Category Archives: Pool & Spa Tips

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.

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. Shock can burn your skin and eyes, so keep swimmers out for about day post
    shocking.

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 8 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, and
    therefore should only be removed when the pressure rises above 10 psi. After backwashing, your pressure gauge should read between 10-15 psi.

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.

Tracy’s Tips: Why is My Pool Green?

Photo Credits: Simple Pool Tips

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.

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

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: How Often Should a Pool Filter Run?

The long and short of it is this, you theoretically could run your pool/filter pump 24/7, the entire time your pool is open. However, doing so would not only be costly and use a great deal of energy, it would also be completely unnecessary.

We recommend that you run your pool filter for at least 12 hours per day, allowing all of your pool water to be run through the filter at least once each day. That being said, the more you run the filter, the cleaner your pool will be.

You can cut down on energy costs by running your pool filter at night or very early in the morning when energy rates are usually lower. Keep in mind, you need to run your filter when adding chemicals and while cleaning, which may be more difficult to do in the dark. If you’re swimming during the day and find the pool surface filling with debris, turn on the system so the skimmers can do their job.

Are you finding this information helpful? Share it with friends! Check back often for more of Tracy’s Tips on our blog.

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

Don’t Let Your Spa Make You Sick!

Keeping your spa water fresh and clean is the #1 rule of spa ownership. Don’t let your spa water make you sick!

It is critical that you drain your spa as often as every three months.  Aqua Magazine says: “The average person brings 100 million bacteria into the water. These join other living organisms such as biofilm, parasites, virus, algae, mold, mildew and spores. Then we add swimmer waste such as blood, sweat and tears, urine, saliva, mucous and other bodily fluids. Finishing the soup are the man-made products that dissolve off the skin and hair, including creams, oils and lotion, soap, deodorants, makeup, hair products, perfumes and more.”

Drain your spa water to reduce the amount of bacteria, waste, products, etc. that build up. Yuck! It’s important to not only drain and replace the water, but to do a purge treatment to
remove biofilm buildup. That buildup collects in the plumbing and gives the bacteria a hospitable place to hide from sunlight, chemicals, and flourish in the nice hot water.

Hot tubs get really dirty, really fast, if not cared for properly. Think of it like sharing a bath tub with 5 of your friends. Then reusing that water over, and over, and over! Maintain a clean hot tub and you’ll be more likely to actually relax and enjoy it’s benefits.

Try Leisure Time’s Jet Clean or Ahh-Some, available at our retail store, or contact us to schedule Quarterly Hot Tub Maintenance service today!

Quick-Clean Your Pool After Opening

We’d love to tell you there is a magic solution that will have your pool swim-ready in a day or two, but what you will truly need is some elbow grease and a bit of patience. Realistically, expect to have a clean and clear pool in about a week’s time.

Once you’ve set a date to have your pool ready for swimming, plan your opening accordingly. Purchase your chemicals, test strips and any tools that may need to be replaced. You’ll need a working skimmer net and/or a deep pocketed leaf rake, a pole and vacuum, so make sure your equipment is still in good condition from last year.

Now that you have everything you need, you’re ready to get started. Follow the steps below to have your pool crystal clear and ready for swimmers in one week’s time.

  1. Clean, remove and store your pool cover in a dry, elevated space.
  2. Add water to your pool from the hose to top off the water level. The water should at least half way up the skimmer.
  3. Begin cleaning by scooping leaves and debris from the bottom, and brushing and vacuuming the sides of the pool to remove the grime and dirt that built up over the winter.
  4. Make sure your pump and filter are running properly and clean your filter for the start of the season. Backwash or clean your filter to restore flow. This needs to be done more often during your spring clean up.
  5. Test your pool water, after it has been running for 24 hours, with a test kit and adjust your chemicals accordingly. Bring a sample to our store after your water has circulated for at least 24 hours.
  6. Add chlorine or shock to your pool to finish the cleaning process. Your chlorine level should ideally fall in the range of 1 ppm to 3 ppm.
  7. Continue to test your pool water, vacuuming, skimming and cleaning /backwashing your filter your pool until it is balanced, clear and ready for swimmers.

For more opening tips, follow our Pool Opening Guide and your pool will be ready in no time!

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

Pool Opening Guide

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is nearly here. The temperature is rising and it’s almost time to dust off that patio furniture and get your pool in tip top shape for summer! Beat the heat (and the line at your pool supply store) by opening your pool earlier this season. You’ll be glad you did if summer weather comes early.

Here are a few things to have on hand to get started:

Chemicals: shock, chlorine, pH, alkalinity & stabilizer
Test Strips/Kit
Telescoping Pole
Skimmer Head
Vacuum: Head & Hose
Pool Brush
A Leaf Rake

Creating a checklist is an easy way to make sure you have everything you need for a hassle-free pool opening. It just so happens we made one for you!

☐ Phone a friend. Pool opening won’t be such a chore if you enlist the help of a friend or family member. Fire up the grill, fix a beverage, and throw on some music to get motivated!

☐ Clear and remove cover. Use a long handled broom or leaf blower to clean off your cover. It will be easier to store the cover later and also helps you avoid getting debris in your pool. Taking the cover off early in the season will reduce the chance for an algae nightmare, aka the “green monster”.

☐ Get your filter system and pumps up and running. Pumps and filter system should be run 24/7 until your pool is clear to start, then for 12 hours every day after that. “Test fire and run ALL pool equipment, heaters, booster pumps, blowers, water-feature/auxiliary pumps, remote controls etc., and allow these functions to run for a good 20-30 minutes to make sure you are getting good consistent performance and checking for leaks or service issues.” – Swim University

☐ Test your pool water. Get a sample of your pool water and use your test kit and/or strips to get an accurate reading of your water’s pH and chlorine levels. For a more comprehensive reading, bring a sample of your pool water into our Retail Store for a complimentary water test. We’ll test for: total and free chlorine, pH and alkalinity, cyanuric acid, calcium hardness, phosphates, borates, iron and copper.

☐ Time to shock. Shock is the key to a clean and clear pool in your future. Kill bacteria and remove old chlorine by shocking your pool water. You should only shock the pool after all of the leaves and debris have been removed. If you can’t see the bottom, scoop blindly until there’s nothing left.

Pack it up. Make sure your cover is clean and dry before storing it in an elevated container with a lid. For more info, check out Tracy’s Tips for storing your cover.

☐ Review your pool safety mechanisms. Start the pool season right by making sure you’re following our general safety guidelines, and that your pool area is safe and secure from unwanted or unsupervised guests.

If doing it yourself is not your style, no problem! That’s what we are here for. Contact us to learn more about our Hassle Free Pool Care program and leave the work to us. Appointments are filling up fast, schedule your spring opening today!

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!