Backyard Style – Décor all your Own

chairs-in-pool “What are four walls anyway? They are what they contain. The house protects the dreamer.” Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun, could not have described a home better.

Some people forget that their home can be expanded outdoors. Let’s create an atmosphere in the backyard that serves a purpose and is also aesthetically pleasing.

Here are some starting points to consider before you hit the pocket book. 5 ways to be an Exterior Decorator!

1. Color and Comfort

pool-furnitureThink of your deck/patio space as a living room and arrange seating areas to create a comfortable atmosphere for friends to gather.

The patio furniture should reflect your personal style and the look you want to achieve. Include vibrant fabrics that make your neutral patio seating pop such as lime green and yellow shades. As the season wanes, aim for red and orange hues.

Patio furniture comes in a variety of styles and materials, so take the time to find something you love. Add some whimsy by including porch swings, hammocks and oversized daybeds – all great furniture ideas to reduce stress, and make your pool more livable.

2. Pool Pathways

design-a-pathwayYou no longer need to walk on grass or a wood chip path – think outside the box! A flagstone path is a simple project that doesn’t require mortar or power tools, is low maintenance and appealing to the eye.

Health tip: Choose stones that are good for your feet. Use smooth stones that vary in size and place them in different angles to create a reflexology path.

3. Light the Night

light-up-the-nightIt’s obvious that lights can be used to set the mood, but there are several other benefits of lightscaping your pool. Lighting is a great outdoor safety feature, whether it’s for security purposes or safety measures it’s definitely worth considering. Yet, the best part of utilizing light in your outdoor area is being able to enjoy your space late into the night.

A string of twinkle lights in the trees or above your furniture is the perfect way to light up the night. Tiki torches in the yard are great for parties. Some other options include gas lighting, which casts a warm glow from the flickering light. Fire pits are another great way to incorporate light and are fun to sit by when the evenings get a tad chilly. Regardless of what you decide, make sure you consider the atmosphere you want to achieve.

4. Soften the Edges

landscaping-around-the-poolIncorporating plants to your outdoor environment will not only add beauty, but has several health benefits. Studies show that being around plants in a natural environment can improve memory performance and attention span by 20%! Flowers bring happiness, due to the positive energy that people get when seeing them, reducing stress hormones and depression symptoms.

Research has also shown that individuals who spend more time around plants usually have better relationships with others and increased levels of vitality. Thus, if there is one decorating tip that is vital – it’s adding plants to your yard.

5. Sounds of Falling Water

fountains-poolProvide yourself a tranquil environment with the sound of water. Whether a small stream in your backyard, a gentle waterfall into your pool, or a fountain on the patio.

Even though installing fountains and streams can be a little pricey, there are some terrific benefits to consider before you rule it out.

Water is a source of relaxation and reduces stress and anxiety. Plus, the sound of flowing water helps drown out noise pollution.

Fountains serve as a natural humidifier, adding moisture to the air, and a place for birds to bathe or pets to drink. Used in the pool, they help aerate and oxygenate your pool water, and the splash helps the pool skimmers.

~ In summary, exterior decorating around the pool, patio and backyard has many benefits that outweigh the small expense and effort. Now, the next step is putting your ideas in motion, and give your backyard some Décor all your Own.

Jackie Pettinato
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Swimming Pool Heaters Buyer’s Guide

chicago-park-district-pool-3It’s depressing, but the swimming season is coming to an end. Depends on where you live, you may have months longer, but for us in Chicago, that is not the case.

If we want to swim past August or early September, we have two options – take advantage of an indoor pool at the park district, or invest in a pool heater.

OK, so it’s not that easy – you still have to figure out what in-ground pool heater is the best for your pool and for your lifestyle.

Let’s slow down a bit – there are three different pool heater types out there. Between Heat Pumps, Solar Heaters and Gas Pool Heaters, there’s a lot of homework to do, but luckily you’ve found this article.

Electric Pool Heat Pumps

Heat Pumps have a lower operating cost and emit no exhaust, as compared to natural or propane gas heaters. They need at least 45° outside air temp to produce heat, and are more expensive to buy than a gas heater. while the long-term cost is less than using gas.

Pool heat pumps are up to 97% efficient and run silent with the exception of the fan motor. They require no gas, which makes them safer to operate. Although they use very little power, heat pumps do need a lot of power, which may require the services of a local electrician.

aquapro-eco500-heat-pumpAquaPro ECO500 Heat Pumps will prove durable through various weather conditions. What stands out about the ECO500 is that it has easy to install PVC slip fittings and is particularly useful in hot climates. In the long run you will save on heating costs. Units require 220v; 50K BTU for 16,000 gallons.

hayward-heat-pro-round-pool-heat-pumpHayward HeatPro Heat Pumps are easy to install and are made specifically for silent operation. The LED control panel is easy to see, while the heat pump itself can take a beating from the weather with its weatherproof shell. Digital LED controller easy to use; also has a titanium heat exchanger. Select from the 95K, 125K and 140K BTU Models.

tropical-heat-pump-for-poolsTropiCal Heat Pumps not only work for small in ground pools, but it even works on aboveground pools as well. This compact heat pump has the ThermoLink Titanium Heat Exchanger which comes with a lifetime warranty. It is environmentally friendly and comes in 50k, 75k and 115k sizes. It even offers controlled automatic defrost protect.

AquaCal-IceBreaker pool heat pumpAquaCal Super Quiet Ice-Breaker heat pump is particularly interesting because it is useful all year round. If the weather is too cold, you can count on it to keep your pool comfortably heated. On the other hand, you can also use it to cool down the pool in the heat of the summer. The controls have a bright blue display for easy viewing.

Gas Pool Heaters

Pool heaters are available for propane and natural gas. Natural gas heaters connect to a home gas meter for the gas supply, while a propane heater runs on LPG from a storage tank; refilled regularly by a local propane delivery service.

Gas heaters can be either millivolt, or electronic ignition. Millivolt heaters have a standing pilot, but electronic heaters use a spark to light the pilot when needed.  Electronic heaters also have digital controls and diagnostics. Most (85%) gas heaters sold are electronic, but some people prefer the more mechanical millivolt control system.

The biggest benefit of gas heaters is speed of heating; they consistently raise the temperature about 1° per hour. Heat pumps and solar heaters take much longer to heat up, adding up to 5° per day, depending on the weather.

jandy-lxi-pool-heaterJandy LXI Pool Heaters have low NOx and electronic hot surface ignition systems. The User-friendly control panels have touch automation and backlit display, and can be integrated to popular Jandy control systems. Able to handle pH swings, and high salt content, the corrosion-resistant cupro-nickel heat exchanger is extra durable.

hayward-universal-h-series-pool-heatersHayward Universal H-Series Heaters comes in both natural gas and propane. Great for use as a replacement or a new heater, with it’s low profile. The Digital LED control panel provides users with simple operation and advanced diagnostics. The cupro-nickel heat exchanger has durability to last for years, even in salt water.

pentair-mastertemp-pool-heaterPentairMasterTemp pool heaters are an eco-friendly gas pool and spa heater with a digital display and built-in indicator lights that you can easily monitor. Between its compact design and quiet operation, you may even forget it’s there. It will quickly heat up your pool and can handle hot southern sun and frozen northern conditions.

lochinvar-energyrite-pool-heaterAnother reliable gas pool heater is the Lochinvar Energy Rite Heater. Environmentally friendly and has low emissions. Because it doesn’t use gaskets in its design, it will not require replacement parts as often as other heaters. It comes with multiple options for venting and has the most advanced digital controls, and the ability to program heating cycles.

raypak-pool-heatersRaypak Digital pool heaters are well known for reliability and being service friendly. The fuel efficient digital system can run on 120v or 240v and will generate a pilot when there is a need for heat. Offers simple setup and easy to understand diagnostics. Remote controls are simple as well, and it can be used on a pool or a spa.

Solar Pool Heaters

Finally, solar pool heaters – harnessing the power of the sun, these heaters are great for both inground and above-ground pools. Economical and Eco-friendly!

Solar systems don’t require a professional to install gas or power, they are completely DIY. You can mount the panels toward the sun, or just lay them on the ground in a sunny spot near the pool filter.

Another type of solar heater is even easier to install – floating solar blankets, squares or rings are dual purpose, adding heat from the sun, and also helping retain the heat in the pool.

solar-pool-heaters-at-intheswim-SmartPool Solar Heating Systems are available in two sizes. The 4×10 foot option can be mounted vertically or horizontally, while the 4×20 foot panel can only be mounted from horizontal position. Your pool pump circulates water through the solar panels and warmth flows back to the pool. Systems come with hardware, pipe adapters, diverter valve kit and end caps.

solar-heat-squaresSolar Heat Squares are an unsinkable heating system created from 2 sheets of UV-resistant vinyl with a closed cell foam core. It pulls in the heat from the sun and transfers it into the water. Solar Heat Squares work in above ground and in-ground pools, and they do not require inflation. Measures 54″x54″, each one has 20 sq ft of solar power. Just lay on the pool!

aquaquick-solarpro-xf-pool-heaterAquaQuick SolarPro XF pool heaters are a quick and slick way to add a 10 sq ft solar panel to aboveground pools. Add two in tandem(side by side) for double the heat! Super easy installation. Pull the unit out of the box, cut your return line hose and connect the hoses into the solar panel. Purchase the optional bypass kit to turn off the solar heater during rainy weather.

Pool Heater Installation

Heat pumps and solar heaters must be installed outside, preferably in a dry, sunny area. Gas heaters can only be installed indoors or under a shelter if they are properly vented. For safety, it’s best to also install gas pool heaters outside.

Gas heaters should have the gas hook-up done by a qualified gas tech, and heat pumps should be wired and bonded by an electrician. The placement and plumbing for either is easily done by any handy pool owner. Solar heater systems can be completely DIY installed.

diving-man-from-clipartlogoJust because the temperature drops, or the sun starts to go down doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying your pool. You can adjust to the weather accordingly with several heating options – from heaters to solar rings.

Depending on where you reside, and how large of a pool heater you install, you can add another 4-8 weeks onto each end of your swimming season.

Wherever you are, even here in the frozen north, you have options, and don’t have to worry about being restricted to just one pool heating solution.

Alex Malamos
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Pool Ozonator Installation

o-3-turtlesIn Europe, ozone is considered a primary sanitizer in many public and private pools, and their reliance on chlorine is much less than in the U.S..

Ozone has been called the ‘World’s Most Powerful Sanitizer’, and nothing matches it’s ability or speed in killing micro organisms.

Del Industries has been making ozone units for nearly 50 years, for swimming pools and numerous other water treatment purification.

Why Ozone?

Ozone burns clean, with no residue left behind, in fact, it converts back to oxygen (O²) after it has done it’s job. It also has none of the unpleasant side effects of using chlorine ~ smelly, itchy, burning, dry and brittle. You’ll never even know it’s there! And, there is no need to store buy, transport and store hazardous chlorine products – ever again.

What is Ozone?

ozoneOzone is a gas, the O³ molecule, which is naturally present in the atmosphere. Ozonators, such as the Del Eclipse units, use low voltage to break apart diatomic oxygen (O²) into atomic oxygen (O¹) which quickly reattach themselves to another oxygen molecule (O²) and becomes O³ – get it?

O³ is an unnatural, unstable state for oxygen, and they don’t last for long. Immediately after creation, they begin blasting everything around them in the water, as they travel through the pipe. Once in the pool, it soon makes it’s way to the surface to gas off.

Ozone as a Primary Sanitizereclipse-40

For pools that wish to use ozone as the primary sanitizer, you would want to install the larger Del Eclipse 4 unit. You can supplement the ozonator with chlorine tablets or use a mineral sanitizer. Occasional shocking is advised. You can use chlorine shock, or non-chlorine shock, every few weeks.

Ozone as a Supplemental Sanitizer

eclipse-1Using the Del Eclipse 1 or 2 unit as a back-up to chlorine tablets allows you to use far fewer tabs each week, and run your chlorine level as low as 0.5 ppm, with occasional shocking as needed to remove chloramines. Ozone keeps your water sanitary, even if you’ve let the chlorine level dip below normal.

Installing a Del Ozonator

In a nutshell, installation is essentially mounting and wiring the ozonator, plumbing the venturi injector manifold, and connecting a hose between.


Mounting: Mount the ozone unit on a wall or sturdy board, in a cool and dry location that is 1-2 feet above pool water level. Secure it using the three mounting holes.

Electrical: These are hard-wired units, designed to be powered and grounded by a qualified electrical technician, but basically ~ you bring power from the time clock, through a knock-out in the cabinet, using liquid tight conduit and connections. The grounding lug should be connected to an appropriate earth contact, as per local codes.

del-manifoldPlumbing: You need about 18″ to install the injector manifold, on a horizontal or vertical pipe that is above the pool water level. It also needs to be below, or very close to the ozonator unit. It should be last on the line – after the pump, filter, heater or other sanitation equipment.

Inground Pool Ozonators can be installed in just an hour, if you are prepared with any electrical or plumbing supplies that may be needed.

big-dipper-ozonatorAboveground pool ozonator installation is even easier. The Big Dipper by Del is made for aboveground pools up to 25000 gallons. Compact ozone unit mounts easily and plugs into any grounded outlet, or mates with pool pump plug. Small Mazzei injector is easy to connect to return hose with included hose fitting. Installation of the Big Dipper is so fast, you could be making ozone in 5 minutes, for less than $250!

Ozonator Maintenance

Every 15,000 hours, depending on model, some maintenance will be likely to the hoses, check valve or the modules that produce the corona discharge. Modules, or CD chips or hose parts are easy to get and easy to replace.

But that won’t happen for a few years. Until then – enjoy clean and clear water, without a hint of chlorine, purified with ozone!

So pure, you could drink your pool water! But, I wouldn’t recommend that. :-)

Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


Cloudy Pool Water Issues – Part II


Some would say that sequels are blog box office poison, never quite as good as the original. However, Part II of Cloudy Pool Water Issues is not a sequel, but a prequel.

In Part II, we’ll explore more in detail the causes of what led to cloudy pool water in the first place.

Before we begin Part Deux, let’s review some of the lessons of Cloudy Pool Water Part I.

>>> If your pool water is cloudy, something is wrong with either your Sanitation, Circulation or Filtration. One or more of these three are not doing their jobs. We list a number of ways to improve the effectiveness of these vital functions.

LANGELIER-SATURATION-CHART>>> Also of note in Part I, was the influence of proper water chemistry on water clarity. We introduced the Langelier Saturation Index as a way to check your pool’s propensity towards scaling or corrosive water.

The Index incorporates water temperature into the calculation, which plays an important role in water clarity. Ideal pool water balance fluctuates from spring to summer to autumn, because of the effect of water temperature on dissolved solids.

Cloudy Pool Water Issues – Part Deux!

Hat Tip to David, who wrote a wonderful post recently on the 50 causes of pool algae. Many of the reasons for cloudy water are quite similar, and I have reworked his list into 50 ways to cloud your pool.

If your pool is currently hazy or milky blue, there are likely multiple reasons why…

50 Causes of Cloudy Pool Water

Pool Water Chemistry

  1. Inconsistent chlorine levels, below 1.0 ppm
  2. High combined chlorine levels, above 0.3 ppm
  3. High pH levels, rising above 7.6
  4. High alkalinity levels, above 150 ppm
  5. High calcium levels, above 400 ppm
  6. High cyanuric acid levels, above 100 ppm
  7. Very high total dissolved solids, over 10000 ppm
  8. Heavy use of calcium based pool shock
  9. High levels of particulate matter, i.e. dead algae, pollen, dust
  10. Adding more than one chemical to the pool at a time
  11. High saturation index as pool water gets warmer
  12. Using chlorine products in a Biguanide treated pool

    Pool Water Contamination

  13. Dead remains of previous algae blooms
  14. Using low grade pool salt with impurities.
  15. High levels of phosphates or nitrates
  16. Heavy use of Quaternary Ammonium algaecides
  17. Dirty pool, lots of leaves, debris
  18. Urine, Sweat, Fungus and bacteria from swimmers
  19. Tanning oils, cosmetics and hair products
  20. Run-off from nearby lawn or planters
  21. Sap and pollen from overhanging trees

    Equipment Problems

  22. Pump impeller is clogged or broken
  23. Pump not running long enough each day
  24. Pump is too large for the pool filter
  25. Pump is overheating and cycling on/off
  26. 2-speed pump, operating only on low speed
  27. Pump basket or skimmer baskets full of debris
  28. Low water level, drawing air
  29. Stuck skimmer weirs, drawing air
  30. Air leak on pump, drawing air
  31. Poor circulation in a large pool
  32. Filter is too small for pool size or pump size
  33. Filter is not being backwashed fully or properly
  34. Filter cartridge not seated properly, or missing parts
  35. Filter cartridge or filter sand needs replacement
  36. DE filter is leaking DE powder into the pool
  37. DE filter with too much or too little DE powder
  38. DE filter grids are clogged with oil or minerals
  39. Multiport valve is recirculating or bypassing filter
  40. Suction or return valves are closed or clogged
  41. Salt chlorinator cell needs cleaning
  42. Salt chlorinator cell needs replacement
  43. Salt level in pool is too low to salt cell
  44. Tablet chlorinator is gummed up
  45. Tablet chlorinator has an air lock

    Other Problems…

  46. Rough pool surface, not being brushed regularly
  47. Fresh pool plaster (will dust-up for about 6 months)
  48. Swimming pool paint dissolving, from low pH & alkalinity
  49. Too many swimmers, over 1 per 50 sq ft of area
  50. Dogs, ducks or other animals using the pool regularly

Cloudy pool water has many causes, and frequently more than one. Attack it methodically by checking for contaminants, ensuring your equipment is operating properly and the water chemistry is dead on, and your pool water clarity will return in no time!

Dr. Pool

Dr. Pool


5-Step Hayward Pool Filter Repairs

DE pool filter cutaway Making your own pool filter repairs is the subject of today’s post.

I’ve outlined the 12 most common repairs that you may need to do at some point to your Hayward filter, or to any pool filter.

Simple hand tools is all that’s required to maintain and repair a Hayward pool filter, along with a few parts.

You also need to know some process about repairing pool filters ~ I hope these 5-step summaries are helpful.

Hayward Sand Filter Repairs

add-new-filter-sand-smSand Change: Replace your filter sand every 5-7 years, or sooner if your filter is undersized, or if it has cleaned up a few algae blooms. Jackie wrote an entire post about how to change pool filter sand, but here’s a 5-step summary.

  1. Drain the tank by removing the drain cap.
  2. Remove the top mounted valve or dome.
  3. Scoop out, or use a wet/dry vac to remove sand.
  4. Pour in new #20 silica sand, labeled pool filter sand.
  5. Replace valve or dome securely, start up filter on Rinse.

hayward-folding-lateral-umbrella-assemblyLateral Replacement: Replace your laterals every 10 years, or if one cracks, it is best to replace the entire set of 8 laterals. If sand begins to pour into your pool, the usual cause is one or more broken laterals – here’s how to fix it, in 5-steps.

  1. Drain tank and remove sand, as described above.
  2. Fold up the laterals vertically, or unscrew threaded laterals from hub.
  3. Snap in or screw in your new sand filter laterals.
  4. Cap the standpipe, and pour the sand back in, or use new sand.
  5. Replace valve or dome securely, start up filter on Rinse.

Hayward Multiport Valve Repairs

multiport-valve repairsValve Change: If your multiport valve begins to leak, or the handle loses tension, you could repair it with a new key assembly or a new spider gasket, or you could just replace the entire valve – in just 5-steps.

  1. Cut pipes with hacksaw, leaving enough pipe to reconnect.
  2. Unclamp valve from tank, wiggle and pull up to remove.
  3. Lube o-ring and push new valve on standpipe, clamp tightly.
  4. Wrap threads 4x with Teflon; screw hand tight, plus 1-1/4 turn.
  5. Rejoin pipes with coupling or union; using PVC primer and glue.

white-spider-gasketSpider Gasket Change: Losing water out of the backwash line? Remove the top of the multiport valve and inspect the spider web style gasket. If it’s twisted, broken or worn, here’s how to replace it – 5-step style.

  1. Remove 6 screws around valve lid and pull out key assembly.
  2. Use small flathead screwdriver to remove all of the old gasket.
  3. Place small dabs of super glue or silicone in the grooves.
  4. Press in new gasket, wipe off any excess silicone.
  5. Reassemble by replacing key assembly in the proper orientation.

multiport-valve-leaksCracked Valve Body: If there is a small crack around where the pipes screw into the valve ports, or where the pressure gauge screws in, these were over tightened, or had too many layers of Teflon tape (use 3-4 layers over clean threads).

  1. Obtain SuperGlue ® or a liquid 2-part epoxy, like Plast-Aid ®.
  2. Cut pipe on cracked port, or remove gauge and clean threads.
  3. Thread pipe or gauge into hole to expand crack to it’s widest.
  4. Squirt expanded crack full of Super Glue or liquid epoxy.
  5. Quickly remove pipe or gauge; allow glue or epoxy to set up.

Hayward Cartridge Filter Repairs

MTA-PVCLeaking Pipe Connections: If your filter is leaking where the pipes come in and out, inspect for cracks around where the pipes screw in. If noticed, fill with epoxy as described above. If leaking around the pipes, replace them in 5-steps.

  1. Cut leaking PVC pipe(s), leaving 2 inches of clear pipe to reconnect.
  2. Unthread the pipe(s) from the filter in/out port.
  3. Wrap new Male Threaded Adapter with 4 layers of Teflon tape.
  4. Screw new MTA fittings into filter body, hand tight, plus 1-1/4 turns.
  5.  Rejoin with pipe, a coupling or union, and PVC primer and glue.

hayward-clamp-band-filterLeaking Filter Clamp: For your safety’s sake, when you start up the filter, if the belly band holding the tank halves together or holding the multiport valve is leaking, shut off the pump immediately, and take these 5 steps.

  1. Remove clamp band and top filter half completely.
  2. Remove belly band o-ring, and wipe clean with paper towel.
  3. Replace tank o-ring and apply a thin layer of pool lube.
  4. Replace lid and tighten up clamp band as tight as it will go.
  5. If it still leaks, loosen clamp band, reposition it, and retighten.

Cracked Filter Tank: If your filter tank has a pinhole leak, or a full blown crack, the only repair to make it to replace the filter tank.

For sand filters or older stainless steel tanks, it’s usually cheaper to buy an entire new filter. Newer cartridge and DE filters can replace either the top or bottom tank half, at about half the cost of a new filter.

Hayward DE Filter Repairs

de-filter-grids-DE Filter Grid Replacement: Every 10 years or so, DE filter grid fabric starts to break down and develop holes or rips. When one goes, the others will soon follow. Brett wrote a post with great pictures on how to change DE filter grids in 6 easy steps, but here’s the 5-step executive summary.

  1. Remove wing nuts on top of manifold and pull out the thru bolts.
  2. Place the manifold upside down on two bricks, facing upwards.
  3. Start with the partial grid, and push all of the grids into the manifold.
  4. Place the bottom spreader on top and work it between the grids.
  5. Replace the thru bolts and tighten wing nuts, pulling assembly tight.

DE Manifold Replacement: Another cause of DE powder spilling into the pool is a cracked top manifold, or missing air screen or sock. Follow instructions above for changing DE grids to replace the manifold.

hayward-perflex-nest-assyDE Finger Replacement: If you have a Perflex® DE Filter, you don’t have filter grids, you have Flex Tubes, aka ‘fingers’. Like filter grids, these deteriorate over time. You can replace just a few if needed, or buy the entire filter nest assembly.

  1. Remove the nuts and bolts around the top, and bump handle pins.
  2. Remove filter lid, then lift out the entire nest assembly.
  3. Slide off the tube sheet top, and pull up the damaged flex tubes.
  4. Push the new fingers in place snugly, replace tube sheet top.
  5. With nest assembly in place, secure the filter top and bump handle.

exclamation pointA word of caution: Filter systems are under pressure and can explode or rupture if clamp bands are not properly installed, or if valves after the filter are closed or pipes plugged while the pump is running. Open air bleeder and all return lines before restarting the pump!

A call to action: Make your own filter repairs with our factory fresh, original Hayward pool filter parts, shipped fast from our 9 parts distribution centers around the country. Besides Hayward parts, we carry filter parts for 20 other brands, old and new!

Give us a call or send an email if you need more information on making your own pool filter repairs, or identifying the correct filter part.

Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor