Summer’s biggest holiday is almost upon us — a classic pool party weekend — and pool owners will be looking to their backyards with great expectation. But along with July 4th comes hot sunny weather, poolside celebrations and heavy bather loads . . . all of which increase the potential for dull, hazy water. 

All across America, it’s crunch time in the pool service business. Here are a few things a service professional should check on if the water starts to look a little bit flat and uninviting:

Check the Equipment

First, check the filter and circulation system to make sure everything is operating properly. Then, make sure the pressure reading on the filter gauge is not too high. When the pressure on the filter gauge reaches 10 psi above the normal setting, the filter should be cleaned or backwashed. Also, check all skimmer suction baskets and the pump basket to make sure they are free of debris such as leaves or pine needles.

Finally, make sure the pump is providing a good strong flow of water coming back in through the pool return line. If circulation seems sluggish, the pump and filtration system should be inspected.

Check the Sanitizer

During the summer, increased heat and bather loads can use up chlorine much faster. If the water starts to look cloudy, always test the pool’s chlorine level.

Chlorine levels need to be maintained between one and three parts per million (ppm) and the water should be shocked weekly. This will help to clear out excess contaminates and keep the chlorine working properly.

It is also important to ensure the water is properly balanced by checking the pool’s pH, total alkalinity (TA), calcium hardness, and total dissolved solids (TDS). Calcium hardness builds up naturally from source water and certain chemicals. These levels should be kept between 200 and 400 ppm and tested at least once per year.

TDS is the buildup of all chemicals and solids in the water. As water evaporates it leaves behind dissolved solids that build up over time. Normal TDS levels range between 1000 to 2000 ppm. When TDS is too high some of the pool water will need to be drained and replaced with fresh water to dilute the solids. Regular shocking and the use of a clarifier can help reduce the buildup of solids in pools.

In Canada where water rates are rising (and in some areas where water usage is restricted), a liquid solar cover can help reduce the loss of water from evaporation as well as loss of heat and chemicals. A liquid solar cover product forms a micro-barrier on the water surface, which reduces the evaporation rate to save heat, energy, and chemicals. 

Help the Filter

Pool filters are designed to remove very small particles from water. There is a limit, however, to what most filters can remove. For example, when dust blows into the pool it can be a micron smaller than the filter is able to remove. As this smaller debris builds up, the water becomes hazier. Water clarifiers are used in this scenario because they are designed to grab tiny particles and bunch them together so they can be removed by the filter. The more small particles removed, the clearer the water becomes. There are several clarity products in the marketplace to help keep water clear, and many of them are all natural and eco-friendly. For excessive cloudiness, look at some of the new products on the market designed specifically for this problem.

There are also products available for pools with heavy oil buildup (e.g. sunscreen, hair products), which combine natural clarifiers and oil-eating enzymes to provide a quick fix for cloudy water.

If high phosphates are a problem in the pool, look for products that combine phosphate removal with a clarifier to simplify water treatment.

Clear water is as simple as one-two-three:

1. Good equipment in excellent working order

2. Proper sanitizer and water balance; and

3. Help for the filter if necessary with an effective clarifier product.

Keep an eye on these, and pool water will remain clear and sparkling all summer long.

Terry Arko has more than 30 years experience in the swimming pool and spa industry, working in service, repair, retail sales, chemical manufacturing, customer service, sales and product development. He is also a CPO and CPO Instructor through the National Swimming Pool Foundation. Arko is currently product specialist and for SeaKlear Pool and Spa Products, a subsidiary of Halosource, based in Bothell, Wash. He can be reached via e-mail at tarko@seaklear.com.

Terry Arko is AQUA Contributor of AQUA Magazine.