Swamp treatment regimen improvement requested; question about Sodium Percarbonate and Enzymes (not baq conversion)

C.Johnson

In The Industry
May 14, 2019
29
Tulsa, OK
Hello All,

Pool serviceman in the Tulsa area here, dealing with late openings/pools that have been sitting for a year or more. Advanced apologies for the word wall; I tend towards too much info...

One of the hassles of jobs like this is the decaying debris at the bottom of the pool; I cannot use a leaf master or riptide/hammerhead on it, because of the sludge-like consistency of the old leaves etc... it just clogs the bags up. Likewise, I can't vacuum it to waste because it clogs impellers and pump baskets just as quickly. That leaves scooping with a leaf rake.

Further, a traditional SLAM isn't an option due to the several visits a day and length of time it can require. My traditional clearup method diverges greatly from the TFP methodology for a few reasons; truck capacity (liquid chlorine is generally out), visit availability (I can only visit once a day during the treatment, and for a maximum time of an hour), and final visit regularity (I only come once a week, meaning a quarterly algae treatment, cal-hypo, and trichlor tabs are a huge help. Here in Tulsa, our anual rain amount is enough to lower CH and CyA levels below minimum a couple times a year for most pools if chemical usage is thought out.)
Most importantly: Cost mitigation due to labor and the customer wants it done quickly :p

My normal regimen:
1. Start filtration system in recirculate mode/without cartridges
2. Full brush of all pool surfaces and a 25-30ppm shock with CalHypo to last until the followup. Raise CyA using granules, or use Dichlor for both (side q: Will treating heavy green/mustard algae (clarity 3inches) with 0ppm CyA be faster than @30 CyA, or will the Chlorinated IsoCyanurates convert to Hypochlorous Acid fast enough to treat at the same speed regardless? if the latter, I will continue to raise CyA, but am playing with the idea of treating without it for the first few days)

3. Sodium Bromide treatment proportional to the shock
4. If Copper levels are low enough, a chelated Copper Triethanolamine algaecide (SeaKlear 90 Day Algae Killer or Natural Chemistry Algaebreak 90)
5. Begin scooping debris from bottom
5. Followup the next day to make sure algae is dead or re-chlorinate
6. Begin Filtration, or if conditions allow and customer wants it clear sooner, Floc (with varying results) and vacuum.
7. Followup w/ regular backwashes or cartridge cleans until clear. Vacuum remaining debris.

I prefer not to do drain/cleans in this situation, due to: not knowing if hydrostatic valves are present, or funcitonal, not knowing the condition of groundwater (most of the time this is done is during the rainy spring), and to be quite honest, never having done it before, and the full day or two it would take at just one pool. I could be convinced to do it if the above concerns are put to rest.

Besides improvements in the above regimen, which are welcome, my question is as follows:

Haviland/Clear Result makes a Sodium Percarbonate product called Pool Rescue that supposedly causes debris to float to the surface, easing the cleanup process. I think doing so can reduce the overall chlorine demand and time I spend cleaning the pool. All I can find here is the Baquacil conversion, but does anyone have any experience with it for lifting debris to the surface? More importantly, what issues can arise that may have to be corrected down the line? With this being a derivative of Soda Ash and Hydrogen Peroxide, I am assuming I would see a slight TA increase, and a fairly high pH increase (which is dealt with in the instructions. Speaking with Haviland rep, they recommend dry acid, rather than Muriatic, due to better results in the field)

Also, I've seen lots of claims on enzyme products like Natural Chemistry's Pool First Aid that the enzymes help to break up the organics faster. The consensus appears to be (as always) that under normal situations, all that is needed is proper balance between the normal pool chemistry measures. Since this is not a normal situation, could it help to quicken the process, or allow me to deal with plaster stains or decomposing debris/cloudy water faster? Specifically, it seems every other filter in the Tulsa area is an undersized sand filter making this process even harder (just spent three weeks trying to clear a 30k pool with a S220T 2.6sqft sand filter), and it would be nice not to load it up so fast. I'm used to 60-72 sqft DE filters comprising 95% of my pools in Dallas, so the inferior characteristics of sand are a bit to get used to.
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
CJ, you invested a good amount of time posting this, and it's been sitting unanswered for a while now, so I wanted to at least reply to you so that you didn't feel ignored. At the same time, I have to be honest and say upfront that this discussion may/may not continue to be visible to the general TFP forum population as there may be a concern that the industry practices you use may confuse the average pool owner. Admittedly, there are a few things you do during your weekly services that conflict with TFP methodology, so we are careful to not confuse the average pool owner who takes care of algae issues on their own.

That said, you do have a few chemical-specific questions that I think could be answered by someone like @JoyfulNoise. Once those are addressed, TFP will make a determination whether to keep the post active. Either way, your efforts are appreciated and we thank you for posting. Have a good day.
 
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JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,213
Tucson, AZ
I think your regimen above falls under the description of - it's good for you, your service routine and your bottom line but it's HORRIBLE for a person's pool. Using sodium bromide will add unstabilized bromine to the pool water that will constantly be regenerated by chlorine, used up very quickly by sunlight and then regenerated again. It causes constant, higher FC loss rate than would otherwise occur with just chlorine alone. Yes, bromine is a more effective algaecide as both bromine and monobromamine can kill algae but the downside risks of it causing higher overall FC loss as the season wears on is not typically worth it. And the notion that bromine gets oxidized and leaves the pool is scientific hogwash - a very small fraction of the bromine will get converted into bromates by chlorine but that process would take weeks or months and require constant, high levels of chlorine. Bromates are considered a carcinogen by the EPA and so that is also not a very good solution.

As well, copper is also another horrible thing to add to pool water. Yes, again it is a good algaecide, but ti will cause stains on pool surfaces at concentrations above 0.3ppm and those stains are ugly and very difficult and expensive to remove.

As you state, you are relying on the seasonal rains of your region to help you out with CYA, copper and bromine but that is simply playing Russian Roulette with pool chemicals and that is not at all applicable in every area of the country (Tucson gets 10" of rain per year...if it is lucky). I understand that these procedures work for your business and there are probably lots of pool owners who simply don't care about the pools they own and just want someone else to take care of them. That's certainly fine but none of what you posted could ever be endorsed by TFP as good practice and I think, by your writing, you understand that. What works in the service world doesn't translate well over into the DIY pool owner world.

As for enzymes, I sincerely doubt they would have any major effect. Enzymes are organic molecules that require lots of dissolved oxygen (and sometimes metal) to help catalyze the oxidation or reduction of organic contaminants. The problem is, chlorine is already a powerful oxidizer and and it will destroy or inactivate most enzymes. So you would be adding product to the pool that would increase the FC demand and simply be destroyed in the process....sounds to me like lighting a pile of money on fire would be a better option.

Sodium percarbonate is simply soda ash (Na2CO3) with peroxide (H2O2) as the adduct instead of water...it's basically OxiClean. So when you add it to water you will strongly raise the pH, the TA and add another oxidizer (H2O2) to the water. If any chlorine or bromine is present, the peroxide with be neutralized by it until the chlorine or bromine is all spent. As far as "lifting solids" to the surface....well, that sounds like a nice marketing pitch. My guess would be that the organic solids in the pool water get tiny bubbles of oxygen attached to them (kind of like how an apple seed put in soda water will float up and down) and that causes the crud to float for a little while. Is that necessary...not too sure. The peroxide will help to breakdown organics but you're simply trading peroxide for chlorine....whats the point of that? In the process, your pH and TA are going to go through the roof and then you'll need acid to reduce it. Both dry acid and muriatic acid will work, but dry acid is worse because it adds sulfates to the pool water and that can cause advanced corrosion of metals and weaken concrete structures.

Believe me, I understand why it is you do what you do, the TFP Model doesn't work for a service business. But then again, TFP has never made that claim. If you're a pool service person, I'm sure there's a whole world of resources and industry forums that you have access to for advice and counsel on chemicals and processes. TFP is about empowering and educating the residential pool owner to take care of their own pool, so very little of what goes on in the pool service industry matters to that end.

Thanks for posting.