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Let’s Hit the Mailbag of Pool/Spa Questions

Let’s Hit the Mailbag of Pool/Spa Questions

As the person who handles hundreds of tech calls and e-mails here at Taylor each month, I get a lot of interesting questions…some great, some not so great, and some that are really out there!

For your reading pleasure, today I present six interesting questions I’ve received within the past month, along with my replies.

Is the recommended calcium hardness level the same for a fiberglass pool as it is for a spa?

Yes, and for two major reasons. One, regardless of how well you maintain the pool or spa, water will try to balance itself by seeking out calcium from any source it can (grout, gunite, etc.). Fiberglass shells or vinyl liners contain none of those sources. Two, in hot water environments, there is a greater propensity for calcium to come out of solution and cloud the water as it pulls calcium carbonate from grout, gunite, and other sources. Keeping calcium hardness levels ideally between 150‒250 ppm will help prevent problems in both scenarios.

I have a dealer who says using chlorine pucks in his pool irritates his skin, but when using a chlorine generator it does not. Is this possible?

The simple answer for this one is no. Both methods of adding chlorine affect the pH of the water, and whether the pH level be too high or too low, skin irritation can result. Trichlor pucks have a very low pH (2.8‒3.5) and therefore have the ability to greatly decrease the pH level if not dosed properly. Using a chlorine generator (a.k.a. salt generator) to produce HOCl (hypochlorous acid) has the opposite effect―it increases the pH level. In most situations, adding acid (via an acid feed system) will control this.

When should you use MPS?

MPS (potassium monopersulfate) is a great non-chlorine oxidizer shock. Because MPS does not contain chlorine, it doesn’t form chloramines, the chemical compound that produces a strong odor and skin irritation. For this reason, MPS is the better choice for indoor pools/spas. This product can also be used in outdoor environments. Another plus―bathers can reenter the water within an hour of using MPS.

So, can shocking alone remove phosphates in a body of water?

Shocking does NOT remove phosphates. Since phosphates can negate chlorine’s effectiveness as a sanitizer and oxidizer, you may be wasting a lot of product and money by doing this. The only treatment product that can remove phosphates in pool/spa water is a chemical called lanthanum chloride. There are many brand-name products on the market today that contain this chemical compound.

Why don’t more outdoor pools use bromine?

The answer to this question is two-fold: Bromine degrades faster in direct sunlight than unstabilized chlorine, which means you have to use more, and it also costs more than chlorine products. Given those two factors, you can see why using bromine is not always the best choice economically. A better use for bromine is in indoor pools/spas since it doesn’t have the odor or irritation issues that are associated with chlorine.

In the event of a zombie apocalypse, can I still drink my pool water?

I swear this was an actual question from a woman in California. (I seriously think she’s been binge-watching too many episodes of The Walking Dead.) At first, I thought this call was a prank; however, she was dead serious (see what I did there?). Anyway, I told her that as long as no zombies had fallen in and that there was at least 1.0 ppm chlorine in the water, it would probably be safe to drink.

Welcome to my world!

So, there you have it…my first mailbag installment. Stay tuned for more!