Eco-friendly pool maintenance

Environment Friendly Living

There are several ways to efficiently heat and care for your swimming pool while reducing the use of chemical products and energy. Here are some helpful hints.

Better than chlorine

Chlorine, whether in pellet, tablet or liquid form, is a powerful bactericide that kills bacteria and prevents algae from growing in pool water. But it does have its inconveniences. Swimming in chlorinated water can cause eye irritations and dry skin and may even provoke respiratory problems in people with sensitive lungs. Chlorine is also harmful to the environment. Fortunately, there are safer means available.

The salt system

Swimming pool water is first saturated with salt to a concentration of about 3,000 ppm (parts per million). The salt water then flows through a chamber that breaks down salt through electrolysis and transforms it into natural chlorine. This chlorine is then returned to the pool. Once its cleaning job is done, it naturally reverts back to salt form. The process is then repeated. This system eliminates the health issues related to chemical chlorine, does not require storing or handling chemicals and significantly reduces the burden of maintenance. A weekly check of the water’s pH level is usually enough since natural chlorine, unlike chemical chlorine, does not evaporate. Concentration levels are always stable unless water is added or there is excessive splashing. When salt levels do decrease, a warning light is activated on the power source and more salt is simply added. The downside is that during backwash and when emptying the pool at the end of the season, some of the salt will seep into the soil and drainage systems where an excessive accumulation of calcium can cause corrosion and contaminate water systems as well as groundwater. This method, then, is not entirely environment friendly.

The ozone generator

Air is sucked inside a chamber containing electrodes that separate oxygen molecules (O2) from air and convert them into ozone (O3). The ozone is then sent to the pool water to disinfect. Stirred by normal water movement, the ozone reverts back to oxygen, a harmless substance for humans and the environment. Unlike the salt system, however, the ozone generator requires daily maintenance. Since ozone has a short life span, a small amount of chlorine – about half the amount used in regular chemical chlorine disinfection – is necessary to maintain water quality. A worthwhile compromise nonetheless.

Silver and copper ioniser

The ioniser is placed between the sand filter and the backwash. The device, equipped with electrodes, produces a small electrical charge that releases copper and silver ions into the water. Silver ions destroy bacteria and viruses while copper ions kill algae and prevent further growth. The concentration of silver and copper ions remains stable, allowing continued disinfection. Ions have no adverse effect on eyes or skin and the procedure is entirely ecological. As with the ozone generator, a small quantity of chlorine must be used to rid the swimming pool of the skin’s natural oils and sunscreen residue. However, chlorine use is decreased by 70 to 90%.

Ecological pool heating system

The price of heating your swimming pool with gas or electricity can cost you an arm and a leg. But there is a cheap and earth-friendly alternative: a solar water heater. It’s quiet, clean, cost efficient and maintenance free. It uses solar panels, usually installed on the roof. Water flows from the pool’s pump to small pipes running through the panels. The panels absorb sunrays and transfer the heat to the water which is then brought back to the pool. The system is activated by a valve, either manually or automatically: it is opened on sunny mornings and closed at night. A temperature regulator is also useful as it automatically closes the valve once the desired temperature is reached. The only problem is that its efficiency depends not only on the orientation of solar panels but, more importantly, on weather. Although water temperature increases by 3 to 4 degrees daily in sunny weather, the increase is nil on rainy or cloudy days. Ideally, a solar blanket should be used at night or during cooler weather to cut heat loss by half. If the distance between the pool and the panels is too great or if the water pump is too weak, a more powerful pump should be purchased. Substandard or unauthorized systems should be avoided as they can cause water leakage at the joints or excessive humidity under the panels, which may cause roof damage. If the idea of a solar water heater leaves you cold, remember that a thermo pump consumes far less energy than heating with gas or electricity.

Other money-saving tips

  • Add chemical chlorine at night to minimize evaporation.
  • According to Hydro Quebec, shutting down the filtration pump at night – eight hours for an underground pool, 10 hours for an above-ground pool – does not alter water quality and can save you from $60 to $85 in electricity during the swimming season. This will also decrease noise pollution from the pump’s motor. A timer will facilitate the task, although opinions differ on how to use them. Pool manufacturers do not recommend shutting down the pump completely at night, especially during very hot weather when bacteria growth is greatest. They suggest using a two-speed pump; a lower speed at night will maintain gentle filtration and save energy while a higher speed during the day will provide optimum filtration.
  • Cover the pool with a solar blanket at night and during poor weather. It will minimize heat loss during cool nights, limit water evaporation and can save up to 1,000 litres of water every week. It also slows down the evaporation of chemical products, thus reducing their use, and acts as a shield against debris.
  • Buy only enough chemical products needed for the swimming season so that unused or expired products do not find their way into the environment.
  • Replace the traditional sand filtration system with more ecological natural stones.
  • Turn off pool and deck lights when not in use.

Surroundings Safety: Essential around pool area

  • Build a fence around an underground or inflated pool and install a gate with an automatic locking device.
  • Remove or lock stairs or ladders to above-ground pools when not in use.
  • Make sure that all other access routes to the pool such as patio doors are under lock and key.
  • Move all electrical appliances (radio, telephone, etc.) away from the pool to avoid electric shock.
  • Use a non-conductive cleaning pole when cleaning the pool.
  • Follow the manufacturers’ instructions for all installations, especially pool ladders, drains and filters to prevent children from being trapped under water. Conduct regular safety checks.
  • Never leave toys floating in the pool as they tend to attract young children.
  • Store pool cleaning products under lock and key and away from children’s reach.
  • Always supervise children playing in or near a swimming pool.

Thanks to Martin Parent, manager of Trévi in Laval, and Health Canada for their assistance.

Original article by Jacqueline Simoneau

Translated by John Woolfrey

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at


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