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Drain and Refill: Cleaning Your Swimming Pool After a Fire

Drain and Refill: Cleaning Your Swimming Pool After a Fire
Posted: Jan 21, 2019
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After the devastating fires we’ve encountered here in Southern California the past few months, people are beginning to pick up the pieces. Homeowners and businesses with pools and spas may be wondering what exactly needs to be done to have pools safely up and running again before the summer weather hits. The answer? Most likely drain and refill.

It helps to understand the effects that the fires and ash have had on pools:

The fires have led to pools being filled with ash and debris. Ash is not good for water chemistry, pool finish, equipment and personal health. Ash causes the water chemistry to get out of balance. As a result, a major issue that arises is that the ash causes high phosphates in the water. These phosphates are food for algae. This means a very high algae season will be upon us in these upcoming summer months. Draining and refilling the pool stops this issue before it starts and wreaks havoc on your pool and pool system.

Some pool finishes may also have been stained due to the ash. For this issue, an acid wash will help the pool finish. The pool equipment filters may have been jam packed with ash and debris. This will require a filter cleaning and, in some cases, for all filter elements to be replaced. The personal health issue is a serious one to consider as well. We don’t know where the ash in the pool originated from. This could be plant or tree ash, or it may very well be roof tile ash, car ash or refrigerator ash. This ash and debris is not safe to be swimming in.

Why are high phosphates and algae growth dangerous to your swimming pool?

Phosphates are food for algae. So, pools with high levels of phosphates (like those impacted by smoke and ash) have a high level of algae growth. Algae is a safe harbor for pathogens like E-coli bacteria. Phosphate is persistent and does not break down naturally. The algae that grows as a result can cloud and color your water, can clog up sanitation pathways in the water, and can also clog up the pores in a pool filter. This decreases filter effectiveness and requires more backwashing or filter replacement. Unfortunately, algae can also spread to crevices of filters or into rough spots of plaster and tile. Roots that are sent into the plaster can slowly degrade and stain pool surfaces.

When should you be draining your pool?

It’s recommended that you drain and refill your pool every 3-5 years anyway. Given the recent conditions, now is the time to drain and refill.

Why is draining and refilling better than adding chemicals?

If your pool hasn’t been drained for 5 years+, then a simple drain and refill is the quickest and easiest way to ensure that your pool is safe for swimming. It’s the best thing for your pool and a much more thorough approach. New water will feel so much cleaner and more refreshing than the hard water you’re currently swimming in. If you choose not to drain and refill, you will experience an algae bloom in the coming summer. If your pool hasn’t been drained, right after winter is the best time to do it. It’s a simple, affordable and thorough fix.

How much does it actually cost on average for a drain and refill?

Draining and refilling a pool is much more affordable than most people realize. The labor charge to simply drain and refill is only about $300. For those that need a complete acid wash, the labor to drain and acid wash is around $1000. As far as actual water cost goes, don’t be scared off. Most pools only cost about $100-200 in water expense. To calculate, you can look at your bill and see what your HCF=748 gallons cost is. You then multiply that by how many HCF you will need to calculate your water cost. For example, if your pool is 25,000 gallons divide 25,000 by 748 = 33.42 HCF x cost of each HCF $3.34 = $112 is what it will cost to refill a 25,000 gallon pool.

Can you help?

We are offering consultations to evaluate pools to see if they need to be drained. We will review each pool as they come to us, evaluate the water and how long since it’s been drained, check water chemistry and give a recommendation from there. If you think your pool needs to be drained, or if you need a consultation, give us a call at 805.428.0132 today.

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