Tips for Keeping a Sparkling-clean Aquatics Facility
All pools are different, and so are their cleaning and maintenance needs. However, one common theme that remains among them all is the need for regular and routine care. Here are a few basic steps that should be followed to ensure a sparkling-clean aquatic facility.
One of those steps, which is required several times a day, involves testing the levels of various chemicals in your pools’ water. “We do chemical checks seven times a day to ensure safe chemical levels,” explained Erin Daley, the aquatics program manager at The Works Family Health and Fitness Center in Somersworth, New Hampshire.
Many local governments employ agents to randomly stop by all aquatic sites unannounced, to not only check the required logs of such daily or hourly testing, but also to do a sampling themselves. If they do stop by and the logs are incomplete or the tests failed, they often have the authority to close down any pool services instantaneously, until the issue is resolved.
What exactly are they looking for? The correct pH level (an indicator of the acidity or alkalinity of your pool) is at the top of the list.
While some homeowners may find testing strip kits to be adequate, most laws require businesses to use a reagent kit instead. These kits come with tubes that you fill with water straight from the pool. You then add liquid or tablets to the sample, which will change color, indicating the sample’s chemical balance. You can match these colors to a given chart and gauge any actions that may need to be taken. In many cases, these levels are required to be recorded in a designated binder.
Other organic contaminants like ammonia or nitrogen build up in a pool over time. When these chemicals add up, they can interact with chlorine and form chloramines, which are what give off that poignant “chlorine smell.” To counter this potent odor, pool owners can super-chlorinate or “shock” the pool’s water. Adding a large amount of chlorine to a pool can make the undesired odor disappear, even though it may seem counter-productive. Some pools should be shocked once a week, while others can go longer.
“Chlorine levels and controlling air quality in the pool areas used to be a challenge for us,” said Daley. “We installed a UV system on two pools that has cut back on the amount of chemicals we need to use and improved our quality control of the water.”
Depending on the gallons and average usage of the pool, using a pool vacuum and manually brushing or scraping the walls is a necessity that should be done every few days — at minimum once a week. Scraping the walls with a brush that has stiff bristles is ideal, because it helps remove algae growth and calcium deposits. Be careful with some hard-bristle brushes though — different pool wall surfaces require different bristles so as to not scratch the actual surface.
There are several different types of pool filters, and it is important to know which kind of filtration system you have in order to determine how often the filter should be changed or cleaned. It can be detrimental to change pool filters too often, as it hinders the filtration process.
If you can’t keep up on all that is required of pool maintenance and cleaning, consider partnering with an outside company. “We have a strong maintenance and environmental services department, which helps with the big things,” said Samantha Merchant, the fitness director at The Works. “We clean our own pools and prep them for the seasons. We do have a company we work with to assist us a few times a year for the season, but we do the majority of the labor.”