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Knowledge is Power: The Benefits of Being a Certified Pool Operator

During the last several years, the aquatic industry has experienced a major growth. Innovative and continuously evolving technology has not only changed many of the physical attributes of aquatic centres today, but has also improved the overall swimming environment. With advanced operating techniques, tools, and maintenance practices, swimming pools have become safer, and more enjoyable to swimmers everywhere. However, without proper operation your patron’s safety and health as well as the longevity of your facility could be sacrificed. The training and education of your pools operators is crucial to the success of your facility.

 

LET'S BREAK IT DOWN

The Certified Pool Operators® (CPO®) course is an educational course provided by the National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF®) that teaches students the fundamentals of pool and spa operation. After completing the course, participants will understand how to reduce risks, improve safety, and decrease liability for employers, facilities and patrons. CPO® certification courses are designed to provide individuals with the basic knowledge, techniques, and skills needed for pool and spa operation. The CPO® certification has provided training in the pool and spa industry since 1972, resulting in more than 350,000 certifications in 94 countries.

 

Who Should Be Certified?

  • Pool & Spa Operators
  • Service Technicians
  • Facility Maintenance Staff
  • Environmental Health Officials
  • Facility Managers & Owners
  • Facility Supervisors
  • Head Lifeguards

The Certified Pool Operator program requires participation in either a two-day class taught by a certified instructor OR the blended format which combines the online, “Pool Operator Primer™”, and one day of the in-class instruction, “Pool Operator Fusion™”, along with a final examination.

 

This certification program includes:

  • Pool & Spa Chemistry
  • Water Testing
  • Water Treatment
  • Filtration
  • Facility Safety
  • Record Keeping
  • Preventative Maintenance
  • Chemical Feed & Control
  • Local and State Code Regulations
  • To complete the CPO® program successfully, participants are required to write an open book final exam and obtain a 75% or higher. Once completed, the certification is valid for five years and can be recertified with only a one day in-class review and exam by a certified instructor.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

  • This internationally accepted certification is a proven educational tool covering the necessary topics for pool & spa operators.
  • The comprehensive handbook is the perfect tool for participants attending the class, as well as an excellent source of reference for those who have completed the course.
  • All courses are taught by an NSPF certified instructor. This maintains the accuracy and consistency of the material.
  • The course provides participants with a better understanding of the operator’s role in pool and spa care, management, and risk reduction.
  • The CPO® course provides operators with a better understanding of the importance of water chemistry, which will result in a safer and more comfortable swimming environment, as well as improving the life of the facility.
  • The materials and topics covered in this course provide you with the essential knowledge to perform preventative maintenance and understand its impact on water purification and mechanical equipment. 
  • The growth of the aquatic industry has created a demand for improved safety, and a higher level of education for the management of an aquatic facility. Although this course is internationally recognized, there are still those who have yet to become certified. It is imperative as an industry, that we encourage those who have not yet received certification, as well as those who have, to stay current and up-to-date on proper operation and maintenance of a safe swimming environment.

 

As the aquatic industry progresses, our aquatic professionals must also progress and improve. As they say…Knowledge Is Power!

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Guide to Pool Closing

As the temperatures begin to drop, the realization that the end of the summer season is approaching sets in. While the colder weather looms in the near distance, our to-do lists grow significantly as we scramble to get all of our summer equipment stored away before it gets too cold. Since most residential, commercial outdoor pools and splash pads close after Labour Day weekend in Canada, closing the pool usually tops the list for pool owners and operators.

 

For residential pools especially, did you know that it is best to keep your pool open until the water temperature is consistently below 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit)? This allows the water to be a consistently lower temperature which creates a better environment for closing chemicals, ensuring they last until spring.

 

For commercial pools and splash pads it’s a completely different world. Most large commercial pools are required to be fully drained in order to plug up all of the main drains and ensure all of the systems are completely empty.  

 

Tip! Before winterizing, chemically treat your filtration system. Contact your pool experts to find out how to remove grease and oil from your filters to increase their lifespan and save money for next season!

 

Use the checklist below as a guideline for closing your outdoor pool.

  • Remove deck equipment, hardware, and non-permanent objects such as ladders, rails, tot slides, guard chairs, starting blocks, drinking fountains, accessibility lifts, portable ramps, clocks, weirs, and safety equipment to prevent vandalism. Store in a clearly marked, identifiable, weather- protected location. Cap all exposed deck sockets.
  • Remove the diving boards and store them indoors (upside down and flat to prevent warping).
  • Follow your manufactures directions for the winterization of any toys and water features in your facility. Some smaller units can be removed, while others, like dumping buckets, remain and have specific procedures to follow for winterizing.
Tip! Isolate your flow cell for your probes before you drain your system.
  • Completely drain the pool and remove all white goods and skimmer baskets and store in a marked container. Residential Pools only need to be drained down to 1 ½’ below the returns and discharge the lines.
  • Drain all of the pool equipment including pumps, strainers, heater, UV systems, filters, surge tanks and holding tanks.
  • Store all probes from chemical controllers in water in a warm environment for the winter months. Do not allow the water to freeze.
  • Using an air compressor and correct connections, discharge the main drains, skimmer/gutter lines, returns and jets from the mechanical room to the pool. 
  • Plug all of the lines on the pool side with the proper sized fitting or test plugs. Consult your pool specialist for assistance if you need to replace any threaded or test plugs.
  • Fill your pumps or strainers with pool grade antifreeze to keep the mechanical seals lubricated for the winter. This will ensure a smooth start up in the spring. 
  • Fill the pool for the winter to your recommended depth based on your specific pools requirements. If you're unsure about your facility's requirements, contact your pool consultant or design engineer. 
  • Install pool covers if required in your area.
  • Turn off the water supply and restroom showers, sinks, and toilets.
  • Drain all of the pipes to ensure all of the lines are free of water. Remove shower heads and drinking fountain handles.
  • Open hose bibs and fill spouts.
  • Have your phone service provider disconnect the pool telephone and discontinue service for the winter season.
  • Confirm the security of the facility to present unauthorized access.

Ensuring you have winterized properly can be a worrisome, but with the right preparation beforehand and ensuring you have the proper tools, you will be ready. Before you know it, Spring will be upon us and it will be time to open again!

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Guide to Pool Opening

It's that time of year again, the birds are chirping the sun is shining and the snow and frost are behind us. When this happens, professionals in both the commercial and residential aquatic world think of one thing...let’s open the pool!

 

With the warm April weather, the opening season is underway and in full swing. Are you ready to open your facility's outdoor swimming pool? Many of us made lists last winter with the best of intentions, but as with most things in life, those lists still stare us in the face. So here we are. It's time to finally tackle that list and get your pool open for the summer season!

 

One of the best strategies is to prepare an opening checklist to ensure your hard work doesn't come to a hault when you find you are missing pieces or in need of parts. Check out our sample checklist below.

  • Take inventory of all the operational parts like jets, return fitting, weirs etc. (in the pool industry we refer to these as “white goods”).
  • Ensure your flow meters, pressure and vacuum gauges, and o-rings are ready for opening day.
  • If during inventory, you find missing or find broken pieces, have them replaced and ready for installation.
  • Once your inventory is complete, ensure all of the necessary replacement pieces are ordered and ready to go on opening day!

"Did I winterize my outdoor swimming pool properly?" is the biggest worry every pool owner or operator has in the spring. Mother nature can be cruel, unpredictable and a powerful force over the winter, but most of the time it is out of our hands. Performing a walk around and checking the deck and pool area for visible damage and/or vandalism is the first step. Once your visual is done you can start your true opening procedures.

 

"Don't forget to order and check stock of all your chemicals for start-up and season opening."

 

Once your inventory check is complete, you've done a thorough walk around and you've ensured your chlorine delivery is ready to go, it's time to start opening your pool. If you're working on a commercial outdoor pool, drain out any of that dirty winter water with a submersible pump and use a power wash to clean up the walls and floor.

 

Remove any winterizing plugs in the main drains, returns and jets. Ensure that the hydrostats in the main drains are clean and working properly.

 

Reinstall drain covers and perform an inspection to ensure there is no broken, worn or dated pieces. If you find any areas of concern, consult your pool professional for immediate replacement.

 

Once everything is clean and shiny in the pool area, move onto the mechanical room. Ensure all the equipment is back together, and all of the o-rings on the pump and strainer lids are lubricated and ready to start.

 

Now that the pool is full and glistening in the sun and ready for start-up, run through all of your valves and ensure they are in proper operating positioning.

 

"Always start up the system on backwash. This will ensure that all of the left over sitting debris from the winter goes out to waste and not back into your beautiful swimming pool. Once a complete backwash is finished, start up on filter mode."

 

Your next task is getting the balancing done and ensuring your stabilizer levels are ready to help battle the hot summer sun and keep your operation costs down.

 

"Stabilizer is sunscreen for chlorine."

 

Now that the pool is operating and the water features are flowing, you can sit back, close your eyes and visualize the upcoming summer season.

 

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What is Ultraviolet (UV) & How it is Applied to Swimming Pools?

The strong smell of chlorine within an aquatic facility is not a sign that the pool or spa is clean. It's actually a signal that there is something wrong. Luckily, there is an application that can be added to your swimming pool recirculation system to help correct this issue, and create a safer and more enjoyable swimming experience - An Ultraviolet (UV) system.

 

From a hydrotherapy spa to the largest Olympic-sized competition pool, UV sanitation systems are quickly becoming (or have already become, in some municipalities) the most popular method of additional water treatment in the aquatic industry. UV not only destroys chloramines, the unpleasant by-products of chlorination, but it is also a highly effective disinfectant (although the need for chlorine is reduced with the use of a UV system, it is still needed to ensure proper disinfection).

 

Chloramines are formed when free chlorine reacts with sweat, urine, and other contaminants in pool water. Trichloramines, in particular, are powerful irritants which are responsible for eye and respiratory complaints and the unpleasant ‘chlorine smell’ commonly associated with indoor pools. Chloramines are also corrosive to the surrounding area, and in time can lead to damage to pool accessories, buildings and structures, such as railings, ladders, and ventilation ducts. Any water treatment system that reduces these unwanted conditions is therefore welcome.

 

UV harnesses the power of ultraviolet light to eliminate microorganisms, lower chemical usage, and eliminate toxic by-products.

 

WHAT IS UV?

UV is a highly efficient, natural disinfectant that nutralizes virtually all known microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and molds and their spores, by permanently destroying their DNA.

 

Ultraviolet light is a naturally occurring component of sunlight. It falls in the region between visible light and X-ray in the electromagnetic spectrum. The mechanism of UV disinfection is strong sunlight that disinfects water by permanently de-activating bacteria, spores, moulds and viruses.

 

These systems reproduce UV radiation inside light chambers via powerful lamps, which emit germicidal UV-C light that is used to disinfect pool and spa water.

 

UV-C causes permanent damage to a number of microorganisms almost instantly as the water circulates through the light chamber. By disrupting the microorganism’s DNA, protozoans, viruses and bacteria are unable to replicate and remain inert. This light, however, works only on water that flows through the chamber.

 

HOW IS UV APPLIED TO SWIMMING POOLS?

Ultraviolet is a recommended application that can be added to any swimming pool. However, it should only be used as a secondary pool water disinfectant. A primary disinfectant,  such as chlorine or bromine,  still needs to be used at all times. Chlorine/bromine have a very important property which UV lacks – the ability to provide a residual level of disinfectant in the pool water contained within the tank itself. This means chlorine/bromine can remain in the pool water actively attacking pathogens at the moment they are introduced, whereas a UV system can only disinfect the water that passes through the UV chamber within the pools recirculation system. Once the water has left the chamber, it is vulnerable to be re-infected by swimmers.

 

UV systems are particularly suited to both chloramine destruction and disinfection. The resulting effect is a cleaner, healthier, and more pleasant atmosphere both in and around the pool. The potential dangers caused by Trichloramines are significantly reduced, and the danger of infection by harmful microorganisms is also eliminated.

 

There are a variety of considerations to be taken into account when choosing an Ultra Violet system and different lamps are used in different applications. The nature of the decision can be quite detailed, making it important to find the right swimming pool professional who can assist in finding the right application for you and your aquatic facility.

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Water Chemistry: Finding the Balance

Water Chemistry is a significant part of the operation of your pool. Maintaining proper water chemistry in your pool will not only ensure the safety of your bathers, but also can increase the longevity of your entire pool system.

 

There are five chemical parameters that need to be monitored, in addition to the oxidiser used to keep the pool clean and balanced. The oxidiser, or disinfectant, is used to destroy impurities in the water, helping maintain a safe, clean swimming environment. The five chemical parameters all have inverse relationships and all impact the overall water environment in very different ways. It’s important, as a pool operator, that these parameters are carefully monitored, and adjusted when needed, to be kept within the Ontario Health Code requirements, as well as to ensure the adjustments don’t throw the other levels out of range.

 

pH LEVELS

pH levels and total alkalinity are two chemical parameters who work together, and can even be thought of as the best friends of water chemistry. Like most friendships, when treated properly (or balanced in this case), the friendship grows and strengthens, but if one friend is not being considered (pH or total alkalinity), the relationship can become sour quickly.

 

pH is the single most important parameter in swimming pool water chemistry. It drastically impacts the water balance with even a slight change on the logarithmic scale. As humans, we have a pH of 7.5, so ideally our swimming pools pH level should be maintained within the 7.4-7.6 range. pH is a measure of hydrogen ion concentration in the water, and is measured on a scale of 0-14 with 7 being the neutral pH. 

 

What Happens when pH Levels are too Low?

When the pH is below 7.2, it is considered to be too low. At this level, the water becomes acidic, and the oxidizer decreases in strength. This will cause eye irritation for bathers, etching of the plaster walls, corroding of metal parts, staining of walls from dissolved minerals, and a significant decrease in alkalinity.

 

What Happens when pH Levels are too High?

pH is considered to be too high when it reaches 8 and over. High levels of pH can cause your water to become basic, can cause the oxidizer activity to slow and become inefficient, can increase scale formation and discolouration of the pool walls, and can create cloudy water causing your mechanical system to work harder to maintain a clear water environment.

 

One of the most common operator errors in balancing the pool water is correcting the pH without testing and balancing alkalinity. pH is the most important parameter, and has the largest impact, however, if pH’s best friend, alkalinity, isn’t monitored and balanced, the pH will never be within the proper range.

 

TOTAL ALKALINITY

Total alkalinity is the measure of a solution’s ability to neutralize hydrogen ions expressed in parts per million (ppm), which is a measure of the water’s resistance to change in pH.  The chemical used to balance alkalinity is Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) and the chemical used to decrease alkalinity is an Acid. If the alkalinity is within its required range (80pp-120ppm) it allows the pH to resist change and maintain its level.

 

What Happens when the Alkalinity Levels are too Low?

When alkalinity levels are too low, getting an accurate pH reading will be impossible Low levels of alkalinity will also create a very acidic pool environment for your bathers. The pH will change rapidly and maintain an acidic environment until the alkalinity is balanced. Once this is complete, the pH can be balanced.

 

What Happens when the Alkalinity Levels are too High?

If the alkalinity is too high, the pH is not truly reflective of its level and will began to bounce

(7.2,7.8,7.4). Once this occurs, it will throw off all other chemical levels and the water will become an unpleasant environment for bathers. The alkalinity MUST be within its desired range before balancing the pH levels. It is also important to let the alkalinity stabilize before any other levels are touched.

 

Understanding and monitoring the relationship between these two very important chemical parameters will help decrease issues in the overall chemistry of the pool. It’s important to remember that any time you are adding a specific chemical to the pool, you must be aware of and account for all other chemical levels, including how they will react to one another, and how they will affect the overall comfort and health of your pool water.

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