Rookie Pool Owner Solves the Water Care Equation with pHin

With pHin, a Texas family went from having green to crystal-clear pool water with less than half the work.

Experienced pool and hot tub owners know that it’s easy for water to get off balance. Whether from a heavy rainfall or a missed dose of shock, keeping a pool safe for swimming is an important chore. But new, inexperienced pool owners can mistakenly end up with green water if they’re relying only on complicated test strips and charts.

Aaron Richardson quickly learned the challenges of pool water care when he rented a Texas home with a 13,000 gallon pool. The owner provided basic pool care instructions: Throw two tablets in the skimmer and check the water quality weekly with color test strips. After following the original instructions to the letter, Aaron’s pool water quickly turned green. “I can read tables and do math, but the traditional pool care process is overcomplicated,” said Aaron.

Texas summers are hot. Not only was Aaron’s family unable to cool down with a swim, but he also had to scrub the pool each day in 103 degree heat. “We looked at getting a pool service, but it was expensive at about $1,200,” said Aaron. His family also needed a less  time-consuming alternative that would help them keep the water safe for swimming. Seeking a cost-effective solution, Aaron found the pHin Smart Monitor while searching online. The $350 device is Wi-Fi connected and designed to float in the pool — taking over 1,000 measurements a week. Paired with the subscription service, pHin measures sanitizer, temperature, and pH levels in the pool water, sending results and dosage instructions to the user on the pHin smartphone app.

“When we started with pHin, it told us everything we needed to do, including shocking,” commented Aaron. Instead of relying on traditional test strips and complicated charts, Aaron used the exact chemical doses from pHin. Once starting with the instructions, he was able to quickly balance the pool water. “After the first few dosing instructions, I went from scrubbing the pool every day to between ten days to two weeks.”

pHin helped make the difference whether it was pool chores or pool parties. At the end of the summer, Aaron’s family planned a Labor Day pool party for their family and friends. To prepare, a simple check on the pHin app showed that the water quality was “in the blue” — perfect for swimming. The pHin Smart Monitor also made it easy for Aaron to check the water balance after the party, simply adding the prescribed chemicals as needed. Instead of spending time with test strips and complicated charts, pHin makes dosage easy and manageable in Aaron’s day-to-day life, “I can even toss shock in while I’m walking out to my car,” he said.

 

Since using pHin for pool care, Aaron can relax and enjoy a swim after work instead of scrubbing the pool. “I’m a new pool user, and it couldn’t be easier to use pHin,” he said. “After pHin, I had a crystal clear pool with much less effort.”

To learn about the pHin Smart Monitor, visit phin.co.

Questions to Ask When Buying Your First Hot Tub

Congratulations on your decision to join the world of hot tub owners! You have many hours of fun and relaxation in your future. Before you buy, though, you want to answer a few questions to be sure you get the right hot tub for your lifestyle. Should you take it out for a test soak? Does it come with a warranty? How about cleaning, does it require a lot of cleaning? Answering the following questions when buying your first hot tub helps ensure you enjoy your new purchase for many years to come.

Can You Test a Hot Tub before Buying It?

In a word, yes. Taking your hot tub out for a test soak is called “wet testing” and it’s something you do with a demonstration model at the dealer. Most spa dealers offer demo models specifically for shoppers to do a wet test.

During your wet test, pay attention to the seating and the jets. If the seating is uncomfortable, or the water goes too high or too low, you don’t get the full hydrotherapeutic value. Also, make sure that the positioning of the jets is comfortable.

Aim for a 15-minute test soak to get a true feel for the spa.

How Much Does it Cost?

Before conducting your first wet test, determine your budget and decide what you are willing and able to spend. Once you have your figure in mind you can start shopping. When you begin dealing with sales reps, remain confident in your predetermined price range. Most of them work on commission, so they often push larger models or extra features that you don’t necessarily want or need. That’s okay, they’re just doing their job, but if it’s more than you’re willing to spend, don’t let yourself be talked into more hot tub than you want. And, if you want to haggle, go for it. Most hot tubs have a decent markup, so there’s usually a bit of wiggle room.

Where Should I Put My Hot Tub?

While the majority of hot tub owners choose to put their tubs outside, they can also be installed inside. Installing a tub inside comes with three main concerns:

  • Will it fit through the door? Will it fit through my gates? Will I need to pay for a crane service?
  • Will the floor support the spa’s weight? Hint: a full, 3-person tub typically weighs around 2,500 pounds; larger tubs can weigh four times as much.
  • Do you have proper ventilation to avoid moisture buildup?

If you choose to go the more traditional route and install your spa outside, your main concerns are electricity and support. The closer the hot tub is to your home, the less it will cost to install, since it will be closer to any electrical outlets or wiring and you don’t have to worry about underground wiring. As for support, it is important to make sure that whatever surface you place your hot tub on can support the extra weight.

If want an in-ground tub, you need to place it at least four feet deep, or below the frost-line. Since the ground will thaw every spring, you want to make sure that you have the support in place to keep the spa’s shell from cracking once the ground shifts.

What about the Warranty?

Warranties vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so request a copy of the warranty for any hot tub you are considering purchasing. The main things you want to keep an eye out for when it comes to the warranty are the:

  • Hot tub shell, usually covered for five years against leaks and failures
  • Plumbing, usually covered for three years
  • Electrical components, usually covered for five years

Although these are your main areas of concern, read all the provisions of your warranty carefully.

The dealer you choose also plays a role. If they go out of business or have a reputation for bad customer service, you may have a harder time getting warranty items handled. You want to be happy with the retailer, the hot tub, and the warranty before making your final decision.

How Often Should the Hot Tub be Cleaned?

It is usually recommended to clean your spa no more than three or four times a year, but it depends on how frequently it is used and how well the water is maintained.  Typically, cleaning your hot tub takes about an hour. Proper water care is vital to your enjoyment of the hot tub and fairly simple, but it’s even easier with pHin.

Should You Shower before Using the Tub?

If you are perspiring, have recently worked out, or have any creams or lotions on your skin, it is a good idea to take a quick shower before hopping into your hot tub. Any contaminants that enter the water can upset the chemical balance and lead to more frequent cleanings or maintenance issues.

As you look at these questions to ask when buying your first hot tub, there are many great tools to simplify the maintenance process. If you want an easy way to ensure the water in your hot tub is always safe and ready for a relaxing soak, consider pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone what you need to do to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. Use it with your own chemicals for flexibility or get our single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered right to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

Landscaping Around Your Pool And Hot Tub: How to Choose the Perfect Plants

There should be a lot of thought when planning the landscaping around your pool and hot tub. After all, it’s not just a matter of planting what looks good. You also need to worry about planting what is good for your pool and hot tub. Issues to consider include whether the plants will shed into the water, if they have thorns that could possibly hurt swimmers, or if they have invasive roots (the last thing you’d want near a pool or a hot tub). Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to planning the plant-life around your pool or hot tub.

Ideal Planting

A pool or hot tub and the plants around it should create a luxurious and relaxing space, where one can both lounge and entertain. It is important that the plants you place around your pool or hot tub are in line with the look and feel you want to create. Ideally, you want to surround your pool area with plants that create privacy, add texture, and bring some color. Plant sun perennials (such as windflowers or day lilies) to transform this area into an oasis. Plant bamboo, hedges, or palm trees to create a tropical fence about the pool (but note that palm trees do shed and can be messy). Mix a variety of plants in multiple shapes and sizes to add the most texture and get the most out of this area’s landscaping.

What to Plant

While you may be looking to achieve a specific theme or vibe with the vegetation you plant, there are some important things to consider. First and foremost is the type of plants that work, not just around the water, but in the area where you live. For example, in desert climates, cacti, agave, or palm trees would work perfectly around your pool or hot tub. But in that same climate, it might be difficult to keep certain types of flowers or shrubbery alive. It can be difficult or costly to try to keep plants that require more attention or water in hotter, drier areas of the country than it would be in areas that receive plenty of rain or enjoy more mild temperatures. Always do plenty of research before choosing the plants for landscaping.

Problems Vegetation Can Present

One of the main problems that any plant can present for a pool is shedding; acorns, leaves, blades of grass, or berries can be a pool or hot tub’s worst enemy. Beyond just causing extra maintenance or cleaning, these things can stain the pool’s floor and walls, as well as the deck surrounding the pool. And when it comes to maintenance, they can throw your entire water chemistry out of balance, leading to cloudy water or algae outbreaks.

Two more things to consider are how the plant takes root and whether or not it will drop pollen. Overgrown roots tend to grow towards a water source and, when they’re right next to a pool, that pool becomes the water source their roots reach for. This can lead to erosion of the soil around your pool or hot tub, uneven pool decking, or a complete shift in the pool’s structural integrity. Pollen can cause an algae breakout in the pool and invite some unwanted and pesky insects to the area.

Bottom Line

Choosing the proper, beneficial plant-life to place around your pool has practically endless benefits. Aside from creating the perfect look or atmosphere, you can provide shade, privacy, and even play a hand in dictating your pool’s temperature. Picking the perfect vegetation may seem daunting, but always remember that the primary goal should be to keep it simple. Personal preference and geographic location will always dictate what you want and choose to plant, but also remember to consider the shedding and rooting of each plant.

If you’re looking for an easy way to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced year-round, consider a pHin smart monitor. This little device constantly monitors your water and automatically sends you exactly what you need to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. If you’re looking for someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

Is it Okay to Drain a Pool Into the Yard?

Is it Okay to Drain a Pool Into the Yard? If you own a pool for long enough, eventually you face the task of draining it. When that happens, you may wonder what to do with the water. After all, that’s thousands of gallons of chemically treated pool water; it can’t go just anywhere. Are there laws in your area about draining the pool? Is it safe to drain it directly into your yard? Does it matter whether your pool is chlorinated or uses saltwater? Is there anything you should do before draining to make the process safer? Read on for tips on how to safely drain your pool.

Check Before You Drain

Before draining your pool, call or look online for any regulations in your city or town. Not sure where to begin? Start with the environmental, public works, and sewage pages. Another option is simply typing the words “pool drainage regulations YOUR CITY” into Google. Then, just follow the links. If the city has a page devoted to draining your pool, it likely also includes tips on how to do it in a way that follows city guidelines, such as Mesa, Arizona’s page on draining and backwashing your pool.

The storm drains in most towns were built to handle standard rainwater, not thousands of gallons of water over a short period, and certainly not water treated with chlorine and other chemicals. Taking on too much water at once may cause flooding and other damage in the sewer system, and pool water may poison local bodies of water. Always check before you drain.

Preparing to Drain: Neutralize pH and Cut the Chlorine

If you know you need to drain your pool, stop adding chemicals to the water for at least a few days. Before you drain, test the water; you’re looking for a chlorine level that’s either zero or close to it. Chlorine is particularly toxic and could damage your landscaping or infect wildlife should any water enter your local drainage system. You also protect your neighbors’ plants from water that enters their yard.

You also want to balance pH levels. Highly acidic water damages landscaping and plants just as chlorine does, both in your yard and beyond it. Again, we’re talking about thousands of gallons of water. Unless you empty the pool with a bucket, it’s almost guaranteed that some of that water will wind up in a neighbor’s yard, surrounding greenbelt, or the local sewer system, so do everything you can to make the water as safe as possible.

Draining a Saltwater Pool

The Dead Sea got its name because its high salt levels inhibit life. Of course, your saltwater pool doesn’t have nearly the salinity levels of the Dead Sea, but it’s still not a good idea to dump thousands of gallons of saltwater into your yard. For best results, drain your pool in intervals, saturating the ground with fresh water after each draining session.

Avoid Flooding when Draining the Pool

Most yards don’t have the ability to absorb all of the water from a pool. One the ground reaches its saturation level, you need to worry about flooding, especially since stagnant water attracts mosquitoes, which begin breeding within two or three days.

Flat, level ground is particularly prone to flooding. Guard against this by moving the hose to different parts of the yard. You may also need to drain the pool in intervals.

To ensure that fresh new pool water is perfectly balanced, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects local, qualified pool techs with pool owners. You can also use the pHin smart monitor to keep the water in your pool or hot tub balanced. This handy device constantly monitors the water, automatically sending you the exact chemicals you need for safe, healthy swimming all summer.

5 DIY Mosquito Repellents for Your Backyard

The post 5 DIY Mosquito Repellents for Your Backyard first appeared on Swim University.

What’s the deadliest creature on Earth?

Many would answer that question with the name of a large predator. The Great White shark, perhaps, or the lion. Some would assume a venomous killer like the scorpion or the cobra must top the list. While these creatures are dangerous killing machines, statistically there is a far, far greater threat.

When it comes to human lives, one creature is responsible for taking more of them than any of those mentioned above: the mosquito.

Deaths from mosquito-borne illnesses outpace those from Great White attacks, for example, by a factor of 60,000.

The diseases transmitted by the over 2,500 species of mosquito are deadly and debilitating. Among them are malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis, and (a relative newcomer to the Americas), the chikungunya virus.

We examined the pros and cons of several commercially available and DIY mosquito repellents. This will help you make informed choices about how best to protect yourself and your family from these pesky, and sometimes deadly, insects.

1. DEET

Originally developed by the military after World War 1, DEET is the most widely available insect repellent. It usually comes in the form of a spray or lotion. It has a distinctive smell that repels mosquitoes.

  • Pros: Effective repellent of mosquitoes, readily available.
  • Cons: Can cause irritation, can melt plastics, and can potentially cause toxicity in wildlife.

2. Picaridin

Popular in Europe since the 1990’s, Picaridin was introduced to the U.S. market in 2005 as a gentler chemical alternative to DEET.

  • Pros: Effective repellent of mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and gnats, less offensive odor, doesn’t harm plastic, less irritating to skin.
  • Cons: lasts 40% less than DEET, relatively new to U.S.

3. Lemon Eucalyptus & Citronella

Refined oils from the Corymbia citriodora tree, native to Australia, are commonly used as insect repellents. A similar compound can be derived from lemongrass, which is used to produce citronella oil.

  • Pros: 100% natural, generally effective (though not as effective as man-made chemical compounds).
  • Cons: Can be an allergen, can cause irritation, less effective than other repellents, completely ineffective against certain species of mosquitoes.

4. Pyrethrins

Pyrethrin is a natural derivative of the Chrysanthemum flower, used in commercial insecticides. At high concentrations, pyrethrins cause the nerves of the mosquito to fire in a frenzied fashion, causing death. At lower concentrations it can be used as a repellent.

  • Pros: Rapid disintegration in sunlight and air causing zero toxic buildup, effective as insecticide and repellent, relatively safe for most animals
  • Cons: Can be toxic at high concentrations (safe handling by a professional is warranted), can be harmful to cats.

5. Backpack Bug Spraying Companies

Offering a recurring service to protect your backyard from mosquitoes and other flying insects, these companies will typically require an ongoing service contract. The backpack warriors will fog and spray around your yard every 1-3 weeks during the times when mosquitoes are at their peak.

  • Pros: Effective when properly applied, helps kill mosquitoes in different life stages
  • Cons: Protection fades especially with weather, requiring multiple and frequent treatments, requires large volumes of chemical that may harm wildlife, does not degrade easily and toxicity can build up over repeated treatments.

Companies such as Bug Off, Mister! install automatic mosquito misting systems that employ carefully regulated pyrethrin mist through nozzles located at strategic areas of the backyard and home.

The service even includes a smartphone app to mist on-demand for special events, or when weather gives the mosquitoes a boost.

There are other methods of mosquito control. Planting certain plants (like lemongrass) that have repellent properties can ward the insects off, as can using fans to keep air moving. Other methods include building mosquito traps, removing standing water, and treating chronically wet areas with larvaecides.

Finding the right combination of methods is the key to keeping the mosquito population under control. Hopefully, this article from pHin can get you started in deciding how to best protect against nature’s deadliest pest.

5 Quick Tips for Safe Fun in the Sun

It’s National Sun Safety Week. The Entertainment Industries Council launched the special week through its Sun Safety Alliance to raise awareness. The alliance focuses on skin cancer prevention and education on the importance of sun safety by changing behaviors and lifestyles.

Here are some quick tips for safe fun in the sun, courtesy of the alliance:

1. Insect repellants can reduce sunscreen SPF by up to 1/3. If using both, increase the SPF of the sunscreen.

2. Over-exposure and sunburn can increase the risk of skin cancer. Check your local UV Index to plan your outdoor activities accordingly.

3. Look for shade, keeping in mind that UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Here’s a handy rule of thumb: If your shadow is short, it’s time to abort.

4. Color, darkness or cost of sunglasses doesn’t mean they block UV light. That’s achieved by chemicals adding to the lens material or by special coatings. Always choose sunglasses labeled as blocking 99-100% of UV rays.

5. Water, snow and sand reflect damaging rays of the sun and can cause sunburn any time of year. Protect yourself year-round by using sunscreen or wearing protective clothing.

And, if you’re enjoying your home pool or hot tub, make sure the water chemistry is kept in perfect balance with pHin. It monitors water quality, notifies your smartphone when the chemistry needs adjusting, and ships the chemicals you need right to your door. No more guesswork!

Top 7 Summertime Backyard Gifts for Mom

Mother’s Day is right around the corner. This year, you want to get her something a bit more original than flowers and chocolate, a gift that is more personal (and useful). Then you remember: All winter, she talked about wanting to spend more time in and around the pool this season, maybe entertain more often. What kind of gift gets her out of the house and enjoying her backyard? Read on to discover seven great gift ideas, none of which will break the bank.

7. Waterproof Floating Bluetooth Speaker

Music kicks any party up a notch, and it can even make solo swims more pleasant. Of course, everyone knows that water and electronics do not mix, so you are stuck placing speakers far from the action. If the folks in the pool want to hear your summertime jams, you have to turn the volume to 11. Enter the new generation of waterproof floating Bluetooth speakers. You can drop these babies right into the water without damaging them, or just set them on the deck. They look great, sound great, and boast an impressive battery life (some up to 40 hours). Of course, they are not limited to the pool; they are good for waterside playtime at the hot tub, lake, seaside, even in the bathtub.

6. Cooler Tables

A cooler full of beer, sodas, and bottled water is a given during a backyard party. Unfortunately, a giant red cooler does not go very well with your décor. Enter the cooler table, a rattan-style cocktail table. With the top down, it is just your everyday end table. Pull up the top and fill it with ice and your favorite beverages and it becomes the coolest cooler on the block, in more ways than one. The best part? It still works as a table!

5. Floating Beverage Caddy

The floating beverage caddy makes sure your drink stays cold, even in the water. The attractive canvas exterior resists stains, fading, and mold. Buoyant foam beads fill the interior and support four glasses, plus a pitcher, of your favorite drink. No more tracking pool water into the house for refills (although, if you want a designated pool boy, we won’t judge).

4. FitFlops

Wet surfaces such as tile and concrete (even grass) can lead to slip and fall accidents. Your standard Dollar Store flip-flops do not do much to help, either. Enter FitFlops. The heavy rubber sole grips the ground to guard against slipping, and the upper sole construction keeps Mom’s foot from sliding around in the shoe. They also look great and are available in a wide variety of styles and colors. Mom will love them, whether she spends her day walking around the pool deck handing out drinks or playing with her grandkids in the backyard sprinklers.

3. Fire Pit

When the sun goes down, it is time to break out the marshmallows and light the fire pit. Pits come in such a wide variety of styles that there is something to match any décor: round, cube, chiminea, tabletop, and in-ground, the choices are endless. In early and late summer, when nights are cooler, they keep the party going. Any time of year, though, a fire pit adds ambiance and atmosphere to your gathering. Is the heat too much? Fill it with tea lights instead.

2.Greenes Cedar Grow Box

To help add a touch of green to Mom’s backyard, consider gifting the Greenes Cedar Grow Box. Available in a variety of size configurations, this raised planting bed fits just about any space. The cedar frame resists both insects and rot, and it is a cinch to assemble. It does not come with soil, seeds, or plants, however. If you want Mom to have the whole package, you will need to supply those items separately.

1. pHin

Of course, the number one gift to ensure Mom enjoys the backyard and pool all summer long is a pHin subscription. Let her swim with confidence, knowing the pool’s water is perfectly balanced and safe for everyone. pHin monitors the water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When she needs to add chemicals, it will notify her via Smartphone and ship a premeasured dose in color-coded pods. When the pods arrive, she can just drop them into the water. What’s more, if she is the type of Mom who prefers to leave things in the hands of professionals, a pool expert is available at the touch of a button. Pool maintenance has never been so simple. Actually, this is the ideal gift for anyone, even you!

Conclusion

Well, there you have it, seven great Mother’s Day gift ideas, guaranteed to get Mom out of the house. Choose one, choose two, or share the list with Dad and your siblings to make sure Mom gets them all! Of course, you could just keep these great ideas to yourself for Christmas or Mom’s birthday so no one steals your gift-giving thunder. Happy Mother’s Day!