Chemical Automation and Health Department Requirements

chemical automation system

Chemical Automation and Health Department Requirements

In my 32 years being involved in the swimming pool industry in various ways from running a service route, renovation, repair, outside sales and inside sales and support, I have learned the value chemical automation.

While having a service route, I had commercial accounts that I visited 3 times a week and often times, things would happen between visits that would cause the water from being safe. In outside sales, I would often times see pools and spas that had unsafe water. With inside sales, I have heard many stories of unsafe conditions.

Up until recently, chemical automation has been strictly optional and often ignored because people feel threatened by it or don’t understand what chemical automation can do to not only make their jobs easier and the water safer and more appealing to swimmers while at the same time helping keep the water in compliance with local health department requirements.

So one may ask how does chemical automation help keep pool and spa water in compliance especially if there is someone on site at a hotel, apartment building or health club? There are several ways but lets start with a comparison and some real life examples.

One of the most used analogies is comparing chemical automation to a thermostat. Who in their right mind would try and manage the heating and cooling of a home or building manually? How much energy and effort would be spent trying to maintaining a constant temperature? Does it make sense to try and maintain proper water sanitation in a volatile recreational water environment environment by hand?

Back in the mid1990’s when running a service route, I had the opportunity to work with Scott Lenney who started Acu-Trol and developed a chemical automation system with a modem which was unheard of at the time since most chemical automation systems were very basic. This proved to be helpful as my partner and I had a route that serviced hotels, homeowner’s associations and municipalities in a large geographic area primarily in LA and Orange County California.

The controllers had the ability to send the basic readings to our pagers and would alert us when an alarm condition came up and we could proactively solve issues before they became a serious problem. One of the most common things I would experience was someone activating the emergency shut off switch at a hotel spa. Normally, this would happen around 10 or 11 at night and left off, the spa would look like a bowl of split pea soup in the morning and then take the rest of the day before it would be operational again. However, when I received a page informing me of the problem, I was able to call hotel engineering and have them go out and turn the spa back on, thus preventing an unsafe and unsightly condition.

Another incident happened at a very busy hotel near Disneyland. The hotel had a chemical controller and on site people that checked the pool and spa 2-3 times a day. One day I got a call from the chief engineer about mid morning wanting to know why his pool was cloudy as one of his people had checked it about 3 hours earlier and indicated everything was ok in the log book. Upon arrival, we downloaded the data and found the chlorinator ran empty shortly after it was checked by a maintenance person. Needless to say, that person was reprimanded as the pool had to be shut down until the next day due to the water being so turbid you couldn’t see the bottom. I will also say that this was not the only time someone lied on the pool records.
Here in 2016, there are very few things and processes that are not automated. Technology has become much more affordable and reliable since the 1990’s and is definitely more accurate in most cases than physical readings done by human beings. This is not to say that electronic equipment is infallible but it does not take breaks, is not hurried and does not record random numbers because it forgot to do it’s job. The data from a controller will show trends within a short period of time and can send out alarms so the problem can be quickly rectified.

Chemical automation that has the capabilities, correctly set up correctly and monitored can do more than any human being to ensure public pools and spas are compliant to their local health department requirements.

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