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By James Dulley, Published June 05 2009

Ozone water purifiers can reduce chemicals

Dear Jim: We like to use our swimming pool and spa, but we want to use fewer harsh chemicals to protect our skin and the environment. Are ozone water purifiers effective, and do they consume much electricity? – William N.

Dear William: The use of typical purification chemicals for residential pools and spas can be quite a large annual expense. Also, some people are physically sensitive to these chemicals. From an environmental standpoint, using less of most chemicals is never a bad, and most often a good, thing.

When people think of ozone gas, they often relate it to the choking smog and brown skies in cities or the ozone layer protecting the Earth’s surface. These are common forms of the gas – the former bad and the later good.

When this same O3 ozone gas (sometimes called active oxygen) is dissolved in water in small concentrations, it is not harmful to people or animals. Many major municipal water treatment facilities use ozone gas to treat the public drinking water. I use a mini-ozone generator on a bubbler to rinse off and purify fresh fruits and vegetables I buy.

Ozone gas is, however, harmful to dangerous microbes, chemicals and particulate materials in the pool or spa water. Any ozone gas that does not react with the microbes, etc., in the water reverts back to simple O2 oxygen relatively quickly when it escapes into the air.

There are several designs of ozone pool and spa systems. The cost to operate one depends somewhat on the specific design and size, but typically, a residential-size model uses about 60 watts of electricity.

Adding an ozone system will not totally eliminate the need for chemicals, but it will be greatly reduced. Your local salesperson can do an operating costs analysis for you. Typically, though, your overall costs should be less and the pool or spa water will feel less chemically treated.

In addition to killing bacteria, viruses, etc., ozone gas reacts with microscopic particles in the water. This makes them clump together into larger particles that your existing filtering system can more easily and effectively remove.

The two basic designs of ozone systems are UV (ultraviolet) and corona discharge. The UV systems rely on strong UV light rays through air in a chamber to create the ozone gas. This low concentration of ozone gas is then fed into the water through the existing filter/pump plumbing.

Corona discharge models generate an electric arc in a chamber to create ozone gas. This is similar to how a lightning bolt in a storm naturally creates ozone and its fresh odor. Corona discharge systems cost more than UV systems initially, but are cheaper to operate and can produce higher ozone concentrations.

The following companies offer ozone pool/spa purifiers: ClearWater Tech, (800) 262-0203, www.cwtozone.com; Del Industries, (800) 676-1335, www.delozone.com; JED Engineering, (800) 552-8838, www.jedengineering.com; Ozotech, (800) 795-9671, www.ozotech.com; and Prozone, (256) 539-4570, www.prozoneint.com.

Dear Jim: We like to use our swimming pool and spa, but we want to use fewer harsh chemicals to protect our skin and the environment. Are ozone water purifiers effective, and do they consume much electricity?I plan to make my house walls more energy efficient, but I do not want to spend my money on unneeded fixes. How can I tell where my house is losing the most energy during winter so I know where to start? – Johnny M.

Dear Johnny: It can be difficult to determine where your house is losing heat. One method is to just feel various areas on the walls with the back of your hand. A cold spot (warm during summer) means energy is being wasted.

For more accuracy, use a hand-held Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector. It shines a laser beam and infrared sensor on the wall. When it focuses on a cold spot, the laser beam turns blue. On a hot spot, it turns red. The sensitivity can be adjusted from one to 10 degrees.

Send inquiries to James Dulley, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244, or visit www.dulley.com