Tag Archives: Summer Pool Care

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

Pantyhose for the Fine Details

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

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

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

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

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

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.

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

Mosquito-Free Poolscapes

Nothing ruins a pool day like a swarm of relentless mosquitoes ready to make you the main course at the BBQ. Don’t let pesky, disease-carrying pests ruin your time. Consider these ideas to make your pool area less appealing to mosquitoes.

Integrate Your Approach

When it comes to mosquito management, you’ll want to use a combination of these recommendations for best results.

1. Remove standing water and fill in holes in the yard. Stagnant water can quickly become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Be sure to inspect your yard after rain for these areas and fill them in to remove the problem.

2. Utilize a solar cover. Solar covers have many benefits, one of which is to keep insects out of your pool. As an added bonus, you will keep your pool water from evaporating as quickly, while using the sun to help heat your pool.

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3. Invite mosquito predators into the yard. Bats, dragonflies, birds, tadpoles and fish are just a few of the critters that enjoy feasting on adult mosquitoes and larvae. If you make your pool area inviting for these animals, you will have some help managing the mosquito population.

Image result for bat house

4. Keep up with maintenance. Maintain a clean and balanced pool to keep mosquitoes at bay. A dirty pool will have the opposite effect.

5. Maintain the landscaping. Remove rotten leaves and debris that also hold water. Be sure to check under things (like your deck) for rotting organic material that are sure to become home to mosquito larvae. Some plants are said to have insect repelling properties and naturally repel mosquitoes. Try planting lemon thyme, catnip, lemon balm, lavender, basil, garlic, rosemary and marigolds as deterrents.

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6. Repair cracks in the septic. “If there’s a way for mosquitoes to get into your septic tank to lay their eggs, they will find it. Search for any place they could get in, such as uncovered ventilation pipes, cracks in the tank walls, and gaps in the septic tank cover.Cover ventilation pipes with screen mesh tight enough to prevent insects from flying through. Use cement to repair your tank walls. Replace tank covers that don’t have a snug fit. If you have an abandoned septic tank on your property, consider filling it in to keep it from turning into a big mosquito condo unit.” – Swim University

7. Try to trap them. Portable mosquito traps work by attracting insects through light and CO2, mimicking human movement and capturing them. Many people prefer this method to insecticides that utilize chemicals to kill off mosquito populations.

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8. Consider a mosquito repellent device like the Thermacell Zone Mosquito Repellent. “This technology stops mosquitoes before they get close enough to bite or bother you. Now you can say goodbye to messy chemical sprays and lotions.”  Thermacell

9. Mist and spray them away. Home mist machines, professional yard spraying services, and do-it-yourself insecticide application can all help relieve mosquito problems. These should all be used carefully, especially with children and pets in the yard. The EPA cautions, “No pesticide should be regarded as 100% risk free.”

10. Build a bug-free enclosure. Installing an enclosure around your pool brings your outdoor pool indoors with regards to keeping bugs out.  Enclosures are often used in tropical climates where the mosquito populations thrive in the mild, wet weather. Adding mesh curtains around outdoor dining areas for instance, will make your yard more pleasant for gathering.

11. Encourage a strong breeze. Get creative with your approach and try installing outdoor fans. The wind will keep mosquitoes away from the breezy area because they are weak flyers.

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We hope you’ll find these tricks helpful for mosquito management in your yard. Do you have any mosquito fighting tips that we left off the list? Leave your suggestion in the comments!

Tracy’s Tips: Why is My Pool Green?

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

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

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

New England Swimming Pool Care Calendar

Taking care of a pool or spa correctly will increase your enjoyment and protect your investment. Stay on track with our New England Swimming Pool Care Calendar.

January
  • Typically the water in your pool will be frozen. Don’t try to lower the water level. A drop in the water level will allow the ice to drop, possibly pulling out the return plugs or damaging light fixtures.
February
  • Not much can be done at this time. Check the water (ice) level to see if anything has changed.
March
  • The ice should be melting (hopefully).  Check the water level. Lower the water to keep the safety cover dry.
    • A “wet” cover will trap debris and allow the sun to warm the water and add to the algae growth.
  • When using a “tarp” cover, the leaves on the cover should be scooped out and water removed from the cover. Make your life easier by purchasing a leaf net that will catch the leaves on your cover for you. If there are any holes in the cover, be sure that you don’t drain the pool.

April
  • The water is starting to warm up as the days get longer. Test the water and add liquid shock and an algaecide if needed.
  • Keep the cover dry.
May
  • As you get close to the opening date, allow the rain to raise the water to the operating level.
  • If you are planning a later opening (late June or early July) you may want to add more liquid shock.
  • Check the water level periodically so there are no surprises at the opening.
  • Keep the cover as dry as possible.

June
  • Open your pool.
  • Add a metal remover if tap water is added.
  • Perform initial cleaning to remove any debris and balance the water.
  • Check for leaks. Gaskets and o-rings may need to be replaced.
  • Have the pool heater serviced.
  • Make a note of the starting filter pressure.
  • Bring in a water sample after the pool has been circulating for 24 hours.
July
  • Test the water balance at least once a week during the peak of the season.  Additional tests may be needed if water is added.
  • Test and maintain the free chlorine at 1.0-3.0 ppm.
  • Empty the skimmer and pump baskets as needed.
  • Skim the pool surface and vacuum once a week.
  • Bring in a water sample for computer testing.
  • Check the filter pressure and backwash as needed.
August
  • Test the water balance at least once a week during the peak of the season.  Additional tests may be needed if water is added.
  • Test and maintain the free chlorine at 1.0-3.0 ppm.
  • Add a metal remover if tap water is added to prevent staining.
  • Empty skimmer and pump baskets as needed.
  • Skim the pool surface and vacuum once a week.
  • Bring in a water sample for computer testing.
  • Check the filter pressure and backwash as needed.
  • Remove elements or cartridges and clean with Filter Cleaner Degreaser to remove any oils and grease that may have accumulated on your filter.

September
  • Turn off the equipment.
  • Lower the water 12 – 18 inches below the skimmer.
  • Close the pool.
October
  • Maintain the water level at least 3 – 6 inches below the tile line.
  • Keep safety cover dry and remove debris from “tarp” cover.
November
  • Maintain the water level at least 3 – 6 inches below the tile line.
  • Keep safety cover dry and remove debris from tarp cover.
  • Add liquid shock and algaecide.
December
  • Maintain the water level at least 3 – 6 inches below the tile line.
  • Keep safety cover dry and remove debris from “tarp” cover
  • Add liquid shock and algaecide.

 

How to Restore Your Pool Water After a Rainstorm

In New England, you never know what the weather will be. A sunny day can quickly turn into a rainy afternoon, with thunderstorms a common occurrence during the spring and summer months. You’re best bet is to prepare for everything, whatever the weather.

If you experience a rainstorm, there are a few steps you will want to take to keep your pool clean, balanced and filled with the optimal amount of water.

1. Check Your Chemicals

Rainwater in the United States is considered acid rain, which means it can adversely affect the pH, alkalinity, total dissolved solids, and calcium hardness levels in your pool water. Rainwater can also dilute your sanitizer. It is necessary to control any contaminants, so make sure to check the sanitizer levels. If you have a salt water pool, salt will also be diluted by rain. Runoff water from your yard or pool deck, debris, and even lightning can cause your pool water to become unbalanced.

2. Start the Cleanup

Start the cleanup process by cleaning out your skimmer and pump baskets. This will make the job easier for the next steps; turning on your pump and filter and skimming the surface of your pool water. Run your pump and filter while skimming to remove both large debris and smaller particles. Windy storms can often blow leaves, sticks and other brush into your pool that will need to be removed. Brush the walls, steps and ladders in your pool and vacuum to clean up whatever you may have missed with the skimmer and filter. If you have an automatic/robotic pool cleaner, you may want to use that unless there is significant debris. If there is, you may be better off with a manual pool vacuum.

3. Perform the Balancing Act

With a clean pool, you are ready to re-balance the chemicals in your pool water. We recommend that you test your pool water after any significant rainstorm. A light rainstorm should not greatly affect your pool chemical levels, but it never hurts to check to be certain they are in the proper range. Your chlorine and sanitizer levels should also be monitored to avoid contaminants that could lead to cloudiness or algae growth.

Stop by our Retail Store for a free professional water test and for all your pool chemical supplies!

4. Administer Shock

It may not be crucial to shock your pool after a rainstorm, but it can be beneficial to remove any left over contaminants. Drain your pool water to the correct levels and check your chemicals before administering a shock treatment. Shock your pool in the evening after a rainstorm, once you have performed the preceding steps.

Follow these steps and you’ll be back to swimming in your pool in no time!