How to Get New Pool Water in Safe Swimming Condition

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

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

Things You Will Need

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

Steps:

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

Tips

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

Warnings

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

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

 

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

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

4 Tips For a Killer Pool Party

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

1.  Prepare the Pool

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

2. Set Up Decorations

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

3. Provide Proper Food and Beverages

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

4. Take Safety Precautions

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

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

If you’re looking for an easy way to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced, consider a pHin smart monitor. This device constantly monitors your water and automatically sends you exactly what you need to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. If you’re looking for someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

Mid-winter Pool Check: Is Your Pool Balanced?

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

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

Check the Pool Cover First

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

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

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

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

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

Balancing the Pool Water

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

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

Total Alkalinity

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

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

Water Calcium

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

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

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

Water pH

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

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

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

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

Maintaining Your Pool and Hot Tub Year-Round

The easiest way to maintain proper balance year-round is with a pHin smart monitor. This little device constantly monitors your water and automatically sends you exactly what you need to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. If you’re looking for someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

When is 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.