Sunday, August 05, 2007

It’s The Environment, Stupid… And The Taxes

I learned something from a Salt Rep a while back. To set Google Alerts for things like Chlorine Generator and Salt System and Salt Ban and Electrolysis and Southland Leisure Centre, and that way I can track any information that pops up on the web on any of these topics.

It has been a gold mine of information. Take, for example, this headline that came to me by way of the Salt Ban Alert:

Hard choice on water softeners
Dixon City Council is studying the possible ban on salt-based systems.

It turns out that the voters in Dixon, California overturned an effort to raise their taxes to fund an expansion at the wastewater plant. The expansion was to handle the ever increasing salinity level of their treated wastewater discharge. When they refused to pony up more taxes, that put the city out of compliance with state guidelines for salinity levels in treated waste discharge, and that got the state of California breathing down the necks of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, who, in turn, started breathing down the necks of the City of Dixon to come up with a solution. You know how it is, poorly treated waste rolls downhill.

So it continued to roll downhill until it plopped into the laps of the Dixon Wastewater Project Committee. They were tasked with coming up with ways that don’t cost the taxpayers any money but will still reduce the salinity level of their wastewater. And it occurred to them, “What if we stopped putting salt in the water? Do you think that might help?”

At that point, someone pointed out that it seems to have done the trick over in Santa Clarita, and so the committee came back to the city council with three proposals that pretty much read:

1. Get rid of salt based water softeners.
2. Teach people how to get rid of salt based water softeners.
3. Study the long term effects of getting rid of salt based water softeners.

And we all know what happens next, right? If Santa Clarita is any indicator, in about two and a half years, they’ll come back and say;

1. Get rid of swimming pool salt pool chlorine generators.
2. Teach people how to get rid of salt pool chlorine generators.
3. Study the long term effects of getting rid of salt pool chlorine

But it might be sooner, because since I have Google Alerts, I was able to see that story the day it published and send a blizzard of links to everybody in Dixon who’s e-mail I could find to tell them that they ought to just go ahead and throw salt pools in there while they’re thinking about banning salty stuff.

Isn’t networking Neat?

And I know, I know. I can already hear the Salt Is Great Amen Choir reciting the California building code that backwash lines for pools aren’t hooked to the sewer so they’re not technically increasing the salinity of the waste stream, because it just spews onto the ground, and anybody who keeps up with the Breaking News at some of the more popular internet pool forums knows that “unless your soil already has very high salt concentrations or you are growing the very most tempermental [sic] plants in the world SWG pool water will be just fine for watering plants for years and years…”, to which another Living Online Instead of In the Real World forum regular adds, “Our deck-o-drain drains out to the side of our [pool] directly into a small flower bed. Out of all our new plants, it is probably doing the best, so you'd be hard pressed to convince me that a little low salinity water is bad for plants - let alone 'toxic waste' ".

And that, my friends, is the state of the Salt Pool Biz on the Internet. The consumer is faced with either going to the manufacturer’s website, where the lies are so thick you can cut them with a knife, or going to these forums, which so much resemble a bunch of guys sitting around the garage, drinking beer, pulling each other’s fingers and convincing each other that salt's okay. One of them recommends that everybody water their plants "for years and years" with salt water, and another thinks that the salty water is helping his plants. If anybody with any real knowledge of agriculture were walking by when they said it, they would laugh themselves silly and tell them that is such a load of... poorly treated waste. But then, they wouldn’t be invited to the next finger pulling contest.

And really, what do I know? I just read facts that are printed in silly old newspapers and dumb old research journals and b-o-r-i-n-g professional waste water management publications. It’s not like I KNOW anything, like these guys at the forums who got solid C’s in chemistry and earth science in school, or the Salt Reps, who are really your friends and would never tell you a lie for something as base as a wad of greasy cash.

What the heck, though. Here’s some more of those dumb old facts about salt ruining drinking water:

Too much salt in New Jersey's water?

“United Water company has been sending notices out to its customers in Bergen and Hudson counties warning that the sodium level in the water supply is higher than it should be.

The company blames the winter task of salting the roads to keep them clear of ice.

The salt and snow melt from the roads spilled into reservoirs, taking the concentration of sodium higher than state guidelines -- and the water processing can't flush it out.

But the company is required to put out the warning for people with high blood pressure or other high sodium sensitive health concerns. It advises them to talk to their doctors.”

So now you’re advised to talk to your doctor before you drink the water in Jersey because of salt. Of all the things I thought you’d have to worry about drinking Jersey water, salt was pretty far down on the list. But there it is.

And on the off chance that you’re brain damaged and you don’t readily see the connection between salt on the roads and salt pools… It’s all salt. Salt pools are elective. They’re not mandatory. Why would you be part of the problem when you can be part of the solution?

This also dovetails nicely into why it’s not okay to blow your salty backwash onto the ground as if you needed to be told fer-Chrissakes…

Deep breaths…. Counting to ten… Okay... Better now.

But my favorite little tidbit to come my way via my Google Alerts is this one. It’s a thread on the Water Technology Bulletin Board. Click it and read through it a couple of times to get the drift of what they’re talking about. I’ll give you the synopsis, but don’t trust me. Go read it for yourself.

This guy named Dirkson is asking a bunch of Real Water Experts to respond with their approach to solving a water quality issue. Now, these are people who make a living working with the technologies that make your water drinkable. They are not like your local Salt Reps who make a living by making your water undrinkable, or people who post on pool forums who, for the most part, just own a pool and do something else besides know anything about water for a day job. The water quality issue was providing about 1,000 gallons per week with a source water that had a hardness of about 3800 ppm and a salinity of about 2100 ppm. Your salt pool water has nearly double that salinty.

The thread quickly becomes defined as RE: Brackish Water Treatment by the responders, and, as we all know, brackish is defined as salty tasting. So they’re all keying on the high salinity, which like I said, is only a little more than half what your salt pool water is.

The first responder says, “There is NO EASY ANSWER. That is why no one is responding to your post”, and he goes on to recommend solar stills because the energy costs to reclaim that water would be too high.

The next responder says, sure, it can be treated. System cost for 500 gallons per day would be about $10,000. That would just about cover Mom and Dad and the three kids, each averaging about 100 gallons of water a day (that’s the US average).

The next couple responders point out that even at the $10,000 mark, there’s a problem with all that salinity. Using RO and water softeners to reclaim the water creates a brine discharge problem.

“Even worse where do you get rid of all the brine from the regenerations? I would never want to allow it to be dispersed on the land. Especially, if the land is above a water table. “

But, gosh, the Pool Gurus on the pool forums said that it was good for plants and stuff. Said I could blow it all over the ground for years and years. You mean to tell me that they were wrong? You mean to tell me that… their opinion was just… an opinion? I am crushed.

Of course, the folks who make a living creating polluted pool water – that is, after all, what 3,500 ppm salt water is; polluted water that needs treatment according to EVERYBODY IN WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT – the same folks who want to keep selling you salt systems will say that this is all just those guy’s opinions. But their opinions coincide with legislation that keeps popping up all over the country about how our excessive use of salt is causing increasing costs in waste water reclamation.

So, if you’re one of those Red State Republicans who hates new taxes, the way all good Republicans are supposed to, and you just happen to have a salt system on your pool, remember that you can’t vote NO when your municipality comes hat in hand asking for more money to desalinate the waste water. Unless, of course, you want them to legislate your salt pool out of existence. Because that would logically be next. Like in Santa Clarita, and perhaps soon to come in Dixon, and perhaps coming to a municipality near you soon.

There’s just one more little factoid I want to pass along that I found out there in cyberspace this week. It’s kind of a good fit to put the lie to the Other Guy’s baloney that they’re big companies and they know what’s best for you, and that, at the very least, they certainly know better than some dumb old pool cleaner in Dallas, Texas.

In 1957, the Ford Motor Company (pretty big company, wouldn’t you say?) unveiled a concept car, called the Nucleon. Then, again in 1962, they came to the Seattle World’s Fair with another concept car they called the Ford Seattle-ite XXI. The Nucleon and especially the Seatlle-ite XXI were cars designed for the 21st century, when everybody would own several small nuclear reactors to fuel their energy needs. Both cars were envisioned to be powered by a slightly larger version of the reactor that powers your lawnmower and your kid’s jet bike.

What? You say you don’t have a nuclear fueled lawnmower and your kid is still pedaling around the neighborhood?

But you have salt in your pool water? Who have you been listening to?


Evan said...

Since you used my name in your last little piece but you never printed my comments abut it I(and you had some wrong info to boot!) my respect for you has dropped greatly. I suspect that your blog is nothing more than something to blow up your own ego. Give it a rest already.

The Pool Guy said...

I don't understand exactly what you're talking about, but, oh well, someone else who hypes salt and hates my guts. I'm crushed.

As far as I know, I've published every comment you've sent to me. I didn't edit or exclude anything you've sent to this blog. If I missed soemthing you sent me, then it was an honest mistake. Send your follow-up comments that you say I missed and I'll post them. The only reason I have this blog set for Review Comments Before Publishing is that if I don't, it gets spammed a lot. Then I have to go through and delete the spam, leaving a Deleted Entry tag, which makes it LOOK LIKE I am trying to control the conversation.

I'm not sure which of the wingnuts from that pool forum you are, but it's too bad that you've decided not to like me, because if you're who I think you are, I rather liked you, in a respect-your-knowledge-if-not-your-position-sort-of-way. It's also too bad you can't step back from that mess over there and see the miasma of misremembered misinformation that it has become. Your well informed opinions are comingled and watered down with some of the tritest, most inaccurate, poorly thought out conjectures about pools I've ever read, not to mention the Wolf In Sheep's Clothing Sales Rep Hustle that is part and parcel of that whole thing.

And Evan, don't kid yourself, you post over at that forum for many of the same ego points that you accuse me of for running this blog. I can imagine that it feels swell being one of the King's of the Cyber Jungle after toiling anonymously in a pool store all day.

One last thing; did you notice that you, and lots of your friends over there, click on and read My Blog every Sunday night and not the other way around?

So, what do we do now? Keep writing nasty notes to each other? It's up to you.

Evan said...

Well, I tried to comment on your previous post twice a few days apart since you mentioned me by name and had some inaccurate info but my comments were never posted so I made the assumption that you did not want what I had to say be seen in your blog. I will give you the benefit of the doubt that my comments were lost in cyberspace but the reason I posted the second time is that the first one never appeared. I do understand your reason for review before publishing,spam is pandemic on the net.
The 'wingnut' that I am is waterbear. Perhaps you might want to read some of my posts on,,,, or the poolcenter board to find out a bit more about what I post and what my knowledge level is. As you know there is much misinformation in the pool industry about many topics. I personally welcomed you to when you started posting there and told you that I thought your knowledge would be an asset yet you never took the time to help answer any of the questions posted in various topics that I know you could have made valuable additions to but just concentrated on the one topic of why salt pools are the devil incarnate. When the main thread that you were posting in was locked because it was serving no purpose and had just become a rehash of the same thing over and over again you stopped posting there altogether and you removed the link from your main page. I guess that is the difference between us. I am truly trying to help people that have questions or problems with their pools and I believe I have done a good job so far. You also make the assumption that I just toil anonymously in a pool store. That is actually a second vocation for me at this point in my life only because I actually do love swimming pools and have a great deal of knowledge about them but it is only a part time job and summer job these days. My main vocation is working with special needs Deaf and Blind kids. Working in a pool store is more of a labor of love, it certainly ain't for the money! Ditto for the time I put in on the different boards I frequent. If this gets published in your blog then I have my answer about you and I apologize for my previous comment.

The Pool Guy said...

Ah, yes. Waterbear. I've read your posts. And I guessed right. You are who I thought you were. You're one of about three people over there on those forums who are carrying the load for the rest of them. Good luck with that.

First of all, it wasn't just that the thread I was posting on got locked and so I took my toys and went home. It was that every thread I posted on eventually got locked. Christ, even my Introduce Myself thread got locked. Go back and look for yourself. And you're right. I did remove the link on my page. Given the opinion that I have formed about forums in general and that one in particular, it sure seemed out of place on the Honor Roll.

And then there's the so-called Democracy of the Forums that just drives me up the walls. You folks over there are like the peasants storming the Bastille to find that there's no one there. Give you and example; Wendy from EcoSmarte started a post about the environmental aspects of salt. It was her thread, her question. She had a right to an answer, to a discussion. You guys handed her her head. I tried once to get everybody back on topic, but you guys were having none of it. The democracy of the forum said "Off with her head!" and so that's what you all did.

Now, I have posted on that forum that my opinion of ionizers is that if they had a large enough share of the pool market, I'd have an ionizer blog, too. But let's face it, she's got a long way to go before she scratches the surface of the problems we have with salt.

But nobody even tried to answer her question. You ignored the topic and went right for the throat. Yet, over on the Locked Thread, you let a Salt Rep who also reps heat pumps bash gas fired heaters like this: "hmmm, anyone in the pool industry know of gas heaters (heat exchangers to be more exact) to last more than a few years anyway?"

Where was everybody's righteous indignation then? A FEW YEARS is normally quantified at three. Two's a couple, three's a few. Do you know anybody - besides salt pool owners - who are replacing heat exchangers every three years? But that's okay, right? Where were the Mods to jump in and say, "Hey, bashing the competition is the same as selling. You're out of the pool."

If any of you folks would go back and look at her opening to that thread, and actually take five and read the links she posted, you'd see that she brought a very significant little kernel of information to the forum that day, which I pointed out later in that thread, and is really at the heart of my blog piece of two weeks ago about the letter to the editor that led to the article that was just another marketing brochure for salt which is all from the same company as the guy who bashes his competition on your forum pages with impunity.

That letter to the editor was from a real government official who wrestles with the environmental impact of increasing salinity every day.

But nobody wants to hear it. Why? My opinion is because the forums are too busy cutting deals with folks selling salt systems and the like to "add benefits" for being a dues paying forum member. I mean, how do you moderate someone’s comments when you’re in bed with people who sell their products?

Some of you guys in the forums are sharp as tacks. You know TONS about pools and pool water. But you've got vendors who are using the forums in lieu of more conventional methods of advertising. They are on line ALL THE TIME and log hundreds of posts with linking info to their websites. Why aren’t Reps from the Big Three doing the same? Perhaps it’s because they can afford conventional advertising.

I'll tell you what, if you really want to help pool owners you should start your own forum and put some controls in place where you can bounce just plain stupid comments and obvious misinformation, because the average new pool owner would have to wade through months and months of posts on all of those different forums to figure out that you and the Chem Geek and a very few other people are the only ones worth listening to over there.

Gee, that was fun. We should do this again.

Evan said...

Let's clear up a few things that you did not quite present properly. The thread that you 'introduced yourself in' WAS locked because it was the thread in question that the subject matter was about salt damage and was the thread that had degraded into a name calling match and was not productive. There is another section of the forum titled "Introduce Yourself". If you had introduced yourself in that section it would not have been locked. You only posted in two threads and they were both on the subject of salt pools and the second one was a continuation of the first one that was locked and the second one was locked when it degraded in the same way as the second one. Wendy from EcoSmarte did not answer any questions put to her in the threads that were started specifially asking about the Ecosmarte system but only posted in the threads about the negative effects of salt. In all there have been about 5 threads on the forum started that specifially asked about Ecosmarte and she was very conspicuous in her absence on ALL of them.

I just went through the forum and reread all the pertinent threads.

IF you truly had wanted to be a member of the forum you might have used some of your expertise to help some of the posters on their with their pool problems that had NOTHING to do with SWGs, IMHO. The fact that you only posted in the two threads dealing with the same subject matter as your blog is very telling of your motives.

The Pool Guy said...

Whatever, Evan. You feel better? I've published well over 100,000 words in this blog, and pretty much every one of them is anti-salt, and you're just now getting around to realizing my "true motives"?

I thought you knew.

It's okay, Evan. I don't mind that you've dismissed me as some murky conspirator in the Great Salt Debate. Over there in the forum, it's your beach, your board, your wave. Tear it up, brother.

You know, the only reason that I even came over there was because you guys were talking about ME, not the other way around. All I did was follow a referral on my site meter back to the thread where my blog was cited and joined in the ongoing discussion about problems with salt and the issues I raise in my blog.

It is odd that you characterize those circumstances as me not sharing and helping you Mods on other topics. But if that's what it takes for you to feel better about dismissing me, then by all means, go ahead.

You say that the threads were locked because they had degenerated to name calling and were just a rehash of the same information over and over. That's not how I see it at all. The only rehashng was that those of you in the Pro Salt camp were just repeating the same tired excuses over and over again, regardless of what information anybody on the other side of the issue posted.

I can see how, when every Mod is Pro Salt, you would all feel like you had exhausted everything there was to say about the subject.

What makes all of this so laughable is that a year ago, you were all merrily lapping up the Salt Kool Aid over there at Ben's sight, without reservation. Then, along came this blog, and one by one, one step at a time, you've all admitted that , gosh, maybe there's some truth to the rumor that salt and stone don't mix, that salt accelerates corrosion of stainless steel, that perhaps there are some stray current issues going on - hence the rise of zinc anodes to deflect the damage. And next, when more and more cities and states restrict the use of salt systems for environmental reasons, just like they're beginning to restrict salt based water softeners, you'll all admit that there was some truth to the environmental issues, too.

You know, all I do is go out on the internet and read the info in the public domain and then look at my pools and see the truth in what's being said about salt outside of the sales and marketing arena. Then I write my little blog and sit around and wait. So far, everybody takes a look at the same information and pretty much comes to the same conclusions, and then all the chatter on the forums changes and all of the rosey sales pitch manure starts to go out of the discussion and it's replaced with people who wake up and say, geez, yeah, looks like there's a problem here.

So, enjoy the Kool Aid while it lasts.

You are wrong about me in a way that cripples your ability to see that salt isn't a good fit for our industry. You have all these associations with all of these really nice, genuinely helpful people - who just happen to get rich off selling salt - and then you have abrasive, rude, bull-in-the-china-shop Me. It is easy to understand why you side with them.

But you won't be able to side with them forever. They will run out of excuses and eventually there will be no place left to hide from the truth of what I've said.

In the meantime, keep telling yourself I'm a bad person because I didn't jump in to help you answer questions on your forum, when I never intended, or had the time, to do anything more than keep up with the threads that dealt with the issue of salt and how it destroys pools and pollutes the environment. THAT IS what I'm doing to contribute to this industry, Evan, taking the air out of a failing and damaging technology and shining the light of reason on the consequences of using it.

And I know that nothing I've said changes anything you think or feel. So, good luck with your forum, and as we used to say in the Sixties, you do your thing and I'll do mine.

Bye, now.

poolsean said...

Funny how you respect someone that you "... rather liked..., in a respect-your-knowledge-if-not-your-position-sort-of-way" until they don't agree with you, then they are in the Anti-salt camp. Nice logic.
Yes, here I am responding to YOU again...although I promised I wouldn't.
You must be bored to death because you ended up briefly in forum because your alert told you we were talking about you. I though you came to a plausible explanation that environmental conditions (rainy vs arid climates) has alot to do with deck damage problems. That's what you said here (just go to the last page - 14)
What? No one else is responding to your blog, giving you something to do while it's raining like crazy there...or has it cleared up enough for you to work and get back to cleaning your salt pool customers. As I recall, some of your salt pool customers, according to your admittance, have no problems with their salt pool!
But you just go ahead and forward your crusade of blasting salt companies, for whatever reason you want to. It's your bat and ball, you can leave whenever you want to. No one wants to play with you anyway.
Come to think of it, I haven't seen any of your supporters claiming similar problems as you're having since the last guy with the busted cell, that was blamed on hydrogen gas explosion, without evidence. But then again, you are the masked crusader.

You just keep waiting for your Batman Light, I mean google alert to tell you when there's an anti salt something, anywhere, and you just go ahead and slip your batman cape on, and get em, killer!

So then, I'm curious to see what you call me now. Ball is in your court, Batman. Commissioner Gordon just flashed the bat signal into the sky. Down the Batpole you go.

The Pool Guy said...

In case you're not a regular reader of this blog, that last comment was from a Salt Rep. He goes by the same name over at if you want to look him up and see what company he reps for. He doesn't like me. But you probably gathered that from his comments.

It is a good thing not being liked by the likes of PoolSean. If he liked me, I'd worry that he wasn't reading my blog closely enough.

But make no mistake, PoolSean reads every word I write. In his own way, he's my biggest fan. Certainly, he's read my blog more closely than anyone but, well... me. You see, PoolSean's a lurker here at The Pool Biz blog, only rising to comment when he just can't stand sitting on the sidelines any more. He's here all hours of the day or night. He just can't stay away. It's really strange. He'll visit the Blog and read the current post over and over again, and then thirty minutes later be back and re-read old posts, rummaging through the archives like a man on a mission.

I don't know what he's looking for. It is pitiful for a man his age to have a life so barren that he's up all night every night poring through already hashed over blog entries in cyberspace.

Like Animal Mother said in Full Metal Jacket when bidding farewell to a mortally wounded comrade; "Better you than me."

Mackeyser said...

Okay....urinating contests aside. I just registered at troublefreepools and also read your blog.

Btw, I agree about the salt problem. I'm from California and within 5 years, especially coastal communities will uniformly be both banning salt water systems as well as new home buyers will insist on them being replaced. Few things tick off an image conscious pool owner like crumbling or pitted soft stone or staining that can't be repaired. And once the environmental lobby really zeroes in on this, they're done for.

Mostly what I want to get at is what does it take (time, money, equipment) to run a safe and enjoyable pool?

I get books of opinion on the matter, but I'm more for benchmarks backed by actual science. Like I always thought salt water systems in a concrete pool was just silly. Ask any civil engineer. Salt is salt. And even with all the various formulations of concrete and sealant, it's still concrete.

That said, what do you recommend (being against something is much easier than advocating imho)?

Be well,

The Pool Guy said...


I tend to think you're right that it's easier to be against something than to be an advocate. And I do have a system that I use to take care of a pool. In fact, I have a system I use on the 150 pools in my care. The thing about it is, it's not universal. I've been a Pool Guy in three different markets and there were very few commonalities in the process for each area.

First of all, it depends on your water. Southern California water was a lot like the West Texas water I took care of, but totally different than the East Texas water I take care of now. By that, I mean mostly the level of calcium in the fill water. In California and West Texas, we would use chemical products to minimize how much calcium we put into the water. Otherwise we end up with calcium scale. Here in Dallas, we have to watch our pools to make sure we have enough calcium. Otherwise we end up with spot etching.

The cleaning's different, too. In California and West Texas, we did a lot of suction vacuuming because we were mostly dealing with dust and not so much debris off of bushes and trees. In California, we vacuumed via the skimmer. In West Texas, the market had developed so that all the pool guys carried portable filter/pump setups and vac'd using those.

Here in Dallas, we Leaf Master nearly every week and hardly ever suction vacuum to the skimmer. You can't do both on the same visit - the Leaf Master tends to kick up the dust and it takes a while for it to settle - and like I said, we Leaf Master nearly every visit.

That mirrors the automatic pool cleaner market as well. In California and across the desert Soutwest, most pools have suction side cleaners to vacuum up the dust. They work great. They don't work at all here in Texas. One of those things runs until it hits a big leaf and then clogs and stops cleaning. So, most people - probably 90% of the market - use Polaris 280 return side cleaners. That's all I install in pools out here. When I was in San Diego, all I sold were Arneson (now Hayward) Pool Vac's (now Navigator).

Then, the pump run time is different, too. In California it was like pulling teeth to get my customers to run their pumps even 6 hours a day. Honestly, I had lots of customers that wouldn't budge off of running their pumps more than 4 hours a day. Not so much in West Texas or East Texas. Customers who insist on 4 hours a day in the Texas summer end up with green pools. We run pumps 10 and 12 hours a day in the summer here. I don't care what The Experts say about only needing to turn the water over once a day (Pool Volume divided by Pump Flow Rate in GPM equals minimum pump run time), if we did that here, we'd have green pools.

Now, think about pump run time and how it factors in to the controversy surrounding salt systems; 12 hours a day for half the year and six to eight hours a day for the other half. Even factoring in the month or so that the water's so cold that the salt system turns itself off, we're running these systems at 100% output for about 2500 hours a year, and the mfg's admit that the cells are rated for about 10,000 hours max, and I suspect that they're not assuming 100% output for most of that time. The result is that salt cells last about three years here. Now, someone in San Diego, who runs their salt system four hours a day and has for the last 6 or 7 years without any problems wonders what that crazy guy in Texas is talking about.

Then, think about concrete and stone damage during that month or so here in Texas when the salt system is turned off. We get a few freezes here in Texas most years. Sometimes several. We have freeze guards that kick all of our pumps on to protect them. Most of the high end pools - the ones that tend to use more natural stone - also have lots of splashy water features. Fan sprayers, cannon jets, scuppers, sheer descents, etc. It takes lower temps to freeze salt water, but once frozen, the damage it does is several times what lower TDS water will do. I didn't make that up. That's science. So, you get a lot of complaints about accelerated stone damage in the frost regions, but none initially in California, and so the industry says that Texas pool builders are shortchanging their customers and using cheap stone because that's easier than setting up a temp controlled lab and doing some simple experiments. Also, they already know how those experiments will turn out because it's in the science books and so they call a guy like me nuts and they ignore the problem. But after a few more years, the salt buildup in the stone sets up it's own recrystallization expansion pressure - commonly referred to as Salt Attack - and then problems start showing up in regions that were previously loving salt.

And that's how a lot of this stuff gets blown off, discounted, not talked about initially. They choose the best case application for their product and say, "it works fine here. You hillbillies must just be doing it wrong".

But what's happening is that the product's environment is vastly different from region to region.

Another fer'instance. Chlorine. When I cleaned pools in San Diego, we used liquid chlorine to shock the pool or supplement the chlorine level. Nobody who knew anything about Southern California water used calcium hypochlorite because the water already had too much calcium. I hear it's the same in Florida, for the same reason; their fill water has lots of calcium. So they use liquid chlorine.

Here in Dallas, we can't even buy liquid chlorine at our suppliers. They don't stock it. We'd have to go to Kroger's and buy Clorox - I have for chlorine washing pools. We use calcium hypochlorite because our tap water is 70 to 120 ppm calcium and the minimum level to start a plaster pool is 200 ppm.

And that's why it's hard for me to be FOR a particular method of maintaining pools. Because sure enough, as soon as I tell you how we do it here in East Texas, one of your local pool guys is going to have 101 good reasons why it won't work where you live.

Which dovetails nicely into why I tried and then quit posting at the forums. Lots of those people have lots of experience with pools IN THEIR REGION. Unfortunately, most of them aren't able to see much further that their own back yard when it comes to discussing pool issues. Further, they're rude and pompous and obnoxious and love treating people like jerks for asking a question. Lastly, they've put out more bad information and reinforced more myths about the way things work than even the manufacturers. They are, for the most part, under-employed members of the pool industry with too much time on their hands, or salesmen pretending to be caring, giving individuals who are just trying to steer you to their products.

That forum you mentioned is all about making money, and while I get that and understand that's the way everything works, in my opinion, they cross several lines making that money. For example, it's hard for them to be in any way objective about something like salt systems when they're in bed with websites that specialize in selling salt systems. Another example, it's hard for them to be objective about, say, different types of test kits when they sell their own test kit.

But all that aside, you're right. It's environmental issues that will eventually outlaw salt systems. Someday, when they're as aware of water contamination as they are now about global warming, they'll all say, "what were we thinking, putting a known corrosive and contaminant in our pool water?"

The Pool Guy said...

Oh, there is one more thing. Brush your pool every week with a nylon wall brush. Maintain a sufficient chlorine residual. Run your pump an adequate amount of time for your region. Shock the pool once every two weeks in the swimming season, and as required during the rest of the year. If you don't understand how often as required is, then you need to read up on Free Available, Combined and Total Chlorine. Then you'll know.

But the first thing I said there, "brush your pool every week", is the reason that pool gadgets like salt systems exist. If everybody would just brush off the biofilm before it provides a bed for algae growth, we wouldn't need forums or Pool Guys or gadgets to tell you how to take care of your pool.

That's as close as I can get to a universal system.