All posts by South Shore Pool Supply Blog

Pool Cleaners: Suction Side, Pressure Side or Robotic?

If you’re short on time, or just prefer to spend your time on more traditionally enjoyable activities, consider investing in a pool cleaner to handle some of your pool maintenance. When considering pool cleaners, you will want to investigate which type of cleaner is right for your situation. Let’s discuss the options.

1. Suction Side Pool Cleaners

Suction side cleaners attach to the main filtration pump in your pool and use the suction to move the cleaner around. These cleaners scrub the pool surface and remove unwanted dirt and debris. The debris is then returned to your pump basket through your pool’s filtration system. The cleaner’s hose is connected to either a dedicated suction line or directly to your skimmer. Suction cleaners utilize an internal turbine which is spun by the force of pump’s suction.

Pros: This kind of cleaner is great for pool owners on a budget as they generally cost less than the pressure side and robotic cleaners. Maintaining a suction side cleaner is relatively easy because it has fewer moving parts that have the potential to break. It will pick up medium debris but some will remove small debris as well.

Cons: You will find that this type of cleaner puts more stress on your pool filter. Debris goes directly into the pump strainer, reducing circulation. The pump basket needs to be emptied to keep the cleaner working. Fine dirt and debris go into the filter, leading to more frequent back washing/cleaning of the filter.

2. Pressure Side Pool Cleaners

Pressure side cleaners are very popular among pool owners. They use an existing pressure side line to move the cleaner around. The water returned back into your pool fuels the cleaner, but often requires an additional booster pump to push water through the cleaner to create a jet stream. Not all pools are built with the plumbing to accommodate this type of cleaner. Pressure side cleaners don’t use your pool’s filtration system to filter out debris like the side suction cleaners. Instead, they use a filtration bag to catch the debris, so you don’t have to empty the pump basket or backwash/clean the filter to maintain circulation. Your pool pump will push water through a hose to jets that move the cleaner around your pool, loosening dirt and guiding it into the filter bag.

Pros: This type of cleaner is also less expensive than robotic cleaners and does not stress your pool filtration system as much. They are also generally easy to maintain. They’re great at picking up medium and heavy debris. Fine particles will flow through the filter bag and get cleaned out in the pool filtration system.

Cons: You will need a booster pump to run these cleaners and many pools are not plumbed for that. There are also additional electricity costs to run the second pump.

3. Robotic Pool Cleaners

Robotic pool cleaners are in a category all by themselves. They run off of power from your home and do not use your pool equipment to operate. These cleaners are top of the line and improving every day with new technology. They are excellent cleaners and have a built-in filtration system with a filter bag or built-in cartridge to collect debris. Robotic cleaners are able to remove both large and small debris (and everything in between) from your pool floor, walls, steps and water line. Simply plug your pool robot in and let it do all the work!

Pros: Robotic cleaners do not cause wear and tear on your pool equipment and are energy efficient, reducing overall power usage and costs. They virtually eliminate the need to clean your pool walls with a brush, saving you the hassle and time. The maintenance-free design make robotic pool cleaners very popular.

Cons: These cleaners are the most expensive of the three options and have a higher up-front cost. Robotic cleaners also are a bit heavier and it is slightly more difficult to empty the filter.

Which pool cleaner is best suited for your pool? Stop by our Retail Store for assistance in choosing and purchasing your new pool cleaner.

The Health Benefits of Swimming

Fitness and wellness are top priorities for people looking to live long, healthy lives. Your pool has always been a place for leisure, relaxation and fun, but it can also become your favorite place to get in a workout. Many find swimming to be an enjoyable way to get exercise. It is an activity the whole family can do individually or together, no matter their pace or fitness level.

The Benefits of Aquatics

External Benefits

Swimming is unique because unlike most sports, it offers a full-body workout. Whether you are doing the breaststroke or backstroke for 30 minutes, you are working all of the major muscle groups in your body at once. An equivalent workout on land would take 45 minutes.

Swimming builds muscle tone, with the added benefit of being low-impact, meaning it doesn’t stress your joints and muscles the way many other exercise regiments do. When you swim, you’re increasing your heart rate, building endurance, strength and flexibility, improving your overall fitness.

Swimming is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and gives you more bang for your buck. “A 160-pound person burns approximately 423 calories an hour while swimming laps at a low or moderate pace. That same person may burn up to 715 calories an hour swimming at a more vigorous pace. A 200-pound person doing the same activities would burn between 528 and 892 calories an hour. A 240-pound person might burn between 632 and 1,068.” – Healthline

Internal Benefits

Alongside improving your cardiovascular health, swimming (in conjunction with a healthy diet) reduces your risks for many diseases. Studies have shown time in the pool can reduce blood pressure, improve lung function and even lower blood sugar levels. Swimming can also help you maintain a healthy weight.

The mental health benefits of swimming are bountiful. Just a short swim can relieve stress, have meditative qualities, reduce anxiety and produce endorphins that can be beneficial to people suffering from depression. Being in water also aids in relaxation, leading to better sleep and better overall health.

Swimming is for everyone

Whether you’re a child, adult or senior, swimming is a sustainable workout regiment you can continue throughout your life. Swimming is considered a low-impact workout with high-impact benefits. People recovering from injuries, living with disabilities or struggling with arthritis can all benefit from the ease of exercising in water because it supports up to 90 percent of your body weight. “Research in the International Journal of Sports Medicine shows swimming is better than straight-up rest for exercise recovery, for when you want to take it easy.”

If swimming laps isn’t your thing, there are other activities you can enjoy in the water that have many of the same health benefits. Maybe you prefer diving, water polo or resistance water walking to stay fit physically and mentally. The choices are endless!

From beginners to lifelong swimmers, the benefits of aquatics are undeniable. Swim laps, try water aerobics, challenge a friend to a pool basketball game – whatever you choose, choose aquatics in your daily life!

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.

Pool Chemistry: The Balancing Act

Whether you are new to pool ownership or are just looking for a refresher course, balancing your pool chemistry doesn’t have to be a daunting task. The key to a clean and clear swimming pool is to ensure your pool water is both balanced and sanitized.

Check out our quick guide, followed by a more detailed chemistry lesson on pool water balance and sanitation.

Quick Guide

  • Total Alkalinity:
    • 80 – 150 ppm (concrete and gunite pools)
    • 100 – 150 ppm (painted, vinyl & fiberglass pools)
  • pH: 7.4 – 7.6
  • Calcium Hardness:
    • 175 – 225 ppm
    • 225 – 275 ppm (plaster pools)
  • Chlorine: 1.0 – 3.0 ppm
  • Cyanuric Acid:
    • 25 – 50 ppm
    • 50 – 80 ppm (pools using salt water Chlorine generators)
  • Total Dissolved Solids: 500 – 5000 ppm

Water Balance

Total Alkalinity (TA)

Total alkalinity refers to the quantity of alkaline material in the water (bicarbonates, carbonates and hydroxides). Ideally your swimming pool should maintain proper total alkalinity levels between 100-150 parts per million.

“Alkalinity is a pH buffer, meaning it helps to keep the pH from drastically moving up and down the pH scale by absorbing major changes to the waters before affecting the pH.”
Swim University

Adjusting your pool’s alkalinity is the first step. Alkalinity is defined as the ability of the water to resist changes in pH. It acts as a buffer to pH and makes it more stable.

Add an alkalinity increaser if your TA is too low. Add sodium bisulfate to decrease alkalinity if your TA is too high.

2. pH

The pH refers to the relative acidity of the water. Maintaining water at a pH between 7.4 and 7.6 (a little above neutral on the pH scale) is key to balancing your pool water. This pH range is most suitable for swimming because it is less irritable to the eyes and generally more comfortable for swimmers. Chlorine is also most effective in this range. If your pH is too high or too low, the chlorine isn’t able to do it’s job.

Precipitation, swimmers, and pool debris can all change your pool’s pH. Low pH means your water is acidic. High pH means your water is basic. Keep your pH balanced to avoid equipment and structural damage.

The biggest change to pH comes from products used for sanitation, like chlorine tabs. Chlorine tabs have a very low pH, often requiring you to add a pH increaser. Pools using a salt water chlorine generator (SWCG) often have a higher pH level. For this reason, you will need to add more pH decreaser or muriatic acid to a SWCG pool than you would in a traditional chlorine pool.

It is wise to keep both a bottle of pH Increaser (sodium carbonate) and pH decreaser (sodium bisulfate) on hand to deal with pH fluctuations that can frequently occur.

3. Calcium Hardness

Calcium hardness may not technically be part of balancing your water, but without paying attention to dissolved calcium levels, your water will pursue other avenues to find it. The proper calcium hardness level is between 175 – 225 ppm or 225 – 275 ppm for plaster pools.

Monitor the calcium levels in your pool to avoid damage to your pool walls and equipment. Protect your pool by adding calcium hardness to your water. Measure carefully, as too much calcium can lead to scaling (calcium carbonate depositing itself on surfaces) among other problems.

Use calcium chloride to raise the calcium hardness of your pool water. If you are experiencing high calcium hardness levels, the only remedy is to drain at least some of your pool water to dilute it with fresh water.

Cyanuric Acid (CYA)

Cyanuric acid (CYA) is a water stabilizer and should be in the range of 25-50 ppm or 50–80 ppm for salt pools. Cyanuric acid is sold as either a pool stabilizer or pool conditioner and helps prevent destruction of chlorine from the sun’s UV rays. It is especially important to add cyanuric acid if you are starting with fresh water and need a stabilizer base. Chlorine tabs already contain cyanuric acid, so CYA is replenished if you’re using tabs. With a salt water chlorine generator however, CYA will need to be added separately.

Sanitation

Sanitation is imperative to disinfecting your pool water to prevent disease spreading organisms, as well as bacteria and algae growth. Environmental pollution from humans, animals, cosmetics, leaves, pollen, dirt and other debris are constantly affecting your pool water. When it comes to pool sanitation, chlorine is the most commonly used ingredient.

Chlorine

Chlorine is used as a water sanitizer. It works by disinfecting your water to rid it of any bacteria, algae, ammonia, and other contaminates. Your chlorine levels should ideally stay between 1.0 – 3.0 ppm.

Add Chlorine to your water with tablets or use a powdered or granular chlorine (we prefer tablets for ease of use). Tabs can be added to a chlorinator, floating dispenser, or skimmer basket(s) in your pool.

“When buying chlorine make sure you look for Trichloro or Dichloro as an active ingredient. These types of chlorine products are stabilized. UV rays from the sun eat up chlorine, but if it’s stabilized, it drastically slows down this process.”
Swim University

Alternatives to Chlorine

Bromine, biguanide and the minerals silver and copper are sanitizer alternatives to chlorine. While they each have their pros and cons, chlorine remains the most popular and least expensive option. Using a mineral solution still requires small amounts of chlorine for complete sanitation. Contrary to popular belief, a SWCG creates chlorine. People often assume a salt water pool is better because it doesn’t use chlorine, but this is a misconception!

Pool Shock

Super chlorination or “shocking” is also vital to maintaining a clean and healthy pool. When you shock your pool, you are essentially adding 3x the normal amount of chlorine you would regularly add. A shock treatment will burn organic materials out of the water and allow the sanitizer to work properly.

Shock your chlorine pool when any of the following occur:

  • Your pool is cloudy.
  • There is pool algae present.
  • The water temperature exceeds 84 degrees.
  • Your chlorine level is lower than 3 ppm.

Finishing Touches

When you have added all the necessary chemicals to your pool, let your pool pump run so your chemicals can circulate throughout. Balancing your pool water may seem tricky at first, but it will get easier with practice and patience.

Stop by our Retail Store for all of your pool chemicals needs and bring a sample of your pool water to receive a free professional water test!

Tracy’s Tips: Get the Most Out of Your Skimmer

Pantyhose for the Fine Details

Did you know that both your skimmer basket and skimmer net can can be improved to be more effective cleaners?

Remove fine debris in your pool by wrapping a pair of old (or new) pantyhose around your skimmer basket. This quick trick will remove smaller particles than with the skimmer basket alone, and your filter will not have to work as hard. You can also use old pantyhose over your skimmer net for the same effect.

So the next time you get a run in your stockings, repurpose them into an easy pool cleaning tool. Replace the pantyhose when they are full of debris and rinse out the skimmer basket before putting on a new pair.

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

Should I Change My Pool Filter Sand?

Photo credits: Swim University

Customers often ask us if it is recommended or necessary to change their pool filter sand. The answer isn’t quite as simple as a yes or no. Even pool industry professionals are on the fence on the topic.

Let’s explore both sides of the debate.

Why Some Say NO to Changing Your Pool Filter Sand

The most common reason professionals say there is no need to change your filter sand is because sand lasts forever and need not be replaced. For maintenance, they suggest cleaning it about once a year with a professional sand cleaner.

Why Others Say YES to Changing Your Pool Filter Sand

The professionals that recommend changing your pool filter sand argue that not only should you replace your sand every 3-5 years, but you should also clean it in the interim. The argument for changing the sand is based on the belief that sand does eventually wear down and become smooth. When this happens, the sand cannot trap debris as well and it is time to replace it.

To Change or Not to Change

Filter manufacturers generally recommend changing your pool filter sand every few years. Since these companies manufacture the filters, they have nothing to gain from selling you new sand. We would advise following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

While the final decision is yours, we would advocate for changing your pool filter sand every 3-5 years.

If you do decide to change your pool filter sand, our friends at Swim University will show you how in this easy to follow video.

Tracy’s Tips: Bubble Solar Cover Installation

Solar Pool Covers: Bubble Side Up or Down?  

Are you using a bubble solar cover to keep your pool water warm? If so, you may be wondering which side of your bubble cover should face up. We recommend covering your pool with the bubble side facing down for the best results in warming your pool in the summer sun. The sun’s UV rays will heat the bubbles and in turn, transfer heat to your pool water. With the bubbles facing down directly into the water, the heating process works more quickly and the bubbles help the cover float on the water’s surface.

Applying your bubble solar cover with the bubbles facing up can eventually damage the bubbles on the cover, due to direct exposure to the sun. The sun’s rays need to be able to flow through the cover before it can reach the water. Think of your solar cover as a thermal blanket or magnifying glass for your pool, intensifying the warming effect. Putting the cover on with the bubbles upward will take longer to heat your pool water and shorten the useful life of the cover.

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

Mosquito-Free Poolscapes

Nothing ruins a pool day like a swarm of relentless mosquitoes ready to make you the main course at the BBQ. Don’t let pesky, disease-carrying pests ruin your time. Consider these ideas to make your pool area less appealing to mosquitoes.

Integrate Your Approach

When it comes to mosquito management, you’ll want to use a combination of these recommendations for best results.

1. Remove standing water and fill in holes in the yard. Stagnant water can quickly become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Be sure to inspect your yard after rain for these areas and fill them in to remove the problem.

2. Utilize a solar cover. Solar covers have many benefits, one of which is to keep insects out of your pool. As an added bonus, you will keep your pool water from evaporating as quickly, while using the sun to help heat your pool.

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3. Invite mosquito predators into the yard. Bats, dragonflies, birds, tadpoles and fish are just a few of the critters that enjoy feasting on adult mosquitoes and larvae. If you make your pool area inviting for these animals, you will have some help managing the mosquito population.

Image result for bat house

4. Keep up with maintenance. Maintain a clean and balanced pool to keep mosquitoes at bay. A dirty pool will have the opposite effect.

5. Maintain the landscaping. Remove rotten leaves and debris that also hold water. Be sure to check under things (like your deck) for rotting organic material that are sure to become home to mosquito larvae. Some plants are said to have insect repelling properties and naturally repel mosquitoes. Try planting lemon thyme, catnip, lemon balm, lavender, basil, garlic, rosemary and marigolds as deterrents.

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6. Repair cracks in the septic. “If there’s a way for mosquitoes to get into your septic tank to lay their eggs, they will find it. Search for any place they could get in, such as uncovered ventilation pipes, cracks in the tank walls, and gaps in the septic tank cover.Cover ventilation pipes with screen mesh tight enough to prevent insects from flying through. Use cement to repair your tank walls. Replace tank covers that don’t have a snug fit. If you have an abandoned septic tank on your property, consider filling it in to keep it from turning into a big mosquito condo unit.” – Swim University

7. Try to trap them. Portable mosquito traps work by attracting insects through light and CO2, mimicking human movement and capturing them. Many people prefer this method to insecticides that utilize chemicals to kill off mosquito populations.

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8. Consider a mosquito repellent device like the Thermacell Zone Mosquito Repellent. “This technology stops mosquitoes before they get close enough to bite or bother you. Now you can say goodbye to messy chemical sprays and lotions.”  Thermacell

9. Mist and spray them away. Home mist machines, professional yard spraying services, and do-it-yourself insecticide application can all help relieve mosquito problems. These should all be used carefully, especially with children and pets in the yard. The EPA cautions, “No pesticide should be regarded as 100% risk free.”

10. Build a bug-free enclosure. Installing an enclosure around your pool brings your outdoor pool indoors with regards to keeping bugs out.  Enclosures are often used in tropical climates where the mosquito populations thrive in the mild, wet weather. Adding mesh curtains around outdoor dining areas for instance, will make your yard more pleasant for gathering.

11. Encourage a strong breeze. Get creative with your approach and try installing outdoor fans. The wind will keep mosquitoes away from the breezy area because they are weak flyers.

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We hope you’ll find these tricks helpful for mosquito management in your yard. Do you have any mosquito fighting tips that we left off the list? Leave your suggestion in the comments!

Clean Swimming: Does it Really Matter?

Do you shower before swimming? While it may seem strange to shower before jumping into a swimming pool, it is a highly recommended practice for a number of reasons.

Avoid Harmful Contaminants

    • Chances are that your body has contaminants on it that are not beneficial for the pool. These include sweat, soap, sunscreen, perfume, shampoo, deodorant, urine and even feces. Gross! All of these products will contaminate your pool water when swimmers get in the water without showering first.
    • When swimmers shower before entering the pool, they reduce the risk of recreational waterborne illnesses that cause diarrhea, skin and eye infections.
    • Pool disinfectants like chlorine protect and prevent waterborne germs, but chlorine does not immediately kill all the harmful germs and may not work in all situations,
      depending on the contaminants it is trying to kill.

Be Courteous To Pool Owners

    • Be considerate of others, especially the pool owner, if the pool is not your own. Showering before going for a swim will remove anything on your body that could dirty their pool and is just courteous.
    • The more contaminated the water becomes because of the foreign substances coming off of swimmers, the harder the pool has to work to stay clean. The pool’s pumps and filters will have to work even harder to remove contaminants in the water and additional chlorine will have to be added to make sure the water is clean and safe for swimming. Save time and money for the pool owners by showering, making it less work to keep the pool clean.

 Clean Pools Are Safer Pools

    • Water that is filled with bacteria can cause you and your guests to become sick.
    • “Most people associate the smell of chlorine as a sign that a pool is clean. However, they couldn’t be more wrong. The smell generated by chlorine is only present while it is oxidizing contaminates. Therefore, a pool that is completely clean will have very little, if any, odor at all. The stronger the smell the more work the chlorine is having to do meaning the pool is actually dirtier.” – Swim University

Keep the pool safe and clean for all swimmers, shower before making a splash!