How Brushing Your Pool or Hot Tub Interior Surfaces Weekly Saves You Time and Money

It can be a long and difficult process to maintain and clean a pool. While most people remember to perform such necessary tasks as removing debris, emptying skimmer baskets, or cleaning tiles, brushing the pool is a job that often gets forgotten if you don’t use a pool cleaning service. Sweeping may seem like an unimportant task, but it needs to be done on a regular basis for both aesthetic and sanitary purposes. If you do not regularly and consistently brush the interior surface of your pool or spa, it may lead to issues down the road. Read on to see how brushing your pool or hot tub interior surfaces weekly saves you time and money.

Why Is Brushing So Important?

Brushing your pool is one of the most important aspects of pool maintenance, yet a surprising number of pool owners don’t do it. Much like brushing your teeth, brushing your pool is meant to prevent, not solve issues. By consistently brushing your swimming pool’s interior surface, you prevent algae buildup, remove dirt particles, and smooth the surface to ensure a long lasting finish. Also, brushing your pool is a major contributor to proper circulation, as it breaks up debris, biofilms such as pink slime, white water mold, and other microorganisms, introducing them into the water and your filtration system.

How Often Should I Brush?

You should brush the walls, ladders, steps, and corners of your pool at least once a week. To prevent any lurking algae formations, make sure to get into every nook and cranny your brush can reach. It is also important to make sure that your brush’s bristles are in good shape. Over time, the sunlight causes them to deteriorate, sending errant bristles into your filtration system or causing you to miss spots. Not brushing your pool or hot tub at least weekly allows algae and other bio-films to build up along its interior surface. If you already have an algae buildup in your pool, you need to treat the problem; brushing will not solve it.

How to Brush Effectively

Brushing a pool is truly a simple process. Even if you hire a professional cleaning service, if they come only once a week, you still need to brush weekly yourself.

Start with a nylon pool brush, or one made of stainless steel and nylon, providing the pool’s interior surface is of a cementitious finish. Do not leave the brush out in the sun, as this reduces its lifespan significantly. Properly storing your pool care tools protects them from the elements and ensures they enjoy a long life.

Attach the brush to your telepole and run it along the surfaces of your pool’s walls, steps, and benches. You don’t need to apply a great deal of force, but you do need to use firm pressure. Begin at the top of the tile line and push straight down. Work your way completely around the pool in this manner, always moving toward the drain.

If you use an automatic pool cleaning system, you do not need to brush the floor every time you brush the walls, although it never hurts. However, you should brush the entire surface at least every six to eight weeks, even if you have an automatic cleaner.

Saving Time and Money

Regularly brushing your pool and hot tub prevents algae and mineral buildup that may cause damage in the long run. Taking care of widespread algae growth costs far more time and money than a weekly brushing, and severe growth may require completely draining the pool to take care of the issue. With effective brushing and properly balancing the chemicals, you save yourself the time, effort, and money required by more intensive cleaning methods.

Keep it Clean

Brushing the interior surfaces of your swimming pool keeps it clean, healthy, and smooth. Dirt and mineral buildup doesn’t just keep it from being clean; it can also cause surfaces to become rougher. Make the time to give your pool a thorough brushing every week, particularly if you do not employ a cleaning service. Establishing a weekly routine helps keep your pool and hot tub in tip-top shape, saving you valuable time and resources.

To ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced, consider pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone when you need to take action to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. If you need someone to service your equipment, try Pool Service on Demand.

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.

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.

Pros and Cons of Natural Gas Heaters

A natural gas heater is an efficient way to heat your pool or hot tub all year round. Even during the summer, outdoor temperatures might not stay high enough for long enough to keep your pool’s water warm without the help of a heater. Ideal for cooler climates and those that want their pool or hot tub heated quickly, natural gas heaters also work well when paired with solar heating or pools that don’t need to be heated often. While a natural gas heater is always a viable option, there are some disadvantages, so you should consult a pool professional before making any final decisions. A professional can help you determine what size and type of heater will work best for you.

How Natural Gas Heaters Work

As the pump circulates water from the pool, the water it draws from the pool. Next, it passes through the filter and makes its way to the heater. Gas burns in the heater’s combustion chamber. The water heats as it passes over this chamber and the hot water returns to the pool.

Natural gas heaters are ideal for heating pools for a short period of time and work great when you want to heat a pool quickly. These heaters are ideal for pools that are not used regularly, as gas pool heaters can help to maintain any desired temperature regardless of weather or climate conditions.

Pros of a Natural Gas Heater

  • Convenience: If you have access to a natural gas service, then getting the fuel to your heater is far easier than if you chose propane. Natural gas enters through a permanently fixed line and there is always more available.
  • Speed: If quick heating is what you need, then look no further than a natural gas heater. Unlike electric, solar, or heat pumps, natural gas burns quickly, making it a faster way to heat up your water. Gas heaters are especially effective if you don’t use your pool on a regular basis (since it heats the water quickly there is less need for prep time) or if you are trying to heat a smaller body of water, like a spa or hot tub.
  • Maintenance: Natural gas heaters generate enough heat to warm your pool in a short amount of time, so they don’t have to run as often or as long as some other heating methods, resulting in fewer problems due to wear and tear or consistent use. If you want a heater that requires little maintenance, then a natural gas heater is perfect for you.
  • Cost: While an electric heater or a heat pump may need to be turned on aseveral hours in advance, a natural gas heater only needs about 30 minutes for a typical hot tub or to simply raise the temperature a few degrees in a typical backyard swimming pool. This saves a considerable amount of money through reduced energy usage.

Cons of a Natural Gas Heater

  • Energy Efficiency: While natural gas heaters are more efficient than electric heaters, this does not mean that they are the most efficient way to heat your pool or spa. Solar heaters and heat pumps use the sun and recirculated warm air respectively to heat your pool or spa, making them the more energy efficient options when it comes to heaters. That does not mean you cannot get an energy efficient natural gas heater. Look for one with an efficiency rating of 89 to 95 percent according to energy.gov.
  • Purchase and Install Price: Gas heaters are incredibly efficient when it comes to heating your pool or spa and so might seem like the perfect choice for you, but there are some expenses to running a natural gas heater. In addition to installation and any initial purchase costs, you need to run pipe underground to provide a natural gas source for the heater’s furnace. If a natural gas source or pipe is not close to the pool equipment pad area itself, the cost can be prohibitive.
  • Rising Fuel Prices: Oil and gas prices fluctuate, meaning that operating your natural gas heater will not always cost the same. In the colder months, when oil and gas prices are usually at their highest, the cost of heating your pool can increase as much as 30 to 40 percent.
  • Repair and Replacement: Natural gas heaters are more susceptible to corrosion if your pool water is unbalanced. The amount of use your natural gas heater gets, in addition to outdoor temperatures and desired water temperature, determines how long the heater will last. Most natural gas heaters last about five years before requiring service or maintenance.

To ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced year round, 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.

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.

Your Guide to Chlorine and Bromine Hot Tubs

Your Guide to Chlorine and Bromine Hot Tubs. When you type “bromine or chlorine for a hot tub” into Google, you get about 205,000 search results in just half a second. The age-old debate between chlorine and bromine for hot tubs continues. Is one better than the other? Should you consider using bromine tablets? And if so, what do you have to gain?

Both chlorine and bromine are popular hot tub sanitizers but they get the job done differently. Let’s look at the pro’s and con’s of each.

1. Maintenance

Chlorine hot tubs require much more active maintenance and attention than bromine hot tubs. Without constant attention, chlorine hot tubs are much more likely to turn cloudy or green.

In addition, pH levels can often rise quickly in hot tubs and bromine is less exposed to these pH fluctuations. Chlorine, on the other hand, can’t handle large swings as efficiently as bromine, requiring frequent attention.

2. Efficiency And Effectiveness

Chlorine acts faster than bromine but dissipates quicker because it breaks down faster in high water temperatures. Once all the chlorine is used up, however, it requires frequent additions. On the other hand, bromine tablets take longer to dissolve, and once the active bromine has killed off unwanted organisms, dormant bromine salt remains behind, which can be reactivated into active bromine over and over. This makes bromine an active sanitizer for a longer period of time.

3. Water Temperature

The sweet spot for chlorine is between about 65 and 99 degrees. It quickly turns into vapor at around 100 degrees. While bromine is less effective at temperatures below 75 degrees, it thrives in hot water environments, especially over 100 degrees.

Hot tubs are, well, hot, small and typically have more people in them at the same time relative to their size. It is said that “4 people soaking in a typical hot tub equates to approximately 160 people in a backyard swimming pool due to chemical demands”. These factors make bathers perspire more, resulting in an increased amount of sweat and oils, and higher demand for sanitization. Bromine is better suited than chlorine to handle the buildup of these waste materials in hot water.

4. Cost

Many people choose chlorine because it’s less expensive at first. Although bromine can cost 20% or more than chlorine, it can stay longer in your water due to its ability to be reactivated after it has killed all the bacteria. This means that in the long run, you’ll use less bromine and hence, will pay less.

If you live in an area that gets a lot of sunshine all year round, costs related to sun protection may also play a role in your decision. Chlorine can be protected from the sun if you add the right amount of stabilizer to it. Bromine is broken down by the sun faster, requiring you to add bromine to compensate for the UV breakdown. However, when bromine is broken down by the sun’s UV, it leaves behind dormant bromine salt (sodium bromide), which can be reactivated by additional bromine or non-chlorine shock to perform additional sanitization.

5. Personal Considerations

Chlorine has been the subject of many jokes and urban legends. Some people with sensitive skin may find chlorine to be more irritating than bromine. Experts say that bromine protects the eyes and skin better, and emits less odor than chlorine.

 

For Chemistry Lovers

We’ve asked our chemistry expert to give his pick between bromine and chlorine for hot tubs.

This is what he had to say:

Bromine! It remains effective in a wider range of pH levels (7.0 – 8.4) than chlorine (7.4 – 7.8), and therefore, it can better protect your water from bacteria and viruses. Also, bromine in itself is a strong sanitizer. At a high pH level of 7.8, only about 25% of chlorine is active, but bromine remains efficient. And its byproducts, bromamines (a combined substance), produce their own sanitizing action, making bromine an even more powerful bacteria and virus killer. Add to that, that bromine already in your water can be reactivated using potassium monopersulfate after it has killed the bacteria. Reactivated bromine means less chemical use and bigger cost savings for you in the long run.”

Using Bromine Is Easy

Using bromine tablets in your hot tub is simple:

No need to drain your hot tub: you can get started with bromine right away. There’s no need to interrupt your hot tub usage for several days to drain and refill your hot tub. This also means that if you change your mind later and want to switch back to chlorine, you can easily do so.

Get the chemicals you need: To help provide the healthiest water care option and further simplify hot tub care, we will send you the chemicals you need at the time of shipping so you can start using bromine in your hot tub.

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.

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.

6 Awesome Winter Pool Hacks

6 Awesome Winter Pool Hacks. It seems that everyone loves finding a great life hack. And, why not? They make you feel like you won something, earned the extra credit points, almost like the vending machine returning two treats for the price of one.

Hacks for pool care are especially great. It seems as though, every time you turn around, there’s another contraption to buy, another chemical to take care of problem you’ve never heard of. Over your pool’s lifetime, you accumulate many of these items. The following swimming pool hacks specifically geared toward winter weather not only help you save money, they also use items you probably have in the house already.

  1. Use an Aquarium Net for Your Skimmer

If you live in an area that remains relatively warm most of the winter, chances are you remove leaves and other debris from your pool’s surface skimmer year-round. The problem? Even though you aren’t wading through snow to get to your pool, that water is still plenty cold. Fishing around with your bare hands in 50-degree water makes even the most die-hard pool owner avoid winter maintenance.

Enter the aquarium net. The same little gadget you use to gather fish when it’s time to clean the tank (or for more tragic reasons) comes in handy when the pool water feels icy cold. Just dip the net into your skimmer to fish out leaves, sticks, bugs, and any other debris. Of course, you can use this throughout the year, but it is especially handy during the winter months. Additionally, there is a device found at your local pool store called the “Skimmer Angel”, which attaches to most baskets, enabling the pool owner to have an extended handle above water level.

  1. Balance Alkalinity with Baking Soda

When people aren’t swimming, they tend to pay less attention to the chemistry of their pool water. Of course, if your pool has water in it, you need to check it regularly, just as you do during summer months. If it’s been awhile since you tested your water, you may discover your alkalinity levels need adjusting. Instead of buying sodium bicarbonate from the pool store, head to your freezer for that box of baking soda. If you have one of the only 10 freezers in North America without a box of baking soda, you can find it at the grocery store.

Not sure how much to use? The sodium bicarbonate concentration is baking soda is the same as you find in your pool solution, meaning you add exactly the same amount to balance your pool water.

  1. Use a Leaf Blower to Clear Your Winter Pool Cover

Throughout winter, your pool cover becomes the home of leaves and other debris. You know you need to keep it clean, but reaching the center of the cover presents a challenge. If you own a leaf blower, however, clearing that debris is a breeze (pun fully intended). Just wait for a dry day, fire up the leaf blower, and point it at the pool cover. Use care to keep from damaging the cover.

  1. Use an Air Pillow with Your Pool Cover

Don’t have a leaf blower? No problem. Keep your cover free of debris with an air pillow. This turns your flat cover into a dome, ensuring leaves, snow, ice, and debris slide right off. Just make sure to secure the cover first. You don’t want all that stuff sliding into the pool water.

Wondering how to get that pillow to stay in place? A bit of heavy-duty Velcro does the trick. Two hacks in one!

  1. Prevent Damage to Your Above Ground Pool with Milk Jugs

Winter weather can wreak havoc on an above ground pool. You know to leave water in the pool, to keep those walls upright. If a leak occurs after closing the pool, and a snowstorm hits, it can be disastrous, even if you hold your pool cover in place with wire cables. Those cables may actually help pull down the walls of your pool.

Instead, stockpile empty milk jugs in the weeks leading up to winter. When it’s time to close the pool, place filled milk jugs all around, spaced a few feet apart. Then, secure the jugs to the pool cover, looping rope or string through the cover’s eyelets and through the handles of the milk jugs.

  1. Use Stockings in Your Skimmer

This hack works all year as well: Pantyhose in the skimmer, although, knee-high stockings work better, because they’re smaller. Simply place the stocking in the skimmer to help filter out fine debris, such as pet hair and dirt. This extends the life of your filter and results in less cleaning for you.

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.

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.

How Does Rain Affect Your Swimming Pool?

Part of owning a pool or hot tub is learning to deal with everything Mother Nature might throw at you. While regular pool maintenance can keep your water pristine, the elements aren’t subject to any routine. Most people think about things such as snow and dust storms, but rarely do they consider rain to be an aspect of nature they should worry about. The reality is that rain affects your pool or hot tub in multiple ways. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that rain is detrimental to your pool; it can be good or bad.

Rainfall and Water Chemistry

The water chemistry of a pool is very important; it needs to maintain the proper chemical levels to remain safe and comfortable for those that use it.

Rain can be acidic, so it can offset both your pH and alkaline levels. A pool should have a pH balance of 7.4 to 7.6, while some rainwater has a pH balance around 5.0, so heavy rainfall could lower the pH balance of the pool. However, while rainfall may distort your pH levels, it can also help dilute chemicals that cannot be treated with other chemicals and need to be diluted. The downside to this is that rain does not pick and choose which chemicals it will dilute. The result is that it affects every chemical in the pool.

That said, note that, although a heavy rain, or extended period of rain, may have an effect on your pool or hot tub, you don’t need to worry too much about light rain, except for the algae spores which may wash or blow into your pool.

Rainfall and Debris

Rain seldom brings just rain; it usually comes with wind and anything the wind decides to pick up along the way. A good rainstorm typically brings along pollen, dust, algae spores, trash, and other organic matter, covering the surface and bottom of your pool. Not only this, but dirt and debris can clog your filter and pumps, making it more difficult to clean any other debris from the pool.

If any bushes or trees surround your pool, its susceptibility to contaminants is even greater, as they can throw leaves, branches, and oils into the water. However, perhaps the biggest concern when it comes to rain and your pool is algae. Rainstorms that bring in pollen and other plant matter, or even just disrupt your chemical balance, can promote the formation and spread of algae. It can be difficult to remove and repair any damage caused by algae growth, especially if left untreated for any period of time.

Excess Water

One of the biggest problems caused by rain is the accumulation of extra water. While this might seem like a given, excess water due to rainfall causes multiple problems. Heavy rainfall has the potential to cause flooding in any area, but if there’s already a large body of water in the backyard then your chances of flooding increase. This can lead to extra runoff or debris in your pool and even flood necessary pool equipment, such as filters and pumps. A heavy rain can also cause the water level in your pool to rise rendering your surface skimmer useless in effectively skimming the surface debris to the skimmer basket, meaning you’ll need to drain it back to the proper level.

Storm Prep and Repair

If you know ahead of time to expect rain, prepare by setting up your pool cover ahead of time. This keeps most of the debris out of the water. You should also store any loose items surrounding the pool, such as patio furniture, pool toys, and potted plants. This keeps them from blowing into the pool. Finally, turn off the pump.

Once the storm ends, turn the pump back on and remove the cover as carefully as possible. There is no sense in dumping all that debris into the water. Also, empty the skimmer and pump baskets. If you don’t have a lot of debris at the bottom of the pool AND it took on a lot of water, go ahead and pump out the excess. If you do need to vacuum, hold off on dumping the excess water until after vacuuming.

Next, clean the pool as per usual: skim the surface, brush the walls and floor, and run the vacuum. Finally, test the chemical balance and make any necessary adjustments.

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 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.