Pools & spas
Enjoying water, without wasting it.
Swimming pools use a huge amount of water, but if they are designed well to use rainwater and protected with a pool cover they don't have to be wasteful.
There are a number of effective ways to reduce water wastage in the pool and spa:
- Reduce evaporation
- Capture rainfall to refill your pool
- Reduce backwash on your filter
- Behavioural changes
Evaporation is a major cause of water loss from your swimming pool. It is important to remember that the evaporation rate is highest in the early evening as the air cools and the water remains warm.
A pool cover is the most effective way to reduce evaporation. A good pool cover, if properly used, will reduce water evaporation from your pool and also reduce your pool chemical and salt bill. Pool covers range from simple leaf covers (which reduce evaporation by around 40%) though to thicker blankets and security covers (which can save up to 90% evaporation).
These offer a more affordable option and are available in bubble plastic or foam, which float on the water's surface. If used with a roller they can be easily removed before pool use, then spread again after you have finished swimming for the day.
Liquid pool covers
These are a new alternative available if you don't want to hide your pool water with a cover or blanket. The chemical forms a barrier on the water's surface which inhibits evaporation by up to 40%. It can either be added to the pool daily by hand or by using an automatic metering system.
Covering your pool with a shade will further reduce evaporation as well as protecting swimmers from harsh sunrays. Use shade cloth or a shade sail.
Prevent wind exposure
Wind contributes to evaporation. To reduce water loss, adjust the landscape around your pool with walls and hedges that create shelter from the wind.
Capture rainfall to refill your pool
Installing a rainwater tank is a great way to reduce the use of mains water in your swimming pool. Rainwater diverters are an inexpensive alternative to installing a tank. They attach to a downpipe and can be used to divert rainwater into your swimming pool. In large downpours, you will need to monitor the water level in your pool so that it does not overflow. You should consult a plumber about stormwater diversion.
Reduce backwash on your filter
Sand filters require backwashing which can use up to 8000L of water every year. Purchase a cartridge filter if you are installing a new pool or replacing the filter. Cartridge filters do not require backwashing to be cleaned so they use less water. Backwashing a sand filter should be carried out once every 4–6 weeks. Only backwash until the glass goes clear - backwashing for longer will waste excessive amounts of water.
- Backwash only when necessary.
- Keep the pool and filters clean to reduce frequency of filter backwashing.
- If acid has been used to clean the pool, the water should be neutralised.
- Changing pool behaviour
Leaks in your pool can be difficult to detect. Leaks can develop in the pool's membrane and piping. Even a small leak can waste 7000 litres per year. Here is some useful information on how to detect pool leaks and what you should do about them.
Locating a leak
Firstly, you will need to identify if the leak is coming from the pool plumbing or the pool structure. These simple steps can help you identify the location of a leak:
- Fill the pool to its normal level and mark it with a piece of duct tape
- With your filter system running, wait 12 to 24 hours then check to see if the water level has dropped significantly
- Refill the pool back to the original level of the duct tape and with the filter system off. Wait the same amount of time (also over the same part of the day, i.e. 8am-8pm) and measure the water loss again
- If you are losing more water with the filter system running, the leak is on the pressure side of your plumbing somewhere PAST the impeller of the pump
- If you are losing less water with the filter system not running, the leak is on the vacuum side of your plumbing somewhere BEFORE the impeller of the pump
- If the water loss is the same, the leak is more likely in the structure of the pool, however plumbing leaks should not be ruled out
- If a leak is detected soon after construction of the pool, the owner should contact the builder to investigate
What to do about a leak?
When it comes to leaking pool pipes, it is recommended you always consult a licensed plumber or leak detection specialist.
Where leaks are past the impeller of the pump, a specialist leak detection contractor is generally required to identify the exact location of the problem. This may not necessarily be a plumber. Some plumbers have invested in the equipment required for this form of testing, while others call on leak detection specialists and then undertake any the work required.
Licensed plumbers should be consulted for any leaks identified before the impeller of the pump, and as a precaution even if it is suspected that the leak is in the pool structure.