Tag Archives: Summer Pool Care

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!

Say Goodbye to Cloudy Pool Water

As pool owners, we all have to deal with cloudy pool water at some point. Determining the cause of the cloudiness is the first step in remedying the situation. Cloudy pool water can be caused by improper levels of chlorine, pH and alkalinity imbalance, broken or clogged filters, algae or debris. Use this guide to help you determine which is the culprit in your cloudy pool.

Why is my pool water cloudy?

1. Are your chemicals properly balanced? (Check your chlorine, pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness.)

  • Did you shock your pool recently? Is there is too much or too little chlorine?
  • Is the pH and alkalinity out of balance?
  • Does the water have high calcium hardness levels?

Solution: Too little chlorine is a leading cause of cloudy pool water. Chlorine is used to sanitize the water and without it, your water isn’t being properly cleaned. Contaminants in the water will build up and cause cloudy water as a result.

Make sure your pH, total alkalinity (TA) and calcium are all in the acceptable range and that the combination of the three aren’t on the high end of the range. If they are, your water is likely out of balance. If the temperature of your water is also on the high side, the imbalance of these chemicals is even more likely the cause of cloudiness. High pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness can lead to cloudiness.

If any of the above are out of the acceptable range, first thoroughly scrub, skim, and brush your pool walls, then vacuum. Once that is complete, work on adjusting the chemicals to get them within the acceptable range again. Re-balance your water by adjusting the pH. Use a pH reducer or increaser to adjust pH levels or add muriatic acid to lower TA. Be aware that even shocking a clean and balanced pool can cause cloudiness temporarily. Shock your pool water to remove harmful bacteria, organic contaminants, and algae. Finally, run your filter and test your water sample.  Use a chlorine stabilizer (cyanuric acid) to protect your chlorine levels.

Chemical                                                          Industry Acceptable

pH (Potential Hydrogen)                            7.2 – 7.8

TA (Total Alkalinity                                       80-120 ppm

Calcium                                                         200-400 ppm

2. Is your pool filtration system operating properly?

Poor water circulation and filtration can occur when your
filter doesn’t run long enough, becomes clogged or needs cleaning. Poor circulation can also be caused by skimmer and pump baskets becoming full of debris.

Solution: Turn over your pool water by running your pool filter continuously for at least 12 hours each day. A diatomaceous earth (DE) filter may achieve your desired results after only a few hours because it has the finest level of filtration. A cartridge filter will likely take 2-5 times as long, while sand filters can take multiple days. Add DE powder to your sand filter for more effective filtration. Is your filter clean? Have you back washed or cleaned it recently? If not, we recommend doing so. Most contaminants will be removed if your pool filter and sanitizer are working together. When the leaves are falling because it’s dry, we recommend emptying your baskets daily.

3. Are environmental factors to blame?

  • Leaves, pollen and dust can build up in your filter and hinder the cleaning process. Other environmental factors from
    animal waste to rainwater runoff can cause your pool water to become cloudy and imbalanced. Runoff water brings
    nitrates, phosphates, and other chemicals into your pool throwing the balance out of whack. Algae can also pollute your pool water and can lead to cloudiness, using up your pool’s chlorine rapidly.
  • Are swimmers clouding up your pool water? Sunscreen, hair products, bug spray, and other contaminants can contribute to your water clarity, or lack thereof.
  • The sun alone can deplete your sanitizers. “Its powerful
    ultraviolet rays break apart the sanitizing hypochlorite ions created when you add chlorine to your pool, causing them to evaporate into the air around your pool. This means less sanitizer and more dirt in your water.” – Swim University

Solution: See Solution #2 above. Hint: run your filter! Using an enzyme product such as Natural Chemistry Pool Perfect will also help with contaminants introduced to your water by swimmers. Maintaining proper levels of cyanuric acid, aka stabilizer or conditioner, will keep the sun from using up your chlorine.

The absolute best way to rid your pool of cloudy water is to prevent it from becoming cloudy in the first place. We recommend working with our team of professionals to create a pool maintenance schedule that you can implement or signing up for our Hassle Free Pool Care program. Contact us to learn more!

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

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.

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

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.

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!

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.

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