When we invest in expensive swimming pool equipment, it is only natural to want it to last as long as possible. There are things we can do that shorten the life of our swimming pool equipment, of course. But there are also ways to help extend the life of our swimming pool equipment. Today we will be talking about Heat Pumps. Heat Pumps are one of the more expensive pieces of equipment we can add to our pool equipment pad.
What is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is an alternative way to heat our swimming pools. Unlike natural gas heaters, heat pumps utilize electricity to heat the water. How do heat pumps work? Well, as our swimming pool water circulates through the pool pump, which is the “heart” of our circulation system, it makes several stops along the way. It passes through various pieces of equipment such as a salt system, in-line chlorinator, or whatever accessories you may have. All swimming pools, in addition to a swimming pool pump, have a filter. Your filter may be DE, cartridge, or sand. This is where the water gets cleaned. If you have a heat pump, the water also passes through there.
As your swimming pool water circulates through the heat pump, the heat pump heater contains a fan that draws the outside air and directs it over your evaporator coil. Within the evaporator coil is a liquid refrigerant that absorbs the heat from the outside air and becomes a gas. This gas heats the water approximately 3-5 degrees with each pass over. Heat pumps are not designed to operate in temperatures that drop below 45-55 degrees because of their use of outside air. They are great for maintaining heat, but not designed for quick heating like a gas heater is.
Invest in a Quality Heat Pump
Like with anything you purchase, you have countless choices when it comes to selecting a heat pump for your pool. I recommend investing in one that is a brand name, comes with good reviews and has a decent warranty. You may have been shopping around and are appalled at the prices of heat pumps. They tend to run a bit more expensive than a natural gas heater.
Think you cannot afford a quality heat pump? You may be shopping in the wrong places. A local swimming pool supply store, for instance, may want upwards of $6,000 for a heat pump. I encourage you to check out these name-brand, reliable heat pumps made by the trusted brand ComforTemp. You can expect to pay half of what those other guys are charging! And it is delivered right to your door! Check them out here.
Keep Your Sanitizer in Range
High chlorine is no bueno. Period. It is not good for your vessel, your plumbing, your automatic pool cleaner, your skimmer and your bathers. Guess what else it isn’t good for? If you said equipment, you guessed it! It can eat away at the seals in your pump. And it can wreak havoc on your heater. High chlorine is very acidic and can damage your heat pump’s heat exchanger among other components. Keeping our sanitizer in range will help not only protect our pools, but help protect our equipment.
Keep Your Calcium in Range
Calcium in pools is required if it is kept in range. Water needs calcium as it is a natural occurring element when it is in the wild. Too low of calcium in our pools, and the water will leach it out of our pool’s surface, plumbing, and…you guessed it…our equipment. It can literally eat away at the aforementioned. Keeping our pH in the range can help our water from becoming scale forming, even with calcium levels in the appropriate range. Let’s talk about pH.
Keep Your pH and Alkalinity Balanced
Water is either neutral, corrosive or scale-forming. This is determined by the Langelier Saturation Index. The LSI takes all fields into consideration, but pH and alkalinity play a major role. If our alkalinity is too low, it causes our pH to become unstable and “bounce” around.
Pro Tip: Never adjust your pH without first checking your alkalinity
Neutral water is what we are aiming for. That would be a 0.0 reading. .15 in either direction is still considered “in range”. When our water is corrosive, it eats away at our pool’s surface, our plumbing, and, dun dun dun…our equipment. This includes our heat pumps. If you ever see a bright blue tint in your pool water, that is your water literally eating away at your heat exchanger, and bringing that copper into your water. This can cause staining and ruin your heater.
Too high a calcium level poses its own issues. If your water is scale-forming due to unbalanced pH and alkalinity, that calcium can build up around your tile line, in your plumbing, and inside your equipment, including your heat pump. If your calcium is over 400 ppm, the only solution is to drain and add fresh water. Make sure to check your source water before draining and refilling. No point in adding high-calcium water when the goal is to lower it.
In a Nutshell
As you can see from this article, proper water chemistry is the main ingredient in extending the life of not just our heat pumps, but all of our equipment. Make sure to test your water often. If you have a pool pro, don’t be scared to double-check their work by bringing your pool water in for a free sample test at a local pool store. Having your heater cleaned out prior to firing it up is also a good rule of thumb as leaves and other debris can creep in during those windy months.
See you poolside!