by Matt Giovanisci, Swimuniversity.com
Over the years of sharing information about taking care of your swimming pool, I've come across some really interesting ways to save money while operating and maintaining your swimming pool.
These tips really help out the current-day pool owner who is trying to cut back spending while actively trying to maintain a healthy, stress-free lifestyle by actually enjoying the swimming pool sitting in the backyard.
So let's begin...
Biofilm, a new perspective on the behavior of bacteria
Thoughts on the Moon Landing and Biofilm
July 17th, 2009, by cwsnaturally.com
Where were you when the first human foot made an imprint on the moon 40 years ago?
I was in Ferkessedougou, Ivory Coast working at a mission station for the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college. I spent part of my time doing maintenance and the other helping with surgery. I remember listening to the short wave radio as we heard Voice of America describe the landing. It was night and there was a bright African full moon. After they landed I went outside and looked at the moon marveling at the advances in technology that allowed that human footprint on the lunar surface.
The next morning I excitedly told my co-worker, in my broken French, what happened the night before. He asked me "How long did it take them to get there?" "Three days was my answer." He thought a while and then said, "The moon is as far away as Buoake." Buoake is a three-day walk from the mission station.
His frame of reference was completely different than mine and in a way both were accurate.
A Different Understanding
That experience is very similar to what is happening in the understanding of how bacteria live in pools and spas. The old, accepted model says that bacteria like to swim and remain suspended in the water. We now know that 99% of bacteria in water swim to the nearest surface, attach themselves, and set up a microscopic colony that is protected by a layer of sticky protein and sugar molecules we call biofilm.
The biofilm protects the bacteria from chlorine or other chemicals put into the pool to control bacteria. In fact it absorbs chlorine, bromine or ozone so a lot has to be added to the pool to maintain proper levels. As we study biofilm in our laboratory and more fully understand how it affects pools, spas and any other system where water, bacteria and a surface are present, we are convinced that most of the water problems plaguing the recreational water experience are due to biofilm.
The bad news is that bacteria protect themselves with biofilm and that all the chlorine, bromine, ozone, cooper, silver, UV light or other systems that only affect bacteria suspended in water are totally ineffective against bacteria protected with biofilm. The good news is that we are discovering that the sphagnum moss in SpaNaturally and PoolNaturally may be nature's answer to controlling biofilm.
While this research may not compare with the accomplishment of Apollo 11, in the future we'll know that cleaner, safer water with fewer chemicals was a dream fulfilled through the scientific effort of hundreds of scientists who transformed our understanding of how bacteria live and protect themselves.
Nothing But Sunshine
by Scott Webb , aquamagazine.com
First commercial pool completely solar powered
Sunlight alone drives the pumps at the first commercial pool in the U.S. to be powered entirely off the grid
There are countless community pools in North America like the one at Hawaiian Shores, a subdivision south of Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. It's of modest size (110,000 gallons) and ordinary shape, and draws a crowd on weekends like any other.
But there's something unique about this commercial pool — all of the power to drive its filtration pumps comes from the sun. It's the first such installation in our hemisphere, according to Michael Moylan, president of Pacific Solar Products, the Hawaiian distributor for the photovoltaic pumping system that is manufactured by Lorentz Solar Pumps and master distributed by American West Windmill & Solar.
While the term "solar power" is often used in the pool industry, it typically refers to passive solar heating of pool water, where water runs through black, radiant-heat absorbing tubes and back into the pool. There are some solar pumps on backyard pools as well, but using sunlight to create electric current sufficient to drive the filtration pumps of a commercial-size pool, with no backup — that's new.
"On the residential side, we've been taking swimming pools completely off the grid for years," Moylan says. "And they've got solar-assisted pumps for commercial pools and private pools, but taking a swimming pool completely off the grid with no AC backup at all has never been done on a commercial level anywhere. In fact, this is the second one in the world. (The other one is in Cypress.)"
Shocking Utility Rates
As with many solar power stories, this one begins with a utility bill. The entire state of Hawaii pays a lot for electricity, and it's about $0.41 per kWhr on the Big Island. The Hawaiian Shores Community Association was paying roughly $1000/month to run a 10-horse, 3-phase motor. Board president Eileen O'Hara liked the idea of going green and reducing that monthly cost to zero. The critical figure in all such decisions is ROI, which in this case was calculated to be 8 to 9 years.
The payback period was longer than normal due to HSCA's nonprofit status, which rendered it ineligible for the state and federal income tax credits that are usually applied to solar electric installations. The board felt the case for solar was strong enough, even without these.
With the go-ahead from the association, project engineering began. The HSCA changeover from utility-based power to solar power would be a practical design challenge from the start. For this phase, Tyson Toyama of the engineering firm Okahara and Associates was brought in to figure out exactly how to make Lorentz solar technology achieve what local government demanded.
"We asked him to take a completely different approach to meeting or exceeding the health department's requirements for water circulation and purification on a public pool," Moylan says.
Of crucial importance in that effort, and indeed, to the feasibility of the project, was the HSCA pool's exemption from the usual requirement for commercial pools that water be kept moving at night, when solar pumps grind to a halt.
"This particular pool does not have any lighting, and the association had gotten permission from the health department to turn off its pumps at night. They weren't running at night, even before we came. So we just kept that same schedule and changed the source of power," Toyama says.
Still, a six-hour turnover rate during operation was part of the design criteria, and the team needed to satisfy the authorities on that point. To do that while relying on a variable source of power — that is, the amount of light shining down from the heavens — was a rousing challenge.
"Because you've got to consider," Moylan says, "we're going 100 percent solar with no AC backup, What if it rains — is the pool going to stop pumping?
"We had to get the data to convince them on that point. They're variable-speed pumps, so they slow down when it rains, but they still turn enough circulation in a six-hour timeframe to meet the health department's regulations. I think that was probably one of the bigger bumps in the process."
Early morning hours and cloudy periods were the main problem. The team solved this by upsizing the solar panel array so that even in minimal sunlight conditions, the pumps deliver enough gpm.
The firm is pursuing other solar pump projects on the island, Toyama says, but with the much more common AC supplement. "We're looking at a pool now, a YWCA, that we wouldn't run 100 percent solar. It would be connected to the grid to run at night.
"We're not sure how we would approach it. On the Big Island, they have a system where the excess power you generate from your solar panels during the day is sent back to the grid and, in effect, held for you to use at night. So we might do that."
By proving the feasibility of unassisted solar pumping, the HSCA pool serves as a major advance in the industry's effort to reduce the cost of pool ownership, which is crucial to future growth. The use of clean power is an added benefit that enhances the image of the industry as forward-looking and up-to-date.
"This historic undertaking will lead to a whole new way of looking at solar energy and the many applications required in the transfer and movement of water," Moylan says. "We eliminated three-phase power on a commercial pool and went completely solar. That is now a possibility. On residential, it's a piece of cake."
Key Pool Water Measurements
There are four essential measurements of a pool's "health." These measurements can be made with the Basic 5 Pool Water Test Kit. Prevent pool problems before they develop by using your pool water test kit regularly.
Chlorine Residual / Bromine: Chlorine residual is the amount of free chlorine in pool water, measured on a ppm (parts per million) basis. Similar to chlorine, bromine is used to sanitize pool water and is measured on a ppm business.
pH: pH is the balance of acidity versus alkalinity in pool water. This is measured on a scale from 0 to 14, with O being the most acidic, 7 being neutral and 14 being the most alkaline.
Total Alkalinity: Total Alkalinity is the amount of certain alkaline buffering materials in pool water; it is usually measured on a ppm basis.
Acid Demand: Acid demand determines for you the amount of acid to be added to the pool water to return it to the proper pH level based on the size of your pool.
You should test your pool water regularly. Test pool water immediately after a heavy swimmer load or a storm. By keeping track of these four essential measurements you will keep your swimming pool healthy and also protect the swimmers from harmful bacteria or unbalanced pool water.
It's a classic image: heading outside to your backyard, drinks in hand, to sit by the sparkling blue waters of your very own swimming pool. Maybe you'll invite your friends to a pool party, or listen to the kids splash around with their colourful float toys. What could be better on a hot summer day than having a swimming pool of your very own?
If you're looking at homes that include an in-ground pool or other permanent pool on the property, here are 4 things to think about before you... well... take the plunge.
1. Return on investment.
The in-ground pool is often considered one of the ultimate luxury items on the wish list for a home: it's is a symbol that you've made it. However, a pool is actually one of the worst home improvements in terms of return on investment when you sell. A pool can be a selling point but, unlike improvements to the kitchen or bathroom, it can also be a liability for people who don't want a pool at all.
The upshot? A pool can be great to own and a lot of fun, but it's best considered an investment in your own enjoyment. Don't put one in, or splash out extra on a home with a pool, if you're doing it in the hope that you'll get the money back out when you sell.
2. Maintenance: time, cost and liability.
The Wall Street Journal published a great article in 2010 about the ongoing cost of maintaining a pool. Even if you don't have the initial cost of putting in the pool in the first place, annual maintenance can run to thousands of dollars even if you do it all yourself. From chemicals to systems maintenance to parts to repairing a crack or replacing the pool lining, it's an expensive proposition. You can save time by hiring a pool-services company like Pool Brothers to do some of the routine maintenance for you, but it'll cost you.
Plus, don't forget to make sure that your pool is covered by your home insurance, including liability – and, of course, a pool will affect your insurance rates. If someone injures themselves in your pool, even if they're an uninvited guest, you could be on the hook.
Pools are great, but they can also be dangerous. Even if you and your family are great swimmers, not everyone who comes to your home may be, and you don't want a tragedy on your watch. A pool should be surrounded by a secure fence with a locked gate to keep out young children, animals and interlopers. As we mentioned above, the drainage system, heating system and electricals should also be checked and maintained frequently to ensure the safety of the pool.
4. Will you actually use it?
This last is a question only you can answer. It's easy to buy a home with a pool with visions of warm summer days and cool water dancing in your head, but try to be realistic about how much you're actually going to swim in the pool. If you're an avid swimmer or you love hosting pool parties, or your favourite thing in the world is sitting on a chair by the pool and reading a book, you'll likely get plenty of use out of the pool. But if your dreams of pool ownership are more idealistic than realistic, think long and hard before committing to a swimming pool.
If you do decide you want a home with a swimming pool – or you know that you want a home without a pool – please feel free to send us an email and we can help you find what you're looking for.