Prep Your Pool for Winter Hibernation

Homeowners in Northern, cooler states are expecting temperatures to drop over the next few weeks. When the first autumn leaves fall, it’s time to start closing your pool for the season – A general rule of thumb is to wait until outdoor temperatures start to steadily fall below 65 degrees. To avoid damage or other issues next pool season, follow these steps and precautions:

  1. Clean the Pool

Before it can be closed, you’ll want to get your pool as clean as possible. Using a vacuum or skimmer, make sure there are no leaves or other debris floating in the water. The pool walls and stairs should be scrubbed with a brush to break up any algae build up. You’ll want to get your pool as clean as possible before it’s closed for the season.

  1. Lower the Water Level

As you’re getting your pool ready for the off season, drain water to avoid problems with ground water and temperature levels if/when they drop below freezing. How much water should you drain? That depends on the climate of the area you live in. If temperatures are generally cold in the winter, you’ll want to drain the water 4 to 6 inches below the tile line to avoid any potential issues with freezing water.

  1. Check and Clean Filters

Even through the winter, check on your filters regularly to make sure they are running properly and keeping the water clean and safe. Pool filters help remove debris from the water but can’t do their job properly if they aren’t cleaned regularly. You’ll be thankful later – this step will help to preserve the lifespan of the filter system and keep your pool clean during the off season for an easier opening in the spring.

  1. Adjust Chemical Levels

Before you close your pool for the winter, test the water’s chemistry levels and get it balanced. Closing your pool with unbalanced levels will make it difficult to open it up the next season. For help checking and correcting the balance, you can turn to pHin. The pHin Smart Water monitor will help you understand if your pool is balanced with color coded discs. pHin’s simplified chemical dosing instructions will help you understand how much of each chemical needs to be added to get the water balanced.

  1. Set to Winterize

pHin has a special setting for winter: Pool owners can get their monitor and pool ready for hibernation by tapping on the “subscription” icon on the app homepage and click “winterize pool.” Then they can remove pHin from the pool and store it in a safe spot until next season.

Keeping Your Pool Balanced After Rainfall

Between summer thunderstorms and hurricane season, rainfall can have an impact on pool water balance. The acid and contaminants in rainwater can cause the pool’s pH levels to rise, affecting the chemical balance of the water.

You can plan for rainfall by adding chemicals before and afterward to keep your water balanced. Here’s how:

Before the Storm

Being proactive and making sure the pool water is balanced before and during rainfall will help you keep the water in good shape throughout the season. Keep an eye on the weather in your area so you know when rain is on the way: When you’re expecting heavy rain, actively check the pH and chlorine levels of your pool and add additional chemicals accordingly.

After the Storm

Even after a mild rainstorm, pool chemicals can become diluted. In addition to your regular pool water maintenance routine, it’s especially important to check the water after rainfall. When the rain has stopped, check the pH level of the water first. If the pH is below 7.0, add more chlorine to the pool before you increase the pH, adding chlorine will typically increase the pH on its own.

If your chlorine level is low, you will need to add more chlorine until levels are back to normal.

Keeping track of your pool’s chemistry levels is difficult, especially after they’ve been altered by a rainstorm. You can keep an eye on your pool water status during the rain without even needing to grab your umbrella with the help of pHin! The pHin Smart Monitor sends real-time updates about your water status, taking over 1,000 measurements per week.

If the pH levels of your pool become unbalanced following the storm, pHin will send an alert in the app or via email. It’ll also provide easy-to-understand chemical dosing instructions to get the water balanced after the rain has passed.

After you make chemical updates, make sure your pool is running properly. Most rainstorms bring leaves and outside debris into the pool area and water, use a skimmer or vacuum to clean the pool before your next swim. Once the pool is clean, check the water level. If the water level is above normal, you’ll need to drain the water — too much water in the pool will cause issues with the skimmer which can lead to water chemistry issues.

Learn more about pHin at pHin.co.

Take the Dive: Build and Maintain Your Own Swimming Pool

Our friends at Porch.com share tips for building and maintaining your own swimming pool.

Looking for an epic way to spend your summers? Consider adding a swimming pool to your home to create the ultimate staycation, day after day. Nothing says home like sipping a soda poolside as you watch the kids playing a game of Marco Polo or swimming laps for an all-body cardio workout in a refreshing environment. It’s the perfect way to host family get-togethers or parties for your kids’ friends, and we have some advice to help you plan for, build, and maintain a backyard pool.

Along with ensuring fun for kids or a relaxing oasis for adults, building a swimming pool can give a huge boost to the market value of your home. “Does it have a pool?” is a common question that Realtors field from potential home buyers, especially in warmer climates.

Pre-Pool Considerations

Adding a pool to your life (and yard) is an exciting experience. Before you start making pool plans, though, take a good look at your yard. Will a pool enhance your backyard ambiance? Is your yard big enough, and is there adequate access to your backyard for a contractor to dig dirt (and haul it away) and build your pool? Are there trees or a deck in the way that will need to be removed? Do you have existing utility easements, and are wires or pipes running underneath in that location? Will you need to build retaining walls?

These are some of the considerations you’ll need to investigate before you take the leap into pool ownership.

Start Planning Your Pool

As you move from the dreaming to the planning stage, you’ll need to factor in some things, including how much you’ll need to invest in building and maintaining your pool. During the planning process, there’s plenty to do, from deciding what type of pool you want, hiring a contractor, obtaining financing if needed, getting permits, and preparing the location.

Budgeting for a Pool

There are different kinds of pools: above-ground pools and inground pools. The actual cost of your pool will depend on your region and other factors like the size, materials, and features. The average above-ground pool is more economical, and the price also depends on where you live, what materials you use, the size, and other features like an optional deck around the pool.

Factor in Extra Costs

When you’re budgeting, make sure you set aside extra money for electrical work, plumbing, landscaping, fencing and patio improvements. After it’s built, keep extra funds to spend on repairs for your pool pump, lights, and other parts, along with chemicals and professional cleaning.

You may also need to build a fence around your pool. Many cities and counties require a fence for safety reasons.

Before you build a pool, keep in mind that you’ll have monthly fees for pool maintenance and extra electricity to run the pump and other pool components. If you don’t use your pool year-round, don’t forget to factor in the cost of cleaning, preparing for, and safely covering your pool for the winter. These costs will vary depending on the type and size of the pool you build and where you live.

You’ll also want to budget the cost of adding your pool to your existing house insurance policy. Also, ask your agent about liability insurance in case someone is hurt while using your pool.

Where Do you Put Your New Pool?

It’s location, location, location for your new pool. Some people prefer their pool steps away from the back door, while others place their pool a little farther into the yard. The location is up to you, while still considering what’s already in your yard. You’ll want it to blend beautifully with your home and landscape.

Remember, though, that you’ll need to adhere to your local government’s property setbacks for pools and any restrictions if you have a homeowner’s association.

Building your Pool

Now that you’ve decided a pool is in your future, it’s time to rely on your chosen contractor to handle the designing, building, and installation of your pool.

Your contractor will help you decide on the best size, shape, and materials for your pool, whether it’s made from pre-formed fiberglass, or built on-site with vinyl liners or poured concrete. Some homeowners love the convenience and cleaning ease of a smooth fiberglass pool. Fiberglass pools are also a popular choice because they arrive assembled and ready to lower into the hole dug by your contractor’s crew. Or, you may opt for a concrete pool or vinyl liner pool. Above-ground pools are made of steel, aluminum, or resin, with liners. You can also purchase affordable inflatable vinyl above-ground pools that you can set up yourself.

How Long Will it Take?

Swimming pools aren’t built within a weekend. All kinds of variables factor into how long you’ll wait before that first delicious dip into sparkling waters.

Above-ground pools can be installed faster than other types of pools, ready within days. Fiberglass inground pools may take a week or two. Vinyl liner pools may take two weeks to over a month before they’re ready to enjoy. The most expensive pool option, concrete, takes the longest time to complete because construction is more complicated and involves pouring and curing concrete. You may wait months for the project’s completion and your first fun pool party. Other factors, like the weather, can affect the timing of completion.

Pool Decor

While you’re designing your pool, add some color and decorative tiles for a special, relaxing touch. Consider other custom options like underwater lighting, an infinity edge, bench seating or a tanning ledge, ensuring years of personalized enjoyment. Do you plan to swim laps, requiring a longer pool, or prefer weekend relaxing on a water float with a drink in your hand? Consider a shaded lounging area with easy-care pavers, concrete or decking.

While your pool’s under construction, pick out lounge seating, landscaping, and outdoor lighting around your pool or even hide those pipes or structures that are not pleasing to the eye in the backyard. Now’s your chance to turn it into your dream oasis. You might also consider installing some type of privacy fencing or shade material to shield your pool from neighbors’ views.

Taking Care of your Swimming Pool

Once your pool is up and running, you’ll need to maintain it regularly. Familiarize yourself with the parts of your pool and how they work. This will help you troubleshoot if something stops working.

Your pool may be basic, or it may have all the bells and whistles like advanced heating and lights or underwater speakers. Your pool may have an automatic pool cover or maybe an above-ground one that the kids spend their weekends in. Either way, all pools share basic components like (of course) water, a filter system, the interior walls or liner, a pool pump, skimmers and returns to circulate the water.

Keep the walls, bottom and/or lining of your pool clean. Those surfaces are always in contact with pool water and can collect debris, algae and mold if not properly cared for.

To keep your pool sparkling clean, you’ll want to buy supplies including a net skimmer, pool brush, and pool vacuum. Use these to help keep bugs, leaves, and other stuff from making your pool unsightly. Residue from shampoos, sunblock, and perfume can also create cleaning issues for your pool.

At least once a week, use the skimmer, brush and vacuum on your pool. Some pool owners find automatic pool cleaners are a huge time-saver. The cleaner patrols your pool whenever you want, brushing the sides and bottom so you don’t have to.

The pool pump keeps your water circulating so your pool doesn’t become polluted and cloudy. Try to run your filter a minimum of 10 to 12 hours a day or more, 7 days a week, according to recommendations from “A Beginner’s Guide to Pool Maintenance”. You’ll also want to backwash your filter regularly, reversing the flow of water so dirty water and contaminants are carried out of your pool.

Chemistry Class

Keeping your pool water clean and balanced is crucial for safe summer fun, according to the Swim University beginner’s guide. Keep a water testing kit nearby so you can tell right away if your pool chemistry is unbalanced, and what to do to bring the water back to sparkling, safe levels.

Your pool’s pH level is important Lower pH levels are considered acidic, and high levels are basic. You should aim for a pH of 7.4 to 7.6. You’ll also need to check the alkalinity, which is a pH buffer so your pool doesn’t have big spikes. Try to keep this between 100 and 150 parts per million, the beginner’s guide advises.

Keep an eye on the level of your chlorine or bromine sanitizer, too. You may need to add chemicals, including an occasional night-time chemical “shock” after rainstorms or heavy pool use. Following directions and safety precautions ensures pool-chemical maintenance success.

Maintenance Schedule

Set up a pool maintenance schedule and stick to it. The more often you regularly skim, clean, backflush, and check chemicals, the more comfortable you’ll become with the routine. Write up a list with dates of the duties and post somewhere that’s easily seen, like on the refrigerator. You can involve the family with the duties, too.

Some homeowners prefer to spend their pool time relaxing so they pay a pool company to maintain the pool chemicals and cleaning schedule.

Enjoying your Swimming Pool

The reward of owning and maintaining a pool is being able to enjoy it whenever you like and the perfect host for all kinds of get-togethers. Your family will cherish this pool for years, and it’s a great incentive for relatives and friends to visit. A pool is the perfect low-impact way to exercise, too, giving a great cardiovascular workout that’s easy on joints and muscles and ensuring less risk of injury.

You can set up a pool basketball hoop or net for hours of fun. Your kids will invent their own pool games, too, under careful supervision of an adult.

Safety First

While a pool brings years of joy, it also comes with the responsibility of making sure swimmers are safe. Make certain your pool meets all fencing and pool signage requirements, and keep a first aid kit nearby. Now is the perfect time to become certified in CPR. In the United States, you can find courses through the American Red Cross, your local YMCA or a swimming organization near you.

Have an adult who knows how to swim watching when kids are in the pool and keep a locking, alarmed fence around your pool when it’s not in use. Parents of smaller children often feel more secure installing alarms on the doors leading to the pool.

Bring on the Fun

Although the price of building and maintaining a swimming pool can be costly, most homeowners discover that having endless days of laughter and fun under the sun, conveniently right outside their back door, is worth every penny.

This piece was originally posted on Porch.com and has be published with permission.

Why pHin Is The “Best Tech Investment” of One User’s Smart Home

Smart home technology can be found in more and more homes, offering convenience, peace of mind, and fun. Most devices are inside the home, like smart speakers, connected light bulbs, and smart door locks. But the smart home has now extended to the backyard with the pHin Smart Water Monitor.

John Clancy is a veteran pool owner, having managed pools in both of his homes over the last 20 years. An executive in the smart home technology space, his two residences are fully equipped with state-of-the-art Crestron smart home systems that he and his family use to control everything from the lights, shades, thermostats, TVs, and more. John is always testing the latest technology that can make his life easier, or even make it more fun. When John heard about pHin, it seemed like the perfect addition to his smart technology lifestyle.

After using it for a few weeks, pHin has already transformed John’s pool care routine. “I use pHin every day. I’ve owned pools for the last 20 years, and pHin makes enjoying and managing my pool convenient and easy,” he commented. Using the pHin smartphone app, his pool care routine is simple: John can see the status of his pool water any time in the pHin app, which has become a daily habit. Seeing important metrics about his pool at a glance, including the temperature, pH level, and sanitizer allow John to proactively manage the chemistry and temperature of the pool and maximize fun time. Instead of having to check chemicals and adjust the temperature on Saturday mornings, before a pool party, or in the afternoon for a workout, he can simply check the app and then jump in.

“I will also say that the accuracy at which the levels are reported from pHin are amazing,” added John.  “When my pool company was here this week for our weekly maintenance, their readings matched all three metrics exactly on my pHin app.”

pHin also accounts for the other elements of routine pool water care, providing test-strips and a reference card. It’s a simple process, analyzing a photo of the used test-strip in the app to provide other readings important to the overall pool chemistry. According to John, “The best part, which is unlike any other test strips I have ever used, is that it tells you exactly what chemicals and the quantities to add to remedy any unbalance.”

Whether you’re new to pool care or an experienced pool owner like John, smart technology like pHin can make water care simple.

Learn more about how pHin works here: https://www.phin.co/

What Makes Your Pool Green?

As a pool owner, there’s nothing worse than looking out at your pool and seeing green water. It can happen even to experienced pool owners, but it’s easily reversible once you know what caused the issue in the first place.

The pHin experts put together a list of reasons why pool water goes green:

#1 Not Enough Chlorine

Chlorine is important for sanitizing water from bacteria and other contaminants. Lack of chlorine is one of the most common causes of green pools. If the pool water is not balanced with proper chlorine levels, algae will start to grow, causing the water to turn green. The growth of algae also speeds up as warmer weather arrives so a regular pool care routine can keep it in check.

#2 The Weather

Depending on where you live, the weather can have an impact on your pool water clarity. When pollen levels are high, the water may turn green more frequently. Pollen is too small to be properly managed by the pool filter and it might require cleaning with a brush or skimmer. For those who live in hot and humid climates where algae thrives, a higher amount of chlorine can help prevent potential algae buildup.

#3 Unbalanced pH

pH measures the acidity of your pool water, and can fluctuate due to weather, temperature, and pool use. If the pH of the water is too high, chlorine becomes less effective, which can allow algae to grow in the water.  Monitoring your pH levels, along with a regular pool care routine, can help prevent an environment where algae can grow.

#4 Pool Pumps and Filters

If your pump or filter is too small for the size of your pool, the system can’t properly filter and get rid of algae and other debris that enter the pool. Or even the right size pump can’t effectively clear the water if it’s not running regularly. Check with your pool manufacturer for the right size and run time required for your pool to keep it safe.

Keeping an eye on your pool water conditions and equipment can prevent a cloudy green pool. pHin can help by reporting whether your pH levels need attention. It takes over 1,000 measurements a week,and will alert you through your smartphone app if your water’s pH is off. When there’s a problem, you’re not on your own – pHin also helps out by providing chemical dosing instructions to right the imbalance before the water gets off track.

Learn more about pHin here.

When Should I Open My Pool for the Season?

When the temperatures start to rise, we begin longing for days spent poolside in the sunshine. A ripple effect of pool openings starts across the country as we approach the first day of summer with some pool owners wondering, “When should I open my pool for the season?”

Many factors can play into the decision for opening day. The pHin experts share tips for picking the ideal date:

 When Is It Too Early To Open Your Pool?

Each pool owner’s opening date varies depending on where they live. When temperatures are consistently over or around 70 degrees it’s usually the perfect time to start a pool opening. While it might be a little chilly for swimming for those who don’t have heated pools, it’ll leave you time to get ready for warmer days to come. Keep an eye on the weather – consistency is important because you don’t want to experience freezing temperatures a few days after the big opening.

 Along with outdoor temperatures, there are a few other factors to consider:

1.    Algae

With warmer temperatures, your pool can become a breeding ground for algae. To prevent algae buildup that can turn your pool green, opening your pool sooner can get you up and running. This gives you extra time to start cleaning to prevent the algae from growing.

2. Expense and Equipment

Pool openings can add extra expenses. Before you open your pool, consider the costs of additional chemicals, parts, or labor that will be needed. Also, do a check of what you’ll need for the season, including test strips, chemicals, cleaner, etc.

3.     Aesthetic

Pulling the cover off your pool adds beauty to your backyard. It might also be time to have the surrounding deck or patio power-washed, uncover your pool-side lounge chairs, and see if there’s anything you want to add this year, like rock speakers, lighting, new toys, or even a water slide.

4.     Entertainment         

Pools offer endless fun for families to enjoy all season long. After you’ve planned your pool opening date, start planning the first day for fun and games with your family, or a workout right in the backyard!

These pool opening tips should help you keep your pool in top shape all summer long.  The water needs to be balanced and safe for swimming, and technology like pHin can help guide you through the process. Enjoy the pool season!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Ways to Conserve Water During the Pool Season

5 Ways to Conserve Water During the Pool Season. Water conservation may not be at the forefront of your priorities as a pool owner, but it fulfills to big green initiatives: good for the planet and good for your wallet. Pool and hot tub water conservation can save a bundle on utility bills, not to mention money spent on repairs. If your pool doesn’t have the proper water levels, it can damage both equipment and plumbing, which can lead to expensive repairs.

Not sure how to start? Keep reading for water conservation ideas.

1. Use a Pool Cover

Many pool owners use a cover outside of pool season to protect the pool from the elements. Pool covers are incredibly beneficial during the pool season as well. Like all other bodies of water, the water in your pool evaporates, especially during hotter months. Over the course of a year, it is possible to lose more than half of the water in your pool. A properly fitted pool cover greatly reduces evaporation, though, helping to maximize the amount of pool water you conserve. In addition, a cover continues protecting your pool from the elements and nasty debris, reducing the need for more chemicals by minimizing algae growth.

2. Check for Leaks

Regularly check your pool and its plumbing for cracks and leaks. You’d be amazed at the amount of water that can escape through even a small crack. Each ounce of water that leaves your pool is water that you could have saved and, in turn, money you could have saved. And, of course, leaking water has to go somewhere. Eventually, that accumulated water damages pool structures. Regularly checking your pool for signs of cracks or leaks helps stop the problem before it starts.

3. Shut Off Fountains and Waterfalls

Additions to your pool that use extra water, such as fountains and waterfalls, lose a significant amount of water to evaporation. They look and sound pretty, but they prevent you from conserving water and add to your water and utility bills. It is best to limit the amount of time you run water features, by shutting them off when the pool is not in use or only running them when you’re entertaining.

4. Check the Pump

To conserve water, you want to run your pool pump only when necessary. Start by running it for eight hours a day and, if it stays clear, you may reduce the time it runs. The size of the pool and time of year determines the amount of time your pump should run, but the less you run it the more water you will save. It takes a bit of trial and error to determine the right length of time to run the pump. Getting a timer rated for the size of your pool pump helps prevent calculation errors. If your pool begins to get cloudy, you should run your pump for longer. A typical Rule of Thumb: operate the filter pump one-hour for every 10 degrees of water temperature.

5. Drain the Pool Only When Necessary

Some pool owners prefer to start the pool season with freshly scrubbed pool walls and brand new water, but the amount of water this process wastes is astronomical. What’s more, it’s unnecessary in a properly maintained pool. Most experts agree that you only need to drain a pool every three to seven years, depending on the level of regular maintenance and the quality of the water used to top-off the pool level. To conserve water and save costs, only drain your pool only when necessary.

To keep the water in your pool or hot tub 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 or look for leaks and cracks, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects you to local, qualified pool techs.