It is not 1970, no longer can we look at a pool and say “well it’s clear” throw in some granular chlorine and call it “good enough”. It is 2017, we know better than that and we have ever increasingly stringent requirements placed on operators to ensure both good clarity AND sanitation. Running a pool by hand feeding chemicals, or by plugging a pump into the wall is time intensive, inaccurate and it is next to impossible to guarantee that the water stays within parameters. Not to mention, there are no safety’s when plugging feeder pumps into the wall.
Take a look at the recent story out of Florida that resulted in a number of youth swimmers being hospitalized with chemical burns. The explanation given was that a storm caused the circulation pump to shut down, the chemical feeders somehow continued to operate, and when the pump turned back on all the chemicals that had been injected flooded out to the pool. The result was a heavy concentration of chemicals going into the swimming area accompanied by a noxious cloud of fumes. Multiple swimmers received chemical burns and had to be taken to the hospital.
The details are not clear on the exact equipment setup, but whatever was in place was clearly not sufficient to stop what should be, and is, preventable.
All too frequently I see pools operating with standard chemical feed pumps plugged into an outlet, power strip, etc. and every time I see this, I cringe and point it out to the operator. Usually I’m told “well it’s worked for us for years, so we don’t see a need to change”
While I cannot deny that a pool “can” (*emphasis on the quotes) be loosely run like this, in the commercial sector it should not be. The main reason? The majority of chemical feed pumps are not setup to detect a lack of flow through the circulation system… most pumps simply turn when there is power, regardless of what the main pump is doing, where the chemical levels are actually at, etc.. This can lead to situations like the Florida case where nobody was aware of the danger they were in until it was too late.
The bottom line? GET A CONTROLLER…
Chemical controllers have been around for decades and they come in all sorts of setup. While 30-40 years ago there may not have been many options, In todays market there is a controller for every budget to fit every need with a myriad of capabilities and beneficial features. That said, every controller worth considering shares one common feature – Flow Detection. They may have different methods or components to accomplish their task, but all can tell when the water is moving, and subsequently, shut down chemical feeds when it is not.
Additionally, many states now require that chemical controllers be implemented and that those controllers implement this incredibly important safety feature.
If you or anybody you know are still running a pool by plugging chemical pumps in either directly to the wall, via a power strip, or on a timer – please… please, please, please, consider a chemistry controller (even a basic unit), it may or may not be a matter of life or death, but it can most certainly impact the lives and safety of those that use the pool.