Ultimately, pool service is all about anticipating trouble before it strikes. If we can anticipate what’s going to happen with a body of water, then we can take steps to minimize the negative effects. It’s all about staying steps ahead of the inevitable.
We know, for example, if it’s going to rain and there will be runoff that might carry all sorts of contaminants and detritus into our pools and spa, or that wind may blow dust and debris into the water. We know that large numbers of bathers may use a pool or spa at the same time, contributing all the stuff that comes with human bodies.
These are all things that we can reliably anticipate, and therefore, it’s reasonable to think that we should be able to implement effective countermeasures to stay in front of trouble before it strikes. But, unfortunately, when we consider the way that traditional pool service works, all too often the technician is merely responding as best he or she can to water quality injuries that have already happened.
A service technician working a pool route simply cannot be everywhere all the time, and without systems in place that monitor and treat the water in real time, there’s nothing one person can do other than try to correct problems after they’ve already happened and very likely have already compromised water quality. The key to success in maintaining superior water quality is to stay those several big steps ahead of the inevitable before it arrives.
That’s the big difference between being proactive and reactive, in so far as those overly popular terms apply to pool and spa operation. In that spirit, I’m very proud of the fact that the pools we build, SRK HydroZone 3® Pools, are all made to stay far ahead of problems before they take hold. That same philosophy applies to our service routines and the maintenance regimens we recommend for pool operators and staff at commercial aquatic facilities.
Otherwise, you’re always chasing water quality but never quite getting there.
Maintaining water quality requires a holistic, systems-based approach — a carefully orchestrated dance between technology and human effort.
You can have the best system and technology available, but without expert service and management, the investment in that technology will only be of marginal benefit. Likewise, you might be the most diligent and skilled of service techs, but absent the right tools, maintaining perfect water conditions will be nigh onto impossible.
This is one of the big reasons why I’m passionate about designing and building the pools we service and vice versa. It’s ultimately why I created the HydroZone 3 system and why I refer to the water in our pools as HydroZone 3 Water. It’s all because I knew there had to be a better way.
By combining ozone, UV and small amounts of chlorine, we’ve created a system that works on multiple levels where ozone handles the majority of oxidation demand, starving bacteria and algae while eliminating organic compounds and disinfection byproducts. At the same time, the UV scrambles the DNA of bacteria so it cannot reproduce, and the tiny residual of free-available chlorine is present to take care of bacteria and contamination that results from bather-to-bather contact and momentary chlorine demand. Our systems also automatically adjust pH with CO2 or acid to help maintain consistent water balance to protect interior surface materials and equipment from scale or corrosion.
Those measures all work together using control and automation technology that notifies us when something changes. That way, the service technician can be up to speed on exactly what’s going on at multiple locations at the same time, which in turn means the servicer can respond to the situation that is most in need at any given moment. In effect, the technician becomes more of a conductor with the multiple functions of each pool and spa being the orchestra. The metaphorical music we’re conducting is the melody and harmony of the human aquatic experience. To stretch the analogy, you need both the right instruments and the best players.
Technology in Step
This system’s approach doesn’t stop at the chemical treatment devices. In our HydroZone 3 Pools, all aspects of the pool operation are designed with water quality in mind.
For example, we install only perfectly balanced and efficient plumbing systems. We use multiple skimmers and returns to ensure maximum skimming action and chemical distribution. There are no dead spots in our pools. HydroZone 3 Pools often have split return systems dividing the oxidation and sanitation processes. And, we always favor floor returns with evenly distributed treated water from the bottom up—which also supports heating efficiency.
(Because heat rises, it only makes sense to introduce heated water at the bottom of the vessel where it will rise and evenly warm the entire water column.)
Our systems always include robust, upsized filters, variable speed pumps, and easily accessible equipment pads. Our equipment rooms are always well lit and ventilated and are laid out with the ergonomics of service in mind, which is one of the benefits of having to service the pools you build. It forces you to fully consider the human element. After all, for all of the dazzling benefits of modern technology, the people remain the most important part of the “system.”
We even make our material selections in the design and construction phase with serviceability in mind, knowing that some types of cementitious finishes or rockwork can impact water balance and can be extremely susceptible to water’s dynamic chemical nature. Everything in a HydroZone 3 pool is aimed at creating balance and harmony with the system, to create water that is ultimately reliable and as I like to say “resilient.”
Still, for this entire technical prowess, as I just said, the human factor remains supreme. Our service routines are the result of decades of hard won experience. Yes, we pride ourselves on the systems, but place equal if not greater emphasis on the personal artisanship side of the formula.
Again, starting with chemistry, not all chemical values can be measured automatically; chiefly calcium hardness and total alkalinity still require manual reagent- and titration-based testing. We don’t take short cuts with our testing regimens; even when everything looks good and the system readings don’t show any problems, we test at every service visit and combine those results with the data gathered by the control systems to gain a complete picture of the water chemistry.
As a side note: we also periodically test source water so we know the conditions of the water being added to the pool or spa due to splash out or evaporation. We know that conditions at the tap can change from time to time, and it helps us adjust our treatment if we know, for example, that the water being added is deficient in calcium or has a very low or high pH.
We also don’t wait for filters to load up before backwashing. It might sound extreme to some, but we backwash our filters (we still favor sand filters) once each week. Granted we’re not located in an area subject to water shortages, so we freely backwash, which enhances both the filtration process itself and supports hydraulic efficiency.
But it’s not just what we do on site that matters. We’re also constantly interacting with homeowners or staff at commercial facilities about what they should be doing. It might be something as simple as taking time to net leaves after a strong wind or to keep areas around the pool as clean as possible. In commercial settings, we often give detailed daily maintenance instructions and suggestions, and we encourage good bather hygiene.
All those little pieces are part of the bigger equation that ultimately results in the best possible consumer experience. Staying those big steps ahead, being proactive, is really the only way to clear the high bar we set for ourselves and our customers.
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Don’t settle for less, especially when it can impact the well-being of those who use your pool.
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Meet Steve Kenny
Steve Kenny is an aquatic designer, builder, and service technician with more than 25 years of experience. Based in Long Island, New York, he specializes in designing, building, and maintaining commercial and residential pools and spas that feature the highest possible water quality.
He is a passionate advocate of creating a new class of aquatic professionals devoted to the science, methods, and art of ensuring pristine water conditions. Steve was formally trained in the culinary arts and has a passion for fine dining. He is an accomplished photographer and sailing enthusiast. He is also a passionate advocate of the benefits of hydrotherapy.
A devoted family man, Steve lives in East Hampton with his bride of 20 years and their three children.