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Friday, 07 November 2014 00:39

Modern Marvels

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Modern Marvels

While a pool is a great investment to enjoy with your family, pool maintenance can often seem time consuming and a little daunting. Thankfully, pool technology has come a long way in recent years. Here, Alexandra Brocklehurst discusses the changes in pool technology with a pool maintenance expert.

In order to ensure you have a safe and healthy pool to enjoy year-round, continual pool water management is required. In the old days, this might have meant pouring a cup of chlorine into the water every day, checking the pH levels and cleaning out general debris. However, pool technology and pool management systems have progressed in leaps and bounds, making pool management a lot less time-consuming and more cost-effective.

Pool Controls has been in the business for more than 20 years, and director Liz Hollingdale is able to share some insights into the way technology has changed and how life is made a lot simpler for modern pool owners.

Take Control

The most important element when managing your pool is maintaining a safe and comfortable water balance. Since Pool Controls was established in 1980, the company has been providing innovative solutions for pool water management.

“There have been considerable advances in the use of various technologies to help pool owners manage their pool more efficiently,” says Hollingdale.

From simple digital timers to advanced automated dosing systems and new chlorinefree alternatives, pool management has never been easier, or safer, for your family.

In the past, in order to accurately test pool water chemistry, pool owners had to find time to take samples to their local pool shop to be analysed. “Good advice can be surprisingly difficult to come by, and if a pool is never correctly balanced, it is almost impossible to maintain,” Hollingdale says.

“Pool owners rapidly become disillusioned at the amount of money they are advised they have to spend on chemicals.”

Fortunately, there are now products on offer that analyse pool water chemistry and are able to dose the pool much more accurately.

The Right Dose

Despite the introduction of modern, automated dosing systems, many people continue to hand dose their pools. Hollingdale says this is often not only time-consuming, but also inefficient, because pools can easily become under or overdosed using this method. This can be hazardous to those using the pool, as well as those doing the dosing if they do not take safety measures, such as wearing protective clothing.

Hollingdale says that while most people can see the sense in this, it can all seem too hard at times for pool owners to take the necessary precautions when hand dosing, which runs the risk of harm or injury.

“Overdosing can easily occur when pool owners are trying to restore balance to a poorly maintained pool. This can exacerbate the problem and in certain cases can be extremely hazardous to bathers and possibly the fabric of the pool itself,” warns Hollingdale.
For example, if an owner tries to overcompensate and adds too much acid to the pool, the pH level will drop too low and may risk damaging the plaster on the interior.

Hollingdale says that over-chlorination is also a common problem when hand dosing is done incorrectly, as it can bleach pool blankets and even fibreglass pool shells over time.

In order to avoid over-chlorination and other dosing problems, new technology is now available to pool owners to make pool management more efficient. Hollingdale says that Pool Controls now has technology available that analyses key aspects of pool water chemistry and is able to respond by accurately dosing the pool as required.

While in earlier years this technology was restricted to chemical feeder type units, you can now control a salt or mineral salt chlorinator in the same way.

“In other words, a control unit analyses the level of sanitiser in the water and activates the salt water chlorinator as required – rather than having it run for a set period each day, whether needed or not,” says Hollingdale.

It is innovative products like this that allow Pool Controls to help pool owners save energy and put an end to over-chlorination.

What A Gem

Pool Controls’ Gemini Twin System is a controlled salt water chlorinator that helps eliminate the problem of over-chlorination and make pool maintenance easier for today’s pool owners.

Hollingdale says that while many people prefer salt water systems for their pools, they can often forget to turn the system down or off in winter, when chlorine demand is a lot lower. This will result in over-chlorination, especially if the pool has a cover over it throughout the colder months.

“The Gemini Twin System puts an end to this, because if there is sufficient chlorine in the pool (as tested by the Gemini’s probe) it will simply not turn the chlorinator on,” she explains.

Not only will this prevent chlorine build up over time, it will also eliminate unnecessary dosing and save energy in the process. Understanding that nowadays people are so often time-poor, the Gemini Twin System helps pool owners avoid worrying about when to turn their chlorination system on or off.

Chlorine-Free Chemistry

For those who are sensitive to chemicals, Pool Controls’ sanitation systems are beneficial in the way they maintain the correct pool balance. Hollingdale says that chlorine has a distinctive smell, and many believe that it exacerbates skin and respiratory sensitivities like asthma and eczema.

The Aqua Fresh dosing system provides a chlorine-free alternative for pool owners that may be sensitive to chlorine, or simply want to try something different that won’t have that recognisable chlorinated odour. Pool Controls’ Aqua Fresh system uses PHMB as an active ingredient for sanitation, which is commonly used as a disinfectant in pharmaceuticals.

“The chemicals used are completely different from chlorine, and in fact, are incompatible with chlorine,” says Hollingdale.

While the system has been available for many years in both Australia and the US, Pool Controls is the first manufacturer to introduce an automatic dosing unit to pool owners.

“Small amounts of a [PHMB] sanitiser and a separate algaecide are fed into the pool at specific intervals,” explains Hollingdale. In addition, a probe also monitors the pH of the water and doses the pool with small amounts of acid as required to keep the pool well-balanced and perfectly sanitised.

This new pool technology also helps pool owners achieve astounding water clarity with minimal fuss. This is because the Aqua Fresh dosing system’s active ingredient is also a type of flocculant (or clarifying agent).

Whether you’re building a new swimming pool, or renovating your existing pool, the Aqua Fresh dosing system can be easily fitted. “Although it is vital to pre-treat the pool water to remove any residual chlorine [on an existing pool], installation is relatively simple,” says Hollingdale.

Squeaky Clean

As pool technologies have developed, salt water systems have become a more popular choice for modern pool owners. Salt water is often considered a gentler alternative, though according to Hollingdale, many people forget that a salt water system is still utilising chlorine as a sanitiser. The chlorine gas, which is produced after a sodium chlorine salt solution is passed over an electrolytic cell, works to sanitise the pool, then reverts to salt in solution.

“A key advantage of a salt water chlorinator is that pool owners do not need to handle drums of liquid chlorine,” Hollingdale says.

“[Another] big issue in recent years has been the prevalence of phosphates in pool water. These enter the pool [most often] from garden fertilisers,” Hollingdale says.

This becomes an issue because algae love phosphates, so your pool could turn green in the space of a single afternoon. For pool owners who might be unsure of how to test for phosphates or how to remove them from the water, there are now chemicals available, most commonly known as Starver, which help to kill and remove algae quickly.

Environmental Consciousness

Pool owners are now, more than ever, conscious about energy consumption levels in their homes as well as their pool and outdoor areas. With this, there is an increased awareness that chemicals need to be used more efficiently to lessen the use of anything that might be harmful.

Over the last 20 years, Hollingdale has seen various new technologies become available, such as the reverse polarity ‘self-cleaning’ cells in salt chlorinators, which help pool owners reduce daily energy consumption through more environmentallyconscious pool maintenance systems.

“[Pool Controls understands that] many of us are time-poor and without assistance from a bit of automation, it is very easy to forget to test and treat your pool,” Hollingdale says.

With years of experience to call upon, Hollingdale says that prevention is definitely better than a cure when it comes to the most efficient and cost-effective way to manage your pool.

Whether you are an existing or prospective pool owner, speaking to an industry expert will ensure your pool will be safe and healthy with minimal effort, allowing you more time to enjoy it.

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