Hybrid and Custom – The Journey to a Perfect Pool
The great philosopher and author, Joseph Campbell, defined what he called the “hero’s journey” as the road taken by those who devote their lives to something greater than themselves. I’ve always been inspired by that idea and believe that having a sense of abiding purpose gives our efforts meaning.
We all find our own journeys and reasons for taking them in our own ways. In my case, at least on the professional front, my journey has been, and remains, about achieving perfection in water. In many ways, it’s like playing the violin or trying to master chess, it can never be truly perfected. Yet, by moving toward an objective, you inevitably come closer and closer to it.
FROM THE KITCHEN
I unknowingly started down this path when I became a professional, formerly trained chef. The experience instilled in me an understanding of the value of serving delicious and wholesome food, and the importance of the overall dining experience.
When I moved into the family pool-service business more than 30 years ago, I brought with me that same commitment to “serving” a quality product. Instead of French cuisine, however, I was in the business of preparing and maintaining superior water quality, “gourmet water,” as I like to sometimes call it.
It was very slow going at first. There weren’t many reliable educational sources within the industry covering water chemistry, and for many years, I learned primarily by trial and error, sometimes at my customers’ expense. But I worked doggedly to master what I was doing and although it wasn’t always smooth or pretty, I did manage to stay afloat in business and for the most part, keep our customers reasonably happy.
As I progressed in my understanding of water chemistry and treatment, I could see the important relationship between decisions builders make during the design and construction process, and the subsequent ability of the service tech to maintain quality water conditions. Time and time again, I saw a huge disconnect between the way pools were built and how they would later be serviced.
The epiphany led me into the world of water treatment technology, where I learned just how inadequate most swimming pool and spa treatment “systems” have been. I’ve found it outrageous how our industry has badly underserved our consumers by leaving them with unmanageable conditions, with water quality that is inconsistent at best, and dangerous at worst.
My journey led me to consider what really happens in pools and how to generate enduring and resilient water quality, you have to take a “systems” approach in which all the elements of water treatment – filtration, oxidation, sanitizing, water balance, skimming action and circulation – all hold hands and work synergistically to create pristine, crystalline water.
As I’ve written many times, my chemical explorations led me to a treatment concept based on combining technology. I use the power of ozone for oxidizing organic compounds, UV light treatment for killing bacteria and very small concentrations of chlorine to protect bather-to-bather contact in the pool itself.
When you combine this multi-layered approach with the right type of filtration, circulation and pool design, it is surprising the water quality you can achieve. There’s a character to our water that is hard to describe, which is why I encourage prospective clients to take a dip for themselves. When they do, we are always chosen to design and install their system.
Still, I’m never completely satisfied and although I do believe we provide the best water in the industry, I’m always striving to improve, forever experimenting with new types of equipment and treatment products.
For example, in recent months I’ve been trying out activated glass filter in the sand filter on our family’s pool. So, far the results have been outstanding, reducing sanitizer demand and adding a spectacular polish to the water.
I’ve also been experimenting with a parts-per-million based chemical controller system. Based on what I’ve seen so far, this unit gives us even greater control over the chlorine residual compared to traditional ORP meters.
And, I’m working with an ozone-system manufacturer on a customizable “skid packs” that contain all of the ozone-system components in one deliverable system, which will simplify design and installation, while giving us greater design flexibility.
While understanding the science and technology of water treatment is of paramount importance, there’s another factor that comes into play, as well. That’s the unique nature of every pool. No two are the same and no two clients are the same. That means every pool, existing or brand new, residential or commercial, simple or complex must be treated on a case-by-case basis.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, you have to accommodate a range of variables including the pool’s size and shape, location, environmental factors, usage, source water chemistry, and most important of all, the client’s priorities.
That means listening carefully to the things the client says about what’s important to them, and what isn’t. It means taking a spectrum of variables and factoring them into the design. And it means being willing to constantly solve problems and fine tune the system.
In our business, there is no such thing as an unhappy client, and bringing joy into people’s live is the prime object, it’s the reason that pursuing the quixotic dream of perfection is a journey well worth taking.