Category Archives: Pool & Spa Tips

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!

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!

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.

 

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.

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

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

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

1. Cover your pool

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

2. Check for leaks

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

3. Consider a solar pool heater

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

4. Invest in a variable speed pump

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

5. Choose energy efficient products

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

6. Light it up with LED and solar

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

7. Plant with purpose

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

8. Keep it simple

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

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

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.

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

Salt Water Pools: What to Love

Photo credits: Grolie Home

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

Safety

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

Maintenance & Cost Savings

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

Skin Care & Health

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

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

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

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.