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Thread: Pool Professionals

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    techguy's Avatar
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    Pool Professionals

    I have been reading about all of these things we deal with in managing our pools and the way to solve issues with the pools mainly using the BBB supplies, MA and CYA at times and the occasional sequestrant.

    I also read about the pool professionals in the stores and driving around "treating" pools with PH+, PH-, pucks & powders, algaecides, "shock", and the other expensive compound chemicals they proffer. It seems they never consider the CYA in the pool's decision making process.

    At my LPS, the first thing they ask is your "What does your water look like?" Then they test your CYA using the sliding dot tool. Then they do your chlorine and other tests. After the tests are done, they make recommendations based on your CYA and the related levels. I now understand this is not the way most pool stores operate.

    How is that I read about pool professionals that don't solve algae blooms by using the proper level of chlorine based on the the CYA? Why does it sound like we should all fix our PH and phosphates, ignore the chlorine and CYA levels, add CYA-laden powders... and call me in the morning?
    -- Guy --
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    Sounds like you have a pretty good pool store there.

    Generally it seems that the CYA/FC relationship is either not understood or ignored (to make money?) by the pool store employee ... most of these "kids" only know what the senior employee told them who learned it from the employee before them.

    Someone likened it to a game of telephone ... years ago the information may have been correct, but after a few years of different summer employees, errors have likely entered into the information as it was passed on.
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    Quote Originally Posted by techguy
    pool professionals
    Most of the problem is right there. Most pool store employees are only professionals in the sense that they work at a pool store. It is unusual if they have anything we would call training. Certainly there are a number of real professionals out there, but by and large you do not find them in pool stores.
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    I'd like to try to defend the "pool professionals" at least those of us that make our living by servicing pools on site.

    1: We're going to a pool maybe once a week. Our job is to prevent problems, clean the pool, check for proper operation, test water chemistry and make adjustments. We're going to the pool during the day. I doubt that our customers would be willing to pay for our time to come in the evening, adjust shock levels til 11:00 PM and back the next morning at sunup to check for overnight chlorine loss.

    2: Because of this we tend to over chlorinate pools and add specialty chemicals to try to manage the water better.

    3: We use "pool" chemicals, because our customers would not be happy seeing us put clorox bleach, arm & hammer baking soda and 20 mule team borax in their pools.

    4: A "green" pool is the bane of any on site servicer's existence. Unless it's a regular weekly maintenance customer, a customer with a "green" pool is told to expect a bill of 3 to 500 dollars and a week or more to fix it. Even at that it's not clear to me that we make any money on a "green" pool.

    5: All of my people have at least a year of hands on training, with a seasoned and highly trained veteran as their mentor. In addition we hold regular in-house training sessions, and send our better employees to industry training schools.

    6: I read thread after thread on this and other forums about the heroic struggles to solve water problems. I predict that if you multiplied the time you spent dealing with these issues times a reasonable hourly rate, you might rethink it just a little.

    In summary, let me say that I have great admiration for the BBB method of maintaining your own swimming pool. I think the contributors on this site are first rate, and clearly helpful and well motivated.

    Keep up the good work
    In the industry, CSP (Certified Service Professional) by the NSPI and it's successor the APSP. My company services over 600 pools every year. I think the practices regularly espoused on this forum (especially the BBB method) are outstanding; however my comments will be often oriented towards the goal of getting it done, and getting it done right now!

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    Re: Pool Professionals

    Quote Originally Posted by Qwaxalot
    I'd like to try to defend the "pool professionals" at least those of us that make our living by servicing pools on site.

    Keep up the good work
    Well put. Thanks for your point of view. I guess I am looking and different methods and a pool service cannot operate in the same way I can with my own pool. I look at my pool everyday and test it and take action, every day.

    The service technician can only look at it once per week and take action based on what they can see and test at that moment in time. They need to provide a solution that will work for 7 days, unattended. The BBB method is simply not an option, it requires attention daily.

    So I guess when I walk into the PS, I need to consider their goal may be the same (clear water) but the means to meet the goal are different.
    -- Guy --
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    While I understand that a pool service company cannot spend the time a pool owner can on his pool, I have trouble with..
    Because of this we tend to over chlorinate pools and add specialty chemicals to try to manage the water better.
    What specialty chemicals? How do they manage the water better?
    We use "pool" chemicals, because our customers would not be happy seeing us put clorox bleach, arm & hammer baking soda and 20 mule team borax in their pools.
    Why? They work perfectly for they're intended use. Who would be unhappy about saving them a few bucks?
    Dave S.
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    On "grocery store" chemicals: pool service techs have liability issues to consider. They are legally safer if they use something labeled for pool use. That said, they also use larger quantities than a single residential pool owner would use and can purchase chemicals in bulk, at which point the home owners won't see the labels and won't care what the label says.
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    Pool Professionals

    The grocery chemicals we use, are labeled for pool use in many cases. I saw on the Clorox website the labeling for its use in pools. That being said, the larger containers of 12% pool chlorine are cheaper and easier to mange for a professional. The baking side I bought at Walmart is in "pool friendly" packaging. I am not going to look, but i am confident some of the boxes are labeled for pool use.

    Some of the white buckets we see being used by techs may even be full of borax and baking soda. Much of the bleach used in pools is made by Clorox, and packaged in carboys and yellow crates.

    I see we have somewhat different methods to meet the same goal, I guess I am more offended by the lack of knowledge and attitude you get in the store. We don't see pool service techs standing in store but we should be able to trust they know what they say is trustworthy and accurate.
    -- Guy --
    10K gallons in 21' Round 52 inch wall Aqualeader AG, Hayward Power Flow LX 1.5 HP pump motor, Hayward Perflex EC50AC DE filter w/Cellulose, Wide mouth skimmer, 2013 new Diver Dan (craigslist) to replace the faded old Hayward AquaBug. TF-100

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    Re: Pool Professionals

    With only once-a-week visits, the options are limited. I asked our local pool store that services 2000 pools (most weekly) what they use and it's mostly Trichlor tabs/pucks at a 4.5 ppm FC target with partial drain/refill when the CYA hits 100 ppm. If a pool starts to develop algae, they shock. If it comes back, they use a phosphate remover. Since they are not at the required FC/CYA minimum to prevent algae growth regardless of phosphate level, they have some percentage of pools that need this extra care -- and we've got 300-500 ppb phosphates in our fill water so with evaporation/refill many pools get more algae nutrients. I asked why they didn't use The Liquidator and they said most of their customers don't want any chemicals on-site, especially not chlorine. It's primarily concern over safety with their kids.

    Another service I know uses Trichlor tabs/pucks with a lower FC target and weekly algaecide (usually a linear quat since it's cheaper, if they can get away with calm enough water for no foaming). Yet another (in more desert areas) servicing about 1000 pools uses a combination of chlorine gas and chlorinating liquid, has 100 ppm CYA, and goes up to 14 ppm FC which then drops down to around 4 ppm when they visit again one week later. This latter approach is closest to BBB in terms of not using Trichlor that builds up CYA, but you can see the large required FC range with once-a-week visits. Nevertheless, no one complains about the chlorine level because even 14 ppm FC with 100 ppm CYA is equivalent to 4.3 ppm with 30 ppm CYA or 0.14 ppm FC with no CYA.
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    And now the "desert company" has switched to every other week visits ... don't ask me how they can manage that in the middle of the summer

    Posted with Tapatalk ... sorry if I sound short ... hate typing on phone
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    For me personally, if the pool does not have a backwash valve i keep my cya at 100 to 150 and keep it constant. I usually use 2 gallons of liquid and some muriatic acid. If the pool has a backwash valve, i use the tri chlor pucks. It works out pretty well. There are a few pools that i add a polyquat 60 to.

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    Re: Pool Professionals

    Even if this is in the Deep End Forum, please be aware that newbies check it out too and can be completely confused by techniques for service pros.

    This forum is not designed for service pros and the techniques used by them, while interesting, should never be suggested for residential pool owners.

    keene2b07...more info please...

    1. How do you measure CYA above 100ppm? How do you keep it constant w/o a backwash valve? Do you drain and refill?

    2. 2 gallons of liquid chlorine on what size pool? the implication is all of them, regardless of size ???

    3. How much muriatic? What for?

    4. How do you decide whether or not to use polyquat?
    Dave S.
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    1. I use a Pentair Rainbow cyanuric acid test. If the pool Does not have a backwash valve then i add bleach and do not add tablets. I understand that there is some splash out which reduces the cya level but it more or less remains constant.
    2. We test using dpd powder. If the chlorine level from week to week is going up we go down to 1 gallon. If it is staying the same from week to week, we keep adding the same amount. If it goes down from the previous week, we shock the pool. 2 gallons is kind of just a starting point. Most of the pools range from 3 to 5 ppm cl when we get there each week.
    3. We judge from week to week but we usually add between a quarter gallon and 1/2 gallon. We add this because the liquid chlorine causes the ph to rise. We don't add this to any pool where we use tri chlor. In pools that we use tri chlor we use soda ash or liquid cl to raise the ph which compensates for the low ph caused by the acidity of tri chlor tabs.
    4. We use polyquat 60 on pools that have really bad plaster. My experience is that these pools are much much more difficult to maintain, and adding an algaecide helps.

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    Pool Professionals

    I was in the LPS last night and , hoping I'm wrong, I heard what sounded like the sales person saying " it's only 100 right now so I would add some more" the salesperson and the lady then discussed the pro and cons ( that I didn't listen too) and how to properly say the chemical name in CYA and then he showed her the larger buckets of conditioner. I pray he didn't sell her more conditioner for a pool with a CYA of 100.

    Can someone give a reason you would want to add CYA to raise your pool, by action, to between 150 and 200 ppm?
    -- Guy --
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    Quote Originally Posted by techguy
    Can someone give a reason you would want to add CYA to raise your pool, by action, to between 150 and 200 ppm?
    To reduce active chlorine level making it more likely for algae to grow faster than chlorine can kill it. This enables sales of other products such as "shock" (which is a process, not a product, but they call it that anyway), enzymes, clarifiers, flocculants, phosphate removers, etc. The higher CYA level will also slow down daily chlorine loss from breakdown from sunlight, but unless the level of algae nutrients is extremely low, the algae growth will consume more chlorine even if it's not yet visible.

    Whether such recommendations are intentional deceit or just plain ignorance is difficult to tell. Given the lack of proper training and the industry mantra of "CYA levels don't matter; only FC matters", it's more likely the latter at the pool store level and the former at the manufacturer level.
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    Oh... to justify a sale or due to ignorance. Not good in my book.

    To my knowledge, they used some sort of digital device and then a test tube. I think it's the Lamotte WaterSpin device. The test tubes looked like they were for phosphate.
    -- Guy --
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    I'm new to all this but spent a good deal of time trying to sort misinformation from motive because I actually like my service guy (when I need him, which now is only for equipment) and was attempting to reconcile our divergent viewpoints.

    I've concluded that in many cases, what we're dealing with at the store level is both a failure to grasp the "holistic" chemical makeup of pool water (aka some stupidity or ignorance) PLUS a mostly reasonable but very cynical opinion of what homeowners will and won't do or their capacity to properly manage on their own.

    Even on these threads, it's clear that some people only "hear" part of an instruction, and the devil is in the details so in defense of pool stores, I might be inclined to think some might counsel to keep a higher cya because they would not trust the homeowner to keep FC within parameters, to test regularly or accurately, and because they simply don't believe that the cya actually impacts the disinfection capability (because hordes of their customers are not dying in obvious pool plagues

    It's just kind of "more" of that surface thinking that has this society both inundated with information yet completely inattentive to it or unable to process it
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    You bring up an excellent point. Behavior at the pool store level is at least partly driven by consumer behavior. Most people going into the pool store just want a fast fix-it solution and don't want to be bothered with maintenance or extra effort on their part. It's just too bad that the person behind the counter doesn't ask questions to first determine what type of pool owner has come in and give the appropriate kind of advice for that person.
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    Re: Pool Professionals

    Being a pool tech myself I can fully understand a lot of the bad press that we get and I must admit on the whole it is richly deserved. I get to test a lot of other peoples pools and to be honest most are in a dire state. In the last 5 years I have only ever tested one pool maintained by a pool tech whose water was over one year old and had less than 80PPM of CYA in. As for not being able to use the BBB method and having to resort to using triclor pucks as the main source of sanitisation is madness. If you can only visit once a week then find a way of automating the chlorine dosage. Personally if I am not able or allowed to automate chlorine dosage I will walk from the contract. If I cannot guarantee the safety of the bathers due to restrictions placed on my maintenance method due to ignorance and lack of knowledge then I walk. I will never compromise but all too often many pool techs will to secure a contract and then do a bad job. Every single pool I maintain has an automatic chlorinator. I do not use the store bought chemicals as I buy my acid, chlorine (liquid), sodium bicarbonate, calcium chloride and until recently boric acid (now banned in Europe) in bulk. But these are the only chemicals I use, no floc, polyquat or any other fancy chemicals. Most of my pools are on the large side 100,000 to 270,000 litres but every one of them even after a hundred or so bathers remains crystal clear but more importantly safe. I run all pools at 50-60 PPM CYA and free chlorine @ 8 PPM with a PH of 7.6 giving me a HOCl of 0.058, safe for bathers and the water remains easy on the eyes. If anyone says that I will soon be out of business with this attitude to taking on new customers then I would like to add that I am regularly turning down new contracts because I have no capacity for any more work and I'm talking $500-$900 a month contracts. The reason for this is that I use industry strength chemicals utilising the BBB method with equipment able to aide me in the task. Of course now that the Borates have gone the task is going to be a little more difficult but manageable nonetheless.

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    Re: Pool Professionals

    Nice post, Freelancer. It is very refreshing to hear from someone who can do things the right way and continue to make a good living. I hope your customers know how lucky they are.
    Dave S.
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