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.

How to Fix Air Bubbles in Your Pool

The post How to Fix Air Bubbles in Your Pool first appeared on Swim University.

Do you see air bubbles shooting out of the return jets in your swimming pool? It’s a very common problem (especially when you open your pool in the spring), and one that can be easily solved with a few troubleshooting tips.

Air Bubbles in Pool? Why This Happens

Commonly, the air is coming from the suction side of your swimming pool— this means anything before the water enters the filter. There are three places you can check to see if air is getting into your system.

1. The Skimmer(s)

Check the water level. If your pool doesn’t have enough water, your skimmer(s) might be pulling in air. Be sure that the water level is in the middle of your skimmer’s opening. Here’s an illustration depicting where your water level should be:

Check the skimmer basket. Make sure your skimmer baskets are not damaged and seated properly to ensure good water suction.

Check the weir. The weir (or skimmer flap) is the door that “flaps” in front of your skimmer — it’s there to trap large debris from escaping back into your pool and to regulate water flow into your skimmer. Sometimes it can get jammed, so make sure it’s freely moving back and forth. If you don’t have a skimmer weir, I would recommended getting one, although it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have one.

2. The Pump

Check the pump lid. First off, if the lid is cracked, that’s the problem right there, however, the most common issue has to do with the lid’s o-ring.

Check the lid o-ring. Turn the pump off, remove the lid, and check the o-ring for cracks. Just bend the o-ring between your fingers — around the whole o-ring — to check for any signs of cracking. If it looks like your o-ring is splitting or dry-rotted, you need to replace the o-ring. If there are no signs of cracking, that’s a good thing. However, I would recommend using a Teflon-based o-ring lube to create a better seal.

Check the pump basket. Sometimes if your basket is cracked it won’t be seated correctly in the housing. Replace a cracked filter basket and make sure it’s cleaned (frequently) and properly seated so that the lid can be sealed correctly.

Check the drain plugs. On the pump housing you should have a drain plug (maybe two). Make sure the drain plugs are not leaking or loose. You can apply some Teflon tape (plumbers tape) to the drain plug threads for a tighter seal.

3. The Union(s)

If you have an unground pool, you might have some unions in your plumbing. Unions are threaded connectors between piping that will allow you to easily replace your filter equipment without having to cut any pipe.

Inside the union, you should have yet another o-ring to check for damage. If it’s damaged, replace it. If it’s not, make sure the o-ring is properly seated inside the groove it belongs in. If the o-ring is not in its groove, it will not create a proper seal and allow air to get into your system.

You’re All Set!

Hopefully these troubleshooting tips solve your air bubble problem. If not, you can share your story in the comments below and I will respond with some additional help. To ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays perfectly balanced, consider purchasing a pHin smart monitor today!

Happy Swimming!

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.

How to Open an Inground Pool in 10 Steps

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

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

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

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

What You Need:

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

1. Remove Water and Debris From Your Winter Pool Cover

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

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

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

2. Remove Your Winter Pool Cover

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

3. Clean Your Winter Pool Cover and Store Away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Re-Install Your Deck Equipment

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

  • Pool ladders
  • Diving boards
  • Step rails

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

6. Fill Your Pool Up

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

7. Set Up Your Filter And Pump

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

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

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

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

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

8. Fire It Up!

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

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

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

9. Clean It Up!

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

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

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

10. Shock and All

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

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

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

One Last Check

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

Happy Swimming from pHin!