Winter Pool Closing Checklist

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

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

1. Perform Inspection & Repairs

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

2. Clean it Like You Mean it

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

3. Work on Your Water

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

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

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

4. Protect Your Plumbing

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

5. Remove the Extras

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

6. Cover Time

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

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

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

How to Close An Inground Pool in 9 Steps

How to Winterize An Above Ground Pool in 11 Steps

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

 

LSI Balance and Calcium Management by Orenda Technologies

“LSI Balance and Calcium Management is the first of Orenda’s Four Pillars. This is arguably the most important of the Four Pillars because it is about understanding water and how it behaves.

We need to come together and understand how calcium behaves in water. Let’s start by debunking a myth in the pool business: calcium is NOT your enemy! It is actually your best friend. Yes! Calcium does amazing things for water chemistry, and helps pool owners and operators balance their pools according to the LSI. The LSI (Langelier Saturation Index) is a measurement of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) saturation in water. Too much (high LSI over +0.30) can lead to calcium falling out of solution as scale. Too little (low LSI below -0.30) means your water is aggressive and looking for calcium to consume. This is the cause of etching, corroded pool equipment and many other problems.

When the pool is properly balanced with calcium, other factors of water chemistry become surprisingly easy to manage. Factors like pH and total alkalinity seem to stay more consistent. Understanding how calcium behaves means we can predict and control it. Say goodbye to scale and etching!”

Continue reading the full article about calcium management and the LSI here from Orenda Technologies.

LSI Balance and Calcium Management

Listen to this topic on Orenda Technologies Podcast:

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!

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!

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

Photo courtesy of: Thinkstock

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

Cooling Your Pool Water

Photo courtesy of: Premier Pools & Spas

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.

Photo courtesy of: www.poolandlandscape.com

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.

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

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?

 

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.

Hassle Free Pool Care

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