Tag Archives: Pool Supplies

Pool Party Prep Checklist

Photo credits: marthastewart.com

Thinking about hosting a pool party? Make your party memorable with these helpful tips to get your pool and patio ready. Have something to add? Leave your suggestion in the comments!

1. Budget Accordingly

Planning your budget in advance will keep you on track with your party planning and avoid stress as your party date approaches. If you know your budget, you can decide how many guests you can reasonably accommodate. Don’t forget to factor in food, drinks, decorations, and other party items to go with your theme.

Photo credits: Better Homes & Gardens

2. Prepare Your Pool

Clean Your Pool

A few days before the party, thoroughly vacuum your pool. It may seem obvious, but you will need to skim the pool to remove floating debris. Keep up with it as best you can prior to your event. Your guests will appreciate a clean, sparkling pool to swim, play and relax in. It is a pool party after all, so be sure your pool is the focal point.

Test Your Water Quality

Knowing how many people are attending is not only important for food planning purposes, it also plays a role in your water quality. Increasing the number of swimmers means making adjustments to keep your water balanced, clean, and ready to host more people than usual. We recommend adding shock to your pool 2-3 days before your party to get your water as clear and clean as possible. After shocking, make sure to re-balance your pool water with the proper chemicals and clean your pool filter. Repeat these steps after the party to again re-balance and clean your pool water.

Make Sure the Pool Area is Safe

Clean up around the pool if you have a lot of toys, floats and other pool accessories everywhere. You do not want your guests to even have the potential to get hurt on your watch. If your party goes into the night or you’re throwing an evening event, make sure the pool is lit and easy to see. No one wants to fall into the pool unexpectedly and this can be extremely dangerous if there are children or non-swimmers in attendance. Pool lighting can be fun and add to the ambiance and theme of your party. Turn on your pool light or add floating pool lights and/or outdoor lighting around the perimeter of your pool for safety.

Don’t Forget to Add the Fun!

Now that we have safety covered, you can focus on the best part of party planning, the FUN! Will you need some floats for a relaxing vibe? Would your guests enjoy playing some competitive pool games? Do you need some kid friendly pool toys and floats? The options are endless!

Stop by our Retail Store for everything you need to add some fun to your party! While you are there, get a complimentary water test and all of the chemicals and products you need to keep your pool safe.

3. Prepare Your Patio

Clean Your Patio

Again, this may seem obvious, but cleaning your patio is a very important first step. Even though the centerpiece of the party is the pool, your guests will spend a lot of time out of the pool as well. Eating, drinking, playing games, dancing and mingling with other guests will take place on or around your patio. Sweep or blow leaves, dirt and debris away from your patio area to tidy up. You will also want to clean any patio furniture you will have out for your guests. Bring out additional furniture and chairs to accommodate the number of guests you’re expecting.

If you have landscaping around your patio, take some time to trim back bushes, pull weeds, and remove debris around your flower beds.

Prepare Entertainment, Food & Drink

What’s a party without some music?! Whether you have built in outdoor speakers or you are using a portable bluetooth player, find a way to bring music outdoors to set the mood and theme of your pool party. Pool and yard games offer a fun way to encourage your guests to loosen up and enjoy each other’s company. Pool basketball, volleyball, and bag toss are all crowd-pleasers that your guests will love playing.

If you’re serving food and drinks, make sure you have enough to feed all of your guests. Make your menu even more fun by keeping it on-theme. Make sure you have the proper utensils and paper goods you will need. Think about where you are going to set up a food table and how you are going to keep the food fresh and drinks cold on a hot summer day.

Set the Scene

Sticking with your theme, pick out some fun decorations to liven up your entertainment space. Be creative and set the scene, but you don’t need to go overboard. Display your decorations around the patio and pool area to bring everything together. Lighting is important around your patio, just as it is around your pool. Lighting is not only practical so your guests can see where they are going at night,  it also can create ambiance and double as decorations. Insect repelling candles are also helpful on a summer’s night.

Go the Extra Step

While most of your guests will come prepared for a pool party, be sure to have some extra pool towels around for someone who may have forgotten to bring one. It is thoughtful and wise to have sunscreen, bug spray and shady places for guests to sit readily available.

Now that you are prepared for your party, all that’s left for you to do is be a good host and spend time with your guests. Maybe you’ll even find some time to relax and enjoy your poolside retreat!

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?

 

Tracy’s Tips: Bubble Solar Cover Installation

Solar Pool Covers: Bubble Side Up or Down?  

Are you using a bubble solar cover to keep your pool water warm? If so, you may be wondering which side of your bubble cover should face up. We recommend covering your pool with the bubble side facing down for the best results in warming your pool in the summer sun. The sun’s UV rays will heat the bubbles and in turn, transfer heat to your pool water. With the bubbles facing down directly into the water, the heating process works more quickly and the bubbles help the cover float on the water’s surface.

Applying your bubble solar cover with the bubbles facing up can eventually damage the bubbles on the cover, due to direct exposure to the sun. The sun’s rays need to be able to flow through the cover before it can reach the water. Think of your solar cover as a thermal blanket or magnifying glass for your pool, intensifying the warming effect. Putting the cover on with the bubbles upward will take longer to heat your pool water and shorten the useful life of the cover.

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

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Should I Change My Pool Filter Sand?

Photo credits: Swim University

Customers often ask us if it is recommended or necessary to change their pool filter sand. The answer isn’t quite as simple as a yes or no. Even pool industry professionals are on the fence on the topic.

Let’s explore both sides of the debate.

Why Some Say NO to Changing Your Pool Filter Sand

The most common reason professionals say there is no need to change your filter sand is because sand lasts forever and need not be replaced. For maintenance, they suggest cleaning it about once a year with a professional sand cleaner.

Why Others Say YES to Changing Your Pool Filter Sand

The professionals that recommend changing your pool filter sand argue that not only should you replace your sand every 3-5 years, but you should also clean it in the interim. The argument for changing the sand is based on the belief that sand does eventually wear down and become smooth. When this happens, the sand cannot trap debris as well and it is time to replace it.

To Change or Not to Change

Filter manufacturers generally recommend changing your pool filter sand every few years. Since these companies manufacture the filters, they have nothing to gain from selling you new sand. We would advise following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

While the final decision is yours, we would advocate for changing your pool filter sand every 3-5 years.

If you do decide to change your pool filter sand, our friends at Swim University will show you how in this easy to follow video.

Pool Care Don’ts

While we generally guide pool owners toward solutions to their pool care woes, sometimes it’s best to learn from others’ mistakes to avoid making them yourself. Here are some things we DO NOT recommend.

Shocking

  • Don’t shock your pool during the day. Sunlight will burn off your unstable chlorine (aka shock), so it is vital to shock your pool during the night to ensure it has time to do the job properly.
  • Don’t add shock through your skimmer.  This mistake can be VERY dangerous because pool shock (calcium hypochlorite) and chlorine (DiChlor or TriChlor) will mix to create a deadly gas and can cause an explosion when mixed through your automatic chlorinator. This can not only cause bodily harm, but can also damage your pool liner, floor and walls.
  • Don’t add shock directly to your pool water. Dilute the shock in a bucket of warm warmer before adding it to your pool. Add shock to the water, not vice versa. The diluted solution will be safer to work with and will mix better with your pool water. It will also avoid shock settling on your pool floor and causing your lining to become frail, eventually leading to leaks.
  • Don’t swim right after shocking. Ensure chlorine and pH levels are in the proper range before swimming. If you want to be able to shock your pool and swim immediately, use a non-chlorine shock.

Brushing

  • Don’t forget your pool brush. Your pool vacuum is not a
    substitute for your pool brush. Be sure to brush the bottom and sides of your pool at least once a week, especially the hard to reach areas. Brushing is vital to removing bacteria, germs and algae, while the vacuum is great for the larger
    debris.

Vacuuming

  • Don’t use a robot on algae. If you have an algae problem on your hands, do not use an automatic cleaner to try to
    remove it. Manual cleaners are the way to go in this scenario because pressure-side automatic cleaners will push the algae up through the mesh bag, clog it and blow it around your pool.

Balancing

  • Don’t neglect pH and alkalinity. Maintaining the proper pH and alkalinity levels is necessary even if your pool water looks clear. Low pH (highly acidic water) can cause damage to your pool equipment including: pumps, filters, solar
    covers, liners and heaters. Adjust your alkalinity levels to
    ensure your pH is always balanced.

Filtering

  • Don’t forget to run your filter. Be sure your pool filter is
    running for at LEAST 12 hours each day.
    The more you run your pool filter, the cleaner your pool water, plain and
    simple. Make sure that all of your pool water runs through the filter at least once each day.
  • Don’t over backwash your filter system. The larger debris in your filter actually help to trap the smaller debris. The guideline is to backwash when the system is running 5-10 psi above the starting filter pressure (pressure with a clean filter).

Testing

  • Don’t skip your water testing. If you can’t do a full,
    comprehensive water test each week, be sure to at least test your free chlorine and pH levels. Bring a sample of your pool water into our Retail Store for a free, detailed analysis. We recommend a computer generated water test at least once a month.

Avoid these common pool care blunders and you will be well on your way to a safe and clean swimming pool.

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 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.

Tracy’s Tips: Why is My Pool Green?

Photo Credits: Simple Pool Tips

Why is My Pool Green?
Algae vs. Metals

When your pool turns green, your first assumption may be that algae is the offender. While this is often true, you could actually be dealing with increased heavy metals. Try these simple tests to determine the real cause of your green pool.

Test your chlorine levels. If there is free chlorine in the pool and it is green, copper is the likely culprit.  If there is no free chlorine, suspect algae.

If your pool turns green after adding shock, copper is the likely cause. Other minerals, such as iron and manganese can turn the water brown, pink or purple. A metal remover will bind with the minerals in your pool water, allowing your pool filter to remove them.

If you add chlorine and your pool clears up? Hooray! Algae was the offender. Mystery solved!

Metal vs. Algae Tip:  Metal stains won’t brush off the pool.  Most algae will, with black algae as the exception.

Need a product recommendation? Stop by our Retail Store and talk to our team and get your free water test.

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

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?