Water analysis to keep pool clean

A well balanced pool with clean, clear, sparkling water that mirrors the sea and the sky on a bright sunny day. A hand packed concrete construction.

High-tech Water Analysis for Your Pool

Kathryn Alexander discovers that sophisticated computers enable pool shops to analyze water instantly and accurately. She chats to a South African believer; these systems are also available in other parts of the world including the US and Australia.

“This computer impresses the hell out of my customers.” Philip de Kock

Water analysis test
Pool water is analyzed at the pool shop ‘laboratory’.

When they bought a BioGuard automated water analysis system a few years ago, Philip de Kock and Ian Loebenberg of Pool Doctor in Wynberg, Cape Town thought they had simply purchased a machine that would help them balance the water in their customers’ pools. To their surprise, the water analysis computer – which allows them to provide an invaluable free service – turned out to be a well-spring of other useful functions that have helped improve everything from chemical sales to their teams’ credibility. “To be frank,” says Philip, “this computer impresses the hell out of my customers.” Each of the available systems has slightly different ways of working, but there are some basic concepts that most analyzers have in common. First, some pertinent information about each pool or spa is entered into the computer and saved for automatic recall whenever a new water sample is tested for that pool or spa. This information includes the volume of water in liters, the pool or spa type (gunite, handpacked concrete, fiberglass or vinyl), the kind of finish the pool or spa has (marble plaster, fiberglass and so on), the source of water (municipal or borehole), and any previous water analysis data.

Water analysis test
A strip is dipped into the water to be tested and this is fed into a machine connected to the computer.

The Test

You, as pool owner, start by taking a sample of water from your swimming pool or spa. Take this to your local pool shop that uses an automated water analysis system so they can conduct the necessary tests in their computer-based laboratory.  These tests will determine the levels of pH, total chlorine, available free chlorine, total alkalinity (TA), total dissolved solids, calcium hardness and trace elements including iron and copper. The results, which are given as a numerical reading for each chemical tested, provide information that indicates any chemical imbalance in the water. With this information in hand, the computer-operator at your pool shop will enter the numbers into a the computer to analyze various inter-related factors. The computer then provides a print-out with detailed instructions explaining how to balance the water, including a list of chemicals and quantities that should be added to the pool.

Water analysis test
The total alkalinity reading is done manually.

“The computer basically does the maths,” says Philip. “It’s hard to make all the calculations and solve the equations without one. “Most ordinary test kits can be used to test for chlorine and pH, but not for calcium hardness or TA. This computer allows us to test a variety of chemicals – and we can test them simultaneously instead of one at a time.” One of the most important extra values which comes with the BioGuard computer, say the team at Pool Doctor, is the added air of professionalism associated with using a computer. “Without a computer, we are essentially testing the water with a test kit just like the one the pool owner is using,” says Philip. “With the computer, we can do things that customers can’t do on their own.”

Water analysis test
Testing the pH.

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