What About Water Testing?

Saturday, April 15th, 1995

We are currently operating one of the most sophisticated pool water laboratories in the United States. However, it’s not magic. If you have a specific problem to be solved, we want to make sure that your expectations can meet our abilities.

Problem Solving.
If you went to the doctor, had the most complete blood work-up done, and never mentioned the pain in your arm, the blood lab will never know that you have a broken arm. Most pool problems are ultimately based on improper maintenance and circulation—which we can’t tell by testing Calcium Hardness!

The lab is the first place to start, but if you have a problem to solve, make sure that we know about it and address it. If there are people standing in line, it is not the lab technician’s job to solve your problem. Those of us on duty in front of the Pool Store are available to help, so the technician can get as many people as possible in and out of the computer. Don’t rely solely on the print-out for problem-solving. We have many specific “Pool Tips” publications on common problems, and we’ll be happy to have a highly trained staff person deal with you specifically.

The Standard Test.
When you receive your print-out, check that we have the correct initial information: your name, chemical system, pool finish, and pool size. This is very important. If the computer thinks that you have 25,000 gallons of water, and you only have 2,500, you’re going to have massive overdoses of chemicals! If you took a guess when you told us how much water you have, let us know, and we’ll help to figure it closer.

There are two parts to your print-out: water balance, and sanitizer problems. The sanitizer portion is for now, because the sanitizer is what protects the health of all who use the pool. The water balance portion is for Anytime, because water balance affects mostly the long-term condition of the pool, water, liner, plaster, filter, ladders and filter, while reducing the amount of money that you spend on pool care.

Within each part, you must follow the directions in order—there is generally a reason for the order. If you are told to wait a period of time between items, that period is a minimum. You don’t have to get up at 2 AM to do the next step. The waiting periods are there to allow certain processes to work before the next starts. Waiting longer than we tell you is generally fine.

You can also complete both portions simultaneously—they don’t affect each other. The only exceptions to this would be a chlorine-based pool with a pH over 7.8 (the chlorine won’t work until the pH comes down) and a pool using Calcium hypochlorite chlorine with a saturation index over 2.0 (the chlorine may not dissolve properly).

If the computer recommends large amounts of metal chelators or sequesterers for copper in your water, check with us first. It takes a lot of copper to stain a pool, and you may not care if your walls are already blue. However, if you have a white plaster or vinyl finish, or if you use Baquacil or Softswim, you should probably follow the directions.

We use computer programs by Baquacil, Bioguard, and Softswim. They prescribe chemicals in their own brands because it’s easiest for you to find them that way (and they wouldn’t mind the business). If you wish to use a generic brand, let us know, and we’ll manually switch it for you.

We describe water balance theory, and the Langlier Saturation Index in another Pool Tips publication; Water Balance. For now, suffice it to say that there are many ways to balance the same water, and the computer program normally chooses the cheapest method that still keeps all parameters roughly normal. However, the computer is not programmed to take into account what size containers that we sell. Most of us have the judgement necessary to round off the quantities requested on your print-out, so that your pool remains in balance, and you don’t waste money on purchasing chemicals that you don’t need right now.

Additional Tests.
It is our pleasure to do the standard battery of water balance tests for you at any time, for free. We recommend two tests a year—opening and closing. A mid-summer test isn’t a bad idea, also.

Specialized tests are also available. If you would like to request any of these, there will probably be a charge, and we may need some extra time to complete it. Not everyone here has been trained in some of these tests that we rarely do. If we request a specialized test ourselves, (generally because we want more information to help solve a problem for you), we will do the test for free.

Policy.
Please remember that we spend a great deal of time and money doing water tests for free. If you don’t want to wait, please give us a call—see if the lab is open, and if there’s a line. If you leave your sample here and you don’t wait, we will do the test when we can—but people waiting in the store always have priority of those who went home.

Once again, it is our pleasure to help you.

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