Stains are either organic or metallic. Organic stains develop when leaves,
for example, sit on the pool floor and transfer tannins to the surface. Metallic
stains can occur when pH fluctuates. When pH drops, the corrosive water can
attack a copper heat exchanger, drawing copper ions into the flow and then
depositing the copper in another form as the pH comes back up.
Solutions: Identify what you’re dealing with—color can be a good indicator. Greenish blue, blue or black stains indicate copper. Reddish or brown
spots are usually iron. Tan or purple point to manganese. Grays, however, can
be caused by a litany of things.
Most common are copper and iron. Low pH and high chlorine levels and
copper are the conditions that lead to most stains. Once you’ve identified the
culprit, the cure can probably be found in the right bottle.
There are two ways to approach a stain—gradually or aggressively. Some
preventive products can be added weekly or biweekly as part of routine
chemistry maintenance and can eventually remove existing stains. It may
seem expensive, but it’s less expensive than an acid wash, an aggressive
approach in which chemicals are applied directly to the stain.
This category of pool water problem is perhaps the most mysterious. Manganese can appear brown or black. Copper and iron may give the water a greenish
cast, although brown hues have also been identified as iron. Algae blooms and
cloudiness, discussed earlier, can also be the root of discolored water.
Solutions: There are two families of products that help remove metal
from pool water. Sequestrates tie up metals so they can’t come out of solution.
Some consider this a temporary fix because metals aren’t removed from the
pool system. Instead, they recommend flocculants, which collect unwanted
particles into clusters that can then be filtered or vacuumed.
This condition is usually caused by insufficient sanitizer levels or pH outside recommended ranges, although swimmers often think there’s too much
chlorine in the pool.
Solutions: First, test to see what’s out of whack: It could be pH, alkalinity,
sanitizer levels, some other factor or any combination of these. Then adjust the
water chemistry balance and shock the pool to convert unwanted, irritating
chloramines back into the acceptable form of chlorine. It is generally accepted
in the pool industry that chlorine is most effective at pH levels between 7. 2
and 7. 8. After shocking the pool, keep swimmers out until the chlorine residual
drops below 3 ppm.
A combination of soaps and oils from skin, detergents from swimsuits,
cosmetics and lotions, and even gritty air pollution can accumulate on the water surface—or in skimmers, filters, etc.—and cause general unpleasantness.
Scum is rarely harmful, however.
Solutions: Tile cleaners will remove scum lines. Also, most enzyme products break down scum effectively. Besides simply keeping the pool free from
scum-causing culprits, try one of the numerous scum-absorbing products on
the market. A
SMART SOLUTIONS FOR
CLEANING GUTTERS is one of those essential
household tasks that often gets put off. But
letting leaves and debris collect in gutters
can cause them to overflow in a heavy rain,
potentially damaging the roof and walls.
How often gutters should be cleaned depends
on whether you live in an area where leaves
and pine needles tend to collect, but once
a year is recommended. Twice a year—late
spring and late fall—is better.
First, gather the needed supplies: a sturdy
ladder, rubber work gloves, a trash receptacle,
a garden hose, a spray gun and a friend to
hold the ladder and keep you inspired. Optional
items include a scoop or trowel and a hammer.
Remember, safety first! Don’t lean the ladder
against the gutter or a downspout, and make
sure the ladder is secure. Extend it one or
two rungs above the roof line so that even if
the ladder slides sideways it will stay against
Scoop leaves and twigs from gutters by hand
or with a trowel and put them into a pail or
plastic bag. Once the leaves are removed, use
a spray gun to wash off caked-on residue.
Adjust the settings to blast off dirt and to give
a final flush.
Use the low-pressure setting on the spray gun
to check that downspouts aren’t clogged. Try
a plumber’s snake or a bent coat hanger if
necessary to remove debris.
This is also a good time to check for any
leaks in the system and to bang in any loose
gutter nails to tighten the gutter back to the
roof line. A
Costco member Donald J. Lapa has owned and operated Mister Poolman (
www.mister-poolman.com) in the Los Angeles area for more than 20 years.