Evaporation and Swimming Pools

Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that a pool cover can save massive amounts of water.

Just how much water they save depends on a number of factors (such as the pool surface area, the amount of wind, shade, and water/air temperatures). Anywhere between 2mm and 10mm of water every day is seen as an acceptable water loss – but this all adds up – and without rain or top-ups, a pool can easily lose its entire volume of water – every year!

The single most effective thing a pool owner can do to save water is to buy (and use) a pool cover. To be honest, it doesn’t even have to be a proper pool cover – any sort of covering will help prevent evaporation – it’s just that a pool cover will be more effective, will last longer, and will be easier to use than say – cling wrap or builders plastic.

So how does it work? It’s all about evaporation. Evaporation happens when water turns into gas (such as steam, when you boil the kettle). Obviously, your pool is not boiling like a kettle, but the theory is the same. On a hot, sunny day, the water inside your pool gets warm – here in Queensland, even an unheated pool can reach temperatures over 30 degrees in Summer. Once the sun goes down and the air temperature drops to below that of the water, evaporation will occur.

Without a cover, that water vapour will release back into the atmosphere – but with a pool cover in place, it can’t escape and stays in your pool, where it belongs. (Going back to the boiling kettle analogy – if you look under the lid of your kettle after it’s boiled, you’ll see it’s covered in steam which has turned back into water droplets).

The majority of evaporation will occur in the evening and very early morning as the sun goes down and comes back out – so this is the most important time to use your pool cover if preventing evaporation is your main priority.

There are other ways to prevent water loss to evaporation – anything that reduces the amount of wind and sun on the pool’s surface will help, so things like a shade sail over the top, trees around the fence line – adjacent buildings – they’ll all contribute to reducing evaporation. The single best thing to do though, is use a pool cover. A mesh leaf and debris style pool cover (like a Pooltex or Leafstop) will stop around 50% of evaporation, and a solar cover such as the Oasis Solar Cover range will pretty much stop evaporation completely.

ABGAL Oasis Solar Pool Covers have been independently tested and proven to stop up to 99.84% of evaporation. They are Climate Care Certified, Smart Approved WaterMark Licensed, and Water Wise accredited, complying with water-saving standards across all drought-declared Australian states and territories.

Testing your pool water (chemical balance is important)

As a pool owner, it’s important to keep your water ‘balanced’. The best time of day to test your water is first thing in the morning, and after the filter has been running for an hour or so.

The correct chemical balance varies depending on your pool interior finish. For domestic purposes, for a vinyl-lined pool or Aqualux Pool finish, we recommend the following levels:

pH: 7.4-7.8

Total Alkalinity: 100 – 150ppm

Calcium Hardness: 200 – 400ppm

Free Chlorine 1 – 3ppm (Non-Heated Pool) or 2 – 4ppm (Heated Pools)

Stabiliser 30 – 50ppm

Saturation Index -0.1 – + 0.4

When collecting a water sample from your pool, take it from around the middle of your pool (rather than from one end), and as far as possible from any return jets or the skimmer. Using a clean container or bottle, hold it upside down so that the opening is facing the pool floor, and insert it into the water, about elbow deep. Turn it over and allow it to fill before bringing it back out of the pool.

If you’re taking it to your pool shop for testing, go straight there – don’t stop off at the shops on the way there, as your sample can degrade after a period of time – even 15 minutes in a hot car can skew your results.

If you’re using test strips, take care to follow the instructions from the manufacturer. A basic rule of thumb is to quickly dip the strip in and out of the sample container (not straight into the pool) and hold it still (don’t shake it or flick the water off) – just hold it still for 15-20 seconds. Immediately check the colours against the strip on the back of the test strips container – your most accurate results will be at 15-20 seconds, as the colours can continue to develop as time goes on. The most important readings you’re looking at are Free Chlorine and pH.

At home test strips are a convenient way to keep tabs on your water quality – most people will do these weekly, with a proper test with their pool shop once a month.

NOTE: If you have just put a pool cover on your pool, be aware that your chemical consumption will be reduced by about half. If you have an automatic dosing system, you should turn it down to around 50%, and monitor your chlorine levels daily, adjusting settings to suit until they have stabilised.

How do I get rid of the scum line around my pool?

Had extra people in your pool lately? You may have noticed a ring of grime around the waterline. If it’s a yellowish colour and feels a bit greasy to the touch, it is more than likely a combination of sunscreen, moisturisers, dead skin cells and body oils etc – it sounds gross, but they can float on top of the water and stick to the walls.

If you have a vinyl-lined interior such as Aqualux or a fibreglass shell, you can usually just wipe it straight off with a microfibre cloth. Get it while it’s fresh and you won’t need any chemicals – just a quick wipe will do it. (It’s even easier if you can throw the cloth at the last person in the water and get them to wipe the waterline down before they get out!)

Anyone who routinely gets a lot of waterline scum in their pool may benefit from using a chitosan-based clarifier such as our Vinyl Care & Protect or the Lochlor Ultra Kleer 4 in 1- products like these bind the fats and oils together and allow them to be filtered out, so they don’t sit on top of the water – thus preventing the scum line appearing in the first place.

Throwing a couple of clean, new (and fuzzy) tennis balls into the pool can also be helpful – as they float around they will pick up oil from the surface – just be sure to change them over regularly.

If you’re lucky enough to have a shower by the pool, a quick 10-second shower before jumping in goes a long way to reducing the amount of contaminants too.

If you can see a ring of grime has appeared on your pool waterline and you think it’s been there for a few weeks, you may find a gentle wipe is not enough, as a scum line left in the sun for weeks on end can become quite difficult to remove. If a quick wipe with a cloth isn’t working, spray with a vinyl waterline cleaner product and wipe off with a soft sponge (the sort you wash the car with – NEVER A MAGIC ERASER, and please don’t use microfibre with anything other than your pool water – don’t apply chemicals or cleaning products with microfibre).

Another product often used with success (which you probably already have under the sink) is Jif! Just a tiny amount on a sponge, and wipe gently. If that doesn’t clean it off, resist the urge to rub or scrub at it – if the grime has been allowed to “bake on” in the sun, it can become embedded in the surface. In this event, the best approach is to add a chitosan-based clarifier to the pool. Raise the water level to above the stain, then wait for the clarifier to work its magic.

If the ring is more of an orangey yellow, and doesn’t feel greasy at all, it’s possible it could be a chemical reaction between sunscreen and copper. The above suggestions should still help, but it’s important to remove the cause.

Copper is most commonly introduced into a pool through copper-based algaecides, so if adding an algaecide into your vinyl-lined pool, ensure it is not a copper-based one. Sunscreen/copper stains can appear quite literally overnight and are more likely to occur on the walls that get the most sun. Some brands of sunscreen seem to be worse than others, but if you find your swimwear or pool towels sometimes get orange stains after washing, or you have acrylic fingernails which turn a little orange or yellow after swimming you may like to try an alternative brand. Avobenzone and oxybenzone are common ingredients in sunscreens that seem to have this issue.

Choosing your pool interior colour

Once you’ve made the decision to build a pool (or renovate your existing pool) with an Aqualux pool finish, the next difficult decision to make is ‘Which colour or pattern do I pick?’.

When we started making pool liners back in the 1970’s, it wasn’t a difficult choice – light blue or dark blue! Now, there is always at least 14 Aqualux colours to choose from- often 16 or even more. Most people will start their decision-making process online – looking at photos of pools. And while that can be a terrific help, it can also be a little overwhelming, as the same colour can look completely different in another pool (and even in the same pool!).

Aqualux in ‘Antique’ looks completely different in each of these pools. Water chemistry, landscaping and lighting are all factors.

How can the same colour look so different?

Once your pool has been filled, you’re not really looking at the liner colour anymore – you’re seeing the water in front of the liner – and this is where physics plays a part.

Clean water has no colour – so when you put it in a glass, it looks clear. But in a large body of water, such as the ocean, a swimming pool or even a spa filled with the same water, it will appear blue or green. This is because light is made up of all the colours in the spectrum, and when it hits an object, the object absorbs some colours, and reflects others. When light hits the water, the water will absorb the red, and reflect back blue. So even in a pure white pool, the water will always appear blue.

There are many other factors that will affect the watercolour too. Size and depth of the pool, landscaping and surrounds, water balance and of course lighting all play a huge part in determining the look of the watercolour – and this is why it can be so hard to select the right liner colour for your pool.

If you’re struggling to decide on a colour, the first step is to decide if you want a light coloured pool or dark.

Benefits of a darker pool interior include a warmer pool, which will look cleaner – even if it’s not. The darker the interior, the harder it is to spot dirt, leaves and other stains in the pool. In contrast, the lighter the pool interior, the more obvious any dirt or leaves are – so if you live in an area with lots of dust or leaves, and you don’t think you’ll be able to keep on top of the cleaning, then you may like to stick with a mid to dark coloured pool – or invest in a leaf and debris cover.

Blue water or Green?

If you are looking for a green, aqua or turquoise pool, you don’t have to pick an obviously green pool liner like Maldive – anything with tan or yellow (such as Aqualux Sandstone and Coral Sand) or black colouring (like Antique and Kiama) also usually throw green.

Viewing distance

If you’re converting over from a plain painted or fibreglass finish, you may initially find some of the patterns of Aqualux a little ‘bold’- however, don’t get too caught up in the print you see on the sample. The patterns are designed this way to give your pool the most vibrant appearance possible, and the more contrast in the pattern, the more depth of colour your pool will give.

The patterned surface also helps to hide any flaws in the pool shell – so the more contrast in the pattern, the better job it will do of disguising imperfections – definitely something to consider if you are resurfacing a pool with Osmosis.

Remember, you’ll generally be looking at your pool interior from at least a couple of metres away, and most of it is underwater (or all of it, if you’re having a waterline tile) – so while a pattern may seem a bit busy when you look at it up close, it will look far more subdued once installed.

Contrast or Blend?

This is another decision that is generally fairly easy. Do you want your pool to blend with your garden, and look like a natural addition, or do you want it to ‘pop’? For a natural, muted appearance, select a colour that tones in with your pavers and surrounds – such as charcoal pavers and an Antique or Kiama interior. But if you want to make those interiors pop, then use a white or sandstone paver. If you really want your interior to pop, you cant go past the vibrance of Bahama or Maui – and there’s a reason why these have been two of our most popular colours for the last few years.

In the end though – the only thing that matters is that you pick a colour that you’re going to like looking at – because chances are, you’re going to be looking at it for about 15 years! To look at some different pools, go to our Liner Gallery – just select the colour you’re thinking of, and it will filter out the others.

Fibreglass Pool Resurfacing

If your Fibreglass pool is over ten (10) years old it is probably starting to show some signs of surface degradation –  both above the water level and below the water level. Fading above the water level is just weathering from the sun constantly beating down on the plastic resin surface of the Fibreglass gel coat. The UV in the sun’s rays attack the plastic and cause it to degrade and fade over time to the point where the surface becomes rougher and may start to attract stains and even develop osmosis.

Often, when a fibreglass pool is being emptied for renovation, as the water level drops, you can see the full extent of the degradation, and the gel coat is often in much better condition above the normal water line than below. This is because the chlorine used to keep the pool clean over all the years is also an “oxidising agent”, and it will speed the aging process as it oxidises the fibreglass gel-coated surface to become bleached and faded looking. The surface also develops a “rough” feeling to the skin, and is no longer smooth like it was when it was new. If your pool has been overchlorinated or kept at incorrect chemical levels, this degradation will occur much faster than it should have. The result is the same though – it means algae and stains cling onto the surface more easily and make the Fibreglass pool surface much harder to keep clean. “What can I do to fix my old fibreglass pool surface?” is a common question.

While we have been manufacturing Aqualux interiors to be fitted into damaged fibreglass shells for many years, in the last 3-5 years, we’ve really perfected the process. ABGAL have patterns for many popular fibreglass pool models on file, so often, there is no need for your fibreglass shell to even be measured. If you know the brand and model, we can make a new Aqualux interior to fit your pool shell perfectly, and it can be delivered ready for installation before your pool has even been emptied – meaning minimum downtime, reducing the risk of your fibreglass pool shell popping out of the ground.

Unlike traditional fibreglass resurfacing methods such as painting, rendering or re-glassing, your new Aqualux interior could have your pool ready for swimming again in just a day and a half – and in some cases, you can even recycle your water. We have portable water storage bladders enabling your water to be pumped out and stored onsite, ready to be pumped straight back in again when the new Aqualux interior is in!

You can see more about resurfacing your fibreglass shell with Aqualux, and see some before and after photos on our main website.

Tea Staining on Stainless Steel

If you have a stainless steel frame on your pool fence or pool cover reel, at some point it is likely you will notice a slight brownish spotting or discolouration on the surface. Don’t panic though – chances are, it’s only cosmetic, and will not affect the structural integrity of the steel. Called “Tea Staining” or ”Coastal Corrosion”, it occurs mostly within about five kilometres of the ocean and can become progressively worse closer to the water’s edge. In high wind and exposed areas, it could affect stainless steel up to twenty kilometres away!

In the case of a saltwater pool, you have your own ‘ocean-like’ environment, due to the concentration of salt added to the pool for the sanitising system.

It is generally worse in areas of high humidity, where there is a build-up of salt and moisture on the surface of the stainless steel promoting the tea staining to occur. It is a simple and easy process to rectify the tea staining, but this will have to be done on a regular basis if the same environmental conditions still exist.

Washing your stainless steel reel off every couple of months with fresh water in a high-pressure hose is generally all you need to prevent tea staining from occurring in the first place. Alternatively, washing with clean, warm soapy water (or even just rainwater) can also reduce the occurrence.

If you already have Tea Staining present on your stainless steel, you can remove it by following these instructions:

How to Remove Tea Stains from Stainless Steel

  1. Fill a spray bottle with distilled white vinegar.
  2. Cover the entire stain with vinegar.
  3. Wait 15-20 minutes.
  4. Rub the stainless steel with a warm cloth to remove the vinegar and the stain.
  5. Rinse with warm water and wash normally.

If the tea staining has been on the stainless steel for a long time, you may have to repeat this process or at least apply more vinegar.

What makes Aqualux better than a regular inground pool liner?

An Aqualux pool finish is a specialist, flexible pool interior which is designed for Australia’s harsh climate, to out-perform other similar pool finishes.

The Aqualux difference starts with the chemistry. Some products perform well under certain conditions, and others just don’t make the grade – and it is all in the chemistry.

First we need to understand a little about the conditions, and that’s why Aqualux was developed here in Australia, specifically for Australian conditions. By studying the environmental conditions, we have been able to see over the years how small adjustments to the chemistry have improved Aqualux, and increased its performance.

The performance is measured by the resistance to the environmental elements like the sun and the chemicals in the pool water (like chlorine and salt). By carefully monitoring the performance of the pool finish, and adjusting the chemistry little by little, Aqualux has become the ultimate flexible pool interior for the Australian environment. It has taken many years of testing and expertise, and the end result remains a closely guarded secret that many try to immitate, but none have sucessfully reproduced.

Australia’s climate punishes standard grade plastics. A standard inground pool liner might work quite adequately in Asia, Europe or the Americas, but bring it to Australia and its a different story alltogether. That’s why the formula is the key and how chemistry makes all the difference to making your pool finish longer lasting. We have our own chemist with almost 40 years’ experience, employed to make sure each manufactured batch of Aqualux is carefully monitored and quality tested to meet our strict standards.

This means you can be assured that your Aqualux pool finish has been expertly manufactured to suit Australia’s harsh climate. But it is still one of the easiest surfaces to keep the pool balanced and looking good ready to swim. It is soft and silky to the touch which means it is more comfortable to swim in for you and your family. No rough edges or scratches or scuffs to worry about.

Don’t just install another pool liner. Choose the finish that’s passed the test of time, and been the choice of thousands of pool owners across Australia since 1976 – an Aqualux pool finish.

Where on the pool should I position my reel?

If you’re putting a solar pool cover on for the first time, chances are, you’re also putting a reel (roller) together too. So where do you put it? Ideally you should make this decision before you install the cover, because some positions will require you to leave the cover slightly longer than others.

Don’t worry if you have already cut the cover to size. It’s not a big deal.

If you have a rectangle shaped pool, the standard approach is to place the reel at one end of the pool – slightly straddling the pool, so the blanket rolls easily on and off the tube without dragging across the coping. People normally put it to the far end, so its furthest away from where they will view it from.

The reel should sit at the end of the pool, hanging slightly over the edge, so that the cover does not drag over the pool coping when being rolled up.

This reduces wear and tear on your solar pool cover, and will help to get the best life expectancy from it. (Don’t forget to put the overcover on once it has been rolled up).

If you have an oval, kidney or other irregular shaped pool, the reel should be placed over the pool, at it’s widest point. When doing this, the blanket rolls from both directions, so it rolls faster and is easier to handle too.

When using this position, the blanket should be left a little longer in the length – if after attaching the extra length is not needed, you can trim it back then.

If your pool has a step, you can treat this as a separate piece, and simply fold it onto the main cover before rolling, enabling it to be rolled onto the roller. You can see in the image below how the step piece has just been flipped up onto the body of the cover, leaving it as a neat rectangle to roll up.

What is the thickest solar pool cover?

In Australia, we measure solar pool cover thicknesses by micron – and micron is just a measurement. A micron is very small – one-millionth of a metre in fact. To put it into real terms, a human hair is about 50 – 70 micron. In Australia, a 200-micron pool cover would be considered lightweight, and 610 is currently the heaviest that we are aware of. Anything over 610 would start to get very heavy and difficult to roll on and off of a pool.

At ABGAL, our thickest solar pool cover is 610 micron – Triple Cell. The next thickest and most popular selling solar cover is 550 micron from our Oasis Solar Cover range. Oasis 550 is available in Premium Blue, SilverBack and Clarity.

The benefit of heavier (thicker) solar covers is that they are more durable than a lighter cover, and will be more resistant to chemical damage and punctures.

Helping our Farmers – Our pledge!

We started our journey with Drought Angels back in 2019, when many parts of Australia were in severe drought, and we pledged to donate 40L of freshwater to Drought Angels, for every Oasis Solar Cover we sold.

Over the last couple of years, Drought Angels have evolved. While their mission has always been to support Australian farmers, their public focus was those who were specifically drought-affected. However, bushfires, plagues and now flooding have also affected our farmers – so while Drought Angels are still Drought Angels, and our pledge of 40L for every Oasis Solar cover remains the same, it no longer ends up with the farmer as 40L of water. Sometimes its stock feed or petrol – sometimes its a pre-paid visa card so they can pay a bill. We donate the financial equivalent, and Drought Angels passes that onto an Aussie farmer in need, in whatever format they need.

Drought Angels are here to provide disaster relief for our Aussie Farmers, and we continue to support them with our pledge of the cash equivalent of 40L, for every Oasis Cover.

Based on the front line in Chinchilla, in Queensland’s Western Downs, Drought Angels are in direct contact with those who are most in need and are able to distribute whatever aid is needed to those who need it most.

As of March 1, 2022, thanks to people like you, we have been able to donate the financial equivalent of 495,160 litres to Drought Angels, in support of Aussie Farmers.

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