SERVING  SOUTHWEST  FLORIDA

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(T.D.S.) Total Dissolved Solidsis the measure of the total of all the soluble substances dissolved in the water. It is usually measured by assessing the electrical conductivity of the pool water.  
High levels of TDS are caused by chemicals, sweat, sunscreen, Florida weather, debris and other matter, which all leave a residue in your pool. This residue builds up over time. Once this residue builds up too high, your regular pool chemicals are unable to do their job, resulting in many swimming pool water problems. 

INFORMATION/  TIPS

One of the most important steps of swimming pool maintenance is water balance. Generally, understanding water balance can also be one of the most confusing processes of pool maintenance. Because of its complexity, some new pool owners may not know everything they have to do to keep their pool water safe, comfortable and corrosion free.

Below are a few of the reasons why having a balanced swimming pool is so important:
Safety
If you are using either a salt based pool producing chlorine or a chlorine based tablet pool, then your pH needs to be correct. If pool water is not balanced correctly then the chlorine sanitizer won't be working at full strength killing germs, bacteria and algae will form.

Comfortable
Your water balance needs to be correct or it will affect your skin and eyes. The pH should be neither too acidic nor basic in order to feel comfortable. 

Corrosion
An imbalanced pool can be corrosive to the liner, ladders and hand rail and other equipment such as the pump.

What is entailed in Water Balance?
Total Alkalinity

Total alkalinity refers to how much alkaline is in the water. TA and pH go hand-in-hand. High alkaline water leads to high pH. Low alkaline water leads to low pH. The average swimming pool should have an alkalinity reading of 80 ppm -120 ppm.

Swimming Pool Water pH Levels
Keeping your pH levels within the proper range is important for keeping your equipment and pool finish intact. pH refers to the acidity or baseness of your pool water. A proper pH level is around 7.4 to 7.8 on a pH test kit's numeric scale. Your chlorine will dissolve quicker with a low pH level. High pH levels make chlorine inactive. 

Calcium Hardness
The right amount of calcium in your pool is essential. If there is too little, your plaster can erode. Too much calcium can make your water could become cloudy, scale could form and stains might start. 200 to 400 ppm is the general range for calcium hardness, while 300 ppm is ideal for the average pool.

Stabilizer (CYA)
Stabilizer helps retain your chlorine longer just as insulation helps retain heat or air conditioning. Stabilizer can be added to some chlorine compounds to protect them from the breakdown effects of sunlight. When your stabilizer level is low, you'll use a lot more chlorine. When it's high, you may need to dilute your pool water to bring it back into the 40 to 100 ppm ideal range.

CHLORINE... ITS PURPOSE AND APPLICATION?
Disinfection is the most important single factor in maintaining a swimming pool, which is safe and healthy. Salt and Chlorine are the most widely applied disinfecting agent and used for the disinfection of swimming pool water.

WHAT IS CONDITIONER?
Conditioner or stabilizer is an essential chemical used in the proper disinfection of swimming pools. Its chemical name is cyanuric acid and it forms a protective bond around the chlorine, making it more resistant to being burned off by the sun. This chemical is typically added during the spring months, but pools with high water loss will also need to be reconditioned throughout the summer. Pools should also be stabilized whenever large amounts of fresh water are added. It will sometimes appear as a white powdered substance on the bottom of the swimming pool, but will dissipate after a few days (brushing helps).

ALGAE... WHAT CAUSES IT?
Even when chemical levels are properly balanced, algae will occasionally appear in a customer’s swimming pool. Algae comes in a variety of forms, and appears for various reasons. Its Florida weather.
Algae spores are everywhere: these microscopic single-cell structures are blown into the pool by the wind, washed into the pool by rainfall, or carried into the pool on swimmers' skin or bathing suits. Under the right conditions, tiny spores will bloom into those dreaded bright green, mustard yellow, or black discolorations.

Inadequate filtration will often lead to algae growth.
Water clarity depends on daily circulation and filtration. Anything that impedes water flow from the pool to the filter -- clogged skimmer baskets, a dirty or damaged filter, a defective pump motor, or a failure to run the pump for an adequate amount of time each day -- will encourage algae growth. The first warning sign of a filtration problem is hazy or cloudy water. Left unchecked, cloudy water can quickly lead to a full-fledged algae bloom.

Algae can develop when little or no chlorine is present.
Sunlight, rainfall, temperature, number of swimmers and frequency of pool use affect the rate of chlorine loss. The lower the chlorine level, the more likely algae will bloom. Weekly super-chlorination, coupled with the application of conditioner or stabilizer designed to shield residual chlorine from the effects of heat and sunlight, helps ensure that there is always sufficient chlorine in the pool. Spas, which are often heated to temperatures well above 100 degrees, are especially susceptible to algae growth.
Algae loves a dirty pool!
Leaves and dirt left on the bottom of the pool for an extended period of time, not only promotes algae but also causes pool staining. The longer you allow leaves and other debris to sit on your pool floor, the more likely that you'll see algae, and staining. In an extremely debris filled pool, algae will continue to bloom, even when the water chemistry is properly balanced.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT ALGAE?
Immediately after using the spa, adjust the valves so that the pool water will flow through the spa when the filtration system is running. This will replenish chlorine-dissipated spa water with chlorinated water from the main part of the swimming pool.
Remove your pool cover one day per week to allow the water to "breathe". For best results, uncover the swimming pool on your regular scheduled service day.
Periodically check to make sure the water is circulating adequately. Clean or backwash your filter if necessary.
Make sure the pump timer is set to run for at least 4 to 5 hours each day in the winter, and 8 or more hours daily during the summer months.
Some spots of dead algae may remain on your pool walls, even after chemical treatment. Brushing the pool walls with a nylon bristle pool brush will remove dead algae, and help keep live algae from forming. A stainless steel brush should be used when dealing with black algae; it is made for this purpose and works great!!

STAINING - WHY IS IT HAPPENING AND CAN I PREVENT IT?
The mineral content of your water increases every day. This is due to evaporation, which removes only distilled water and leaves the minerals behind. In time, these minerals begin depositing on the walls of the pool and we call this gradual buildup "staining". Unfortunately it is not possible to prevent staining completely. Father Time always wins the battle, things always get old over time.

TOTAL HARDNESS
One of the ways to determine the amount of minerals in your pool is to perform a total hardness test. This test determines the amount of minerals like calcium and magnesium that have built up in your pool. You experience these minerals in other household areas like the crusty build up on you faucets or the water spots on your car. Florida    experiences some of the hardest water conditions in the country. Out of the tap the water is already “hard” because it contains a lot of minerals. Combine that with some of the highest evaporation rates in the country, estimated at 1-2 inches per week in the winter and up to 3-4 inches per week in the summer and you’ll see why we have hard water in our swimming pools and spas.

Hardness makes it necessary for you to drain and refill your swimming pool periodically every 3-5 years to reduce the risk of stains and swimmer irritation. Water exchanges should only be performed during cool winter months (November  through March) and non-drought times.
During the hot summer months, partial draining or long backwash cycles can lead to algae problems due to depletion of important water sanitizers and stabilizing compounds.

STAINING
Minerals like calcium and magnesium leave behind white deposits. You may notice white deposits at your water line but not much when you look at the surface of your pool. Although pools with dark surfaces may occasionally show signs of calcium or magnesium deposits, the real culprit to staining is dissolved metals. Dissolved metals like copper and iron can discolor a swimming pools surface and combine with calcium, magnesium and each other to leave various colorations. With higher hardness, more discolorations can occur.

One way to prevent metals from staining your pools surface between draining is to use a sequestering agent on a regular basis. Sequestering agents keep metals dissolved “in solution” so they have less tendency to deposit on your pools surface.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF SOLAR COVERS?
Solar pool covers can be very effective in warming the pool water, thus extending the swimming season. Covering the pool in the early spring will allow you to use the pool sooner. Covering it again in the early fall will allow the pool to maintain a comfortable temperature longer, thus lengthening the swimming season.

We do not recommend using solar covers during the summer months. Water temperatures in excess of 90 degrees can deplete the chlorine levels and promote algae growth. The intense heat of the summer sun will also dramatically shorten the life of the cover.

Bucks Pools LLC recommends that solar pool covers be removed completely for the entire service day. This allows the swimming pool to “breathe” and the chemicals to be more effective, If a swimming pool is covered when we show up to service the swimming pool, it is our policy to pull back the pool cover approximately four feet from the area where we are to dispense the chemicals. We will leave it uncovered and ask that is keep that way for at least the entire service day.

The disadvantage of a bubble cover is that they can blow off or away in heavy winds. Also, as you remove the cover the dirt either falls into the swimming pool or stays on the cover, meaning you have to spread the cover out and clean the cover as well as the pool. Taking the cover off and putting it back on can be a real chore. Sunlight and chemicals make the plastic brittle, causing the bubbles to collapse and sending little bits of blue plastic into the pool and circulation system. Bubble covers are only good for their thermal properties and should not be expected to last for more than 1-5 years.

Pool Problems Resulting from High Levels of T.D.S
If left untreated, high levels of T.D.S can lead to pool water problems such as:

cloudy pool water
staining of the pool surfaces/dis-colorization of pool walls
scaling/cracking/chipping
hard water
salty taste
algae growth
Irritated skin & eyes
Increased bacteria
Accelerated wear on plaster/pebble tech
Inability of chlorine to disinfect
Needing to run the pump longer in order to combat the above problems

High T.D.S levels can create these problems even if the pool’s chemistry is good. It sometimes creates a situation where the pool will keep developing problems no matter how perfect the water chemistry.
Also depends how often the pool filter is changed too. The only way to treat high levels of dissolved solids is to drain the pool, and start over with fresh water. But over time water does go bad regardless of circumstances and elements. Its Florida Weather.

Despite most pools having a filtration system, most pools need to be drained and refilled on occasion.

Why should I drain my pool?
With differences depending on your climate and how often you maintain your pool, pool industry experts recommend you replace your pool water every 5 to 7 years. As pool water is subject to harsh chemicals, a potentially harsh environment, and biological remains such as dead skin, oils, and hair, pool water can no longer be effectively treated after those 5-7 years.

Pool water that is too old or has been unmaintained can also damage the surface of your pool. Environmental conditions can often lead to hard water, which will eventually leave calcium and mineral deposits that can easily damage pool tiles and grout. Maintaining your pool water is preferable –and cheaper– to repairing damaged pool tiles and finishes.

When should I drain my pool?
As stated in the previous section, most in-ground pools should be completely drained and the water replaced every 5 to 7 years. Exactly how often will depend on your maintenance schedule, how frequently the pool is used, and what kind of environment your pool is in.

*TO REITERATE*: Please do not attempt to drain your pool without significant research beforehand and without definite cause.


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How A Swimming Pool Works
The water in a swimming pool needs to circulate through a filtration system to remove dirt and debris. During normal operation, water flows to the filtration system through the skimmers around perimeter surface of the pool as well as the main drains at the bottom. A minimum 80% of the water should be taken through the skimmers to effectively clean the pool water surface.
Swimming Pool System
The main drains are usually located on the lowest point in the pool, so the entire pool surface slants toward them. Most of the dirt and debris that sinks exits the pool through these drains. To prevent patron's hair or limbs being caught in the plumbing, the Virginia Graeme Baker Act & ASME A122.19.8-2007 Safety Act  that two or more drains are installed to reduce the suction pressure on commercial pools. Anti vortex drains and covers, which divert the flow of water to prevent a dangerous vortex from forming, can also be used. The skimmers draw water the same way as the main drains, but they draw water only from the very top of the pool, skimming the surface particles. Any floating debris (leaves, suntan oil, hair) exits the pool through these skimmers.

Swimming Pool Skimmer
In the system described above, the floating skimmer flap, where the water enters the skimmer, swings in and out to let a very small volume of water in at a time. To catch debris effectively, the goal is to skim just the surface level. *This water level should be maintained at 2"-4" inches above the bottom of the skimmer inlet. Water flows through the skimmer basket, which catches any larger debris such as twigs and leaves, and needs to be cleaned regularly to prevent clogging of the suction line. In addition to the main inlet, the skimmer system can have an optional secondary equalizer line leading to a drain below the surface level. This line keeps the skimmer from drawing air into the pump system if the water level drops below the level of the main inlet.

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