Guest Blog by Brent Bailey with A+ Pool Leak Detectives
The 2 Biggest Mistakes Homeowners Make With Their Pools - (Side Note: Please don’t blame your Pool Tech for the following issues. They are not trained to find and fix leaks and most likely won’t know about this until you tell them.)
As a Swimming Pool Leak Detector (I find and fix leaks in pools), many different situations occur where homeowners are experiencing problems with their pool. As a rule of thumb, half the pools I see have only one leak to be fixed and the other half have chronic problems with their system.
Unfortunately, the chronic problems are often self-inflicted wounds and could have easily been prevented, if they only knew what I’m about to share with you now.
Following are the 2 biggest mistakes I see homeowners make with their pool systems that cause chronic problems.
1. Adding Chlorine Tabs To The Skimmer -
Putting chlorine tabs in your skimmer is the most dangerous place to add chlorine to your pool system. Once the problems start, keep your wallet and a bottle of Advil handy. Month after month, you’ll need both.
What makes your pool equipment run smoothly and efficiently are all the little rubber o-rings, gaskets, and seals littered throughout your equipment. Even the most basic systems of just a pump, filter and chlorinator will have at least 10. More sophisticated systems with several pumps and Jandy valves will have as many as 60 rubber parts in them.
The key to making these little rubber guys work for you is by keeping them moist and lubricated, to help keep water in or keep water out.
Because chlorine is a corrosive chemical, introducing it right before it goes through the equipment (skimmer), will prematurely dry out and corrode all of these rubber pieces, causing them to fail, one by one. When just one of these little guys fails, you’ll develop a water leak, or an air leak, or something goes wonky in the equipment. After a few months of new breakdowns happening, you may begin to feel like you’re playing ‘Whack a Mole’ with your equipment, but you did it to yourself and may want to try a different approach.
The safe place to add chlorine to your pool the Chlorinator at your equipment, and you probably already have one installed. This simple device is strategically placed as the very last thing happening to the water before it goes back to the pool, which is where you want the chlorine - in the pool, not the equipment. When the pump is off, you can unscrew the top cap, drop in 2-4 chlorine tabs, screw it back on, and your work is done.
All you’ve done is switch the location of where chlorine is added to your system, ensuring the equipment gets diluted chlorine - not concentrated - but goes a long way in preventing unnecessary headaches in your life. Bye, bye Advil.
2. Using an Auto-fill Device -
The pools I see with the most problems - 10, 20 or 30 leaks, are the people who use their Auto-fill device instead of filling the pool themselves.
What’s an Auto-fill device? To account for evaporation, this is an easy, automatic way to fill the pool when water is needed.
As all pool systems will eventually develop a leak, the Auto-fill device has a way of masking the symptoms of a leak - or 30 leaks - until it becomes a big, expensive issue for you.
Example: Your pool somehow develops a leak which takes water away, but the Auto-fill device automatically adds water, so you never notice a change in the water level. That 1st leak causes the 2nd leak, which causes the 3rd, 4th, 5th and so on, until one day the Auto-fill breaks and your pool drops 6” in a day”. Alarmed, you call a Leak Detector and describe the situation, saying you have a leak when they’re really thinking - “No, you have 10 leaks”.
Chances are good, it will take a day or more to find and fix all the leaks and will cost at least $1000+ to get you back to leak-free status. Not fun.
A Simple Way To Be A Smart Pool Owner -
You (or a designated person) be the one to fill the pool when it needs water, not your Pool Tech.
To account for normal evaporation, you should have to put the garden hose in your pool once every 7-12 days.
If the same person does it every time, when the pattern of filling the pool drops to every 4-6 days, they will be able to quickly recognize something is wrong with your system, and problems get solved at much less expense and trouble.
Evaporation Explained - Believe it or not, evaporation is happening all the time, you just can’t see it. It’s really a combination of the air temperature, water temperature, humidity, but mainly if there is a breeze or not that day.
Here’s a picture of Big Stacy pool on a cold day this last December. See the almost ‘steam’ rising from the surface? Sure, some of it is from the heated pool, but most of it is about halfway through the cycle of evaporation.
Of the zillions of molecules in the water, these molecules have risen above the surface to form a protective layer over the water, to prevent other molecules from going into evaporation. But if a breeze comes along and blows these molecules off the surface, the cycle of evaporation starts again. This is why a windy day will cause more evaporation than normal.
Knowing this will help you decide when something is wonky with your pool or just when it’s a weather issue. I hope this information has helped you. Changing a few simple habits with your pool will quickly make you one of the smarter pool owners on your street and you won’t need to call a Leak Detector, like me, as much as your neighbors. Good luck!