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.

When is the Right Time to Open Your Swimming Pool?

With many parts of the country still experiencing cold weather and snow, it might seem like a strange time to think about opening your pool. Many pool owners debate the optimal time to open their pool. Often, the conclusion is that, if the water isn’t warm enough for swimming, then it’s okay to wait. Not true.

Spring and the warmer temperatures it brings can sneak up on you, wreaking havoc on your pool. It is often better to prepare for swim season earlier rather than later. Here are a few guidelines to help you open your pool at the optimal time.

When to Open Your Pool

There is no definitive date as to when you should open your pool. It varies from place to place, so the best thing to do is pay attention to the weather. The recommended time to open up your pool is when temperatures in your area consistently hit 70 degrees. While 70 degrees isn’t exactly swim weather, these temperatures can promote algae growth. This can be especially problematic if you use a mesh pool cover, as the water will get plenty of sunlight. Another thing to keep in mind as the weather warms is the growth season, which can bring pollen into your pool. However, with your filter and pump running, you can prevent algae growth and pollen collection, making sure your pool stays a pool instead of turning into a backyard swamp.

Opening Heated Pools vs. Non-heated Pools

When it comes to a heated pool versus a non-heated pool, the consensus for opening either remains the same. However, 70 degrees may only be maintenance weather for a non-heated pool, while it can be swim weather for a heated one. This doesn’t mean you should open a heated pool earlier, however. Freezing temperatures and snow can still affect a heated pool. It is still ideal to wait for consistent 70-degree weather before opening your pool, even if it is heated.

Watching the Weather

As stated, weather consistency is important when it comes to opening your pool. You don’t want to open your pool after a few days of warm weather, only to receive heavy snowfall the next day. We’ve already seen temperatures rise for a day or two and then plummet in places like Chicago and New York, so make sure that the warm weather is there to stay. Keep an eye on your local weather forecast to help determine the right time to open your pool. Put history on your side as well by noting the average temperatures in your region by month. If the averages temperature for a certain time of year is 55 degrees, yet it has surpassed 70 for the last week, it’s best to avoid assuming that the great weather is there to stay.

Things to Consider

When deciding whether it’s the right time to open your pool, keep the following things in mind:

  • Expenses: Opening a pool too late can cause the need for extra cleaning and maintenance before use. Consider the cost of the additional chemicals to properly clean and prepare your pool.
  • Aesthetic: Keeping your pool covered can prevent your yard and landscaping from looking their best. Think about how much better it would look to have a clean, open pool.
  • Use: Whether your pool is heated or non-heated, it is ideal to open it at least three weeks before you intend to use it. It is important that your water is clean and clear before swimming.

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 or 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.

How Unhealthy Pool Water Can Spell Disaster for Your Wallet

How Unhealthy Pool Water Can Spell Disaster for Your Wallet

Proper maintenance of your pool or hot tub is fundamental to ensuring the health and safety of those who use it. Avoiding murky water, algae bloom build-up, and pH imbalance is a difficult, and often confusing process. The basic chemical components involved in keeping your water healthy are a sanitizer, pH adjusters, shock and a mineral purifier that prevents algae growth. Additionally, knowing when, where, and how to apply these chemicals to your pool can be a real challenge, especially when there might be eager swimmers waiting to dive in.

Preventative maintenance is particularly important in keeping your pool or hot tub in a healthy state. Neglecting the chemical balance of a pool can be detrimental to its health. Inaction can exacerbate existing water safety issues and lead to extremely high costs associated with remedying the condition of the pool water later on. Abnormally high or low temperatures can further complicate this already arduous process, as compensation for unusual temperature conditions requires additional chemical adjustment. Ultimately, maintaining your pool properly can be a laborious process.

Out-of-Balance Water, Out-of-Pocket Expense

Common pool care mistakes can substantially reduce the lifespan of your pool. According to an CNBC article, they may cut it by as much as 50%! Not to mention the cost to replace the damaged equipment or fix the pool itself. For example, a heater attacked by corrosive, acidic water can cost over $2,000 to replace. Resurfacing your pool can cost $4,000 and more to replace. A pool or hot tub with a high pH can create a scale-forming water condition, which can cause rough surfaces from the mineral deposits coming out of solution and scale deposits building up in the plumbing and equipment. Again, this can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to remedy.

A Well-Maintained Pool Gives You Peace of Mind…And Your Wallet A Break

Typically, pool or hot tub care is a demanding and equally exhausting experience. If not maintained properly, a pool can end up harming swimmers as well as the pool owner’s wallet. Preventative care is necessary to escape the hardship of an unhealthy and imbalanced pool. Luckily, pHin is here to help. pHin monitors your water chemistry and temperature 24/7 so you don’t have to. It notifies your smartphone when action is needed and even tells you how to keep your water perfectly balanced all year long.

pHin chemical subscription members can enjoy the added convenience of single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door so you can only add what you need. Your Starter box comes with the smart monitor, free mobile app, wireless bridge and even a mineral purifier* to reduce the amount of chemicals needed to balance your water. Just the mineral purifier alone retails for over $60. Our pool experts estimate that using the pHin smart water care solution with its unique chemical delivery membership can can help you save 1/3 of your annual cost.**

ORDER YOUR pHin NOW!

*Pool subscription members only.

**Estimate is based on annual pHin monitoring, recommendations and door-to-door chemical delivery for chlorine pools. Your estimated savings will depend on which pHin solution you choose.    

Your Guide to Opening Your Swimming Pool

Your Guide to Opening Your Swimming Pool

With parts of the country still experiencing snow and freezing temperatures, the thought of opening your pool may be the furthest thing from your mind. However, the warm temperatures of spring arrive before you know it, and they wreak havoc on your pool. It makes sense to prepare for swim season early.

When the weather warms up into the 70’s or warmer, using the following guidelines to walk you through opening your pool for the new swim season.

Step 1: Clean the Cover

If you use a winter pool cover, the first step is clearing it of debris and standing water.

For a significant amount of water, use a submersible cover pump. However, do not set it in place and walk away. You need to stop the pump while a small amount of water remains on the cover; otherwise, your pump can burn out. Unless you want to dump a bunch of debris-filled water into your pool, do not remove the cover with standing water on it.

To remove debris, use your pool brush, skimmer net, or a leaf blower.

Step 2: Remove and Clean the Pool Cover

Once you clear the cover, remove it from the pool. Next, lay it flat on the ground and wash it, using a mild soap, water, and soft brush or cloth. Before storing the cover for the swim season, allow it to dry completely.

Step 3: Check and Adjust the Water Level

Check the pool’s water level. Ideally, it reaches the midway point on the skimmer. If it’s too low, add water using your garden hose.

Step 4: Reconnect the Plumbing

If you installed winter plugs, go ahead and remove them now. Don’t be worried if you see air bubbles, as they just mean that you did a good job clearing the lines when you closed the pool for winter.

Step 5: Reinstall Your Accessories

If you removed your an automatic pool cleaner, diving board, ladder, slide, or any other pool accessories, reinstall them now. To protect them from rusting, take the time to lubricate the bolts first.

Step 6: Replace the Pump Parts

Replace the drain plugs on your pump. If it has a multiport valve, you also need to replace the air bleeder, pressure gauge, and sight glass before turning the valve to Filter. Finally, look at the housing’s o-ring. If you see damage, such as cracking, replace it.

Step 7: Clean the Filter

You want to clean the filter before switching on the pump. If it’s a cartridge filter, remove it and wash it with the garden hose. You need to take apart a D.E. filter to clean it, and then reassemble it. If you have a sand filter, set the pump to backwash to clean it and then return it to the normal setting.

Step 8: Turn It On

It is now time to turn your pump back on, check for leaks, and make sure it pulls in water. If the pump doesn’t pull in water, priming it should help. Shut off the system and take off the lid. Fill the housing with water, close the lid again, and turn the pump back on.

Step 9: Clean the Pool

Grab your skimmer net and pool brush. First, skim any debris from the water’s surface. Next, thoroughly brush the pool, starting at the tile line and brushing straight down toward the drain.

Step 10: Check the Chemicals and Shock It

Take a water sample and check the chemical balance, adding the requisite chemicals. It’s also a good idea to shock the pool when you first open it. Then, let the pump run for 24 hours, vacuum it again, and retest the chemistry.

When to Open Your Pool

Unfortunately, climate differences across the country make it impossible to provide a definitive date on which to open your pool. Instead, we recommend paying attention to the weather in your area and opening your pool once temperatures regularly hit 70 degrees or warmer.

This is not your guideline for swim season, unless you have a heated pool. However, even though 70-degree days aren’t warm enough for swimming, those temperatures do promote algae growth. If your filter and pump aren’t running, the result is a green, swampy mess.

Another challenge once the weather warms is pollen, since warming temperatures indicate that plant growth is in full swing. Again, with your pump running, that pollen cycles through no problem. Without it, swamp time.

3 Lesser-Known Signs That Your Pool Water Is Out Of Balance

3 Lesser-Known Signs That Your Pool Water Is Out Of Balance

How do you know if your swimming pool is just a little gross, or a real health hazard?

Signs Your Water is Out of Balance

There are obvious, common signs we all know alerting you that the water in your pool or hot tub may be out of balance. These signs include strong signals such as a green mess of algae or the strong, burning aroma of too much chlorine. Then there are other signs that are not so obvious, but simple to catch if you are aware! Here are 3 lesser-known signals to watch for.

1) Cloudy or discolored water

Cloudy or discolored water is one of the first signs that the right amounts of chemicals aren’t in the pool.

2) Frequently adding water

It is important to keep an eye out for leaks. If you find yourself adding water to your pool frequently, that can dilute your pool water chemistry and eventually damage the plumbing.

3) Clear or pink slime

Look out for any clear or pink slime, especially if you use a garden hose to add water to your pool. A hose is the perfect environment for nasty slime to develop and filling your pool with a hose will transfer it right into your pool.

Damage to the Pool

Obviously no one wants to swim in cloudy, discolored or slimy water. The pools at the Rio Olympics turned bright green when the wrong chemicals were added, mixed with chlorine, and allowed algae to grow overnight. Unbalanced pool water like that is pretty gross to swim in and it can damage the pool itself, leaving stains on the pool’s surfaces or causing corrosion in the plumbing, as well as to any ladders, handrails, or pumps. And that can lead to costly repairs in the future.

If you want to avoid all of these hassles and 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.

 

Simple Fixes for Common Plumbing Problems in Your Pool

Part of owning a pool or hot tub means taking care of any problems that might occur, preferably while it’s still early days and the problem is easy – and inexpensive – to fix. While some issues, such as chemical balance, are simple to understand and correct, dealing with plumbing problems confuses most people.

Plumbing issues in particular require swift action. Waiting leads to further damage and expensive repairs. While fixing a plumbing problem may seem daunting, there are simple solutions to common plumbing problems pool owners experience.

Air in the System

Any air in your pool system can be a serious issue, as it restricts water flow. This may cause cloudiness in the pool or even lead to the filter tank bursting due to pressure build-up, which may not be apparent when viewing the filter pressure gauge. One symptom of an air leak in your system is when streams of air bubbles come from the water inlets into the pool. There are a few things that might cause air to enter your system, all of which have a simple remedy.

Check the water level of the pool, as a low water level can cause the surface skimmer to pull in air. If low water is the only issue, refill the pool to the proper level. Speaking of the surface skimmer, another component to inspect is the skimmer weir. The weir is the “flapper door” inside to mouth of the skimmer. It’s purpose is to actually create the “skimming action” by free-floating on the uppermost surface of the pool water level. The weir can become faulty and stick in the mouth closed position, literally creating a dam effect inhibiting the flow of water.

Other common causes can be the circulation pump and valves, typically located on the suction side and in front of the pump. The circulation pump has a hair and lint strainer pot with a cover and gasket / o-ring. When the gasket o-ring becomes flattened or the cover becomes damaged (cracked or warped), it can break the airtight seal, allowing air to flow into your filtration system. For valves, a cover is sealed by a gasket or o-ring and may begin to leak, the lid can warp or crack and let in air.

To determine if the circulation pump or a valve is the culprit of your air leak, start up the system and relieve any existing air by opening up the air bleed valve on top of the filter tank. Once the gauge has achieved the expected pressure, turn off the system and watch the pump area. If there is a small spray of water in any of these areas, then you pinpointed the leak. From there, replace all necessary parts and remember that you should never let an air leak go unattended.

Dirt and Debris

Dirt and debris is at the forefront of every pool owner’s mind, though usually in the form of thinking about cleanliness and water chemistry. However, dirt and debris can enter the plumbing and cause problems for you and your pool. Debris entering the filtration system can cause clogs or even wedge itself in valves and covers, letting in air. If the filter or strainer is clogged with debris, clean the strainer, then backwash the filter or change the cartridge. Dirt and debris may also clog the skimmer line, so your pool filter fails to work properly. If this is the case, turn off the pool pump and (if possible) the power to the motor. Clear any existing debris from the basket and use a plumbing snake designed for the particular type of plumbing to remove the clog from the skimmer’s piping.

Changes in Filter Pressure

The filter in your pool or hot tub must work perfectly to ensure optimum water safety.  A change in filter pressure is a common problem that, luckily, has an easy fix. Decreases in filter pressure are usually caused by clogs, trapped air, or incorrect valve settings. This can be remedied by checking valve settings, clearing suction lines, or replacing damaged hardware. Increases in filter pressure are usually caused by something blocking the filter, such as debris or an algae bloom blocking inside the filter. This can be prevented with regular pool cleanings and consistently clearing your pool of algae.

A pHin smart monitor helps ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays perfectly balanced. If you prefer to hire professionals for your plumbing issues, check out Pool Service on Demand, where you can connect with qualified, local pool care professionals.

10 Ways to Maintain An Eco-Friendly Pool

The post 10 Ways to Maintain An Eco-Friendly Pool first appeared on Swim University.

No, we don’t mean turning your water green with algae. We all want a pristine blue swimming pool, but we can be eco-conscious about it. Check out the top ten ways to be an environmentally friendly pool owner.

1. Switch To A Greener Cleaner

Chlorine is the most commonly used chemical to clean pools, mainly because it works so well. But, did you know that chlorine is considered a pesticide by the Environmental Protection Agency? It can be harsh on hair, skin, and eyes, and misuse can result in illness, injury, or worse. If not handled properly, chlorine can be very dangerous. It can also wreak havoc on the plants and animals in your backyard.

However, there are several chlorine alternatives that are better for you and the environment. These include bromine, PHMB (polyhexamethylene biguanide,) Ozonator systems, and natural mineral sanitizers. With any of these systems, you may occasionally have to add chlorine or algaecide, but they’re still more eco-friendly in the long run.

f you want to go completely chemical-free, consider a natural swimming pool that uses plants to clean the water. These types of pools need a bit more time and effort to maintain, but once a balance is struck, they can be a safe place for your family, friends, and pets to swim.

2. Switch To A Solar Heater

It’s always a toss-up as to whether having a pool heater can even be considered green at all. On the one hand, the less energy you use, the greener you are. On the other, a heater allows you to use your pool for more months out of (or even the whole) year.

The principles of green living involve conserving water and getting the most out of what you do have. Not having to drain your pool every fall and making the best use of your backyard feature are definitely good things.

When you want to conserve energy, but you also want to use your pool to it’s fullest potential, what’s the best way to go? The answer is definitely a solar heating system. Solar-powered pool heaters use a series of tubes that absorb heat from the sun to warm the water after it passes through the filtration system.

Harnessing the sun’s power won’t only save energy; it will save you money on your energy bills each month. While switching to a solar heater involves an initial investment, the returns will be worth it in the end. Heat from the sun is renewable, and it will always be free.

3. Install A Heat Pump

Solar heaters are a great, green option, but they may not be necessary in all climates. If you live in an area with warmer air, or in an area where the water only needs to be heated a little, a heat pump is the greenest way to go. Heat pumps use minimal energy because they don’t actually generate any heat: they draw thermal energy from the air and transfer it into the water.

While heat pumps are electric for the most part, they consume much less energy than their counterparts. To make sure you get the most from your heat pump, be sure to maintain it properly by cleaning debris from the intake and keeping it in an area with good air flow.

4. Use A Robotic Pool Cleaner

Robotic pool cleaners are one of the simplest, quickest, and most inexpensive ways to green your pool. You can make your pool instantly greener today if you want. Most are ready to use out of the box, and only require that they be plugged in or charged before use. There are also solar cleaners on the market, if you want to conserve even more energy.

Robotic pool cleaners are green for a number of reasons: first, they reduce the amount of chemical cleaners your pool needs. Second, they reduce the amount of times you’ll have to clean and change your pool filter. Third, they are over 90% more efficient than a traditional pool filtration system, and cost less than five cents an hour to run.

5. Clean Your Filters

Another way to ensure that your pool utilizes less energy is to keep your filters clean. A dirty filter doesn’t work as well as a pristine one, causing your pump to work harder more often and your cleaning agents to be less effective.

Cleaning your filters is generally very easy, so there isn’t much reason not to keep up on this task. Backwashing a sand filter is a minimally involved process, so is backwashing a DE filter (DE stands for dichotomous earth.)

You should backwash both of these types of filters once a month, or when the pressure is 8-10 above average PSI (pounds per square inch.) You should also remove and clean the entire filter once a year, and occasionally replace the materials.

Cleaning a cartridge filter is a more tedious process, but you won’t have to do it as often, and replacing the cartridges is much easier than replacing sand or DE. No matter what type of filter you use, keeping it in tip-top shape will ensure that the rest of your equipment runs smoothly.

6. Add A Timer To Your Pumps

Most circulation pumps are running more often than they need to, which consumes unneeded energy and costs you more money than it’s worth.Energy.gov recommends you only run your pump for six hours a day, which should be sufficient so long as your pump is sized properly to your pool’s volume.

However, turning it on and off daily can be a hassle. This either leads to your pump running unnecessarily, or your pool’s circulation suffering. Adding an automatic time clock to your pump system is the best way to make sure your water gets filtered regularly without consuming unneeded energy.

7. Cover Your Pool

Eco-conscious pool owners know that the simplest and cheapest way to conserve water and energy is to cover their pool when they’re not using it. Pool covers keep heat in and debris out, and also discourage water from evaporating out.

Sealing heat in means you’ll use less energy heating your pool. Keeping debris out means you’ll use less energy filtering your pool. More water staying in your pool means using less water to refill it.

Your best bet is a solar pool cover, which will do all those jobs plus it will seal heat in and trap warmth from the sun to be absorbed by your pool, which means even less energy consumption and cost.

8. Add A Windbreak

A pool cover can cut down on debris and evaporation, but that’s not the only thing that can help. A windbreak can be installed around some or all of the pool. Windbreaks come in many different forms. Anything from a fence to a custom-ordered windbreak to fit your pool dimensions will do the trick. If you want to be extra-green, you can even plant your own windbreak using trees, shrubs, or local foliage.

Windbreaks not only provide privacy; they also make your pool eco-friendly by lessening the amount of water evaporation and helping to keep out debris that need energy to filter out. Not to mention that they provide relief from harsh winds, and whatever dirt and dust they may be blowing around.

9. Install A Pool Enclosure

If you’re after the ultimate in comfort, privacy, and eco-friendliness, a pool enclosure is the way to go. Having your pool partially or fully enclosed will provide shade and seclusion, and keep the ground around the pool from getting too hot. On top of all of the comfort benefits, there are green ones too.

A pool enclosure will help keep your pool cleaner and warmer, and lessen evaporation of precious water into the air. You’ll be able to clean, heat, and fill your pool less often. A pool enclosure will also extend the amount of time you can swim, or even turn your pool into an oasis that’s swimmable year-round.

10. Party Green

Don’t forget to keep things green when you party! There are lots of ways to throw an eco-friendly pool party: from the grub to the decor, you can be an environmentally conscious host. There’s no need for wasteful paper invitations and plates. You can invite friends through email or Facebook, and invest in reusable plastic plates and servingware that won’t shatter if dropped poolside.

You don’t have to buy disposable decor to make the place look festive, just get creative with the home decor you already have. Try to find locally sourced and humanely treated food to serve your guests, and use LED string lights if your party will roll on into the night.

How Do You “Green” Your Pool?

These are just the top ten ways to be a green pool owner. What are some of your best tips for maintaining your pool while keeping the environment on your mind?

Pool Care 101: How to Take Care of My Pool

Anyone who’s spent five minutes researching pool care can easily become overwhelmed at the wealth of information available. Pool filters, pH levels, total alkalinity tests strips, shocks and algaecide – the list of mandatory knowledge can seem endless.

The good news is that pool care doesn’t have to be complicated, or require a Ph.D. in Hydrology and Water Management. The vast majority of pool care can be divided into four categories: Basic equipment, cleaning, fixing problems that may arise, and closing the pool. We’ve laid out the basics of pool care in those categories and we’ve supplied links to our more specific resources.

Basic Pool Care Equipment

Circulation System: The circulation system is comprised of a pump and filters that are the cornerstone of pool maintenance. Circulation of the water in your pool allows you to filter out particles and disperse the chemicals. There are a wide variety of different brands on the market with various methods of filtering water, each with its own pros and cons.

Hi-rate sand, cartridge, and Diatomaceous Earth (DE) are the most common types of filters. Once you’ve determined which filter type and the size of your pool, you can learn the proper way to maintain it.

For example, sand filters are cleaned by backwashing water through the system, and are most effective when slightly dirty. Cartridge and DE filters, on the other hand, are cleaned by removing the filter cartridge and soaking it in a cleaning solution.

Underwater vacuum: This cleans grit and debris from the bottom of your pool. This is typically purchased along with the pump to ensure that both are compatible with each other. Both automated and manual vacuums are available.

Skimmer: Basically a large, fine-mesh butterfly net, this device will allow you to skim leaves, sticks, and other debris that have fallen into the pool. It also makes a handy retrieval device for pool toys and other objects.

Leaf net: Essential in the fall season if you have large, deciduous trees around your pool. You will be shocked at the thousands of leaves that will blow into your pool without protection and how heavy they are to remove with the skimmer basket. Save yourself the trouble and tie a leaf net over the pool as soon as leaves start dropping.

Brushes: Even with a functioning filter, pool vacuum, and proper chemical usage, the sides of your pool will still need to be scrubbed. Large, wide brushes from pool stores will make the job faster.

Our additional resources include:

3 Steps Often Overlooked in Pool and Hot Tub Maintenance

What Pool and Hot Tub Owners Must Know About Water Clarifiers

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 or 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.