Manual or Robotic?

Over the past year, the importance of proper water chemistry and various pool system components have been discussed. These topics are vital for the health of the pool environment. Of equal importance is the condition of the pool surface. Pool surface materials vary within the commercial pool arena. Marcite (plaster), paint, tile (ceramic) and heavy vinyl are all surfaces used at public pool facilities. The condition of these surfaces is influenced by rain, wind, dust storms, leaves, algae, fungi and metallic imbalances. In addition, bathers use suntan lotions and oils, which create unsightly tile appearance.

A casual attitude toward cleaning can result in an unattractive pool surface, which will eventually cause algae growth, discoloration of pool surfaces, staining of walls and floor, scale formations and tile discoloration. To avoid these conditions, aquatic managers must arrange for daily cleaning procedures. Historically, most operators follow the same guidelines for surface cleaning.

· Brushing, tile cleaning and vacuuming, as well as water testing and adjustments, are done early in the morning, prior to pool opening. Any sediment that was in solution during the swimming hours has had a chance to sink to the pool floor.

· No bathers should be present when cleaning the pool.

· All cleaning equipment must be maintained in good condition to keep from damaging the pool surface during the process.

Always check the pump’s hair and lint basket prior to beginning the process. Also, clean or backwash the pool filter before and after the process, to eliminate increased pressure on the filter system. By performing these steps first, you will save time in the long run.

Know The Tools

The majority of public pool operators continue to manually clean their pools with the traditional cleaning tools–vacuum head, wall and floor brush, vacuum hose and leaf nets, along with the telescopic poles.

Each of these tools performs a different function in the overall cleaning of the pool and spa. In addition, manufacturers offer a number of heavy-duty cleaning products specifically designed for commercial use. Operators should use these cleaning devices and not rely on tools designed for residential pool use.

Vacuum Head

The main component of the manual cleaning procedure is the vacuum head. This device connects to the vacuum hose, which is attached to a dedicated vacuum line, or inserted into the pool skimmer. The vacuum head literally sucks the dirt and debris from the pool bottom (and sides), and places the dirt into the filtration system. An alternate method of vacuuming is a portable system. The operator does not want the dirt to be trapped in the filter, but to be trapped in a separate vessel instead, and disposed appropriately away from the pool deck area.

Portable Vacuum System

The vacuum head should be sized according to the surface area to be cleaned. There are wider vacuum heads available for commercial use; the width of the head will ensure the job is completed more efficiently. To ensure that the vacuum procedure is done correctly, time must be taken. “The slower you vacuum, the better job you will do” has been the motto of operators over the years. You cannot hurry this procedure. If you move the vacuum head too fast, the vacuum will stir up the debris and cause the pool water to become cloudy, and then the operator cannot see the dirt laying on the floor. Aquatic facility managers should assign the most patient staff member the task of vacuuming and say, “Take your time.”

The procedure is designed to slowly vacuum the pool bottom in long strokes, one vacuum length at a time, overlapping prior to moving to the next section. If the operator notices a loss of suction, it is advisable to check the hair and lint strainer at the pump, stop the procedure, and clean the basket. Also check the vacuum or pressure gauge on the filter system. If the pressure gauge is high or the vacuum gauge is low, the operator will need to clean the filter system before continuing the process.

Caution: Most commercial facilities use a dedicated vacuum line. To avoid vacuum-line entrapment, this line should always be covered when the pool operator is not vacuuming the pool. Swimming pool codes now require a spring-loaded cover. Also, if there is a valve installed on this line in the filter room, it should be closed off when not vacuuming. All staff should understand the need to prevent vacuum-line entrapment.

Brushing Techniques

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