08 August, 2009

Every Silver Lining Has A Dark Cloud

Having a swimming pool down here has, for us, been just a wonderful godsend. According to the definition, it's also unexpected. That was our case. Our original ideas for Casa Winjama didn't include a pool, so in that way, it definitely has been one.

And a real treat it is to use too. We use it at least once a day, sometimes two, and even sometimes three times a day.

There are days when it is almost too hot to use - not the air, the water. When the water gets up around 98° (f), it's wet, but not really all that comfy and relaxing. This happens fairly often. The way our pool is set up, it gets unmitigated sunlight all day long and can really heat up.

Some shade would be a real benefit. We do get "some" shade thanks to our patio umbrella that provides a bit of shade each afternoon. But, what we're thinking of is some sort of total covering we can, in some fashion, open and close as needed to keep the whole pool a little cooler while we're in it. Probably using shadecloth, like we used to use with our greenhouse in Olympia, with some sort of pulley system or something that would allow us to crank it out over a framework to cover the whole pool and that we could roll it back up when we're done or when the wind kicks up to higher velocities.

Higher velocities have taken a toll on our umbrella too. A couple of times, even when cranked closed, the "brolly" has been launched (cast iron stand and all) off the deck into the garden. The last time that happened, one of the struts that hold out the umbrella fabric broke, so now half of the strut just hangs there by a wire (we had a light kit installed on the underside of the umbrella), while the other half just sort of pokes at the fabric. One of the other struts is bent, but so far hasn't broken. My guess is, it's good for one or two more launchings then it'll be good to be launched into the trash bin. Bummer.

All that is an aside. Here's the dark cloud. Hard water. You might have seen hard water before. We had hard water in Colorado and also hard water in Olympia. Let me tell you, this stuff is hard. Our water has calcium coming out its a**!

Wikipedia defines hard water as: "...water that has high mineral content (mainly calcium and magnesium ions)... and sometimes other dissolved compounds such as bicarbonates and sulfates."

We have a Rotoplas 10" paper filter as the first stage of all our filtering and a Culligan water softener, that all household water is run through and we still have to regularly clear our faucet aerator screens of calcium build-up.

For our drinking water, we run softened water through the reverse osmosis system with about 4 other filters, a membrane and a UV light. That water is probably like 98 -99% calcium free. We have no calcium buildup from that.

So, that's all in the house. For the pool (getting back to the subject at hand), the water coming into the pool is unfiltered water direct from the well. That is a ton of calcium-laden water. Now that we have our pool chemistry under control and do regular testing of the water and treat it accordingly, the pool water is crystal clear. However, there is still disolved calcium in the water. All the chemcials (well, some of them anyway) help keep it disolved, which is what we want.

Where we run into problems, is the very top layer of water where the evaporation occurs. Naturally, we have nice shiny, dark-blue tile all around the perimeter of the pool. Dolphin tiles (below) alternate with a smooth blue tile all around the pool.

Our Dolphin Tiles

We spent several days about six months ago cleaning the tiles from the original construction concrete/Diamond Brite film layer that had also accumulated a sizable bit of calcium. Then we slacked off for six months till yesterday. Cody, Dianna and I spent virtually the whole day in the pool, getting burnt and sore, cleaning the tile ringing the pool. We used LimeAway initially, spraying a layer on about 2 feet of tile at a time, letting that sit for a few minutes, then scraping each tile over its whole surface with single-edge razor blades in paint-scraper holders, then wiping each tile with CLR.

Like Dianna told her brother Edward this morning over Skype, "the pool looks kinda small until you start going over it inch by inch." No lie. That was a chore - for all three of us.

At the end of the day, we made a solemn agreement to never repeat that again. Our plan of action calls for once a week (Friday), for Cody to vacuum the pool and send the effluent to waste. That is, instead of going through our pool filter, it goes out to the overflow pipe and directly into the canal. As long as Cody vacuums quickly, the the water level of the pool will only go down about eight or nine inches - about two inches below the tile ringing the pool.

Then we'll grab our rags and CLR and go around the pool wiping all the tile. Then, we'll refill the pool to it's original level. If we religiously do this each week, we're confident we'll be able to keep the calcium line buildup under control and everything will continue to look pristine.

Well, there you have it. A day of drudgery (my arms are still tired) and we're ready to jump in and enjoy the pool with only a small inconvenience each week.

In fact, why wait? I'm gonna grab a beer and a floaty and head out there right now! See ya!


Julian in SC said...

That water must do wonders for the coffee maker!! I have family in Kansas and cleaning the tubes in the coffee maker was a once-a-month job -- if you wanted coffee!

Ah, to have thorns in Paradise you DO have to be in Paradise, don't you!! Congrats to your problems.


Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian,

Actually, we only use the water from the reverse osmosis just for that reason. We still get water spots on the carafe - small price to pay. So far the tubes have stayed clear.


Anonymous said...

Would you like some cheese with your wine. lol

Vivien said...

Your plan for weekly cleaning sounds wise. We have a well here in Alberta that gives us H20 with all the minnerals you have plus iron=very orange water. Even Denis's toenils were orange from showering in that water. Needless to say all the houshold plumbing fixtures where a nightmare to keep clean. The ONLY way to handle it is frequent cleaning. Your plan is a wise solution.
Be thankful that your water appears crystal clear.
If we were to fill a pool with our well water(for the three days a year it is warm enough to swim here) it would look like one big unflushed toilet. We changed over to a cistern two years back, but now have to rely on a water truck to deliver our water.
I will think of you guys on Fridays.

Dave Rider said...


Some Gorgonzola along with an elephant garlic and foccacia bread (we can get extra virgin olive oil here) would be wonderful. Thanks for asking.
Whining is ok, just no snivelling allowed.



Orange water could have a certain stylish cache to it. Might even be able to start a trend... But, then again, maybe not. Orange toenails. Now black you'd be on to something that might sell.