Water Chemistry – Importance and Issues
At Leisure we receive calls every day on “What do I do”? So what is calcium and how can it effect my pool? Often these are calls and issues not associated with equipment or options but more simply proper balance and water chemistry. More and more builders are opting out of the service and retail side of our industry. We often do a great job of selling and explaining all of the “add-ons” but can sometimes not focus as highly on day to day care.
As we know, there are several basic parts of water chemistry….. Sanitation, PH, Alkalinity, Calcium and Stabilizers. What we often don’t discuss is what can happen if these basic parts are ignored. Surface whitening is the fastest growing call we receive. This issue is NOT a warranty issue and more alarming because of the simplicity of prevention.
What is Pool Surface Whitening?
The whitening is due to calcium leeching from the pool water and clinging to the side walls, steps and floor of the pool. It can be seen as a streak or solid area and is especially noticeable when the water level is lowered and the calcium dries.
Why does it happen?
Calcium naturally occurs in water. Different areas of the country have naturally higher and lower levels of calcium in the water. The higher the calcium concentration in the water, the more prone the pool is to calcium leeching. When the PH is maintained between 7.2 and 7.4 the calcium is balanced in the water. When the PH rises above 7.4, calcium begins to leech out of the water and cling to the pool surface. The higher the PH is allowed to go, the more pronounced the calcification will become. Obviously the problem occurs more often in areas with higher natural concentration of calcium in the water (also known as hard water)
How do I treat it?
If the problem is treated and corrected in early stages, say 1 to 3 months, the calcium can be treated with a chemical solution. First the PH must be lowered to 6.5. Then treat the pool with muriatic acid and or calcium treatments available at your local pool supply store. If the pool is equipped with a heater, heat pump, etc. a bypass should be installed and isolate the unit/units during this treatment as to not damage the exchangers. Any other items that may be damaged from extended a low PH environment should also be removed or isolated. Once the problem is controlled, restore the PH to 7.2 to 7.4 and be sure to maintain it at these levels so the problem does not re-appear.
What if I do nothing?
If the pool is maintained with very high PH over a period of time, longer than 3 months then the problem can turn severe. The calcium begins to combine with the pool chlorine producing a chemical salt known as Calcium Chloride. This salt attaches itself to the pool surface and causes the surface to appear significantly lighter especially when dehydrated. In advanced cases the calcium chloride is so bad that the pool even when hydrated (full of water) it still shows the whitening.
**In some cases if severe you will need to treat in a different manner. If advanced Calcium Chloride is suspected, you need to contact the factory immediately.**
How about a step farther?
The final page of the maintenance manual is an acknowledgement that the homeowner can sign. Having this signature on file for future use is always a safe bet!
Article By: Bonnie Forsyth
National Customer Service Manager – Leisure Pools® USA