Extending Use of Your Outdoor Space into the Fall

No one wants to say goodbye to the hot, sunny days of summer, but we’ve got great news: fall is one of the best times to head outdoors. There’s something wonderful about the crisp, autumn breeze and fall colors that welcome you as you step into your poolside spot. That’s why we’ve compiled a few ways to help you embrace the fall season in your backyard oasis.

1. Add a Fire Feature

Those shivering moments when we step out of the pool seem never-ending on cool, fall afternoons. Thankfully, gas fire pit tables make those moments shorter. The Outdoor GreatRoom Company’s gas fire pits instantly ignite stunning flames for that much-needed warmth and ambiance. The UL listed burner maximizes safety and eliminates unpredictable smoke. With so many styles and sizes to choose from, you are sure to find a fire pit to compliment your pool design. When the fire isn’t lit, simply place the burner cover on top of your gas fire pit for a functional table during your autumn gathering.

2. Add a Hot Tub or Spa

The swimming pool is your go-to spot for a refreshing swim on warm fall days but what about those inevitable colder afternoons? A hot tub or spa may become your new BFF. The increased heat not only keeps you warm, but it also provides extra relaxation. Busy family schedule? Stressful day at work? Endless to-do list? Let a spa melt away your worries for a little while. It may not get those to-do list chores done, but we all need some relaxing moments in-between the chaos.

3. Keep Up on Checkups

Make sure to keep up on maintenance to increase the longevity of your pool, hot tub, or spa. Rainy fall days are common, which means it’s vital to regularly test your water. Simply drop off a sample of your water at South Shores Pool Supply for a free professional water test. If frequent cleaning and routine maintenance don’t seem to fit into your busy autumn schedule either, leave it to the professionals to ensure your pool stays pristine.

Now that you’re armed with the essentials for extending your time outdoors, grab your favorite pumpkin spiced drink and enjoy a successful fall pool and spa season!

Author: Katie Oglesby, The Outdoor Greatroom Company

Salt Water Pools: What to Love

Photo credits: Grolie Home

Salt water pools are growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional chlorine pools. The benefits of owning a salt water pool are impressive and may have you considering the switch.

Safety

Contrary to popular belief, salt water pools are not chlorine or chemical-free, but they are safer because pool owners do not have to handle the chlorine in its physical form nor find a good place to store it. You might be surprised to hear that salt water swimming pools use chlorine to keep the water clear.  A salt water pool generates chlorine through a process called electrolysis. Salt is added to the pool, the water passes through the chlorine generator, then converts the salt into chlorine using an electric discharge. Salt water pools use a salt water chlorine generator (SWCG) to turn salt into chlorine. The chlorine eventually breaks down, leaving behind the salt to be reused.

Maintenance & Cost Savings

A SWCG makes it easier to maintain constant, proper chlorine levels. This allows you to avoid high chlorine levels that commonly occur in traditionally chlorinated pools, causing eyes to dry out and become irritated. Salt water pools ultimately save you time and money on costly chemicals, after the initial purchase and installation of a SWCG. Salt pools are also cleaner because the generator runs on a consistent schedule.

Skin Care & Health

A salt water pool leaves skin feeling softer and smoother upon exiting the pool, unlike non-SWCG pool water. The water is soft and won’t leave a noticeable residue in your hair or on your skin. Salt water is also known to exfoliate, rejuvenate and detoxify skin.

As far as health benefits, swimming is great exercise and a proven stress reliever. Salt water pools are even more beneficial because they make swimmers more buoyant and help to relieve inflammation in your joints and muscles. With a salt water pool, there is the added bonus of not exposing yourself or the environment to as many harmful chemicals.

Whether you’re considering an update or planning to build a pool, salt water pools are an excellent choice.

Go Green! We Don’t Mean Your Pool Water.

If you’ve chosen an environmentally conscious lifestyle, owning a swimming pool may seem like it would be off the table. With high water and energy use alongside the addition of harsh chemicals, swimming pools do not exactly scream “green” living.

The good news? You can be an eco-friendly pool owner by making real changes to your poolside oasis that will lessen your impact on the environment. Here are a few tips and a few tricks to get you started.

1. Cover your pool

When you cover your pool you are preventing water from evaporating out of it and causing your water level to drop. Without a pool cover you are wasting water and then energy used to heat the new water you have to add back. Additionally, using a pool cover will keep the sun off your pool which may enable you to use less chemicals to maintain your water. Also, a pool cover will keep debris out of your pool which reduces the energy required to keep it clean, enabling your pump to run less frequently. If you choose a tight fitting safety cover, you will greatly decrease the risk of an accidental pet or wildlife drowning. Keeping your pool covered when not in use is a win, win, win!

2. Check for leaks

If your pool is losing water, you are throwing money down the drain. Over time, you could be losing thousands of gallons of water if a leak is not detected right away. Identify and fix your pool leaks.

3. Consider a solar pool heater

The U.S. Department of Energy states that solar pool heaters are “the most cost-effective use of solar energy in many climates.” The initial purchase of solar pool heaters may seem a bit steep, but the money you will save in the future on energy costs will make up for it. Using a sustainable resource for your pool heating will reduce your ecological impact.

4. Invest in a variable speed pump

It is still up for debate whether pool heaters or pumps use more energy. Traditional pool pumps often come out on top because many pool owners don’t use pool heaters. “The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated in 2008 that pumps in the U.S. are responsible for 10 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually—the equivalent of 1.3 million cars.” – SierraClub.orgWhy are variable speed pool pumps a better option? Pool owners see significant savings in energy costs when upgrading from a single-speed or dual-speed pump. It will pay for itself in 2-3 years and consume about 75% less energy.

5. Choose energy efficient products

When upgrading or replacing pool equipment, be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR label and certification. These products will be the most energy-efficient options and the best for the environment as a whole. You may even be eligible for rebates and tax incentives for upgrading your equipment.

6. Light it up with LED and solar

Update your pool lighting to utilize LED and solar lighting options. There are a number of LED lighting options for inside your pool and countless solar options for your pool patio. Lose the incandescent lighting and start saving your wallet and planet immediately.

7. Plant with purpose

If you’re adding plants to your poolscape, choose drought resistant plants and shrubbery that can act as a windbreak. Blocking the wind from your pool will help prevent rapid evaporation and provide a more comfortable swimming experience. Using native species in your landscaping is recommended as it will be most suitable for the climate you live in and require less maintenance. Talk to a landscaper in your area about the best options for your property.

8. Keep it simple

If you are not willing to give up your pool but want to minimize your negative impact on the environment, skip the extras. A smaller pool without a lot of bells and whistles such as waterfalls and features, hot tubs, etc., will give you the same enjoyment without a huge expenditure of energy.

Did we miss something? Leave your eco-friendly recommendations in the comments!

How to Restore Your Pool Water After a Rainstorm

In New England, you never know what the weather will be. A sunny day can quickly turn into a rainy afternoon, with thunderstorms a common occurrence during the spring and summer months. You’re best bet is to prepare for everything, whatever the weather.

If you experience a rainstorm, there are a few steps you will want to take to keep your pool clean, balanced and filled with the optimal amount of water.

1. Check Your Chemicals

Rainwater in the United States is considered acid rain, which means it can adversely affect the pH, alkalinity, total dissolved solids, and calcium hardness levels in your pool water. Rainwater can also dilute your sanitizer. It is necessary to control any contaminants, so make sure to check the sanitizer levels. If you have a salt water pool, salt will also be diluted by rain. Runoff water from your yard or pool deck, debris, and even lightning can cause your pool water to become unbalanced.

2. Start the Cleanup

Start the cleanup process by cleaning out your skimmer and pump baskets. This will make the job easier for the next steps; turning on your pump and filter and skimming the surface of your pool water. Run your pump and filter while skimming to remove both large debris and smaller particles. Windy storms can often blow leaves, sticks and other brush into your pool that will need to be removed. Brush the walls, steps and ladders in your pool and vacuum to clean up whatever you may have missed with the skimmer and filter. If you have an automatic/robotic pool cleaner, you may want to use that unless there is significant debris. If there is, you may be better off with a manual pool vacuum.

3. Perform the Balancing Act

With a clean pool, you are ready to re-balance the chemicals in your pool water. We recommend that you test your pool water after any significant rainstorm. A light rainstorm should not greatly affect your pool chemical levels, but it never hurts to check to be certain they are in the proper range. Your chlorine and sanitizer levels should also be monitored to avoid contaminants that could lead to cloudiness or algae growth.

Stop by our Retail Store for a free professional water test and for all your pool chemical supplies!

4. Administer Shock

It may not be crucial to shock your pool after a rainstorm, but it can be beneficial to remove any left over contaminants. Drain your pool water to the correct levels and check your chemicals before administering a shock treatment. Shock your pool in the evening after a rainstorm, once you have performed the preceding steps.

Follow these steps and you’ll be back to swimming in your pool in no time!

Choosing the Best Safety Cover for Your Pool

When you purchase a home with a swimming pool or decide to add one to enhance your backyard and entertainment space, your first priority should be safety. Pools are SO much fun, but can also be dangerous for non-swimmers including adults, children and animals. Consider a safety cover to ease your worries in the off-season and greatly reduce the risk of an accident.

When it comes to pool covers, there are two options: solid or mesh. Let’s review both options in more detail to help you decide which makes the most sense for you and your family.

Solid Safety Covers

Pros

  • Solid pool covers do not let sunlight, water or debris through. This prevents algae from growing in your pool. Without algae and dirty water getting into your pool, spring opening will require less maintenance and be less of a headache.
  • These are usually made from a vinyl, tarpaulin-like material, making them easy to cut to the custom shape of your
    specific swimming pool.
  • This type of cover is attached to your pool deck via anchors and springs, allowing it to support the weight of water, snow or debris that may collect on the cover.
  • When you are not using this cover, it can easily be folded up and stored.

Cons

  • Since solid pool covers do not drain, you will need a pump or drain to remove water and debris from the cover if too much accumulates. You will want to prevent a large puddle from accumulating on your solid cover as to not create another drowning hazard.
  • Though the cover can be folded when not in use, it is heavier than a mesh cover which can make it a little more difficult to maneuver.

Mesh Covers

Pros

  • Mesh pool covers are very strong and if installed and
    maintained properly, can hold a lot of weight. This keeps people and animals out and away from danger.
  • Mesh covers are generally reasonably priced, making them the most affordable to pool owners.
  • Mesh covers can last around 15 years if properly maintained, so they are not only an investment in safety, but the best
    option for your wallet.
  • Mesh covers can be custom made to fit your specific pool shape.
  • These covers can be folded and easily stored in the off-season, much like the solid safety covers. However, they tend to be lighter weight, making them easier to deal with.
  • Rain will filter through the mesh, so you will not have to pump excess water off of the top of it.
  • This type of cover is attached to your pool deck via anchors and springs as well, allowing it to support the weight of snow or debris that may collect on the cover. It will keep out large debris such as fallen tree limbs.

Cons

  • While the sunlight penetrating this cover can be an
    advantage if you’re still using the pool and want it warmed, it can be a disadvantage when it comes to algae growth.
    Sunlight will get through the tight mesh weave allowing for algae growth on your pool’s walls. This will leave you with more work to clean your water when you uncover in the spring.
  • Dirty water mixed with smaller debris will be able to seep into your pool requiring more effort to clean it when pool season rolls back around.
  • Since rain water and melted snow will make its way into your pool, you may need to drain some water should the water level get too high.

When deciding which cover is right for your pool, be sure to weigh the pros and cons for your specific pool and budget to determine which option is best. Regardless of which type of cover you choose, installing a safety cover is a smart decision for all pool owners.

*Note: Safety covers now come in a variety of colors to suit your personal style!

Tracy’s Tips: The Tennis Ball Trick

Did you know that tennis balls aren’t just for tennis and playing fetch with the dog? Tennis balls are actually rather absorbent and can assist you in keeping your pool water free of hair product, sun screen, make up and other oils left behind by your human and animal swimmers. Most tennis balls are made out of nylon and/or wool and the material attracts foreign substances in the water. Drop a few tennis balls in your pool or skimmer basket and let them float around to do their job removing these products from your water’s surface.

Check back often for more of Tracy’s Tips on our blog!

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

Automatic Chlorinators: A Must Have for Pool Owners

Chlorine is a vital tool used by most pool owners to sanitize pool water. There are a few ways to dispense the chlorine into your pool, but an automatic chlorinator takes the hassle and headache out of handling chlorine.

An automatic chlorinator (also called a chemical feeder) is your best bet when it comes to dispensers because it offers consistent chlorine feed. The chlorine is fed into your pool plumbing after all the equipment, protecting the pump, filter and heater from corrosion.

Putting chlorine tabs directly into your skimmer basket can damage your liner as seen here.

Simply add chlorine tablets, adjust the valve and let your chlorinator do the work. Use test strips to get your chlorine levels just right.

If you have a pool heater, be sure to check your warranty’s requirements. An automatic chlorinator or salt water chlorine generator is mandatory and use of other chlorination methods may void your warranty.

Tracy’s Tip: When operating your automatic chlorinator, turn your pool pump on and turn the valve so it is fully open. Run the pump for a minute or so to remove the highly concentrated chlorine from the vessel. Then you can open the top of your chlorinator to add tablets without getting a blast of chlorine gas in your face. If you are exposed to chlorine gas, Poison Control recommends standing in a steamy shower for at least 20 minutes to get rid of the chlorine intake.

Schedule your automatic chlorinator installation today – we are currently scheduling fall and spring installations!  >> Contact us

Identifying & Fixing Pool Leaks

Pool repairs are an inevitable part of pool ownership. It is always a bummer, however, when an unexpected pool leak interrupts even one day of pool season.

If you’re concerned that your pool is losing water and could have a leak, you’ll want to first eliminate other common causes of water loss.

The Un-leaky Culprits

Did you know that on the hottest summer days, a pool can evaporate up to a 1/4″ of water? That’s 2 inches in just 1 week! Air temperature, wind conditions, humidity levels and lack of shade and protection from the elements can all contribute to how much water your pool loses each day.  You could also see significant water loss if you’ve had higher than usual pool traffic – especially if there’s been lots of splashing.

The Bucket Test

There is a simple way to determine if your pool water is evaporating or leaking. All you will need is a bucket, a pool step or ladder and these instructions.

  1. Fill a bucket 1-2″ from the brim with your pool water.
  2. Place the almost full bucket of water in your pool on the
    second pool step or top rung of the ladder. You’ll want the water in the bucket to be level with the water in your pool.
  3. Mark the water level on the inside and outside of the bucket with tape or a permanent marker. Be sure to turn off your auto-refill device if you have one.
  4. Test 1: Leave the bucket alone for at least 24 hours with the pump on, then measure the water level in your pool and your bucket.
  5. Test 2: Leave the bucket alone for at least 24 hours with the pump off, then measure the water level in your pool and your bucket.

If the pool water level has decreased by the same amount as the bucket water level, you don’t have a leak, you have evaporation. If the pool water has decreased more than the bucket water, you likely do have a leak. Check out this video from American Leak Detection to see the test in action.

  • You lose more water when the pump is running – the problem is in the plumbing. Call a professional (or contact us for a referral) to perform a pressure test to pinpoint the leak.
  • You lose the same amount of water when the pump is on or off – the issue is likely in the liner, lights, or somewhere in the shell of the pool. It could also be a leak in the hydrostatic valves at the bottom of the pool.

The Dye Trick

For this exercise you will need food coloring or leak finding dye, goggles and a snorkel.

  1. Take your food coloring, goggles and snorkel into the pool and prepare to search for the leak. Pro Tip: Move slowly around the pool to avoid disturbing the water.
  2. If you suspect the leak to be higher up the wall, we
    recommend draining your pool to that level to see if leaking appears to stop and to narrow down the location of the leak.
  3. Test areas with visible cracks by squirting food coloring or dye in bursts into the cracks to see if the coloring gets sucked into the cracks. If it does, you have discovered the
    location of a leak!
  4. If you aren’t sure where to start, we recommend starting near your main drain and return lines or anywhere the pool’s shell has been punctured.
Fixing the Leak

We highly recommend contacting professionals to do the necessary repairs, especially if the leak involves your pool plumbing. However, if you have a concrete, plaster or fiberglass pool and you feel comfortable tackling the problem yourself, be sure to do your research and purchase the proper supplies. If you have a vinyl pool liner and have identified a liner leak, you can purchase a vinyl repair kit in our store and attempt to patch the hole before bringing in the pros.

We also recommend and carry Natural Chemistry’s Coverfree® liquid solar blanket. “Coverfree’s advanced technology offers the ability to save water and money by decreasing evaporation. Coverfree forms on the water surface. Even when the water is disturbed by the wind or bathers, it reforms the liquid barrier at the surface to protect from energy loss.”  Check out this video to see how it works and stop by our store to purchase some today!

The longer it takes to determine that you have a pool leak, the more difficult it can be to address the issue. Make it a priority to routinely check your pool and equipment for signs of leaks to prevent headaches in the future.

Tracy’s Tips: Avoiding Green Summer Hair

Photo credits: Inner Sense Beauty

If your hair color is on the lighter side, you may have experienced it turning a green tint after a lot of time spent in your pool. The culprit is mainly copper and chlorine. Pools filled with well water are particularly susceptible to an overabundance of copper. Copper can also get in your pool water through certain algaecides, as well as your pool heater. Pool heaters contain copper which can leach into your pool if you have unbalanced water.

The copper in your water is oxidized by the chlorine, which then binds to the proteins in your hair. This results in a green tint to light colored hair, for the same reasons the Statue of Liberty turned green. It’s all about oxidation!

Avoid green hair with these easy tricks.

  1. Avoid copper-based algaecides.
  2. If your water has copper in it, use a filter on your hose that will remove the metal before adding water to your pool.
  3. Use a leave-in conditioner, hot oil treatment or swim cap to protect your hair from the copper and chlorine.
  4. Wet your hair with tap water before swimming. If your hair is already saturated it won’t “suck up” the chlorine and copper that’s in the pool water.
  5. Be sure to shampoo and condition your hair right when you’re done swimming to reduce the risk of getting green hair.

If your hair is already green…

A simple home remedy may get the green out and return your hair to its normal color. Try “washing” your hair with ketchup, tomato juice, lemon juice or vinegar to cause a chemical reaction that will lift the green out of your hair. If this doesn’t work, try a specialty shampoo or conditioner formulated to help with this issue, or consult with your hair salon for professional help.

Do you have another tip for avoiding or getting rid of green pool hair? Leave us a note in the comments!

We hope you are enjoying and sharing these pool tips with fellow pool owners. Please check back often for more of
Tracy’s Tips on our blog.

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

10 Pool Chemical Storage Safety Tips

Proper pool chemical storage is imperative to avoid harmful
reactions, mixing and spills. While fireworks may be part of our summer fun, properly storing your pool chemicals will help you avoid a dangerous 4th of July-like explosion due to improper chemical storage.

Don’t let this happen to you…

How to Properly Store Pool Chemicals

    1. Read Labels Carefully: If you do one thing to ensure pool chemical safety, this is it. All of the important hazards,
      storage instructions and safety information will be on each container of chemicals. Avoid scary chemical reactions by reading the fine print thoroughly on all of your pool
      chemicals.
    2. Storage Temperature:  Pool chemicals should never be stored in a location that exceeds 95° F. Find a cool and dry location to store your chemicals. If possible, avoid areas with high humidity and direct sunlight.
    3. Ventilation: Store your pool chemicals in a well-ventilated area. Many people choose to store their pool chemicals in the pump room, but if that is where you will be keeping your supplies, you will need an HVAC shutoff in case of an emergency situation.
    4. Fire Safety: Be smart about what you store with your pool chemicals. Do not store other flammable items such as gasoline or propane near your pool chemicals or machines like lawn mowers that may contain these flammables. Also, keep your storage area clear of flammable trash or debris.
    5. Keep Chemicals Dry: Store your pool chemicals on a raised, flat surface to guarantee they do not get wet. If your chemicals do get wet, they can leach noxious gases and cause corrosion. Keep your chemicals away from doors and windows in waterproof containers and be sure the lids are always tightly secured.
    6. Keep Like with Like: Some chemicals need to be stored apart from one another to avoid reactions. Avoid storing chemicals on top of each other and make sure chlorine and acids are not stored near each other. When in doubt, store all chemicals individually for optimal safety.
    7. Cleaning Your Storage Area: Be smart when using household chemicals and cleaners to tidy up your chemical storage area. The last thing you want is an unexpected chemical reaction caused by accidental mixing. Use cleaning products that are safe to use around pool chemicals.
    8. Lock Them Up: Make sure all your pool chemicals are stored in a locked location that cannot be accessed by children or pets.
    9. Protect Yourself: Wear gloves and protective eye-wear when working with pool chemicals and make sure they don’t come into contact with your hands, mouth or eyes. Wear long sleeves and shoes when working with pool chemicals to avoid any chance of skin irritation or burns. Add the pool chemicals to your water instead of adding water to your chemicals, which could splash onto your skin.
    10. Be Mindful of the Environment: Avoid chemical spills at all costs to prevent chemical burns and inhaling dangerous fumes and dust. Spilling chemicals on the pool deck or ground can contaminate groundwater and soil causing a host of other problems.

Follow the steps above to significantly reduce your risk of chemical illness or injury.

If you prefer to leave the pool chemicals to the professionals, learn more about our Hassle Free Pool Care program and let our trained and experienced technicians handle it. That’ll leave you free to spend your time enjoying all that your swimming pool has to offer in fun and relaxation.

Hassle Free Pool Care

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