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Thread: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

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    TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    Before I get started, please note that I am a business owner and it takes a great bit of humility to get on the world wide web and admit I've been wrong for the last 5 years. Please take that into consideration when responding.

    Ok so here's where I'm at:

    My company has about 60 pools we care for. Of the 60, 35-40 we go to weekly. The remainder we visit once or twice a month. Before this year I could probably count on one hand how many times a pool went bad under my watch each season. However this year has been a nightmare. I'm not sure if its all the rain we had earlier this year or what, but I've had more problems this year than all other years combined.

    Now add a commercial pool (175,000 gal) to the mix...where our work is being put on public display. I took the pool on confidently and oh boy has it humbled me ever since. When I took it over in late june, it had a CYA of WELL over 100ppm. The last pool guy told me he'd been loading up two commercial sized feeders (25 puck capacity each), twice a week! Said they were using a total of 50 lbs of trichlor a week! With all the obvious problems that come with a CYA level that high, I naturally start looking for answers and that's how I found TFP!

    Ok so now that I know the "why", I need help with "how"...I'm going to fix it. Since starting this business, I've prided myself on running my clients pools as cost effective as possible. In addition to my routine clients, I also do repair and installs for others. After being called to so many salt systems and the repair bill rarely being under 500$, I started advising my routine clients against it. Salt systems are a big money maker for pool guys but I turned down several installs or at least advised against them because I believed trichlor was the lesser of two evils. If people on my route had a salt component go bad and the repair bill was gonna be high, I'd suggest we start using tabs if they had a feeder...and if they didn't, I'd offer to install one for the cost of parts and maybe an hour of labor if the plumbing was real tight. All for the sake of saving my clients money.

    Now fast forward to the present. I know better now but how do I wean my people off the tabs?! I guess what I'm looking for is some advice and a couple options as far as equipment goes, to implement the BBB method. This being a business, we obviously can't check each pool's chlorine and ph level every day. So how do I get each pool the chlorine it needs using bleach? I was thinking the liquidator as the more affordable option? but how often would it need to be filled? then there's a certain group of clients that don't want affordable, they want fancy...or high tech. I was thinking maybe a stenner pump setup for them? I never removed any salt equipment when I converted salt pools to tabs, so maybe the cheapest solution there is me repairing their salt system?

    Are there any TFP members / business owners that use BBB method on their route? If so, I'd love some insight on how you made the switch and what to look out for. Thank you for any help in advance.

    humbly
    Captain Dud D. Buttermonkey
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    Owner - POOL FOOL - Dookie Brown to Dingy Green...We'll Clean Anything!
    We do just about everything but plaster work. We may actually start building (or maybe I should say installing) fiberglass pools sometime this year.
    I have no personal pool...I'm too poor! All my money is going back into the business right now. :(

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    Salt systems can be cost effective if properly maintained. In many cases, service people replace whole components instead of making simple repairs. For example, replacing a whole circuit board or even an entire box instead of a current limiter.

    In many cases, it's because the techs don't know how to diagnose the problem.

    If your repairs are mostly over $500.00, I would suspect that you're replacing more than necessary.

    What are you doing that costs more than $500.00?

    Note: Cells need to be replaced after about five to seven years. They cost more than $500.00. As long as you're getting more than 5 years out of a cell, that shouldn't be a problem. Power supply boxes should get closer to seven to ten years before needing full replacement.

    A peristaltic pump can be a good choice.

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    It's an interesting problem you have on your hands. It's one that has actually been discussed here, in the recent past. The question is, "Can TPFC been done as a cost effective business?" The answer is a hard one. Not really. Unless you can get enough customers in one area that the 15 mins it takes to measure and dose each place, everyday, pays for itself. Kinda like the newspaper carriers of old. (i used to be one of them)
    Bob - Palm Beach by San Juan Pools. approx 5000 gals., Pentair 320 cartridge filter (all new guts installed by me), Goldline SWG, 'New to me' Kreepy Krauly Sand Shark, Intermec 104 Timer Test kit: TF-100 w/Speed Stir

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    175,000 gallons is a lot to replace! That's going to hurt the pocketbook for a little while. Not sure about your area but I know some municipalities don't even allow CYA in commercial applications. Or VERY little.
    Bob - Palm Beach by San Juan Pools. approx 5000 gals., Pentair 320 cartridge filter (all new guts installed by me), Goldline SWG, 'New to me' Kreepy Krauly Sand Shark, Intermec 104 Timer Test kit: TF-100 w/Speed Stir

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    On the large commercial pool... most conventional residential methods for chlorination just aren't sufficient or practical. Certainly not trichlor tabs as you have seen with the ever-building CYA levels. A stenner pump system dosing with liquid chlorine would be viable but on that scale of volumes of bleach needed, the holding tank would need to be very large with truckloads of bleach delivered throughout the season. A tandem of parallel salt water chlorine generators could theoretically work, but I don't have enough experience to weigh in on the viability of that option.

    In my novice opinion, large commercial pools are best chlorinated by chlorine gas injection systems. That's what many commercial pools use to handle that much volume of water. The problem you have there is the cost to install such a system which would fall on the pool owner and there are specific safety issues with the handling and storage of chlorine gas tanks.
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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    I had thought the same thing, but then changed my mind due to on site storage of the chlorine gas tank. Might be problematic.
    Bob - Palm Beach by San Juan Pools. approx 5000 gals., Pentair 320 cartridge filter (all new guts installed by me), Goldline SWG, 'New to me' Kreepy Krauly Sand Shark, Intermec 104 Timer Test kit: TF-100 w/Speed Stir

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    Liquid chlorine can be a viable option for commercial pools. There are commercial grade salt systems. In all cases, you will need to get the cya down to reasonable levels.

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    James, most people call me because they either don't know how to properly maintain or don't have time to properly maintain. I see all the negatives on just about a daily basis going on service calls to non routine clients. And I am a very effective troubleshooter...that was the only job experience I had before I delved into the pool industry. the current limiter you are referring to is on the Hayward systems. The aquarite in particular seems to be the system in which it fails most.

    I am a business and I have to charge for my time or my guys' time. That's probably how you can get it done cheaper. Plus the parts themselves are high. Cells are at least 500$. $600 if you have jandy. Circuit boards and sensors aren't all that much cheaper either.
    Owner - POOL FOOL - Dookie Brown to Dingy Green...We'll Clean Anything!
    We do just about everything but plaster work. We may actually start building (or maybe I should say installing) fiberglass pools sometime this year.
    I have no personal pool...I'm too poor! All my money is going back into the business right now. :(

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    I know buying bleach off the shelves isn't cost effective for my commercial pool...but I contacted a company that delivers liquid chlorine and I'm hoping to cut costs through them. If most people can get away with a 15 gallon tank, couldn't I get a couple 55 gallon drums and make a stenner pump setup work for the commercial pool?

    Duraleigh where you at buddy? Aren't you a business owner as well?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Any business owners with suggestions, please pm me. I will be eternally grateful!
    Owner - POOL FOOL - Dookie Brown to Dingy Green...We'll Clean Anything!
    We do just about everything but plaster work. We may actually start building (or maybe I should say installing) fiberglass pools sometime this year.
    I have no personal pool...I'm too poor! All my money is going back into the business right now. :(

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    First, let me say I am impressed that you admit you have things to learn.

    The residential pools you maintain are all good candidates for the installation of either a SWCG or a Stenner Pump. The big problem I see is the cost. How do you explain to a customer that you need to install a $1,000 device that they need to pay for?

    As to the commercial pool, does LA have any regulations on how a commercial pool must be maintained?Many states do have regulations so what those limitations are may determine what you do,with that one.
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    Welcome Captain!
    This might sound a bit crazy but have you considered buying a big R/O unit and offering that service in your area?

    That way, you could tell clients that there are essentially 3 types of maintenance you offer:

    1. Weekly stabilized with pucks BUT will at some point during the year will need to pay to RO the water for enviro and sanitation reasons (or water change...just put that on the table up front)
    2. Weekly cleaning/checking with SWG
    3. Weekly cleaning/checking and delivery of liquid chlorine with a pump.

    If your volume of maint is reduced by some clients going liquid, you might have additional revenue from new clients with water that needs to be RO'd. And the install/maint work on equipment.

    While generally, RO is expensive to operate, I'm wondering if on a "minor maint level" just to drop the cya back to 50 could be scheduled in a way to reduce cost or build the cost into a maint package. Your clients might feel better about not wasting or discharging water.

    AND if you bought a R/O unit right now, you could write some of that against the commercial pool which totally needs a good R/O right now.

    In essence, nothing wrong with pucks if you can manage the cya. And the only way to manage the cya is R/O or water change.

    I realize this plan would work better somewhere like CA where there's a drought.

    But its a thought that might help solve your commercial account
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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    Talk about thinking around a corner!! I really like that idea. I hope the Captain takes a good, hard look at it.
    Bob - Palm Beach by San Juan Pools. approx 5000 gals., Pentair 320 cartridge filter (all new guts installed by me), Goldline SWG, 'New to me' Kreepy Krauly Sand Shark, Intermec 104 Timer Test kit: TF-100 w/Speed Stir

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    I appreciate you guys! Im not even sure if any companies do RO in my area...its definitely something to look into.
    Owner - POOL FOOL - Dookie Brown to Dingy Green...We'll Clean Anything!
    We do just about everything but plaster work. We may actually start building (or maybe I should say installing) fiberglass pools sometime this year.
    I have no personal pool...I'm too poor! All my money is going back into the business right now. :(

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by tim5055 View Post
    First, let me say I am impressed that you admit you have things to learn.

    The residential pools you maintain are all good candidates for the installation of either a SWCG or a Stenner Pump. The big problem I see is the cost. How do you explain to a customer that you need to install a $1,000 device that they need to pay for?

    As to the commercial pool, does LA have any regulations on how a commercial pool must be maintained?Many states do have regulations so what those limitations are may determine what you do,with that one.
    that's the million dollar question tim. at this point, I'd be willing to do some of the installs for free...but I'd still have to explain the cost of equipment and why it is needed...or I guess preferred would be better wording. I have made it work with tabs but by the end of the year we end up having to use algaecides, phosphate removers, etc to get some of our pools over the hump. And contrary to what some of the members here believe, service guys are NOT looking to sell you chemicals. If extra chemicals are needed, most of the time that means my guys are having to work longer hours...and making a couple bucks on a qt of algaecide quite frankly and worth the extra money im out on payroll. I'd much rather make my money on new installs or repairs...it pays better.
    Owner - POOL FOOL - Dookie Brown to Dingy Green...We'll Clean Anything!
    We do just about everything but plaster work. We may actually start building (or maybe I should say installing) fiberglass pools sometime this year.
    I have no personal pool...I'm too poor! All my money is going back into the business right now. :(

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    I am however with all the members here on their feelings toward the pool shops that retail chemicals. Those guys don't know jack most of the time. I frequent my local hardware store, Ace, and last year they started testing water. When I asked the guy doing the testing if he had a pool background, he laughed and said yes, about 20 minutes worth when the rep showed us how to use the testing equipment.
    Owner - POOL FOOL - Dookie Brown to Dingy Green...We'll Clean Anything!
    We do just about everything but plaster work. We may actually start building (or maybe I should say installing) fiberglass pools sometime this year.
    I have no personal pool...I'm too poor! All my money is going back into the business right now. :(

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    You may want to look into becoming a dealer for one or more of the SWCG companies as well as Stenner. With a properly sized pump/tank you can go several weeks between fills. Obviously, with a properly sized SWCG you can go a lot longer.

    Does your service model include any chemicals or is it all basic time and materials cost to the customer?
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    For a larger commercial/public pool especially with higher bather load, you need high-capacity feeders (unless you go with commercial SWGs) and there are companies that specialize in these and other systems for such pools (e.g. Treatment Specialties and their High Capacity Feed Chlorination Systems from Link Automation). You may also need supplemental oxidation systems (e.g. ozone, UV, enzymes, MPS) so that the high bather load is not all handled by chlorine as that creates more disinfection by-products. And you can use coagulant/filtration systems such as HaloSource SeaKlear PRS Stage 1 & 2 to physically remove organics from the pool, again so that chlorine doesn't have to react with them.

    For residential pools where you cannot visit to add chlorinating liquid every day or two, this has been discussed before (see this recent post in a thread about this subject). The Liquidator larger size holds 8 gallons of chlorinating liquid or bleach and that is enough to handle even 3 ppm FC per day in a 25,000 gallon pool for almost 2 weeks. However, the net cost of chlorine is going to be higher if you use chlorine alone to prevent algae growth so operate at the higher FC/CYA ratio of 7.5% as done on this forum. Typical chlorine usage is around 2-3 ppm FC per day. The average for most Trichlor pools is lower at 1-1.5 ppm FC per day. Of course, the reason that sometimes works is that algae nutrient levels are lower or supplemental algaecides are used.

    This is why many pool services use one of these supplemental approaches, most typically either copper-based algaecides or phosphate removers. This lets them have lower FC/CYA ratios which of course will occur over time as the CYA level rises if they don't proportionally raise the FC level (which they don't and is one reason they run into trouble in some pools). The cost of using about half as much chlorine usually more than makes up for the use of algaecide or phosphate remover. For those that use copper, they have to be careful especially in plaster pools, but using Trichlor tends to keep pH lower so that helps. For those that use a phosphate remover, there are no risky side effects but these are not compatible with pools that add lots of phosphates due to use of phosphate-based metal sequestrants such as HEDP so in such pools with metals other types of metal sequestrants need to be used.

    The reason to use a supplement isn't just to have lower cost from adding less chlorine, but when that chlorine is Trichlor it also slows down the rate of CYA rise. If you were to get phosphates to near 100 ppb, then you should be able to run a pool at a 3% FC/CYA ratio or possibly even less and this would lose about half the amount of chlorine to sunlight (and oxidation of other substances). If this gets the daily chlorine loss to 1 ppm FC per day, then the CYA rises at most by 18 ppm per month. Furthermore, having over 100 ppm CYA becomes more manageable since one can go from 3 ppm FC with 100 ppm CYA to 6 ppm FC with 200 ppm CYA. If something goes wrong and a SLAM is needed, it won't need to be at as high a level because of the supplemental algae inhibition. In areas with shorter swim seasons, this all works and is why many pool services claim there is no problem, at least most of the time. The missing piece for them is that they don't understand the FC/CYA relationship so while their supplements help they still run into trouble in some pools where the CYA is high and they didn't raise the FC or they didn't use or properly maintain the supplements.

    As for cost for supplements, phosphate remover by the gallon such as Orenda PR-10,000 for $138.92 is quite economical given usual phosphate levels. It takes 1 quart to remove 10,000 ppb from 10,000 gallons. For a 25,000 gallon pool with 1000 ppb phosphates, it takes (32 fluid ounces)*(1000/10000)*(25000/10000) = 8 fluid ounces so would cost $138.92*(8/128) = $8.68 for initial treatment. Obviously such initial treatment costs can vary a lot and are the biggest cost risk. As for maintenance, this depends on the area but for fill water that sometimes has orthophosphate in it for corrosion control (usually at around 400 ppb or so) let's use 1000 ppb as the fill water amount to figure weekly maintenance cost. Even at a high evaporation rate of 1/3" per day (usually it's 1/4" or so) and a 4.5' average depth pool, this would be 7*1000*(1/3)/(12*4.5) = 43 ppb per week. The weekly treatment cost (and such treatment could be done monthly instead) would be $8.68*(43/1000) = $0.37 so 37 cents per week. The savings in chlorine cost if the amount of chlorine were half the amount compared to not needing phosphate removers at all (i.e. using chlorine alone to prevent algae growth regardless of phosphate level) assuming going from 2 ppm FC per day to 1 ppm FC per day and $4 per gallon for 12.5% chlorinating liquid is 179 fluid ounces saved per week so $4*(179/128) = $5.60 so far far higher in savings than the cost of phosphate remover that enabled this lower chlorine usage. A clarifier may also be needed, at least for the initial phosphate remover in order to clear the pool quickly, so at 1 ounce per 5000 gallons this is 5 ounces for 25,000 gallons which for GLB Clear Blue would be $14.27*(5/32) = $2.23. That shouldn't be needed for maintenance doses of phosphate remover added to the skimmer.

    These calculations are both proportional to the size of the pool so should apply equally as well to smaller pools or larger pools. Of course, if you have some sort of disaster such as getting fertilizer with phosphate in it dumped into a pool, then that can get costly. One cup of triple superphosphate (0-46-0) is 46% by weight P2O5 equivalent and as shown in this MSDS has a density close to water at around 1.1 g/cm3. So one cup is around 80 grams of phosphate (as PO43-) which in 25,000 gallons would be 0.845 mg/L or 845 ppb phosphate. Also, the eventual cost of water dilution to keep the CYA level in check needs to be taken into account. Such cost depends on the maximum CYA level that is tolerated. As I noted, this may be higher than 100 ppm. If the maximum were 200 ppm and a half drain/refill were done to get to 100 ppm, then that ties in with a 6-month swim season where Trichlor would add around 100 ppm CYA over that time if at 1 ppm FC/day. If there is significant summer rain overflow as in Florida, then this keeps the CYA in check. If there is a shorter season and a partial drain to winterize a pool as in the Northeast, then that may be enough as well. It's places like Arizona and to some extent California where the water replacement costs are more likely, but there are other reasons for such replacement such as high CH from evaporation and refill particularly in Arizona.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    tag*
    Lou - 13.5K Gal pool, AG Intex 24 X 52"
    19" Sand Filter/1 hp pump, Aqua Trol SWG
    90 sq ft Homemade Solar panels + 80 sq ft Fafco panels, coupled with a SS heat exchanger/Hot Water Tank, Pentair SolarTouch, Taylor k-2006

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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    I get the impression the most residential pool owners using a "service" don't want to have anything to do with a pool other than swimming in it. They don't understand that if you only come weekly then you need to "shock" the pool so that by next weeks visit there will still be remaining FC to prevent algae. Since you're providing chemicals as part of your service there's no reason for them to go through the expense of a SWCG or chlorine pump. They don't want to hear about maintaining stable FC levels throughout the week.

    On the other hand, people who educate themselves about pool chemistry wind up here. They understand things like FC/CYA relationships and take an active interest in maintaining their pool. They're a lot less likely to use a service because once they gain the knowledge they tend to DIY. That's what I did after I discovered the unnecessary chemical bomb they were putting in my pool each week. When I took over my pool it had a FC of 50 (fifty) as measured by the TF-100 and the local pool store called my chlorine levels "a little high."

    So, I think there is a good reason most pool companies fill up the puck feeder AND dump gallons of chlorine in each week. It works for the most part. As long as they keep massive amounts of chlorine in the water things will look good to the "I just want to swim" crowd that gravitates towards pool services. They also won't have to worry about green or cloudy water complaints from customers in a very competitive business.

    I'd be happy to hire a pool company who used TFP methods but, to my knowledge, none exist. I can't imagine a successful business model for TFP. It requires more visits and smaller chemical additions. More visits = more cost to the customer who "just wants to swim" in a clean looking pool at a low price.
    11K gal IG screened-in plaster pool w/ spa
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    Re: TFP...Please Help! Need Advice

    I think you could do good business with a TFP model. You would need at least three people to pull it off though, one guy dedicated to testing, every second day testing, probably less once you got in the rythym,two other guys to do the manual wall brushing, cleaning, refilling chlorine pumps duties. The tester guy would have to have a software program to track each pool to aid in record keeping which is essential when operating any system from an aquarium to a gas plant.
    I would try the rental option on SWG's or chlorine pumps, cheaper monthly bills company fixes it if it fails, Rental charges per month at the end of lifespan of unit would equal roughly twice the purchase price, this would average out to pretty close to original cost plus markup in the long run. If you used the same units you would have parts and more importantly troubleshooting knowledge of the units.
    How much does a typical pool service cost per month? Would it cover the 1.5 hours per week for the tester and another 1.5 hours for the labourer?
    Lou - 13.5K Gal pool, AG Intex 24 X 52"
    19" Sand Filter/1 hp pump, Aqua Trol SWG
    90 sq ft Homemade Solar panels + 80 sq ft Fafco panels, coupled with a SS heat exchanger/Hot Water Tank, Pentair SolarTouch, Taylor k-2006

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