Simple Pool and Spa Repair from Harvey at All Parts Pool and Spa

Tech Tips and Repair how-to for pool and spa owners

Some New Notes on Alkalinity

As a reminder, alkalinity is a measure of the resistance of water to changes in pH. Proper alkalinity buffers the water so that the pH does not drift quickly in and out of its proper range of 7.2 to 7.6. If alkalinity is too high the pH will tend to go up because of the loss of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the air.

Total alkalinity should be between 60 and 180 ppm of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). If chlorine generators (salt pools), calcium hypochlorite, lithium hypochlorite, or sodium hypochlorite are used for sanitizing, the TA should be between 80 and 100 ppm CaCO3 because these agents cause the pH to rise. If sodium Dichlor or Trichlor, chlorine gas, or bromine are used, they cause the pH to lower so CaCO3 should be between 100 to 120 ppm.

After measuring the total alkalinity with a test kit or test strips and adjusting for cyanuric acid (CA) the carbonate alkalinity should be adjusted. Then adjust the pH and sanitizer levels for the balanced pool.


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June 30, 2017 at 8:24 am Comments (0)

You don’t have to go around with green hair looking like the Hulk

You don’t have to go around with green hair looking like the Hulk! There is an answer! And it requires some simple, but diligent maintenance on your part.
It is especially important to have properly balanced water when a pool is heated with a copper or copper alloyed coiled heat exchanger. These are often found in gas pool heaters, but other heaters use them also, so you should always monitor your pH diligently when you have a heated pool. Though any time the pH is too high or low it causes problems for the equipment, too low pH causes the dreaded green hair and also ugly green finger nails.
Gas pool heaters commonly use big copper coils for heat exchangers. The water passes through these heated coils and takes some of the heat back to the pool. Over time this makes your pool toasty. Gas heaters are great because they warm the pool quickly and they can work even when it is very cold outside. But all pool heater coils are very sensitive when it comes to pH.
High pH in your pool water means the water is alkaline; this encourages calcium deposits in your heater, restricting flow and function. A low pH in your pool water means the water is acidic. Acids are great solvents, for example, think of stomach acid, it breaks down our food for us. Cola soda is acidic and it can dissolve a human tooth or strip the paint off of your car. It’s also good for clearing out clogged drains!
Acidic pool water dissolves the pool fixtures, including the gas heater. When acidic water passes through the copper heating coils it takes away more than heat. The acidic water corrodes the metal, taking little bits of copper back to the pool. The small amount of copper in the water usually doesn’t show up when you look at the pool until the problem is very bad. But, these little bits of copper in the water cause fingernails to turn green and hair acquires a lovely shade of green. Blondes are the worst affected, but brunettes and darker hair changes too, it’s just harder to see. This green color can be extremely hard to remove, particularly from blond and dyed hair since the copper binds like hair dye to the hair. It will fade with time but not quick enough for most people.
To ensure you don’t get angry, and nobody will like you when you get angry, make sure the pH in your pool stays between 7.2-7.8, with 7.5 being perfect. Testing your pH on a regular basis and adjusting your chemicals to keep the readings in the proper range is essential. That way, the copper in the heating coils will stay in the heating coils, and not end up on you or anyone using your pool!


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June 29, 2017 at 8:57 am Comments (0)

Pool and Spa pH

Pool and Spa pH

pH indicates if a solution is acidic or basic. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. Pure distilled water has a pH of 7.0 which is neutral. Solutions below 7.0 are considered acidic and those above 7.0 are basic. Swimming water should be kept above 7.0 and never above 7.8. 7.2 to 7.6 is the ideal range. Ideally pH should be checked daily on spas and heavily used pools but in any case it needs to be checked no less than once a week.

Water and other substances in solution break up into positive and negative charged particles called ions. Water (H2O) becomes H+ and OH-. When these are in equal amounts as in pure distilled water the pH is 7.0 or neutral. When you add other substances to the water you become more acid if the substance adds more positive ions and basic if there are more negative ions. The pH does not tell how much acid or base is in the water, but only how much is ionized.

It is important to have accurate pH in swimming water because it effects everything else that is in the water from how well the sanitizer kills bacteria and how long the equipment survives to how the water feels to the bather.

A pH that is too high (above 7.8) causes the formation of scale, ineffectiveness of chlorine and irritation too bathers, A pH that is too low (below 7.0) causes corrosion the loss of chlorine and irritation to bathers.

pH can be raised by the addition of soda ash or sodium bicarbonate and other more complicated substances sold by some pool stores. pH can be lowered with acids such as Muriatic Acid (HCl or hydrochloric acid) or acid salts such as dry acid (sodium bisulfide).

It is importance that you thoroughly read and understand all the directions and cautions that come with any chemicals that you use. Misuse can lead to serious injury. Never adjust the chemicals in a pool or spa while it is being used. All bathers must exit the water while it is adjusted and remain out of the water for the recommended period of time in the instructions.
Under no circumstances should you add water to the chemicals if the instructions call for a dilution to be made. Always add chemicals to water.

When you get your chemicals for adjusting your pool and spa they will tell you how much to add to get the correct pH. Always add large amounts of chemical required in small doses over a period of time. Allow the chemical to circulate through the water and retest before the final addition to minimize over shooting your goal. This may seem like a waste of time but in the long run it will save your time from having to readjust. In the business of adjusting a pool slow and careful pays off.

You will need to lower the pH usually more often than raise it. Most things that go into the water will raise the pH. This includes the sanitizer we add, the wastes (sweat, urine, etc.) from human use and things that wash in from nature (dirt, leaves, etc.). Water in puddles that have been standing for a while will have a pH in the low 8’s.

Once the pH is adjusted you will be ready to go on to sanitation.


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June 28, 2017 at 8:44 am Comments (0)

Pool And Spa TA or Total Alkalinity

Pool And Spa TA or Total Alkalinity

As said before, total alkalinity (TA) tells you how much alkaline substances are in the water. In pool or spa water this should be bicarbonate alkalinity. You want to have the alkalinity in a range of 80 ppm to 120 ppm.

Alkalinity measures the resistance of the water to changes in pH. This is done through the presence of the carbonate family of ions. You need to have enough carbonate ions to stabilize the pool chemicals but not so many that scale forms.

At ideal pool conditions (pH between 7.2 and 7.6) most of the carbonate is in the form of bicarbonate with a small amount of carbonate ions to provide saturation. When total alkalinity is measured by your test kit or test strips it is considered for practical reasons to be equal to the carbonate alkalinity.

If you add sodium carbonate (soda ash) to pool water it will increase the total alkalinity because it will add carbonate ions, but it will cause large variations in pH and it will be more difficult to control the pH. If you use sodium bicarbonate you will also raise the total alkalinity and will not change the pH very much. If you need to add a lot of sodium bicarbonate it should be done at a rate of about 2 pounds of chemical per 12,000 gallons of water every 3-4 days.

1.5 pounds of sodium bicarbonate will raise the total alkalinity about 10 ppm in 10,000 gallons of water. Therefore to increase the total alkalinity of a 25,000 gallon pool 10 ppm you will need
3.75 pounds of sodium bicarbonate. and to raise a 2,200 gallon spa 10 ppm you will need about 1/3 of a pound of sodium bicarbonate.

Raising total alkalinity can be a time consuming process, but once you have gotten it where it needs to be it will usually not change very much with time in a well maintained pool. It is important that you adjust the alkalinity before adjusting the pH since it has a great effect on the pH and how it behaves.

While total alkalinity in general should be between 80 ppm and 120 ppm for pH buffering and carbonate saturation, the lower end is best for spas and the higher end for plaster pools. A TA that is too low will cause etching in plaster pools, metal corrosion, and eye irritation because of an unstable pH. TA that is too high can cause a pool to become cloudy, increase in acid use to adjust the pH and a lose in chlorine efficiency.

Since lowering TA is also a slow process of adding acid slowly to the pool, it is best to bring the pool slowly up to the correct TA. When your TA is adjusted you can now proceed to adjusting your pH to the required 7.2 to 7.6.


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June 27, 2017 at 1:38 pm Comments (0)

How to add chemicals to your pool or spa water

“Dirty” water can be harmful to both our bodies and to our pool/spa equipment. For this reason, your pool/spa must be kept Sanitized and Water Balanced at all times. This means that the water, itself, is neutral – neither highly acidic, nor too alkaline – and free of harmful micro-organisms.
Routine and frequent water testing is meant to accurately indicate which chemicals should be added to the water, at any given time, in order to preserve its integrity in these two ways. For best results, allow the pump/filter to run for one hour before testing pH and sanitization levels; then, add chemicals as needed.
When adding chemicals to your pool or spa, adhere to these guidelines for safety reasons as well as to achieve the best results:
Always wear proper safety gear when handling chemicals: Minimally, these include gloves, safety goggles, and a mask. Chemicals in large concentrations are very harmful to the body and, in some ways, even deadly. Therefore, it’s wise to take safety precautions to protect yourself from potential harm caused by the accidental mishandling of these volatile substances as in the event of spills, cross-contamination, or contact with your skin.
Add the right chemical(s) for the right reason(s) at the right time: The arbitrary use of chemicals is both wasteful and potentially harmful to people and the environment. So, don’t just “toss in” some chlorine whenever you “feel” like the pool needs it, for example.
Generally speaking, Sanitation and pH Levels must be tested/maintained daily for high use pool/spas, or weekly if infrequently used; and Oxidation is necessary after every pool/spa use. Minor irritations to the skin and eyes, or residue on the side of pool/spa, are common signs of improper Sanitation and/or pH Levels. So, if one resolves these issues accordingly, ancillary treatments with Clarifiers, Defoamers, Pipe Cleaners, Enzymes, and the like, will seldom be necessary.
If ever an obvious health issue or equipment problem arises that’s serious, however – such as contamination by fecal matter, visible algae, or hard water deposits on surface areas, for example – it’s vitally important to immediately use remedial treatment methods to resolve the probem.
(If you’re not sure What Chemicals to Add and When, read the Ezine Article by the same title; this one just meant to explain “How”.)
Follow precisely all label instructions: 1) measure the chemical accurately; and 2) use only the exact quantities specified based on the outcome you’re trying to achieve.
Always add chemicals directly to water, never the opposite: Generally, manufacturers insist that chemicals be applied directly to the pool or spa, upon the surface of the water, thereby instantly diluting and distributing the chemicals throughout the unit by water flow. Sometimes the use of a suitable feeder is recommended, but not required. Never prepare the chemical solution in the feeder, itself. Using a separate, clean, and oversized container, add the chemical to a sampling of pool/spa water – stirring constantly until the chemical is dissolved – before pouring the completed mixture into the feeder.
Always add chemicals to the water with the circulation ON (pool/spa) and the air OFF (spa).
Never mix chemicals together unless specifically stated to do so in the manufacturer’s directions: This can cause harmful chemical reactions resulting in the release of toxic fumes, fire, or even an explosion! For this reason, you should also make every effort to prevent the unintentional cross-contamination of chemicals by using the same clean, dry scoops and containers every time, and for each separate application.
Never put a sanitizing solution, for example, in a feeder previously used for an erosion chemical; or mix a pool chemical in a lawn fertilizer container. These are just a few examples of cross-contamination that could have very damaging effects.
Immediately clean up any chemical spills, and properly dispose of chemical containers: If the spilled chemical is a solid, sweep up the mess and dilute the chemical in water before “disposing” of it in the hot tub or pool. (Then, test and balance the water after the chemical has had time to dissipate.) Contact the manufacturer, the local fire department, or the EPA for directions on how to properly dispose of solid chemicals in amounts which are much too large to safely add to the pool or spa water. DO NOT CLEAN UP SOLID CHEMICALS WITH A VACUUM, NOR DISPOSE OF THE IT IN CONTAINERS WITH PAPER, RAGS, OR OTHER COMBUSTIBLE SUBSTANCES, NOR FLUSH DOWN THE DRAIN OR TOILET.
Soak up liquid chemical spills with absorbent materials and place them in a plastic-lined container for disposal at a local facility that accepts toxic waste. Spray the affected area with large amounts of water to wash away any remaining chemicals in the area.
This article merely informs you of the proper methods for adding chemicals to your pool, or spa. Refer to other articles for the Five Factors Contributing to Water Balance, for example, and related topics.


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June 26, 2017 at 6:33 pm Comments (0)

calculating water capacity of your pool or spa by volume or fill time


Hey, no need to be embarrassed if you’ve forgotten all those mathematical equations from your high school days. After all, most of us don’t use them every day, anyway.
For pool and spa owners, however, some geometry and conversion rates are necessary to know in order to properly perform basic maintenance tasks.
For example, to regulate the chemical balance of the water, or control the temperature, you must first know the water capacity of your pool or spa; and in order to know that, you must first figure out the VOLUME of your pool or spa, measured in cubic feet. Then, this number is simply converted to gallons in order to express the unit’s water capacity.
So, here are the necessary math formulas for Calculating the Volume of your pool or spa:
1) If the pool or spa is rectangular or square, measure in feet its Length, Width, and Depth; then
2) If the pool or spa is a circle, measure in feet its Diameter (from one side to the other); then
(Did you remember that the Radius is half the Diameter?)
3) For pools or spas which are shaped like an oval, measure in feet both Diameters; then
Now, simply change “cubic feet” to “gallons” to determine the Water Capacity of your pool or spa by multiplying the above answer by 7.48 as the conversion rate below indicates. For example, a pool that has a Volume of 10,000 cubic feet would have a Water Capacity of 70,480 gallons since 10,000 X 7.48 = 70,480.
One (1) Cubic Foot of Water = 7.48 Gallons
One (1) Gallon of Water = 0.134 Cubic Feet
Now, this measurement isn’t going to be exact since most pools and spas have sloping floors and walls. So, for a much more accurate measurement, determine the Water Capacity by Fill Time, when your pool or spa happens to be empty.
Use a stopwatch to time how long it takes to fill your pool or spa; then, using the same hose and water pressure, time how long it takes to fill a five-gallon bucket, as well. Simply compare the two measurements to create a useable conversion rate from buckets to gallons, and you’ll have your answer.
In other words, if the bucket takes 30 seconds to fill and your spa takes 30 minutes (1,800 seconds) to fill, then you could conceivably fill 60 five-gallon buckets in the same amount of time it takes to fill your whole spa, right? (1,800 seconds ÷ 30 seconds = 60 five-gallon buckets) Therefore, the water capacity of your spa is 300 gallons because 60 total buckets X 5 gallons per bucket = 300 total gallons.
In the same way, if the 5-gallon bucket took 30 seconds to fill and your pool took 10 hours (36,000 seconds) to fill, then the water capacity of your pool would be 6,000 gallons.
So, it’s not even necessary to remember all those geometry formulas from high school in order to calculate the water capacity of your pool or spa. I just wanted to include them in this article so that now you may actually be able to help your kids with their math homework.


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June 23, 2017 at 9:12 pm Comments (0)

Salt pool ? don’t forget your basics


Many people think that a “salt” pool means that all you need to do is add salt, turn on the generator and be done. While it is true that using a generator to make sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) means that you do not have to store large quantities of dangerous chemicals, it does not absolve you insuring that the chemicals in your pool are balance and thus safe for the use of your family and friends.
To be safe for use, salt pools need to be balanced the same as every other pool. Your generator makes your sanitizer from salt. You will need to check the level of the sanitizer in your pool to make sure that you have enough to provide sanitation. You need to make sure that your pH in the pool is correct. If it is not in the correct near neutral range your bathers will not be comfortable. And when it gets too far in either direction it will be detrimental to your pool equipment and shorten the life of your pool and cost you money in repairs.
No matter what kind of pool you have or how you get sanitizer into your water you need to have a good test kit and use it regularly to test and adjust your water chemistry following recommended guide lines. Adjust your total alkalinity and then your pH. Follow by checking your sanitizer level. Regularly check calcium hardness and total dissolved solids.
Enjoy your salt pool, but don’t forget the basics.


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June 22, 2017 at 9:11 pm Comments (0)

How Long It Will Take to Heat Your Hot Tub A PDQ Explanation of BTU

How Long It Will Take to Heat Your Hot Tub A PDQ Explanation of BTU

Reference: HotTub Technician Manual, Pages 8-2,8-3;
BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is an English measurement of heat used worldwide to determine how much energy is being produced. BTU measurements have a variety of applications, including the determination of fuel efficiency in cars and the rate at which coal burns, for example. Pertaining to hot tubs, BTU is the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of one pound of water, one degree Fahrenheit, in one hour.
In order to determine how long it will take to heat your hot tub, you simply need to know the total amount of energy your spa heater puts out, measured in BTUs not watts; plus, the total volume of water in your spa measured in pounds, not gallons.
1) 1kW = 3,413 BTU; This is the CONVERSION RATE between heater wattage and British Thermal Units.
(So a hot tub with a 5.5 kW heater contains 18,771 BTU because 5.5 X 3,413 = 18,771.)
2) Volume = Length X Width X Depth; 1 Gallon = 8.33 lbs.
(So a hot tub, measuring 10’ long, 10’ wide, and 4’ deep, contains 400 gallons of water, OR 3,332 pounds of water, because 10 X 10 X 4 = 400 AND 400 X 8.33 = 3,332.)
3) TOTAL BTU ÷ TOTAL POUNDS of Water = Degrees of Heat per Hour
(Simply dividing the TOTAL BTU by the TOTAL POUNDS of water will determine how much of a temperature increase you can expect to receive per hour in your hot tub.)
Using a common 400 gallon hot tub with a 5.5 kW heater as an example, the water temperature would increase 5.6⁰ F per hour.
18,771 BTU ÷ 3,332 lbs. = 5.6
Almost all hot tubs manufactured today in the U.S. utilize Electric Immersion Element heaters, sized in terms wattage and expressed in kilowatts for compatibility purposes with users of the metric system in all other parts of the world. As such, a standard 5.5kW heating element (by American measurement standards) may be expressed interchangeably as a 5500W heater; a 1500W heater is also the same as a 1.5 kW element. For this reason, you may need to convert watts to kilowatts before even starting the above calculations, depending upon how your hot tub heater is sized. (1 kilowatt = 1,000 watts)
EIE heaters are one-hundred percent (100%) efficient in transferring their energy to the water as it flows over the heating elements. (Sure, some heat is going to be absorbed into the heater case or lost through pipes, but the loss is too minimal to notice.) So, you’ll find this formula to be consistently reliable in determining heat increase per hour if your hot tub has an EIE heater.
This same math formula should be used regardless of the type of heating unit your spa has, but the actual results may vary simply because other hot tub heating systems (i.e. gas, solar) are not as efficient as an EIE.
If your hot tub has an EIE heater and the water temperature is NOT increasing as fast as it should, some simple Repairs or a larger Heater may be necessary.

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June 21, 2017 at 3:26 pm Comments (0)

Pool and spa know how five factors contributing to water balance


Water Balance is directly related to the life-expectancy of your pool/spa. We sanitize pools and spas in order to prevent bacteria from developing in the water. Otherwise, these invisible bacteria are likely to enter our bodies and get into our bloodstream, causing a harmful disease. For similar reasons, it’s necessary to maintain Water Balance in our pools/spas. A neutral water composition in pool/spas – neither too acidic, nor too alkaline – is necessary in order to prevent the predominance of any one element (like calcium, for example) from developing in the water which, over a period of time, would eventually cause damage to the equipment.
Water quality depends on its source, location, and use. A pool filled with water from a well is going to have a much different composition than one in town that is supplied by a water treatment facility. The hot tub owner living in a forest somewhere is going to be concerned about debris falling into his water, whereas the owner in Los Angeles is going to have to deal with an excessive amount of pesticides as contaminates in her water. The more one uses his pool/spa, the more one must consider the effects of bodily waste on water composition, as well as how certain water elements affect our bodies. Of course, every pool/spa owner is familiar with how the chemicals used to sanitize the water, and oxidize bodily waste, causes the water to become imbalanced. So, the amount of time and effort needed to maintain good Water Balance is going to be different for everyone based on these varying influences.
However, regardless of these varying external influences, the way to achieve Water Balance is always the same.
1) pH, “potential hydrogen” is a measurement of the acid/base condition of the water. The pH Scale is 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. Less than 7.0 is acidic; greater than 7.0is alkaline. The acceptable range for pool/hot tub water is from 7.2 to 7.8.
Below 7.2 the water becomes too “active” with hydrogen (acidic), causing damage to vinyl and plastic pool toys, for example, as well as to internal pipes and equipment. Low pH can also cause eye and skin irritation, like itchiness. Add Soda Ash to neutralize the water in the event of low pH Levels.
Above 7.8 the water is too “inactive”, whereby it becomes cloudy from contamination and calcium scales start forming on surfaces because there’s not enough movement from hydrogen ions to alleviate these influences. Add muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate to neutralize the water when pH Levels get too high.
2) TA, or Total Alkalinity, is a representation of the water’s ability to resist a change to its pH Levels. In other words, adequate TA will reduce the amount of pH adjustments needed in your pool/spa water. Your pool/spa water must have good TA Levels, or it’ll never be able to neutralize, or balance, in the first place.

Test the TA of the water when the pool/spa is newly filled for a true reading, and adjust accordingly. Total alkalinity is determined by measuring the amount of calcium carbonate in the water. The ideal TA for pool/spa water is 80-120 ppm; minimally 60 ppm and maximally 180 ppm. So, adjust TA before testing pH Levels because you may first need to add sodium bicarbonate to the water in order to build up enough TA to keep the pH in its proper range. To reduce high TA, add sodium bisulfate (dry acid) or muriatic acid, whereby the acids will react with the excessive bicarbonates in the water to lower TA.
In fact, TA is so closely related to pH Levels that – even with water that’s been chemically treated with sanitizers and oxidizers – first testing/returning the TA to its ideal range will almost always cause pH Levels to normalizel. However, the proper TA range for pool/spa water that’s been treated will naturally be higher since sanitizing agents are acidic, themselves. 80-100 ppm TA is recommended for pool/spas using chloride sanitizers; 100-120 ppm TA is recommended for pool/spas using dichlor, trichlor and bromine sanitizers.
3) Calcium Hardness naturally ranges from 100-800 ppm in water. It’s a common mineral found in water but, unlike others, you can actually “feel” and “see” it in the water. Low levels of calcium cause the water to feel slippery or “soft” and, without its presence to act as a buffer, the acids in the water become corrosive to surfaces and equipment. Whereas water that is oversaturated with calcium will feel “hard”, and calcium deposits will accumulate on pool/spa surfaces. One of the primary functions of Water Balance is to control calcium hardness, therefore. Excessive minerals in the water are to pool/spa equipment what bacteria is to the human body – damaging!
In order to maintain non-destructive levels of calcium hardness – between 150-250 ppm for pool/spas – the pH, TA, and Water Temperature all function together to dissolve minerals in the water. Add calcium chloride if the water becomes too soft; and partially drain the unit when the water is too hard, refilling it with water of a lower calcium hardness.
4) Temperature While high water temperatures are effective in dissolving calcium minerals in water which is beneficial, temperatures that are too high cause chemicals to evaporate, negatively effecting pH Levels, which is not good. So, for calcium, chemical, and safety reasons, it’s best to keep the water temperature less than 104⁰ Farenheit.
5) Total Dissolved Solids is a measurement of everything in the water – live/killed micro-organisms, body waste, chemicals, minerals/metals, and debris. If any one of these solids becomes too dominant in the pool/spa water, there’s a specific way to resolve the problem. Bodily waste is oxidized, for example, sanitizers kill bacteria in the water. However, these treatments only dissolve the solids in the water; they can’t actually be eliminated.
So, there will naturally come a point (about every 3 months for spas, and once a year for pools) when the amount of TDS in the water becomes too concentrated for any treatment to be effective. The only way to reduce excessive TDS is to drain/replace the water. Knowing this, it’s best to plan routine times of water drainage as part of the normal pool/spa maintenance requirements.
TDS should ideally remain between 1000 and 2000 ppm, never exceeding 3000 ppm. For this reason, never let the TDS get 1500 ppm higher than the original TDS measurement of the water when the pool/spa was first filled.
By consistently monitoring these five factors with a Test Kit and adjusting the water accordingly, a balanced composition will be effectively maintained and the “life” of your pool/spa is certain to be prolonged, providing you with a lifetime of enjoyment.


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June 20, 2017 at 8:12 pm Comments (0)