Sunday, May 27, 2007

Comments On The Comments

I was re-reading the comments from the WFAA survey about salt water damage to swimming pools. You can find the survey results here:

This was one of the first comments posted.

“First of all, a salt system is a sanitizing system, not a filtration system. It cleans the water chemically, with chlorine. The difference is the chlorine is produced by molecular seperation [sic] of the chlorine from the sodium once salt is added to the water. Secondly, water chemistry can be harder to maintain in salt pools, and those issues (especially low pH) are much more likely to cause corrosion than salt. Finally, people need to start taking responsibility for their property. It's too easy to say ‘I didn't know’ and blame problems on other people. Bottom line - if you're not willing to do your homework and put in some effort, you don't need to own something like a swimming pool that requires regular maintenance.”

It’s a pretty ill conceived argument for salt, and it points out how difficult it is to defend salt. They concede the first thing that I always like to point out about salt; that even though the reps say how easy salt pools are for the pool owner to maintain chemically, in their own words, “water chemistry can be harder to maintain in salt pools...”. Having conceded that, they try to move on to the assumption that, since the homeowner is incapable of handling this harder to maintain water chemistry, that it’s these issues, especially low pH, that are causing all of the corrosion issues.

Now, I want to speak a truth here, a truth I challenge you to disprove; you can Google salt and stone damage and get thousands of returns that cite salt damage to all types of stone and cementitious materials. If you click on those returns, you’ll read what I’ve been reading for nine months; salt damages stone and salt water splash out from salt water swimming pools has been cited from here to Australia as being THE REASON that stone and cementitious materials will show signs of aging within a few years.

Then, Google stone damage and low pH, and what you’ll find is thousands of reports that talk about, for the most part, acid rain being a culprit in the premature aging of stone, and they point out that acid rain in the US varies in pH from 3.9 to 5.6. Now, how much muriatic acid would you have to pour into a salt pool to, first, overcome the inherent high pH of salt pools, and then, drive the pH down to a range of 3.9 to 5.6? THEN, consider this; the same acid rain falls on salt pools and tab pools. How come only salt pools are showing signs of corrosion after one and two years?

It's not the pH. It’s the Salt.

Getting back to the Salt Rep’s - I mean, the pool owner’s - survey comment: After they blame everything on their fairy tale of running pools on a pH below 3.9 - a fairy tale designed to help them dodge any responsibility for the millions of dollars of damage that salt has done to swimming pools nationwide - they turn right around and chastise pool owner’s for not “taking responsibility”, summarizing that if folks aren’t willing to “put in some effort” then they just shouldn’t own a swimming pool.

As I’ve pointed out so many times in this blog, they spent years and years building their market by extolling the ease of maintenance of salt systems, and then when things go south, they blame it on the fact that “it’s hard” and “it’s your fault, not mine”. These are things five year olds say.

Then, there are several comments from pool service folks - who, incidentally, identify themselves as pool service folks - and they say things like:

“I have been maintaining\repairing pools on dallas for 17 years now and I have seen first hand the problems with stone, metals, and pool equipment as mentioned in your article. The LAST thing I would install on my oun [sic] pool is a salt system.”


“I take care of many salt pools and see how the salt destroys the coping and any rock that is near the pool. The salt eats away at mortar between the coping and rocks. Stay away from salt pools. “

And my personal favorite and no, I didn’t write it...

“I have been repairing and or servicing pool for over 20 years. I would not install a salt chlorine generating system on my own pool or any of my customers pools, and, because of my relationship with various manufacturers, I could have a free salt chlorine generating system on my pool. Come to think of it, I could install the nine month old one that is in the back of my truck that I cut out of a customers system on Wednesday because they could no longer stand watching their limestone around the pool perimeter disappear, and they new [sic] that their builders' warranty on the pool was coming up and had watched me replace 3 horizontal style auto fill mechanisms and 1 heater thermistor. It really is very simple. I work on pool equipment 5 to 6 days a week, the pools with salt chlorine generating systems are experiencing problems with metal equipment components at an abnormally fast rate. It does not matter if they have a good pool service or a bad pool service, if the homeowner is taking care of the pool or if no one is taking care of the pool. This is of course somewhat of a stretch because I do know that bad water chemistry is not good. I know some of the best service guys in the dallas [sic] area and they watch their water chemistry closely and it does not keep these same parts from failing. We are now being asked by a manufacturer to put zinc balls in our pump baskets to deflect the damage away from the other metals in the equipment. We are now being approached by salesman pushing stone sealers. Heater manufacturers are changing their heat exchanger material (they need to figure a way to put thermistors in dry wells). Builders are asking homeowners to sign damage waivers before they will sell/install a salt system. What? There is not an issue with these systems? Water does feel better when it has a water softener, and your eyes may not get so irritated in a salt environment. I have a customer that we just replaced a 4 year old heater. He told me he loved the water conditions so much he would buy a new heater every 4 years if that is what it took. I hope he never loses my card. Come to think of it, I love salt systems, my family loves salt systems. Know the whole story before you put one of these profit centers on your pool.”

These folks all pretty much agree that salt’s the worst thing they’ve seen come down the pike in their careers in the pool business. They have that in common. The other thing they have in common is that they can spell and write a lucid sentence. Perhaps it points to the fact that those with a brain in their head and decent powers of observation can pretty readily see that salt is harming our swimming pools.

Their opinions are sharply contrasted, in every way possible, by this comment from a “pool-contractor [sic] and service provider” who appears to blame it all on untrained salesmen and lazy consumers, a rationalization which allows him to continue to offer salt systems for sale:

“As a pool-contractor [sic] and service provider, we have offered "Chlorine Generators" (Salt) since the early 80's. Corrosive conditions exist in all water, dependent largly [sic] on the degree the water is unballanced [sic]. For example: unbalanced water created the Grand Canyon". Unbalanced water chemistry will be devistating [sic] on everything around a swimming pool. As corrision [sic] is more pronounced with salt added, the ability of the customers level to understand the issue, generaly [sic] dictates "IF" we recomend [sic] a Chlorine Generator, or-not [sic]. For many applications a Clorine [sic] Generator is an excelent [sic] choice. In Australia where most of todays [sic] salt technoligy [sic] evolves, much of the tap-water already has high salt content.These devices will-in-fact operate effortlesy [sic] and efficently [sic]with proper water chemistry balance "FOR A WHILE", only to require water re-balancing in a week or so. Unfortunantly [sic], many commision [sic] based salesmen remain untrained in water chemistry at all and offer these miniture [sic] chlorine "Manufacturing plants" as a solve-all, maintence-free [sic], do-it-all solution to consumer desires to efficently [sic] neglect the pool, while keeping their water pristine. Numerious [sic] pool maintence [sic] providers remained sufficantly [sic] untrained in water chemistry,as well. Money purportadly [sic] saved per not buying chlorine is overshadowed with routine equipment and surrounding pool-surface MAINTANCE [SIC]. IN SUMMARY: Untrained individuals should-not [sic] utilize Chlorine Generatoring [my favorite sic of all] plants, of any size.”

And you have no idea how hard it is right now to restrain myself. I mean, you read the last paragraph! You see how easy it would be! It’s like being given half an hour at the free throw line to sink as many as you want. And they all count!

But, there’s been a recent spate of criticism’s of my style, for my penchant of making fun of people who disagree with my point of view. There’s even been one trite little column in a throw-away newsletter dedicated to slamming me and pronouncing that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Now, anybody who didn’t sleep through World History in high school will remember that’s pretty much how the Fascists came to power.

Oh, damn! I did it again! Was that rude? Pardon me. Or is it bite me? I forget which.

I guess where I’m going here is that I can’t believe that I’ve become the Bad Guy. I can’t believe that after all the damage the salt manufacturers have done to our pools, to our pocket books and to our collective reputations, after the throughly irresponsible way that they introduced their salt systems without a word of caution or warning or even a glancing nod to any installation guidelines or potential material incompatibility, that all of that gets set aside because The Pool Guy said something bad about a California builder?

Because that’s what they’re keying on right now. It’s nothing more than, “Hey! Look over there!” while they keep hiding from the fact that they’re eating up swimming pools with salt chlorine generatoring technoligy.

If you can’t Kill the Message, Kill the Messenger.

The truth of what I did was to comment critically on this builder’s already published comments, in the form of a blog-style rant posted as an “information update” on his company website - which he has since removed, by the way - where he came out vehemently and bitterly against California legislation which has since received widespread bi-partisan support throughout the state of California and proven to be both timely and necessary to control the ever worsening issue of saline discharge into waters used for irrigation.

The reason I knew the man’s position at all on this issue was because he published it and I discovered it on page one of a Google search. He put his opinion out there for all the world to see, and to comment on. Was it my blog that scared off his customer, or his scary comments in his website’s “information update”? After all, it’s his opinion on the subject that's in the minority in his state. Not mine.

All that happened was that he mixed his politics with his business and came up the loser. That is hardly my fault and is exactly why I remain

Anonymously Yours,
The Pool Guy

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