Category Archives: Pool & Spa Tips

When to Replace Your Pool Liner

Vinyl pool liners typically last about 12 years if maintained properly. As your pool liner ages, activity, chemicals, weather and UV rays will eventually cause your liner to start deteriorating. When that happens, it’s time to consider whether repairing or replacing is the right choice for you.

Replacing your pool liner may be in order if…
  • there are substantial cracks and tears in your pool liner.
  • your pool is clearly losing water from a leak.
  • the color is drastically faded from chemicals and the sun.
  • you notice rust stains or algae buildups that cannot be
    removed.
  • you see wrinkles, stretching or slippage of the liner itself,
    especially around the skimmer, return jets and pump fittings.
  • your pool liner is over 12 years old and you want to be proactive before problems arise.
  • you are tired of you liner pattern and want an aesthetic
    upgrade.

There are short term solutions for tears and leaks if you are hoping to keep your current liner a bit longer. Keep in mind these are merely patches and you’ll want to address the underlying issue with a more permanent solution as soon as you can.

You don’t always have the luxury to plan a pool liner replacement, but if you keep an eye out for deterioration, you can make repairs or schedule a replacement off-season. Check your liner early this spring to make sure it’s in good shape before beginning your pool opening.

Need an expert opinion? If you need leak detection or liner replacement, contact us and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!

Free & Total Chlorine: What You Need to Know

It is vital to keep measurements of your pool’s chlorine levels. Chlorine is essential to sanitizing your pool keeping you and your family safe.

Chlorine can often be a source of confusion as there are three distinct kinds: free chlorine, combined chlorine and
total chlorine. For the purpose of this article, we will be
focusing on free and total chlorine, but will cover the basic
definitions of three versions.

Our friends at Swim University classify the three types of
chlorine in the following ways:

3 Types of Chlorine

  • Free Chlorine – This is the chlorine that you usually test for in your pool water. Free chlorine is able to sanitize your pool. Your pool water should have between 1 and 3 parts per
    million (ppm).
  • Combined Chlorine – Chlorine that’s been used up by the sanitation process is called combined chlorine. While it’s still in the water, its ability to sanitize is reduced compared to free chlorine.
  • Total Chlorine – Total chlorine is the sum of both free chlorine and combined chlorine.

What’s the Difference? Let’s Do the Math.

As Chemical Engineers, the science behind chlorine is our specialty! Let’s begin with this simple formula for chlorine:

FC + CC = TC

“When chlorine is added to your pool, it reacts with the
water to form hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion. These compounds together form what we call free chlorine.

Once this chlorine begins to react with the contaminants in the water, such as nitrogen and ammonia, it becomes combined chlorine.

In this state, the chlorine isn’t as effective at sanitizing
compared to free chlorine. Your goal is to make sure your pool is sanitized. You want to make sure your free chlorine levels stay in check.

For example, if your free chlorine levels and total chlorine levels are the same, then there’s no combined (or used chlorine) in your water. If your total chlorine level is higher than the free chlorine level, the difference of the two are the combined
chlorine levels.” – Swim University

Your combined chlorine should be zero, meaning your free chlorine and total chlorine (what gets tested) are equal.

To maintain the highest quality water in your pool, it is
important that you understand the math. By determining how much chlorine is optimal to add to your pool water, you will
ultimately reach the perfect balance and in doing so, kill the harmful contaminants in the water making your pool safer for swimming.

For example, if you test your pool water and the combined chlorine levels appear to be rising, this is a good indicator that it is time to add more chlorine to your pool to assist in sanitation. Conversely, if the combined chlorine levels appear to be low after testing, you may not need to add anything to your water at that time.

Safety Matters

We hope this gives you a better understanding of chlorine’s role in keeping your pool water safe and clean all season long, and that you have an easier time adjusting your pool’s chlorine levels for optimal sanitation. A clean and healthy pool maximizes your swimming and relaxation time and who doesn’t want that?!

Choose Hassle Free Pool Care and let our expert technicians maintain your healthy pool or stop by our Retail Store for a Free Water Test or to purchase a Chlorine Test Kit if you prefer to do it yourself.

Check out the two articles below from Aqua Magazine to learn more about the importance of chlorine in your pool water.

Chloramines in Source Water 

Is Superchlorinating The Best Way To Eliminate Chloramines?

 

Tracy’s Tips: Pool Cover Storage

When the time comes to open your pool and put the cover away for the season, here are a few tips to help maintain the
integrity of your cover while in storage.

  1. Make sure your pool cover is completely dry before storing. Most safety covers are mesh, and can be folded and put in the mesh storage bag while still wet. Once it is fully dry, it can be stored. If you are storing your cover in a plastic bin however, make sure the cover is dry before packing it away, to avoid mold.
  2. Store your cover in an elevated location if possible. Safety covers are very heavy, so be sure your rack or shelf can handle the weight. Storing your cover on the ground will invite rodents and bugs to use it as a home and chew holes through your cover. No one wants that costly surprise at the end of pool season!
  3. Plastic storage bins are perfect for pool cover storage. Make sure to choose a large enough bin with a tight-fitting lid. If you are going to put your cover in a bag, make sure to hang the bag high off the floor.
  4. Add moth balls to the bin with your pool cover. PRO TIP: Put the mothballs in a large sock to keep them from getting all over your pool deck when you take out the cover later.

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

Lower the Cost of Running Your Hot Tub: 8 Tips

The best way to lower the cost of running your hot tub is to first understand what is costing you the most money. The most expensive part of running a hot tub is powering up the heating element. Almost all hot tubs are heated using an electrical resistance coil. As electrical energy is run through the heating element, the resistance causes heat, which is absorbed by the water running through the heater. Secondary electrical costs come from running the pump(s).

The best thing you can do for your wallet is to be sure your hot tub is running as efficiently as possible. Read on for our tips to lower the cost of running your hot tub, in order of impact and ease of implementation.

  1. Cover condition and the quality of the cover makes the
    biggest impact on energy savings and heat retention. A water logged or otherwise damaged cover has a significantly
    reduced thermal rating and can be difficult to move. The cost of a new higher quality cover quickly pays for itself in
    electrical savings, as the heating element is used much less.
  2. Turning down the temperature of your hot tub between uses makes a huge impact. Lowering the temperature from 104 to 100 (or even less) saves a lot in electrical costs because the heating element is powered up less frequently. The lower you set the temperature, the more you’ll save, but it will take longer to heat back up before use.
  3. Closing air jets while the hot tub is not in use will help to
    reduce heat loss. Most hot tubs have valves that allow air to be sucked into the return jets when opened, causing
    bubbling action in the water. This is nice when you’re using the hot tub, but the turbulence at the surface allows heat to rise and escape much quicker. Especially in the winter, the air being introduced is much cooler than the water temperature, causing a rapid temperature drop.
  4. Maintaining a clean filter cartridge will reduce the cost of running the circulation pump. A dirty filter will restrict water flow and force the pump to work harder, drawing more
    energy and thus costing more money to operate. Regularly cleaning the filter cartridge ensures that not only will the
    water quality remain high, but the efficiency of the pump can be maximized.
  5. A thermal or solar blanket can be cut to size and floated on top of the water surface. The “heavy-duty bubble wrap” can serve as a lighter, secondary cover to further reduce heat evaporation up and out of the hot tub.
  6. If a hot tub is consistently buffeted by wind, the air flow around the tub will whisk away heat and maintain lower
    temperatures around the unit, speeding up heat loss. Having a simple wind break can make a big difference and will also increase privacy and comfort for bathers when in use.
  7. LED lights are all the rage now as their energy consumption is much lower than standard incandescent lights. Hot tubs can upgrade to this technology to save a little, but making sure that the lights are turned off when done using the hot tub is the best way to save on lighting costs.
  8. As technology in many industries advances, some of that
    invariably finds its way into the pool and spa industry. Pumps, motors, lights and heaters are more efficient, more thought is put into the hydraulic design of the plumbing systems,
    insulation has improved, control systems have more options, the list goes on. Older hot tubs were usually just a pump, heater, and a filter. That same system in a newer hot tub will be, by default, much more efficient. Newer hot tubs usually use a very small circulation pump or a two speed pump to significantly lower the cost of heating and filtering. They’ll also allow for a higher speed/stronger jet pumps to add the jet action that bathers desire when the hot tub is in use. Newer tubs generally have more design and equipment
    options as well, allowing for more capabilities at a lower
    operational cost. Eventually, it might be worth investing in an upgrade to a more efficient system.

Contact us directly if we can help you with your hot tub or swimming pool maintenance or answer any questions. Visit the South Shore Pool Supply retail store for all of your hot tub and pool products.

Salt Water Chlorine Generators: How do they work?

Photo credits: http://www.poolsupplyworld.com/

You might be surprised to hear that salt water swimming pools are using chlorine to keep the water clear. 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 used again. SWCGs are not a new concept, but they continue to evolve as the technology and materials improve.

Benefits to Salt Pool Water

Many homeowners prefer salt water swimming pools for the following reasons:

  1. A salt water pool leaves skin feeling softer and smoother upon exiting the pool, unlike non-SWCG pool water.
  2. A salt water chlorine generator makes it easier to maintain constant, proper chlorine levels, avoiding high chlorine levels that can commonly occur in traditionally chlorinated pools causing eyes to dry out and become irritated. 
  3. Salt water pools reduce the need to frequently and manually add chlorine to your pool.
  4. Salt water pool owners do not have to handle the chlorine in its physical form, nor find a good place to store it.

How Salt Water Chlorine Generators Work

“Salt water chlorinators use dissolved salt as a means of creating chlorine to clean the pool. They use a different process to create the chlorine instead of just dumping the chemical into the pool.

A salt water pools make hypochlorous acid (HClO) by using table salt or sodium chloride (NaCl) and electrolysis. The salt water passes through an electric current creating chlorine gas (Cl2), but you’re also forming hydrogen gas (h2) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH). Using electrolysis, dissolved salt is converted into hypochlorous acid(HClO) and sodium hypochlorite, the sanitizing agents used to clean the water of any dirt and bacteria.

So, instead of just dumping chlorine into the water, you create a chlorine generator with a salt water chlorinator that continues to generate chlorine until more salt is needed.”
Swim University

Adding a Sacrificial Anode

A zinc sacrificial anode is a device that protects metal components from corrosion in a salt water pool. Salt water is corrosive, regardless of whether or not there is chlorine or an active chlorine generator. The large increase of dissolved solids in the water when salt is added makes the water more conductive, and can lead to premature corrosion of any metal components in the pool system. Adding a sacrificial anode made of zinc, a softer metal than all the stainless steel and aluminum in pool environments, and attaching it to the bonding grid, means that it will corrode before any of the more important metal components. An anode’s role is to corrode (sacrificing itself) before other metals that are part of the same underwater electrical system. Talk to us today about scheduling installation of a sacrificial anode anti-electrolosys device to your salt water pool. We highly recommend it!

SWCG systems make pool maintenance easier for salt water pool owners. A well maintained salt water chlorinator system should last you anywhere from 5 to 7 years, when serviced periodically. Spend less time managing chemicals and more time enjoying your pool!

Contact us today to learn more!

New England Swimming Pool Care Calendar

Taking care of a pool or spa correctly will increase your enjoyment and protect your investment. Stay on track with our New England Swimming Pool Care Calendar.

January
  • Typically the water in your pool will be frozen. Don’t try to lower the water level. A drop in the water level will allow the ice to drop, possibly pulling out the return plugs or damaging light fixtures.
February
  • Not much can be done at this time. Check the water (ice) level to see if anything has changed.
March
  • The ice should be melting (hopefully).  Check the water level. Lower the water to keep the safety cover dry.
    • A “wet” cover will trap debris and allow the sun to warm the water and add to the algae growth.
  • When using a “tarp” cover, the leaves on the cover should be scooped out and water removed from the cover. Make your life easier by purchasing a leaf net that will catch the leaves on your cover for you. If there are any holes in the cover, be sure that you don’t drain the pool.

April
  • The water is starting to warm up as the days get longer. Test the water and add liquid shock and an algaecide if needed.
  • Keep the cover dry.
May
  • As you get close to the opening date, allow the rain to raise the water to the operating level.
  • If you are planning a later opening (late June or early July) you may want to add more liquid shock.
  • Check the water level periodically so there are no surprises at the opening.
  • Keep the cover as dry as possible.

June
  • Open your pool.
  • Add a metal remover if tap water is added.
  • Perform initial cleaning to remove any debris and balance the water.
  • Check for leaks. Gaskets and o-rings may need to be replaced.
  • Have the pool heater serviced.
  • Make a note of the starting filter pressure.
  • Bring in a water sample after the pool has been circulating for 24 hours.
July
  • Test the water balance at least once a week during the peak of the season.  Additional tests may be needed if water is added.
  • Test and maintain the free chlorine at 1.0-3.0 ppm.
  • Empty the skimmer and pump baskets as needed.
  • Skim the pool surface and vacuum once a week.
  • Bring in a water sample for computer testing.
  • Check the filter pressure and backwash as needed.
August
  • Test the water balance at least once a week during the peak of the season.  Additional tests may be needed if water is added.
  • Test and maintain the free chlorine at 1.0-3.0 ppm.
  • Add a metal remover if tap water is added to prevent staining.
  • Empty skimmer and pump baskets as needed.
  • Skim the pool surface and vacuum once a week.
  • Bring in a water sample for computer testing.
  • Check the filter pressure and backwash as needed.
  • Remove elements or cartridges and clean with Filter Cleaner Degreaser to remove any oils and grease that may have accumulated on your filter.

September
  • Turn off the equipment.
  • Lower the water 12 – 18 inches below the skimmer.
  • Close the pool.
October
  • Maintain the water level at least 3 – 6 inches below the tile line.
  • Keep safety cover dry and remove debris from “tarp” cover.
November
  • Maintain the water level at least 3 – 6 inches below the tile line.
  • Keep safety cover dry and remove debris from tarp cover.
  • Add liquid shock and algaecide.
December
  • Maintain the water level at least 3 – 6 inches below the tile line.
  • Keep safety cover dry and remove debris from “tarp” cover
  • Add liquid shock and algaecide.

 

4 Easy Ways to Prevent Rodents from Damaging Your Pool Heater

One of the most common problems pool owners experience in the winter is rodent damage to their pool heaters. When the temperatures get colder, mice and other rodents look for warm places to take shelter from the elements. Unfortunately, your pool heater may look like a good home to them.

Whether the rodents are building nests, chewing wires, or using your pool heater as a bathroom, it is imperative that you keep them out to avoid damage.

Protect your pool heater with these easy steps

  1. Remove leaves and debris from the pump and pool heater to prevent moisture. Moisture leads to corrosion and can seize your pump motor come spring. The debris also makes a good hiding place for rodents so this step is essential.
  2. Plant mint around your pool heater. Mint deters rodents and will act as a natural barrier. Placing plastic snakes around your heater may also serve as a natural deterrent because mice don’t want to build their homes near predators.
  3. Pick up some Mouse Busters, an all natural anti-rodent
    inhibitor, at our retail store.
  4. Contact us about a one-time installation of a Pentair or
    Sta-Rite Heater Anti-Rodent Kit.

For more tips and tricks to prevent rodent damage, check out this helpful article from Swim University or call us anytime at (781) 383-3300.

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.

Tracy’s Tips: Leaf Nets for Tarp Covers

Autumn Leaf Removal for Tarp Covers

Don’t let leaf removal get you down! There is a simple solution to keeping leaves off of your tarp pool cover. The tarp cover will keep the leaves out of your pool, but how do you handle the leaves that fall from the autumn trees and land on your tarp cover? A leaf net will fit atop a tarp cover once your pool is closed. The leaf net catches the leaves on your cover for you. Simply remove the netting and shake it out into your compost pile to get all of the leaves off of your tarp, and protect it from deterioration from rotting debris. Remove the cover and store it for next fall once the trees are bare.

Stop by our retail store or call us to order a leaf net for your pool!

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

Is it Pool Closing Time?

Choosing the best time to close your pool feels like a game played against Mother Nature. In New England, we follow the mantra “If you don’t like the weather just wait a minute.” It can be particularly tricky in the northeast to get your pool closing timing just right.

Early Close Woes

Did you know it can actually be a detriment to close too early? If the weather is still warm, your winter pool chemicals will not be sufficient to keep algae at bay. You’ll be even more disappointed when you open your pool next season to find it green, algae stained and in need of an abundance of TLC. Avoid having to drain and refill your pool or the expensive, labor intensive process of cleaning by increasing your chemical cocktail.

Photo credits: Hayward Pool

Keys to a Successful Close

As a general rule, avoid closing your pool until temperatures are consistently below 65℉. To play it really safe, wait until temps are averaging 50℉ or below. Pay attention to the forecast and your pool thermometer to be sure summer weather is over before starting the closing process. There is a perfect window of time when the summer fades away and autumn begins, right before the first hard frost of winter sets in. This is the ideal time to close your pool.

Have your water tested by a professional so you know exactly the amount and kinds of chemicals you will need to get through fall, winter and much of the spring. Keep in mind, if you’re hiring a professional to close your pool, schedule your closing well in advance as they are really busy this time of year (especially the good ones!). A well-timed close in the fall will set you up for a successful opening in the spring. Winterizing your pool properly prevents damage, costly repairs, and additional expenses.

If you need assistance winterizing your pool or have further questions on the topic, please contact us at (781) 383-3300. We’re happy to help!