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.

4 Ways to De-stress in Your Hot Tub

Your stress levels should drop just thinking about easing into a hot tub and enjoying the combination of heat, jets, and the soothing sound of bubbling water. Here are ways to maximize your well-deserved relaxation time:

1.                  Meditate (or just breathe)

Meditation involves deep breathing and is designed to help you reach a state of mental tranquility. To get the benefits, you only need a calm and quiet place – some practice in homes or studios but the added warmth and movement of the hot tub offers a great time to slow your breathing, quiet your mind, and get to a meditative state. Even if meditation isn’t your thing, the hot tub is a great time and place for a little serenity after a busy day. Relax. Breathe. Be in the moment.

 2.                Wine, or your cup of tea

Enjoying a nice glass of wine in the hot tub can definitely ramp up the relaxation factor. If wine isn’t your thing, hot herbal teas offer antioxidants and a wonderful calming effect too. Sipping your favorite beverage while feeling the warm water can help you forget about the day and relax, no matter what season. One tip: Make sure you have an insulated cup for hot drinks and a non-breakable glass for wine and aim for those with lids to help avoid getting any dirt or leaves in your beverage. They also help prevent or minimize spills!

 3.                Essential oils (or scented candles)

Aromatherapy can intensify your relaxation experience. Lavender, chamomile, vanilla and jasmine are traditionally known as the best scents for de-stressing and relaxation, but scents are extremely personal. You can use those that calm you, or even mix a few for different effects. You can place scented candles near the hot tub (but not on the edges!) to infuse the air with relaxing aromas, or use an essential oil diffuser in an indoor hot tub room. Especially if you use a smart water monitoring system like pHin, it’s easy to get your water balanced again after you’re done. 

 4.                Jets (or jets, jets, and more jets!)

Take advantage of the variety of jets and seating positions in your hot tub to create true relaxation. If you’re recovering after a busy day at work or home, find the jets that target wherever you carry tension,  whether in your neck, back, and shoulders, or other areas. Adjust the pressure to a more gentle and soothing level so that it’s less intense  if you are recovering from a long ski day or a tough workout. Switch to different positions so that all of your muscles get some attention. And don’t forget your feet! Placing your feet over the jets creates a similar result as reflexology, relaxing all of the tension and stimulating blood flow while stimulating nerves that have a positive impact for your whole body. A hot tub foot massage is pretty magical so don’t skip this important part of your relaxation experience!

Everyone has their own secret for elevating the relaxation effects of their hot tub. Here’s one more tip: the less time you spend worrying about pH balances and chemical levels, the more you’ll be able to focus on stripping away the stress. Use a smart water monitor to automatically monitor your hot tub’s chemical levels and receive alerts if anything needs attention. Knowing that your hot tub is always ready and waiting for you is an easy way to decrease stress and enjoy life!

Five Ways to Enjoy Your Hot Tub This Winter

Most people put their hot tubs in hibernation mode during the summer when it’s just too hot to enjoy the spa. As the last leaves fall from the trees and the first fall chill hits the air, it’s a good time to uncover the hot tub and prepare it for a full season of winter fun. While hot tubs are a perfect après-ski gathering place to soothe sore muscles after a day on the slopes, there are so many other ways to make the most of it during the winter.

Here are five reasons to enjoy your hot tub throughout the winter months:

  1. De-stress from the holidays. As winter kicks in — so do the holidays! But there’s an added layer of stress for most of us — decorating, shopping, family dinners, and work parties all create more stress for our already-busy lives. Schedule a few minutes every couple of days to enjoy your hot tub and let some of the tension soak away. You’ll feel better, be more focused, and be in a better mindset to truly enjoy the holidays. 
  2. Connect with family. Hanging out in the hot tub with your family is a great opportunity to enjoy quality time and genuine conversations. Lots of people focus on dinner as the main time to chat about school, work, and life — but let’s be honest, with the demands of work, after-school activities, commutes, and everything else life throws at you, finding time to dine together as a family just doesn’t always happen. Jumping in the hot tub in the evening is a great way to wind down, have meaningful conversations and, as an added bonus, keep everyone away from screen time — a great way to get a good night’s sleep.
  3. Recover from workouts. It’s important to keep up a consistent workout routine, and in the cooler winter months, that often means shifting your exercise regimen indoors. Any time you change your workout, you may experience different sets of achy muscles. The warm water can help soothe muscles after your cool down, and you can experiment with jet settings for added massaging so you’re ready for the next day of exercise.
  4. Socialize with friends. It can be hard to find time with friends, especially during the holidays. Sometimes we think that a quick Facebook or Instagram check-in counts as a connection, but quality time in-person is more valuable. Inviting friends over for a cocktail or cocoa and a dip in the hot tub is a great way to inspire genuine conversations and face-to-face connections with friends. Keep a couple of extra comfy spa robes and some flip-flops around so that your guests are warm and comfy, and feel like they’re being pampered.
  5. Enjoy peace and quiet. Being bombarded by the news, social media buzz, traffic, and meal planning all add to the stress of a busy day at the office or helping your family get through the week. Spend a few minutes in the hot tub, listening to the calming sounds of bubbling water, gazing at the stars, and breathing in the crisp, fresh air. This quiet time  connecting with nature can make you feel calmer.

Make sure your hot tub is well-maintained throughout the winter season with a few simple tips:

  • Clear out any leaves or debris. Fall leaves are beautiful but they clog filters quickly.
  • Make sure the water level is full. If you haven’t changed your water recently, now is the time to drain your hot tub and fill it with fresh water.
  • Check and clean or replace your filters. It’s a good idea to have two sets of filters so you can clean one set while using the other set.
  • Check and adjust the chemical levels…pHin makes it incredibly easy to keep your chemical levels correct by alerting you on your mobile device when they need attention.
  • Make sure your cover is in good shape and sealed to keep the heat. No matter how cold it gets outside, it’s not recommended to have your hot tub set at more than 102°F, especially if you have children.

How do you benefit from your hot tub? Sound off with us on Facebook or Twitter.

For help keeping your hot tub in top-shape, learn how pHin can help.

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.