Get Smart About Testing: How to Use Test Strips + pHin

Proper water balance is essential for safe swimming and relaxing. All pool, hot tub, and spa owners know that they need to do regular testing as a part of their water care routine.

We are often asked why test strips are still necessary when using pHin. While it is true pHin does much of the work to simplify pool and hot tub care, it does still rely on test data collected monthly from test strips.

Why is this the case?

The pHin hardware has sensors that measure temperature, sanitizer levels, and pH over 1,000 times per week. These elements impact the vessel’s overall balance and can quickly be affected by things like environmental influences and usage.

The test strips check for total alkalinity, total hardness, and cyanuric acid levels. These three factors can also impact the overall health of the water but do not change as quickly as temperature, sanitizer and pH. Still, they are key to maintaining balanced water since total alkalinity measures the alkaline substances in the water and prevents the pH from getting out of range, total hardness measures the amount of lime dissolved in the water, and cyanuric acid stabilizes chlorine levels. Learn more about total alkalinity and total hardness here.

Test strips are the time-tested standard measurement tool and are considered relatively accurate. When combined with new smart pool technology like the pHin Smart Water Monitor, users can simplify their water care routine while also having more confidence that their water is safe for swimming. pHin prompts users to take a water sample and photo once a month to help them keep an eye on the overall status of their water. pHin test strips are uniquely calibrated to work with the pHin app. Read the full instructions for using pHin test strips  here.

pHin users can view their water report results immediately within the app and track trends about their water alkalinity and sanitizer over time. This provides important insight: in fact, one pHin user noticed that the water balance was off from the daily pHin data. After investigating the change, he found that the cause was a piece of equipment that was about to fail, and he was able to replace it before real damage was done.

The combination of pHin and the test strips, makes water care simple and routine. Users can rest easy knowing the exact status of their water without having to worry about making their own chemical calculations.

Smart Water Monitoring Leads Long-Time Pool Owner to Clear Water

Even long-time pool owners can experience the headaches, frustrations, and challenges of balancing the water for safe swimming. Many factors can affect the balance, like a recent rainfall, a pool workout, or even the temperature.

In Southern Rhode Island, pool season starts by Memorial Day. As he was gearing up for the summer, Kevin St. Lawrence began preparing his pool for barbecues, relaxation, and even for the dog to swim in!

An experienced pool owner of eight years, Kevin was stumped when the water was cloudy. “Our pool was always getting cloudy at random times. I wanted to figure out how to solve the water problems in my pool before they became too significant,” said Kevin. “We’ve had our pool for a few years but I’m no expert when it comes to testing the water.”

Kevin was exploring his options online and found the pHin Smart Water Monitor. The device promised to remove the guesswork out of his everyday pool care routine so he wouldn’t have to fuss with interpreting test strips and charts on his own. This was just the tool his family needed to keep their pool water from getting cloudy! pHin has built-in sensors that analyze data collected over 1,000 times a week to provide water charts and chemical dosing recommendations.

After getting his pHin set up, Kevin simply dropped his pHin in the water and connected it to the wireless bridge. It now floats in his pool 24/7, and allows him to check its pH, temperature, and sanitizer levels anytime in the pHin app. When the water needs attention, pHin sends a smartphone alert letting Kevin know exactly what chemicals to add to his pool, and how much of them to add – eliminating the guesswork he’d begrudgingly grown accustomed to!

The easy-to-read charts and color-coded discs made it easy for anyone in the family to understand. “I like the in-app charts because they tell you if your pool is trending in the right direction even if it’s not at the perfect level yet,” he added.

The St. Lawrence family relies on pHin to advise them on whether or not their pool is ready for guests to dive in. “Our family is always entertaining friends and family for pool days,” said Kevin. “It’s been nice to have pHin floating in the pool so I can easily check the water before we’re expecting company to make sure it’s safe for swimming.”

pHin combines the power of technology and analytics to bring families the peace of mind knowing whether their water is safe for swimming or not. This summer, Kevin St. Lawrence and his entire family will be relaxing more and enjoying his crystal clear water, thanks to pHin.

3 Ways Smart Technology Makes Water Balance Easy

A pool or hot tub can be an oasis – if the water is clear and safe. A perfect morning can start with a freshly brewed cup of coffee, enjoyed poolside in the sunshine. Summer evenings are best spent with friends and a cocktail, supported by pool noodles or fun floaties, even with a cupholder. An afternoon swim can reduce tension, or a nightly soak in the hot tub can melt a stressful day away.

But if the water balance is off, hot tubs and pools can quickly become dangerous for swimming and relaxing.

Most pool and hot tub owners aren’t water experts. Balancing pH, sanitizer, and managing chemical doses often requires professional expertise to ensure safe water. But new intelligence and algorithms are making the water balance equation simple for any family, for peace of mind, alerts, and helpful tips whether they manage their own water or rely on a professional.

The pHin Smart Monitor floats in the water, and automatically measures the pH, sanitizer, and temperature up to 1,000 times per week. The device is made smart with built-in analytics, that it simplifies to make water balance understandable and more manageable.

Here are 3 ways pHin transforms your pool and hot tub water care routine:

1.            Real-Time Alerts: Since pHin monitors your water 24/7, you can expect to receive an alert about your water balance the second it needs attention on the smartphone app or via email. You can also use the app to check in on your water temperature before you jump in.

2.            Color-Coded Guide: Tables and charts can be hard to understand. pHin simplifies water balance with a color-coded system: Blue for safe water, Orange means you need to check the water, and Red means the water isn’t safe.

3.            A Chemist in Your Pocket: Instead of having to calculate how much chemicals you need to add, pHin syncs up with the size of your pool or hot tub and the chemical brand you prefer, and gives you simple, easy dosing instructions.

pHin provides simplicity and peace-of-mind for pool care. Whether you manage your own water or work with a professional, the alerts keep you informed about your water balance, so you always know when it’s safe for swimming, relaxing, and fun. And, if you have a pool technician – they can use pHin too to check on your water from anywhere – the information helps them prepare and intervene sooner when the water needs attention.

pHin is compatible with chlorine, saltwater, and bromine water systems.

Start a new water care routine for more balanced days. Learn more about pHin here.

3 Steps to Stress-free Pool Care with pHin

 There are many perks to having a pool– relaxation and pool parties, or a nice après-ski soak. New pool owners might not realize the challenges of ongoing maintenance required to keep the water clean, healthy, and ready for a good time, so we’ve rounded up some essential pieces of pool maintenance advice to help you manage your water.

Pool-care professionals recommend measuring your water chemistry at least once a week. If neglected, getting your pool or hot tub water balanced again can be a frustrating task that costs both time and money.

 A smart water care system like pHin helps take care of this task while taking the stress out of managing your pool or hot tub, with three easy steps:

1. Constant Water Monitoring

Most people check their water levels once a week or just before they hop in the pool but water chemistry is easily affected by how much you use your pool or hot tub, how many people are using it, the weather (especially rain and heat), water temperature, sunlight, and several other factors. The lag between water checkups can create an unhealthy water situation. Since weather and water temperature are always changing, it’s best to test your pool water as often as possible to make sure you have an accurate picture of its overall water quality. Between raising a family, working, and other tasks, it’s difficult for most people to consistently test their pool water more than once per week, which is why a smart water monitor like pHin is the best alternative.

Once you drop pHin in the water, it automatically starts measuring pH, sanitizer, and temperature levels — over 1,000 times every week! The daily measurements are collected and analyzed with the monitor’s built-in intelligence to show you the status of your water health at any time, along with an easy-to-understand guide that will notify you whether your water is safe for swimming, needs chemicals to be balanced, or is unsafe.

2. Automatic Alerts

With smart technology in the pool, you’ll always know the status of your pool water. The pHin app gives you information about the water balance and temperature while sending you app alerts letting you know when you need to adjust your chemicals. Knowing the status of your water at any time can help you ensure that your pool or hot tub is always jump-in ready. It also helps you with easy steps to set unbalanced water right – continue to step three to read how!

3. Chemical Instructions

pHin is your personal pool and hot tub water expert. Instead of having to learn the charts, tables, and measurements for proper water chemistry yourself, pHin analyzes your water quality and provides easy instructions to get balanced water. It works with most major retail chemicals and uses its built-in analytics to give you precise dosing instructions for balanced water based on the chemical brand you use, your pool system, and your pool size.  All you have to do is follow the instructions and check in to see your water status on the app. Whether you’re a new pool owner or you’re looking to manage your existing hot tub or pool water, you can get the full benefits with smart monitoring from pHin.

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.

The Importance of Collecting a Water Sample to Test

It will almost always be easier to avoid water chemistry issue than it will be to solve it. Eliminating something like an algae bloom once it already colors the water is no simple task. Once the walls are stained and the equipment corroded, the damage is done. Even worse is treating contamination. By the time swimmers or soakers complain about infections and rashes from contaminated pool or hot tub water, it is too late to prevent the spreading of disease. But, using proper sampling techniques and monitoring the chemical content of the water frequently helps you avoid costly, time consuming problems. It is incredibly important for pool operators to be familiar with good water testing kits and techniques.

Use a Sample Container

When conducting a test poolside, many people will just fill the four-in-one test bottles directly. This is perfectly fine provided you thoroughly rinse the bottle prior to collecting samples in order to eliminate any contamination and the pool’s circulation pump is running. Repeat the rinsing process between pH, alkalinity, and chlorine tests.

If you use a pool supply store to test your sample, most typically require eight ounces of water for testing. Some pool stores offer a free sample bottle. If yours doesn’t, make sure that you use a container that both meets the volume requirements and is free of contaminants. Thoroughly clean any repurposed container. Never use an empty chemical bottle, since it may throw off your sample, or pickle jars, since the salt and vinegar will never fully wash out. Also avoid coffee and juice containers as they can affect the pH reading.

Where to Gather Your Sample

Just as important as what you put your water sample in is where you get the water sample from. You don’t want to skim along the top, as that water is not an accurate representation of the entire pool. The recommended level to take your sample is 12 to 18 inches below the surface of the water, or about elbow-deep. Avoid the skimmer, return areas, and anywhere near a floating chlorine feeder to keep from getting an inaccurate chlorine reading. And, if your pool has varying depths, take the water sample from the deep end, which is less affected by temperature.

When to Take Your Sample

Something that many people don’t consider when taking a water sample is timing. Do not take a water sample if you’ve added any chemicals to the pool within the last 12-48 hours. While that may seem like a fairly large time-frame, there are a multitude of factors that may cause a discrepancy, such as the size of the pool and what chemicals you added. Most pool professionals should be able to tell you when to retest your pool’s water based on its specific circumstances. Rain also makes a difference. If it is currently raining, about to rain, or has just finished raining, do not take a water sample. After a rainstorm, wait at least eight hours to take a water sample.

Testing Your Sample

If your tests require using tablet reagents, do not touch the tablets when removing them from their foil packets. If they get wet or the foil packet tears, discard them. When using dip and read test strips, replace the bottle immediately after use; the strips can become reactive with moisture in the air. Pay attention to timing, as colors can change if you wait longer than the specified time. Follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully, since many involve more than one step.

Your samples should be fresh; taking a sample in the morning and coming back to it after going to work or running errands is not ideal. And, if you take a sample and it rains soon after, then that sample is no longer an accurate reflection of the pool.

Ensure that your testing instruments are properly calibrated and do not expose them to high humidity conditions, drop them on the pool decking, or submerge them unless they are fully sealed. It is a good idea to purchase wide range test kits since dilution testing can be a complicated and precise process.

Working with a Pool Store

If this whole process is new to you, be sure to provide basic information to your pool store, such as pool size (in gallons), pool type (fiberglass, concrete, etc.), sanitizer (chlorine, salt system), and anything that has been done to the pool in the last 48 hours.

If you want to avoid all of these hassles and ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced, 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 to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

Do Pools Need More Chlorine When It’s Hot?

Do Pools Need More Chlorine When It’s Hot? Chlorine is a necessity for keeping your pool clean, free of bacteria, algae and viruses. Without it, your pool water can become murky, green, and even unsafe. However, too much also leads to trouble. To keep pool water safe and clean, chlorine should be maintained within a specific range. Too much chlorine can irritate the skin, eyes, and even lungs, while too little leaves you with a potentially unhealthy pool. What’s more, chemical needs change depending on the time of year, since heat and UV rays affect chlorine. To maintain the proper balance, consider the following factors.

What Is Chlorine Demand?

Pool service technicians measure two types of chlorine: combined chlorine and free chlorine.

  • Combined chlorine is the fraction of the chlorine that has reacted with organic matter, such as ammonia and nitrogen compounds and is, essentially, tied (“combined”) up. When your pool smells like chlorine, generally it is not because there is too much chlorine in the water but rather due to chloramines, the chemical compounds that result when chlorine meets organic material.
  • Free chlorine is the fraction of the chlorine that hasn’t yet reacted with organic matter; it is still able to disinfect the water.

High levels of combined chlorine indicate that there are too many foreign particulates in your pool water and free chlorine is the chlorine that needs to be replenished. It is important to remember that things like heat, increased bather load, and rain or wash-ins increase your chlorine demand.

How Do Heat and Light Affect Chlorine?

Free chlorine isn’t just lost when it interacts with organic matter; it is lost when it interacts with sunlight as well. Chlorine forms hypochlorite ions in water, which break apart when hit by ultraviolet radiation, releasing chlorine gas into the atmosphere. The light from the sun can reduce pool chlorination by 90 percent in just a few hours. This is why many pool service technicians add a stabilized chlorine and use a chlorine stabilizer when necessary to maintain the conditioner levels.

Temperature also has an effect on chlorine, as some bacteria and organisms grow better in warmer environments. When temperatures increase, it uses up free chlorine more quickly, potentially turning your pool into a swamp.

Rule of Thumb: For every 10-degree Fahrenheit (6 degree Celsius) rise in temperature above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius), you should add as much as 50% more chlorine to your pool water to maintain appropriate levels of free chlorine. This is especially true for those hot tubs that are not always covered, as they tend to run warmer.

Adjusting to Meet Chlorine Demand

It can take more than a week for your pool to recover from an algae outbreak or sudden water cloudiness. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help avoid any loss in the use of your pool:

  • Test Water Frequently: When conditions that require more chlorine arise, you will be able to see your sanitizer disappearing when you test the water. You don’t have to be a certified technician or water chemist to be able to test and know the condition of your pool water. Purchase some dip-strips to easily test your water and take care of any algae or cloudiness before it begins.
  • Inform Service Providers of Pool Parties: While an increase in bathers definitely has an impact on your water’s chemicals, you can minimize that impact. Informing your service technician of any plans you may have involving your pool allows your tech to take preventative steps and keep your pool clean and safe. Don’t wait until the last minute to let your service tech know about your upcoming pool party. They need to find time in their schedules to help you get your pool ready in addition to their regular commitments.
  • Monitor the Pool after a Storm: Even light rainfall can dilute your water and offset the chemical balance of the pool. In addition, be on the lookout for anything that might have gotten washed into the pool, such as fertilizer or other lawn / plant chemicals, as well as leaves and debris blown in by the storm. Some of these may actually render your sanitizer or other chemicals ineffective, so be on the lookout.
  • Prevention is Always Easier: It is easier to simply maintain well-balanced pool water than to clean cloudy or green water. Consistent testing and monitoring ensures that your water stays clean and safe to use, whereas ignoring it can leave you without a pool until you or your technician figure out exactly what is going on.

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

Chemicals Demystified: Balance Pool and Hot Tub Water Chemistry in 7 Steps

Besides good filtration equipment and a general cleaning routine, chemicals are the most important factors to maintain a safe and healthy swimming pool or hot tub.

Your Pool or Hot Tub is Similar to a Mini Water Treatment Plant in Your Backyard

Just like how the municipal water you use at home for drinking, bathing and cleaning needs to be treated with chemicals at a water treatment facility in your area, the same way the water in your pool or hot tub needs to be treated. 

Unlike our lakes and rivers, which take care of themselves both ecologically and naturally, our pools and hot tubs are “self-contained” vessels and do not constantly exchange the water. Bacteria and aggressive water can deteriorate the surface of the pool or hot tub, damage the plumbing and equipment, and cause harm to bathers.

Chemicals Help Protect Your Investment and Keep Your Pool Sanitized

Almost every chemical used in a pool or hot tub is to protect the vessel and support system. Only the sanitizer and control of pH are tied primarily to bather health and safety. 

Minerals, pH buffers and shocks are required at times to adjust the water chemistry so that you, your family and friends can be safe from waterborne pathogens, algae infestation, perpetuated cloudy water and deterioration of the pool and its support systems.

 

7 Steps to Maintain Balanced Water Chemistry

Let’s start with the basics: Every pool needs chemicals. Yes, even salt water pools. The role of the salt water chlorine generator (SWCG) is to produce the sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) in the vessel. The SWCG does not maintain the pool or hot tub water balance and does not eliminate the need to add chemicals to maintain a worry-free pool or hot tub.

1. Go for products with high active ingredients

  • Make sure you get the most for your money: read the labels. Get the most concentrated active ingredients and low inert ingredients. It is typical to have some “inert” ingredients, however, the higher the inert ingredients, the lower the concentration of the active products. Whenever in doubt, ask a pool professional for a brand recommendation.

2. Know the parameters of your pool or hot tub

  • Be sure to know the water volume as accurately as possible. It will help you calculate the proper amount of chemicals to add without over- or under-dosing. Just like how you wouldn’t want to give an infant an adult-sized medication or vice versa, you wouldn’t want to over-or under-chemicalize your pool.

3. Add the right amount, evenly distributed

  • Always measure how much your are adding and follow the “directions for use” located on the product labels.
  • Unless stated otherwise, apply the required chemicals in the deepest part of the vessel and with the pump system operating to get a thorough mixture throughout the entire body of water. Rinse empty containers with the pool water and dispose or recycle as required.
  • Some interior surfaces and certain chemicals require pre-dissolving prior to adding them. Again, refer to the “directions for use”. Brushing behind newly added chemicals will help any undissolved product get into the solution and avoid staining or harming the pool or hot tub surface.

4. Follow the proper sequence

  • Since many chemicals interact with each other, make sure you add the chemicals in the proper sequence and avoid unnecessarily wasting the product. 
  • For instance, if the pH, total alkalinity and chlorine all require an adjustment, the proper sequencing to adjust those factors would go in this order: total alkalinity, then pH and lastly chlorine as each of those particular factors are dependent on each other.
  • Additionally, when the “directions for use” instructions call for a time delay, it generally implies a minimum period of time and not sooner than. 

5. Think safety first when handling chemicals

  • Always add chemical downwind and away from you to avoid coming in direct contact with the product.
  • Unless directed, do not add any pool chemicals into the surface skimmer to avoid damage or harm to you and the pool.
  • If there is a spill near the pool, rinse the spilled chemical into the pool water. If an acid is spilled away from the pool, neutralize the acid with some baking soda or copious amounts of water rinsing it to a fully diluted neutralized state. Avoid any spilled chemicals from coming into contact with your skin, eyes or clothing. Use gloves if needed.

6. Remove the cover

  • If you use a cover, always remove it when you add chemicals, and replace it when directed by a professional or the product label.

 7. Store chemicals responsibly

  • You know the drill: always keep pool and hot tub chemicals in a cool and dry area and away from children and animals. A plastic shed or storage bin works great as some chemicals may react with metal and cause staining or corrosion. Clearly label the products in their storage containers and do not mix products together as some can cause chemical reactions and health hazards.

Maintaining the right water chemistry can be intimidating and time consuming.

It often becomes a guessing game, and if not done correctly, constant chemical imbalance can be detrimental to the health and safety of your pool. 

Thankfully, the guessing game is about to change. With pHin, you can have a perfectly balanced pool 24/7 without all the hassle. It’s fast and easy. 

Order pHin at www.phin.co.

How to Fix Cloudy Pool Water

The post How to Fix Cloudy Pool Water first appeared on Swim University.

When you have a cloudy pool, it can be a very difficult and time-consuming process to get it clear. Sometimes, your swimming pool will turn cloudy overnight!

That’s why we created pHin to eliminate the guesswork that comes with trying to determine the source of the problem.

Before we talk about how to fix you cloudy pool water, let’s first understand what causes it.

Why Do I Have Cloudy Pool Water?

There are so many causes of cloudy pool water, but I have broken it down into three main causes.

1. The Environment

Everything around your pool can cause your water to be cloudy, that includes: weather, birds, construction, trees, gardens, the sun, people, and pool algae.

2. The Pool Filter

If you filter system is not working properly, or you’re not running your filter at least 8 to 10 hours per day, then you are at high risk for cloudy pool water.

Your filter system constantly cleans the water in your pool. Without it, you’re left with stagnant water that could become cloudy.

3. Pool Chemicals

An excessive amount of pool chemicals can cause your water to be cloudy. That includes: high pH, high alkalinity, high chlorine or other sanitizers, and high calcium hardness.

One of the only ways to immediately know what chemicals you’ve overused in your pool is through the pHin mobile app.

You also want to make sure you shock your swimming pool every week with the proper amount of shock for your size of pool.

Sometimes you’ll get cloudy pool water after shocking. This is common and should dissipate over time. Just keep your filter running and it should clear up.

Also, look into a new brand of shock (make sure you buy shock that has a main active ingredient of calcium hypochlorite). Cheaper shocks that you get from the big box retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, are not the best choices.

How To Clear A Cloudy Pool

Once you have fixed all the possible problems that can cause your water to be cloudy, now we can work on a cloudy pool water fix. Here are 3 ways to clear your cloudy swimming pool:

1. Use A Pool Clarifier

It’s always a good idea to use some sort of pool water clarifier weekly. Pool clarifiers work to gather the tiny particles that are making your pool water cloudy and bring them together to create bigger particles so that your filter will have a better chance of picking it up. This is called a coagulant which is a term used when describing blood clots.

The particles alone will have a hard time being picked up by your pool filter, so this chemical “clots” them together and your filter now will be able to trap them.

Most swimming pool chemical retailers will carry more than one form of swimming pool clarifier. Just ask if the chemical is a coagulant and you will be well on your way to a crystal clear swimming pool.

2. Use Pool Floc (Flocculant)

A chemical called Floc or Flocculant is a great idea if you’re in a rush, or would like to see your swimming pool cleared up quickly.

Lets say you have a pool party tomorrow and your swimming pool is cloudy. By using Pool Floc, you can clear your cloudy swimming pool overnight (with a little extra work on your part). Floccing your swimming pool is a great method, but it’s very time-consuming and difficult.

Pool Flocculants work by gathering all the particles, that are making your water cloudy, and sending them to the bottom of your pool, creating a huge cloud on the floor of your pool. Unlike a water clarifier, this chemical WILL NOT help your filter to pick up the particles, because all of the cloudy pool particles are now at the bottom.

At this point, you will need to manually vacuum up that cloud using your pool pump, not an automatic pool cleaner. When vacuuming, you want your filter setting to be on the “waste” or “backwash” option (if you are using a DE filter or Cartridge Filter make sure that the drain plug is removed.

[Here’s a video on how to manually vacuum your swimming pool.]

The idea here is to vacuum up the cloudy water right OUT of your pool, because putting that much dirty water through your filter WILL NOT work and will send that dirty water right back into your pool.

By vacuuming out to “waste,” it will never run through your filter system. You are going to lose a lot of water in your pool, so make sure to keep a fresh hose of running water in your pool during vacuuming.

Also, you must use a manual vacuum for the process. Automatic pool cleaners will not work and will just end up blowing the cloudy you created at the bottom of your pool, right back up. Again, it is difficult and a lot of water is wasted, but it will clear your pool in 24 hours if done properly.

3. Use Your Filter System and Bottom Drain(s)

Your pool’s main skimmer is located at the top of your pool and helps to clear the top, which does not help to collect the cloudy particles that are at the bottom of the pool. Knowing this, we need to help the filter get to those particles.

You can achieve this two ways:

  1. Constantly stir up the water, by swimming or with a pool brush, so that it pushes the particles closer to the top of the pool.
  2. Turn on the bottom drains.

Every inground pool should be equipped with 1 or 2 bottom drains, so it’s easy for you to utilize them. This will allow the filter to start pulling water off the bottom of the pool, where the cloudy particles are, and circulate the clean water back to the top.

This works great, but what if you have an above ground pool that doesn’t have bottom drains? We have come up with a little trick to mimic the effect of a bottom drain in an above ground pool.

Simply hook up your manual vacuum cleaner, as if you were about to vacuum your pool, but instead, leave the vacuum at the bottom (in the middle of your pool) and turn it upside down. Now your pool filter will be pulling water from the bottom of your swimming pool using your manual vacuum and releasing the clean filtered water up top.

4. Use Pool Service on Demand

In addition to giving you a clear picture of what chemicals you need to add to balance your pool and the overall health of your water, pHin also provides you with direct access to pool techs that you can hire to treat your pool water.

Well, there you have it: 4 different methods of how to clear a cloudy pool by using swimming pool chemicals and your pool’s equipment.

If you have any questions about your cloudy pool, be sure to ask in the comments below and I’ll answer ASAP.

How to Open an Inground Pool in 10 Steps

The post How to Open An Inground Pool in 10 Steps first appeared on Swim University.

Are you ready to open up your inground pool by yourself this year? Have no fear, it’s easier than you think.

You SHOULD open up your own swimming pool. It will save you time and money, because you won’t have to hire someone to do it for you…unless you want to.

Here is a very basic set of instructions. If you follow these 10 steps to open your pool, you’ll be thanking the gods you didn’t pay anyone, and you’ll be swimming sooner!

What You Need:

  • Pool cover pump
  • Winter cover cleaner
  • Start-up chemical kit
  • A friend

1. Remove Water and Debris From Your Winter Pool Cover

Remove all water, leaves, and debris from your cover. To remove the water, you can use a submersible pool cover pump.

Removing the debris can be tricky. Once the water is off the cover, you can use a broom to sweep off any large piles of debris. DO NOT use anything sharp or harsh on your cover.

SMART TIP: Once the water is removed, you could wait a day or two for the cover to dry and blow the debris off with a leaf blower.

2. Remove Your Winter Pool Cover

Carefully remove the cover without getting any debris, that remains on the top of the cover, into the pool. If dirty water and debris get fall in the water, it’s not a big deal. You will just have to remove it from the water later.

3. Clean Your Winter Pool Cover and Store Away

Lay the cover out on your lawn or a nearby area. Use water, soap, and a soft brush to wash your cover. You can use a winter cover cleaner, and some cover cleaners will even allow you to store the cover wet.

SMART TIP: Invest in a heavy duty plastic container with a lid to store your cover away. This will prevent bugs and rodents from eating or making a nest in your cover. This will extend the life of your pool cover.

NOTE: If you’re using water tubes to secure your pool cover, make sure you empty and dry them out before storing.

4. Remove Winter Plug(s) and Skimmer Ice Compensator(s)

Walk around your pool and make sure all winter plugs are removed from any openings in your pool, including return jets and step jets. Replace your return lines with the proper eyeball or jet fittings.

NOTE: If bubbles rise from the return or step jets when you remove the plugs, this is a sign that the lines (pipes) were properly blown out during winterization (pool closing).

Next, remove the ice compensator(s) from your skimmer bucket(s) (Gizmo) and remove the winter plugs from the bottom. Then, replace the skimmer baskets.

5. Re-Install Your Deck Equipment

Gather up your accessories and re-install them, including:

  • Pool ladders
  • Diving boards
  • Step rails

Make sure you lubricate all bolts to prevent rusting throughout the summer months.

6. Fill Your Pool Up

Your pool might have been drained during winterization or lost water over the winter. If the water level in your pool is below the midway point of the skimmer opening, use your garden hose to fill it up.

7. Set Up Your Filter And Pump

Replace the drain plugs and other parts, including your pressure gauge, on your filter and pump. Your filter should have one major drain plug and your pump may have one or two.

If you have a multiport valve, make sure you replace the air bleeder, sight glass, and pressure gauge.

IMPORTANT: Turn your multiport valve handle to “Filter.”

SMART TIP: Check the lid o-ring on your pump housing. Bend it with your fingers all around to check for any cracks in the rubber. A dry, cracked o-ring will cause your filter to pull air, which is not good. If this is the case, you should replace it. If the o-ring looks good, I suggest applying a Teflon-based o-ring lubricant (I recommend using Magic Lube) to create a good seal and making it easy to remove the pump lid when needed.

Re-install any additional equipment, including a booster pump, heater or chlorine dispenser, and make sure all drain plugs are securely in place.

8. Fire It Up!

Turn on the power to your pump and filter. Make sure the system starts up properly. Check for any leaks or drips.

If your pump isn’t pulling any water, you’ll need to help prime the pump. Shut off your filter system, remove the pump lid, and fill the housing with water. You can use a garden hose or a bucket of water from your pool. Replace the lid and turn your filter back on. This should help get the pump to pull water in from the skimmer(s) and main drain(s).

OTE: If the pressure on your filter tank seems high (over 15 psi), it might be a good idea to backwash your sand filter. After backwashing a D.E. (diatomaceous earth) filter, add fresh D.E. powder according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

9. Clean It Up!

Using a plastic leaf net (preferably with a rubber lining) attached to your telescopic pole, remove any debris that’s in your water. If there’s a large amount of debris on the bottom of your pool, carefully scoop it up with the leaf net. Try to remove as much debris from the water as possible.

Attach a pool brush to your telescopic pole and brush the walls and floor of the pool. This will help get the dirt into suspension and allow your filter to remove it.

SMART TIP: Make sure you turn your valves to pull water in from your bottom drain(s). This will help the filter collect the dirt and debris on the floor of your pool.

10. Shock and All

Take a sample of your water to a local pool supply store to get it professionally analyzed. You want to make sure you pH and alkalinity are properly balanced before adding any other pool chemicals.

Once your pool water is balanced, add the proper amount of sanitizer to your water (i.e. chlorine, bromine, or Baquacil).

I recommend double shocking your pool using 2 lbs. (or bags) of shock for every 10,000 gallons of water, or 5 gallons of liquid chlorine per 20,000 gallons of water.

One Last Check

Let your pool run at least 24 hours and vacuum out any debris using your manual vacuum. Retest the water using a home test kit or test strips. If everything checks out, and the pool is clear or cloudy blue, it’s ready to swim in!

Happy Swimming from pHin!

3 Easy Ways to Extend the Life of Your Hot Tub

The lifespan of a hot tub can vary greatly, depending on its quality and price tag. A low-end hot tub may only last five years, while a high-quality one may still be bubbling away twenty years later. But the single most important factor in determining the life of your hot tub is not the manufacturer’s warranty: it’s how well you take care of it.

This article breaks down some simple pHin tips that will keep your hot tub clean and enjoyable to use for years to come.

  1. Keep Your Water Balanced

Imbalanced water is not only unsafe to soak in and unpleasant in appearance; it can also corrode the equipment and electrical or even scale up your hot tub’s pipes.  This will shorten the life of your tub. Test the water every few days to ensure that all chemical concentrations are well within their limits.

Maintain your pH between 7.2 to 7.8, with a chlorine level of 1.5 – 3.0 PPM (Part Per Million) or a bromine level of 2.0 – 5.0 PPM and a total alkalinity of 80 to 120 PPM. Also, you want to keep an eye on the “total hardness” level, which is a measurement of how much calcium, magnesium, and other minerals are in the water. This should be kept between 100- 250 PPM for an acrylic hot tub finish, and 250-450 PPM’s for a plaster finish. If the hot tub’s calcium level is excessive or you visually detect a scale-like crust at the waterline, you can use a product to assist in preventing scale in hard water environments.  

But while balanced water is great for your hot tub’s parts, the gases released every time you add large amounts of chlorine or bromine to your hot tub are hard on your hot tub cover. Save your cover’s underside from peeling or going brittle by leaving your cover off for twenty minutes after shocking your tub. This will prevent a buildup of chlorine gas.

pHin Tip: You may also consider adding a floating blanket to further prevent sanitizer gasses from deteriorating your expensive hardtop cover! A floating blanket increases the thermal insulation threefold by creating an insulative, dead airspace between the convention cover and the floating blanket.

But won’t the tub lose a lot of heat that way? Given the fact that you shouldn’t soak in your hot tub for at least twelve hours after you shock it, it makes sense to turn the temperature down to 101F for a while. This will not only save you energy, but also gives your heater a break, thus extending its life. Next time you want to use your tub, simply turn it up again to your desired temperature an hour beforehand. 

  1. Keep Your Water Clean

Keeping your water clean is actually quite different from keeping it balanced. You may think you’re quite clean when you step into the hot tub, but the reality is that the average body is coated in perspiration, natural oils, cosmetics, and other body contaminants. 

Showering before using your hot tub is an excellent way to prevent this. Not only will this reduce the ‘chlorine-smell’ (a result of chlorine broken down while fighting contaminants) but less body oil in the water will keep your filter running well.

Regularly removing your hot tub filter and cleaning it according to the manufacturer’s instructions is another great way to extend the life of your hot tub. A clean filter is more effective and results in less stress on the pumps. 

pHin Tip: Do not use household products to clean your filter as they often contain ingredients which are not compatible with hot tub chemistry. This often results in uncontrollable foaming.

There is a limit, however, to how clean you can keep your water with regular hot tub use, and eventually the old water will become difficult to balance. Some suggest changing it as often as every three weeks, while others claim that you can keep it clean for months with the right maintenance habits. As a general rule, if your water is starting to foam, look cloudy, or leave a ring around the edge of the tub, it is likely time to change it. A good rule of thumb is 3 months. 

Those who live in colder climates should keep in mind that it’s not wise to drain a hot tub when the temperature is below freezing. Frozen water expands by nature, which can crack pipes and do all kinds of damage. Try to time your water changes accordingly so that you’re not stuck with gungy water in the middle of February.

  1. Pamper Your Cover 

The hot tub cover will typically begin to show its age far before the rest of the tub, so it’s extra important to give it the maintenance it needs. Tips to extend the life of your cover include:

  • Protect it from the sun and elements. Hot tub covers that are protected by a gazebo or similar shelter will last longer.
  • Do not allow anyone to sit on the cover, even pets or small children. This will cause it to sag or break. Hot tub covers are built to keep heat in, not to support weight. 
  • If you live in a climate with cold winters, brush any accumulated snow off the cover. Be sure to use extra caution to avoid tearing or damaging the cover.
  • If possible, remove the inner foam sections from inside the cover and flip them once a year. This will help prevent sagging. 
  • It is recommended that you regularly treat your hot tub cover with some kind of vinyl protectant. Research your specific cover type and learn the best way to protect it.

Don’t Procrastinate

Everyone knows that problems ignored are far more likely to get worse than better. Tears in your hot tub cover can start the spread of mold and mildew. Under-chlorinated water can become contaminated with algae. Dirty filters are not going to magically clean themselves. All these problems, if not dealt with, will shorten the life of your tub. 

Treat your hot tub well, and you should be enjoying warm and relaxing for years to come.

Can’t Keep Up? Here’s an Easy 4-Step Schedule for Hot Tub Maintenance

You’ll hear us talk lots about consistency when it comes to hot tub maintenance. If a hot tub is going to be enjoyable then you need a simple maintenance schedule that works with your lifestyle.

If you keep your hot tub chemistry close to balanced, you will use less chemicals overall and minimize the workload. Treating problems or replacing hot tub water requires far more product than most people realize.

By keeping it simple and flexible hot tub care becomes easy and automatic. Each brand of hot tub is unique and may need special care. But here is an easy to use maintenance schedule for any hot tub.

  1. Weekly Walk Around

Some are crazy enough to do a weekly walk around daily. It sounds like a lot, but you’re basically accomplishing this task each time you use your hot tub. So if you skip a hot tub soak that week, be sure to head outside for a quick walk around.

  • Ensure the cover is secure and in place.  
  • Check for power to the display unit and ensure the unit is operational. 
  • Have a look at the temperature to ensure it’s close to the set point.
  • Do a quick walk around looking for any damage.  
  1. Weekly Chemistry Check

There are many choices to ensuring your hot tub water is balanced and sanitized:

  • Most hot tub and pool dealers will check any sample of hot tub water that you bring them.  Ensure you grab a sample from the middle of the hot tub as a best practice.  
  • Use the traditional test strips that check for pH, alkalinity and sanitizer level.  Follow the directions on the package and ensure you grab a sample from the middle of the hot tub.  
  • Use the liquid test kits that unfortunately only tests for sanitizer and pH levels.  

pHin Tip –  rid the Weekly Chemistry check with the pHin.  The pHin device continuously monitors water chemistry (pH, sanitizer levels, alkalinity, and hardness) and notifies you of the adjustments required.  It even ships you the correct amounts of chemicals to add.  

  1. Monthly Love For The Tub

This is a great time to give that hot tub cover a quick wipe down. You don’t want grime from the underside dripping into the water. It’s also time to give that filter the love and care it wants. If you are a frequent hot tub user or just had a party, you’ll want to check that filter more often. But this is a great starting point. 

  • Open the filter well and pull out the filter.
  • Ensure the filter(s) are in good shape.
  • Rinse the filter with water and replace. Or if grimy, a 24-hour soak in a chemical cleaner is in order.  

pHin Tip –  it’s wise to have a spare filter. If one needs cleaning then replace it with your spare filter and clean the dirty one when you have time.  

  1. Quarterly Water Replacement

You’ll want to replace the water in your hot tub every three months or so. Again, with frequent use or a party of any sort, you’ll want to replace the water more often.

  • Using a system purge at this stage is a habit that will keep your hot tub plumbing free of build up.  Add a hot tub specific system purge and circulate the system for at least 30 minutes.  
  • Turn off all power to your hot tub.
  • Pull the drain plugs and drain the hot tub completely.
  • This is a great time to scrub that tub down with a 50/50 while vinegar and water solution to get rid of any water lines.  
  • Rinse the hot tub thoroughly and install the drain plugs.
  • Replace the water by sticking the hose in the filter well to avoid air lock in the plumbing. Built-up air in the pipes causes airlock and can damage the pump.  Set a timer on your smartphone so you don’t have to be present for the filling.
  • Power up the hot tub and start that long heating process.
  • Balance and sanitize the new water by adding your start up chemicals (shock and sanitizer), and adjust your pH for the system to work efficiently.  

Consistent maintenance is key for performance and the longevity of your hot tub. Armed with the right tools, a simple schedule and a bit of knowledge that hot tub will remain a joy. Hot tub maintenance is easy with pHin.  It monitors water quality, notifies you by smartphone when you need to add chemicals and ships you just the right amount.   

Be sure to check out the pHin device, a new way to care for your hot tub. pHin monitors water quality, notifies you by smartphone when you need to add chemicals and ships you just the right amounts.