If you’re doing your own swimming pool maintenance, you probably want to take advantage of every trick in the book. By understanding the concept of pool aeration, you can put oxygen to work for you and save time and money in the process.
You already know that good pool water circulation is essential for keeping your swimming pool clean and balanced. Pool aerators can help you enhance the water circulation in your pool. And they are easy to install but have a few downsides.
Let’s check them out more carefully and see if they’re a good fit for you and your pool.
What Is Pool Aeration, And Why Is it Important?
Pool aeration means forcing your water to interact with the air. The goal is to infuse the water with extra oxygen, enhance circulation, evenly distribute chemicals, and maintain a proper pH reading and chemical balance. Doing all these things helps keep your water more pleasant to swim in and reduces the amount of chemicals you need to buy.
A side benefit is that strong aeration can also cool your water significantly if it gets unpleasantly warm in the summer.
What Is a Pool Aerator, And How Can it Help You Aerate Your Pool Water?
A pool aerator is just a water feature that collects your pool water and shoots it out in a stream. It goes into the air and then lands back in the pool. Sounds simple enough, right?
There are different types of aerators that you can purchase or even build yourself, but they all follow the same simple design principle I illustrated above.
Advantages of Aerating your Pool Water
The best part of this simple aeration action is that it can have some serious upsides with almost no negatives.
Let’s look at some advantages of installing a pool aerator on your swimming pool.
The Only Way to Raise pH and Lower Alkalinity Simultaneously
Aeration is the only way to do so if you ever need to simultaneously raise pH and lower your total alkalinity. And you are likely battling a calcium scaling issue if your total alkalinity is high and your pH is too low. So, it might be an urgently needed fix.
Cool Your Water
Exposing your pool water to the air on a hot day will cool it off. So, turn on your aerating system when the sun is roasting your pool and you feel the water getting uncomfortably warm. Within a few minutes, you will feel the water cool off, and the aerated mist will provide a refreshing relief until the rest of the pool cools off a bit.
The only potential downside of aeration is that if you overdo it, your pool could get too chilly or lose some water to evaporation or the wind while it is in the air. However, this is not usually a big deal unless you are in Arizona or someplace else that is very dry.
Adding aeration to your pool gives the water another way to circulate. Even pools with an excellent filter system tend to let water stagnate on the surface a bit. Do you ever see an unsightly ring of buildup around your pool wall? I call that the scum line.
Thoroughly aerating the water makes the water move around a lot at the surface level and helps prevent that buildup. It also allows the chemicals in your pool water to interact with more water, as the splashing exposes more water to their sanitizing, balancing, or clarifying effect.
Are There Different Aerator Options for Inground and Above Ground Pools?
There are quite a few options for aerators; some are better for above-ground pools, and others are more appropriate for inground pools.
Above ground pools don’t usually have a deck that is even with the surface of the water. So, typically, an owner looking to aerate the water would install a mister system or what is sometimes called a pool cooler.
Misters are often standalone products. They attach to a garden hose or hose spigot, and from there, a set of tubes with a bunch of misting heads is stretched out around the pool patio or over the pool if there is a structure nearby. One common application is to attach the tubing to a pergola if it is close enough to the pool.
You can also integrate your misting system directly into your pool plumbing if you’re comfortable with some DIY plumbing. Your pool pipes might even have a pre-existing hose bib installed, leftover from when the lines were pressure-tested during construction.
Think of the misting heads as miniature sprinklers that force the water to spray in a fine pattern or mist. Then, you simply turn on your hose, and fresh, cool water travels through the tubes and to the misting heads, turning into a mist that falls into your water.
A pool cooler is attached to your return jet or jets. They are a curved or angled tube with a mister head on the end that will squirt your water in an arc over the surface and back into your pool. You can add one for all the returns or just some of them.
Simply shut off your swimming pool pump, remove the wall fitting by unscrewing the ‘eyeball’ jet, and install the pool cooler by threading it in. Remember, it’s righty tighty, lefty loosey. Using a pool-safe lubricant on the threads might make it easier to install and remove the fittings. You probably don’t want to be aerating the water all the time.
Now, when you turn your pool back on, the water returning won’t jet into the water below the surface. Instead, your new pool cooler will arc it into the air, cooling it and adding oxygen. Then it will fall back into your water, dappling the surface and providing a fun feature, especially for kids.
If you have a little pool plumbing skills, you might even be able to make an aerator yourself. We’ll show you how later on.
Inground pools sometimes have water features plumbed into their design. Aerating heads are typically installed in the coping around the deck, on the bottom surface of the pool where it’s not too deep, or even on the steps. Some pools have all three.
Other Strategies to Aerate Your Pool Water
Ok, so what if your pool doesn’t have an aerator, and you don’t want to install one of the ones we mentioned? You have a couple of other options.
Using Your Own Water Features
Some pools have an integrated water feature like a waterfall, fountain, or deck jets that are not only pretty to look at and fun for kids to splash through, but provide aeration of the water as well. You don’t necessarily need a fancy pool to have one; they are not always directly integrated into the pool’s plumbing.
An attached spa may have a feature that will allow you to adjust the valves and force water to spill over into the pool, aerating the water. If you have a water feature like this, it is a built-in aerator. If you’re using your spa overflow feature, ensure the water isn’t already heated!
Angling Your Return Jets
If you want a quick means of aeration without extra hardware or plumbing, you can probably get some help by adjusting your returns’ angle. Adjust them so that the water coming out is angled as far toward the surface of the pool as possible.
To do so, you can simply loosen or tighten the return fitting a bit to achieve the desired result. Some returns have a separate eyeball behind the fitting. To adjust this return type, you must loosen the outer ring, re-angle the eyeball, and then tighten the ring back down.
Be careful not to over-tighten things. PVC feels hard, but it can break easily when under the stress of high torque. And it is always a good idea to add some pool-safe lubricant to the threads. It can save you from freeing a stuck fitting down the road.
How to Build Your Own DIY Pool Aerator
To build your own aerator, you don’t need much skill. And, it should be very inexpensive to do.
Start by matching a new fitting to the return of your pool. PVC is available in a wide range of sizes, so it might be a good idea to bring a fitting from home to test what you find at the store for fitment.
Next, find a way to attach that fitting you found to a length of PVC pipe. For instance, if you just found a 1.5” threaded fitting that works for mounting to the wall fitting of your pool, flip it around and check out the other side. It might also be threaded or have a slip coupling that you can glue with PVC Cement.
You can build straight out for a horizontal water feature or integrate an elbow to put your pipe up out of the water for aeration.
Now, figure out how to attach that side of the fitting to a section of PVC pipe. Don’t get a pipe that is too small in diameter. Otherwise, it could put back pressure on your system. I’d suggest sticking with 1.5” PVC if that is the size of your fitting.
Now cut your pipe to length. Anything from eight inches to three or four feet is fine. Just remember it will stick out of your pool if you’re using it as an aerator. Now, drill a few evenly spaced holes in the pipe. You can add more later if you want, so don’t go crazy immediately.
Attach your wall-end fittings to the pipe, and make sure the holes are on top. Now you need to find a cap fitting and fit it to the other end of the pipe to close off the end. This will force the water through the holes you drilled. Your cap can be threaded or a slip coupling. It doesn’t matter so long as it stays on!
Now, simply thread your homemade aerator onto your pool wall, return and turn on your pool pump. Presto! Your aerator is in business.
If you want more spray, drill more holes. But remember that more holes will reduce the force of the water coming out and the distance it travels in the air.
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The Bottom Line
Pool aerators aren’t necessary for every situation. Having an aerator might be a good idea to keep your pool temperature down if you live in a super hot and dry climate. Otherwise, I think you can rely on the existing water features around your pool to get the job done.
Questions? Always happy to help; drop me a line.