th issue of  Pool and Spa News Magazine.


Sulfuric Acid or Hydrochloric Acid?

Okay, so I have been looking into this for a bit.  In my experience, I have only ever used the Hydrochloric Acid otherwise known as Muriatic Acid.  The only time I have ever been around Sulfuric Acid was in high school chemistry.  I have worked as a pool builder for almost ten years now and worked on the pool service side of things for a year.  In that time I have used Muriatic Acid, quite a bit and never once used sulfuric acid.  I worked for a company and we just never used anything other than Muriatic Acid for lowering the pH in a pool.  Honestly, I didn’t know that you could use Sulfuric Acid.  In my research, I have found out a few things regarding the differences between the two types of acids.  This post will be for those of you who are wondering which type of acid to use in your pool.  Reading this post will also save you time in your research, because I have done that for you and will give you the overall results of my findings.  If you have anything to add to this topic, please do so.  The more information we get the better.

To start off, I want to say that both Muriatic Acid and Sulfuric Acid will lower the pH in your pool.  Through everything I have read related to this topic, the general consensus is that they both work for this application.  There are, however, some differences that I feel you should know about.  It seems as though the most used type of acid for swimming pools is the Muriatic Acid.  This is also the most suggested type of acid to use.  There are some positives and negatives that should be addressed.  One is that Muriatic Acid will lower the pH of your pool without any additional side effects to the water.  It is also fairly inexpensive and easy to come by.  I have also read that COSHH regulations (Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health) place responsibility on employers to use the least hazardous chemical to achieve satisfactory performance.  This could be why I have never used Sulfuric Acid in the past.  Muriatic Acid is less harmful than Sulfuric Acid.  Knowing that Sulfuric Acid can leave severe burns on your skin is almost common sense these days.  I have never been burned by Sulfuric Acid before, but I can tell you that I have had Muriatic acid on my skin and received no burns.  I did, however, get a weird tingly feeling on my arms and hands where they were exposed to the acid, but after I rinsed it off with water the sensation subsided.  I have also read that Muriatic Acid creates more fumes than Sulfuric Acid, and those fumes can be hazardous to plant life and pool equipment.  I don’t doubt that at all.  I have taken in a big whiff of those fumes and, take it from me, it’s not something you want to breath in.  If stored in a “pool equipment room” where there will be little to no ventilation then the fumes can cause components of the equipment to corrode.  It also seems as though the fumes can kill pool side plants.

There are also some things you should know about using Sulfuric Acid in your pool.  While it will lower the pH in the pool, it will also increase the total dissolved solids in the water, and add unnecessary sulfates to the water.  These sulfates can increase the possibility of stainless steel corrosion and if the acid combines with calcium ions it can be very difficult to remove.  In order to keep the sulfates at a minimum, you will likely have to dilute the pool water.  In addition to all that, it is my understanding that there are varying strengths of sulfuric acid and you will want to make sure you get the correct one.  You will also want to be very careful when using this type of acid.  As I have said before, it can cause severe burns to living tissue.  One benefit would be that this type of acid does not fume as much as Muriatic Acid.  So, Sulfuric Acid would be less likely to corrode equipment in your pool equipment rooms.

Overall, I think that the majority of people would recommend using Muriatic Acid in swimming pools for a few reasons.  First, it is safer to use. Second, it does the same job but without added side effects to the water, and third, it tends to be more readily available to consumers.  Regardless of which you use, it is important to understand that both of these chemicals can be dangerous and should be treated with care when using them.  So, there you have it.  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns feel free to post them and I will do my best to address them.


What is a Venturi Skimmer?

To begin, I want to give a bit of background information to help aid in the understanding of how a Venturi Skimmer works.  The Venturi Skimmer utilizes the natural phenomenon known as the “Venturi Effect.”  This phenomenon occurs when a fluid that is flowing through a pipe is forced through a narrow section.  The result is a decrease in pressure and an increase in velocity.  That is the best explanation without getting too technical.  It was named after the man who discovered it, an Italian Physicist named Giovanni Batista Venturi.  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into how it applies to swimming pool skimmers.
I have been in the swimming pool industry for almost ten years, and I have never seen a pool that is without a skimmer.  This is because a skimmer plays an important role in the pool cleaning process.  It is a part of the filtration system in which water is pulled from the pool by the pump, sent through the filter which removes fine particles of debris and other small things that you wouldn’t necessarily want in your swimming pool.
 Then, the water is either sent through the heater, or heat pump if you have one, and returned to the pool to start the cycle over again.  In addition to that, the skimmer strains the water passing through of all the larger debris that might be floating on the pool’s surface.  This includes leaves, sticks, grass clippings, fuzz, and the occasional frog, toad, newt, etc.  Without a skimmer, all of that stuff would remain floating around in the pool until it is physically removed by you, the pool’s owner.  A skimmer also allows for the sweeping of the pool.  Whether or not you have a pool, most people are familiar with the image of a typical “pool boy” with a long pole in his hand, cleaning the pool.  He is most likely sweeping the pool.  For that, he would take a long, specially designed hose and attach it to the port in the skimmer that is pulling the water to the pump.
The other end of that hose would be attached to a vac head which is also attached to the pole in his hand.  This allows him to effectively remove dirt and debris that has settled on the pool walls and floor without having to physically enter the water.  That is the basic skimmer function, and it requires the suction of the pump to do so.  With the Venturi Skimmer, however, it is a little different.
To begin, let’s look at a plumbing diagram.  You can see that it functions like a standard skimmer, because it draws water from the pool to the pump.  This process will remove the debris from the surface of the pool.
However, unlike a standard skimmer, some of the water coming back to the pool from the pump is sent back through the bottom of the skimmer through the narrower Venturi tube and back to the pool.  This action creates an additional cycle, bringing water in through the mouth of the skimmer and sending it directly back to the pool.  What this does is double the skimming power without increasing the amount of energy used.  In addition to that, another benefit of this type of skimmer is that you could actually shut the suction from the pump to the skimmer completely off.
 This would allow the full suction of the pump to go to the main drains, and because the water is being returned to the pool through the skimmer, the Venturi action would still take place allowing the skimmer to still effectively remove debris.  This would benefit an In-floor cleaning system that relies on the main drain to remove debris from the pool.  By having full suction to the main drain, it would maximize its cleaning ability, and you would still get the benefits of the skimmer removing debris from the surface.  On top of all that, this type of skimmer works very well with low flow, variable speed, or two speed pumps.  Regardless of what setting those pumps might be running on, the Venturi action would still allow for exceptional debris removal by the skimmer.
To see this type of skimmer in action, check out this link Venturi Youtube video, from there you can see other related videos.
You can also get more information specifically about Waterway’s Renegade Venturi Skimmer here Waterway Renegade Venturi Skimmer

Pool Plumbing: What You Should Know

Elaborate pool plumbing

When it comes to your pool’s plumbing, there are a couple things that the builder can do.  There are a couple types of “pipe” that can be used.  I think that the majority of builders in southern states use rigid schedule 40 PVC pipe.  In northern states, many builders will tend to use what is know as “flex pipe.” There are a couple differences between the two.  Flex pipe comes rolled up and is able to be manipulated more easily than the rigid.  This makes plumbing a bit easier because the flex pipe will not have to heat up to bend the way they it needs to be.  That will save quite a bit of time and allow builders to get the pool finished faster.  The reason that builders in southern states prefer the rigid pipe is that flex pipe is made using cellulose which is also found in wood and incidentally is what termites feed on.  A lot of builders in northern states can use the flex pipe without worry because the frigid winters we get make it so termites are not a huge concern.  So, if you live in a southern state and see your builder unrolling white flexible PVC, you may want to ask if they will plumb the pool  using the rigid pipe instead just to be on the safe side.

Now let’s say you have a pool that has three returns, two main drains, and one skimmer.  You will notice that the builder will tie the two main drains together and run one plumbing line to them.  The reason for this is that by law there has to be two main drains at least three feet apart from one another.

You may also notice that they will generally tie all of the returns together into one plumbing line.  Builders will usually do this within the trench leading to where your pool equipment will be.

The skimmer will get its own plumbing line all the way to where the equipment will be.  The lines should be placed in a specific order in the trench.  Usually, the skimmer line and the main drain line will be next to each other.

This will allow them to tie the lines into a three way valve which will allow the main drains and skimmer to be isolated for the purpose of vacuuming the pool.

So to review, there are now three plumbing lines at your equipment pad.  Each line should really have what is know as a union installed on them.  This union will allow the plumbing to be taken apart for the purpose of winterizing the pool, or pressure testing the lines if needed.  From there the builder will use his/her best judgement when plumbing the system.

I have included a basic plumbing diagram for
reference.  Keep in mind that no matter how the system is plumbed it should be done in a way that looks nice.  This is just a basic diagram.  It is ultimately up to the builder to determine the best way to plumb the system.


Bad Pool Plumbing

If you have lines going every which way without any rhyme or reason, then there is a good chance that the person plumbing the system was inexperienced.  This will also make it more difficult to follow and see what is what.

This is just some basic information regarding your swimming pool plumbing.  The reason I created this post was just to give some information to those who are planning on getting a pool.  I prefer to have information about what is going on anytime I hire someone to work around my house and I can only expect that there are others like me.  If anyone has any questions regarding this post or any of my posts please don’t hesitate to ask.

What is the Best Type of Pool Filter?

When thinking about swimming pool equipment such as the pump, filter, and heater, most people will visualize a sand filter.  This is probably the most common type of filter used, but you should know that there are some other options available on the market.  Don’t get me wrong, sand filters are nice and perform very well.  It is just that when you are thinking about purchasing a swimming pool, I think you should be informed of what options you have.  In this post, I will give some information regarding pool filters.  My goal is to inform you on what options are available so you can make the choice of which type will be best for you and you can do this with a certain degree of certainty.

As I have stated above, sand filters are very nice and function fairly well.  However, there are a couple other types of filters available.  You can also get a cartridge filter, or a DE cartridge filter.  The main difference between those two types of filters is that the basic cartridge filter relies on the cartridge itself to remove dirt and other small particles from the water, and the DE cartridge filter uses what is know as diatomaceous earth to remove the dirt and small particles from the water.
Changing the Filter Sand
Before I get into those types of filters, I want to focus on the sand filter.  The quality of filter is based on a few different things depending on your needs.  Generally, a filters quality is measured by the size of particle that it is capable of removing from the water.  The particles are measured in microns, and one micron is 1/1000th of a millimeter.  To give you a better idea of how small this really is, a grain of table salt is roughly 100 microns in diameter.  So your typical sand filter can remove particles as small as 50 microns which is roughly the width of a human hair.  That’s pretty impressive, and as impressive as it is you have to understand that a sand filter requires that it be backwashed to clean the sand of the particles that it has captured.  To do this, they are made with a backwash feature built into them.  When backwashing, the water flows through the sand collecting the particles and ejects them through the backwash port of the filters multiport valve.  When this happens, you basically take the water from your pool and put it in the yard or down the storm drain nearby.  This can be a problem if you live in an area that has laws against putting pool water in the storm drain.  Check with you local authorities for more information.  Additionally, the water you put in the yard or storm drain is full of chemicals, which may be why some law makers have made it illegal to dispose of through the storm drains.  It also seems logical that this water could have adverse effects on the grass in your yard over time.  This isn’t necessarily a daily process, but you will have to backwash from time to time, which means that you will also have to put more water into your pool from time to time.  In addition to that you will more than likely be using your hose to do so, and unless your outdoor spigot is plumbed to your water heater you will be putting cold water into the pool.  Now that water lowers the temperature of your pool and will need to be heated again.  You will also probably have to add more chemicals.  The last thing I want to say about sand filters is that even though you backwash periodically, the sand will eventually get to the point where it is not working as well as it once did and will need to be replaced.  This can be a hassle, and rather difficult to do yourself.  You may want to hire a professional for this just to avoid the headache.
Now let’s look at cartridge filters.  This type of filter uses cartridge elements to remove the dirt and other particles from your pool, and it has the ability to remove particles as small as 20 microns which is better than what a sand filter can do.  The other nice thing about this type of filter is that they do not require backwashing.  This means that you will avoid losing water in your pool, and dumping water in the yard or storm drain.  So for areas with laws regulating where to dump pool water this is a nice feature.  You will also be saving chemicals, and avoiding the need to replace drained off water with cold hose water.  However for this type of filter you will eventually have to clean the cartridge, and over time you will find the need to replace the cartridge all together.  I will say that it is a bit easier to clean or replace a cartridge rather than replacing filter sand.  Another nice thing about this type of filter is that it doesn’t have multiple settings.  You just install it and let it do it’s thing.  It does have a pressure gauge installed on it which will tell you when it is time to clean the filter.
So for someone who has limited experience with swimming pool equipment this type of filter is fairly user friendly.  When it comes time to clean the filter cartridge or cartridges (depending on the model) there are products available that you spray on to them and allow the to sit for ten or so minutes then rinse off with water, or you can use a hose and brush to remove the debris from the cartridge.  Once they are clean you simply put them back into the filter body and close it up.
The last type of filter I want to tell you about is the DE cartridge filter.  This type of filter is similar to a cartridge filter in that it uses cartridges to clean the pool water and doesn’t require backwashing.  So you will get all the same benefits as the basic cartridge filter as far as chemical usage, heating, and so forth as mentioned in the cartridge filter section.  The main difference is that this type of filter’s cartridge is coated with DE or diatomaceous earth which allows the filter to effectively filter out particles as small a 5, yes 5 microns.
Diatomaceous earth is a form of sedimentary rock which contains the fossilized remains of a one celled algae called diatoms.  These diatoms had a hard outer shell made of silica that protected them, and it is the silica shells that are left over in the fossils.  These fossils are full of tiny microscopic holes which is what catches the particles as small as 5 microns in diameter.  These filter cartridges do not come with the DE already coating them, and it is up to you to do so in order for the filter to function properly.  The owner’s manual will have directions regarding the proper coating procedure and how much DE will be used.  The last thing I will say about the DE filters is that diatomaceous earth is considered a carcinogen, and an irritant if inhaled.  To us, it appears to be even finer than confectioners sugar but it is in fact very jagged and sharp.  It is also used in gardening as an insecticide.  If you have a garden and notice that it is full of slugs or snails, you can sprinkle some DE around and as a snail or slug slides over it they will be cut up and eventually dry up and die.  So, while this type of filter is probably the best as far as what it can remove from your pool, you will probably want to take precautions to protect yourself when coating the cartridges with the DE.  Wear a respirator or something to prevent you from breathing in any air born DE, otherwise you may have that scratchy throat feeling for a while.  I know that this sounds scary to some, but let’s be real here for a minute. There are plenty of products available to consumers that experts say cause cancer including diet soda, and cell phones, and yet we still see people drinking diet soda and everyone, even kids, have cell phones these days.  I’m not trying to downplay the seriousness of cancer,  I am simply illustrating the fact that you have to use your best judgement.
I just wanted to give some information about what is available as far as swimming pool filters go.  I think anytime you purchase something it is nice to have as much information as you can so you can make the best possible decision.  You have to do what is best for you.  All of the filters I have mentioned work very well.  Some might work better than others as far as filtration, but none the less, with any of these filters you will have a clean pool.  I hope this information helps, and as always if anyone has any questions regarding any of my posts please don’t hesitate to ask.