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

Tracy’s Tips: No Swimming After Eating: Fact or Fiction?

Just about anyone who enjoys swimming has heard that it can be dangerous to swim after you eat. You may even recall your parents telling you to wait 30 minutes or more to get back into the pool to avoid getting a cramp.

The thought behind the waiting period is that your body uses a larger blood supply to aid in digestion, therefore, there may not be enough blood flow to your arm and leg muscles to allow them to function properly. The concern is that this lack of blood flow could cause drowning accidents. While the first half of that thought process is true, the latter half is not. The American Red Cross even issued a scientific advisory review in the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education about it. The review concluded, “Currently available information suggests that eating before swimming is not a contributing risk for drowning and can be dismissed as a myth.”

Swimming after eating is no more dangerous than going for a walk after dinner. Just as you may not want to run a marathon after a heavy meal, you may not want to do any vigorous swimming to avoid losing your lunch. Exercise after a small to medium size meal is not harmful and likely will not cause any cramping.

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

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Winter Pool Care Tips from the Professionals

Winter Pool Care Tips

During the cold, dark months of winter, taking care of your pool may be the last thing on your mind.

Even though swimming season is over, your pool still needs a little attention. The good news is that future problems can be prevented with some minimal maintenance over the winter season. Follow this guide and pool problems won’t plague your spring opening!

Avoid Winter Woes

Snow can wreak havoc on pool covers causing straps and springs to stretch. Excessive rainfall can raise water levels beyond the tile line causing hundreds of dollars of damage to decking, tile and coping materials, making your first spring cleaning costly and difficult. On the other hand, if the water level in your pool is too low during the winter months, your cover will not be able to support the weight of ice and snow accumulation and could cause expensive cover damage.

Pool Cover Guide
  • When using a mesh safety cover, we recommend keeping the water level 15-18″ below the cover. This level will rise as rainfall and snow-melt pass through the mesh.
  • When using a tarp cover, we recommend keeping the water level 1″ below the bottom of the skimmer, and thus the tile line. As long as the cover is in good condition, no water should pass through it. The level beneath the cover should remain constant during the off season. Periodically scoop debris off of the tarp cover and pump the water off to avoid letting a swamp grow on top of it. We recommend using a leaf net with any tarp cover to make leaf removal quick and easy.  Call us to order one.
  • Check your safety cover regularly over the winter and remove debris as it accumulates using a pool brush or leaf blower. This is especially important for pools located in areas with many trees. If you do not remove leaves and debris from your cover, improper water drainage may occur and will put too much water weight on the cover.
  • Once winter and freezing temperatures come to an end, we recommend keeping the water 1-2″ above the bottom of the skimmer with mesh safety covers. This will allow you to avoid having to add water at the pool opening and create a gap between the cover and the water’s surface. This gap prevents algae growth which occurs when the cover sits in the water. The cover’s straps may need to be tightened after stretching out under the weight of ice and snow.

Make Your Life Hassle Free

Sign up today for our Winter Care Service and we’ll take care of your winter pool woes! Our Winter Care Service was designed for the busy pool owner with better things to do than worry about pool maintenance.

Prefer to do it yourself? Stop by the South Shore Pool Supply Retail Store for everything you need for winter pool maintenance and talk to our friendly staff who will be happy to answer any of your questions.

winter pool care

Contact us today to learn more!
(781) 383-3300


Set yourself up for a successful spring opening with these
additional off-season pool care tips from our friends at
Swim University.

“Taking care of your pool doesn’t end when you put the cover on. It’s important to continue caring for your pool
during the off-season (fall, winter, and early spring) to ensure a successful and clean opening…” 10 Tips From The Pros >>

Our friends at Swim University have a ton of helpful resources for pool owners, but their advice and content does not necessarily represent those of South Shore Pool Supply. Instead, the information is intended to provide you with additional resources for optimal pool care. Please contact us directly for specific pool care advice.

Protecting Your Pool Deck from Winter Weather

As much as we love time in the pool, we also love time spent around it. Your pool deck is a place for your family and friends to gather, a place to host meals and entertain. We spend so much time making sure your pool is winterized, we often neglect the deck that surrounds it. Before winter hits, take these steps to properly protect and maintain your pool deck.

Step 1

Sweep your deck to remove all leaves, loose dirt and other debris. A basic broom should do the trick to remove all of the bigger debris and make step 2 easier.

Step 2

Once your decking is clear of debris, use a power washer to get a more thorough clean. Whether wood, cement, stone, brick or composite, your deck should be power washed to remove ground-in dirt and stains from everyday use.

Step 3

Remove and store your deck furniture, potted plants, grill, fire features, and anything else that may invite mold and mildew to grow. Moving these items will help avoid staining that will be hard to remove come spring.

Step 4

For a wood deck, stain and/or seal your decking to add a layer of protection from the ice and snow. Sealing your deck will also protect against moisture and sun when it is pool season again.

For concrete decking, seal the concrete in the fall and be prepared to fix potential cracks that can occur from freezing and thawing throughout the winter.

Step 5

When winter weather hits, shovel your wooden deck to remove snow from your pool decking. Avoid corrosive products like ice melt and salt that will cause damage to your decking material. By shoveling after every storm, you will help to avoid moisture and snow weight from causing issues with your deck’s integrity. Select a shovel without a metal edge to avoid scratching your deck’s surface.

Step 6

Consider a deck cover that will further protect your decking from winter woes.

Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to maintaining a beautiful entertainment space for your family and guests to enjoy year after year.

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.

Winter Pool Closing Checklist

Massachusetts winters bring an abundance of snow and frigid temperatures. If you live in New England, or in another place where the temperature dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need to winterize your swimming pool before the cold months.

The good news? We have put together an easy-to-follow checklist to help you close like a pro and set you up for an easy opening in the spring.

1. Perform Inspection & Repairs

☐ Is your equipment all functioning properly?
☐ Is your swimming pool structurally sound?
☐ Does your pool cover over have any rips or tears that need patching? Stop by our Retail Store for a safety cover patch if yours needs repair.
☐ Fix any issues prior to winterizing.

2. Clean it Like You Mean it

☐ Thoroughly vacuum and skim your pool to remove all debris, or run your robotic pool cleaner a few times prior to closing.
☐ Backwash or clean the pool filter to remove all dirt from the system.

3. Work on Your Water

☐ Check your water chemistry 5-7 days before closing.
☐ Test and balance your alkalinity, pH and calcium hardness.
☐ Shock your pool with chlorine a 2-3 days after balancing the water. We recommend a cold weather enzyme treatment like Natural Chemistry Pool Magic Spring and Fall.
☐ Add a winterizing algaecide right before covering your pool. Be sure you’ve waited the requisite 2-3 days after adding shock, when chlorine levels return to somewhere between 1-3 ppm.
☐ Water must be lowered for the closing. We recommend lowering the water 18-24” below the top of the pool. This allows for rain to replenish the level to at least 18” below the cover before the snow and ice accumulate.

  • Pools with tarp covers must have the water level 2-3″
    below the skimmer.
  • Be careful not to lower the water too much in vinyl pools, the liner can float and cause serious problems.
  • If your water level goes down further than 18″, your pool cover can stretch, rip or cause damage to cover springs and anchors.
  • Rain and snow will fill the pool over the winter.  Continue to monitor your pool water level, ensuring it is below the tile line but not more than 18” below the cover.
  • “Maintaining the proper water level in your pool is a key
    factor in supporting the weight of any debris (including snow and ice) that may collect on the pool cover. Water levels that fall below the recommended level may put excess stress on the cover, which might result in damage and voiding of the cover’s warranty. You can check the water levels by clearing any debris that has collected in the skimmer box. If the levels are low, be sure to add enough water to reach the
    recommended levels.” – LOOP-LOC

    • Guidelines for mesh and solid safety covers:
      • Mesh & Solid Pool Covers: 18″ below the top of the pool.

4. Protect Your Plumbing

☐ Drain all water from your plumbing lines including your pump, filter, heater, chlorinators and chemical feeders. Draining your lines completely (or blowing them out with a Shop-Vac) will ensure that your pipes won’t crack in freezing temperatures and cause major issues in the spring.
☐ “If you have an in-ground pool, you should blow out the lines from the skimmer, through the equipment and back to the pool, then plug the lines at the pool using expansion plugs. If you don’t blow the lines, add swimming pool antifreeze into the lines following manufacturer’s package directions. If you have an above-ground pool, you usually just need to disconnect the hoses to and from the pump and filter and plug the wall outlets.” – Hayward Pool Products

5. Remove the Extras

☐ Put away your ladders, toys, ropes, baskets, hoses, fittings, pumps, heaters, filters and any other equipment from your pool area. Rinse everything off, allow it to dry and consider storing it all in a waterproof container that animals cannot get into.
☐ Fully drain your robotic cleaner and remove the reusable filter bag. Neatly coil up the power cable and store your robotic pool cleaner and accessories in a warm,
dry location.
☐ Store the eyeball fittings, drain caps, plugs, and gauges in the skimmer basket so you know exactly where to find them in the spring.
☐ Store any equipment plugs in the pump basket so they don’t get lost.
☐ Keep everything clean, dry and organized to help you
prolong the life of your pool and equipment.

6. Cover Time

☐ Make sure you have an intact, properly fitting pool cover.

  • Covers that do not fit properly (you can see gaps) will leave your pool exposed to the elements.
  • Use a mesh or solid pool cover and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure proper installation.

The closing process varies for in-ground and above ground pools. For additional pool closing information, be sure to check out the links below for pool-specific tips from our friends at Swim University.

How to Close An In-Ground Pool in 6 Steps

How to Close An Above Ground Pool in 6 Steps

It is a bummer that pool season has come to an end, but when spring rolls around you will be happy to have taken the necessary steps in the fall for an easier opening in the spring.

 

Tracy’s Tips: Protect your pets and animals from swimming pool dangers.

 

Pet and Animal Safety Around the Pool

Safety is the most important element to pool ownership, but it is not just people that are at risk of drowning accidents in the pool. Our family pets, stray animals and wildlife can all run the risk of falling into your swimming pool and not being able to find their way out. Here are a few suggestions to keep your pets and neighborhood animals safe around your pool.

1. Install a Fence, Alarm and/or Pool Cover

Fencing and alarming your pool will help prevent unwanted animals from accidentally falling into the water and discourage them from using your pool as a watering hole. Be aware that many pool alarms only go off if an animal over 15 lbs. falls in. For this reason, alarms should be used as a backup safety mechanism, not your primary solution. Your first line of defense should be a quality fence that is at least 4 feet high. A sturdy safety pool cover will also keep animals from entering your pool and greatly reduce the risk of drowning accidents.

2. Trim Your Trees

If you have trees in your pool area, be sure to cut branches back so they are not hanging above the pool. Tree dwelling animals (especially baby animals) can easily end up in your pool when jumping from branch to branch. Reduce the risk by removing the branches.

3. Remove Trash Temptations

Make sure any trash you store outside is secure in barrels that are not easily opened. Trash cans with locking lids are preferable. Storing trash in a garage or shed also discourages critters foraging in your garbage. Having a potential food source in your yard will draw animals into your yard and pool area. Eliminate the temptation.

4. NEVER Leave Dogs Unattended

While some dogs are natural swimmers, others cannot swim at all. If they seem to like the water, it is wise to teach them to swim. If they do not seem to like the water, do not force them into it. Either way, it is important that your pets are aware of a safe way to exit the pool. Even if your dog is a good swimmer, he can become disoriented and panic if he can’t find a quick exit. Guide your dog in and out of the pool to show him where the stairs or ramp are located. Just as you wouldn’t leave your children unsupervised around the pool, the same rules apply for your pets. Fencing (as stated above) is the most reliable way to keep pets out of the pool area, while still allowing them to hang out in the yard.

5. Provide an Easy Exit

Having an easy exit strategy isn’t just for family pets. Installing a pool ramp (we like the Skamper-Ramp) will give wildlife and neighborhood animals that are not familiar with your pool a highly visible escape route. For critters like frogs and squirrels, we suggest the FrogLog, which attaches to the side of your pool and floats on the surface acting as a life raft for smaller animals. Try the Critter Skimmer as another safety mechanism. “The Critter Skimmer is an eco-friendly invention that allows frogs, turtles, mice, and other small critters to rescue themselves from in-ground pool skimmers. Replacing the pool skimmer cover with a Critter Skimmer allows animals that invariably end up in the pool to climb up the attached spiral rescue ramp and through the opening in the skimmer cover to safety.”

Share these pool tips with fellow pool owners and check back often for more of Tracy’s Tips on our blog.

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

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!

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

Hassle Free Pool Care

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