People have pools installed on their property for several reasons; not the least of which are the exercise benefits of a good swim and/or the psychological benefits of retreating to that special space after undergoing the rigours of everyday life.
To achieve optimal results when installing a pool, it is wise to call in professionals. Their experienced eye and expertise in landscape architecture and pool design and construction allows them to visualize the best pool setting for a given property.
A professional can anticipate and deal with potential topographical challenges – such as irrigation issues and advise customers when they are obtaining the proper building permits.
“An average homeowner might not see a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff,” says Dave Cadieux of D&D Pools in Orangeville, a company with over three decades of experience.
A reputable pool company will also offer after-build maintenance services, giving the owner more time to relax and enjoy, and less time dealing with upkeep.
When it comes to the pool experience, Dave points out that it is important that a pool be properly lit. “Lighting can really make or break a project,” he figures. “It really sets the ambience.”
Besides its aesthetic appeal, there is a practical aspect. Proper lighting ensures swimmer safety, especially for those who like to take a dip at night.
When embarking on a pool project, the homeowner has a number of sanitizing options. They could go with a saltwater system to maintain the water quality, an ionizer which requires very little chlorine backup or they can opt for the traditional chlorine route. All systems have their pros and cons.
There are some possible misconceptions that need to be clarified before deciding which system is more desirable. For example, people may be under the impression that saltwater systems replace chlorine entirely.
Saltwater is basically a chlorine system that happens to use less of that chemical. A saltwater pool will have chlorine kept at an automated steady level rather than adding more chlorine, through sticks or tablets, as part of the treatment schedule. Instead, salt is added and a saltwater generator produces hypochlorous acid for sanitation through electrolysis, which is the breakdown of the salt by passing electricity through the saltwater solution.
The name of the system might lead to the perception that going the saltwater route would be akin to bringing ocean conditions to the backyard pool. In fact, the salt content is approximately one-tenth the salinity of ocean water. Swimmers can safely open their eyes underwater, and their skin can feel softer after a swim.
When it comes to initial installation, saltwater systems are usually more expensive and tend to use more electricity to operate afterwards. When problems do arise with saltwater systems, professionals are more often required to fix them. With chlorine, more malfunctions can be remedied by the homeowner using home testing kits and the right application of sanitizer and balancers.
Another option is installing an ionizer. This is a set of copper electrodes that is hooked into the water lines and as the water flows over them the copper kills the bacteria. These greatly reduce the amount of chlorine required in the pool season and the water is fresher. The rods will deplete so there is the cost to replace them every two to three years as there will be with a salt generator.
While maintenance of a pool can be professionally done, the pool owner can also perform many of the procedures and they will not require an exhaustive amount of time and effort.
First there is the need to shock the pool if you have a chlorine system. “Shocking” means raising the chlorine levels for a little while to kill bacteria. One must be careful to avoid over- or under-chlorinating and to prevent damage to oneself, the pool liner, and filter.
Basic pool chemistry is not too complicated. There are three main things to test for:
pH levels: How basic or acidic your water is on a 0 – 14 pH scale. Low pH means acidic (0 – 7), while high pH is basic. The aim is to keep pool water within the neutral zone of 7.4 to 7.6.
Alkalinity: a pH buffer that prevents spikes in acidity or basicity. The ideal range should be 100 – 150 ppm.
Sanitizer: Whether chlorine, bromine, or something else, this is necessary to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. Levels vary depending on what product is being used.
At least once a week, test the water with a good testing kit. Go slowly, follow all directions to the letter, and carefully adjust chemicals according to results. Collect a sample to be analysed at the store where there is higher tech testing equipment that will give an even more accurate picture of the chemical composition in the pool. There is no charge for the testing.
Regardless of how self-sufficient a pool owner is, it is always advisable to work with professionals. If you’re unsure of a fix for your problem, call the store and they can arrange a service.
One not only gets a professional’s expertise, one also gets the pride and integrity. “A large amount of our business comes from referrals and we appreciate that. We take great pride in being a company that can provide full-service, with experienced staff on-site, performing service and in our store” says D&D on its website. “Our best customer is a satisfied one!”
WRITTEN BY: DAN PELTON | RESOURCES & PHOTOS: D&D POOLS & SPAS, ORANGEVILLE