Tracy’s Tips: Do I Need to Remove Snow from My Pool Cover?

We are often asked what to do with the snow that piles up on your pool cover. The answer is simple…NOTHING!

Your pool cover is designed to sit on the water, which supports the weight of the snow and ice.  The only time the snow can cause a problem is if the water in your pool is too low, causing excess strain on the cover. If your pool water is at an optimal level, you do not need to worry about removing snow from your cover.

If you are experiencing a problem with your pool cover, we recommend that you consult a pool care professional. They will come out and take a look at your cover to address the problem and offer a custom solution. Many times you will need to wait until spring to tackle a pool cover issue.

If your pool cover is functioning as it should, the only thing you need to do is cozy up on your couch with some cocoa and daydream of the summer months!

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

Salt Water Chlorine Generators: How do they work?

Photo credits: http://www.poolsupplyworld.com/

You might be surprised to hear that salt water swimming pools are using chlorine to keep the water clear. Salt water pools use a salt water chlorine generator (SWCG) to turn salt into chlorine. The chlorine eventually breaks down, leaving behind the salt to be used again. SWCGs are not a new concept, but they continue to evolve as the technology and materials improve.

Benefits to Salt Pool Water

Many homeowners prefer salt water swimming pools for the following reasons:

  1. A salt water pool leaves skin feeling softer and smoother upon exiting the pool, unlike non-SWCG pool water.
  2. A salt water chlorine generator makes it easier to maintain constant, proper chlorine levels, avoiding high chlorine levels that can commonly occur in traditionally chlorinated pools causing eyes to dry out and become irritated. 
  3. Salt water pools reduce the need to frequently and manually add chlorine to your pool.
  4. Salt water pool owners do not have to handle the chlorine in its physical form, nor find a good place to store it.

How Salt Water Chlorine Generators Work

“Salt water chlorinators use dissolved salt as a means of creating chlorine to clean the pool. They use a different process to create the chlorine instead of just dumping the chemical into the pool.

A salt water pools make hypochlorous acid (HClO) by using table salt or sodium chloride (NaCl) and electrolysis. The salt water passes through an electric current creating chlorine gas (Cl2), but you’re also forming hydrogen gas (h2) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH). Using electrolysis, dissolved salt is converted into hypochlorous acid(HClO) and sodium hypochlorite, the sanitizing agents used to clean the water of any dirt and bacteria.

So, instead of just dumping chlorine into the water, you create a chlorine generator with a salt water chlorinator that continues to generate chlorine until more salt is needed.”
Swim University

Adding a Sacrificial Anode

A zinc sacrificial anode is a device that protects metal components from corrosion in a salt water pool. Salt water is corrosive, regardless of whether or not there is chlorine or an active chlorine generator. The large increase of dissolved solids in the water when salt is added makes the water more conductive, and can lead to premature corrosion of any metal components in the pool system. Adding a sacrificial anode made of zinc, a softer metal than all the stainless steel and aluminum in pool environments, and attaching it to the bonding grid, means that it will corrode before any of the more important metal components. An anode’s role is to corrode (sacrificing itself) before other metals that are part of the same underwater electrical system. Talk to us today about scheduling installation of a sacrificial anode anti-electrolosys device to your salt water pool. We highly recommend it!

SWCG systems make pool maintenance easier for salt water pool owners. A well maintained salt water chlorinator system should last you anywhere from 5 to 7 years, when serviced periodically. Spend less time managing chemicals and more time enjoying your pool!

Contact us today to learn more!

New England Swimming Pool Care Calendar

dont-forget-seasons-calendar
Taking care of a pool or spa correctly will increase your enjoyment and protect your investment. Stay on track with our New England Swimming Pool Care Calendar.
January
  • Typically the water in your pool will be frozen. Don’t try to lower the water level. A drop in the water level will allow the ice to drop, possibly pulling out the return plugs or damaging light fixtures.
February
  • Not much can be done at this time. Check the water (ice) level to see if anything has changed. Lower the water to keep the safety cover dry.
March
  • The ice should be melting (hopefully).  Check the water level. Lower the water to keep the safety cover dry.
    • A “wet” cover will trap debris and allow the sun to warm the water and add to the algae growth.
  • When using a “tarp” cover, the leaves on the cover should be scooped out and water removed from the cover. If there are any holes in the cover, be sure that you don’t drain the pool.
April
  • The water is starting to warm up as the days get longer. Test the water and add liquid shock and an algaecide if needed.
  • Keep the cover dry.
May
  • As you get close to the opening date, allow the rain to raise the water to the operating level.
  • If you are planning a later opening (late June or early July) you may want to add more liquid shock.
  • Check the water level periodically so there are no surprises at the opening.
  • Keep the cover as dry as possible.
June
  • Open your pool.
  • Add a metal remover if tap water is added.
  • Perform initial cleaning to remove any debris and balance the water.
  • Check for leaks. Gaskets and o-rings may need to be replaced.
  • Have the pool heater serviced.
  • Make a note of the starting filter pressure.
  • Bring in a water sample after the pool has been circulating for 24 hours.
July
  • Test the water balance at least once a week during the peak of the season.  Additional tests may be needed if water is added.
  • Test and maintain the free chlorine at 1.0-3.0 ppm.
  • Empty the skimmer and pump baskets as needed.
  • Skim the pool surface and vacuum once a week.
  • Bring in a water sample for computer testing.
  • Check the filter pressure and backwash as needed.
August
  • Test the water balance at least once a week during the peak of the season.  Additional tests may be needed if water is added.
  • Test and maintain the free chlorine at 1.0-3.0 ppm.
  • Add a metal remover if tap water is added to prevent staining.
  • Empty skimmer and pump baskets as needed.
  • Skim the pool surface and vacuum once a week.
  • Bring in a water sample for computer testing.
  • Check the filter pressure and backwash as needed.
  • Remove elements or cartridges and clean with Filter Cleaner Degreaser to remove any oils and grease that may have accumulated on your filter.
September
  • Turn off the equipment.
  • Lower the water 12 – 18 inches below the skimmer.
  • Close the pool.
October
  • Maintain the water level at least 3 – 6 inches below the tile line.
  • Keep safety cover dry and remove debris from “tarp” cover.
November
  • Maintain the water level at least 3 – 6 inches below the tile line.
  • Keep safety cover dry and remove debris from tarp cover.
  • Add liquid shock and algaecide.
December
  • Maintain the water level at least 3 – 6 inches below the tile line.
  • Keep safety cover dry and remove debris from “tarp” cover
  • Add liquid shock and algaecide.

 

Lower the Cost of Running Your Hot Tub: 8 Tips

Photo courtesy of our friends at LeisureTime
Photo courtesy of our friends at Leisure Time

The best way to lower the cost of running your hot tub is to first understand what is costing you the most money. The most expensive part of running a hot tub is powering up the heating element. Almost all hot tubs are heated using an electrical resistance coil. As electrical energy is run through the heating element, the resistance causes heat, which is absorbed by the water running through the heater. Secondary electrical costs come from running the pump(s).

The best thing you can do for your wallet is to be sure your hot tub is running as efficiently as possible. Read on for our tips to lower the cost of running your hot tub, in order of impact and ease of implementation.

  1. Cover condition and the quality of the cover makes the
    biggest impact on energy savings and heat retention. A water logged or otherwise damaged cover has a significantly
    reduced thermal rating and can be difficult to move. The cost of a new higher quality cover quickly pays for itself in
    electrical savings, as the heating element is used much less.
  2. Turning down the temperature of your hot tub between uses makes a huge impact. Lowering the temperature from 104 to 100 (or even less) saves a lot in electrical costs because the heating element is powered up less frequently. The lower you set the temperature, the more you’ll save, but it will take longer to heat back up before use.
  3. Closing air jets while the hot tub is not in use will help to
    reduce heat loss. Most hot tubs have valves that allow air to be sucked into the return jets when opened, causing
    bubbling action in the water. This is nice when you’re using the hot tub, but the turbulence at the surface allows heat to rise and escape much quicker. Especially in the winter, the air being introduced is much cooler than the water temperature, causing a rapid temperature drop.
  4. Maintaining a clean filter cartridge will reduce the cost of running the circulation pump. A dirty filter will restrict water flow and force the pump to work harder, drawing more
    energy and thus costing more money to operate. Regularly cleaning the filter cartridge ensures that not only will the
    water quality remain high, but the efficiency of the pump can be maximized.
  5. A thermal or solar blanket can be cut to size and floated on top of the water surface. The “heavy-duty bubble wrap” can serve as a lighter, secondary cover to further reduce heat evaporation up and out of the hot tub.
  6. If a hot tub is consistently buffeted by wind, the air flow around the tub will whisk away heat and maintain lower
    temperatures around the unit, speeding up heat loss. Having a simple wind break can make a big difference and will also increase privacy and comfort for bathers when in use.
  7. LED lights are all the rage now as their energy consumption is much lower than standard incandescent lights. Hot tubs can upgrade to this technology to save a little, but making sure that the lights are turned off when done using the hot tub is the best way to save on lighting costs.
  8. As technology in many industries advances, some of that
    invariably finds its way into the pool and spa industry. Pumps, motors, lights and heaters are more efficient, more thought is put into the hydraulic design of the plumbing systems,
    insulation has improved, control systems have more options, the list goes on. Older hot tubs were usually just a pump, heater, and a filter. That same system in a newer hot tub will be, by default, much more efficient. Newer hot tubs usually use a very small circulation pump or a two speed pump to significantly lower the cost of heating and filtering. They’ll also allow for a higher speed/stronger jet pumps to add the jet action that bathers desire when the hot tub is in use. Newer tubs generally have more design and equipment
    options as well, allowing for more capabilities at a lower
    operational cost. Eventually, it might be worth investing in an upgrade to a more efficient system.

Contact us directly if we can help you with your hot tub or swimming pool maintenance or answer any questions. Visit the South Shore Pool Supply retail store for all of your hot tub and pool products.

Happy Holidays from South Shore Pool Supply!

 

With sincere appreciation for your friendship and good will, we wish you and yours all the joys of this Holiday Season. Celebrate the tradition of giving, the beauty of the season and a New Year of peace and happiness from all of your friends at South Shore Pool Supply.

 

 

20 Inspirational Poolscapes

December in New England may seem like a strange time to be thinking about a backyard makeover, but winter is the perfect time to day dream about warmer months ahead. Need some inspiration for your own pool paradise? Check out 20 beautiful poolscapes from across the globe!

Which poolscape is your favorite? Leave us your vote in the comments!

1. Jungle Getaway

2. Life of Luxury

3. Waterfall Wonderland

4. Spa Scene Oasis

5. Indoor/Outdoor Living

6. Feels like a Fairytale

7. Moroccan Marvel

8. Chalet Chic

9. Living Lakefront

10. Desert Delight

11. Romantic Retreat

12. Backyard in Bloom

13. Classic English Countryside

14. Inspired by Nature

15.  Homey Hideaway

16. In the Tree Tops

17. Panoramic Views

18. Marvel in the Mountains

19. Secret by the Sea

20. Modern Masterpiece

Tracy’s Tips: Washing Your Polaris Bag for Winter Storage

Photo Credits: Polaris Pool

Machine Wash for Winter Storage

When it is time to put away your Polaris cleaner for the winter, you will want to make sure the filter bag is thoroughly cleaned to prevent rodent damage during the cold months. Hang the full bag on a fence to dry as it’s much easier to empty and clean once it has dried out.

Once your Polaris bag has been emptied, the easiest way to clean it is to throw it right in your washing machine! Wash the filter bag in your washing machine on gentle cycle, with cold water, WITHOUT detergent.

If you prefer not to wash your filter bag in your washing machine, hand-wash the filter bags in a bucket of water to remove all the dust particles from the filter bag. Hang to dry completely before storing it away.

Note: We recommend having an extra filter bag on hand for pool season, giving you the option to take off the full bag and immediately put a clean one on.

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

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.

Our Retail Store in Cohasset, MA.

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!

Tracy’s Tips: Get the Most Out of Your Skimmer

Pantyhose for the Fine Details

Did you know that both your skimmer basket and skimmer net can can be improved to be more effective cleaners?

Remove fine debris in your pool by wrapping a pair of old (or new) pantyhose around your skimmer basket. This quick trick will remove smaller particles than with the skimmer basket alone, and your filter will not have to work as hard. You can also use old pantyhose over your skimmer net for the same effect.

If you don’t have pantyhose readily available, you can pick up a Filter Soc in our Retail Store.

So the next time you get a run in your stockings, repurpose them into an easy pool cleaning tool. Replace the pantyhose when they are full of debris and rinse out the skimmer basket before putting on a new pair.

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

Hassle Free Pool Care

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