Tag Archives: Pool Care

Swimming Pool Safety 101

Photo credits: protectachild.com

The pool is open! Make safety your #1 priority this year. May is National Water Safety Month and the perfect time to make sure your pool and patio is up to par. Follow these recommendations to keep your family and friends safe and give yourself peace of mind so you can sit back, relax and just enjoy your pool this summer.

Fencing

Many states require your pool to be fenced on all sides. Even if you happen to live somewhere where fencing is not a requirement, installing a fence is very important, especially when there are children around. Your fence should be at least 5 feet tall and have a self-latching or self-closing gate. This simple solution will greatly reduce the risk of children getting into the pool area unsupervised.

Alarms

Gate alarms, perimeter alarms and pressure sensitive alarms will notify you when someone or something enters the pool area or pool itself. Wearable alarms are a good option for children, alerting a parent when the wearable component gets wet. Learn more about alarms from our friends at Swim University.

Chemical Storage

This one goes without saying, but pool chemicals, just like household chemicals, can make children and pets gravely ill if they are ingested, inhaled or get in their eyes. Never store your pool chemicals anywhere that would be accessible to a child or pet. For chemical storage tips, check out this article. Reducing your pool chemical use is also a favorable option to reduce any risk.

Lifesavers

Every pool should have safety equipment readily accessible. A life ring (hard plastic ring) with a rope can easily be tossed into the pool for someone in danger to grab hold of, allowing the rescuer to pull them to safety. Life jackets should also be available in case of emergency or for new swimmers to wear while learning to swim. A shepherd’s hook is another useful safety tool. The loop attaches to the end of your telescoping pool skimmer pole and can be used in the case of an emergency to grab someone and pull them to safety.

Reduce Temptation

Keep all pool floats and toys away from the pool area when not in use, as children often find their bright colors and fun shapes enticing. Also, keep any climbable objects away from your pool gate and fence.

Teach Water Safety

Children are never too young to start learning the basics of pool and water safety. Start them in swimming lessons at an early age so they gain confidence in the water and understand and respect the importance of following the rules in and around the pool.

Adult Supervision

The number one thing you can do to ensure safe pool fun is to make sure there is always an adult swimmer watching when there are any children, pets or novice swimmers around your pool. A clever way to make sure there is always an adult around is to have a safety wristband worn by the adult in charge.  When that adult leaves the pool area they are then responsible for passing the wristband on to another adult supervisor.

Safety Covers

Safety covers are a great investment for both in-ground and above ground pools in the off-season, preventing anyone or anything from falling in the often frigid and unsupervised water. Check out the following brands when purchasing your safety cover.

Use the tips above to keep children, pets and novice swimmers safe. Stop by our Retail Store and take home a safety brochure and coloring books for the kids!

Pool Opening Guide

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is nearly here. The temperature is rising and it’s almost time to dust off that patio furniture and get your pool in tip top shape for summer! With school closed for the year and events canceled, many of us will be spending even more time in our pools. Keep your family active and entertained by opening your pool earlier this season. You’ll be glad you did if summer weather comes early.

Here are a few things to have on hand to get started:

Chemicals: shock, chlorine, pH, alkalinity & stabilizer
Test Strips/Kit
Telescoping Pole
Skimmer Head
Vacuum: Head & Hose
Pool Brush
A Leaf Rake

Creating a checklist is an easy way to make sure you have everything you need for a hassle-free pool opening. It just so happens we made one for you!

☐ Phone a friend. Pool opening won’t be such a chore if you enlist the help of a family member and roommate. Fire up the grill, fix a beverage, and throw on some music to get motivated!

☐ Clear and remove cover. Use a long handled broom or leaf blower to clean off your cover. It will be easier to store the cover later and also helps you avoid getting debris in your pool. Taking the cover off early in the season will reduce the chance for an algae nightmare, aka the “green monster”.

Photo credits: HGTV

☐ Get your filter system and pumps up and running. Pumps and filter system should be run 24/7 until your pool is clear to start, then for 12 hours every day after that. “Test fire and run ALL pool equipment, heaters, booster pumps, blowers, water-feature/auxiliary pumps, remote controls etc., and allow these functions to run for a good 20-30 minutes to make sure you are getting good consistent performance and checking for leaks or service issues.” – Swim University

☐ Test your pool water. Get a sample of your pool water and use your test kit and/or strips to get an accurate reading of your water’s pH and chlorine levels. For a more comprehensive reading, bring a sample of your pool water into our Retail Store for a complimentary water test, contact-free. We’ll test for: total and free chlorine, pH and alkalinity, cyanuric acid, calcium hardness, phosphates, borates, iron and copper.

☐ Time to shock. Shock is the key to a clean and clear pool in your future. Kill bacteria and remove old chlorine by shocking your pool water. You should only shock the pool after all of the leaves and debris have been removed. If you can’t see the bottom, scoop blindly until there’s nothing left.

Pack it up. Make sure your cover is clean and dry before storing it in an elevated container with a lid. For more info, check out Tracy’s Tips for storing your cover.

☐ Review your pool safety mechanisms. Start the pool season right by making sure you’re following our general safety guidelines, and that your pool area is safe and secure from unwanted or unsupervised guests.

If doing it yourself is not your style, no problem! That’s what we are here for. Contact us to learn more about our Hassle Free Pool Care program and leave the work to us. Appointments are filling up fast, schedule your spring opening today!

Quick-Clean Your Pool After Opening

We’d love to tell you there is a magic solution that will have your pool swim-ready in a day or two, but what you will truly need is some elbow grease and a bit of patience. Realistically, expect to have a clean and clear pool in about a week’s time.

Once you’ve set a date to have your pool ready for swimming, plan your opening accordingly. Purchase your chemicals, test strips and any tools that may need to be replaced. You’ll need a working skimmer net and/or a deep pocketed leaf rake, a pole and vacuum, so make sure your equipment is still in good condition from last year.

Now that you have everything you need, you’re ready to get started. Follow the steps below to have your pool crystal clear and ready for swimmers in one week’s time.

  1. Clean, remove and store your pool cover in a dry, elevated space.
  2. Add water to your pool from the hose to top off the water level. The water should at least half way up the skimmer.
  3. Begin cleaning by scooping leaves and debris from the
    bottom, and brushing and vacuuming the sides of the pool to remove the grime and dirt that built up over the winter.
  4. Make sure your pump and filter are running properly and clean your filter for the start of the season. Backwash or clean your filter to restore flow. This needs to be done more often during your spring clean up.
  5. Test your pool water, after it has been running for 24 hours, with a test kit and adjust your chemicals accordingly. Bring a sample to our store after your water has circulated for at least 24 hours.
  6. Add chlorine or shock to your pool to finish the cleaning process. Your chlorine level should ideally fall in the range of 1 ppm to 3 ppm.
  7. Continue to test your pool water, vacuuming, skimming and cleaning /backwashing your filter your pool until it is
    balanced, clear and ready for swimmers.

For more opening tips, follow our Pool Opening Guide and your pool will be ready in no time!

Tracy’s Tips: How Often Should a Pool Filter Run?

The long and short of it is this, you theoretically could run your pool/filter pump 24/7, the entire time your pool is open. However, doing so would not only be costly and use a great deal of energy, it would also be completely unnecessary.

We recommend that you run your pool filter for at least 12 hours per day, allowing all of your pool water to be run through the filter at least once each day. That being said, the more you run the filter, the cleaner your pool will be.

You can cut down on energy costs by running your pool filter at night or very early in the morning when energy rates are usually lower. Keep in mind, you need to run your filter when adding chemicals and while cleaning, which may be more difficult to do in the dark. If you’re swimming during the day and find the pool surface filling with debris, turn on the system so the skimmers can do their job.

Are you finding this information helpful? Share it with friends! Check back often for more of Tracy’s Tips on our blog.

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

When to Replace Your Pool Liner

Vinyl pool liners typically last about 12 years if maintained properly. As your pool liner ages, activity, chemicals, weather and UV rays will eventually cause your liner to start deteriorating. When that happens, it’s time to consider whether repairing or replacing is the right choice for you.

Replacing your pool liner may be in order if…
  • there are substantial cracks and tears in your pool liner.
  • your pool is clearly losing water from a leak.
  • the color is drastically faded from chemicals and the sun.
  • you notice rust stains or algae buildups that cannot be
    removed.
  • you see wrinkles, stretching or slippage of the liner itself,
    especially around the skimmer, return jets and pump fittings.
  • your pool liner is over 12 years old and you want to be proactive before problems arise.
  • you are tired of you liner pattern and want an aesthetic
    upgrade.

There are short term solutions for tears and leaks if you are hoping to keep your current liner a bit longer. Keep in mind these are merely patches and you’ll want to address the underlying issue with a more permanent solution as soon as you can.

You don’t always have the luxury to plan a pool liner replacement, but if you keep an eye out for deterioration, you can make repairs or schedule a replacement off-season. Check your liner early this spring to make sure it’s in good shape before beginning your pool opening.

Need an expert opinion? If you need leak detection or liner replacement, contact us and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!

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. 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?

 

Tracy’s Tips: Pool Cover Storage

When the time comes to open your pool and put the cover away for the season, here are a few tips to help maintain the
integrity of your cover while in storage.

  1. Make sure your pool cover is completely dry before storing. Most safety covers are mesh, and can be folded and put in the mesh storage bag while still wet. Once it is fully dry, it can be stored. If you are storing your cover in a plastic bin however, make sure the cover is dry before packing it away, to avoid mold.
  2. Store your cover in an elevated location if possible. Safety covers are very heavy, so be sure your rack or shelf can handle the weight. Storing your cover on the ground will invite rodents and bugs to use it as a home and chew holes through your cover. No one wants that costly surprise at the end of pool season!
  3. Plastic storage bins are perfect for pool cover storage. Make sure to choose a large enough bin with a tight-fitting lid. If you are going to put your cover in a bag, make sure to hang the bag high off the floor.
  4. Add moth balls to the bin with your pool cover. PRO TIP: Put the mothballs in a large sock to keep them from getting all over your pool deck when you take out the cover later.

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!

What you need to know about variable-speed pool pumps

Pool pumps are a vital part of your pool water circulation system, keeping the water flowing through filters, skimmers, heaters, and other accessories. When it comes to pumps, the variable-speed option is a smart investment for any pool owner. Not only will you save on energy costs, you may actually be required by your town to use one because it is an energy efficient, environmentally friendly option.

How do they work?

Variable-speed pumps allow you to choose your own pump speed depending on the task at hand. They are powered by a permanent magnet motor, the same efficient motor used in electric cars and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines.

For comparison, single-speed motors are loud and inefficient, running on only one constant speed when they are turned on. Dual-speed motors are considered an induction style motor. These pumps can run at low or high speeds and are certainly a step up from the single-speed motors, but do not offer all of the benefits of a variable-speed option.

Why are variable-speed pumps a better option?

While purchasing a variable-speed pump does require a larger initial investment, 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.

Cost savings are an obvious perk to making the switch, but saving energy is a wonderful by-product and the environment will thank you. You may even be entitled to a utility rebate for upgrading your pool pump. Check with the U.S. Department of Energy and your local power company for potential tax credits and rebates.

Variable-speed pumps can be run at lower speeds and will filter more effectively than single or dual-speed pumps. They are much quieter and have programmable timers so your pump is running when it makes the most sense for you. Run your pump on a low setting at night for even less noise pollution and a better night’s sleep. The flexibility of the variable-speed pump allows you to run just the right amount of power to accomplish a particular task like running spa jets or a water feature, maximizing your energy savings. The best part is that the automated pump takes the guesswork out of the process.

Choose the right pump.

Stop by our retail store to talk to our team about the right Pentair variable-speed pump for your pool or spa.

Check out the impressive IntelliFlo VSF and all it has to offer!

 

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