Brittle PVC pipe fixtures

Once again we had a battle with a Baker Hydro sand filter leaking from the threaded adaptor at the bulkhead. We get called out for the same filter problem several times a year despite the relative rarity of Baker Hydro filters.

The walls of the adapter are made paper thin to accomodate a sunken o-ring and tend to perish and disintegrate after a few years. Unscrewing the bulkhead collar once or twice is even enough to cause the adapter to start breaking.Old sand filter

Parts are not easily accessible and we tend to get the odd parts custom turned in stainless steel, which will never let us down. We figure the original only lasts a few years anyway so get it repaired once and it’s fixed for good (or at least until the filter dies). The pair of collars we had made for this filter cost us around $30, which is not much more than we would have paid if we had bought original PVC parts and added in the shipping.

We can even recycle the stainless steel parts after the sand filter is laid to rest – a good buffing and they’re ready for the next repair job. The end result? The filter will keep going for a few more years and when the bulkhead adapter breaks, it’s into the filter graveyard and time to replace it with a filter that is more tolerant of generic parts.

We are certainly not fans of Baker Hydro sand filters.

Drought in Georgia

Citizens of North Georgia have been anticipating a dry summer and empty swimming pools. The Governor’s office, among much speculation, had ruled that pool owners would not be given permission to use the State’s precious water resources for filling their pools.

A recent announcement has helped to allay some fears:

Citing risks to public health and safety, Governor Sonny Perdue announced plans today to modify state restrictions on the filling of swimming pools in drought-stricken north Georgia, but will still require that water conservation goals be met. Under a Level Four Drought Response, the filling of outdoor swimming pools is prohibited. Today Governor Perdue announced the lifting of this restriction, allowing outdoor pools to be filled from April through September 2008.

That’s some relief for the 6,500 public pools and 92,000 private residential pools in the affected area, that manage to use seven million gallons of water per day from April through September. The Governor’s office went on to observe that:

Some potential impacts if outdoor pools were left empty include collecting stagnant water, cracking or collapsing of pools and posing a safety threat of falling into the empty pool.

Here’s hoping for some of that much needed rain in Georgia.

Swimming pool chemical incident

According to the BBC, a man was treated in hospital after accidentally mixing chemicals used for cleaning a swimming pool.

Emergency services were called out to reports of a chemical incident at Glenwood High School on Saturday.

They discovered that a member of staff had accidentally mixed chemicals used for cleaning the swimming pool.

That pool chemicals are extremely dangerous is so often forgotten. I have come across numerous incidents of explosions, vapor discharges or wild, out of control reactions due to the mixing of different pool chemicals. Possibly the most frightening and perhaps the easiest mix to “accidently” make is the combination of dichlor and calcium hypo with some water added to it.

In pools where the chlorine needs to be predissolved and the pool operator mixes some dichlor and cal hypo in the same bucket, the resulting explosion and thick pungent cloud of yellow “mustard gas” is horrifying to witness. The gas explodes upwards in a typical mushroom shape. Thankfully, people unfortunate enough to be nearby when it all goes bang generally remain below the cloud of gas.


The smell of chlorine around a pool is usually accompanied by irritation to the eyes, nose, lungs and skin of the swimmers. The pool smell is not due to chlorine but to chloramines, chemical compounds that build up in pool water when there is not enough free chlorine.

Chloramines are the result of two ingredients:

  • chlorine and
  • sweat, oils or urine that are brought into the pool by the swimmers.

Chlorine disinfectants are added to pool water to destroy germs that can cause illness. Sweat, oils and urine are unwanted additions to pool water. Showering before swimming can help minimize the formation of chloramines and the smelly pool.

The Chemistry of Chloramines

When chlorine disinfectants are added to water, two chemicals are formed: hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion. Hypochlorous acid is known as “free available chlorine” or FAC and has the potential to destroy waterborne germs. Pool operators manage the FAC level of pool water for the safety of swimmers. Free available chlorine is reduced when it reacts with swimmer waste to form these smelly chloramines.

Minimizing Chloramine Smells

Swimmers with red, irritated eyes complain that there is too much chlorine in the pool. When pool water is irritating, there is almost always not enough free chlorine in the pool water.

Chloramines, which produce the typical pool smell, can be destroyed using chlorine or non-chlorine shocks. A shock treatment destroys the ammonia and organic compounds that combine with chlorine to make chloramines.