Tag Archives: Pool Equipment

Salt Water Pools: What to Love

Photo credits: Grolie Home

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.

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.

Automatic Chlorinators: A Must Have for Pool Owners

Chlorine is a vital tool used by most pool owners to sanitize pool water. There are a few ways to dispense the chlorine into your pool, but an automatic chlorinator takes the hassle and headache out of handling chlorine.

An automatic chlorinator (also called a chemical feeder) is your best bet when it comes to dispensers because it offers consistent chlorine feed. The chlorine is fed into your pool plumbing after all the equipment, protecting the pump, filter and heater from corrosion.

Putting chlorine tabs directly into your skimmer basket can damage your liner as seen here.

Simply add chlorine tablets, adjust the valve and let your chlorinator do the work. Use test strips to get your chlorine levels just right.

If you have a pool heater, be sure to check your warranty’s requirements. An automatic chlorinator or salt water chlorine generator is mandatory and use of other chlorination methods may void your warranty.

Tracy’s Tip: When operating your automatic chlorinator, turn your pool pump on and turn the valve so it is fully open. Run the pump for a minute or so to remove the highly concentrated chlorine from the vessel. Then you can open the top of your chlorinator to add tablets without getting a blast of chlorine gas in your face. If you are exposed to chlorine gas, Poison Control recommends standing in a steamy shower for at least 20 minutes to get rid of the chlorine intake.

Schedule your automatic chlorinator installation today – we are currently scheduling fall and spring installations!  >> Contact us

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.

Identifying & Fixing Pool Leaks

Pool repairs are an inevitable part of pool ownership. It is always a bummer, however, when an unexpected pool leak interrupts even one day of pool season.

If you’re concerned that your pool is losing water and could have a leak, you’ll want to first eliminate other common causes of water loss.

The Un-leaky Culprits

Did you know that on the hottest summer days, a pool can evaporate up to a 1/4″ of water? That’s 2 inches in just 1 week! Air temperature, wind conditions, humidity levels and lack of shade and protection from the elements can all contribute to how much water your pool loses each day.  You could also see significant water loss if you’ve had higher than usual pool traffic – especially if there’s been lots of splashing.

The Bucket Test

There is a simple way to determine if your pool water is evaporating or leaking. All you will need is a bucket, a pool step or ladder and these instructions.

  1. Fill a bucket 1-2″ from the brim with your pool water.
  2. Place the almost full bucket of water in your pool on the
    second pool step or top rung of the ladder. You’ll want the water in the bucket to be level with the water in your pool.
  3. Mark the water level on the inside and outside of the bucket with tape or a permanent marker. Be sure to turn off your auto-refill device if you have one.
  4. Test 1: Leave the bucket alone for at least 24 hours with the pump on, then measure the water level in your pool and your bucket.
  5. Test 2: Leave the bucket alone for at least 24 hours with the pump off, then measure the water level in your pool and your bucket.

If the pool water level has decreased by the same amount as the bucket water level, you don’t have a leak, you have evaporation. If the pool water has decreased more than the bucket water, you likely do have a leak. Check out this video from American Leak Detection to see the test in action.

  • You lose more water when the pump is running – the problem is in the plumbing. Call a professional (or contact us for a referral) to perform a pressure test to pinpoint the leak.
  • You lose the same amount of water when the pump is on or off – the issue is likely in the liner, lights, or somewhere in the shell of the pool. It could also be a leak in the hydrostatic valves at the bottom of the pool.

The Dye Trick

For this exercise you will need food coloring or leak finding dye, goggles and a snorkel.

  1. Take your food coloring, goggles and snorkel into the pool and prepare to search for the leak. Pro Tip: Move slowly around the pool to avoid disturbing the water.
  2. If you suspect the leak to be higher up the wall, we
    recommend draining your pool to that level to see if leaking appears to stop and to narrow down the location of the leak.
  3. Test areas with visible cracks by squirting food coloring or dye in bursts into the cracks to see if the coloring gets sucked into the cracks. If it does, you have discovered the
    location of a leak!
  4. If you aren’t sure where to start, we recommend starting near your main drain and return lines or anywhere the pool’s shell has been punctured.
Fixing the Leak

We highly recommend contacting professionals to do the necessary repairs, especially if the leak involves your pool plumbing. However, if you have a concrete, plaster or fiberglass pool and you feel comfortable tackling the problem yourself, be sure to do your research and purchase the proper supplies. If you have a vinyl pool liner and have identified a liner leak, you can purchase a vinyl repair kit in our store and attempt to patch the hole before bringing in the pros.

The longer it takes to determine that you have a pool leak, the more difficult it can be to address the issue. Make it a priority to routinely check your pool and equipment for signs of leaks to prevent headaches in the future.

Pool Cleaners: Suction Side, Pressure Side or Robotic?

If you’re short on time, or just prefer to spend your time on more traditionally enjoyable activities, consider investing in a pool cleaner to handle some of your pool maintenance. When considering pool cleaners, you will want to investigate which type of cleaner is right for your situation. Let’s discuss the options.

1. Suction Side Pool Cleaners

Suction side cleaners attach to the main filtration pump in your pool and use the suction to move the cleaner around. These cleaners scrub the pool surface and remove unwanted dirt and debris. The debris is then returned to your pump basket through your pool’s filtration system. The cleaner’s hose is connected to either a dedicated suction line or directly to your skimmer. Suction cleaners utilize an internal turbine which is spun by the force of pump’s suction.

Pros: This kind of cleaner is great for pool owners on a budget as they generally cost less than the pressure side and robotic cleaners. Maintaining a suction side cleaner is relatively easy because it has fewer moving parts that have the potential to break. It will pick up medium debris but some will remove small debris as well.

Cons: You will find that this type of cleaner puts more stress on your pool filter. Debris goes directly into the pump strainer, reducing circulation. The pump basket needs to be emptied to keep the cleaner working. Fine dirt and debris go into the filter, leading to more frequent back washing/cleaning of the filter.

2. Pressure Side Pool Cleaners

Pressure side cleaners are very popular among pool owners. They use an existing pressure side line to move the cleaner around. The water returned back into your pool fuels the cleaner, but often requires an additional booster pump to push water through the cleaner to create a jet stream. Not all pools are built with the plumbing to accommodate this type of cleaner. Pressure side cleaners don’t use your pool’s filtration system to filter out debris like the side suction cleaners. Instead, they use a filtration bag to catch the debris, so you don’t have to empty the pump basket or backwash/clean the filter to maintain circulation. Your pool pump will push water through a hose to jets that move the cleaner around your pool, loosening dirt and guiding it into the filter bag.

Pros: This type of cleaner is also less expensive than robotic cleaners and does not stress your pool filtration system as much. They are also generally easy to maintain. They’re great at picking up medium and heavy debris. Fine particles will flow through the filter bag and get cleaned out in the pool filtration system.

Cons: You will need a booster pump to run these cleaners and many pools are not plumbed for that. There are also additional electricity costs to run the second pump.

3. Robotic Pool Cleaners

Robotic pool cleaners are in a category all by themselves. They run off of power from your home and do not use your pool equipment to operate. These cleaners are top of the line and improving every day with new technology. They are excellent cleaners and have a built-in filtration system with a filter bag or built-in cartridge to collect debris. Robotic cleaners are able to remove both large and small debris (and everything in between) from your pool floor, walls, steps and water line. Simply plug your pool robot in and let it do all the work!

Pros: Robotic cleaners do not cause wear and tear on your pool equipment and are energy efficient, reducing overall power usage and costs. They virtually eliminate the need to clean your pool walls with a brush, saving you the hassle and time. The maintenance-free design make robotic pool cleaners very popular.

Cons: These cleaners are the most expensive of the three options and have a higher up-front cost. Robotic cleaners also are a bit heavier and it is slightly more difficult to empty the filter.

Which pool cleaner is best suited for your pool? Stop by our Retail Store for assistance in choosing and purchasing your new pool cleaner.

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!