Beware of Swim Diaper Clad Babies in the Pool

August 2, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Posted in Summertime | 1 Comment
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My pool and spa business serviced an account that taught babies how to swim.  But try as we might, the water in his above ground swimming pool was a nightmare.  Why?  Here’s the math:

10 Babies in 10 Swim Diapers = A Sanitary Nightmare

Oh yeah, the owner, a retired hippy (so am I, so that’s okay)  requested minimal amounts of chlorine to treat this baby-diaper bacteria fest.

Yes, swim diapers help slow down the release of disease-causing germs, but only for a short time.  In fact, the common cause of a recreational water illness (RWI) is cryptosporidium (crypto). You don’t want it visiting your innards, especially if you are a little kid, or pregnant, or have a weakened immune system.

Crypto is the single largest threat to pool users.  Where does it come from? D-I-A-R-R-H-E-A.   (Just another reason why you will never catch me in a public swimming pool—even if climate change gives summer  3 months of 3-digit heat.)

One would hope that if one is suffering from such a poopy circumstance, that one would have the common sense to stay out of a swimming pool.  One would hope.  Babies, on the other hand, are just kind of a runny mess anyway, if you get my drift.

Here’s the dope:  Researchers measured the amount of microsphere that released from swim diapers worn by children.  The microspheres were plastic particles that have a similar size 9five microns) to that of crypto.  Normal swim trunks, common disposable diapers and reusable diapers with and without vinyl diaper covers were tested.  Swimming trunks without a swim diaper of any kind had the poorest performance; almost 90% of the microspheres were released into the water within one minute. YUCKY.

Swim diapers released at least 50% of the microspheres within one minute. Placement of a vinyl diaper cover over a disposable swim diaper slightly improved performance.  But, in all cases, 25% or more of the microspheres were detected in the water within two minutes.

Here’s the kicker:  “When a fecal accident contains about a billion disease-causing crypto oocysts, hundreds of millions of oocysts get into the water within minutes.  The retention of diarrhea in swim diapers is very short-lived.  Swimmers only need to ingest about 10 crypto oocysts to become infected,” said Dr. James Amburgey, one of the researchers from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

BTW, crypto can’t be seen by the naked eye and it’s “highly” resistant to chlorine.

(Thanks to a back issue of The IPSSAN for this story.)

Clean Spa Filters Instead Of Replacing Spa Heater

November 14, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Posted in Spa Filter Replacement | Leave a comment
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Your spa’s been heating up perfectly, well–it was actually kind of slow on the heating giddy-up.

But today that heater is as dead as finding a call center job in America.  So you call your local pool/spa dude.  “My heater’s out and I’ve got company coming in for the holidays. HELP!!!”

Accommodating your expert analysis of a heater gone bad (driven by your partner’s frantic screams of “That spa has to work before my picky-ass cousin arrives here next week—or else!!!!),  you shell out anywhere from $100 to $350 for a new heater, and that doesn’t include two-hours labor of about another $150. 

When picky-ass (PA) cousin arrives, he states, “I hope the hot tub’s ready because my back is killing me after that long ride out here.”   You assure PA the tub is ready and hand him your best beach towel and bid him a less-than fond farewell as he marches out to the tub.  You grab a beer ready for a break from PA,  and something from your worst nightmare shrieks, “This tub’s as cold as the Arctic Seas used to be!”

You were rushed to get everything perfect before the company arrived and you probably didn’t have time to check your spa’s filters.  And if I asked you, “When did you last check your filters?”  an uncomfortable span of silence would follow. 

This is exactly why manufacturers install pressure switches and flow switches to the heater.  Because if there’s no water flow or flow is restricted by 2 psi, the pressure switch or flow switch won’t close and energize the heating element.  In other words, it looks like your heater’s gone kaput.

Do you want the bad news now?  Dirty or aged filters restrict water flow. 

What I’m saying is, if you went quiet when I asked the question about your spa’s filters, you would have had more green in your pocket, and a longer break from your hot tub soaking cousin.

If I could have sold expensive heaters instead of inexpensive filter cleaner solutions and filters, I’d be in that top 2% income bracket.  But since

So here are my top five spa filter maintenance points to save you time, energy and money.

  1. Once a month remove your filters and hose them down using a spray nozzle.
  2. When you drain/refill your spa, soak your filters in a filter cleaning solution from your spa store.
  3. Do NOT use oils to scent your spa’s water that ARE NOT designed for hot tubs.
  4. Every 6 months checks the fabric on your filters.  If it’s “fluffed” replace that filter with a new one.
  5. Any filter over 3-years-old is ready to replace.  Remember: all the water in your hot tub is strained through that filter.  So after three years it is done straining.

100-Year-Old Pool Technology and Naked Ankles

July 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Posted in Chlorine-Free Swimming Pools, Health Risks of Chlorinated Pools, Pool Chemistry | 2 Comments
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When a natural disaster occurs I’m glad that chlorine  is there to disinfect broken water delivery systems and keep disease and infections at bay. Typhoid and dysentery suck.

I’m also glad that draining swimming water every few days is no longer popular, especially after a Brown University grad student applied hyperchlorite of lime (sic) to 2 liters of pool water at a concentration of 1 ppm to a 70,000 gallon swimming pool in 1910. That’s when the idea of sterilizing pool water over dumping the water came into fashion, along with the viewing of ladies’ ankles.  Oh my! 

Pool sanitization chemistry is about as sexy as the glimpse of naked ankles, so I’ll let you undress your own research on pool sanitization chemistry. (Hint—search this blog for most pool and spa sanitization answers.)

 

After too many years in the pool biz and the chemicals that keep pools disinfected and sparkling, I’ve developed a physical inability to tolerate most synthetic or manufactured chemicals.  As a matter of fact, last week I asked my wife to toss in some extra bleach into the white laundry because my t-shirts looked dreary.  Excited with the palate of pure white, I covered my bare ankles with the just-laundered white socks and my bare chest with a brilliant white t-shirt.  Lookin’ sharp and clean.  Before lunch, I ripped the white off of me and jumped into the shower.  Oh it wasn’t for what it might sound like to those with love on their mind—it was the red rash covering my chest and ankles—one of my typical reactions to anything chlorinated.

This is why I build and sell the non-chlorine pool disinfection system through my business Riptide Alchemy, LLC . I have zero interest in selling product that doesn’t work for sooooooo many reasons. 

1)      I want your swimming pool to be safe enough to have my beloved grandchildren frolic in the water;

My really cute granddaughter!

2)      Totally not interested in a law suit because you developed some freaky infection from funky water;

3)      The planet does not need more man-made chemicals ;

4)      Our ocean’s are at risk, and because they are downstream from everything, chemicals eventually find their way into the waters. (Visit my wife’s blog www.Neptune911.wordpress.com for more about our seas.)

5)      And there is some pretty convincing evidence that chlorinated water and us in it are not a perfect union.

One day, wife and I sat on the beach watching some wicked waves rip tides back and forth.  The energy was powerful. We could smell the negative ions filling the air.  We looked at each other, knowing that we would begin a more earth friendly business in the future that was based in ionic exchange and we simultaneously said, “Riptide Alchemy.”

It was a poetic way of explaining how my pool disinfection system works.  I pair a copper electrode with a silver electrode, then inject a low DC current into the alloy anodes. The ion charged water cycles through the system, naturally purifying itself.

A pool using the Riptide Pool Disinfection System (TM)

This exclusive and unique design features 100% alloy to ionize your pool water. The amount of ions injected is precisely monitored by a computerized LCD meter and control knob built into each power center. Quality is what sets my ionization system apart from the others.

So here comes my blatant sales pitch—if you call my cell (505/690-4729) I can offer this product at $999 plus freight (and tax for NM and California residents).  And now that you have my private cell phone number, that means you can call me for free consultations with regards to the Riptide Pool Disinfection System™ for your family’s fun and healthy swim time.

Preventative Maintenance & Swimming Pool Leaks

April 18, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Posted in Pool Chemistry, Swimming Pool Repair | Leave a comment
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Leaking equipment on your swimming pool is costly and wasteful, but a good deal for pool repair folks!  In other words, lack of good swimming pool water chemistry helped me buy a nice sports car.

The most common leak in pool equipment is found at the pump seal–the weakest link in your pool’s system.  Why?  The pump seal is one of the few wear-points in your system–meaning that when the motor comes on and runs 8 to 10 hours a day, the pump seal wears down and degrades itself just by the friction

Pump seal

 of the carbon on ceramic.

Now, include improper water chemistry, and that pump seal’s life takes a dive.  If this leak continues, it will eventually ruin your motor’s bearings and burn out the motor’s windings.  Now we’re swimming in high repair and replacement costs.

How do you know when you have a pump seal leak?  It’s easy to detect.  Look for water or dampness where the motor bolts on to the pump.  Severe pump leaks will show calcium build up, or your motor will make a high whining sound–like the sound you will make when you get that $400 repair bill.

What can you do to prevent this?  First, there is a life expectancy on every pump seal.  You can, however, extend this life with proper water chemistry.  Meaning, if your pool water is acidic (below 6.8 ppm) the acid water will attack the pump seal.  Conversely, if your pool water is alkaline (pH over 8.0 ppm, total alkalinity over 140 ppm) the alkaline water will grind away at the pump seal.

The next most likely leak in pool equipment is anything that is metal.  When you have two dissimilar metals plumbed together chances are a leak will occur.  This can also be a water chemistry issue, but is usually attributed to electrolysis. 

Where will you find two dissimilar metals plumbed?  Check for galvanized pipe from the heater attached to copper plumbing.  The only cure is to replumb to all copper or copper and plastic.

Leaks are also common in your pool’s heat exchanger.   About 80% of a  heat exchanger leak is mismanaged pool water chemistry.  However, other reasons for leaks here are: 

 1) If you have an off-line chlorinator, be sure that the return line from the chlorinator is plumbed after the heater.  The reason is that tablet-form chlorine is acidic. 

 2)Also be sure there are check valves on your chlorinator so that when the pumps shuts off the chlorine is held in the lines and does not return to the heater.

3)  Check for dissimilar metals at the heater’s plumbing inlet and outlet.

4)  High TDS (over 3500 ppm)  will scour the inside of the heat exchanger and thin out the exchanger’s copper tubes, to the point of creating a leak.

So everytime your pool repair dude drives by in his or her shiny new sports car, make a note to go check your swimming pool’s water chemistry so that you can enjoy your pool as you thought you would when the pool was just a dream.

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If you are ready to drop chlorine and salt from your swimming pool water, and sanitize your pool with the most efficient and eco-sound method possible, I’m offering my Riptide Pool Disinfection System http://www.riptidealchemy.com/poolandspas.php  for only $999 (not including tax and freight).  This is a limited time offer for Pool and Spa Master readers.  Email me at riptidealchemy1@aol.com to take advantage of this special offer.

To Drain or Not To Drain (Your Spa)–That’s the Question

January 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Posted in Hot Tub Chemistry, Spa Chemistry | 1 Comment
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“When is it time to drain the hot tub?”  I think this question hit the millionth-time mark in my pool-dude world. 

Following that query is, “Well, the guy at the spa store said to drain my hot tub every three months.  My brother-in-law drains his twice a year and my neighbor drains his spa every month.”

First, while spa companies recommend quarterly drains, there’s some misinformation in that answer.

Barring no real problems with green water or some other nasty water issue, the only parameter to drain a hot tub is Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). End of story. 

TDS measures all the solids that are in the tap water, not including what happens to hot tub water every time you use your spa.  In other words, when you are in the hot tub at 104 degrees, that steam is distilled water–lacking any minerals–leaving the minerals behind in the water. 

 Think of your hot tub like a giant tea pot.  When you use the hot tub and distill the water the TDS raises incrementally.  When TDS reaches 1500 ppm that’s when it’s time to drain the hot tub.

Why?  High TDS lessens the effect of your chemicals. That means disinfectants are less effective, as are all the other chemicals used.  And when minerals fall out of solution your spa’s innards will look like the inside of your teapot.  It’s okay for the teapot, but not for motors, pumps, heaters and plumbing. Think expensive repair bills.

When to drain your spa is not a time issue–not drain every 3 months, or whatever.  It’s how many times you use your hot tub combined with the natural TDS of your tap water.  And to complicate this issue is tap water TDS measurements can change weekly.  From the same water spigot I’ve measured TDS at 500 ppm and then 900 ppm several weeks later.

High TDS symptoms: You can’t keep your chemicals in solution, no matter how much you add, your spa has no water quality, bad smells, etc.

You can purchase a TDS meter usually for under $25.  I sell them for less.  Yeah, that’s a blatant bit of self-promotion, but, hey, I’m just another pool dude trying to make a living ;-)!!!  E-mail me at riptidealchemy1@aol.com

Spa Water 104, Clear, No Foam, Please

November 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm | Posted in Spa Chemistry | Leave a comment
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Yikes! You turn your spa jets on, and suddenly your spa becomes a giant foam machine–or a latte gone wild.  First, you scream at the kids asking who dumped soap into the spa.  But you don’t have any kids and your spa doesn’t smell soapy.

Spa water should be clear and without foam when the jets run.1) Now ask yourself, how long ago did I drain my spa?  Why?  High Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) will cause foam.  If your TDS reading (which you can have tested at your local spa shop) is over 1500 ppm, it’s time to dump the water, clean your spa, and start anew again. 

2) Have you cleaned or replaced your spa’s filter in recent memory?  If you draw a blank on this question, go directly to your spa’s filter, check it out and if it is anything but lilly white, it’s time to clean it.  You can hose it off, but I recommend purchasing a filter cleaning solution from your local spa dealer, like Leisure Time Filter Clean.  

Also if your filter has been servicing your spa for over 18 months, it may be time to replace it.

3)  Calcium hardness is another cause of foam in your spa.  If the calcium hardness is less than 200 ppm, bring it up with a calcium increase product, like Leisure Time’s Calcium Increase. 

4)  Have you diligently shocked your spa’s water?  If not, the foam can easily be reduced with a good shock treatment using a non-chlorine shock, which you can find at your spa dealer.  Shock your water, at the very least, once a week.

5)  If you are missing a container of dish soap–well, it’s time to deal with the gremilins gone wild.

Chlorinated Pools, Your Child and Allergies

October 1, 2009 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Chlorine-Alternatives, Health Risks of Chlorinated Pools, Pool Chemistry | Leave a comment
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Chlorinated pools--worse than second-hand cigarette smoke????

Chlorinated pools--worse than second-hand cigarette smoke????

I’m glad that chlorine has saved many folks from around the world from water-born infectious diseases.  But, after being around chlorine for 39-too many years, I’m allergic to it. Ask my wife what happens when she tosses some bleach in with her laundry.  It’s not pretty. The sheets and towels are white, and so am I–pale white from a chlorine-allergy dotted with lovely red spots up and down my body.   This is one of the reasons why I think the Riptide Pool Disinfection System (TM) www.riptidealchemy.com  is the all-that for pool sanitization.  I can even show that it’s excellent for commercial pools too. 

But this is not about my allergy, this is some recently released news about chlorinated pools and childhood allergies.  Read on:

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — Swimming in an outdoor or indoor chlorinated pool has more impact than secondhand smoke in increasing the chances that a child susceptible to asthma and allergies will develop those problems, according to a new study, Reuters Health reported September 15.

 

Dr. Alfred Bernard, a toxicologist at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, told Reuters Health, “These new data clearly show that by irritating the airways of swimmers, chlorination products in water and air of swimming pools exert a strong additive effect on the development of asthma and respiratory allergies such as hay fever and allergic rhinitis.”

 

Bernard added, “The impact of these chemicals on the respiratory health of children and adolescents appears to be much more important — at least by a factor of five — than that associated with secondhand smoke.”

 

The researchers found that the risk of asthma and allergy was not influenced by swimming in pools sanitized with a concentration of copper and silver and that children without allergic tendencies were not at increased risk of developing allergies in those pools.

 

The researchers said the current findings “reinforce” the need for further study on the issue and to enforce regulations concerning the levels of these chemicals in water and air of swimming pools, Reuters Health reported.

 

 

Blue, Green, Yellow, Brown–All The Pretty Spa Water Colors

August 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Posted in Hot Tub Chemistry, Spa Chemistry | 2 Comments
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All the pretty colors.  Great when in a rainbow.  Bad when in your spa.  Spa water should be crystal clear. So when your spa water is yellow, what does that mean?

 Here’s a quick synopsis of what these colors mean:

Cloudy Green

Dude, you got  algae in the water. 

Treatment: Shock your water with chlorine.

See-Through Green or Emerald Green

Acidic Water.  The metals in your heating elements are being stripped. The average cost for a replacement heating element–$200-$250 big green dollars (includes labor).

j0438606

Treatment: Try a product like Metal Gon by Leisure Time–then balance your chemistry. 

Total Alalinity  80-120, pH 7.2-7.6, .  If this fails, drain and start all over.

Yellowish

 Indicates low total alkalinity and low pH.  It’s also  the precursor to damaging the spa’s heating element. 

Treatment: Balance your  total alkalinity and pH.  Also check your calcium hardness — should be over 250 ppm.  

Treat with calcium increaser.

Blue

Blue rarely happens in above ground spas.  But in-ground gunite spas– with gas-fired heaters–can experience bluish/turquoise water, as well as the same color stains on the plaster. 

Treatment:  Get the total alkalinity pH,   and calcium hardness balanced.  Also check  total dissolved solids (TDS) –not over 1500 ppm–  because that can also begin striping your heater.

 

Brown

Rare, but happens.  Usually indicates iron in the water. 

Treatment:  Metal Gon should cure it.  If it continues, drain, refill and add a bottle of Metal Gon when you refill.

International Coastal Clean up

August 14, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The pool and spa master challenges his readers to sign up for an International Coastal Clean Up day, September, 19, 2009. You don’t have an ocean?  There are river clean ups too!  They all flow to the sea.

Sign up is easy http://www.signuptocleanup.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Projects.Main&CFID=5418733&CFTOKEN=28407602

Be sure to check out my wife’s blog:   http://www.Neptune911.wordpress.com

Hot Tub Cover Weighs a Ton

July 24, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Posted in Hot Tub Covers | 1 Comment
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Dear Mr. Pool and Spa Master:  My hot tub cover weighs a ton.  It used to be easy to lift with one arm.  Now my wife can’t lift it, and I have to give it a good heave-ho.  What’s wrong?   Richard in Boulder City

Richard, Your hot tub cover is toast–a big slice of closed-cell foam that is water saturated.

1)  It can’t be repaired–it’s not like a sponge and squeeze-dried

2) It’s probably harboring nasty bacteria.  I’d bet the cover reeks

3) Say hello to mold. (Got more yucky smell?)

4) It no longer properly insulates your spa’s water temp–and now you’re paying more to heat the water

5) A sprained back is in someone’s future as they try to lift the beast

Your options? 

1) Live with the 5 negatives listed above or

2) Replace it with a new cover.

Yes, that’s an expensive proposal, but your only choice.  I recommend that you order it through your local spa dealer mainly because they should be purchasing covers from a reputable manufacturer that provides a year’s warranty, and they will also assure that you get the right size cover for your spa.  It will likely be custom-made for you.  Why?  There are thousands of spa sizes, shapes and styles.  It’s too risky for a spa dealer to keep every size in stock.

To assure you get the right cover, do the following:

1) Measure the length and width of the cover and the corner radius

2) Measure the skirt length (the part that hangs down)

3) If you know your hot tub’s manufacturer, bring that.

4)  AND some hot tubs have a serial number.  That slam-dunks the right cover.

There are alternatives to the standard cover.  They cost more, and don’t have the features that, say the Sunstar manufacturer provides:

cutaway

  1. UL Classified.
  2. Full 3-Year Warranty.
  3. Marine Grade Vinyl. Treated with mildew and UV inhibitors for year-round beauty.
  4. Vapor Lock Seal with Antaeus 2000™. State-of-the-art equipment is used to heat seal cores with Antaeus 2000, a scientifically formulated plastic developed exclusively for Sunstar to inhibit moisture absorption.
  5. Twenty-Eight Points of Internal Reinforcement. Every stress point is reinforced, including the hinge, handles, straps, corners and skirts.
  6. Tough ’N Sturdy Hinge. Four layers of vinyl add strength to this high stress area.
  7. Super-Strength Padded Handles. Five layers of added strength were it’s most needed.
  8. Premiere Skirt. An additional seal to keep heat in and dirt out.
  9. Tie Down Straps. Triple-reinforced straps secure the cover to the spa or hot tub with locking fasteners.
  10. Secure-Loc Fasteners. Lock with a key for extra safety.
  11. Plastic Drain Grommet. Aids the release of moisture trapped under the vinyl. Will not corrode or scratch spa.
  12. Double-Ply Poly-Laminate. Industrial grade vinyl with durable polyester fabric reinforcement. Mildew resistant.
  13. Tapered Foam Core. Standard covers come with 3 1/2” – 2 1/2” taper to keep heat in and allow rain to run off.
  14. Steel Reinforcement. Non-corrosive, strengthens center of Spa Top™
  15. Commercial Grade Nylon Zipper and Protection Flap. Heavy-duty nylon zipper is corrosion resistant. Protective flap for easy replacement of core.
  16. Hidden Zipper Pull Protection. Protects zipper pull. Adds quality finished appearance.
  17. GHSG™ Super Heat Seal Gasket. A revolutionary insulating hinge seal that saves heat and prevents moisture loss. Critical to long-term energy savings. Pays back through energy savings typically in less than 12 months, according to independent testing. Also protects bottom from abrasion.

 

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