Mike the Poolman

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Is your pool service company cheating you?

December 17, 2020

Do you know if your pool service company is cheating you?

pool tab floater

Do you know what drives me crazy? Pool service companies that cheat their customers by taking shortcuts drives me crazy! I regularly come across pools that have equipment and plaster issues because their pool “guy” is doing what’s easy and not what’s best for the pool. He is taking shortcuts that damage the pool and the homeowner is literally paying someone to shorten the life of their pool when they could just as easily botch it themselves with money saved 🙁 .

To keep this post simple (and somewhat short…) I’m only focusing on chlorine and bypassing advanced water chemistry and how pH, Total Alakinty, and stabilizer affect swimming pool water.

We perform pool service in our area- Northern California- year around. It gets cold in the winter but the ground doesn’t freeze so we need to service the pool every week of the year (many areas of the world close pools for the winter due to freezing temperatures).

In my city (Folsom) pool water ranges from 90ish in the summer to as cold as 42°F in January. For safe and sanitized water we maintain a chlorine residual throughout the year of no less than 1 part per million (ppm) of chlorine. To accomplish this we add different types of chlorine depending on a multitude of factors: the pH of the chlorine, the Total Alkalinity of the chlorine, is it stabilized or non-stabilized chlorine, the Langelier Saturation Index calculations, bather load, what type of bathers, foliage, the weather forecast, water temperature, etc., etc.

Algae grows faster in warm water than cold water.

When we care for pools in the summer we need to add more chlorine than we do in the winter. Chlorine comes in many forms. Our go-to chlorine is sodium hypochlorite, otherwise known as bleach. The liquid bleach we use is similar to the bleach you use in your laundry except pool bleach is 12% and Clorox is 7% (and pool bleach doesn’t have the pretty fragrances).

We use sodium hypochlorite throughout the year. In the summer when the water is warmer and the bather load is greater there is increased chlorine demand. When there is increased chlorine demand we struggle to maintain a 1.0 ppm chlorine residual from week to week with sodium hypochlorite as our sole source of chlorine. To supplement the demand we add chlorine tablets to a tablet floater. The chlorine tablets dissolve throughout the week and provide a time-released source of chlorine.

The most common chlorine tablets contain Trichloro-s-triazinetrione, or as we call it “trichlor”. Trichlor is excellent as a supplement for chlorine needs but because of its chemical composition it has more side effects than liquid bleach. Proficient pool techs only use Trichlor when necessary. The general rule is we only add tablets when we aren’t able to hold a residual from week to week with bleach. As soon as we can hold a residual using liquid chlorine we stop using tablets. To simplify, we add liquid chlorine all year and tablets ONLY in the summer. In the winter the water is so cold tablets arent necessary to keep a chlorine residual in your pool from week to week..

If you see tablets in your floater (or skimmer basket) in the winter be suspicious, there’s a good chance your pool service is taking shortcuts and cheating you. Because of their side-effects, chlorine tablets do more harm than good in the winter!

Do you know why many pool service techs use tablets? Because they are less work. It requires less effort to carry a few tablets to the backyard rather than 10 pounds of liquid chlorine. It’s also easier to store and easier to transport (I heard about a pool guy in our area who serviced pools on his motorcycle! He had a pouch full of tabs and would ride from pool to pool only using tabs. Incredible!)

When people hire us we take our commitment to perform VERY serious. We do what’s best for the customer and not what’s easiest for us. It’s sad and frustrating when I come across companies that don’t care. I have found that there are many great pool service companies out there but for every good one there are probably five knuckleheads who just want to get paid with minimal effort and really don’t care for your pool properly.

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