Pros and Cons of Natural Gas Heaters

A natural gas heater is an efficient way to heat your pool or hot tub all year round. Even during the summer, outdoor temperatures might not stay high enough for long enough to keep your pool’s water warm without the help of a heater. Ideal for cooler climates and those that want their pool or hot tub heated quickly, natural gas heaters also work well when paired with solar heating or pools that don’t need to be heated often. While a natural gas heater is always a viable option, there are some disadvantages, so you should consult a pool professional before making any final decisions. A professional can help you determine what size and type of heater will work best for you.

How Natural Gas Heaters Work

As the pump circulates water from the pool, the water it draws from the pool. Next, it passes through the filter and makes its way to the heater. Gas burns in the heater’s combustion chamber. The water heats as it passes over this chamber and the hot water returns to the pool.

Natural gas heaters are ideal for heating pools for a short period of time and work great when you want to heat a pool quickly. These heaters are ideal for pools that are not used regularly, as gas pool heaters can help to maintain any desired temperature regardless of weather or climate conditions.

Pros of a Natural Gas Heater

  • Convenience: If you have access to a natural gas service, then getting the fuel to your heater is far easier than if you chose propane. Natural gas enters through a permanently fixed line and there is always more available.
  • Speed: If quick heating is what you need, then look no further than a natural gas heater. Unlike electric, solar, or heat pumps, natural gas burns quickly, making it a faster way to heat up your water. Gas heaters are especially effective if you don’t use your pool on a regular basis (since it heats the water quickly there is less need for prep time) or if you are trying to heat a smaller body of water, like a spa or hot tub.
  • Maintenance: Natural gas heaters generate enough heat to warm your pool in a short amount of time, so they don’t have to run as often or as long as some other heating methods, resulting in fewer problems due to wear and tear or consistent use. If you want a heater that requires little maintenance, then a natural gas heater is perfect for you.
  • Cost: While an electric heater or a heat pump may need to be turned on aseveral hours in advance, a natural gas heater only needs about 30 minutes for a typical hot tub or to simply raise the temperature a few degrees in a typical backyard swimming pool. This saves a considerable amount of money through reduced energy usage.

Cons of a Natural Gas Heater

  • Energy Efficiency: While natural gas heaters are more efficient than electric heaters, this does not mean that they are the most efficient way to heat your pool or spa. Solar heaters and heat pumps use the sun and recirculated warm air respectively to heat your pool or spa, making them the more energy efficient options when it comes to heaters. That does not mean you cannot get an energy efficient natural gas heater. Look for one with an efficiency rating of 89 to 95 percent according to energy.gov.
  • Purchase and Install Price: Gas heaters are incredibly efficient when it comes to heating your pool or spa and so might seem like the perfect choice for you, but there are some expenses to running a natural gas heater. In addition to installation and any initial purchase costs, you need to run pipe underground to provide a natural gas source for the heater’s furnace. If a natural gas source or pipe is not close to the pool equipment pad area itself, the cost can be prohibitive.
  • Rising Fuel Prices: Oil and gas prices fluctuate, meaning that operating your natural gas heater will not always cost the same. In the colder months, when oil and gas prices are usually at their highest, the cost of heating your pool can increase as much as 30 to 40 percent.
  • Repair and Replacement: Natural gas heaters are more susceptible to corrosion if your pool water is unbalanced. The amount of use your natural gas heater gets, in addition to outdoor temperatures and desired water temperature, determines how long the heater will last. Most natural gas heaters last about five years before requiring service or maintenance.

To ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced year round, consider pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone what you need to do to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. Use it with your own chemicals for flexibility or get our single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand 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.