FilterBalls – Do They Really Work?
avatar


Like many of you, I am preparing to close my pool for the winter. This summer went by fast (fastest on record they tell me), and pool maintenance was the easiest it’s ever been for me this past season. Credit some of it to seasoned experience (my 5th year as a pool owner), some credit to the cool weather, but much of the credit has to be given to FilterBalls.

As you may recall from my FilterBalls: a Breakthrough In Pool Filtration Media? blog post earlier this summer, I switched out 250 lbs of greasy, old sand from my Hayward Sand Filter with FilterBalls Filter Media. It was taking a chance because FilterBalls are a radical departure from the familiar, and the pool was just opened, and oh, yeah – the Chicago Bulls were going to film a commercial in my backyard in a matter of days.

It was a risk, but an opportunity I am glad I seized upon. In hindsight, FilterBalls are so much easier to handle than big bags of sand, and if I didn’t like the results they certainly were going to be a million times easier to remove from my pool filter than the slimy old sand I scooped out for over an hour. It would have been a breeze to replace them if they didn’t work as well as the FilterBalls website said they would.

But they did work – FilterBalls work great!

I honestly cannot speak to micron size, or if FilterBalls can trap smaller particulates than regular filter sand. I can say however, that my water never looked better, and without the occasional hazy water that would result if I didn’t do a timely backwash of the sand.

What I can speak of – is catching myself in old habits, compulsively monitoring the filter pressure gauge in anticipation of the next backwash. That was kind of tricky, as my pressure never really went up this summer. I backwashed last month, because it was driving me crazy not to do it at least once. My compulsion got the better of me. 🙂

Another benefit of the lower filter tank pressure was that my return jets were consistently strong all summer. After installing FilterBalls, the pressure gauge dropped 5 psi, and the pool returns flowed stronger than ever and did a great job circulating the water. And my 1.5 horsepower Hayward SuperPump, as reliable and maintenance free as it is, was always a bit noisy – but after FilterBalls were added, the pump was noticeably quieter.

Skim Doctor 2.0I want to tell you about another innovative product that had a hand in my hands-free pool maintenance summer – the Skim Doctor 2.0. I have a weak skimmer in the shallow end of my pool much weaker than the deep end skimmer (closer to the pump), and gave the Skim Doctor a whirl. It’s such a simple little device that it’s practically mad genius. My shallow skimmer now functions as good or better than the deep skimmer.

I was so impressed with the Skim Doctor that I ran inside the house to grab my napping wife and insisted she share in my joy. It wasn’t that she wasn’t impressed, but more like she was furious with me for ruining a rare weekend nap – to look at her least favorite part of the pool. Days later, she would concede that the Skim Doctor was “pretty cool”.

Back to FilterBalls – I mentioned that we used 3 bags of FilterBalls Blu. Actually, we saved a few Balls for other experiments, such as tossing a handful of FilterBalls in the bottom of my Leaf Rake. They are not heavy at the bottom of the net while wet, and they nab what would otherwise pass through the skim net. We get these thin layers of gnats spawning on the water surface in late summer – gross and hard to skim. Not anymore.

I didn’t stop there, though. When the pool turned hazy, because I was being too skimpy with the pump run time (Hi, Davy), I dropped a handful in the bottom of the skimmer baskets to see if they would help clear the water. FilterBalls to the rescue – no need for clarifiers, just 5 or 6 FilterBalls in the skimmer, and by morning, the pool was clear! Amazing.

As for FilterBalls reducing the amount of daily filtering and saving me hundreds of dollars every season – well, it did allow me to run the pump less, not 50% less, but at least 20% less, and every penny counts, right? To be fair, I was already running my pump less than most people anyway.

This weekend, when I pop out the Skim Doctor, blow out the lines, and fill them up with anti-freeze I won’t have to wonder how long it’s going to take for all the water to drain out from the Sand Filter. No worries about damp, freezing sand expanding inside the filter tank and potentially cracking it. The water is going to drain right out, probably in less than 1 minute.


So there it is as promised, my review of FilterBalls, a real-world test of the filter sand alternative, spun polyester balls that are used to replace pool filter sand.

Just 1 lb. of FilterBalls Blu-10 replaces 100 lbs. of filter sand, and 50 lbs of Zeolite or FilterGlass.

FilterBalls really do work! 🙂

 


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Favorite 10 Steps to Winterize Above Ground Swimming Pools
avatar

pool-closed for winterThis post originally from 2012, is New and Improved and bumped to the top! 

Summer is over and with the end of summer comes the end of swimming; now is the time to prepare your swimming pool for winter.

Here’s my all-new 10 Steps to an above ground pool closing – prevent damage from snow and frozen water, and make pool opening next spring a breeze!

1. Balanced Water Chemistry

Taylor Troubleshooter test kitThe first step before closing the pool is to balance the water chemistry about a week before you are ready to close. Test your pool water and ensure that the chemical levels are within range:

pH: 7.2 – 7.6
Alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
Calcium Hardness: 180 – 220 ppm

2. Shock the Pool

pool shock, 1 lb.After balancing the water chemistry, and several days in advance of closing the pool, add a diluted granular chlorine, or non-chlorine pool shock to your pool water to remove any contaminants that could cause stains or algae during winter. The usual treatment is one bag (or pound) per 10,000 gals of pool water, for clear water. If your pool water is hazy or green, add double or triple the normal dosage. Use a brush afterwards, and brush the floor and walls until your arms wear out.

3. Clean the Pool

On the day of the pool closing be ready to clean your pool with your pool vacuum, brush and skimmer net. Clean it well before lowering the water, and skim again before covering the pool, to remove any wind blown debris.

It’s important to close the pool in a spotless condition. Any debris left in the pool will use up your winterizing pool chemicals, affect water balance, and create ugly stains.

4. Remove Accessory Items

hayward skimmer basket and return eyeballsRemove your skimmer basket, return fittings, solar blankets, pool alarms, ladders or steps, and pool cleaners. Dry and stow them safely for the winter months – indoors or protected from the elements.

Solar blankets can be left on the solar reel, and covered with our durable winter solar cover. They can also be dried, folded and stored in a location inaccessible to mice (probably not the shed).

5. Lower Water Level

Skimmer PlugNow, you can save the skimmer and save water at the same time with the aboveground pool Skimmer Plug. Just snap on the plastic skimmer cover and you can keep the water at normal levels. Drain the skimmer pipe, or disconnect the hose connecting to the pump.

If you don’t use a skimmer plug that fits into the opening to block water, you need to lower the water level below the mouth of your skimmer to prevent damage from frozen water. Lower the water level to about 3” below the skimmer opening. Removing too much water could stress your pool cover, liner or pool walls.

You can use your pool cover pump, or let the water run out of the return line hose by disconnecting it from the filter. If you have a low water suction line, in addition to the skimmer, close or plug the skimmer, and use the LWS line to lower the water below the skimmer, by setting the filter valve on waste or disconnecting the plumbing (next).

6. Drain & Plug the Pipes

For the return line, back to the pool: If you have filter hoses, use a #9 winter pool plug, or the threaded 1.5″ plug with o-ring on the return line – on the inside of the pool, and then disconnect the hose, draining it dry. If you have hard PVC pipes that cannot be removed, use a large wet/dry vac to blow (or suck) the water from the pipes, and add pool antifreeze for extra protection.

For the skimmer, remove and drain the hose connected to the pump. If you have hard PVC pipes, drain, suck or blow water out. Use a winter skimmer Plug to keep water out of the pipe during winter. PVC pool pipe cracks easily when the temperature falls below 32 degrees, so be sure that you get all of the water out, or add antifreeze if you’re not sure.

generic skimmer Gizmo, Skimmer GuardThe Skimmer Guard Gizmo is a combination skimmer plug and skimmer protector. It plugs the pipe to keep water out, but also absorbs ice expansion inside the skimmer. Skimmers can fill up during the winter, expand and easily crack a skimmer housing. The Skimmer Guard Gizmo absorbs the expansion, protecting the sidewalls of your skimmer. Includes a #9 rubber expansion plug to seal up the return line.

7. Drain the Equipment

350 gph pool cover pumpThe next step is to drain all the pumping, filtering, heating and chlorinating equipment and blow out all water from plumbing lines, otherwise the water will freeze and crack the equipment. After draining, pool pipes should be sealed at the pool with plugs, to keep water out of the pipes and equipment during winter.

Pumps have 1 or 2 drain plugs.
Filters have 1 cap or plug near the bottom.
Gas Heaters have drain plugs on each side.
Solar pool heaters have a union or a drain cap, or blow air thru the solar panels.
Heat Pumps loosen union nuts, slide back and tip the unit very slightly to drain.
Chlorinators or Purifiers have 1 drain plug.

pool heater and heat pump covers for winterBe sure to shut off the power and gas supply to gas-fired pool heaters. You can protect pool heaters and heat pumps with a Pool Heater Cover to prevent damage caused by snow, dirt, debris and animals. Moth Balls or mint sachets are also effective at keeping nesting mice out of pool heaters.

For DE pool filters and filter cartridges, a final cleaning and inspection is needed while closing the pool. Remove your filter grids or filter cartridge and hose very thoroughly.

Filter CleanerSoak in our Filter Cleaner to have grids or cartridges at their cleanest before replacing into the filter for dry winter storage. Sand filters also benefit from an end of year cleaning to remove oils and mineral scale, before it ‘sits and sets’ all winter long.

Finally at the equipment pad, be sure to shut off all power to the pump, lights, heater and other equipment. If you can easily remove the entire equipment pack for indoor storage, that would be best.

8. Lubricate O-rings

Magic LubeNow is also a good time to lubricate the soft rubber o-rings or threaded metal parts of your equipment. Use a Teflon based pool lube for rubber o-rings on your pump lid o-ring, filter tank o-rings, union o-rings, drain plug o-rings, or any other rubber o-ring on your pool equipment.

9. Add Winter Closing Chemicals

In addition to maintaining good water balance during the winter, adding winter algaecides and chemical floaters ensure that your pool water remains clean and clear during winter. Not having sufficient winter pool chemicals can lead to a long and costly spring clean-up.

A pool winterizing kit makes the process more convenient – just buy the winter kit that matches your pool size. In The Swim winter kits include algaecide, non-chlorine shock, stain & scale preventative, slow release floater and oil absorbing sponge. The Ultimate Winter Kit shown here, is what I use on my own pool, it has a few extra goodies.

10. Cover your Pool

intheswim winter pool coversLast but not the least; cover your pool with a tight fitting pool cover to ensure that debris and leaves cannot get into your pool. Winter Pool Covers for aboveground pools come in a variety of round and oval sizes, order by pool size for a perfect fit.

In addition to the winch & cable to secure your pool cover, there are many winter cover accessories like Wall Bags, Cover Seal and Cover Clips that help to hold down a cover in high winds.

Air Pillows are used in to break up the ice sheet that forms in the pool under the cover, during several days of below freezing weather. This prevents damage to the pool walls and skimmer from a solid sheet of ice expanding outward.

intheswim leaf catcherIf your pool is surrounded by large beautiful trees, put the Leaf Catcher on top of your winter cover. Lightweight and super tough mesh lets you remove all leaves and debris in one easy motion. Worth its weight in gold if you have large trees, like I do – saved me from hours of messy leaf dredging each year.

One more winter pool cover accessory is worth mentioning. You’ll need some way to remove the rain water and snow melt from the cover, either with an electrical or gravity fed pool cover pump.

That’s it ~ 10 little steps to closing your aboveground pool. Your pool may be slightly different. If you have questions about how to close it, or what products are needed, you can call our pool winterization experts anytime at 1-800-288-7946!

 

ayesha-2
Ayesha Aslam
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

 

10 Things To Do Before Closing Your Pool
avatar

10 things to do before closing your pool

It’s that time of year again…yes, time to close-up the pool for the season. While not quite upon us just yet, the prep work for winterizing should begin now – about two weeks before you close your pool. It makes the whole process considerably smoother if you tend to these seemingly minute details ahead of time.

2 WEEKS BEFORE CLOSING

1. Order your Pool Closing Kit and take stock of the pool chemicals that you may already have on-hand that you can use to help you close. The Ultimate pool winter kit is what I now use on my 22K gallon pool, after it proved so successful with earlier pool winterizations.

2. Order pool closing supplies. Too many times in the past have found myself tearing through junk drawers looking for THAT ONE specific return plug or attachment piece that I, “JUST saw around here last week”! Take stock of your cover accessories, like the anchor hex key, brass anchors, or water bags and air pillows. Locate your pool closing accessories like winter pool plugs before pool closing – don’t hold up the whole process for a small but necessary detail.

1 WEEK BEFORE CLOSING

3. Balance the pool water. The first step in tending to pool chemistry is to make sure that your pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness levels are aligned properly.

4. Add stain and scale prevention like Metal Free, which needs a day to work by itself, before adding other pool closing chemicals. Try to remove any stains you have now before closing. Brush the pool several times during the week.

5. Use chlorine shock to kill off bacteria, algae, and to get your chlorine levels to a nice, strong level. Brush the pool afterwards, then vacuum well the following day.

6. For mesh safety covers, or any pool that opens up green in springtime – I highly recommend treatment with Pool Magic Spring & Fall, with PhosFree.

7. Over-filter the pool water by running the pump 24/7 for a few days before closing the pool – bonus points for adding a dose of clarifier. Extra filtering will make sure that your pool water is as pure as possible, to reduce potential for stains and algae during fall and winter.

8. Get a Helper. Line-up someone to help you put on the winter pool cover. You can do 90% of a pool winterization yourself, but the cover is best done with two people. For more pool cover tips, here’s another post of mine on the topic.

POOL CLOSING DAY

9. Shock the pool with non-chlorine shock. Non-chlorine shock comes with all of our winter kits, to oxidize contaminants in the water, without affecting the winter algaecide, up next…

10. Add algaecide to prevent it algae from growing in the upcoming months. Add the algaecide just before you cover the pool, after the water has been lowered.


Most of these steps should be part of your regular pool routine. Now is the time to ramp-up you efforts to get a good head of steam for the long winter months that lie ahead.

Following these steps leading up to closing your pool will not only make the winterizing process smoother, it will make your pool opening easier too!

 

 


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

 

 

 

Pool Cleaner Inspection Guide
avatar

pool cleaner inspections
Automatic pool cleaners
are the best thing since sliced bread, but without regular maintenance, inexpensive outer parts can wear through, damaging more costly inner parts.

Good pool cleaner maintenance means regular inspection of the pool cleaner, at key locations, to look for wear or signs of aging. Pools with rough surfaces in contact with the pool cleaner will produce more wear, but all pool cleaners need replacement parts, replaced in a timely fashion, to prevent more severe damage.

An automobile care analogy would be appropriate here – if you wait to long to replace your tires, you could be running on rims one day. The same with your car’s filters and fluids… you have to do the preventative maintenance, if you want to avoid bigger, more expensive repairs.

Pool cleaners are the same way, pay a little now for replacement cleaner parts, as needed, or pay a lot more later if you have to replace the entire cleaner.

Robotic Pool Cleaner Inspection

Tigershark pool cleanerCords: Older power cords have floats and pins that need adjustment to keep the cord floating, while newer cords are encased in floating foam. Inspect the hose for holes or damage and patch with an RTV sealant if found. Inspect the cord retainer clips on the machine, to be sure the cord is securely fastened to the body of the cleaner.

Wheel Tubes and Brushes: Whenever you clean the filter, take a look at the wheel tubes (or wheels), and the pins and bushings that connect them to the side plates. Be sure none are missing. Bushings that are worn, allowing pin and tube wobble should be replaced. Wheel tube brushes that are worn will affect cleaning, and will allow surfaces to rub on the wheel tube.

Drive Tracks and Drive Belts: Inspect belts and tracks for tightness by pressing down with your finger. Either should have about 1/4″-1/2″ deflection when pressed firmly. If belts are loose, some cleaners have an adjustment you can make, while for traditional robotic style cleaners (like TigerShark), this indicates that one of the wheel tubes or pulleys is loose. Tracks need replacement when the raised ridges wear down halfway, or damage can occur to the cleaner. Drive belts are replaced if they become stretched out or if ‘teeth’ are missing.

Internal Inspection: Now we go inside, to retrieve the filter or debris bag on a robotic cleaner. Inspect inlet valve flaps, bottom latch mechanisms, and the filter, screen, bag clips or other internal filter parts. Check out the power cord entering the motor, for a visual check that everything looks normal, nothing broken, no oily discharge from motors.

Suction Pool Cleaner Inspection

Kreepy Krauly CleanerHoses: A hose inspection is done when you are pulling the cleaner out of the pool, inspecting each hose section, and listening for any air leaks, which indicates loose connections between hoses or small holes. Also on suction cleaner hoses (like Kreepy Krauly), you will have hose weights and/or hose floats along the hose. Give these a look to be sure they are in place.

Head: The main wear point on a Kreepy style cleaner is the main seal or disk and foot pad. With the cleaner disconnected, inspect the underside for signs of wear on both. Hayward style cleaners will need new pod shoes every few years, or you”ll soon need new pods, and a set of wings. Whatever is in contact with the pool bottom on your suction cleaner, keep tabs on the level of wear, each time to pull it from the pool.

Internal Inspection: Suction cleaners can become clogged with twigs, acorns or large leaves, but sometimes will keep operating. Flip the unit over to inspect the intake throat, and if your Hayward or StaRite style of suction cleaner is not cleaning properly, you may need to lift the hood, to see what is gumming up the gears or turbine. Check out our schematic images of pool cleaners, to see how all the little bits fit together.

Pressure Pool Cleaner Inspection

polaris 280Hoses: Again we start at the hose, actually at the wall, to clean the wall strainer. Reconnect, and then pull the cleaner towards you (with booster pump on) slowly, to inspect each hose section and swivel. A small leakage is normal from hose swivels, but if spraying strongly, replace. Hose floats should be… floating, if not replace. Look for any holes or damage to the hose, which will be spraying water, so easy to spot.

Head: Tires should be replaced if rounded. Tires can be rotated, put your best tire on the wheels that are driven, or the front wheel for Polaris style cleaners. Check the wheels for side-to-side wobble, any deflection more than 1/8″ may mean that you need new wheel bearings. 180/280 Polaris style wheels have gear teeth inside, inspect for damage, and rotate damaged wheels to the rear. Give the front wheel a spin, all 3 wheels should rotate easily, if they skip or bind, adjust the axle forward or backward until wheels spin smoothly. Give the tail wear rings a look, if too small or missing, the more costly tail will need to be replaced. Same for the sweep hose scrubber, it serves to protect the hose tip orifice. Check the debris bag for any holes, and for belt driven cleaners, look at the drive belts and check for deflection of no more than 1/2″ when pushed firmly downward.

Internal Inspection: Very small bits of sand can get stuck deep inside the WMS (water management system), and block water flow. Water that enters the head unit, goes in 3 places – the sweep tail, the thrust jet and up into the venturi throat. To test briefly, if the cleaner is placed on the deck with the bag removed, and the booster pump is turned on, water should spray straight up about 15-20 ft in the air, and out the thrust jet and tail to a distance of about 10-15 feet. If water is not flowing smoothly and strong through these 3 areas, you’ll need to open up the hood and get under there to find the obstruction – follow the ‘water trail’, the problem lies where the pressure dies.


The idea is, every time that you service the cleaner, give it a 21-point inspection, and look closely for wear, damage or missing parts (which are sometimes found in the cleaner bag or pump basket!).

So again, pool cleaners are kind of like cars in regards to maintenance, and it reminds me of the old Fram filter commercial on TV – “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later…”

When you need pool cleaner parts, and trust me you will – I hope we can be your parts provider – find your cleaner schematic and bookmark the page for your reference.

 


Davy Merino
IntheSwim Blog Editor

 

Favorite A Very Kreepy Family
avatar


Did you know, that nearly all Pentair pool cleaners are now made under the Kreepy Krauly name? Pentair has brought the Sta-Rite and Letro cleaners under the Kreepy moniker, and added several advanced new cleaners of their own creation, for an entire Kreepy Family!

And why not, it’s the world’s most recognized pool cleaner, and our top seller, even with a name like Kreepy Krauly. Pentair Pool has really grown the Kreepy product family:

Today’s post is a Video-Log, which means I’m just going to post some cool videos and call it a day – but hey it’s Friday! Pentair videos of the world’s most popular pool cleaners, doing some pretty impressive underwater acrobatics, all while vacuuming and scrubbing the pool. Kind of like Rosie from the Jetsons, but under-water!


1. Kreepy Krauly, 5th generation inground pool suction-side cleaner

2. Pentair Rebel (Kreepy Krauly Warrior) shows off speed and maneuvers

3. Kreepy Krauly ‘Lil Shark cleaner is both cute and kreepy

4. Kreepy Krauly Legend cleaners have a dark side, and a white side

5. Kreepy Krauly SandShark, friendly and energetic suction cleaner


I hope you liked these short videos as much as I do – the crew that produced these did such a good job, they gave me goosebumps! Thanks to Pentair for the Kreepy videos, keep ’em coming!

 


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor

 

Hot Tub Health Benefits

Hot Tub Health Benefits, image by Sundance
Hot tubs always have been advertised as being beneficial to your health, but do you really know what the health benefits are? Let’s take a look at why soaking in a hot tub might help you improve your overall physical and mental health.

Improved Sleep

It’s a fact that getting quality REM sleep on a regular schedule provides a variety of health positives for your mind and body. Good sleep improves everything from your mental alertness, stronger immune system, rejuvenated muscles and even the way your body metabolizes food.

Getting into the hot tub before bed helps regulate your body temperature to a comfortably warm level that helps you fall asleep quicker and sleep through the night with fewer disruptions. Just don’t use the hot tub too close to your bed time when you could be too warm and even sweaty when heading to bed which could lead a harder time falling asleep.

Reduced Stress & Anxiety

Many studies have proven that a hot tub is an ideal way to relieve mental and physical stress. Soaking in a hot tub for just 20 minutes can counteract stress as the perfect combination of hot water, massaging from the spa jets, and the feel of being weightless in the water helps you relax and decrease anxiety. Further, the hot water that massages various points on your body stimulates the release of endorphins – the body’s way of helping you feel better and more positive.

Lower Blood Pressure

As you sit in a hot tub, the elevated water temperature actually makes your heart works slightly harder and faster to get your body to disperse the excess heat. If you’re thinking, “won’t that raise my blood pressure?” you are correct, but an elevated blood pressure occurs only briefly. As the hot water raises your body’s temperature, that warmth causes cells and vessels to dilate which decreases the resistance to your heart, improving your body’s circulation, and ultimately lowering your blood pressure. Also, when your heart rate elevates, the increased blood flow produces extra oxygen that revitalizes cells which helps you feel rejuvenated as well as more relaxed.

Better Skin Care

turkey-in-hot-tub-del-rey-studiosA regular soak in a hot tub can actually improve your skin. The hot water opens your pores which is a great treatment to heal and rejuvenate your skin. Hot water also works to clean and disinfect your skin (which is a good reminder to practice regular hot tub maintenance). However, be careful to not soak too often or too long as this can dry out your skin instead of make it healthier. 20 minutes more or less, depending on your overall health.

Better Healing, Less Chronic Pain

Hot tubs are a great way to seek relief from body aches and pains such as arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel and muscle soreness from exercise or plain ol’ hard work. Much of this relief comes from your body’s improved blood circulation from the hot water (see Lowers Blood Pressure above), and the improved flow of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles helping them relax and easing inflammation.

In a hot tub, the spa jet bubbles help you feel an increase in buoyancy. As many of us know all too well, the lighter you – in this case, the lighter you feel – the fewer aches and pains you will suffer. The increased buoyancy is actually providing a feeling of weightlessness, or at least making you feel lighter if not weightless, which helps takes stress in joints and muscles.

Aromatherapy

Pharmaspa fragrancesIt would be short sighted to discuss the health benefits of hot tubs without mentioning aromatherapy. There are many different brands and types of aromatherapy available now, and each one targets specific areas of your mind or body. Spazazz Water crystals offer different therapies from soothing to invigorating, while PharmaSpa’s therapeutic liquid fragrances have more specific targets to sleep better, improve breathing, fight a cold or flu, soothe achy muscles and sprains, and increase blood circulation.

If you’ve felt the health benefits of a hot tub, feel free to share them with all here, and let us know what part of you felt better and how did your hot tub help you improve your health.

 

Dr. Pool

Guy’s Night By The Pool – and the Aftermath
avatar

Poker nights are so 1980s. No, actually they’re not. That’s just an excuse for how much the lingering smell of stale cigar smoke ticks off a wife, when she breaks up the whole thing in front of your group of friends, showing them who is the real boss of your house.

Frankly, I was tired of this happening so I started a new thing with my pals: Guys’ Night By The Pool. You may say that we got chased outside – but I like to think it was my brilliant idea. This is season 3, or the third year of our Pool Poker nights, and there have been some glitches… So here are some tips and important information about planning, doing and cleaning up the aftermath. And yes, there will be an aftermath.

First, get your wife’s permission. Obviously, this step is optional and really more of a courteous way of communicating your intentions while making your wife (or spouse, partner, roommate, etc.) involved with some sort of say in the decision making.

If you’re still reading, that means either you’re good to go, your better half is out of town or you can run much faster than I can. Basically, I’m assuming you have permission and you’re moving forward with your pool night for the guys.


1. Gather your buddies. Call them friends, dudes, buddies, bros, whatever (please not bruh), just call them, or text them. Tell your friends the specifics of what’s going on and when, as well as what you’re providing and what they may want to bring. Do NOT set ground rules at this step for that will give many of your pals pause since they will know right away you are planning this as a covert (also, see: un-blessed, secret) gathering.

2. What to provide. Have some type of beverage on hand – maybe even a couple of different ones. The stuff doesn’t need to be fancy. If your dude friends are coming over for a swimming pool night, you shouldn’t feel the need to impress them. However, providing nothing means you’re cheap, and that’s no bueno. You should also have some snacky type stuff. I’ve found that spicy bar mix stuff is always a big hit, but mini pretzels and peanuts will do just fine, plus they float into the skimmer basket. If you need help deciding what to provide, ask your wife. She will know.

Make sure the cooler/bar is stocked with ice – and always (yes, ALWAYS) buy extra ice. It’s amazing how you never have enough of the stuff, so if you think you need four bags, get six bags. You need to have plenty of cups on hand, too. You’re not throwing a rave for the neighborhood Neanderthals and drinking out of bottles or an elk horn. Show some class and get a sleeve of Red Solo cups, and be sure the song is in the rotation.

3. What to have ready. Make sure your grill has gas or charcoal. Someone coming over is going to be “The Man” and bring some thick steaks to grill on the patio. Be appreciative of this, and allow this ideal friend of yours to man the grill as all others stand semi-close and observe. Do not ask your friends to bring salad or desert, but in case they all drive past the butcher and show up empty handed, have some grilling meats ready to go.

4. Tunes or Music. The floating Bluetooth speaker and lightshow is a great addition to the party, or bring a music device outside or strream music on YOUR phone. My best advice is to not allow others to overrun your playlist and turn the nice hangin’ out evening into a poorly replicated New Year’s Eve party that dragged on three hours too long. Have just one DJ – you, and then set it and forget it.

5. Pool floats. What’s a party without some fun pool floats? Exactly, it’s not a party. Get out your inflatable swans, fill them with air and let them ride the breeze in your pool. Honestly, most pool floats are built for small or young persons. There are a few full size pool floats that will fit large men however. Two of my (affordable) favorites are the Kickback Adjustable Lounger, or any of the large Jimmy Buffet  Margaritaville pool floats.

6. Poker Table. I think we used to sell a floating blackjack table, but who wants to stand around in the pool the whole time? Get yourself a suitably sized round table with 4, 6, or 8 chairs that you can set on the patio. Don’t drag out the dining room table, your wife is not going to like that idea at all, let me tell you. Instead, get a 48″ round outdoor table, or go whole hog and get the carousel picnic table.

The evening of the party, make sure the pool and patio are fairly clean with comfortable outdoor seating (Do Not take the living room sofa outside!). When most of the guys have arrived, and all are still in a good mood, drop some of the ground rules for the night. Don’t worry if all of the guys aren’t there for this since the ones who are there will passive-aggressively make fun of you by repeating “the stupid rules” to the new arrivals when you’re getting more ice.

However, no matter what is said or what you might hear through the grapevine, these rules are not stupid, but ensure that you wake up in the morning. Here are a few Ground Rules you should consider putting in place for any Guy’s Pool Night:


1. No cigars in the pool. You think cigar ash is a pain to completely clean up on a patio? Wait until you try to clean it out of a pool. I’m not kidding, you can’t scoop this stuff up with a skimmer net. Sure, you can wait for however long it takes the ashes to circulate through the pool filter, but I can 100% guarantee the wife will be outside at the break of dawn making a list and taking photos of the crime scene – which includes anything that makes the pool dirty. Don’t take that chance.

2. Suspend normal pool rules. Horseplay and splashing – no problem. Dunking and other shenanigans also OK. However, be firm on the No Diving rule. Especially for men, especially for heavy men, and especially men that have been drinking. Close the diving board, and No Diving head first. Suspension of rules also does not include tracking water and chlorine all over the house as well as NOT killing all of the wife’s pruned plants, flowers and other landscaping in the yard. Get it? Please say yes so I don’t have to spell it out.

3. No glass near the pool. Plastic cups only. Chances are one of your pals will bring over a plastic jug of cheap something, you all will laugh, and then you will all drink it anyways, so keep with the plastic motif and no one gets cut.

4. Noise abatement. Unless you live next to a big airport, at some point you’re going to draw the attention and ire of neighbors with your noise which could trigger an appearance by the local law enforcement. If this happens, your Guys’ Night By The Swimming Pool evening is probably over as your pals will see this as some sort of power-grabbing threat by your neighbor(s) and not want to take part. If some friends stick around, by all means, keep it cool and quiet, especially after 10 pm.


When your dude pool party is complete, you will probably not realize it. In fact, there will be a good chance the evening ended many hours prior but you had “that one” friend who decided to go the distance. You will feel obliged to run the marathon with him, bonding in ways you will never remember. If he is open to it, maybe he can help you clean up.

Having an automatic pool cleaner will give you some relief for the cleaning process. If you have a robotic cleaner like the Aquabot Junior or Hayward TigerShark, you can set it to clean the pool and then get to cleaning everything else. And yes, you have to clean the stuff up. Take it from me, there is nothing worse than being awakened three hours too early by an angry spouse because you left the beautiful outdoors looking like “an overrun zoo!”.

Finally, whatever you do, do NOT mention how great the evening was to your wife, or how great you did cleaning the place up. Your wife will already know all the details of what went down – don’t ask me how – but she will know. And you can never ever EVER clean anything to her standards, so don’t even bring it up. Just mow the lawn, do the dishes or laundry, take out the trash, basically do anything to stay in the lineup for today’s game.

And one final tip – it might do you some good to tell her the guys loved all of the drink and snack ideas commented on how good the backyard looks, even though you might have mentioned to them you did it all yourself.

 


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Dog Days of Summer: Step Up Your Pool Maintenance
avatar

dog shown next to blackboard chart woof / bark bark

Where Woof = Temperature, and Bark Bark = Filter and Chlorine demand


The Dog Days of Summer.
The hottest time of the year and the busiest time of the year for pool owners. People you haven’t heard from since last late July come knocking to find sanctuary in the cool waters of your swimming pool.

The Dog Days is also the time of year when your pool water is exposed to higher bather loads, intense temperatures, and prolonged sunlight which means it’s time to test your water more frequently and be aware of how all of these elements can add up to drastic changes in your water very quickly.

Run The Filter More

You probably just received your first electric bill of the summer (I did, ouch!). However, July and August is the time when you need the most filtering of the season. Set that pool filter timer a few extra hours longer each day. What you spend in electricity you will save in chemicals which can really add up. Your water is warm enough to shut off the pool heater and the combination of warm water, bright sunshine, and frequent rain storms, all call for more filtering time each day. My little filter runs 20+ hrs/day during August, or the water starts to look bad.

Add More Chlorine

Warmer water, more swimmers and longer sunlight hours means that your chlorine will deplete or burn-up faster. Add extra 3″ tabs to your chlorinator, and/or turn the dial higher to maintain chlorine levels. Pool shock frequency may also rise during the hottest parts of the summer, to fight algae, bacteria, chloramines and cloudy water.

Keep Calm & Stay Stable

Sunlight is an enemy of all pool chemicals on some levels, and as you already probably know, Conditioner or Stabilizer, aka Cyanuric Acid is the money saving chemical that protects your chlorine from the sun. Long hours of daily sunlight means that stabilizer levels are even more important, to prevent degradation of chlorine, when you need it most. Keep your stabilizer level between 20-50 ppm, and reduce or dilute if over 100 ppm.

More important than stabilizer however, is to consistently test your pool water balance during July and August. Your pool water is ever-changing, but never more than during the hottest summer months, when pH, Alkalinity and stabilizer levels can rise and cause water balance problems.

Test your Water Balance

LSI Chart

LSI Chart – Click for Larger Image

The Langelier Saturation Index is a way to determine if pool water has a tendency either to scale, or to corrode. The math is a bit complicated, but the Pentair LSI calculator does a nice job crunching the numbers. Just enter your pH, Alkalinity, Hardness, Cyanuric, and Water Temperature and it will tell you if you are in balance.

Stay Cool, Beat the Heat

Hot temperatures, long sunlight exposure, and more pool parties means more friends and family with more sunblock and oil. This can lead to a ring around your waterline, more organic solids dissolved in your water, and cloudy or hazy pool water. I recommend Natural Chemistry’s Pool First Aid or Pool Perfect with PhosFree on hand to help eliminate the oily gunk and phosphates that can build up with heavy pool use. I use enzymes, because if I don’t, I get an ugly bathtub ring and my filter starts to gum up. Enzymes are natural oil-eaters that also clean the pool filter of trapped oils and greasy gunk, and reduce chlorine demand by removing organics from the pool and pool system.

All in All – Keep Scale Off the Wall

The important thing to remember during these long, Dog Days of Summer is to enjoy your pool to the fullest but be aware of all the factors that could turn your pool green, cloudy, oily or water balance that can stain & scale your pool surfaces.

It’s easy to slip into complacency mid-season, letting your guard down after months of perfect pH and Alkalinity – but the increased heat, intense sun, and frequent guests requires you to stay vigilant!

Toodles!

 


Sheryl Sollis
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

Bad Pool Chemical Combinations
avatar

Welcome back students of pool, take a seat for our lecture today on bad pool chemical combinations.

We will start with several water balance scenarios that can result in unfortunate “side-effects’.

Then we will turn our attention to a few pool chemicals that should always be added separately, not together.

We’ll close with a brief discussion on best chemical safety practices, to prevent accidents from oxidants.

Let’s Dive-In, shall we?


Bad Water Balance Combinations

High pH + High Calcium: A recipe for scaling and cloudy water, forms scale film on pool surfaces and pipes, and can even form sharp crystallized nodules of calcium.

High pH + Low Chlorine: Perfect conditions for cloudy water and algae. Algae prefers a high pH level, and is just waiting for a low chlorine opportunity to bloom.

Low pH + Low Alkalinity: Will cause etching and corrosion to steel, copper, rubber, vinyl and plaster surfaces. Low pH is great for chlorine potency and algae prevention, but once it drops below neutral 7.0, acidic water begins to corrode pool surfaces and equipment.

Low pH + High Alkalinity: Same as above, only it becomes hard to raise pH, due to buffering effect of a high alkalinity. Add enough Dry Acid” to lower alkalinity (and pH). Requires several doses over many days, raising pH after each treatment.

Illustration of chlorine floaterLow Chlorine + Low Stabilizer: Hazy – cloudy – green is the usual progression. If you look at your pool everyday closely, you’ll know just by looking at it when chlorine is low. Act fast with pool shock to bring the level up fast, then fill your tablet floater or chlorinator. Outdoor pools should maintain a level of stabilizer in the 20-50 ppm range.

High Chlorine + High Stabilizer: This can damage soft and shiny surfaces over years of very high chlorine levels (5-10 ppm). High stabilizer levels over 100 ppm can cause problems in chlorine potency and chlorine testing becomes unreliable.

High Combined Chlorine: Chloramines are Free chlorine molecules joined with ammonia or nitrogen. No longer an active sanitizer, they cause red eyes and smelly pools. When chloramine level exceeds 0.3 ppm (TC-FC=CC), shock the pool.

Low Calcium Hardness: Creates a corrosive water condition, causing etching, and leaching of calcium from plaster or tile grout. Low hardness is also bad for vinyl liners when the water is too soft. It hinders overall water balance and chemical effectiveness, too.

High Phosphates: Phosphates enter the pool from many sources, but when a phosphate test exceeds 300 ppb (parts per billion), reduce them with SeaKlear or PhosFree. Phosphates and nitrates are favorite foods for algae, please don’t feed the animals. 🙂

Bad Pool Chemical Combinations

cheap-pool-shockChlorine shock + Algaecide: Chlorine shock will disrupt the polymer chains or chemical compounds used in many pool algaecides, and in most cases will completely destroy the algaecide. Use pool shock to kill algae, and save your algaecide until the chlorine level has returned to normal.

Chlorine shock + Sequester Agent: Chlorine shock will also disrupt stain & scale chemicals, aka chelators or sequestering agents, if added at the same time. Add Stain & Scale chemicals a day before or several days after, shocking a pool.

Clarifier + Clarifier: If you overdose a pool with Clarifier, a curious phenomenon can occur. Instead of behaving as a coagulant, the electron charge can reverse, causing some formulas to behave as a dispersant. Wait 5-7 days to treat again with clarifier, closely following dosage instructions.

stabilizer label shownVery High Cyanuric Acid: Have I told you the one about the guy who thought he was adding calcium to his pool but actually added 15 lbs of cyanuric acid? Also labeled Stabilizer or Conditioner, when cyanuric acid levels exceed 100 ppm, proper sanitation becomes difficult. The solution is dilution.

Chlorine Shock + High Metals: How about the guy whose copper heat exchanger was eroding from low pH, who shocked his poorly balanced pool water, and ended up with black streaks and stains? High metal levels can drop-out of solution in such cases. Keep pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness within range, and add a regular treatment of a sequestering agent like Stain Away or Metal Free to keep metals in solution.

The Worst Pool Chemical Combination

Never allow pool chemicals to contact each other, even a drop of algaecide, clarifier, antifreeze, or other liquids mixed with chlorine, can erupt into a raging fire. Mixing chlorine and acid (pH down) creates a deadly gas. Mixing different chlorine types can explode when moisture is added. Chemical residue from a bucket or scoop mixing with another chemical can react. Dirt, dust, leaves and any liquid can cause a volatile reaction when mixed with pool chlorine.

chemical storage area sign for poolsTrust me when I say that chemical fires are extremely hazardous, as I have conducted many flammability experiments on our pool chemicals. Chlorine mixed with any other chemical or foreign substance can emit toxic gases, erupt in flames, explode, or all of the above.

Keep Pool Chemicals Clean, Closed, Dry and Separated. 

Be Careful America, because ‘Oxidants Happen!’.  😉

 

Dr. Pool

 

Pool Slides & Diving Boards
avatar

For many Americans, the perfect pool accessory is a pool slide or diving board. Find them in our Pool Accessories category, but they are much more than an accessory. Slides and dive equipment add a whole ‘nother dimension of fun to your pool.

So I’m here today to help you sort through the many options and give you a few tips on pool slides and diving boards – think of it as a pool slide and dive buying guide with a little bit of Larry-tude.


Let’s start with pool slides. Over the past 10 years, Pool Slides have gained a great deal of popularity in the backyard pool. Before, when you went to someone’s house to swim and they had a pool slide, yeah, most likely they had it made. Now however, slides are much more affordable, more available and easier to install by yourself with the help of a friend.

Most of the slides you’ll find will state they are for inground pools. While this is true, there are smaller pool slides like the Zoomerang that can be used on above ground pools, with enough (4’x8′) sturdy deck space around the pool. The Cyclone slide is another option for larger decks, requiring 6’x8′ of deck space to mount. The pool deck must support the weight of the slide, water and swimmers, and the deck boards need to be solid enough to securely hold the mounting bolts.

Pool Slide Location Selection

G-Force pool slide shownChoosing the correct location for a pool slide is very important. This is a safety issue since you don’t want anyone come zipping down the slide and smacking a body part into the hard pool bottom, or a wall that comes up too fast.

Water Depth: Pool slide installation instructions are very specific on the required water depths, and ‘water safety envelope’, or the exit area for a pool slide. Most inground pool slides require a minimum water depth of 36″ under the slide exit, which must increase to a depth of 48″ for most slides or 54″ depth for larger slides. And, this minimum depth must continue for at least 9′ in front of the slide exit. Check the Owners Manual on the More Info tab to see a slide’s water depth and distance information, or water safety envelope.

Deck Space: This may be obvious, but pool slides can take up a lot of deck space. Smaller pool slides can fit in a 4×8 spot, but larger slides can have a footprint of 8’x12′ or larger. Check the Technical Specs on the More Info tab to see a slide’s footprint or required deck space, because you still need room to move around the pool, and enough room for a long line of kids, waiting their turn!

Other Side of the Pool: Also obvious or maybe not, but you want to make sure the slide chute faces the house or patio seating areas. This is important for safety, but also for waving to your kids when they scream “Watch Me!”. Get the camera ready, and enjoy your swimmers rocketing down the slide and splashing into the pool in front of you, instead of facing the other direction.

With all of these limitations, it usually comes down to only one or two available or possible locations to install a pool slide. In some cases, you may need to enlarge the deck in that area, to still be able to walk around the slide, without stepping off into the dirt. Pools with just the standard 3 or 4 ft apron around the pool, will often need to pour an adjacent concrete pad to mount the pool slide legs and ladder, depending on the slide ‘footprint’.

Choosing a Pool Slide

As for the pool slides themselves, think about your customer – who will use it the most? If you have little kids, perhaps you should consider something a bit more tame like the 4′ tall Cyclone Fun slide with an enclosed ladder for added safety. The 3′ tall Zoomerang pool slide is also a popular, fun and affordable option. Its compact size is a great space saver, while the right curve and patented Zoom Flume makes for a fast ride.

cyclone and zoomerang slides shown

Taller, full size pool slides like the City II inground waterslide and the Wild Ride pool slide, while pool slides like the heliX2 and G-Force slides offer a complete 360 degree twist for a whole lot of excitement while not being too incredibly tall for little ones.

3 InterFab pool slides shown

The Adrenaline water slide is perhaps the most popular with customers. Towering over 7-feet above the patio deck with an extra long flume, with either a left or right turn. Features a deep splash zone on the final three feet of deck, for waterpark like thrills.

superslide-inflatable-slideIf you don’t have a large budget but still want a pool slide, there’s always the SuperSlide inflatable water slide. Mainly for the younger set, this is a great way to maximize summer without breaking the bank. You can use this on inground pools and above ground pools, and water is delivered via a garden hose. Simple, fun and affordable.

Finally, as a side note, when I mention water slide, you should know that every pool slide has a water connection to make the slide more fun and more enjoyable. We all know what happens when you go down a dry slide on a hot day – ouch!


On to diving boards. In my opinion, diving boards are the epitome of summer time fun. Name one other activity where you can soar through the air and land relatively safely with no special talent. Depending on your fortitude, you can be highly creative as you spring off the end of the board and into the water.

Diving boards are only for inground swimming pools. I’ve seen jump boards attached to decks on above ground pools, but diving off a board into an above ground pool is dangerous, and should never be attempted. And – diving boards should always be installed onto the correct diving board stand, and not affixed to a deck or makeshift stand, which is also dangerous.

Diving Board Location Selection

Choosing the correct location for a diving board is also very important. Of course there are strict technical specs to be observed when installing a diving board on a pool where one never existed.

8′ Deep Only: or a minimum depth of 7′-6″, and a minimum depth of 5′ at a distance of 7′-6″ from the drain or deepest spot. In other words, an 8′ deep end and a slope that does not rise too rapidly to the shallow end.

Diving boards have even more strict placement requirements than slides. The ANSI/NSPI standards are very specific on the water depth at the board, and in front of the board. It is also very specific on the required width of a pool and the slope of 1:3 maximum for the floor from deep end to shallow end.

The placement of the diving board stand steel jig, which is set into a new concrete pad, must also be exact. Please refer to the Owner’s Manual for each of our diving board stands, found on the More Info tab, to determine if your pool size and depth is suitable for a diving board installation. If unsure, feel free to call our help desk.

Diving board stands provide a solid base for the diving board while providing a fulcrum that gives a board its spring. Do not install a diving board without using the correct stand.

Choosing a Diving Board

If you are replacing a diving board, and you already have a stand, look for the replacement diving board to match your stand. Do not install a larger diving board than original, the dive stand (and jig) must also be changed for the fulcrum location to be correct. We have the most popular replacement diving boards by SR Smith and Inter-Fab. If you need help selecting a replacement diving board, call our help desk.

diving boards by sr smith

For diving board / stand combos, depending on your pool depth and length you can choose from 6′ and 8′ diving boards and jump boards. Jump boards are distinctly less bouncy, for smaller and shallower pools, (but still 8′ deep).

Three popular combos include the SR Smith Flyte Deck II stand and Fibre Dive diving board and Inter-Fab La Mesa stand with Duro-Beam board. The SR Smith Salt Pool Jump System with the Frontier III board is corrosion-proof and is available in 3 cool colors.

image of 3 sr smith diving board sets


Whether it’s a pool slide or diving board that you’re contemplating for the summer, one important common thing for both is safety. Make sure you have a zero-tolerance policy regarding horsing around or misuse of a diving board or pool slide.

Incorrect installation or use of pool slides and diving boards can result in painful injuries and worse things, so use common sense, practice safety and have some fun!

 


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Blogger