What’s the Best Pool Pump?
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new-pump-replacementYou’ve come to the mountain top, seeking wisdom and truth, or the answer to a question that has plagued humanity for all time… “What is the best pool pump?”

But the question cannot be answered without some other key insights, namely your Pool Type, Filter Design Flow Rate and estimated Resistance, in Feet of Head.

What’s Your Pool Type?

Above ground or in ground? Aboveground pool pumps are meant to operate below the water level, on the ground next to the pool. Inground pumps are “self-priming” and can lift water several feet.

Simple or Complex Pool? A small pool with 1 or 2 skimmers and a main drain can use a smaller pump, but pools with attached spas, waterfalls, solar heaters or built in cleaners may need a larger pump.

Small or Large Pool? A pump should be able to turnover the entire water volume during an 8-hour period. For example, if your pool is 20,000 gallons, you want a pump that can pump 41.6 gallons per minute, on average. (20000 gals \ 480 mins = 41.66 gpm)

Pool Filter Design Flow Rate?

Every pool filter is designed to work best with a certain flow rate of water. If the filter design flow rate is exceeded, it results in poor filtration and filter damage. Lower flow rates do not generally pose a problem, however.

Larger pool filters with more surface area will have higher design flow rates, but every pool filter is different, from 30 gpm to 150 gpm, depending on size and type of pool filter.

design-flow-rateFind your Design Flow Rate on the pool filter label, owner’s manual, spec sheet or brochure. You can also find this Performance Data listed on our pool filters pages.

Now that you know your Pool Type and your particular pool filter’s Design Flow Rate, you are halfway to finding the perfect pump for your pool!

Estimated Resistance?

OK, here’s where it gets a bit tricky, stay with me… Every pool system has a total resistance that the pump must overcome. The water has to be pulled and pushed through pipes that bend and twist and it’s forced through impellers and filters, squeezed through heaters and valves – and all of the pipes, fittings and equipment adds to the total resistance, measured in Feet of Head.

A simple pool with one skimmer and no heater has a fairly low resistance level, in the 15-20 ft/hd (Feet of Head) range. Add another skimmer, a heater and maybe a spa and more complex pools can be much higher, in the 45-60 ft/hd range. Most inground pools probably fall in the 25-45 ft/hd range.

It’s an important part of the pool pump selection process, because you want to match the pump to both Design Flow Rate and the amount of Resistance it has to overcome.

hayward-performance-chartWe use pump flow curves, or pump performance charts to find the sweet spot, where the Resistance and design Flow Rate intersect. For example, the SPX2610X15 will pump 90 gpm at 30 ft of head, with a clean filter and baskets.

Bringing it All Together

The best pool pump for you then, is that particular pump that can deliver the flow rate to match your pool filter’s design flow rate while overcoming the resistance in your system.

That may be the exact same pump that you are replacing. Unless you had real performance problems with your pool pump, the best pump for you may be the same make, model and horsepower pump.

The same pool pump will also match up to the plumbing pipes, but a different pump will have a slightly different height and depth where the pipes connect.

hayward-VS-pumps-arent-actually-GREEN-coloredAnother option with less math involved, is to buy a variable speed pool pump. You can set multiple speeds to match your existing equipment, and at the same time cut your electrical usage in half. Prices on VS Pool Pumps have come down to the $750 range.

One More Tip: Remember that not all horsepower pumps are equal. Every pump, regardless of horsepower, has it’s own flow rate. A WhisperFlo 1 hp for example, can produce nearly double the flow rate of the Super Pump 1 hp; and that’s not always a good thing! Don’t oversize the pool pump – you’ll save energy, wear and tear and filter the water more effectively.

call-us-todayCall our Techs for help in selecting your next pool pump, or send an email in with all the pertinent information about your pool and pool equipment and our guys will give you some options for the best pool pump for you; and your pool.

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Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor

 

 

What Chemicals are Needed for Pools?
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chemicalsKeeping your swimming pool clean and clear can be a tough job, especially if you don’t have the right chemicals. Keep the basics on hand for regular maintenance as well as anticipated water problems.

My little blog post today lists below all of the pool chemicals that every pool owner should be familiar with; at the end is a short list of pool chemicals that should be kept in stock.

Sanitizers:

CHLORINE-TABLETSThese are the chemicals that you use to keep water sanitized and disinfected. There should be a constant level of chlorine (or bromine) in the water at all times, without a lot of peaks and valleys.

TriChlor: 3” tabs, or 1” tabs or sticks. With cyanuric acid. Add them to a chlorine floater or a installed chlorinator.

DiChlor: granular. With cyanuric acid. Powdered form acts quickly to chlorinate pools, fountains or spas.

Bromine: 1” tabs. Great for spas; works better in hot water, and can be regenerated by shocking. More pH stable as well.

Cyanuric Acid: Liquid or dry chlorine stabilizer. Protects chlorine from damage by UV rays. Small amounts are added to dichlor and trichlor; add extra if pool was drained, to maintain 30-50 ppm. Drain some water and refill if CYA levels get much higher than 50 ppm.

Oxidizers:

pool-shocksOxidizers are the secondary sanitizer, used every few weeks to kill algae and bacteria. Chlorine or Non-Chlorine shocks are in a powdered form, just open the bag and pour it into the pool.

Calcium  Hypochlorite: Cal Hypo pool shock is used to quickly sanitize pool water, boost chlorine levels and kill algae. Works best with a low pH level of around 7.2.

Chlorine Free Shock: Granular potassium monopersulfate (non- chlorine). A fast acting oxygen based sanitizer that burns clean with no residue, and you can swim right after treatment.

Lithium Shock: Lithium hypochlorite. This one is great for pools with liners because it won’t bleach the liner, and also dissolves right away so is safe to swim right after treatment.

Water Balancers:

pool-chemicals-water-balancersTo keep your water in balance, you should test the pool several times per week for chlorine and pH levels, and adjust as needed. Test total alkalinity every few weeks or if you have pH troubles, and test calcium hardness and cyanuric acid levels every month.

pH Increaser: Granular Soda Ash. Increase pH when levels fall below 7.2 ppm. 1 lb of pH Up will raise pH about 1-click, from 7.2 to 7.3 for example, in 10000 gals of pool water.

pH Reducer: Granular Sodium Bisulfate, or Dry Acid. Reduce pH when levels rise above 7.6 ppm. Also used to lower total alkalinity.
1 lb pH Down will lower pH about 3-clicks, from 7.8 to 7.5 for example, in 10000 gals of pool water.

Alkalinity Increaser: Granular Sodium Bicarbonate. Raise total alkalinity when levels fall below 80 ppm. 1 lb of Alkalinity Increaser will raise TA by about 10 ppm, in 10000 gals of pool water.

Calcium Hardness Increaser: Granular Calcium Chloride. Raise Calcium hardness when levels fall below 150 ppm. 1 lb of Calcium Increaser will raise CH by about 10 ppm, in 10000 gals of pool water.

Chlorine Neutralizer: Granular Sodium Thiosulfate. Use if chlorine concentration becomes too high. 1 lb of Thiosulfate will lower free chlorine levels by about 10 ppm, in 10000 gals of pool water.

Chemical Combo Packs: Pool Chemical packages you can choose from that include the tablets, shock, algaecide, and stain away you’ll need to carry you through your entire pool season. These are a great way to get yourself started with the bare essentials.

Specialty Chemicals:

specialty-chemicalsThere are many specialty chemicals that can come in handy when unexpected problems arise, or to keep your pool looking it’s best. This is one of the largest categories of pool chemicals, for every possible pool problem!

Algaecides: Some are copper based, most are non-metallic polymers. Helps to prevent algae from growing in your pool – use pool shock to kill algae, and algaecides to keep it from returning.

Clarifiers: Clarifiers coagulate tiny particles into bigger particles that can be trapped in the pool filter. Flocculants attract particles into heavy clumps that sink to the floor for vacuuming to waste.

Enzymes: Enzymes like Pool Perfect break down oils and other forms of non-living organic contamination from the water, removing scum, oils and odors.

Filter Cleaners: Used to clean sand, D.E., and cartridge filter elements to keep your filter working well. Removes oils, minerals, metals and other filter clogging gunk.

Metal Magnets: Sequestering agents are used to lock-up trace metals from the water and keep them in solution, so they don’t stain your pool surfaces.

Phosphate Removers: Products like PhosFree break down phosphates in the water. Phosphates are the primary food source for algae. Without food, algae can’t survive.

Stain Removers: Prevents or removes surface stains, scaling, and colored water due to minerals and metals in the water. We have over 15 different pool stain chemicals.

Tile & Vinyl Cleaner: Works great to help remove oils and grease build up around the water line, or on furniture, skimmers, diving boards and slides. Pool Cleanser won’t affect pool chemistry.

Start Up Kits and Closing Kits: When it comes to opening and closing the pool, or stocking up for the season, check out our chemical value packs that contains everything you need!

What Chemicals Should be Kept On-Hand?

As a minimum, the average pool will want to keep the following chemicals on hand – even if you use a salt chlorinator, you will need these other pool chemicals from time to time:pool chemical kits

  • Chlorine tablets and pool shock
  • Pool pH Up and/or pH Down
  • Test strips or test kit

Every pool will also need other chemicals to raise calcium, cyanuric or alkalinity levels, usually once per year – and clarifiers, enzymes, algaecides can be an important part of the overall routine, or are especially handy when you’re in a pinch!

12-categories-of-pool-chemicalsThere’s lots to learn, with 12 categories of pool chemicals – you won’t need them all; but it’s important to understand what they do, so that when you do need them, you know which chemical to use!

Safe swimming!

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Christine Silvestri
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

 

Heavy Rains & Swimming Pools
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rainy-poolMother nature has certainly been giving us some strange weather lately… in the heartland, we’ve been pelted by the torrential storms, with several inches of rain in just a few hours.

Our call center has taken hundreds of calls from distressed homeowners, desperately seeking solutions to strong storms and heavy rains, or fixes for pool problems created by weather.

Problem #1 – Too much Water in the Pool

Lower the water level in your pool to keep proper skimming action, and to avoid contamination from planters and deck area flooding.

WASTE-SETTING-ON-MPVFor most pools with a sand or DE filter, the simplest way to lower the water level is to place the multiport valve onto the waste position and roll out the backwash hose. If you have a slide (push-pull) valve, backwash the filter to lower the water level.

lil-giant-water-wizard-cover-pumpSome pools have a hose spigot plumbed after the pump, or on the filter valve, which you can connect a garden hose, to lower water level. Or, you can use a submersible pump, aka pool cover pump, to keep the pool from overflowing.

Finally, there is the siphon method. A pool vacuum hose works best. Prime the hose in the pool, to fill it full of water, and attach a vac head or use a heavy item to hold the hose on the first or second step, the pool ladder, or swim out.

pool vac hose, heavy dutyCap the other end of the hose with your palm and quickly pull the hose away from the pool and a few feet below the level of the pool water. Uncap the hose at ground level and let it flow! Keep an eye on it though!

Problem #2 – Contaminants in the Pool!

rain_flatcolor_image_150_wht_16585From Run-Off: When a backyard pool gets 5 inches of rain in a few hours, flooding can happen. If surrounding planters or lawns, or even concrete pool decks overflow into the pool, just a handful of soil or mulch can elevate Phosphate levels and create problems with cloudy water and algae.

In severe cases, a pool can fill with a thick layer of silty mud, and all sorts of debris. Use leaf rakes to remove the big stuff, and then a slow vacuum to waste is in order. Follow with a good daily pool brush, and near continuous filtering. Clarifiers and flocculents can be used to speed up the process considerably, and may be needed for sand filters.

phos-freeAs the water clears, use a phosphate remover chemical like Phos-Free or Sea-Klear to naturally consume phosphates in your pool. Just pour it into balanced pool water, run the filter for 24 hours, then backwash.

From the Rain: Rain is pure, distilled water, but as it falls through the air, it picks up dust, pollen, pollutants, oils, even algae spores. If you have tall trees overhanging the pool, rain will wash them clean, right into your pool, adding phosphates and other organic gunk. Add algaecide before a storm to help battle incoming invaders as they enter the pool.

Rain can also destroy your pool’s water balance. It dilutes the cyanuric acid, which may be a good thing if you use tablets, but can also soften the water, lowering calcium hardness, and it can affect pH and alkalinity as well. Ever heard of acid rain? Rain falling through smoggy summer air hits your pool at a very low pH, pummeling pool pH and alkalinity.

Problem #3 – High Wind, Debris & Projectiles

Before a storm hits: Store all loose toys, furniture and cleaning equipment that could become airborne in high winds. Check the pool chemistry, adding sanitizer if needed. Keep the filter running, however if flood waters threaten to submerge the pool pump, shut off power to the pool on the main home panel. Don’t cover the pool, which can be damaged severely in a heavy storm.

After a storm hits: Clean the pool, lower the water level, check the water chemistry. If your pool is a funky color, super-chlorinate with some pool shock, and run the filter overnight.

Correcting Water Drainage Issues

If your pool has a tendency to flood in some areas of the pool deck, and if run-off from heavy rains ends up in the pool – it needs to be fixed. Pool decks should slope 1/4″ for every foot, and storm run-off needs to go somewhere; never in the pool.

Look at the way water moves around the pool, and rework the land to create natural swales, or install drains and drain pipes, or install French drains in gravel around the pool deck, sloped to a downhill, away from the pool location.

In related storm news – here’s some scary video of a recent hail storm over Oklahoma City!

Don’t let heavy rains and storms make your summer a bummer, follow these tips to avoid pool problems caused by heavy rains and summer storms!

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Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor

 

Buying and Installing Pool Parts
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hayward-filter-valve-labelWhen I was given the crash course of how to operate my pool equipment I admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed and was certainly guilty of being overly cautious with the equipment due to my own apprehensions of potentially breaking something.

I treated my pool equipment and pool plumbing like Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off treated his father’s car.

Something as simple as backwashing my filter was a process that involved notes, nervous pacing, and me yelling to no one in particular, “OKAY! I’m gonna clean the filter now! Is everybody ready?” It’s a good thing I never chased my dream of joining a bomb squad.

As I became more familiar with my pool equipment and began to grasp the way each individual piece of equipment worked and was constructed, I gained the confidence to diagnose and make my own pool equipment repairs. Two years ago this would have seemed unfathomable.

Like most anything, once you have an understanding of it, you realize you had nothing to fear, and it is all quite easier than you imagined. This is definitely the case with diagnosing and replacing a pool equipment part. And how do you gain this knowledge, you ask? Climb the mountain, and speak to the Oracle…

In The Swim’s PartsFinder

22000 pool parts!With a massive inventory of over 22,000 pool parts, nearly any pool repair is possible, easier and cheaper than you ever imagined. With your basic hand tools and our replacement parts – you can save hundreds or even thousands.

Whether it’s a pump, heater, filter, skimmer, light, or robotic cleaner we have made it easy to locate the source of the malfunction with exploded diagrams of just about every make and model of pool or spa equipment you can throw at us. It’s as simple as 1-2-3 with our clearly labeled diagrams:

dr-xrayAnalyze the inner-workings of your pool equipment without taking it apart via our simple schematic diagrams. Take a look inside with our charts – be it a pump, sand filter or even a robotic cleaner – you can see how they are constructed – with simple parts, logically pieced together.

HOW-TO-ORDER POOL PUMP-PARTSYou don’t have to be a master of modern engineering to know how to swap out the pump seal or filter gasket, you just need to know which part you need and how it connects to the other parts around it.

That’s where our incredibly easy to use Parts Finder comes into play, It helps you to buy the right pool part, and shows you how the part is connected to other parts – a good visual tool taking things apart, and putting them back together again, without leftover parts!

Once you’ve determined which part you need by using the parts diagram that matches the make and model of your particular piece of pool equipment – just fill in the blanks on our nifty Parts Finder and let the magic of database design and outstanding customer service swiftly deliver the part in a matter of days.

POOL-PARTS-HOTLINEIt’s quick, it’s easy, and if there is any doubt we have a team of friendly pool experts available to answer any questions you may have and walk you through the process.  Reach our pool parts experts at 800-288-SWIM!

Pool Repair Tools

tools to install a pool heaterOnce you have the right parts, now you just need the right tools. No, put the blow torch and soldering iron away—we won’t be needing those. Almost any pool part repair job can be completed with basic hand tools: 7/16”, 1/2″ and 9/16” wrenches, and screwdrivers. Nut Drivers are handy, and also straight pliers and channel type pliers. With these simple hand tools, you can make 90% of pool repairs.

For instance, after receiving an astronomically high quote from my local pool guy for a sand filter repair, I decided to fix the filter myself, and did with just a pair of pliers. Much like our old friend, Cameron: “I am not going to sit around as events unfold to determine the course of my life. I’m going to take a stand.”

Believe me, after your first pool parts repair you’ll gain confidence, knowledge and ability to tackle darn near any calamity the pool equipment gremlins can throw your way.

With our PartsFinder and massive inventory—and perhaps a quick call to our experts—you are more than capable of taking care of pool equipment repairs on your own. To quote Ferris Bueller one more time, “Summer moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

What’s the Best Pool Filter?
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best-pool-filter
What’s the best filter for you and for your pool? First, let’s first define “best”, which in my mind is a filter that performs better, or is easier to use, safer to use, or lasts longer than others.

The best pool filter is not going to be the cheapest pool filter, but a cheap pool filter could still be a good pool filter, just not the best.

Today’s article is a follow-up to Jackie’s blog post “Best Pool Filter Type: DE, Sand or Cartridge?” and digs a little deeper by assuming that you already know what filter type you want, now you want to know what’s the best sand filter (or DE or cartridge filter) available?

If you like to buy the best of everything, today we pull back the curtain on what makes certain pool filters better than others, or the benefits of buying the best pool filter.

What’s the Best Sand Filter?

pool-filter-sand-in-a-bagSand filters are pretty simple pieces of equipment, and there aren’t major differences between major manufacturers. But there are a few that may sway your decision to go with one brand over another.

1. Hayward sand filters with a top mounted valve have patented folding laterals, which they call an umbrella design.

2. Sta-Rite System 3 and Hayward S200 sand filters have a clam shell design, to allow full access inside of the filter tank.

3. Pentair sand filters have a patented fiberglass reinforced tank design, and Sta-Rite filters are extra thick walled.

4. Jandy sand filters are available with a full-flow design slide valve, with Jandy Never Lube technology and a lifetime warranty.

Top Mounted or Side Mounted Valve?

top-mounted-or-side-mounted-valvesSand filter tanks are available with top mounted or side mounted valves. Both types have the same flow rates; what’s the difference?

  • Top Mounted valves allow 360° rotation for plumbing flexibility, but side mount valves are closer to the ground, for easier plumbing.
  • Side Mounted tanks allow use of a Slide valve, instead of a multiport, for higher flow rates and a simpler design.
  • Side Mounted tanks don’t require valve removal to inspect or change the filter sand, but have a large access port.

What’s the Best Cartridge Filter?

microban-cartridgeCartridge pool filters are also fairly simple in design, and they don’t use a filter valve. This possibly makes the cartridge filter the easiest to use and understand. Among the leading brands, are there any advantages?

1. Hayward cartridges have extra dirt holding capacity, and many pool owners insist on using OEM Hayward cartridges.

2. Pentair cartridge filters have a Continuous High Flow internal air relief, and the System 3 filter uses nested cartridges.

3. Jandy cartridge filters have an oversized 2″ drain port, and come with a unique clean/dirty pressure gauge.

What’s the Best DE Pool Filter?

de-filter-powderDiatomaceous Earth pool filters are the best pool filter types in terms of performance. They are also the most complicated type of pool filter, with regards to the internal grid assembly, and having to add DE powder, which is really what does the filtering.

Most DE pool filters use a concentric DE grid arrangement, but there are some distinctions…

1. Hayward is the only company still making the Big Boy, a 72 sq. ft. DE filter, for large pools and water features.

2. Pentair offers DE filters with Vertical grids in the System 3 filters, and also the Purex style Spiro-Mite design in the SMBW model.

3. Pentair also offers cylindrical elements in the Quad DE and System 2 models, which use a cartridge style design, as do the Hayward XStream pool filters.

4. Jandy DE filters have a sleek, slim design, and large handles on the filter lid, for help when removing it for grid cleaning.


I’ll let you in on a little industry secret - If you buy a pool filter from a major manufacturer (Hayward, Pentair, Jandy) you really don’t need to worry about which is best – they’re all pretty much the same. They’ve all been producing filters for many years, and are under the very big and watchful eye of your CPSC.

Do yourself a big favor, and don’t buy no-name pool filters, or off brands – stick with the Big 3 and you’ll never have any regrets.

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Florence Jolly
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

 

Inground Pool Opening – Part II
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ryans-cloudy-pool-before-and-afterIn Part I of my backyard pool opening, I was nervous about opening the pool this year, since last I winterized the pool myself.

I took off the cover, pulled the plugs and primed the pump. Thankfully, no damage was done – and the pool still holds water!

In Part II of our inground pool opening saga, we will explore an often discussed topic on this blog – cloudy pool water…

Day 14 of The Pool Opening: No cannonballs as of yet. I’ve crafted a beach ball into a crude head and painted a face on it for some semblance of companionship as I continue my long, lonely journey to clarify my pool. I named him “Wilson”. Nillson-beachballI’ve been marooned on the concrete wasteland that is my backyard patio. My eyes are glazed over as I stare hopelessly into the foggy water trying to spot my pool floor. It wasn’t supposed to take this long…

pressure-gauge-3But it could have been worse! Since my last blog post I have since fixed my Hayward Sand Filter’s pressure gauge. It was a process that was nearly as simple as changing a light bulb.

tome-and-jerryI half expected it to spray in my face once I fired the pump back up like rogue hose in a Tom and Jerry cartoon but it actually worked. A few layers of Teflon tape on the threading, I hand-screwed it in, and it was good to go.

With the pool filter fully functioning once again, I double-checked the pH, chlorine, and alkalinity levels and felt confident that 4 lbs of super shock in my 20,000 gallon pool would clear the water right up. And it did…sorta.

While the water was no longer black, it was still milky and a hue of aquamarine that may have been appealing if I was on a sandy beach in the Caribbean—but not in my pool. super-flocI added a bottle of Super Floc in hopes of collecting all of the dissolved solids in the water to the bottom of the pool for a quick and easy vacuum, but in this case, it didn’t do much.

I backwashed the filter, double-checked the chemical levels and waited till the following evening to add 2 lbs of non-chlorine shock. I went through this process twice, and managed to keep my cool and diligently carry on as it pretty much has rained on me the entire time while working on the pool, anyway. One upper respiratory infection later, and I was ready for round three.

car-full-of-pool-cleanersAt least I thought I was. Armed with more super shock and a quart of clarifier I raced back home with intent and purpose – making a quick call to ask my scientist girlfriend to test the water so I could get down to shocking the heck out of the pool as soon as I got home after confirming  that all was well with the pool pH.

With a sack of shock slung over my shoulder, I marched through the door and inquired about the water test results—and somewhere along the course of our brief conversation I was under the impression that the pH levels were low and needed to be raised.

testing-pool-water-during-winterNo problem! We have a WHOLE bucket full of pH increaser and according to my calculations the pool needs about 4 lbs. As I emptied the remainder of the 5 gallon bucket of pH-Up into the water, a shade of purple that I had never seen in my Taylor Test vile caught my eye from across the yard.

The last drops had barely hit the water’s surface as I realized there had been a “miscommunication” in what “low pH” actually means. My pH was already high, and I added 4 lbs of pH increaser - now my pH was sky high!

Back to the company pool store – I may as well sign my paycheck over to them. “5 lbs of pH reducer, 5 lbs of alkalinity increaser, please.”

Last night, after two laser precision tests of the water levels, I finally balanced the chemicals in my murky pool. Based on some advice from Davy who said “Hit it Hard”, I shocked the water with 5 lbs of super shock. Waited about 12 hours and then added a dose of clarifier. I have since tested the water no less than 6 times and when leaving for work this morning it looked like this:ryans-pool-steps-after Which—is a significant improvement from this:
ryans-pool-steps-beforeHopefully, when returning home from work this evening, Wilson my beachball friend will be lazily drifting on the surface of shimmery, crystal clear water beckoning me to come and join him.

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Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger