Category Archives: Retail Store

Pool Landscaping to Love

Photo courtesy of: Cipriano Pools of NJ

When it comes to your poolside oasis, beautiful landscaping can add both an aesthetic appeal and functionality. Set yourself up for success with plants that compliment your space and bring you joy.

Landscaping vs. Hardscaping

Whether you’re starting from scratch or sprucing up an existing patio area, you will want to account for both landscaping and hardscaping. The landscaping will consist of trees, plants, shrubs, flowers any other vegetation you choose to accent your space. As the name implies, hardscaping consists of hard features like stone walls, pathways, fountains, decks and water features.

Design for Functionality, Style & Safety

For most homeowners, your swimming pool serves as the focal point of your backyard. The landscaping and hardscaping should compliment both your home and pool.

Choose hardscape materials that speak to your sense of design, are durable, and make sense for your climate. Most importantly, keep safety top of mind. Choose products that will not become slippery when wet or when walking barefoot. Become familiar with your state building codes to avoid any potential design problems.

Pro Tip: Be sure to plan your landscaping so you leave enough room to accommodate your pool cover!

Photo courtesy of: Steve Silverman Imaging

Landscaping elements bring life to a backyard. Trees provide shade and a habitat for birds and other animals while bushes and shrubs offer privacy and help prevent soil erosion. Vibrant flowers add beauty, fragrance and color while vines and ivy can supply attractive wall and ground cover. Don’t forget native perennial plants such as ornamental grasses that last through the seasons and come back year after year.

Avoid plants that drop a lot of leaves or debris in or around your pool. Be careful not to plant trees where they will grow to block sunlight from shining on your pool. It’s also a good idea to stay away from flowers that have thorns or will attract bees around the pool area.

Get creative, make a plan, consult with a local nursery or landscaping professional to learn which plants will thrive in your climate zone.

Photo courtesy of: Heather Knapp

Finishing Touches

Once your backyard plan is in motion, take a minute to consider the details. Now that you’ve revamped your landscaping, you will need either automatic irrigation or easy access to a hose for watering. Create a convenient place to store your gardening tools.

Consider adding LED solar lighting to your pool and pathways to make navigating at night safer. The right lighting can help soften the space and set the mood. Hanging overhead lights can provide enough lighting to barbecue or play yard games. Resist the temptation to hang them over the pool as this is not a safe practice and they are not intended for this use.

With your landscaping complete, be sure to make time to enjoy the results of your hard work!

Cover Photo courtesy of: Tidy Gardens Landscaping, Inc.

Tracy’s Tips: Checking Pool Floats and Toys for Leaks

Are your pool floats and toys ready for a pool party?!

Make sure your inflatables do not have any holes and are ready for use with this quick trick. Use an electric air pump to inflate your float or toy. Once inflated, hold it under water and if you see any bubbles, you’ve got a leak! Patch the leak with a repair kit or come into our retail store to find the perfect replacement for your favorite pool activities!

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

Tracy’s Tips: The Tennis Ball Trick

Did you know that tennis balls aren’t just for tennis and playing fetch with the dog? Tennis balls are actually rather absorbent and can assist you in keeping your pool water free of hair product, sun screen, make up and other oils left behind by your human and animal swimmers. Most tennis balls are made out of nylon and/or wool and the material attracts foreign substances in the water. Drop a few tennis balls in your pool or skimmer basket and let them float around to do their job removing these products from your water’s surface.

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

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.

10 Pool Chemical Storage Safety Tips

Proper pool chemical storage is imperative to avoid harmful
reactions, mixing and spills. While fireworks may be part of our summer fun, properly storing your pool chemicals will help you avoid a dangerous 4th of July-like explosion due to improper chemical storage.

Don’t let this happen to you…

How to Properly Store Pool Chemicals

    1. Read Labels Carefully: If you do one thing to ensure pool chemical safety, this is it. All of the important hazards,
      storage instructions and safety information will be on each container of chemicals. Avoid scary chemical reactions by reading the fine print thoroughly on all of your pool
      chemicals.
    2. Storage Temperature:  Pool chemicals should never be stored in a location that exceeds 95° F. Find a cool and dry location to store your chemicals. If possible, avoid areas with high humidity and direct sunlight.
    3. Ventilation: Store your pool chemicals in a well-ventilated area. Many people choose to store their pool chemicals in the pump room, but if that is where you will be keeping your supplies, you will need an HVAC shutoff in case of an emergency situation.
    4. Fire Safety: Be smart about what you store with your pool chemicals. Do not store other flammable items such as gasoline or propane near your pool chemicals or machines like lawn mowers that may contain these flammables. Also, keep your storage area clear of flammable trash or debris.
    5. Keep Chemicals Dry: Store your pool chemicals on a raised, flat surface to guarantee they do not get wet. If your chemicals do get wet, they can leach noxious gases and cause corrosion. Keep your chemicals away from doors and windows in waterproof containers and be sure the lids are always tightly secured.
    6. Keep Like with Like: Some chemicals need to be stored apart from one another to avoid reactions. Avoid storing chemicals on top of each other and make sure chlorine and acids are not stored near each other. When in doubt, store all chemicals individually for optimal safety.
    7. Cleaning Your Storage Area: Be smart when using household chemicals and cleaners to tidy up your chemical storage area. The last thing you want is an unexpected chemical reaction caused by accidental mixing. Use cleaning products that are safe to use around pool chemicals.
    8. Lock Them Up: Make sure all your pool chemicals are stored in a locked location that cannot be accessed by children or pets.
    9. Protect Yourself: Wear gloves and protective eye-wear when working with pool chemicals and make sure they don’t come into contact with your hands, mouth or eyes. Wear long sleeves and shoes when working with pool chemicals to avoid any chance of skin irritation or burns. Add the pool chemicals to your water instead of adding water to your chemicals, which could splash onto your skin.
    10. Be Mindful of the Environment: Avoid chemical spills at all costs to prevent chemical burns and inhaling dangerous fumes and dust. Spilling chemicals on the pool deck or ground can contaminate groundwater and soil causing a host of other problems.

Follow the steps above to significantly reduce your risk of chemical illness or injury.

If you prefer to leave the pool chemicals to the professionals, learn more about our Hassle Free Pool Care program and let our trained and experienced technicians handle it. That’ll leave you free to spend your time enjoying all that your swimming pool has to offer in fun and relaxation.

Tracy’s Tips: Bubble Solar Cover Installation

Solar Pool Covers: Bubble Side Up or Down?  

Are you using a bubble solar cover to keep your pool water warm? If so, you may be wondering which side of your bubble cover should face up. We recommend covering your pool with the bubble side facing down for the best results in warming your pool in the summer sun. The sun’s UV rays will heat the bubbles and in turn, transfer heat to your pool water. With the bubbles facing down directly into the water, the heating process works more quickly and the bubbles help the cover float on the water’s surface.

Applying your bubble solar cover with the bubbles facing up can eventually damage the bubbles on the cover, due to direct exposure to the sun. The sun’s rays need to be able to flow through the cover before it can reach the water. Think of your solar cover as a thermal blanket or magnifying glass for your pool, intensifying the warming effect. Putting the cover on with the bubbles upward will take longer to heat your pool water and shorten the useful life of the cover.

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!

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!

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. In addition to chlorine, pH and other factors need to be balanced properly for clean, safe water. 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?

Total Alkalinity vs. pH, and Their Roles in Water Chemistry by Orenda Technologies

Image courtesy of Orenda Academy

“Have you ever asked “what’s the difference between pH and alkalinity? Many of us in aquatics confuse total alkalinity and pH. It’s understandable, given how blurred the line is between words like “alkaline” and “alkalinity.” Indeed, alkalinity and pH in water chemistry are closely related, but they are not the same. This article will distinguish between them.” – Orenda Technologies

Continue reading the full article from Orenda Technologies here:

Total Alkalinity vs. pH, and Their Roles in Water Chemistry