Controlling Scale Deposits in Pools

Hello again students of pool, let’s get settled into our desks and the lecture can begin.

Dr. Pool: “You there, in the front row, Charles, is it? Tell me about hard water and soft water, in pools.”
Charlie: “Yes it’s Charlie, sir. Well Doctor, I suppose hardness is the measure of how much calcium is in the pool water…?”
Dr. Pool: “Correct, Charles. Hard water is high in minerals such as calcium… and magnesium, metals and other particles that are dissolved in the water. In pools, we measure the level of hardness by testing for calcium carbonate, with the proper levels for pools being…”
Charlie: “180 to 220 parts per million, sir!”
Dr. Pool: “…that is – correct. Sit down now, Charles”.

Problems with Scale in Pools

Scale are mineral deposits, and if you’ve ever seen spots on drinking glasses after you’ve pulled them from the dishwasher, you are familiar with calcium scale.

In swimming pools, scale easily deposits as stains on pool surfaces, thin films, dirty spots and sharp crystals. In extreme cases, it can produce a viscous mineral scum on the water level, coat the inside of pipes and even clog up a pool heater.

Mineral scale from stone or rock walls, called efflorescence, is also a common issue for pools with rock retaining walls, as moisture seeps through the wall, it brings mineral scale which forms ugly brownish white stalactites on the rock and tile.

In hard water areas of the southwest, hundreds of companies exist that bead-blast pool tiles to remove calcium scale deposits, and restore the original color and luster.

Mineral scale and total dissolved solids is also at least partially responsible for most cloudy pool water conditions. And if not cleaned regularly, can cause saltwater pool salt cells to fail.

So yes, mineral scale is a nuisance in pools, let’s look at what you can do about it.

Solutions for Scale in Pools

Although nearly 85% of the U.S. has what is considered to be ‘hard water’, you don’t have to take pool scale lying down! There are several ways to prevent scale in pools, and also several ways to remove scale in pools.

Preventing Scale in Pools

Use a Pre-Filter

Pleatco Disposable Pre-Filter with garden hose attachmentThe Pleatco Pool Pre-Filter is used to remove particulate matter as you add water to the pool. Just screw the 5-stage filter on to your garden hose and fill the pool like normal. Removes stain and scale causing contaminants; filling your pool with pure H2O.

Control Your pH

Allowing pool pH and alkalinity to rise makes it much easier for scale to precipitate out of solution. Maintain pH levels in the 7.2-7.6 range, and buffer your pH  with a proper level of Total Alkalinity, in the 80-120 ppm range. When levels are too high is when scaling occurs.

Sequester the Scale

Natural Chemistry Scale Free Scale and Metal Protection for PoolsFor those of you in hard water areas that struggle with high calcium hardness levels, add a bi-monthly dose of Scale Free by Natural Chemistry, to keep mineral scale locked in solution, or sequestered (yes, like jurors). Also very effective is our own Super Stain Away. Sequestering agents are not long lasting, reapply regularly for best results.

Brush Your Pool

in-the-swim-18-inch-supreme-pool-brushBrushing your pool, especially plaster and pebble finish pools, is an important way to prevent scale film and nodule formation. Running pool cleaners regularly also discourages heavy scale deposits by keeping the pool surfaces, especially steps and floors, clean.

Control your Calcium

in-the-swim-calcium-hardness-increaserWhen Calcium Hardness levels rise above 500 ppm, you can expect problems, and when over 1000 ppm, you really have to be careful to avoid scale problems in pools. 180-220 ppm (or even up to 300 ppm) is the optimum level. Too high can be a problem, but also levels below 150 ppm can make the water aggressively hungry for calcium hardness.

Removing Scale in Pools

Scrub the Scale

PoolStone Cleaning Block Family shownScale can be removed from plaster and pebble surfaces with manual action, either from a stainless steel bristle pool brush, a pumice stone like the PoolStone, or with abrasive cleaning tools like the Stain Eraser. Vinyl and fiberglass pools need gentler removal methods.

Acid Washing

Acid washing is a purposeful stripping of a very thin layer of plaster, exposing clean and fresh plaster beneath. As such, it’s not something you can do every year, but every 5 years doesn’t hurt, and it is really the best way to remove years of stubborn scale deposits.

Sequester the Scale

Super Stain Away shownRemoving scale deposits on pool surfaces without some type of mechanical action is difficult, but some films and localized deposits may be effectively treated by adjusting your pH to an acidic condition, and treating with a heavy dose of our Super Stain Away. Follow up with heavy brushing and near constant filtration, using clarifiers as needed to help sand filters and small cartridge filters.

Reverse Osmosis

When calcium carbonate reaches critical levels in a pool, dilution is the solution, unless you have a pool water recycling company nearby. Huge truck mounted pumps will push all of your pool water thru reverse osmosis filters, and then pump it back in, as pure H2O.

So there you have it, all the ways to deal with calcium scale problems in swimming pools. One more tip is to calculate the Langelier Saturation Index on your pool water, which incorporates temperature into the equation, and important ingredient for scaling.

Calculating LSI is a fun mathematical exercise, but Pentair Pool has saved you the trouble, with their nifty online tool, a LSI Calculator. Use it regularly to fine tune your pool water’s propensity to scale.


Class Dismissed!

Dr. Pool

Dealing with Snow On Your Winter Pool Cover

Snowmageddon 2017 title goes to Erie, Pennsylvania. On Christmas Day, 34″ of snow fell, shattering previous single day snowfall records. Over 60″ of snow in just 48 hours, and there’s more snow in the forecast.

According to Dr. Pool, knowledgeable in such things, the East Coast is experiencing what has been officially dubbed a “Bomb Cyclone” of snow and cold temperature with snow reaching as far south as Florida. We hope everyone stays safe and warm. With safety in mind, let’s to discuss how to approach snow on your above ground or inground pool cover.


Under two feet of snow, and you can usually kick back, relax in your easy chair and know that your tough winter cover or safety is designed to carry that kind of weight. As long as the water level has not dropped!

Winter covers need the support of the water, and if water drains out, the solid covers can tear or fall-in, and safety cover straps and springs can fail, under a heavy snow load. The best place for winter water level is 3-6″ below the skimmer opening. Monitor the level.

Mesh covers (safety covers) will look like they are going to break under the strain of snow, and often the cover will actually freeze to the water surface and look unsettling. Have no fear, for your cover will bounce back up to the original taut shape when ice thaws. Don’t try to accelerate the thaw, don’t try to break the cover free from the ice, and don’t use a metal snow shovel on the cover–it could tear it.

Solid covers will capture the snow melt as the thaw begins, be ready with your cover pump. 10″ of snow translates to about 1″ of water when it melts, and any more than an inch of water on your cover can cause stress, strain and damage to the cover.


If you get over two feet of snow, most pool covers and pool owners would benefit from trying to remove a foot or two from around the edge, being careful to not get close to the pool or pool edge. Don’t worry about the pool cover, but clear the deck around the pool to facilitate drainage of snow melt.

I know a guy… he uses a plug-in heat cable wrapped around the cover pump power cord and plugged into a 3-way plug, with the pump. The small amount of heat accelerates snow melt, and creates a fast channel for water to run to the pump, when laid across the pool cover surface all down the pool length. $40 at hardware stores.



  • Use a soft bristle push broom to gently remove the snow. If there is more snow in the forecast it will definitely help greatly to try to remove it as it falls.
  • Use a plastic snow shovel to carefully remove snow from your cover. No guarantee that you won’t rip your cover, but less risk using a plastic shovel.
  • Consider using a strong leaf blower if the snow isn’t wet and heavy.

I know a guy… he puts Pool Salt on his Pool Cover, broadcasting the crystals over the pool cover, and turns on the cover pump the next day. He has a saltwater pool of course, but anyone could do it. Just use a few pounds only, and don’t use sidewalk ice melt crystals, which have additives and impurities that you don’t want in your pool.



Winter covers and safety covers rely on pool water levels to help alleviate some of the weight from snow and ice. For safety cover owners, If you know your pool is leaking (and if it is a slow leak that can’t be repaired) try to add water throughout the winter so that the water level stays 3-12″ below the skimmer opening. More than 12″ below the skimmer, like this picture below, and you could have some real damage, especially to an old cover like this one.


picture of pool cover pump, 1/3 hpCover pumps are will do much of the work for you if they are position correctly on your pool cover to help pump away the snow melt or existing ice as it melts. Automatic models are triggered when submerged beyond a certain point and can run all winter long. Manual pumps are turned on and off as needed. We have a big selection of affordable pool cover pumps to save you money in the long run.

Durable Air Pillows for Above-Ground Pool shownAnother affordable and incredibly effective winter pool cover accessory for above ground pools are air pillows. Air pillows float in the center of the pool, underneath the cover to keep the pool surface from freezing solidly across, which protects the pool walls from some serious damage. Always use an Air Pillow on Aboveground Pools. They also help channel water to the cover pump.

Spider Cover SaverI know a guy… who uses the biggest air pillow we sell (4’x15′) and pulls the cover tight to the edges so that light rain runs off the edges. This could damage the cover in several ways, plus it’s best to pump cover water a short distance away from the pool edge. And… it just doesn’t work, not with a rain or snow, and not with 5 ft. of snow! :-0


5′ OF SNOW ?!?

Now you’ve got problems. But again, as long as there is sufficient water level in the pool, the frozen pool will support 60″ of snow. First work on clearing a path to the pool, and then slowly remove snow from around the pool. Then you can assess the pool cover situation.

So then, unless you’re in Erie, PA, you really don’t need to do much with snow on your pool cover. Just have your pump ready to remove the snow melt on warm afternoons with above freezing temperatures. Coming soon… I’m sure!  And if you are dealing with 5 ft of snow on your pool cover in Erie, I have the same advice, plug-in the cover pump and just wait….


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Favorite Stain Prevention in a Plaster Pool

Hello, I’m Dr. Pool, and today’s class will focus on the prevention of stains, on inground pool plaster surfaces. It’s a topic that has all the elements of a good chemical story, with great play between the main characters – a semi-porous cementitious surface, 1000’s of charged particles, and of course, water.

Let’s start with pool plaster itself, typically a mixture of white Portland cement and marble dust. Mixed with water and applied by hand in uncontrolled (outdoor) conditions, it cures underwater, with proper chemical management.

Pool Plaster is a natural product, and as such is subject to variations in shading or hue, some undulations or streaking may be expected on troweled plaster. Most pool plaster companies offer additives, such as quartz, bead or pebble aggregates, added to diffuse color and hide such variations.

I say all this to help you manage expectations, as 95% of plaster pools have some uneven tones. And in addition, most pools have a blemish here or there – pool stains are normal, or the rule rather than the exception.

Nevertheless, you’ve come here to learn about preventing pool stains? read on…


Pool stains are often simply Mineral Scale. Pool Plaster has an ionic charge that attracts mineral scale, and nearly every inground plaster pool has a film of scale deposited on the surface. This is more pronounced on colored pools (blue, black or grey), and may not be noticeable on white plaster finishes.

But scale does not deposit alone, when minerals are knocked-out or pulled-out of solution, as happens quite regularly in pools – dirt, algae and organics is drawn into the forming scale, producing a dull or dirty scale film on the plaster surface, in a very thin layer.

Scale deposits and mineral stains can be avoided in pools!

  • Pool Filters: Large and effective, DE filters are the most efficient.
  • Pool Cleaners: Automatic pool cleaners run daily help reduce scale formation.
  • Brushing: Weekly brushing with a quality pool brush to loosen scale and dust.
  • Stain & Scale: Agents like Scale Free or Stain Away keep minerals in solution.
  • Saturation Index: Avoids super-saturation or scaling conditions LSI Calculator.

Over time, even well maintained pools can have situations that produce sudden scaling conditions. An acid wash every 5 or 10 years will strip scale film to restore and brighten plaster beneath. As an added benefit, replacing (old) pool water improves water conditions, often making water balance and scale management easier.

Scale Films and crystal deposits can also often be removed without draining the pool, albeit less effectively, by balancing the water towards the slightly acidic end of the LSI spectrum, and adding a full dose of Scale Free or Super Stain Away directly to the water, followed by heavy brushing and extra filtering, which may be aided with Chitin, a natural clarifier.


Plaster pools can also be subject to staining from metals, the most common elements found in pool water are Copper and Iron. Iron stains produce mostly orange-brown stains and copper stains are usually blue-green, and both can appear black in high concentrations.

Metal levels in pool water can be tested for at very accurate levels here in my lab; but for use ‘out in the field’, we have a Copper test strip by AquaChek, and there are strips also available for establishing a rough measure of iron, in the familiar parts per million scale.

Metals in pool water can come from many sources:

  • Well Water usually contains iron, or city water delivered via rusty iron pipes.
  • Copper from copper pipes, copper heat exchangers, or copper algaecides.
  • Steel: Non-pool toys with metal parts, hair pins i.e. ‘bobby pins’, roofing nails.
  • Rebar tie wires, close to the surface, beneath the plaster, rusting through.
  • Galvanic corrosion of steel in salt water pools without a zinc anode.

Metal stains from iron and copper can be prevented in pools!

  • Pre-Filter: Use a Pleatco Pre-Filter to remove metals from pool re-fill water.
  • Sequester: Use Metal Free to keep metals locked in solution with strong bonds.
  • Proper pH & Alk: Acidic Low pH & Alkalinity strips copper from pool heaters.

Perhaps it may also be wise to install a new pool rule – ‘no ferrous metals’ in the pool. Only aluminum, brass or stainless steel within 50 feet of the pool! 🙂

Copper and Silver ionizers can also easily stain plaster pools. Products such as the Solar Ionizer or Power Ionizer have the potential for increasing metal levels to a range where sequestration becomes difficult. A sudden change in water balance, including shocking the pool can precipitate the metals, staining a plaster surface.


Now class I ask you; is your pool stain an animal, mineral or vegetable? So far, we’ve covered mineral scale stains, and metal stains, now we look at organic stains, those from animals (birds, worms, insects) or vegetable (algae, leaves, dirt, oils).

These stains can be in the corners of the steps, or one end of the pool, around the drain, or at the winter water level line – known as the ‘bathtub ring’. Or when leaves and worms mix and sit all winter long directly on the pool plaster.

Many automatic pool cleaners have a particular spot or step that they can’t reach, and leaf tannins and oils from debris can leave a mark. Organic stains can also occur from bird droppings, or berries and nuts.

Organic Stains in pools can be prevented! (sometimes)

  • Solid Covers: A tight fitting fully-Solid winter safety cover without drain panels.
  • Enzymes: For winter or summer, Enzymes eat stain causing organics!
  • Clean Pools: Efficient skimmers, automatic cleaners, good cleaning tools.
  • Pool Filters: Operating effectively to remove fine organic particles and oils.
  • Sanitizer: Constant consistent chlorine levels helps to breakdown organics.

cheap-pool-shockOrganic stains can often be removed quickly on a plaster pool by sprinkling calcium hypochlorite (pool shock) over the area, allowing to sit for a minute, then brush briskly.

Today’s lesson however, was Stain Prevention in a Plaster Pool, (not removal) and I hope you found it of value.

For those students who have passed the test on preventing pool stains, you are ready to move onto the next chapter: removing pool stains. Your next reading assignment is thus: Stain Removal in a Plaster Pool


Class Dismissed!


Dr. Pool



10 of the World’s Most Unusual Pool Locations

As the year comes to a close, we’d like to wind down from the usual, and verge into the unusual. This week’s ITS Blog aims to have some fun by taking a gander at some of the Most Unusual Pools in the World. Let’s jump right in!

Pool in a Ballpark: Arizona Diamondbacks

This 8,500 gallon pool is located in the right-center outfield and is part of a suite you can rent. It was the first of its kind when it opened in 1998 and has since inspired several imitators.  Legend has it that the designers were looking at preliminary models of the park’s design when one of them joked about building a pool in the outfield.

Pool on a Volcano: Blue Lagoon Spa, Grindavik, Iceland

The Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa in Iceland is probably the most famous of its kind. The water is heated by nearby underground lava and actually renewed 4 times a week by a geothermal water filtering plant. The water is naturally heated at about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, rich with minerals and some claim it has healing powers.

Pool on the Horizon: Hotel Villa Mahal, Turkey

In Turkey, the infinity pool at the Hotel Villa Mahal truly captures the illusion of the water blending with the horizon at the edge of the world. Infinity pools, aka negative edge pools, are a unique engineering challenge for any pool builder. In this case, perfection has been obtained.

Pool Suspended in Air: Joule Hotel, Dallas Texas

The rooftop pool at the Hotel Joule in downtown Dallas, TX takes the concept of an infinity pool to new heights. This cantilevered pool on the 10th floor of the historic downtown hotel allows swimmers to swim up to the glass and look down on Main Street below.

Pool in a Living Room: Manhattan, NYC

An indoor pool is one thing, an indoor pool in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan is something completely different and far more luxurious.  This pool is part of an $11 million dollar apartment that also features a pool for the owner’s pet turtles – oh, and it is currently on the market. Save up those pennies!

Pool in the Clouds: Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore

Way up on the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is the world’s highest infinity pool. It looks out over the Downtown Core. When opened in 2009 it was considered to be the world’s most expensive standalone hotel – built for a whopping $8 billion bucks.

Pool on a Boat: Any Ocean

Sure all cruise ships have pools, but now even smaller yachts are installing on-board pools. The yacht DB9 shown above sleeps 12 and features an open air cinema and a grand piano in the main salon. Two hot tubs along with an outdoor swimming pool make her an obvious choice for your next vacation. It’s for rent from Elite Yacht!

Pool in a River: Badeschiff, Berlin, Germany 

Badeschiff, or “bathing ship” is a public pool in Berlin. It is literally a floating shipping container transformed into a public swimming pool on the river Spree. The price of the real estate was right, so the city built a pool – in the river!

Pool Between two Buildings

These condo towers in Singapore are bridged by a swimming pool at the top of 38 story tall building.  The building also features extensive green living features and two garden bridges below the pool.

Pool in the Jungle: Ubud Hanging Gardens, Bali, Indonesia

The Hanging Gardens of Bali is a luxury resort deep in the jungles of Bali.  The resort has recently won the distinguished honor of “World’s Best Swimming Pool” from the Luxury Hotel Awards. It is actually two pools: an infinity pool that looks out over the jungle several stories up and a pool that puts you in the heart of the gardens with exotic foliage.

Unusual pools in unusual locations, ten great examples of pool builders thinking outside the box – outside of a 20’x40′ box in the backyard, that is. Swimming pools don’t have be normal – any ‘box’ can be filled with water, no matter where it’s located!

This is my last blog for the year, enjoy the holidays and I’ll be back again in 2018!


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



Swimming Pool Ladder and Handrail Upgrades

Pool steps and ladders are an element of swimming pools that are often an afterthought for many pool owners. They are a vital aspect of a pool’s overall safety and can also serve as an understated design accent to give your pool deck a modest splash of style.

Odds are, if you are considering a new handrail, ladder or step system for your above ground or inground pool it is because you have a severely outdated, possibly dangerous ladder.

Let’s take a look at the best swimming pool handrails, steps, and ladders that are built to last, while boosting the subtle aesthetics of your pool area.


Inter-Fab has given a fresh approach to the form of inground pool handrails without sacrificing the fundamental purpose: a safe and durable accessory to enter or exit the water. There is almost an element of sci-fi to these sleek, stainless steel designer rails – eye-catching yet versatile enough to mesh with any pool’s existing decor. Paired or single-standing, Inter-Fab Designer handrails break the norm and are a classy way to give your pool deck (or spa) some flair.


kool grips pool and spa handrail coversKeeping with the concept of maintaining safety standards while stepping up the visual impact potential of your pool or spa handrails are the Kool Grips Handrail Covers.

KoolGrips are made with heavy duty polyester and spandex fabric blended with UPF/UV inhibitors (so they don’t fade in the sun) and are anti-microbrial.

They are available in 3 colors and are a more affordable way to update your pool or spa handrails without replacing them entirely.


saftron pool ladder_blog.intheswim.comSAFTRON’s high-impact polymer ladders are made of specially formulated compounds that make them corrosion-proof and perfectly matched for saltwater pools.  The reinforced, encapsulated steel makes them incredibly durable and sturdy. The aforementioned high-impact polymer exterior makes SĀFTRON ladders impervious to not only saltwater but to pool chemicals and sun while remaining cooler to the touch. Available in 5 colors to match your pool color scheme.


Frog Log Critter
Let’s not forget our 4-legged friends’ life-saving exits to your pool.  It’s easy for small animals to accidentally end up in your swimming pool but for most it is almost impossible for them to get out which often results in a tragic but avoidable accident.

The Frog Log Critter Escape Ramp is a simple, basic set up that requires no installation, is extremely affordable and provides an easy exit point for small animals.


InterFab Designer Ladder_blog.intheswim.comSwitching gears for above ground pool owners, the Staircase Above Ground Pool Steps makes getting out of your pool much easier and safer. Built of sturdy resin polymers, these pool steps have a 400 pound capacity and can withstand the sun’s harmful UV rays and pool chemicals such as chlorine. The above ground pool steps use two mounting brackets to fasten to your pool’s deck, and dual handrails provide even more stability for entering and exiting the pool.


Roll Guard A-Frame Safety Ladder_blog.intheswim.comA step above (ahem) the Above Ground Pool Staircase System is the Roll Guard A-Frame Safety Ladder.

This high quality system offers the ability to allow or prevent access to your above ground pool as you see fit. Simply use the unique roll-down safety barrier to cover the outside steps when not in use. The guard conveniently rolls under the ladder when it’s not needed, safely restricting access behind the inside of the ladder. This sturdy ladder also comes with a padlock for the roll guard, an anti-entrapment barrier and contemporary design that adds to the ambiance around your pool.


Shop Now Deluxe Entry System with Gate for Above Ground

Our top-tier above ground pool step and gate is the Deluxe Entry System with Gate.

The Deluxe Entry system is designed to meet the most stringent of above ground pool safety codes and includes double handrails on both sides as well as a self-closing gate that opens outward and locks. This stair entry system is made of strong vinyl and won’t corrode and requires no maintenance.

Add even more enjoyment to your pool with this easy-to-use system that makes it easier for all swimmers to get in and out, while preventing accidental drowning and unwanted pool visitors.

An exciting aspect of pool ownership is the innovative products that companies like Inter-Fab are constantly striving to improve upon.  Just within the last handful of seasons we’ve seen interesting stylistic improvements to the most fundamental pool accessories like handrails and advanced ingenuity applied for a safer more secure above ground pool step system.

There’s never been a better time to update your dated spa, inground or above ground pool’s handrail, ladder, or step system. For new pool owners on any budget, there’s never been a wider array of options to put your own personal touch and style into your pool.


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


In The Swim Holiday Pool Toys Gift Guide

Winter Holidays are a great time to surprise the people on your shopping list with pool toys and floats. For one, it’s probably the last thing they’d expect, and second, now is the time to take advantage of In The Swim’s Winter Holiday Sale!

Great floats like the Giant Swan or Alligator look hilarious next to a tree overflowing with gifts and can also be timely for the family winter vacation to a sunny beach or pool.

Giant Animals Floats 

Floats like the Giant Flamingo, Pegasus, or Swan lend an air of elegance to your pool, ambiance  even? Kids and teens just flip for these fun pool inflatables. Pool gifts just make a natural and fun addition to a stack of gifts – even if your pool is closed for winter!

From giant inflatable rubber ducks to sharks, and  unicorns to parrots, there’s a giant animal ride-on float for everyone.

Naughty or Slice?

If giant animal riders aren’t your thing, maybe you’re a bit of a foodie? With 7 kids growing up, it was always tough for my folks to buy something to make each kid happy and even harder to buy something that we all could enjoy together.

The Giant Pizza Slice Float is great because each slice can connect to another to make a giant pizza, or half pizza – depending on how many slices are in your home.

Everybody loves pizza and this pizza slice float, plus nobody can argue about what’s on it when you are the topping!

LED Light-Up Pool Float

pool candy led pool loungeThe Pool Candy LED Lighted Pool Lounger is as versatile as a pool float can get. Vivid, color-changing LED’s fit right in with any holiday decor – but mainly will look really cool on a warm summer evening. Imagine floating on your LED pool float at night, with a warm glow of colored LED lights underneath. Tailored made for your Instagram and Facebook posts!

The LED pool lounge lights up in blue, red, yellow, green, and purple with 3 light modes: Flash Slow, Flash Fast, or Glow. Runs on 3-AAA batteries, which are generously included, so you can inflate it right away.

All the Reindeer Games

pool porto-o-pong game with Santa ClausPort-O-Pong, or maybe EggNog-O-Pong is fun in or out of the water and at any time of year. It quickly inflates or deflates to fit into your suitcase making it great for travel. Standard beer pong board with ten  20 oz ‘Solo’ cup holders on either side, plus an additional holder for a social or rinse cup.

Cool Jam Pro Pool Basketball Set

Swimline Cool Jam Pro pool basketball gameTake it the hole Santa!  The man jumps up chimneys so you know he has game. CoolJam Pro Pool Basketball Set sits on the pool deck with a water-filled base to keep it stable. Height adjustable backboard for all ages.

Cool Jam Pro includes game ball and the full-size standard basketball rim. Packs flat into a box small enough to fit under the tree, yet large enough to incite wonder and wild speculation.

Using Your Noodle

santa with a box of noodlesOur big box of 35 Pool Noodles makes a great ‘stocking stuffer’ or is perfect for crafty holiday decorations. One quick Pinterest search for “Pool Noodle Ideas” quickly opens up an endless rabbit hole of downright inventive and border line genius ways to re-purpose a pool noodle.

With so many fun things to do with pool noodles, they’re great to keep on hand for a quick and fun project.

Two of the many inventive pool noodle decorations on Pinterest

A Holiday In Margaritaville

Whether you are a Parrothead or just a fan of drifting on the water in comfort and style – the Margaritaville Oversized Lounger can hold any ‘full-size’ Santa.

The graphic reads “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” and this super stable float features an innovative soft fabric top with water-activated graphics. Once the float is wet, vibrant tropical-themed colors appear!

Water-Activated, Super Soft, Tough like Steel. What is this magic fabric?

Fun: Above All Else

Holiday gifts from In The Swim guarantee one thing above all else: fun! And whether it’s snowing where you live in December or if you are packing up the family for warmer shores, a surprising pool float or pool game gives everyone something to look forward to whether your destination is pool opening day or a New Year in the tropics.

See all our categories of year end special pricing – Going on Now, at

Happy Holidays!



Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



In-Ground, On-Ground, Above-Ground Pool Ideas

With the In The Swim Custom Pool Builder, you have the option to custom build your above ground pool to fit perfectly in your backyard space.

If you already own an above ground pool, or if you are eye-ing our above ground pool sale just in time for the holidays, here are 10 inspiring above ground pool ideas, to make your pool really pop!


It’s not common but it’s not impossible either, and this pool is proof that you can add a pool slide and a diving board and base combo to a pool deck surrounding a (partially) above ground pool. Our inground pool kits (16’x32′ or larger) can be built with the proper depth and slope to allow for a diving board and slide, or built with a sport bottom, which is deep in the center of the pool. In this case, excavation is limited to the hopper bottom. This is known as On-Ground, an aboveground pool with a deep end.

photo courtesy of


Simply adding an organic facade element around the steel walls of a pool can dramatically improve the aesthetics of any above ground pool and create a more natural presence in your backyard. From simple beams of lumber to bamboo to elephant grass, covering the metal walls of a pool is a generally affordably and simple DIY project that can go a long way to give an ordinary above ground pool a real “Wow!” factor.

aboveground pool wrapped in wood

photo courtesy of

When budgets allow, adding wood or stone can have a dramatic effect, as shown in these inground pool kits used on-ground. This pool is partially in the ground, which reduces the excavation work, then wrapped in paver stones.

semi inground pool with paver stones

photo courtesy of Brothers 3 Pools


This pool not only applied the organic facade technique from the previous example but also used the natural incline of their backyard to their advantage by adding a deck. The gravel makes for a nice frame to define the space but also functions to prevent soil erosion from rain runoff due to the hill. Semi inground pools stay cleaner as the raised sides block blowing leaves, and the taller sides also have a safety benefit for kids and animals.

phot showing aboveground pool with outside wood panels

photo courtesy of Aqua Star Pools


Adding a deck around the entire perimeter of a rectangular above ground pool can make you forget that it’s not actually an inground pool. Depending on the height of the deck, the depth of your pool, and the deck access points, it isn’t unfathomable to pull this off.
photo courtesy of Aqua Star Pools

photo courtesy of Aqua Star Pools


Or a semi-inground pool – depending on your perspective. This pool uses the existing hill in the backyard to cozy the entrance of the pool right up to the patio. An advantage of a semi-above ground pool is that the ground acts as a natural insulator to help regulate pool temperatures. Here’s two examples of Radiant ® Pools, built into sloping backyards.

photo courtesy or Ohio Pools

photo courtesy of Brothers 3 Pools

photo courtesy of Brothers 3 Pools


This vinyl on-ground pool uses mock stone panels to frame the outside rise, and wood as a bench-like deck or lounging area to completely make everyone forget that this very well could be one of our vinyl pool kits, looks like our 16×40′.

pool with wood deck

photo courtesy of Amidonian Design & Renovation


This pool is essentially a culmination of several of the previous examples with the added touch of a fountain. The raised finished deck surrounds this small on-ground pool, giving the appearance of an inground pool, and the stone fountain makes a nice compliment to the organic elements at work here. The end result is a spa-like vibe that abolishes any reservations one may have towards above ground pools.

pool with wood deck and water feature

photo courtesy of Aqua Star Pools


Not all above ground pools have to be circular or rectangular, and this pool is proof. The angled plank wood deck really accentuates this pool’s unique size and modified kidney shape, which looks a lot like our ‘Aspen’ pool shape. Vinyl inground pool kits can be built in-ground, on-ground or above-ground.

kidney pool with wood deck

photo courtesy of Sparkling Pools & Spas


These are two great examples of adding soft exterior lighting around the deck and under the pool coping for a warm, almost mysterious glow. Both compliment the interior pool lighting perfectly to give each of these pools style that transcends whether or not it’s in or on the ground.

aboveground pools with lights

photos courtesy of Aquastar Pools


For larger budgets, a raised wood deck above a concrete and glass pool can completely redefine the concept of an above ground pool.

These last few break all boundaries of a typical above ground pool by using elements typically found in high end inground pools. Extra thick safety glass is super strong and allows you to enjoy the pool from all sides. It can also be employed as a safety fence.

photo courtesy of Hamlet Projects

photo courtesy of Frameless Impressions

Above ground pools have become easier and easier to order online and conveniently delivered to your front door to be installed in a matter of hours. What was once deemed a lavish luxury is now obtainable even for those with the tightest of backyard budgets!

In The Swim currently has holiday sales on Intex Ultra Frame Pools and on permanent Steel Wall Pools. Winter is the best time to buy, and the best time to plan your spring pool installation.

See our inground pool kits also, which can be DIY installed in less than one week, and can be put in-ground, on-ground or above-ground! 


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Favorite Swimming Pools as Film Icons

Swimming pools are everywhere, over 8.5 million pools in the U.S., and they’ve played a starring role in many Hollywood movies. Besides being a prominent part of the physical landscape of America, pools are woven into popular culture.

Pools are status symbols, and have been for nearly 70 years. Even before Hollywood helped to glamorize pools in the 50’s-60’s, we had the Great Gatsby’s party pool, and the opulence of the Randolph Hearst Neptune pool.

Pools provide a dramatic backdrop for character development, and add elegance,  sensuality, fear or mystery to the script. Every decade has produced popular movies with memorable pool scenes.

Here’s a timeline of 26 films over the past 8 decades, featuring my favorite star, swimming pools! How many of these pool scenes do you know?


Cat People 1942 movie featuring pools


It's a Wonderful life movie, pool scene


sunset blvd movie pool scene


Esther Williams Million Dollar Mermaid movie


Something's Got to Give - Marilyn Monroe's last movie...


Dustin Hoffman in the Graduate, floating in the pool


The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster, 1967


Robert Redford in the Great Gatsby pool scene


Rocky Horror Picture Show pool scene


Steve Martin in The Jerk, Pool Scene where Navin Beats the Racists


Caddy Shack film, with the famous Baby Ruth incident


Fast Times at Ridgement High - "Hi Brad, you know how cute I always thought you were"


Cocoon Movie pool scene


Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School, doing the Triple Lindy


Sand Lot movie, one of the most memorable movie pool scenes


Boogie Nights movie pool scene


Denise Richards and Kevin Bacon in Wild Things movie


Bill Murray in Rushmore, pool scene


Billy on the Roof top yells "I am a Golden God", before jumping into the pool


Pool Volleyball strategy session, before Ben Stillers spiking the ball - Meet the Parents movie pool scene


Swimfan movie - stalker girl watching her prey swimming


Old School movie, Will Ferrel takes a dive, after getting hit with a horse tranquilizer to the jugular


Grown-ups movie pool scene - water turns blue if you urinate!


James Bond in Skyfall movie pool scene


Oblivion movie pool scene - a pool in SPACE!


Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers, with the anti-gravity pool, just before suffering gravity loss

And there are many more examples, I had to stop myself! Pools are as part of America as baseball, Mom and apple pie. They are indeed everywhere, and not just physical but meta-physical too – a part of our shared culture and heritage, swimming pools have become part of our very selves.


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


Best Chemicals for Winterized Pools

By the time I am done wrestling my Big Green Safety Cover into place, I am ready to forget about my pool until the spring. And, the last thing I want to think about is buying more pool chemicals. Over the years, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons and tips to actually buy less pool chemicals by buying a few key pool chemicals for the winter.

This has actually saves me money in the long run because my pool is in much better shape when it comes time for round two vs my safety cover in the spring. dose of the right stuff in the middle of the winter and at the beginning of spring helps fight algae, staining, and removes organics, dirt and tannins that lurk beneath pool safety covers.

I winterize my pool with a winter closing kit every year. They are a great way to get everything at once at a discount price. For my pool, winter kits are a great way to start the winter but I need a little back up, to avoid the Creature from the Black Lagoon, next year!.


Algaecide 60 Plus

Depending on the size of your pool, and condition of your cover, an extra bottle of Algaecide 60 Plus can go a long way. It’s great for those of us with a lot of spring sun beating down on the cover. I like to add a quart of Poly 60+ to my 20K gallon pool when the weather begins to warm-up noticeably, or about a month before opening.


SeaKlear Free & Klear Clarifier

SeaKlear Free & Klear Clarifier is great because it thrives in cold water conditions which is important to note because not all pool chemicals are effective when the water temperatures get near freezing. It’s a 3-1 product that helps eliminate phosphates (algae food), acts as a clarifier, and helps prevent staining from organic oils and debris. It’s also natural, an enzyme-based product which is good for everyone but also safe to use with other harsher chemicals. The enzymes deteriorate non-living organic debris like leaves and oils that can cause staining as well as tiny particles that lead to cloudy water. Great helper chemical.

Pool Magic Spring & Fall

Pool Magic Spring & Fall is a great way to add enzymes to the pool with a blend of clarifiers and stain fighters, made with Natural Chemistry’s Smart-Zyme technology, designed specifically to work in cold water. 1 bottle or liter of Pool Magic Plus can treat a 25k pool. I recommend using half a few weeks after closing, and the other half a few weeks before opening. I just pour it right through the (mesh) pool cover and let it work its “magic’.

AquaPill – WinterPill

This little guy has received quite a bit of attention this year, with a video released last winter that went semi-viral. The wildly popular Aquapill WinterPill is packs a potent punch from its concoction of natural enzyme, algaecide and stain fighters. 1 WinterPill can treat up to 30k gallons of water. With a small pin puncture (pin actually included) it slowly releases its concentrated solution as it floats freely on the surface of your pool.

Di-Zap Multi-Shock

Di-Zap is a premium pool shock blend that combines Dichlor, Algaecide, and Stabilizer for a 3-in-1 formula that is safe for all surfaces. 1 bag treats 10k gallons. For pools that don’t use a winter cover, or for those that may have suffered a mid-winter cover disaster, Di-Zap makes an excellent treatment for the closed or semi-closed pool. Also can be used monthly during winter, to maintain a constant chlorine level all winter.

Super Stain Away

Super Stain Away can be used on all types of pools but it excels for concrete and plaster pools in the prevention of stains (metal and organic) as well as for pool calcium build up prevention. It can even help fade existing stains. A little goes a long way, 16 ounces is good enough for a 10K pool and you only need to add it once in the winter. If you choose to add it monthly or more only use 2 oz per 10k.

Jack’s Magic The Vinyl Liner Blue Stuff Stain Preventer

Similar to Super Stain away, Jack’s Magic Vinyl Liner Blue Stuff prevents stains, fights scaling, is particular great for water with high traces of metals but it is specially formulated to be gentle on vinyl liners. It also excels in water that has high levels of sanitizer. So, it won’t go to waste if you shock your pool and add some Jack’s Magic to it at the same time. No waiting. Besides being a rock star to protect vinyl, Jack’s Magic is also great for fiberglass pools.

Jumbo Chlorine Floater

Smaller chlorinators can go through all of their contents within a few months, even if the openings are shut tightly. Filling our Jumbo floating chlorinator with 5 lbs of chlorine tablets can make a big impact on how clean your pool is when you open it. I recommend tethering the floater to the edge of your pool (with enough slack to roam), so it won’t get stuck on a step, and for easy access to refill the floater.


Pool Maintenance is a year round job and while we don’t have to work quite as hard in the winter, a little mindful care to the pool water will save money and time. Once the weather warms-up, algae becomes more stubborn, there’s more pollen, there’s more rain, and there’s more excitement to get that pool open for the summer. Make things easier on yourself with these easily applied, potent winter pool chemicals.


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



Chlorine Shelf Life: How Long Can I Store Pool Chemicals?

Dr. Pool of In The SwimWelcome back students of pool – today’s lecture is on chlorine shelf life, and more specifically, do pool chemicals expire, or do they lose efficacy over time?

In an ideal world, the pool season would end just as you use-up the last chlorine tablet, pour-in your last bags of pool shock, and perfectly adjust your water balance with the last scoops from the bucket.

However, one look inside of any pool owner’s chemical closet will tell you that leftover pool chemicals are the norm. So then, do pool chemicals go bad, and will they still work next season?

Shelf Life of Pool Chemicals

Liquid Chlorine

Sodium Hypochlorite, or chlorine bleach is a comparatively unstable form of chlorine, in that it can lose up to 50% potency within the first 6 months, and 90% within one year. If subjected to hot or cold temperatures or direct sunlight, degradation occurs more quickly. For a more stable product, see our Instant Liquid Chlorine in a bottle.

Tablet Chlorine

Trichlor tablets have the longest chlorine shelf life. We have lab tested our individually wrapped tablets for potency over time. At 36 months, InTheSwim tablets still have 98% of their original available chlorine, when stored in constant 50-70° F temps with a tightly closed bucket lid. In the right conditions, trichlor tablets can remain viable for over 5 years.

Granular Chlorine

Chlorine granules sold in bucketsCalcium Hypochlorite, aka pool shock or granular chlorine also has a long shelf life, if kept in an air tight container, in a cool and dry (indoor) location. Pool shock in 1 lb. bags absorb moisture from humid air, and bags can dissolve in 12-24 months (!). For longer term storage, re-pack into zip-loc freezer bags or buy Chlorine Granules, sold in buckets. Properly stored, pool shock has a shelf life of over 5 years.


Cyanuric acid, or chlorine stabilizer will maintain potency indefinitely, even if it absorbs moisture, as long as it is stored in a tightly closed container. Be sure to label cyanuric acid as Conditioner or Stabilizer, so the white powder won’t be confused with another chemical, if the container label fades or becomes unreadable.


When properly stored (cool and dry indoor location), pool algaecides are quite stable and most will maintain potency for at up to 5 years. Temperatures over 75° and direct sunlight will reduce algaecide shelf life, especially lower concentration algaecides (10% and 30% formulations), but freezing temperatures can ruin pool algaecide.


Similar to algaecides, pool clarifiers have a shelf life of up to 5 years, stored tightly closed in consistently cool temperatures, in a dark cabinet or container. Outdoor storage in a garage or shed with high temperatures can reduce effectiveness, and freezing can damage the polyamide structure, rendering clarifiers useless.

Stain & Scale

Most Stain & Scale chemicals, such as our Stain Away product have an indefinite shelf life, with the usual caveat – when closed tightly and stored in a cool, dry location (indoors). As with other liquid pool chemicals sold in bottles, the formulations are very stable, but high and low temperatures should be avoided to maintain product strength.

Alkalinity & Calcium Increaser

Sodium Bicarbonate and Calcium Carbonate are both dry white powder or flake chemicals, and both can remain viable and potent for over 5 years. As with other dry pool chemicals, shelf life can be extended with tightly closed lids to keep out moisture, which can cause clumping and hardening of your water balance chemicals.

pH Increaser

Sodium carbonate or soda ash (pH Increaser) can remain viable for over 5 years, when stored in an air-tight container, to lock out moisture. If stored outdoors, humid conditions can pull moisture into the bucket, clumping and hardening, but also converting sodium carbonate to sodium bicarbonate over time, slightly reducing effect on pH.

pH Decreaser

Sodium Bisulfate and muriatic acid could have a 5 year shelf life, however pH decreasers are acids, and a larger shelf life concern about pH decreasers is the strength of the container. Over time, thin plastic bottles or packaging can break down from contact with acids. So, although pH-Down chemicals last for years, you should probably use them up.

So then class, what have we learned today? 

Most pool chemicals have a shelf life of 3-5 years, when stored properly:

  1. Consistent and cool temperatures, in a dry and dark location.
  2. Tight bucket lids and bottle caps to lock out moisture and contaminants.
  3. Granular Chlorine can dissolve packaging, repack for long-term storage.
  4. Keep all pool chemicals out of reach of children.


Class Dismissed!


Dr. Pool