Category Archives: Pool & Spa Tips

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.

Winter Pool Closing Checklist

Massachusetts winters bring an abundance of snow and frigid temperatures. If you live in New England, or in another place where the temperature dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need to winterize your swimming pool before the cold months.

The good news? We have put together an easy-to-follow checklist to help you close like a pro and set you up for an easy opening in the spring.

1. Perform Inspection & Repairs

☐ Is your equipment all functioning properly?
☐ Is your swimming pool structurally sound?
☐ Does your pool cover over have any rips or tears that need patching? Stop by our Retail Store for a safety cover patch if yours needs repair.
☐ Fix any issues prior to winterizing.

2. Clean it Like You Mean it

☐ Thoroughly vacuum and skim your pool to remove all debris, or run your robotic pool cleaner a few times prior to closing.
☐ Backwash or clean the pool filter to remove all dirt from the system.

3. Work on Your Water

☐ Check your water chemistry 5-7 days before closing.
☐ Test and balance your alkalinity, pH and calcium hardness.
☐ Shock your pool with chlorine a 2-3 days after balancing the water. We recommend a cold weather enzyme treatment like Natural Chemistry Pool Magic Spring and Fall.
☐ Add a winterizing algaecide right before covering your pool. Be sure you’ve waited the requisite 2-3 days after adding shock, when chlorine levels return to somewhere between 1-3 ppm.
☐ Water must be lowered for the closing. We recommend lowering the water 18-24” below the top of the pool. This allows for rain to replenish the level to at least 18” below the cover before the snow and ice accumulate.

  • Pools with tarp covers must have the water level 2-3″
    below the skimmer.
  • Be careful not to lower the water too much in vinyl pools, the liner can float and cause serious problems.
  • If your water level goes down further than 18″, your pool cover can stretch, rip or cause damage to cover springs and anchors.
  • Rain and snow will fill the pool over the winter.  Continue to monitor your pool water level, ensuring it is below the tile line but not more than 18” below the cover.
  • “Maintaining the proper water level in your pool is a key
    factor in supporting the weight of any debris (including snow and ice) that may collect on the pool cover. Water levels that fall below the recommended level may put excess stress on the cover, which might result in damage and voiding of the cover’s warranty. You can check the water levels by clearing any debris that has collected in the skimmer box. If the levels are low, be sure to add enough water to reach the
    recommended levels.” – LOOP-LOC

    • Guidelines for mesh and solid safety covers:
      • Mesh & Solid Pool Covers: 18″ below the top of the pool.

4. Protect Your Plumbing

☐ Drain all water from your plumbing lines including your pump, filter, heater, chlorinators and chemical feeders. Draining your lines completely (or blowing them out with a Shop-Vac) will ensure that your pipes won’t crack in freezing temperatures and cause major issues in the spring.
☐ “If you have an in-ground pool, you should blow out the lines from the skimmer, through the equipment and back to the pool, then plug the lines at the pool using expansion plugs. If you don’t blow the lines, add swimming pool antifreeze into the lines following manufacturer’s package directions. If you have an above-ground pool, you usually just need to disconnect the hoses to and from the pump and filter and plug the wall outlets.” – Hayward Pool Products

5. Remove the Extras

☐ Put away your ladders, toys, ropes, baskets, hoses, fittings, pumps, heaters, filters and any other equipment from your pool area. Rinse everything off, allow it to dry and consider storing it all in a waterproof container that animals cannot get into.
☐ Fully drain your robotic cleaner and remove the reusable filter bag. Neatly coil up the power cable and store your robotic pool cleaner and accessories in a warm,
dry location.
☐ Store the eyeball fittings, drain caps, plugs, and gauges in the skimmer basket so you know exactly where to find them in the spring.
☐ Store any equipment plugs in the pump basket so they don’t get lost.
☐ Keep everything clean, dry and organized to help you
prolong the life of your pool and equipment.

6. Cover Time

☐ Make sure you have an intact, properly fitting pool cover.

  • Covers that do not fit properly (you can see gaps) will leave your pool exposed to the elements.
  • Use a mesh or solid pool cover and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure proper installation.

The closing process varies for in-ground and above ground pools. For additional pool closing information, be sure to check out the links below for pool-specific tips from our friends at Swim University.

How to Close An In-Ground Pool in 6 Steps

How to Close An Above Ground Pool in 6 Steps

It is a bummer that pool season has come to an end, but when spring rolls around you will be happy to have taken the necessary steps in the fall for an easier opening in the spring.

 

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!

Extending Use of Your Outdoor Space into the Fall

No one wants to say goodbye to the hot, sunny days of summer, but we’ve got great news: fall is one of the best times to head outdoors. There’s something wonderful about the crisp, autumn breeze and fall colors that welcome you as you step into your poolside spot. That’s why we’ve compiled a few ways to help you embrace the fall season in your backyard oasis.

1. Add a Fire Feature

Those shivering moments when we step out of the pool seem never-ending on cool, fall afternoons. Thankfully, gas fire pit tables make those moments shorter. The Outdoor GreatRoom Company’s gas fire pits instantly ignite stunning flames for that much-needed warmth and ambiance. The UL listed burner maximizes safety and eliminates unpredictable smoke. With so many styles and sizes to choose from, you are sure to find a fire pit to compliment your pool design. When the fire isn’t lit, simply place the burner cover on top of your gas fire pit for a functional table during your autumn gathering.

2. Add a Hot Tub or Spa

The swimming pool is your go-to spot for a refreshing swim on warm fall days but what about those inevitable colder afternoons? A hot tub or spa may become your new BFF. The increased heat not only keeps you warm, but it also provides extra relaxation. Busy family schedule? Stressful day at work? Endless to-do list? Let a spa melt away your worries for a little while. It may not get those to-do list chores done, but we all need some relaxing moments in-between the chaos.

3. Keep Up on Checkups

Make sure to keep up on maintenance to increase the longevity of your pool, hot tub, or spa. Rainy fall days are common, which means it’s vital to regularly test your water. Simply drop off a sample of your water at South Shores Pool Supply for a free professional water test. If frequent cleaning and routine maintenance don’t seem to fit into your busy autumn schedule either, leave it to the professionals to ensure your pool stays pristine.

Now that you’re armed with the essentials for extending your time outdoors, grab your favorite pumpkin spiced drink and enjoy a successful fall pool and spa season!

Author: Katie Oglesby, The Outdoor Greatroom Company

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.

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.

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.