Tag Archives: Pool Supplies

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. In addition to chlorine, pH and other factors need to be balanced properly for clean, safe water. 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?

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!

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!

Tracy’s Tips: When does hiring a pool maintenance company make sense?

As a pool owner, you know that a considerate amount of work comes before, during and after the fun pool activities. Is that work overwhelming you and hindering your enjoyment? Do you dread the heavy lifting and continuous maintenance your pool requires? We encourage our customers to weigh the pros and cons of hiring a pool maintenance company to do the dirty work for you.

For some of you savvy pool owners, handling your own pool maintenance makes sense. You have the time, kids to help with the workload, or maybe just an interest in pool chemistry. You probably have a “do-it-yourself” mentality or simply do not want to spend the money to hire someone. If any of this sounds like you, you probably don’t need the services of a pool maintenance company.

On the other hand, not everyone has the time and energy to devote to constantly maintaining a swimming pool and/or spa. If this sounds more like you, you may be a great candidate for hiring a pool maintenance company. Our Hassle-Free Pool Care program is perfect for the pool owner who prefers not to have to open and close their pool, measure chemicals, scrub pool walls, skim debris or troubleshoot and maintain pool equipment.

If you can’t decide which route is best, talk to us! Our team will be happy to provide you with a pressure-free, customized pool care program estimate for our services.

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

4 Easy Ways to Prevent Rodents from Damaging Your Pool Heater

One of the most common problems pool owners experience in the winter is rodent damage to their pool heaters. When the temperatures get colder, mice and other rodents look for warm places to take shelter from the elements. Unfortunately, your pool heater may look like a good home to them.

Whether the rodents are building nests, chewing wires, or using your pool heater as a bathroom, it is imperative that you keep them out to avoid damage.

Protect your pool heater with these easy steps

  1. Remove leaves and debris from the pump and pool heater to prevent moisture. Moisture leads to corrosion and can seize your pump motor come spring. The debris also makes a good hiding place for rodents so this step is essential.
  2. Plant mint around your pool heater. Mint deters rodents and will act as a natural barrier. Placing plastic snakes around your heater may also serve as a natural deterrent because mice don’t want to build their homes near predators.
  3. Pick up some Mouse Busters, an all natural anti-rodent
    inhibitor, at our retail store.
  4. Contact us about a one-time installation of a Pentair or
    Sta-Rite Heater Anti-Rodent Kit.

For more tips and tricks to prevent rodent damage, check out this helpful article from Swim University or call us anytime at (781) 383-3300.

Winter Pool Care Tips from the Professionals

Winter Pool Care Tips

During the cold, dark months of winter, taking care of your pool may be the last thing on your mind.

Even though swimming season is over, your pool still needs a little attention. The good news is that future problems can be prevented with some minimal maintenance over the winter season. Follow this guide and pool problems won’t plague your spring opening!

Avoid Winter Woes

Snow can wreak havoc on pool covers causing straps and springs to stretch. Excessive rainfall can raise water levels beyond the tile line causing hundreds of dollars of damage to decking, tile and coping materials, making your first spring cleaning costly and difficult. On the other hand, if the water level in your pool is too low during the winter months, your cover will not be able to support the weight of ice and snow accumulation and could cause expensive cover damage.

Pool Cover Guide
  • When using a mesh safety cover, we recommend keeping the water level 15-18″ below the cover. This level will rise as rainfall and snow-melt pass through the mesh.
  • When using a tarp cover, we recommend keeping the water level 1″ below the bottom of the skimmer, and thus the tile line. As long as the cover is in good condition, no water should pass through it. The level beneath the cover should remain constant during the off season. Periodically scoop debris off of the tarp cover and pump the water off to avoid letting a swamp grow on top of it. We recommend using a leaf net with any tarp cover to make leaf removal quick and easy.  Call us to order one.
  • Check your safety cover regularly over the winter and remove debris as it accumulates using a pool brush or leaf blower. This is especially important for pools located in areas with many trees. If you do not remove leaves and debris from your cover, improper water drainage may occur and will put too much water weight on the cover.
  • Once winter and freezing temperatures come to an end, we recommend keeping the water 1-2″ above the bottom of the skimmer with mesh safety covers. This will allow you to avoid having to add water at the pool opening and create a gap between the cover and the water’s surface. This gap prevents algae growth which occurs when the cover sits in the water. The cover’s straps may need to be tightened after stretching out under the weight of ice and snow.

Make Your Life Hassle Free

Sign up today for our Winter Care Service and we’ll take care of your winter pool woes! Our Winter Care Service was designed for the busy pool owner with better things to do than worry about pool maintenance.

Prefer to do it yourself? Stop by the South Shore Pool Supply Retail Store for everything you need for winter pool maintenance and talk to our friendly staff who will be happy to answer any of your questions.

winter pool care

Contact us today to learn more!
(781) 383-3300


Set yourself up for a successful spring opening with these
additional off-season pool care tips from our friends at
Swim University.

“Taking care of your pool doesn’t end when you put the cover on. It’s important to continue caring for your pool
during the off-season (fall, winter, and early spring) to ensure a successful and clean opening…” 10 Tips From The Pros >>

Our friends at Swim University have a ton of helpful resources for pool owners, but their advice and content does not necessarily represent those of South Shore Pool Supply. Instead, the information is intended to provide you with additional resources for optimal pool care. Please contact us directly for specific pool care advice.

Tracy’s Tips: Leaf Nets for Tarp Covers

Autumn Leaf Removal for Tarp Covers

Don’t let leaf removal get you down! There is a simple solution to keeping leaves off of your tarp pool cover. The tarp cover will keep the leaves out of your pool, but how do you handle the leaves that fall from the autumn trees and land on your tarp cover? A leaf net will fit atop a tarp cover once your pool is closed. The leaf net catches the leaves on your cover for you. Simply remove the netting and shake it out into your compost pile to get all of the leaves off of your tarp, and protect it from deterioration from rotting debris. Remove the cover and store it for next fall once the trees are bare.

Stop by our retail store or call us to order a leaf net for your pool!

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

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

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.

Photo Credits: Polaris Pool

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

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 In-Ground Pool in 6 Steps

How to Close An Above Ground Pool in 6 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.

 

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.