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Service professionals are really lay-chemists

By Marcelle Dibrell

If the public understood the numerous hats worn by professional pool and spa technicians, there would be tremendous respect for the industry.  Sure, some of the job involves mindlessly waving a leaf net through the water.  

It’s an inarguable fact that vacuuming and sweeping are also parts of the day.  But if more people understood the mechanical expertise that is involved with trouble-shooting pool and spa equipment they would tip their own hats to service technicians.  

And let us not forget the chemical knowledge that experienced professionals have acquired over the course of their careers.  Any pool technician worth his salt  has such a body of chemical understanding that it blurs the definition of blue collar.

That’s because the task of ensuring both the balance and sanitation of recreational water is all about chemistry. To maintain or repair the water, extensive information is required.

Most service professionals do not recognize themselves as lay-chemists, but it’s hard to know what else to call  a person who deals with acid base chemistry, chemical equilibrium, electrochemistry, and colorimetric testing every day.  

In order to get to the bottom of what is causing an algae problem, pool and spa service professionals may find themselves dabbling with phosphate chemistry and performing complicated precipitation reactions.

When faced with the task to remove unsightly stains from plaster surfaces, service technicians may develop an understanding of oxidation reduction reactions and carry out metal complexation chemistry.

The bottom line is that keeping water balanced, sanitary, and attractive relies on chemical actions that are performed based on empirical evidence.

And much of that evidence is obtained through chemical testing, which is the subject of this issue's featured stories.

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