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Swimming Pool Care help & information, questions answers

Truths of Salt-Chlorine pool care, continued from page 1
Ronald Parrs, Basic Author

Scaling is the second significant problem or issue that you need to be aware of. Scaling of pool surfaces, especially at the waterline, heater interior, filter media and most importantly, the ECG itself. Scaling of pool surfaces provides additional nooks & crannies for algae and bacteria to grow. Plus it's not easy to clean or remove.

Heater scaling dramatically reduces heater efficiency thereby driving up your pool heating costs. When a filter is scaled, it also looses efficiency and is a royal pain to clean.

More importantly, we are concerned about scaling of the chlorine generator itself. That cell is one of the most toxic places on planet earth. On one side of the cell plates, the pH is close to ZERO! On the other side, the pH is at the opposite end of the scale, about 14. Scaling is bound to happen. "But I have a self-cleaning generator," you say. Not really; although the polarity reverses, the scale will still build up. There are 3 kinds of scale that will form reducing chlorine generating efficiency: phosphate scale (almost invisible, leaves a dull patina on the cell plates, usually not noticeable), calcium scale (a heavy to heavier white scale), and sulfate scale (gray scale that's VERY difficult to remove).

Where do these scales come from? Phosphate scale is from phosphates. Phosphates come from certain pool chemicals (ironically anti-scaling & anti metal-staining chemicals) and environmental sources such as dead skin cells or "fly over" bird waste (even more concentrated with highly touted "Solar Salt"). Calcium is dissolved in water everywhere! Heck, our bones are largely calcium. If you have a plaster or gunite pool, calcium is in the plaster and grout. Sulfur? From sulfates. Certain pool pH reducing chemicals (granular ph decreaser) contain sodium bi-sulfate.

Better qualities of pool salt contain less contaminants, including heavy metals as mentioned above and more "pure" salt. Even some of the pool salt "additives" contain "high" concentrations of phosphates & sulfates to control staining, scaling & pH (such as BioGuard Mineral Springs, Capo Salt Saver, and other products).

Bottom line, don't simply trust "how good" the water looks or feels; keep a close eye on pool water & mineral balance. And take extra care with acid washing the cell; you will strip the protective coating from the cells in a very short time. With many ECG costing several hundreds of aluminum anchor corroded from pool saltdollars, shortened life due to premature scaling needs to be avoided.

Electrolytic corrosion & staining is difficult to describe as well as prevent, but the effects are soon noticed by every pool owner over time. Think of what happens when you put salt on an icy surface in winter: the ice melts because of the lowering of the water's freezing point, but over time you notice that the surface pits & crumbles.

One of the interesting things that happens when salt is added to the pool water is that the water becomes better able to conduct electricity. It's kind of like putting a fine "chemical wire mesh" in the water. Stray electrical currents "flow" through the water attacking metal surfaces & finishes, including stainless steel.

Stainless steel ladders and rails loose their "shine" and get this patchy black or gray look. Aluminum ladder or slide anchor sockets corrode completely (5 year old anchors next to a salt/chlorine pool). Pitting of aluminum coping on inground vinyl pools. Concrete deck finishes pit & become grainy. Excess salt clinging to pool bio-films on the pool's surfaces will cause staining & scaling of the waterline that will be difficult to remove (as shown above).

Here's a question that some don't want to answer: what about aboveground steel or aluminum pools? The industry is beginning to see significant degradation of pool parts due to corrosive electrolysis - especially in pools that are not properly grounded. It's not a warranty issue, but...

ANY and EVERY salt/chlorine system that is installed needs a good quality zinc or sacrificial anode (or multiple) of some kind within the pool operating system. Additional anodes can be used on lights, inside skimmer baskets, and on railings. These anodes will take the brunt of the electrolysis rather than the pool and equipment.

By the way, there are newer, more pure brands of pool salt and additives are available.

Download a Pool-Salt Facts brochure.

If you still need help, here's how to reach us:

Telephone (during store hours): Shelton  203-377-0100


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