Category Archives: Pool & Spa Tips

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

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.

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.

8. Consider a mosquito repellent device like the Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repellent Lantern. “The Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repellent Lantern effectively repels mosquitoes by creating a 15 feet zone of protection. It’s small and compact design along with ambient light feature makes it perfect for any deck or patio. Use your Patio Shield repellent for entertaining guests, gardening, camping, around the backyard and more.”  Thermacell

Pick yours up in our Retail Store while supplies last!

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!

How to Restore Your Pool Water After a Rainstorm

In New England, you never know what the weather will be. A sunny day can quickly turn into a rainy afternoon, with thunderstorms a common occurrence during the spring and summer months. You’re best bet is to prepare for everything, whatever the weather.

If you experience a rainstorm, there are a few steps you will want to take to keep your pool clean, balanced and filled with the optimal amount of water.

1. Check Your Chemicals

Rainwater in the United States is considered acid rain, which means it can adversely affect the pH, alkalinity, total dissolved solids, and calcium hardness levels in your pool water. Rainwater can also dilute your sanitizer. It is necessary to control any contaminants, so make sure to check the sanitizer levels. If you have a salt water pool, salt will also be diluted by rain. Runoff water from your yard or pool deck, debris, and even lightning can cause your pool water to become unbalanced.

2. Start the Cleanup

Start the cleanup process by cleaning out your skimmer and pump baskets. This will make the job easier for the next steps; turning on your pump and filter and skimming the surface of your pool water. Run your pump and filter while skimming to remove both large debris and smaller particles. Windy storms can often blow leaves, sticks and other brush into your pool that will need to be removed. Brush the walls, steps and ladders in your pool and vacuum to clean up whatever you may have missed with the skimmer and filter. If you have an automatic/robotic pool cleaner, you may want to use that unless there is significant debris. If there is, you may be better off with a manual pool vacuum.

3. Perform the Balancing Act

With a clean pool, you are ready to re-balance the chemicals in your pool water. We recommend that you test your pool water after any significant rainstorm. A light rainstorm should not greatly affect your pool chemical levels, but it never hurts to check to be certain they are in the proper range. Your chlorine and sanitizer levels should also be monitored to avoid contaminants that could lead to cloudiness or algae growth.

Stop by our Retail Store for a free professional water test and for all your pool chemical supplies!

4. Administer Shock

It may not be crucial to shock your pool after a rainstorm, but it can be beneficial to remove any left over contaminants. Drain your pool water to the correct levels and check your chemicals before administering a shock treatment. Shock your pool in the evening after a rainstorm, once you have performed the preceding steps.

Follow these steps and you’ll be back to swimming in your pool in no time!

How To Identify and Remove Pool Stains by Swim University

“A dirty pool is bad enough. But a stained pool? Yuck! How is that even possible? You’re good about cleaning your pool, balancing the water, and keeping the sanitizer level steady. You shouldn’t be seeing any stains on your pool walls or floor.

If only that were the case. The truth is, you can be super vigilant about maintenance, and your pool can still end up with stains. The good news is, all you need is a good pool stain remover. The better news is, you can take steps to prevent future pool stains. The key is knowing what caused the stains in the first place.” – Swim University

What Causes Pool Stains?

Before you can choose and apply the correct pool stain remover, you need to determine what stained your pool. The most common pool stains generally fall into two categories:

  • Organic: Leaves, berries, and other organic debris can leave stains if they’re allowed to settle and left too long on your pool’s surfaces.
  • Metal: Several types of metal can accidentally be introduced into your pool. Maybe your primary water source is a well, or you have corroded copper pipes in your water system. Rusted metal accessories, parts, and equipment can also cause stains.

Once you determine what type of stain you have, you can decide which type of pool stain remover to use. The best way to figure that out is by the stain’s color.” – Swim University

Continue reading How to Identify and Remove Pool Stains by at Swim University.

Product SpotlightNatural Chemistry’s Stainfree Extra Strength™ & Metalfree™

“Natural Chemistry’s Stainfree Extra Strength is a premium stain fighter that contains 100% ascorbic acid. It quickly removes metal staining without adding phosphates to your water. It is ideal for treating staining on all pool surfaces. Use with Natural Chemistry’s Metalfree™ and you have the ultimate 1-2 combination for stain fighting!” Visit our Retail Store to pick yours up today!

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

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!

Why Swimming Pool Temperature Matters by Orenda Technologies

“Swimming pool temperature impacts the water chemistry in a big way. This article will outline a few reasons why.

Pool Temperature and Water Quality

Let’s divide “water chemistry” into two different categories, and start with water quality:

Warmer water means more chlorine demand. This is not due to sunlight degradation of chlorine, though summertime does mean more hours of direct sunlight hitting an outdoor pool. The real reasons for higher chlorine demand are because both living and non-living contaminants are more prevalent in warmer water. Algae and bacteria, for instance, are living contaminants that chlorine must kill (sanitization). Warmer water means those microorganisms can reproduce more rapidly, therefore problems like algae are more prevalent in the summertime. If you have a pool, you have probably already know this…” – Orenda Technologies

Continue reading the full article here from Orenda Technologies.

Why Swimming Pool Temperature Matters

Listen to this topic on Orenda Technologies Podcast:

Swimming Pool Safety 101

The pool is open! Make safety your #1 priority this year. May is National Water Safety Month and the perfect time to make sure your pool and patio is up to par. Follow these recommendations to keep your family and friends safe and give yourself peace of mind so you can sit back, relax and just enjoy your pool this summer.

Fencing

Many states require your pool to be fenced on all sides. Even if you happen to live somewhere where fencing is not a requirement, installing a fence is very important, especially when there are children around. Your fence should be at least 5 feet tall and have a self-latching or self-closing gate. This simple solution will greatly reduce the risk of children getting into the pool area unsupervised.

Alarms

Gate alarms, perimeter alarms and pressure sensitive alarms will notify you when someone or something enters the pool area or pool itself. Wearable alarms are a good option for children, alerting a parent when the wearable component gets wet. Learn more about alarms from our friends at Swim University.

Chemical Storage

This one goes without saying, but pool chemicals, just like household chemicals, can make children and pets gravely ill if they are ingested, inhaled or get in their eyes. Never store your pool chemicals anywhere that would be accessible to a child or pet. For chemical storage tips, check out this article. Reducing your pool chemical use is also a favorable option to reduce any risk.

Lifesavers

Every pool should have safety equipment readily accessible. A life ring (hard plastic ring) with a rope can easily be tossed into the pool for someone in danger to grab hold of, allowing the rescuer to pull them to safety. Life jackets should also be available in case of emergency or for new swimmers to wear while learning to swim. A shepherd’s hook is another useful safety tool. The loop attaches to the end of your telescoping pool skimmer pole and can be used in the case of an emergency to grab someone and pull them to safety.

Reduce Temptation

Keep all pool floats and toys away from the pool area when not in use, as children often find their bright colors and fun shapes enticing. Also, keep any climbable objects away from your pool gate and fence.

Teach Water Safety

Children are never too young to start learning the basics of pool and water safety. Start them in swimming lessons at an early age so they gain confidence in the water and understand and respect the importance of following the rules in and around the pool.

Adult Supervision

The number one thing you can do to ensure safe pool fun is to make sure there is always an adult swimmer watching when there are any children, pets or novice swimmers around your pool. A clever way to make sure there is always an adult around is to have a safety wristband worn by the adult in charge.  When that adult leaves the pool area they are then responsible for passing the wristband on to another adult supervisor.

Photo credits: Latham Pools

Safety Covers

Safety covers are a great investment for both in-ground and above ground pools in the off-season, preventing anyone or anything from falling in the often frigid and unsupervised water. Check out the following brands when purchasing your safety cover.

Use the tips above to keep children, pets and novice swimmers safe.

Tracy’s Tips: Why is My Pool Green?

Why is My Pool Green?
Algae vs. Metals

When your pool turns green, your first assumption may be that algae is the offender. While this is often true, you could actually be dealing with increased heavy metals. Try these simple tests to determine the real cause of your green pool.

Test your chlorine levels. If there is free chlorine in the pool and it is green, copper is the likely culprit.  If there is no free chlorine, suspect algae.

If your pool turns green after adding shock, copper is the likely cause. Other minerals, such as iron and manganese can turn the water brown, pink or purple. A metal remover will bind with the minerals in your pool water, allowing your pool filter to remove them.

A way to test to see if there’s metal in the water is to take a bucket of the pool water and add a small amount of liquid or granular chlorine. If the water turns green you’ve got copper! (turns another color you have another metal. Iron-brown, Manganese-purple)

If you add chlorine and your pool clears up? Hooray! Algae was the offender. Mystery solved!

Metal vs. Algae Tip:  Metal stains won’t brush off the pool.  Most algae will, with black algae as the exception.

Need a product recommendation? Stop by our Retail Store and talk to our team and get your free water test.

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

Pool Care Don’ts

While we generally guide pool owners toward solutions to their pool care woes, sometimes it’s best to learn from others’ mistakes to avoid making them yourself. Here are some things we DO NOT recommend.

Shocking

  • Don’t shock your pool during the day. Sunlight will burn off your unstable chlorine (aka shock), so it is vital to shock your pool during the night to ensure it has time to do the job properly.
  • Don’t add shock through your skimmer.  This mistake can be VERY dangerous because pool shock (calcium hypochlorite) and chlorine (DiChlor or TriChlor) will mix to create a deadly gas and can cause an explosion when mixed through your automatic chlorinator. This can not only cause bodily harm, but can also damage your pool liner, floor and walls.
  • Don’t add shock directly to your pool water. Dilute the shock in a bucket of warm warmer before adding it to your pool. Add shock to the water, not vice versa. The diluted solution will be safer to work with and will mix better with your pool water. It will also avoid shock settling on your pool floor and causing your lining to become frail, eventually leading to leaks.
  • Don’t swim right after shocking. Ensure chlorine and pH levels are in the proper range before swimming. If you want to be able to shock your pool and swim immediately, use a non-chlorine shock.

Brushing

  • Don’t forget your pool brush. Your pool vacuum is not a substitute for your pool brush. Be sure to brush the bottom and sides of your pool at least once a week, especially the hard to reach areas. Brushing is vital to removing bacteria, germs and algae, while the vacuum is great for the larger debris.

Vacuuming

  • Don’t use a robot on algae. If you have an algae problem on your hands, do not use an automatic cleaner to try to remove it. Manual cleaners are the way to go in this scenario because pressure-side automatic cleaners will push the algae up through the mesh bag, clog it and blow it around your pool.

Balancing

  • Don’t neglect pH and alkalinity. Maintaining the proper pH and alkalinity levels is necessary even if your pool water looks clear. Low pH (highly acidic water) can cause damage to your pool equipment including: pumps, filters, solar covers, liners and heaters. Adjust your alkalinity levels to ensure your pH is always balanced.

Filtering

  • Don’t forget to run your filter. Be sure your pool filter is running for at LEAST 12 hours each day. The more you run your pool filter, the cleaner your pool water, plain and simple. Make sure that all of your pool water runs through the filter at least once each day.
  • Don’t over backwash your filter system. The larger debris in your filter actually help to trap the smaller debris. The guideline is to backwash when the system is running 5-10 psi above the starting filter pressure (pressure with a clean filter).

Testing

  • Don’t skip your water testing. If you can’t do a full, comprehensive water test each week, be sure to at least test your free chlorine and pH levels. Bring a sample of your pool water into our Retail Store for a free, detailed analysis. We recommend a computer generated water test at least once a month.

Avoid these common pool care blunders and you will be well on your way to a safe and clean swimming pool.