For commercial pool owners, pool maintenance is one of the pillars of their business. When pools are your business, one of your top priorities must be keeping the pools clean and up to health codes to ensure they stay open for as much time as possible. This can be challenging, with pool and spa regulations being quite specific and strict, requiring a lot of attention from pool owners and operators to keep pools in functioning shape.
If maintenance is neglected, pool chemicals can fall out of required ranges, allowing pool water to turn cloudy or green, and unbalanced chemicals in the water can sometimes make swimmers’ eyes burn. These pool conditions are unappealing to customers, and can potentially cause health issues over prolonged periods of time. Keeping pool chemicals balanced and in required ranges can require a lot of attention and work, and can sometimes be too much for a manager and their employees to handle manually. Using a high-quality commercial pool test kit is the best way to stay on top of pool water conditions, and can prevent these issues.
Types of Commercial Pool Test Kits
Choosing the right commercial pool test kit can make all the difference in pool maintenance. Testing methods that aren’t accurate enough can lead to a number of issues, including causing pools to fall out of chemical balance, allowing illnesses to spread, and allowing pools to go cloudy or green. These issues can arise due to inaccurate testing even when managers and employees are performing regular maintenance and chemical corrections.
If a pool test kit indicates that a certain chemical is within acceptable limits when it isn’t, this can allow pool chemicals to slowly fall out of balance. Meanwhile, if the inaccurate test kit indicates that a chemical is out of acceptable limits when it actually is within the limits, CPOs will end up adding chemicals unnecessarily, wasting expensive chemicals, and possibly throwing the pool out of chemical balance.
When inaccurate test kits misrepresent actual chemical conditions in pool water, it can lead to pool owners and operators making the wrong decisions, allowing problems to worsen or causing problems when there was none before. Commercial pool operators can’t afford to let one of these issues close their pool or make it unusable.
Running one or several commercial pools often requires the best test kits available to keep pools safe and functioning efficiently. Good equipment can save time and money long term, and easy and accurate testing systems can allow CPOs to give testing responsibilities to other employees and still be assured the water test will be accurate. Presently water test strips are not allowed by health departments for commercial pools, leaving two primary testing methods available for commercial pools: Liquid reagent testing and digital testing.
Commercial Pool Test Kit Methods
Liquid Reagents Test
The liquid reagent tests required by local health departments aren’t simply the kind you can buy from a local home goods or hardware store. When conducting commercial pool testing, FAS-DPD liquid testing kits are required, as they are able to test for different chlorine levels. There are several classifications for chlorine in a pool, including free chlorine, combined chlorine, and total chlorine. Free chlorine is “unused” chlorine that has not yet bound with a contaminant in the water, while combined chlorine is chlorine that is bound with contaminants and is no longer effective at sanitizing the water. Total chlorine refers to the total amount of both free and combined chlorine in the water. Determining the level of each type of chlorine in the water is important, as it can indicate whether pool operators need to shock their pool to free up chlorine for future cleaning.
Unfortunately, these liquid reagent test kits have several major drawbacks. For one, temperature extremes such as going from a refrigerator or air-conditioned office to the back of a hot vehicle or sitting in the sun can cause them to degrade. Testing for multiple chemicals also requires multiple test tubes, which leaves plenty of room for error, and takes time as each test takes several minutes to complete. Switching bottle caps or not properly cleaning test tubes after each use to save time can potentially contaminate the reagents and throw off subsequent tests. Unfortunately, this isn’t hard to do with 6 or more bottles required to do a complete water chemical test. Some health departments even require new reagents yearly whether they have expired or not, adding a cost burden to seasonal facilities. On top of all of this, liquid reagent testing can be inaccurate and is only rated as a Level L3 tester by the NSF.
Digital Pool Test Kits
Digital commercial pool testers like the LaMotte Spin Touch offer a good alternative to liquid reagent testing. Like liquid reagents, digital testers can test for different chlorine levels, but the LaMotte Spin Touch can test up to 10 chemical levels in under a minute. It also conducts water tests with far greater accuracy, with an NSF top-level L1 rating. LaMotte Spin Touch offers incredible ease of use and uses single-use disks which decrease the likelihood that water tests will be contaminated or that employees conducting tests will cut corners while testing and log false testing data.
Lamotte Spin Touch Digital Commercial Pool Test Kit
Digital testers offer superior testing to liquid reagents in almost every category and will pay for themselves quickly. The time savings alone compared to liquid reagent test kits can quickly produce positive ROI, not to mention that greater testing accuracy will prevent expensive chemicals from being wasted, and can prevent problems from arising, sometimes requiring pools to be drained and refilled. A digital testing solution like the LaMotte Spin Touch is the obvious choice for commercial pool owners who want to keep their pools operating efficiently and safely.
Commercial Pool Test Kit Data Recording
Whatever equipment commercial pool owners and managers use to test the water, they’ll need a good system for logging testing results. Commercial pool test kit data must be kept in storage for up to 7 years in some states, and it is imperative to have detailed records of pool testing data for the health department. Many local health departments will occasionally stop by a commercial pool for a random inspection, which normally includes reviewing chemical testing data. The more detailed and organized the testing data is, the faster health department inspectors will be able to conduct the inspections, allowing them to be in and out of a facility quite quickly. Insurance companies also often require pool chemical testing records when filing a claim, as these records are a pool owner’s only proof that their pool has been properly maintained.
For these reasons, commercial pool owners and managers must prioritize using the best chemical logging method possible. Without accurate pool chemical logging, pool owners run the risk of being fined or potentially shut down by local health departments and will have a far more difficult time filing a claim with their insurance agency. There are a couple of different ways to log pool water testing data. Traditionally, this data is logged by hand in a physical paper logbook, but new digital options are now available, including the Pool Shark H2O app.
Paper pool logbooks are fairly easy to use and understand, but they have a number of drawbacks. Physical log books take up a lot of space in storage, as one log book only covers 1 to 3 months of pool testing data. If 7 years of logbooks need to be stored, this can mean anywhere from 28 to 84 log books per pool need to be stored and kept organized on site. Physical logs can also be damaged or lost, and data can be falsified far more easily than with a digital solution, making them potentially unreliable in the event of a liability claim.
The Pool Shark H2O app is a digital solution to data logging that eliminates many of the problems with physical logbooks. It is very easy to enter data into Pool Shark H2O, especially when using a digital tester, as some can connect via Bluetooth and automatically transfer testing data to the app. With Pool Shark H2O, every “logbook” fits in your pocket, as all logged data is stored in a secure cloud database, which also allows users to view and access data from anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud storage is also much safer for data, as it can’t be damaged or lost in a digital database.
The Pool Shark H2O App not only records the commercial pool test kit data but does the chemical calculations for you, saving time and reducing errors.
Users also can’t modify or falsify data once it has been entered in the database, although false data can still be an issue if entering the data manually into the app. This seems like an unlikely scenario, however, as a user who entered false data would lose out on some of the benefits of the app. One of the biggest benefits is that the app provides instant water analysis based on the testing results and calculates dosage requirements for each chemical needed to be added to the pool. This takes the difficult calculation process of chemical addition out of the hands of employees, helping to keep pools in chemical balance by minimizing the room for human error.
When managing commercial pools is your business, the top priority must be keeping those pools open and functioning, as that is the only way commercial pools make money. Keeping pools open and functional requires keeping them clean and chemically balanced, which is sometimes easier said than done. Fortunately, the tools discussed here are available to pool owners and operators to help them stay on top of maintenance and to help them manage their pools with accuracy and confidence.