Is it Pool Closing Time?

Choosing the best time to close your pool feels like a game played against Mother Nature. In New England, we follow the mantra “If you don’t like the weather just wait a minute.” It can be particularly tricky in the northeast to get your pool closing timing just right.

Early Close Woes

Did you know it can actually be a detriment to close too early? If the weather is still warm, your winter pool chemicals will not be sufficient to keep algae at bay. You’ll be even more disappointed when you open your pool next season to find it green, algae stained and in need of an abundance of TLC. Avoid having to drain and refill your pool or the expensive, labor intensive process of cleaning by increasing your chemical cocktail.

Photo credits: Hayward Pool

Keys to a Successful Close

As a general rule, avoid closing your pool until temperatures are consistently below 65℉. To play it really safe, wait until temps are averaging 50℉ or below. Pay attention to the forecast and your pool thermometer to be sure summer weather is over before starting the closing process. There is a perfect window of time when the summer fades away and autumn begins, right before the first hard frost of winter sets in. This is the ideal time to close your pool.

Have your water tested by a professional so you know exactly the amount and kinds of chemicals you will need to get through fall, winter and much of the spring. Keep in mind, if you’re hiring a professional to close your pool, schedule your closing well in advance as they are really busy this time of year (especially the good ones!). A well-timed close in the fall will set you up for a successful opening in the spring. Winterizing your pool properly prevents damage, costly repairs, and additional expenses.

If you need assistance winterizing your pool or have further questions on the topic, please contact us at (781) 383-3300. We’re happy to help!

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.

Need your patio or deck power washed? We offer power washing services. Contact us today at (781) 383-3300 to schedule this service.

Pool Landscaping to Love

Photo credits: 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 credits: Home & Style KC

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 credits: Tampa Magazine

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!

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.

Tracy’s Tips: No Swimming After Eating: Fact or Fiction?

Just about anyone who enjoys swimming has heard that it can be dangerous to swim after you eat. You may even recall your parents telling you to wait 30 minutes or more to get back into the pool to avoid getting a cramp.

The thought behind the waiting period is that your body uses a larger blood supply to aid in digestion, therefore, there may not be enough blood flow to your arm and leg muscles to allow them to function properly. The concern is that this lack of blood flow could cause drowning accidents. While the first half of that thought process is true, the latter half is not. The American Red Cross even issued a scientific advisory review in the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education about it. The review concluded, “Currently available information suggests that eating before swimming is not a contributing risk for drowning and can be dismissed as a myth.”

Swimming after eating is no more dangerous than going for a walk after dinner. Just as you may not want to run a marathon after a heavy meal, you may not want to do any vigorous swimming to avoid losing your lunch. Exercise after a small to medium size meal is not harmful and likely will not cause any cramping.

We hope you are enjoying and sharing these pool tips with fellow pool owners. Please check back often for more of
Tracy’s Tips on our blog.

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

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

If your pool is 100% balanced and is still cloudy, you should also try a product like Omega Pool Clarifier, available in our store.

 

 

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!

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

Salt Water Pools: What to Love

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.

Photo credits: Grolie Home

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.

Choosing the Best Safety Cover for Your Pool

When you purchase a home with a swimming pool or decide to add one to enhance your backyard and entertainment space, your first priority should be safety. Pools are SO much fun, but can also be dangerous for non-swimmers including adults, children and animals. Consider a safety cover to ease your worries in the off-season and greatly reduce the risk of an accident.

When it comes to pool covers, there are two options: solid or mesh. Let’s review both options in more detail to help you decide which makes the most sense for you and your family.

Solid Safety Covers

Pros

  • Solid pool covers do not let sunlight, water or debris through. This prevents algae from growing in your pool. Without algae and dirty water getting into your pool, spring opening will require less maintenance and be less of a headache.
  • These are usually made from a vinyl, tarpaulin-like material, making them easy to cut to the custom shape of your
    specific swimming pool.
  • This type of cover is attached to your pool deck via anchors and springs, allowing it to support the weight of water, snow or debris that may collect on the cover.
  • When you are not using this cover, it can easily be folded up and stored.

Cons

  • Since solid pool covers do not drain, you will need a pump or drain to remove water and debris from the cover if too much accumulates. You will want to prevent a large puddle from accumulating on your solid cover as to not create another drowning hazard.
  • Though the cover can be folded when not in use, it is heavier than a mesh cover which can make it a little more difficult to maneuver.

Mesh Covers

Pros

  • Mesh pool covers are very strong and if installed and
    maintained properly, can hold a lot of weight. This keeps people and animals out and away from danger.
  • Mesh covers are generally reasonably priced, making them the most affordable to pool owners.
  • Mesh covers can last around 15 years if properly maintained, so they are not only an investment in safety, but the best
    option for your wallet.
  • Mesh covers can be custom made to fit your specific pool shape.
  • These covers can be folded and easily stored in the off-season, much like the solid safety covers. However, they tend to be lighter weight, making them easier to deal with.
  • Rain will filter through the mesh, so you will not have to pump excess water off of the top of it.
  • This type of cover is attached to your pool deck via anchors and springs as well, allowing it to support the weight of snow or debris that may collect on the cover. It will keep out large debris such as fallen tree limbs.

Cons

  • While the sunlight penetrating this cover can be an
    advantage if you’re still using the pool and want it warmed, it can be a disadvantage when it comes to algae growth.
    Sunlight will get through the tight mesh weave allowing for algae growth on your pool’s walls. This will leave you with more work to clean your water when you uncover in the spring.
  • Dirty water mixed with smaller debris will be able to seep into your pool requiring more effort to clean it when pool season rolls back around.
  • Since rain water and melted snow will make its way into your pool, you may need to drain some water should the water level get too high.

When deciding which cover is right for your pool, be sure to weigh the pros and cons for your specific pool and budget to determine which option is best. Regardless of which type of cover you choose, installing a safety cover is a smart decision for all pool owners.

*Note: Safety covers now come in a variety of colors to suit your personal style!

Avoiding Pool Water Heat Loss & Evaporation

When it comes to summer pool maintenance, maintaining your water level and temperature can take a little effort. Evaporation is inevitable in the warm months. Your pool will lose water, as well as precious heat, which can be costly.

Proactively combat both problems by using a solar pool cover.  Solar pool covers use the sun’s energy to heat your pool with the added bonus of reducing water evaporation by about 95%. Keep the water in your pool and keep your money in your pocket with this smart investment.

Photo credits: Swim University

When you lose pool water due to splashing, swimming, and evaporation, you will have to replace that water. This process requires more energy to heat the water back up. When you lose water, you also lose costly chemicals in that water. Use a solar cover to heat the water from the sun’s rays, while keeping the chemicals in the pool and debris out.

Bubble Solar Covers

Bubble Solar Covers are very popular and can be cut to fit the shape and size of your pool. Some people choose to use one big solar cover, while others choose to cut their cover into strips to make it easier to take on and off frequently. Use the solar cover whenever you are not using your pool, especially when the sun’s out.

Solar Cover Reels

Solar cover reels are a great option for pool owners looking to save time and effort. They can be used on both above and in-ground pools and are generally installed at one end of the pool, though portable options are available. The solar cover reel will allow you to easily roll up the cover neatly when not in use, and pull to re-cover the pool when you are done. Always remove the solar cover completely before allowing any swimmers in the pool for everyone’s safety.

Liquid Solar Covers

Liquid solar covers are an alternative to traditional bubble solar covers. In simple terms, liquid solar covers are a thin layer of alcohol that sits on top of the water of your pool, reducing water evaporation and heat loss. When the liquid solar cover is poured into your pool, the solution will disperse across the
surface water and bind together to form the blanket.

Liquid solar covers are safe to use, biodegradable, and approved by both the FDA and EPA. The amount of solution needed will depend on the size of your pool. On average, using the liquid solar cover will cost you about $10-$30 monthly. You will want to add liquid solar cover to your pool monthly and follow the directions on the package. Weather conditions and pool use can affect how much liquid solar cover you should use.

Learn more about liquid solar covers from our friends at Swim University, and check out the videos below to see how it works.

Stop by our Retail Store to pick up Natural Chemistry COVERfree or order a HeatSavr system that automatically adds the liquid to the pool. We also can special order bubble solar covers for your pool – come in and talk to us!

Do liquid solar blankets really work?

 

Hassle Free Pool Care

%d bloggers like this: