All posts by South Shore Pool Supply Blog

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

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!

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.

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.

Say Goodbye to Cloudy Pool Water

As pool owners, we all have to deal with cloudy pool water at some point. Determining the cause of the cloudiness is the first step in remedying the situation. Cloudy pool water can be caused by improper levels of chlorine, pH and alkalinity imbalance, broken or clogged filters, algae or debris. Use this guide to help you determine which is the culprit in your cloudy pool.

Why is my pool water cloudy?

1. Are your chemicals properly balanced? (Check your chlorine, pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness.)

  • Did you shock your pool recently? Is there is too much or too little chlorine?
  • Is the pH and alkalinity out of balance?
  • Does the water have high calcium hardness levels?

Solution: Too little chlorine is a leading cause of cloudy pool water. Chlorine is used to sanitize the water and without it, your water isn’t being properly cleaned. Contaminants in the water will build up and cause cloudy water as a result.

Make sure your pH, total alkalinity (TA) and calcium are all in the acceptable range and that the combination of the three aren’t on the high end of the range. If they are, your water is likely out of balance. If the temperature of your water is also on the high side, the imbalance of these chemicals is even more likely the cause of cloudiness. High pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness can lead to cloudiness.

If any of the above are out of the acceptable range, first thoroughly scrub, skim, and brush your pool walls, then vacuum. Once that is complete, work on adjusting the chemicals to get them within the acceptable range again. Re-balance your water by adjusting the pH. Use a pH reducer or increaser to adjust pH levels or add muriatic acid to lower TA. Be aware that even shocking a clean and balanced pool can cause cloudiness temporarily. Shock your pool water to remove harmful bacteria, organic contaminants, and algae. Finally, run your filter and test your water sample.  Use a chlorine stabilizer (cyanuric acid) to protect your chlorine levels.

Chemical                                                          Industry Acceptable

pH (Potential Hydrogen)                         7.2 – 7.8

TA (Total Alkalinity                                      80-120 ppm

Calcium                                                              200-400 ppm

If your pool is 100% balanced and is still cloudy, you should also try a product like Omega Pool Clarifier, available in our store.

2. Is your pool filtration system operating properly?

Poor water circulation and filtration can occur when your
filter doesn’t run long enough, becomes clogged or needs cleaning. Poor circulation can also be caused by skimmer and pump baskets becoming full of debris.

Solution: Turn over your pool water by running your pool filter continuously for at least 12 hours each day. A diatomaceous earth (DE) filter may achieve your desired results after only a few hours because it has the finest level of filtration. A cartridge filter will likely take 2-5 times as long, while sand filters can take multiple days. Add DE powder to your sand filter for more effective filtration. Is your filter clean? Have you back washed or cleaned it recently? If not, we recommend doing so. Most contaminants will be removed if your pool filter and sanitizer are working together. When the leaves are falling because it’s dry, we recommend emptying your baskets daily.

3. Are environmental factors to blame?

  • Leaves, pollen and dust can build up in your filter and hinder the cleaning process. Other environmental factors from
    animal waste to rainwater runoff can cause your pool water to become cloudy and imbalanced. Runoff water brings
    nitrates, phosphates, and other chemicals into your pool throwing the balance out of whack. Algae can also pollute your pool water and can lead to cloudiness, using up your pool’s chlorine rapidly.
  • Are swimmers clouding up your pool water? Sunscreen, hair products, bug spray, and other contaminants can contribute to your water clarity, or lack thereof.
  • The sun alone can deplete your sanitizers. “Its powerful
    ultraviolet rays break apart the sanitizing hypochlorite ions created when you add chlorine to your pool, causing them to evaporate into the air around your pool. This means less sanitizer and more dirt in your water.” – Swim University

Solution: See Solution #2 above. Hint: run your filter! Using an enzyme product such as Natural Chemistry Pool Perfect will also help with contaminants introduced to your water by swimmers. Maintaining proper levels of cyanuric acid, aka stabilizer or conditioner, will keep the sun from using up your chlorine.

The absolute best way to rid your pool of cloudy water is to prevent it from becoming cloudy in the first place. We recommend working with our team of professionals to create a pool maintenance schedule that you can implement or signing up for our Hassle Free Pool Care program. Contact us to learn more!

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.

Pool Party Prep Checklist

Photo credits: Posh Party Bebes

Thinking about hosting a pool party? Make your party memorable with these helpful tips to get your pool and patio ready. Have something to add? Leave your suggestion in the comments!

1. Budget Accordingly

Planning your budget in advance will keep you on track with your party planning and avoid stress as your party date approaches. If you know your budget, you can decide how many guests you can reasonably accommodate. Don’t forget to factor in food, drinks, decorations, and other party items to go with your theme.

Photo credits: Better Homes & Gardens

2. Prepare Your Pool

Clean Your Pool

A few days before the party, thoroughly vacuum your pool. It may seem obvious, but you will need to skim the pool to remove floating debris. Keep up with it as best you can prior to your event. Your guests will appreciate a clean, sparkling pool to swim, play and relax in. It is a pool party after all, so be sure your pool is the focal point.

Test Your Water Quality

Knowing how many people are attending is not only important for food planning purposes, it also plays a role in your water quality. Increasing the number of swimmers means making adjustments to keep your water balanced, clean, and ready to host more people than usual. We recommend adding shock to your pool 2-3 days before your party to get your water as clear and clean as possible. After shocking, make sure to re-balance your pool water with the proper chemicals and clean your pool filter. Repeat these steps after the party to again re-balance and clean your pool water.

Make Sure the Pool Area is Safe

Clean up around the pool if you have a lot of toys, floats and other pool accessories everywhere. You do not want your guests to even have the potential to get hurt on your watch. If your party goes into the night or you’re throwing an evening event, make sure the pool is lit and easy to see. No one wants to fall into the pool unexpectedly and this can be extremely dangerous if there are children or non-swimmers in attendance. Pool lighting can be fun and add to the ambiance and theme of your party. Turn on your pool light or add floating pool lights and/or outdoor lighting around the perimeter of your pool for safety.

Don’t Forget to Add the Fun!

Now that we have safety covered, you can focus on the best part of party planning, the FUN! Will you need some floats for a relaxing vibe? Would your guests enjoy playing some competitive pool games? Do you need some kid friendly pool toys and floats? The options are endless!

Stop by our Retail Store for everything you need to add some fun to your party! While you are there, get a complimentary water test and all of the chemicals and products you need to keep your pool safe.

Photo credits: Overstock.com

3. Prepare Your Patio

Clean Your Patio

Again, this may seem obvious, but cleaning your patio is a very important first step. Even though the centerpiece of the party is the pool, your guests will spend a lot of time out of the pool as well. Eating, drinking, playing games, dancing and mingling with other guests will take place on or around your patio. Sweep or blow leaves, dirt and debris away from your patio area to tidy up. You will also want to clean any patio furniture you will have out for your guests. Bring out additional furniture and chairs to accommodate the number of guests you’re expecting.

If you have landscaping around your patio, take some time to trim back bushes, pull weeds, and remove debris around your flower beds.

Prepare Entertainment, Food & Drink

What’s a party without some music?! Whether you have built in outdoor speakers or you are using a portable bluetooth player, find a way to bring music outdoors to set the mood and theme of your pool party. Pool and yard games offer a fun way to encourage your guests to loosen up and enjoy each other’s company. Pool basketball, volleyball, and bag toss are all crowd-pleasers that your guests will love playing.

If you’re serving food and drinks, make sure you have enough to feed all of your guests. Make your menu even more fun by keeping it on-theme. Make sure you have the proper utensils and paper goods you will need. Think about where you are going to set up a food table and how you are going to keep the food fresh and drinks cold on a hot summer day.

Set the Scene

Sticking with your theme, pick out some fun decorations to liven up your entertainment space. Be creative and set the scene, but you don’t need to go overboard. Display your decorations around the patio and pool area to bring everything together. Lighting is important around your patio, just as it is around your pool. Lighting is not only practical so your guests can see where they are going at night,  it also can create ambiance and double as decorations. Insect repelling candles are also helpful on a summer’s night.

Go the Extra Step

While most of your guests will come prepared for a pool party, be sure to have some extra pool towels around for someone who may have forgotten to bring one. It is thoughtful and wise to have sunscreen, bug spray and shady places for guests to sit readily available.

Now that you are prepared for your party, all that’s left for you to do is be a good host and spend time with your guests. Maybe you’ll even find some time to relax and enjoy your poolside retreat!

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.

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

Tracy’s Tips: DIY Pool Toy Organizer

Image Courtesy of: Juggling Act Mama

DIY Pool Organization Pallets

Does your collection of floats and toys seem to grow more and more each pool season? Keep your floats, towels, noodles, goggles and more neat and tidy with this fun DIY pool toy organizer project.

Use a recycled natural wood pallet (stay away from ones that may have been chemically treated) and paint it to match your patio decor or whatever fun design style you like! Get the kids involved and add unique hooks for each family member to hang their towels when they aren’t using them. The design options are endless!

For step by step instructions, check out this helpful video from HGTV.

Need a pallet for your project? Stop by or call our Retail Store, we usually have some available.

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner