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Pool and Spa Construction Glossary

Acid: Liquid or dry granular substance used to lower the pool's pH (toward a more acidic condition) or to lower total alkalinity levels.

Air Bleeder: Located on the top of the filter and sometimes accompanied by a pressure gauge, the bleeder is opened to release air trapped in the filter.

Algae: Over 20,000 species known to exist. Algae may form on your pool surfaces or it may bloom in suspension. We typically know algae to be green but it may also be yellow (mustard algae), black, blue-green, or any shade in between. It may form separate spots or seem to grow in sheets. Pink algae is not algae at all but a form of bacteria. Algae are living breathing organisms that need warmth, sunlight, and CO² to thrive.

Algaecide: Meaning, to kill algae. Algaecides perform best as a backup to a routine sanitation program. They also help to kill airborne spores as they blow into the pool.

Alkaline: Alkalis are best known for being bases (compounds with pH greater than 7) that dissolve in water. Alkaline is commonly used as a synonym for base, especially for soluble bases.

Alkalinity: Alkaline refers to the condition where the water's pH is above 7.0 (neutral) on the pH scale. It is the opposite of acidic.

Automatic Pool Cleaner: A device which agitates or vacuums debris from the walls and floor of the pool.

Auxiliary area: A dressing, locker, shower, toilet area, or building space intended to be used by bathers.

Backfill: Soil or a mix of soil gravel and sand filled in behind the pool after the walls are built.

Backwash: The process of thoroughly cleaning the filter medium or elements by reversing the flow of water through the filter to waste.

Base: Those chemicals of alkaline nature which will counteract the pH of an acid eventually neutralizing at 7.0.

Blower: Plumbed into the spa return line, air is injected to produce fun bubbles and a hydrotherapy effect in the spa.

Bond beam: A structural element of a gunite or shotcrete pool. A bond beam is usually the topmost part of the pool wall, and is about 12 inches wide. It is usually capped with coping (such as stone, brick or concrete), and faced on the pool side with tile.

Booster Pump: Secondary to the filter pump, a booster pump is used to power an automatic pool cleaner such as Polaris.

Capacitor: The battery for your pool motor. It provides the energy needed while starting, to reach 3450 rpm quickly. Replace your capacitor when the shaft can be spun freely with a wrench or by hand, and when powering the motor, you hear a 'buzz' or a 'hum' from the motor, but no impeller movement. Replace your old capacitor with an exact match to the 'MFD' number on the new capacitor.

Cartridge: One type of filtration, the cartridge is a pleated, porous element through which water is passed through.

Check Valve: A device to allow only one way flow.

Chlorine: A member of the halogen family of sanitizers, it's use in swimming pools is in the elemental form of a gas, liquid, granular, or tablet compound. When added to water it acts as an oxidizer, sanitizer, and disinfectant.

Chlorine Generator: A device creates its own type of chlorine sanitizer for your pool.

Chlorinator: Devices which allow for the safe controlled introduction of chlorine into the water.

Clarifier: A clarifier is a chemical used as a coagulant of suspended micro particles. It helps the filter by clumping smaller particles into filterable sizes.

Conduit: A pipe, usually gray PVC or flexible PVC designed to carry wires from a source to a load.

Coping: Also called bullnose. The capstone on top of the bond beam which finishes the edge around a pool or spa. On vinyl liner pools pre-fabricated coping is usually part of an integrated system for the wall, vinyl liner, and deck.

Coupling: A plumbing fitting designed to join two pieces of pipe.

Cove: The curving transition from the vertical wall to the horizontal floor, at the bottom of a pool wall.

Disinfectants: Chemicals or processes which work to destroy vegetative forms of microorganisms and other contaminants. Examples are chlorine, bromine, Soft-Swim, and ionizers; also included are copper and silver algaecides.

Dirt Demand: The demand that your pool has for dirt. This level is inversely proportional to available time for cleaning. If you remove the dirt from the pool, you have created a dirt deficit, and the pool will actually suck dirt out of the air to maintain its dirt demand.

Diverter Valve: Used in a twin port skimmer, a diverter allows the operator to manipulate the amount of flow from the main drain and skimmer to the pump.

Drain: Plumbing fitting is the start of one suction line to the pump and is usually situated at or near the center bottom of the pool.

Effluent: The water that flows out of the pump on its way through the filter, heating, treating equipment, and then returning to the pool. Also known as the pressure side.

Elbow: A 90 or 45 degree plumbing fitting. Used where your pipes take a turn

Electrolysis: A method of separating chemically bonded elements and compounds by passing an electric current through them.

Expansion joint: Non-corrosive material used to separate two structures and allow for movement.

Elevation: Height at which the top of the pool is set in relation to other structures. The elevation of the pool usually denotes the top of the finished coping material.

Filter: A device used to remove particles suspended in the water by pumping water through a porous substance or material.

Filter Element: A device inside a filter tank designed to entrap solids and direct water through a manifold system to exit the filter. Cartridge filter elements and DE filter grids are two examples.

Filter Medium: A finely graded material such as sand, diatomaceous earth, polyester fabric, or anthracite coal that removes suspended particles from water passing through it.

Filter Pump: The device that pulls water from the pool and pushes it through the filter on its way back to the pool.

Gasket: A gasket is a mechanical seal that fills the space between two objects, generally to prevent leakage between the two objects while under compression. Gaskets are commonly produced by cutting from sheet materials, such as gasket paper, rubber, silicone, metal, or a plastic polymer.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter: A GFCI device protects a circuit from branching off by de-energizing the path of electricity very quickly when it senses current loss. An important safety device around the pool.

Grout: Used to fill voids, and seal joints such as between coping or tile. Grout is generally composed of a mixture of water, cement, sand and sometimes color tint which is applied as a thick liquid and hardens over time, much like mortar.

Gunite: A dry mixture of cement and sand mixed with water. A gunite operator will "shoot" the pool's rough shape then finishers trowel afterwards.

Hydrostatic Pressure: Hydrostatic pressure increases in proportion to depth measured from the surface because of the increasing weight of fluid exerting downward force from above. A force involving built up ground water which creates upward pressure beneath the pool shell.

Hydrostatic Relief Valve: To prevent a pool from literally popping out of the ground because of the buoyancy the HRVs are Installed in the floor of the pool designed to manually or automatically release hydrostatic pressure beneath the pool by allowing ground water into the pool. Located in the deepest part of your pool

Impeller: An impeller is a rotating component of a centrifugal pump, usually made of iron, steel, aluminum or plastic.

Jandy Valve: A brand name of a three way valve.

Laterals: Elongated, capped plastic nipples at the bottom of a sand filter which are slotted to allow for water passage while keeping the sand in the filter tank.

Mechanical Deal: A seal behind the impeller which prevents water from running out along the shaft of a motor. aka; pump seal.

Muriatic Acid: The liquid dilution of Hydrochloric Acid used to lower pH and alkalinity, and to remove mineral stains and scale. 

O Ring: A loop of elastomer with a round (o-shaped) cross-section used as a mechanical seal or gasket. They are designed to be seated in a groove and compressed during assembly between two or more parts, creating a seal at the interface.

Overflow system: Perimeter overflow gutters, surface skimmers, surge or collector tanks, other surface water collection system components, and their interconnecting piping used to remove excess water from pools.

Pebble finish: An exposed-aggregate pool finish, used instead of plaster. It’s composition is similar to regular pool plaster, with the main difference being the addition of small tumbled pebbles used as part of the aggregate. Misting sprayers are used to remove the top part of the plaster, exposing the pebbles in the aggregate plaster mix.

PH: The measure of relative acidity or alkalinity, expressed in logarithmic numbers from 0 - 14, with 7.0 being neutral. What's really being measured is the hydrogen ion concentration. Some would say pH stands for Power of Hydrogen.

Plaster: A common type of interior finish applied over the concrete shell of an in-ground swimming pool.

PPM: Parts per million. A method of assigning value to certain concentrations of chemicals in the water. For example, alkalinity should be kept at 80-120 parts per million, by weight and in relation to the water it's dissolved in.

Pool Volume: The amount of water, expressed in gallons, that a pool holds when filled.

Push Pull Valve: A two position valve used for backwashing sand or DE filters.

PVC: Polyvinyl chloride, which is used to make flexible and rigid PVC pipe used for pool plumbing.

Raised bond beam: An elevated portion of a pool wall, usually used to “hold back” soil. The bond beam itself is usually located lower, with a raised portion of the pool wall above. Faced with brick, stone or tile.

Rebar: Reinforcement bar, used to add strength to a concrete. After excavation of an in ground pool, a steel cage is formed out of re-bar, and the gunite shell is shot over and surrounding it.

Recessed steps: A riser/tread or series of risers, extending down from the deck and terminating at the pool well, that creates a stairwell.

Recessed treads: A series of vertically spaced cavities in the pool wall that creates tread areas for step holes.

Sand Filter: A filter tank, usually fiberglass or ABS plastic, filled with sand and gravel. The pump diffuses water over the top of the sand bed, and forces it through the sand and into the laterals on the bottom.

Skimmer: A surface skimmer is a plumbing fitting set at water level, containing a weir mechanism and a debris basket. The skimmer is part of the suction side circulation system.

Shotcrete: A type of application of the concrete and sand mix which is used to "shoot the shell". Gunite is pumped dry and mixed with water at the gun, whereas shotcrete is pumped wet.

Surge tank: Large vessel for capturing overflow water in competition pools equipped with a gutter recirculation system.

Strainer Basket: The second line of defense is a basket at the pump. The holes in this are smaller than those in a skimmer basket, and prevent the pump impeller from clogging up.

Turbidity: Cloudy, dull, hazy water, due to micro particle suspension.

Ultra Violet Light Filter: Using UV wavelength radiation to destroy contaminants in water. UV light is also used to create ozone molecules for the same purpose.

Waterline: Either the midpoint of the operating range of the skimmer(s), or the top edge of the overflow rim.

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