How to Get New Pool Water in Safe Swimming Condition

Congratulations! You have a new pool! Whether it’s a fiberglass pool, vinyl liner pool or concrete pool, you will want to get the water perfectly balanced before you do your first cannonball. This process will take two to three weeks.

(This post How to Get New Pool Water in Safe Swimming Condition first appeared on SFGate.)

Things You Will Need

  • Nylon pool brush
  • Water test kit
  • Baking soda
  • Muriatic acid
  • Sequestering agent
  • Chlorine

Steps:

  1. Turn on the pool pump and filtration system. Allow it to run continuously until the pool is clean and the chemicals are balanced.
  2. Test the pool water for pH, chlorine and total alkalinity. A variety of test kits are available at any pool store.
  3. Adjust the pH until it is between 6.8 and 7.2. Bring up a low pH rating by adding baking soda or lower a high pH with muriatic acid diluted in water. These chemicals also affect the total alkalinity, which should be between 70 and 80. Ensure that both pH and total alkalinity are within the desired parameters.
  4. Add a sequestering agent according to package directions. Sequestering agents suspend metal particles in solution and help to prevent staining or scaling.
  5. Allow two days for the pool balance to settle. Keep the pump running and test the pool water daily.
  6. Add chlorine until the chlorine level is between 1.0 and 2.0. Although some sources allow chlorine levels as high as 3.5, this may be irritating to skin and eyes. Allow 24 hours for the pool chemicals to stabilize.
  7. Raise the pH to between 7.2 and 7.8. The ideal pH is 7.4 to 7.6, but slight leeway is acceptable. Raising the pH will raise the total alkalinity, which should read between 80 and 120 in concrete pools and 125 to 170 in vinyl, fiberglass or painted pools.

Tips

  • As you’re conditioning the new water, brush all parts of the pool twice per day with a nylon brush. Pay particular attention to corners and crevices where dust and debris hide. Continue brushing twice per day until the pool chemicals are balanced and the pool is ready for swimming.
  • Use a manual pool skimmer daily to remove floating debris.
  • Wait 30 days to turn on a salt-based cleaning system, turn on a pool heater or begin using a pool vacuum. Wait 21 days before installing an automatic pool cleaner. The waiting period gives the pool’s finish time to cure, avoiding possible damage.
  • Consider adding an algaecide after all other pool chemicals are balanced. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the proper amount to add and how long to wait before swimming.

Warnings

  • Pool chemicals are extremely caustic. Use gloves and goggles when handling chemicals. Wear old clothes and avoid adding chemicals during windy conditions. Tightly seal chemical containers and store them away from pets and children.
  • Do not “shock” or overchlorinate the pool except under the guidance of a professional.

(This post How to Get New Pool Water in Safe Swimming Condition first appeared on SFGate.)

 

Here’s two final things to keep in mind, from pHin’s resident water chemist, Christian Ballard elaborates:

  • Monitoring the water chemistry at least once per day for the first two to three weeks is crucial to preserving the surface and related plumbing and equipment. (Emphasis for cementitious (plaster/pebble, etc.) on the importance of brushing at least twice daily.)
  • The surface is curing for up to 21 – days and lots of dusting and various minerals rise to the surface of the finish. Very important to disrupt the dust by brushing to prevent buildup and blemishes.

4 Tips For a Killer Pool Party

4 Tips For a Killer Pool Party. Pool season is here and, for pool owners, that means parties and events centered around the pool. When the weather gets hotter, there’s no better place to cool down and relax than in the water. But, like any other gathering, preparing for a pool party can be stressful. Trying to figure out what to do and the right way to do it can be confusing. Here are four tips to get you on the right track.

1.  Prepare the Pool

Perhaps the most important aspect of any pool party is making sure your pool is safe and ready for guests. The day of the party, you want to sweep it and clear it of any debris. Check your filter and skimmer to make sure they are clean and running well. A few days before the party, check the water chemicals and make any necessary adjustments to make sure the water is safe for swimmers. This is especially true for shocking your pool, as the chemicals are harmful if people jump into the water too soon after a shock treatment. You also want to check the chemical balance the day after your pool party, because the oils from multiple people in the water can offset the water chemistry.

2. Set Up Decorations

Decorations set the whole mood of a party; they decide the theme, tone, and general aesthetic of the event. The type and style of decorations you choose depends on the type of party you’re throwing. It’s a good idea to set a theme, as that can make picking out decorations easier. Your decorations will also depend on your audience. If your party-goers are adults, then your theme may be more laid back and quiet, whereas if you’re throwing a pool party for kids, your theme will most likely consist of brighter colors and characters. Whoever your audience is, pick a theme that is fun, yet simple.

3. Provide Proper Food and Beverages

No party is complete without refreshments. You may wish to align your food and drink with the theme you’ve set for your party, but it’s important to remember that you’ll want a variety of both. Consider any dietary restrictions your guests may have and plan accordingly. You don’t want to serve nothing but meat dishes if there are any vegetarians attending the party. Lemonades and teas are a great choice for a refreshing summer beverage and perfect for a pool party. Also, make sure to have plenty of water, as the heat combined with swimming can make it easier to become dehydrated. If hosting little ones, popsicles are a great way to keep kids hydrated. Set up food and drink stations so your guests have easy access to refreshments.

4. Take Safety Precautions

While not something you generally take into consideration at any other type of party, at a pool party, safety is a must. The first thing to consider if there are children present is assigning water monitors. You always want at least one adult keeping a close eye on young swimmers. If you wish, you can even contact your local lifeguard association or YMCA to see they’ll allow you to hire a lifeguard.

Make sure you have flotation devices (floaties, pool noodles, etc.) for children and poor swimmers. Be sure to provide sunscreen for yourself and guests. Set up shady areas for when swimmers leave the water. Keep a first aid kit on hand, including aloe for any sunburns that may pop up. As for the pool itself, check it for any potential dangers before and during the party. Keep an eye out for potential slip or trip hazards and make sure any pool additions are in proper condition so as to avoid possible injury to your guests.

If you’re looking for an easy way to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced, consider a pHin smart monitor. This 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.

Our 5 Favorite Hot Tubs Seen Online

Our 5 Favorite Hot Tubs Seen Online. A relaxing soak in your hot tub after a hard day in the office can be the perfect way to wind down. We took an Internet tour of hundreds of hot tubs to find 5 we would love to try.   

  1. Wooden Hot Tubs

If you want a touch of charm with your hot tub, a wooden model makes a great choice. Cedar wood is the most popular choice, as it resists decay and rot. Sizes vary dramatically, from small, two-person tubs to models that comfortably seat six.

Water heating options include electricity, gas, and wood. Wood-heated tubs are more portable and easier to set up, but electric and gas models are popular choices for their simplicity.

  1. The Soup Bowl Hot Tub

Soup bowl hot tubs got their names after what else, soup bowls. These wood-heated tubs originated in the Netherlands and are becoming popular in the United States. Since this portable tub uses no electricity, installation is simple and inexpensive. Despite its name, we do not recommend it for cooking!  

  1. Vinylester Floating Hot Tub

If you dream of floating in water on water, you’ll love this hot tub. It’s actually a boat with a built-in hot tub resting in the center of the boat for stability. The tub is 8′ long, 4′ wide, and 24″ deep to comfortably hold six adults.

This hot tub design is perfect for entertaining. The deck includes two 50-watt speakers, four ice chests, and a joystick for steering the boat while relaxing in the tub.

  1. Two-tier, Entertainment Center Hot Tub

This enormous hot tub holds over 2,600 gallons of water and includes 130 jets and nine water pumps. The entire tub covers two decks and includes its own bar, a flat screen TV, and a built-in stereo system.

The two decks effectively create two hot tubs. The larger portion includes powerful jets that create a current for bathers to swim against.

  1. Inflatable Hot Tubs

Inflatable hot tubs are relatively new but growing quickly in popularity. You can set one up just about anywhere and, obviously, easily transport them. Such tubs comfortably seat four adults, although many claim to seat six (technically true, but the operative word is “comfortable”). Note: Not recommended in temperatures under 40 degrees.

If you want to keep the water in your hot tub balanced year round, consider a pHin smart monitor. This little device constantly monitors your water and alerts your smartphone when you need to balance your water. It even tells you what chemicals to add and how much. And if you ever need help with your equipment or hot tub vessel, try Pool Service on Demand to get local, qualified help.

 

Mid-winter Pool Check: Is Your Pool Balanced?

You packed away the pool toys and haven’t washed a swimsuit in months. Your pool is the last thing on your mind. Before you let this no-maintenance approach drag all the way through to spring, remember this: You will want to swim in your pool again, and sooner than you think!

Sure, when the water feels like something only a polar bear would love, it’s hard to envision fun in the sun and lounging poolside. However, summer is just around the corner. A little TLC now makes opening your pool a breeze, and may save you some money to boot.

Check the Pool Cover First

Clear the debris from your pool cover, using either brush or air blower to get rid of twigs, leaves, branches, and anything else that is littering the cover. Your goal is keeping these items from slipping into the water (the whole reason you have the cover to begin with).

You may clear away standing water and snow, but leave ice alone. The ice does less damage to the cover than your attempts to clear it away do.

Look at the cover for damage. Patch anything you can. If repairs are beyond your abilities, look at repositioning the cover (if possible) to arrange damaged areas closer to the pool’s edge.

Check the water level once the cover is clear. It needs to be below the skimmer box, and it definitely should not reach the top of the edge of your pool. The cover should protect the pool water from evaporation, but a slightly lower level is normal. However, if the level drops significantly, you may have a leak.

Finally, perform a water chemistry test, looking at alkalinity, calcium, and pH, and make any necessary adjustments.

Balancing the Pool Water

Even during winter months, your pool’s water chemistry fluctuates. Temperatures rise and fall; even with a cover in place, foreign items find their way into your pool.

Balanced chemistry does more than make the water safe for swimmers; it also protects your pool, as well as its components and equipment. You run the risk of staining the surface and calcium buildup when you fail to maintain proper chemical balance. This means ensuring proper alkalinity, calcium hardness, and pH levels.

Total Alkalinity

Alkalinity relates to your pH level, and measures all alkaline substances, including bicarbonates and hydroxides. Ideal alkalinity helps your pool water fight pH variations.

For a concrete or gunite pool, shoot for an alkalinity level between 80 and 120 ppm. Vinyl, fiberglass, and painted pools require 125 to 170 ppm. If alkalinity is low, add a base such as sodium bicarbonate. With high alkalinity, lower it with acid.

Water Calcium

Water contains calcium carbonate, and high levels result in “hard” water. When water contains excess calcium and magnesium, it attempts to get rid of these excess minerals.

If you have hard water, you see evidence of this throughout your home: the white deposits at the end of faucets, the buildup in showers and bathtubs. This same buildup occurs in your pool, on tiles, ladders, and pool lights. When water is extremely hard, it forms little clumps of these calcium magnesium crystals.

Too little calcium is hardly better, as your pool water attempts to find what it’s missing from your pool, such as the plaster. Shoot for a range between 200 and 400 ppm. Reduce calcium by adding more water to the pool. Increase it with calcium chloride.

Water pH

Your pool water’s pH tells you how acidic it is, with 7.0 being neutral. Numbers below 7.0 indicate acidic, while above 7.0 represents alkaline (also known as basic) water. Any item entering your pool affects its pH level.

To change the pH of your pool, you need to add either an increaser (base) or decreaser (acid) to reach the ideal pH level of 7.4, although the range of 7.2 to 7.6 is acceptable.

If your pH test reveals a number below 7.0, prevent corrosion by adding base. If the level tops 7.8, adding acid helps prevent calcium buildup on the filter and tile. It also helps keep the water clear and improves the effectiveness of your chlorine.

Although you may not use your pool in the winter, it is important to keep the water healthy. Once a pool gets out of balance, it’s a lot harder and more expensive to get it balanced again. Keep it healthy, make your pool happy.

Maintaining Your Pool and Hot Tub Year-Round

The easiest way to maintain proper balance year-round is with 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.

When Is It Time to Replace Your Pool and Hot Tub Maintenance Tools?

When Is It Time to Replace Your Pool and Hot Tub Maintenance Tools? Pools and hot tubs are a lot of fun, but they come with a variety of expenses. One of these is the tools to maintain them, including the brush, skimmer, and vacuum.

Nature does a real number on these supplies, whether it’s the water in your pool or the sun’s relentless UV rays. Of course, cold temperatures also damage these items, especially if you didn’t properly store them before winter struck.

Your pool and hot tub brush probably absorbs the most damage, because it gets a lot of tough use. After all, to be effective at its job, it needs you to apply a good amount of pressure. If you follow the advice of experts and brush at least once a week, those bristles eventually fray and become damaged. Another vulnerable spot is where the brush connects to the pole, especially on units that allow you to swap out a brush, skimmer, and vacuum head.

Proper care of these items ensures you get the most out of your investment.

Store Your Pool and Hot Tub Maintenance Tools

The safest way to care for your pool and hot tub equipment is with a storage unit. This keeps your tools out of the damaging sun and rain, protecting the plastic components from drying out and cracking, thereby extending the life of your maintenance supplies.

You want to use a storage device that allows water to drain away from your tools, as allowing them to sit in puddled pool water is a shortcut to mildew and mold, especially on the brush and skimmer. It’s best to find a way to hang these items instead.

This is also a safety measure for you and your family, as the brush in particular does quite a bit of damage to an errant bare foot.

If you’ve properly stored your pool and hot tub chemicals, this same location offers the perfect spot for your maintenance tools as well. If you have not, proper storage of your chemicals is essential to protect your children, pets, and property. These are extremely hazardous materials; treat them accordingly.

Preparing Your Maintenance Tools for Winter

Some tools require an extra bit of preparation when the time comes to close your pool. This includes anything that uses a hose, such as the vacuum.

Before storing, drain as much water as possible out of the vacuum and hose. If your area experiences hard freezes, this can damage the components and hose. In general, you want to leave the hose uncoiled. It may even be easier to take the hose apart.

After you drain the residual water, lay the hose flat and fully extended in the sun, which should help dry it entirely before you place it in storage. Once you perform these steps, your vacuum is ready to go into storage, fresh for the next pool season.

Metal or Plastic: Which Lasts Longer?

Most plastic tools (brushes and nets) are not as durable as aluminum, however, there are some newer plastic products that are superior to aluminum.

Of course, the poles are nearly always aluminum, but the components of your skimmer, brush, and vacuum are often plastic. This can’t be helped, but whenever possible, in general, choose models that contain more metal components than plastic ones.

Maintaining Your Pool and Hot Tub Year-Round

If you’re looking for an easy way to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced no matter what time of year it is, 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.

4 Benefits of Enzymes for Pool Care You Didn’t Know

The typical pool care routine requires numerous chemicals, including sanitizers, oxidizers, and algaecides. Used in conjunction with brushing, skimming, and vacuuming, your pool or hot tub stays sparkling clean.

A little known secret among pool aficionados is the use of enzymes when caring for their pool or hot tub. 

What Are Enzymes?

Enzymes Are Biological Molecules

An enzyme is a protein that speeds up chemical reactions without being destroyed or altered in the process. Enzymes break down organic waste by accelerating the decay process and converting the organic matter to carbon dioxide. Pairing them with other chemicals, such as surfactants and sanitizers, lifts materials from the pool bottom and walls and keeps the pool clean. While enzymes are compatible with all available sanitizers, they are sensitive to, and can be destroyed by, high levels of bromine and chlorine. It is important to note that, since enzymes are biological molecules, they do not do well in severe heat or cold and have a shelf life. Storing your pool enzymes at the proper temperature (when in doubt, the home is always a good option) keeps them fresh for about a year.

Natural and Synthetic Enzymes

There are two types of enzyme: natural and synthetic. Natural enzymes form through fermentation, while synthetic enzymes are manufactured. The biggest difference between the two is the range of use. Natural enzymes break down a wider variety of organic material, whereas synthetic enzymes are more specific in what they can break down and are less stable than natural ones. Both are viable products with specific uses.

Specific Enzymes

Since enzymes occur both naturally and in a lab, you must understand which works best for a particular purpose. When using enzymes in a hot tub, their main target is biological waste. In a swimming pool, enzymes treat both biological and environmental components. Use the right enzyme for the particular body of water.

4 Reasons to Use Enzymes In Pool And Hot Tub Care

  1. Enzymes Can Be Versatile

While it is true that enzymes mainly break down organic material, they can be incredibly versatile in their functions. In fact, enzymes can handle several tasks in a single treatment. Although their primary purpose is to break down organic waste such as sweat, mucus, and body oils, they can also restore clarity without the addition of any specific clarifiers. Enzymes can also reduce the possibility of any unscheduled sanitizer dosing.

  1. Enzymes Reduce Cleaning

Cleaning a pool or hot tub requires continuous maintenance (adding chemicals, brushing, filter cleaning, etc.), and enzymes can greatly reduce the amount of cleaning needed. By adding enzymes as part of your regular pool maintenance, you enjoy superior water clarity and prevent scum lines. When the enzymes break down the organic material, scum lines are less likely to form, and the water becomes clearer. Enzymes also increase a filter’s run cycle, as they break down any organic waste before it has a chance to build up on the filter.

  1. Enzymes Save Time

Adding enzymes to your pool maintenance routine can greatly reduce the amount of time spent cleaning your pool or hot tub. With less organic material floating around, clogging the filter, or causing buildup on the floors and walls, there is less work necessary. This is not to say that you should perform maintenance less often. What it does mean is that, when you do, it won’t take nearly as long since less work is necessary. Enzymes allow you to clean your pool better and faster.

  1. Enzymes Are Safe

Perhaps the most important aspect of any pool-cleaning product is its safety. After all, no one wants to swim in an unsafe or unhealthy pool. Not only are enzymes completely safe for humans, animals, and plants, but they may actually make your pool safer as well. In addition to enzymes removing organic waste, they can reduce pool shocking and the addition of other chemicals by up to 50 percent.

If you want to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced, consider a pHin smart monitor. This little device constantly monitors your water and automatically sends you the exact chemicals you need to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects you to local, qualified pool techs.