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Thread: Fountainman looking for support

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    Fountainman looking for support

    Hello,

    I run a strictly fountain service business in Florida and after a lot of searching I came across this great site. Unfortunately, even though a lot of your information is very helpful, there are some things specific to fountains that I have difficult finding expert advice. Maybe I will find amongst your membership people that service fountains who would be willing to share their stories and expertise. Perhaps if the administrators/rules allow, a thread can be started for fountains

    Thank you to all whose effort/contribution make this site so success ful

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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    Welcome to the forum.....although I'm not sure we'll be able to help much. This is the first post about fountains that I can ever recall.

    We may have to learn from you. The water chemistry should be roughly the same but I have no experience. Let's see if others can help.
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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    Hi fountainman,

    You have a very interesting business!

    Looking forward to reading your posts and seeing some pix of your fountains!

    Welcome to the forum!
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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    Hello,

    Well, so far the replies reminds me of saying " in the house of the blind a one eyed man is king". I live in Naples, Florida an upscale community where fountains adorn many circular driveways in front of high end properties. Just the other day I drove around with my wife targeting new clients and after a couple of hours I had over 100 addresses.

    Most fountains in this area come from quarries in Mexico, Italy, etc. Stones like Terra Cota, Limestone, Marble, Macedonian, etc. are the most popular materials. Some of these stones present a challenge when servicing these fountains due to their susceptibility to deterioration when chemical are applied incorrectly. In addition to this, the subtropical climate , landscaping around the fountains create other problems that makes my job more interesting.

    I will in the future post some of the issues I come across in the hope that someone can help me solve them.

    Thanks for your replies

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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    Thinking about it just a little, I would assume you could maintain it almost exactly like a swimming pool. What type of sanitizer do you use to keep algae out? What parameters do you test?

    Just like a pool, testing would be the key to keeping a fountain manageable. My guess is you'd have some pH control issues with all the aeration going on.......that probably explains much of the stone damage you refer to.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    I have one customer that does lots of fountains and ponds as well as pools. I'll refer your questions to him, as needed. Working with him I have learned many new things about plumbing for fountain rings, etc., and have established relationships with several fire pot and scupper suppliers. I also have a new respect for wind conditions in such projects!
    http://www.swimmingpool.com/

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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    Thinking about it just a little, I would assume you could maintain it almost exactly like a swimming pool. What type of sanitizer do you use to keep algae out? What parameters do you test?

    Just like a pool, testing would be the key to keeping a fountain manageable. My guess is you'd have some pH control issues with all the aeration going on.......that probably explains much of the stone damage you refer to.
    Duraleigh,

    Yes you are absolutely right on... The water quality treatment is basically the same. I have my fountains under control (in the winter here it is easier). I use test strips to check for FC/TC/PH/TA. On some fountains I stay away from chlorine and use GLB Oxybrite (no chlorinated shock), Bromine tabs or liquid and algecide (Physan). When I use chlorine, I use 1" tabs and Oxybrite. To raise the ph I use GLB (ph up). I think that I have not pay as close attention to the TA and some of the stone shows a white coating. I think it is calcium but I am not sure. I can lightly sand/brush it off. I try to stay away from muriatic acid especially with less denser stones like limestone etc. Anyway, what do you and others think?

    Thanks

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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    Quote Originally Posted by fountainman
    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    Thinking about it just a little, I would assume you could maintain it almost exactly like a swimming pool. What type of sanitizer do you use to keep algae out? What parameters do you test?

    Just like a pool, testing would be the key to keeping a fountain manageable. My guess is you'd have some pH control issues with all the aeration going on.......that probably explains much of the stone damage you refer to.
    Duraleigh,

    Yes you are absolutely right on... The water quality treatment is basically the same. I have my fountains under control (in the winter here it is easier). I use test strips to check for FC/TC/PH/TA. On some fountains I stay away from chlorine and use GLB Oxybrite (no chlorinated shock), Bromine tabs or liquid and algecide (Physan). When I use chlorine, I use 1" tabs and Oxybrite. To raise the ph I use GLB (ph up). I think that I have not pay as close attention to the TA and some of the stone shows a white coating. I think it is calcium but I am not sure. I can lightly sand/brush it off. I try to stay away from muriatic acid especially with less denser stones like limestone etc. Anyway, what do you and others think?

    Thanks
    It is most likely calcium and is most likely caused by your pH being too high. Strips are infamous for being very erratic and innaccurate. If your strips are telling you you're in a normal range on pH on those calcified pools, you need to get a test kit that will tell you where you really are.

    Take a couple of strip tests and then a sample to a pool store that does drops-based testing and compare. I would imagine you'll be surprised at the results.

    If your calcium Hardness (which the strips don't test for....they test for total hardnes) is over 400 and/or your pH gets up above 7.8, you are a candidate for calcium precipitation.

    It sounds like you have little or infrequent problems with algae. Posting a set of test results from the pools store on a problem fountain would be very revealing. You need to test for...

    Free Chlorine (FC)
    Combined Chloramines (CC)
    pH
    Total Alkalinity (TA)

    They may test for CYA as well but I don't see it as a real necessity in your fountains.....depending on some other factors. I'm curious why you use different sanitizers in different pools.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
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  9. Back To Top    #9

    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    Quote Originally Posted by fountainman
    Quote Originally Posted by duraleigh
    Thinking about it just a little, I would assume you could maintain it almost exactly like a swimming pool. What type of sanitizer do you use to keep algae out? What parameters do you test?

    Just like a pool, testing would be the key to keeping a fountain manageable. My guess is you'd have some pH control issues with all the aeration going on.......that probably explains much of the stone damage you refer to.
    Duraleigh,

    Yes you are absolutely right on... The water quality treatment is basically the same. I have my fountains under control (in the winter here it is easier). I use test strips to check for FC/TC/PH/TA. On some fountains I stay away from chlorine and use GLB Oxybrite (no chlorinated shock), Bromine tabs or liquid and algecide (Physan). When I use chlorine, I use 1" tabs and Oxybrite. To raise the ph I use GLB (ph up). I think that I have not pay as close attention to the TA and some of the stone shows a white coating. I think it is calcium but I am not sure. I can lightly sand/brush it off. I try to stay away from muriatic acid especially with less denser stones like limestone etc. Anyway, what do you and others think?

    Thanks
    It is most likely calcium and is most likely caused by your pH being too high. Strips are infamous for being very erratic and innaccurate. If your strips are telling you you're in a normal range on pH on those calcified pools, you need to get a test kit that will tell you where you really are.

    Take a couple of strip tests and then a sample to a pool store that does drops-based testing and compare. I would imagine you'll be surprised at the results.

    If your calcium Hardness (which the strips don't test for....they test for total hardnes) is over 400 and/or your pH gets up above 7.8, you are a candidate for calcium precipitation.

    It sounds like you have little or infrequent problems with algae. Posting a set of test results from the pools store on a problem fountain would be very revealing. You need to test for...

    Free Chlorine (FC)
    Combined Chloramines (CC)
    pH
    Total Alkalinity (TA)

    They may test for CYA as well but I don't see it as a real necessity in your fountains.....depending on some other factors. I'm curious why you use different sanitizers in different pools.
    Duraleigh,

    Thanks for the info. I will use a test kit and compare. The reason why I use non-chlorinated shock on some fountains is that chlorine can do some serious damage to certain limestones and other porous materials. I have one client whose fountain is deteriorating at a rapid pace due to the use of chlorine by someone else. I have tried top of the line sealers etc. but to no avail...is like a cancer. So considering that some of these fountains can run into the lots of $$$$$ I take no chances.... I would love to use chlorine with all my fountains!

    P.S Can you suggest what kind of water testing kit or strip I should use for fountains... especially since I use non-chlorinated shock like GLB and 1" pucks. Do you think that the BBB method would work for fountains?

    Thanks

  10. Back To Top    #10
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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    The method of application of the chlorine and the CYA level will both have dramatic effects on how much damage chlorine can cause. High chlorine levels, far higher than those required for sanitation, can damage various materials, though metals are usually affected long before any kind of stone would be. Granular chlorine, or chlorine tablets, that sit directly on the stone will also lower the PH right around the granules/tablets, which can cause much more damage than chlorine alone will cause. CYA acts as a kind of buffer for chlorine, preventing the effective chlorine level from getting nearly as high as the measured chlorine level, which can help protect chlorine sensitive materials.

    I would imagine that PH variations will be larger in fountains than they are in pools, because there is less water and because of all the aeration. PH variations are a much more likely cause of stone damage than chlorine is. The trick part is that each method of chlorine delivery will also have some effect on the PH, some temporary and some permanent, which needs to be taken into account.
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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    fountainman,

    Like Jason, I would first suspect that pH is causing the stone damage as well as the calcification. I don't think that chlorine is the real culprit unless you have some huge concentrations. Even then, I'm not sure stone damage would be the result.

    BBB will work very easily. As you read more, you will find BBB is not a "secret method" but rather teaching you to better understand the parameters you need to control and how to test for them.


    Drops based kits are slower than strips. You will spend 10-15 minutes on your initial tests (compared to the 1-2 minutes with strips) but you will soon find you only need to do complete tests monthly or so. I'm almost positive you can switch all your fountains to the less-expensive based chlorine sanitizers which will save you money and time in the long run.

    Naturally, I'm a little prejudice about test kits since I sell what I think is the best kit on the market but the Taylor K-2006 is virtually identical and practically as good of a value.

    If you haven't found it yet, pool school in the upper right corner of the home page has a wealth of info. Start at the top and read down sequentially. It may seem a little confusing at first but you'll be up to speed in no time.

    Post lots of questions. There's some really sharp people on the forum who can help a lot with water chemistry.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    Jason & Duraleigh,

    I will take everything that you have share with me into account and try it out. As far as the application of chlorine or the BBB method is that during the summer (which is almost year round) in this area the water temperature can reach the 80's and these fountains are serviced once per week. Most of them are exposed to the sun, organic materials like grass clippings. leaves, bird poop and people using them as garbage disposals. Liquid chlorine will not last long enough between scheduled maintenance and I hate to carry it in my car. That is why I use 1" pucks and/or non-chlorinated powder like GBL or a combination of GBL with bromine tabs or liquid. I have read here that test strips are not as accurate even though they are convenient. I worry about the cost of using test kits because most likely due to the issues and circumstances mentioned above, testing will have to take place on a weekly basis. I really appreciate your expertise and perhaps this thread can be transfer over to a section where I can continue asking question beyond introducing myself.

    Thanks again

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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    In your case, I would continue using tabs and eventually work a program out that will put your fountains on tabs exclusively. Yes, you'll have to use them year round although far less in the winter months. Now, here's the issue with tabs and why you need to test with something other than strips.

    The CYA in the tabs will constantly accumulate in the fountain water to a point where the chlorine in the tabs is no longer very effective and you'll start to see some algae growth....generally, a CYA over 80 or so will start to cause problems. Test Strips are probably weakest at testing CYA so you simply will not be able to tell when your CYA reaches that point if you continue to believe the test strips..

    I am making an assumption that you will be able to drain these fountains at least 1/2 to 2/3 each season. That way you can reduce the CYA in the fountain by dilution. The new water will put you right back on track so you can continue to use tabs until the next CYA buildup.

    The reason we don't like tabs as well for a pool is it is often very, very difficult to drain a large pool to reduce the CYA.

    Change is difficult and I sense your resistance. I think you'll find when you do a test from a pool store you'll have some issues in your fountains that need work. In the long run, I also believe you can actually save quite a bit of money by eliminating the scalling and stone damage you are currently experienceing and simplyfying your maintenance requirements........it'll just take some time to read more, ask lots of questions, and understand the parameters you are concerned with and the effects if they are out of whack.

    Again, after a complete set of tests that will take a little time, you'll soon be able to test only TC and pH on a weekly basis (1 minute...as fast as the strips but more accurate) and the full set of test maybe 3-4 times yearly. My guess is you probably spend more time now reducing calcium scale, etc. than you would ever spend on proper testing.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
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  14. Back To Top    #14
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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    How are you feeding the tabs? Trichlor is very acidic and can certainly damage limestone. Bromine tablets are not as acidic but still have a pH of around 4 or so and this is enough to cause stone damage too, especially if the tabs are in contact with the stonework. Remember that bromine cannot be stabilized against loss from UV so if the fountains get a lot of direct sun bromine is NOT your best choice. Also, it does not matter if you 'activate' the bromine with MPS or chlorine, the end result is exactly the same and chlorine is much cheaper to use.
    I suspect that my careful control of your TA and pH (which is impossible to do with strips!) you can eliminate many of your problems. The only cost effective way to really monitor these parameters is with a phenol red based drop test and a titration test for TA. I think if change your testing method and get better control of your water chemistry you will find that a lot of your problems with stone damage and scaling will be eliminated.

    (Haven't been to Naples since I moved away from Ft. Laud in 2004...Grew up in S. Fl. but it was time to get away from the madness! Also, you NEVER EVER EVER want your car to break down in Alligator Alley. I speak from experience! )

  15. Back To Top    #15

    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    You guys,

    A thousand thanks for all your help. I will be buying a taylor 2006 or 2005 from my supplier and start testing the proper way. My supplier also agrees with you ...he did say that scaling can be caused by too high of a ph/ta. The stone damage I have seen are problems that I have inherited in the past but I do need to resolve my scaling issues.

    Yes, Alligator Alley is not the place to break down even if you are Crocodile Dundee!


    Best to all of you.

  16. Back To Top    #16

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    Re: Fountainman looking for support

    Don't purchase the K-2005....it won't do what you want. The K-2006 is fine.
    Dave S. - Forum owner
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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