Category Archives: Spring Swimming Pool Care

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!

Say Goodbye to Cloudy Pool Water

As pool owners, we all have to deal with cloudy pool water at some point. Determining the cause of the cloudiness is the first step in remedying the situation. Cloudy pool water can be caused by improper levels of chlorine, pH and alkalinity imbalance, broken or clogged filters, algae or debris. Use this guide to help you determine which is the culprit in your cloudy pool.

Why is my pool water cloudy?

1. Are your chemicals properly balanced? (Check your chlorine, pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness.)

  • Did you shock your pool recently? Is there is too much or too little chlorine?
  • Is the pH and alkalinity out of balance?
  • Does the water have high calcium hardness levels?

Solution: Too little chlorine is a leading cause of cloudy pool water. Chlorine is used to sanitize the water and without it, your water isn’t being properly cleaned. Contaminants in the water will build up and cause cloudy water as a result.

Make sure your pH, total alkalinity (TA) and calcium are all in the acceptable range and that the combination of the three aren’t on the high end of the range. If they are, your water is likely out of balance. If the temperature of your water is also on the high side, the imbalance of these chemicals is even more likely the cause of cloudiness. High pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness can lead to cloudiness.

If any of the above are out of the acceptable range, first thoroughly scrub, skim, and brush your pool walls, then vacuum. Once that is complete, work on adjusting the chemicals to get them within the acceptable range again. Re-balance your water by adjusting the pH. Use a pH reducer or increaser to adjust pH levels or add muriatic acid to lower TA. Be aware that even shocking a clean and balanced pool can cause cloudiness temporarily. Shock your pool water to remove harmful bacteria, organic contaminants, and algae. Finally, run your filter and test your water sample.  Use a chlorine stabilizer (cyanuric acid) to protect your chlorine levels.

Chemical                                                          Industry Acceptable

pH (Potential Hydrogen)                            7.2 – 7.8

TA (Total Alkalinity                                       80-120 ppm

Calcium                                                         200-400 ppm

2. Is your pool filtration system operating properly?

Poor water circulation and filtration can occur when your
filter doesn’t run long enough, becomes clogged or needs cleaning. Poor circulation can also be caused by skimmer and pump baskets becoming full of debris.

Solution: Turn over your pool water by running your pool filter continuously for at least 12 hours each day. A diatomaceous earth (DE) filter may achieve your desired results after only a few hours because it has the finest level of filtration. A cartridge filter will likely take 2-5 times as long, while sand filters can take multiple days. Add DE powder to your sand filter for more effective filtration. Is your filter clean? Have you back washed or cleaned it recently? If not, we recommend doing so. Most contaminants will be removed if your pool filter and sanitizer are working together. When the leaves are falling because it’s dry, we recommend emptying your baskets daily.

3. Are environmental factors to blame?

  • Leaves, pollen and dust can build up in your filter and hinder the cleaning process. Other environmental factors from
    animal waste to rainwater runoff can cause your pool water to become cloudy and imbalanced. Runoff water brings
    nitrates, phosphates, and other chemicals into your pool throwing the balance out of whack. Algae can also pollute your pool water and can lead to cloudiness, using up your pool’s chlorine rapidly.
  • Are swimmers clouding up your pool water? Sunscreen, hair products, bug spray, and other contaminants can contribute to your water clarity, or lack thereof.
  • The sun alone can deplete your sanitizers. “Its powerful
    ultraviolet rays break apart the sanitizing hypochlorite ions created when you add chlorine to your pool, causing them to evaporate into the air around your pool. This means less sanitizer and more dirt in your water.” – Swim University

Solution: See Solution #2 above. Hint: run your filter! Using an enzyme product such as Natural Chemistry Pool Perfect will also help with contaminants introduced to your water by swimmers. Maintaining proper levels of cyanuric acid, aka stabilizer or conditioner, will keep the sun from using up your chlorine.

The absolute best way to rid your pool of cloudy water is to prevent it from becoming cloudy in the first place. We recommend working with our team of professionals to create a pool maintenance schedule that you can implement or signing up for our Hassle Free Pool Care program. Contact us to learn more!

Cooling Your Pool Water

In the hottest summer months, your pool water may get so hot that it is no longer refreshing to swim in. If you find yourself in this predicament, there are several solutions you could try to cool your pool to the optimal temperature.

Install a water fountain, feature or
waterfall.

Movement in your water, whether that’s air or forced water, helps it stay cooler than if the water were to sit still. As the water moves, evaporation removes some of the heat. We recommend operating your water features at night when the air temperature is cooler for maximum impact.

Invest in a reversible heat pump or pool cooler.

According to heat pump manufacturer AquaCal, “Heat pumps use a refrigerant to maintain a specified swimming pool water temperature by running either heating or cooling cycles.” Run your heat pump in reverse and you can actually cool your pool water. Pumps can be costly to purchase and operate, but they are effective at cooling pool water.

Using a pool cooler is another option for lowering water temperatures. Hot pool water flows into the unit, passing by a cooling fan, then the cooled water will circulate back into the pool. These units are also costly and will need to be professionally installed, but they can cool your water temperature up to 15 degrees!

Can you put your water on ice?

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, it would take 8,750 lbs. of ice to lower the water temperature of a 20,000 gallon pool by 10 degrees. Adding ice to your pool can be a temporary solution, but it is not the most practical cooling method.

Drain and refill your pool water.

A partial drain and refill of your pool water might be another option depending on where your water is sourced. While this method works (especially if your water comes from cold well water) it is a bit wasteful and will cause you to have to re-balance the chemicals in your pool.

Run your pool filter at night.

While it will not make a drastic difference in temperature, we recommend running your pool filter at night when air temperatures are cooler. Helping the water to evaporate will make your pool a bit more refreshing in the morning.

Add shade to your pool area.

Although it will not be much help to you this season, plant some trees around the pool. This shade will keep your water cooler and out of direct sunlight, especially when planted on the west side. The downside is that you will be cleaning leaves out of the pool in the fall. Installing a moveable awning or pergola may have the same shading effect without the messy debris or permanence of trees.

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!

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!