Today was my last day working at Leslie’s Pools.  I have worked at this store for three years, and have worked under multiple managers, many of them terribly incompetent, and a few great managers.  (This is a very small store, only 3-4 employees at a time, so there is only one manager.) Yesterday was supposed to be my last day, but the manager hurt his back and could not work today.  (actual emergency room hurt his back, not just regular old “oww my back hurts”) I will miss most of working there, both the manager and the assistant manager are great.  However, I had to suffer through this little problem today.

Seriously, I have never been so insulted by a customer in my life.  A gentleman came into the store today and while I was testing his water (while other customers were waiting in line behind him) he proceeded to tell me that the recommendations I have given him were dangerous to his pool and he has been instructed by another employee of the store and the manager to ignore my suggestions.  Because of this, the customer said he was not going to follow the instructions I gave him today.

The customer’s 18,000 gallon Pebble-Tec pool is 5 feet deep in the deepest part, and my instructions were to add 32 oz of acid (which, I admit is slightly more than recommended), spread around the deep area near the return jets with the pump running.  These instructions were given on approx 07.29.08.  The next week (I do not know when because there was no name or date on the water test sheet)  the test results were a pH above 8.0 (no acid demand test was performed)  and the Alkalinity was 220.  The instructions were to dilute 16 oz of acid in a bucket of water and spread it around the whole pool (which could get acid sucked into the skimmer) while the pump was running.  At this time the customer was told that adding any acid at all to a pool if it is not diluted will result in the acid immediately sinking to the bottom of the pool and eating through the bottom.  Again, the pool is salt water, 5 ft deep, 18,000 gallons and the surface is Pebble Tec, which is made of cement and small ornamental stones (be reminded that part of the Pebble Tec curing process involves an acid wash, which includes acid.)

The customer followed the instructions given by the employee for a number of days (eight if the amounts of acid recommended by Taylor’s water testing reference booklet were followed), and there was a rainstorm on Thursday 08.14.08 that significantly lowered alkalinity in almost all pools in the area.  When the water test was brought in to me on Saturday 08.16.08 the test results included a pH of above 8.0, with an acid demand of 11 drops, and an alkalinity of 240.  This means that after adding one gallon of acid in the employee’s preferred method, and enduring a very in-alkaline rainstorm, the pool’s alkalinity increased by 20.

At this point the customer has wasted two trips to Leslie’s Pools, an entire gallon of acid, and currently has only seen a degradation of his pool’s chemistry.

Diluting acid before you add it to the pool DECREASES it’s effectiveness, and also only lowers pH, and not Alkalinity.

The MOST EFFECTIVE WAY to lower total Alkalinity in pools is to use a method called “slugging” which has been scientifically documented by Dr. Neil Lowry, founder of the Lowry School for Pool and Spa Chemistry.  This method would involve pouring 32 oz of acid (per 10,000 gallons of water) in one spot in the deep area of the pool one hour before the pump runs.  This higher concentration of acid allows more carbonates to be burned off in a shorter period of time, which decreases alkalinity significantly, without decreasing pH too much.  I understand Leslie’s being unable to recommend this method due to legal liability (if the acid is left for too long it could sink to the bottom and damage a vynl or fiberglass pool, and discolour pebble-tec) so I agreed not to suggest the highly superior method to customers.

Every single Leslie’s Pools training manual (Water 101 training, Water 101 test, the “Pool Solutions” book that is available for customer purchase, and others) instructs to add 16 oz of acid per 10,000 gallons of pool water at a time to the deep area away from skimmers and main drains.  However, for Fiberglass pools, above-ground or vinyl pools, and painted surface pools it does suggest diluting the acid before adding it for the reasons I stated above.  I documented eight separate places in the Leslie’s sanctioned literature that never once recommends diluting acid in the situation my water chemistry instructions were given, and then left all of these books open and marked with post-it notes on the shop counter.

I normally would not make a big deal out of things like this, but I will not stand to be called a liar and having my intelligence questioned just because of the imaginary safety precautions given by a kid.  Now that I have this all written out I will try very hard to forget about it and stop being so angry.  I also can’t stand being angry, so I hope I can control this soon.

“The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance.”
Robert R. Coveyou