The Ultimate Pool Care Routine for A Stress-Free Summer

School is wrapping up and the days are getting longer and warmer – which means summer is finally here!

If you’ve opened your pool (hot tub, or swim spa) for the season, it’s time to set a routine to keep it safe for swimming all summer long.

The pHin team put together these steps to stress-free pool care:

1.       Set a schedule

Your pool water needs regular care to stay balanced and safe throughout the summer. To stay on track, set up a schedule to use water test strips, adjust chemicals, and add shock (Learn more about shocking here.).

Plan a day to brush the pool weekly, it’s an important step towards preventing algae buildup, removing dirt particles, and smoothing the surface to ensure a long-lasting finish. And, remember to use the skimmer daily to remove leaves and debris that may collect overnight.

2.       Stock up on chemicals

You may already have chosen your favorite chemical brand, or are going with the recommendation from your pool builder or hot tub manufacturer. Stock up on a good supply of chemicals, shock, and test strips, so you don’t run out unexpectedly. You can even keep a chart nearby to note when items are getting low. Store them safely, secured and away from children and pets.

Your local pool technician can help keep you stocked too. Many are taking online orders and offering curbside pickup, so getting the supplies you need is even easier. You can even find a pool store near you and place an order if you’re a pHin user, right through the pHin app!

3.       Get Ready for Testing

Water testing can be challenging, even for experienced pool owners! Most pool owners check their temperature daily and test the water with strips weekly. A helper like the pHin Smart Water Monitor can boost the number of tests for accurate measurements available anytime through the app. It floats in the pool, measuring the pH, sanitizer, and temperature over 1,000 times per week.

The measurements are put through an algorithm that will give a clear status of whether the water is balanced, or needs action. If the water isn’t safe, the pHin user will get a push notification, with actionable instructions and exact chemical dosing.

4.       Plan for fun!

Once you know your pool is safe for swimming, accessorize and plan for fun! Schedule wine nights by the pool, plan your Fourth of July barbeque, and stock up on pool floaties, water games, and lots of sunblock.

Want to keep your pool in top swimming shape? Try out pHin! Learn more here.

Spring is Here, Plan At-Home Pool and Hot Tub Fun

After a long winter, spring is finally here! Whether your hot tub is already open or you’re starting to plan your pool opening, here are some ways to get ahead on fun and relaxation this season from the pHin team:

Choose your Opening Date

Pick a date to open your pool or hot tub and start a fun countdown. Memorial Day weekend is popular for those in the North, but pool owners who already have warm weather may be enjoying their water already.

Make sure you have all the necessary tools to make for a smooth opening. Have a spot to store your pool cover and let it dry completely before folding it to avoid mold from forming. The water level may be low, so use a garden hose to fill it back up to a normal level. Once your water level is adjusted, you need to make sure that the water is safe and ready for swimming. If you need help adjusting the chemicals, see how pHin can help in our three-step guide.

Add Fun with Floaties

Stock up on some new pool floats! You can play games like pool noodle races or use floats that have built-in cupholders for extra relaxation to take lounging to the next level. It’s also time to resurrect and clean any pool toys you have like dive sticks and beach balls – and don’t forget to brush off your outdoor chairs, umbrellas, and lounges.

Plan Water Games

Marco Polo is a classic but it may be time to find some new favorites this year.  Why not Bet on candy or household chores using an inflatable poker table with your family, or challenge them to aqua golf? Good Housekeeping shares a list of summer pool games for inspiration!

Let the Music Play

No poolside or hot tub lounge is complete without a great playlist. Come up with some options for whatever mood you may be in that day! Relaxing in the hot tub after a long day? Throwing a poolside party? The pHin team also has a few go-to playlists you can check out now.

To get the maximum fun, relaxation, and de-stressing that you need from your pool or hot tub, make sure the water’s safe. Chemistry can be confusing, but pHin is here to remove the guesswork. pHin floats in the water and constantly measures the water’s balance. If it goes out of balance pHin sends an alert straight to your smartphone for easy maintenance.

Pool Chemicals 101: What You Need To Know

When you first decide to get a pool, you’re thinking about the fun you’ll have: pool parties, kids frolicking, swimming laps in the morning. Unfortunately, once you fill your pool up with water you can’t just “set it and forget it.”

Pools tend to grow algae and get dirty from the chemicals and skin cells from all those swimmers, plus debris and other natural contaminants can also cloud the water and create an unswimmable, bacteria-infested environment. The last thing you want is to go for a pleasant dip and find that the water is too dirty and might even make you and your friends or family ill.

Sometimes it seems like you need a degree in chemistry to make sure your pool chemicals are perfectly balanced. Not true. It doesn’t have to be hard to make sure your pool is always clean, safe and ready for a good time. Once you understand the basics of pool chemicals and maintenance, it becomes easier and less time-consuming to make sure your pool is balanced and swimmable, especially if you have a smart water monitoring system to help.

It’s important to check your chemicals often and to perform regular maintenance. Why? One: You won’t have the long-term issues like algae blooms or bacterial infections that might create health issues for you and your swimmers. Two: You’ll avoid issues that might require draining and refilling your pool, or even more serious repairs that are expensive and will have your pool out of commission for a long time. Three: Your pool will always be ready and waiting for you to dive in and enjoy.

This overview of pool chemical basics will help any new pool owner as well as those with years of experience owning and maintaining their pools. The basic chemicals you need to monitor and adjust are:

●       Pool Sanitizers: Chlorine and Bromine

●       Algaecides

●       pH Balancers

●       Alkalinity Balancers

●       Hardness Balancers

●       Pool Shock

Don’t worry! It may seem like a lot to manage but we make keeping track of your pool’s chemical balance simple and easy.

What are pool sanitizers and why do you need them?

What do pool sanitizers do?

Pool sanitizers combine with bacteria, viruses, algae and other natural contaminants in your pool to neutralize (destroy) them. The two most popular pool sanitizers are chlorine and bromine. Sanitizers are the most important pool chemical, but it’s important to know that they work best when all of the other levels in your pool — alkaline, pH and calcium hardness — are balanced as well.

What is the difference between chlorine and bromine?

Chlorine neutralizes bacteria and viruses by attaching to them and changing their chemical profile. Once this happens, the chlorine is no longer effective, but the contaminants are gone.

Chlorine comes in a granule form which you can drop right in the pool. Granular chlorine has to be added to your pool  and tested  almost daily so it’s a little more time-intensive to manage.

Chlorine also comes in 1-inch or 3-inch tablets which can be administered using a floating chlorine dispenser, through the pool skimmer, or through an automatic chlorinator. These methods guarantee a more consistent distribution of the pool sanitizer and are also less labor intensive, especially if you have a smart pool monitor that will send you alerts about your current chemical levels if and when they get out of balance.

Chlorine 101:

●       The ideal target balance for chlorine is 3ppm (parts per million). If you are under 3ppm, your pool is probably starting to become a petri dish. Anything more than 3ppm, and you probably need to dilute the chemicals in your water.

●       Most brands of chlorine are pretty similar. If you’re looking for a reason to buy one over another, check the “active ingredients” list which is what actually works to destroy the bacteria. 

●       Weekly pool shocks are required with chlorine to clear the pool.

Bromine is similar to chlorine, but it tends to work better in pools, spas and hot tubs that run at warmer temperatures. Bromine is a great option for people whose skin is sensitive to chlorine, although it is actually chlorine-based, in case you have anyone who is allergic to chlorine.

Bromine can be more expensive than chlorine; however, bromine actually ionizes the bacteria and viruses and then continues to work, unlike chlorine, so it does last longer. Bromine comes in tablets and must be administered using a chemical dispenser.

Bromine 101:

●       The ideal target balance for bromine is between 3ppm (parts per million) and 5ppm.

●       Weekly pool shocks are required with bromine to clear the pool.

●       Bromine does not add cyanuric acid or chlorine to the water.

●       Bromine is less stable than chlorine when exposed to the sun, so you need to make sure you are constantly checking your pool chemical levels.

What are algaecides and why do you need them?

What do algaecides do?

If, or when, you see your pool looking a little cloudy and green (green pool water is a warning sign, but it can also be  yellow, blue, or black) it’s time to worry about algae. Sometimes you can spot an algae outbreak before it shows in the pool water by checking the water line, the corners of the pool and stairs for discoloration. It’s important to keep an eye out for algae in your pool as it can cause bacterial skin infections or even injuries due to slips and scrapes from a slimy surface. You want to jump into a crystal clear pool, right?!

There are several types of algae that can infest your pool; green algae is the most common and black algae is the hardest to remove. Algaecides stop algae from growing in your pool and prevent outbreaks from happening. It’s much easier and more efficient  to use the right pool chemicals during regular maintenance to prevent an outbreak rather than to try to use algaecides to cure an algae outbreak in your pool. Most algaecides are based on copper sulfates or copper chelates which stop the algae from growing. Copper-based algae treatments may stain your pool — so make sure to check before you purchase.

Algaecides 101:

●       Monitor your pool’s chemical levels constantly. A smart pool water management system, like pHin, can help you make sure that your chemical levels are balanced to help avoid an algae outbreak.

●       Make sure that your pool circulation is functioning correctly: Stagnant water is a breeding ground for algae.

●       Brush the waterline of your pool regularly to make sure that algae isn’t breeding at the surface of your pool.

●       Shock your pool. Shock your pool. Shock your pool. This should be a weekly ritual if you want to ensure healthy, swimmable water for you, your family and friends.

●       Mustard and black algae are not impacted by chlorine so you will need an algaecide to treat those conditions.

What are pH balancers and why do you need them?

What do pH balancers do?

pH balancers maintain a healthy pH range in your pool, critical to its overall health and functionality. If your pH gets too high or too low, swimmers will experience eye irritation or other skin discomforts. It can also corrode your pool tiles and damage your pumps and other expensive pool systems. Plus, if your pH is not within the correct range, your pool sanitizer and other chemical levels will be less effective.

A pool’s pH level is extremely sensitive. Anything that comes in contact with your pool — leaves, bugs,  popsicles, sunscreen, beer, kids — will affect it. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to maintain your pH levels with consistent monitoring. Keep a pH increaser and a pH decreaser in your stockpile of pool chemical management tools.

pH balancers 101:

●       To keep your pool at the best, most effective pH level, readings  should be between 7.2 to 7.6. Use a smart pool monitoring device that checks these levels constantly every day and sends an alert to your mobile device letting you know if you need to make any adjustments.

●                   Alkalinity and pH are yin and yang. You need to make sure they’re both in the right zone in order to maintain your overall pool chemistry.

●                   7 is a neutral zone for your pool’s pH. Anything below 7 will be acidic. Anything over 7 indicates that it is too alkaline. If your pool is over or under, you’ll need to add acid or alkaline to get back in balance.

What are alkalinity balancers and why do you need them?

What do alkalinity balancers do?

Alkalinity balancers are used to maintain a safe total alkalinity range for a comfortable swimming experience. Alkalinity acts as a buffer or a shield for pH levels so if your levels are off, you need to adjust for the alkalinity first and sometimes the pH will correct itself.

Alkalinity 101:

●       The recommended level for alkalinity is 125 ppm, but anywhere in the 100 – 150ppm range should be acceptable.

●       Make sure you have an alkalinity increaser in your chemical kit just in case. There is no such thing as a chemical decreaser but a pH decreaser will lower both pH and alkalinity.

What are calcium hardness balancers and why do you need them?

What do calcium hardness balancers do?

You’ve heard of hard and soft water, right? The “hardness” of your water is based on how much calcium is in the water. This is totally dependent on where you live and what source you use to fill your pool. If your calcium level is too low, it can corrode your pool systems, equipment and plumbing. If the calcium level is too high and you have a plaster or tile/mason pool, it will damage the interior of the pool. Either way, nobody wants to replace expensive pool infrastructure because they didn’t monitor the calcium hardness level of their pool so it’s an important chemical level to check regularly.

Calcium Hardness 101:

●       The ideal targets for calcium are 80-150ppm in a vinyl pool and 150-200ppm in a concrete, plaster or tile pool.

●       If your calcium levels are off, check your alkalinity first, then address your pH levels. If those adjustments don’t fix the issue, there are some more advanced tools and chemicals you can use to correct the calcium hardness.

●       Check your calcium levels regularly. This is one of the easiest, yet most overlooked, steps to extending the longevity of your pool.

What is a pool shock and why is it so important?

What does a pool shock do?

Pool shocks clean your pool when its sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) is overworked and needs to have the remnants removed from the pool, which is why regular pool shocks are so critical. You may want to shock or superchlorinate your pool after specific events as well like a heavy rain storm, a big pool party, or a few small children who may or may not have accidents! Shocking your pool on a weekly basis with non-chlorine shock eliminates bacteria without shifting your chlorine levels and goes a long way towards keeping it balanced.

 Pool Shock 101:

●       Shock your pool every week. EVERY WEEK. A smart water monitoring system will remind you to shock your pool so it’s always ready and waiting for you to have fun.

●       Pool shock chemicals aren’t stabilized, so it’s best to shock your pool in the late afternoon or evening. Make sure to run the pump for several hours to make sure the chemicals are spread evenly and working.

●       If you use a chlorine-based pool shock, make sure you know how long the manufacturer recommends to wait before allowing swimmers into the pool.

Pool chemical testing and why is it so important?

So, you’re not a chemist — although you might be starting to feel like one! But you are a pool owner. Now that you know the basics of pool chemicals, balance and the importance of keeping your pool at the right chemical levels, you know that measuring chemical levels is the first and most important step. If you don’t know the status of your pool’s chemical levels, you won’t know how to correct and get back in balance.

You can use test strips at home, or take a water sample to your local pool store to determine what you need to adjust at any given time but that can be time-consuming, annoying and frustrating. There are now digital pool test kits like pHin that will automatically check your pool water 24/7 and send you alerts if anything needs to be adjusted so all you have to do is fix what’s broken… and enjoy your pool!

The Ultimate Pool Opening and Closing Checklist

Opening and closing a swimming pool can be a challenge — even for a veteran pool owner. It’s easy to forget tasks, so we recommend having a checklist of all your pool opening and closing must-dos to avoid finding yourself scrambling to get everything done.

To save time, use our pool care checklist:

How To Open Your Pool:

●             Remove the pool cover. First, clear off any debris that has accumulated on the cover using a broom or leaf blower. To keep it clean year-round, plan to use your hose, a pool brush, and some dish soap to scrub the cover every three to six months to increase the lifespan of your cover and ensure that it continues to protect your pool from debris.

●             Vacuum and clean your pool. If you have a very dirty pool, the best option is to use a manual pool vacuum, or there are adapters available for ShopVacs. For pools that are in good, clean condition, automatic pool cleaners are a great option. There are a few different types of automatic pool cleaners, suction side cleaners, pressure side vacuums, and robotic cleaners, each picking up different size debris. After it’s vacuumed, scrub the water line to remove any calcium build-up and stains.

●             Refresh and fill your water. There is a lot of debate about if — and how often — you should replace the water in your pool. We recommend checking your water level and chemical balance when you open the pool. If you properly manage your chemical levels and follow regular maintenance rules, you shouldn’t have to completely replace the water, just simply add water when levels get low. When you open your pool, check your pH and total alkalinity before and after you bring the pool back to its full water level. The chemical densities will change along with the water level so it’s important to make sure that you are monitoring levels in real time. An automated smart water monitoring system like pHin by Hayward makes it incredibly easy to get accurate measurements so you can tweak your chemicals while you refill your pool for the season.

●             Test and adjust chemical levels. Whether you use chlorine, bromine, or saltwater, you must test the pH and alkaline levels before swimming. You could take samples and test manually — but if you want to make it easy, a smart water monitor will do the work for you. A smart water monitor like pHin tests your chemical levels over 1,000 times per week and sends an alert to your phone when you need to make an adjustment. You’ll always know when you need to add chemicals, balance or shock your pool so it’s ready to enjoy the minute you are.

How To Close Your Pool

●             Lower the water level. Reduce the amount of water in your pool during the off-season to avoid problems with groundwater and freezing temperatures. The amount of water you drain will depend on winter temperatures where you live and the type of pool you have. If you live in a colder climate, you should drain the water 4 to 6 inches below the tile line in order to avoid the risk of damage from frozen water. If you’re in a milder climate, you just need to make sure the pool water temperature is below 65 degrees to avoid algae growth, but you probably don’t need to drain any water.

●             Test and adjust chemical levels. Before you close your pool for the winter, check and adjust all of your chemicals so you don’t end up with a complicated science experiment when you’re ready to start using your pool in the spring. Check your pH, water hardness and alkalinity and make sure they’re in the correct range.

●                   pH should be between 7.2 and 7.6

●                   Water hardness should be between 175 and 225

●                   Alkalinity should be between 80 and 125 ppm.

●             Check and clean filters. Making sure that your filters are clean and functional helps ensure that your pool is clean and safe. Filters help remove debris, dirt, calcium, and oils that can make your pool water cloudy and dirty, but they need to be cleaned regularly to function properly. Clean filters in the spring and the fall for safe water, and this will also help preserve the lifespan of your pool equipment, pumps, and filtration systems. There are different types of filters and the method for cleaning each is a little different but having clean filters will help ensure that your pool is clean and also helps the chemicals maintain proper balance.

Learning how to open and close a pool is a challenge for many pool owners, but smart pool owners use tools that make it easier. We hope that this checklist and the pHin Smart Monitor make opening and closing easier so you can enjoy your pool!

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.

What Makes a Pool Green?

Have you ever left your pool looking pristine, only to wake up finding that it’s turned green virtually overnight? If so, you are absolutely not alone and it’s also worth noting that your pool turning green can be reversed with some diligence. The most effective way to clear a green pool is to first diagnose the source of the problem.

WHAT MAKES A POOL GREEN?

While the most common cause of a green swimming pool is algae, it’s not the only cause for the change in color. A few other culprits range from improper pH or Cyanuric acid (CYA) balance, to lack of chlorine, undersized filters, and even weather in some cases!

 

LACK OF CHLORINE/ALGAE GROWTH 

As stated, the most common reason pools turn green is due to algae growth, which is caused by a lack of chlorine. Chlorine is typically the most common chemical used to sanitize the water from bacteria and other contaminants. The longer your pool remains under-chlorinated, the more algae grows.

 

IMPROPER pH BALANCE 

pH is the measure of your pool’s acidity. It fluctuates based on factors like oils, dirt, and weather, but should always remain between 7.2-7.8 in order to be considered healthy. A pH balance below 7.2 indicates high acidity that can lead to the erosion of your pool’s plastic and metal parts. When your pH is too high, your chlorine can be rendered ineffective and won’t eliminate bacteria. Instead, you may find buildup of minerals like calcium.

 

UNBALANCED CYANURIC ACID (CYA)

Cyanuric Acid can act as a reservoir for free chlorine (FC), so it’s important to make sure that you maintain a healthy ratio of the two chemicals in order to keep from growing algae and turning green. Some recommend that your FC should be 7.5% of your CYA level.

 

UNDERSIZED PUMP/FILTER 

To determine whether or not an undersized pump/filter is causing discoloration, verify how many gallons of water your pool holds and calculate whether or not you’ve chosen the appropriate size based upon the shape of your pool. Having a filter that is too small leads to more maintenance work, which is why it’s widely recommended to oversize by a little bit.

 

WEATHER

Heat and humidity are the perfect breeding grounds for algae growth and may hinder the effectiveness of your chlorine treatments. If you live in a climate that produces a lot of heat and humidity, consider using specialty chlorine and algae remover.

 

 

Figuring out the culprit behind what makes your pool green is a lot of work when you don’t have the right technology. The pHin smart monitor audits your pool’s water quality 24/7, notifies you when it’s time to add chemicals, and ships you exactly what you need, in pre-measured doses. Just drop in the color-coded pod and enjoy clean, perfectly balanced pool water all season long. You also have the option to call on a nearby pool tech through the app if ever you need professional help maintaining your water.