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Tip #3: Pump Run Hours

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Ken Sheinkopf, Associate Director of the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa writes the weekly 'Energy Check' column for the Orlando Sentinel. In his Saturday, July 29th column, he cites a study done by Florida Atlantic University.

Pool owners who ran their residential pool pumps for as little as 3 to 4 hours a day in a staggered schedule were quite happy with the way their pool looked and greatly satisfied with the reduction in their electric bill.

The study illuminates three interesting facts:

(1) Add chemicals to the pool at the start of a 1 hour pump cycle and all will be adequately mixed.

(2) High circulation rates do not reduce algae growth.

(3) Running the pump more than one hour after all debris is removed is wasted energy.

Researchers say the best way to run the pump is to break the cycle into 2 or 3 one- hour or hour and a half shifts.

Brush your pool once or twice a week; more often if you notice algae growth.

Now, I've always recommended at least one turn- over a day for residential pools and this was based on what I believed to be common sense; commercial pools turn over the volume four times a day; residential pools should therefore turn the volume over at least once.

But what residential pools don't experience are the tremendous traffic loads dumped in commercial pools: The footworn, sweaty tourists who are happy to finally squat in one place and don't move for nuthin; including the occasional nature's call. Count the odd- brand beer cans left around a motel pool and see if that relates to your own pool. Chances are, it won't.

Certainly doesn't hurt to try this new approach and the only possible loser is your power company. Intermatic timer 'trippers' are available at Home Depot (Hot Water Heater dept.) for $1.67 a set and will introduce most pumps to a new two hour; twice a day schedule. Other than your first drive- in movie ticket, it may be the best $2 you'll ever spend.

Tip #4

This month's caveat addresses the use of silicon caulk around a swimming pool:

People assume that, because silicon is used in fish tanks, it's good to use around a swim pool. What they don't realize is that what's used in aquariums is a special formulation of silicon and not the stuff you buy at Home Depot.

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This homeowner was quite proud that he'd found and repaired leaks around the return fittings by himself, but the pool still lost water and he didn't know where else to look.

I didn't have the heart to tell him that he'd found the leaks, all right. He just didn't get them fixed. As this photo shows, the silicon never completely stuck to the surface and the water was just blowing by it. You can see leak sites at both the return jets. 2- part pool putty was used to repair the leaks properly.

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The only silicon caulk used in aquariums or around a pool, for that matter is the Marine Grade stuff, what you'd find at a marina or boat store. Anything else is just wasting your time.

There are three fine brands (West Marine Silicon, Boat Life Silicon & Sikaflex Polyurethane) of Marine Sealants all available through boat stores, boat catalogues and marinas. Available at most home supply stores is 3M- 5200 Marine Sealant.

But why you don't see silicon caulk used more around a swimming pool is that mildew and black algae can grow right inside the material.

Both topics featured on this page are taken from our Pool School PRO CD

Go on to page 2 of the Contractor's Corner

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