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Chemical Survey Results Show Tradition As Trend

By Marcelle Dibrell

There’s an old one-upmanship game you can play where you counter just about any argument by saying, “Yes…but not in the south.” 

When it comes to the preferred sanitizer for swimming pools and spas, each of the regions responding to our survey fell into one of two camps: liquid chlorine, or trichlor tabs…

Yes…but not in the south. 

As has been noted in years past, respondents from the southeast region of the country have indicated a strong preference for calcium hypochlorite.

Cal-hypo isn’t cheaper in the south. Respondents from regions across the country reported an average price tag of $1.47 per pound of cal-hypo. At $1.43 per pound, Southern service professionals are paying roughly what everyone else is paying.  

There are a couple of theories that could explain the regional embrace of this otherwise relatively unpopular form of chlorine. For one thing, liquid chlorine isn’t as available in the south. Manufacturers are few and far between in this region, and liquid chlorine is expensive to transport.

In the absence of liquid chlorine, the only reasonably priced conditioner-free form of chlorine is cal-hypo.

For another thing, relative to other areas of the country, Southern source water has low calcium content — in fact, among the lowest in the country. Compared to certain regions of the country, such as the Southwest, for example, where the water is very hard, the Southeast has only slightly hard water. 

In much of the south, you can get away with adding a lot more calcium to the water before the levels become too high. 

You have to take care not to add too much calcium to swimming pools or they will scale, yes… but not in the south. 

This year, our regional analysis uncovered another interesting trend. 

When it comes to sanitizer testing, each of the regions responding to our survey fell closely divided between DPD testing and test strips, but not in the south…Southern California that is.

In previous years, Service Industry News has noted that where sanitizer testing is involved, California service techs have long maintained its status as an outlier, clinging to OTO as their go-to method for chlorine testing. 

This is interesting in light of the general understanding that both test strips and DPD methods of testing provide more accurate and specific information about sanitizer levels. 

While it is true that OTO is the least expensive test to perform, both DPD and test strips represent significant advances over OTO — advances that service technicians in every other region of the country are willing to pay for. 

That now includes Northern California too.

We have observed in the past that the Service Industry is often bound by tradition —
the tendency to continue doing things the way that you were originally taught to do them. California and Southern California in particular, boasts the largest and most well established pool service market in the U.S. 

To a great extent, it is grounded in tradition.

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