Pitfalls of Pool Closing
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pool-pitfalls-aheadIt’s pool closing time. You sigh just thinking about it don’t you? Winterizing your pool can be a pain in the rumpus and very expensive if done incorrectly.

If you want to save yourself the stress, the alternative is hiring a professional pool company to winterize your pool. However, the average winterizing price is north of $400.

For those who take the Ice Pool Challenge of winterizing your pool, here are some pitfalls to avoid that will prevent damage and save you money.

Stained Pool Surfaces

stained-vinyl-linerA clean pool is important. Dirt and leaves can make ugly stains if left in the pool all winter. When adding any granular winterizing chemicals, dissolve them in a bucket before pouring it into the pool. If precaution is not taken undissolved granules can settle on the pool floor, staining or damaging your pool. Even when adding liquid winterizing chemicals, it is best to dilute into a clean bucket of water for even distribution.

Never add water to chemicals, Always add chemicals to water, and always be sure to rinse the bucket out in the pool between chemicals.

Bad Water Chemistry

taylor-trouibleshooter-testing-kitDuring winter It’s even more important to have balanced water chemistry in your pool to prevent corrosion or scale build up. Use a good water testing kit to ensure that your hardness, pH and alkalinity levels are balanced properly before closing your pool.

Add your winter pool chemicals after balancing the pool water chemistry. Balanced water is key to conserving your winter chemicals, and protecting your pool from stains, deposits or erosion. Calcium: 180-220; Alkalinity: 80-120; pH: 7.2-7.4

Adding Winter Chemicals

Chemicals are vital when preparing your pool for the winter months, but if not careful it can cause more damage than good. For example, don’t use chlorine tablets in a floater, which could put your pool surfaces at risk for damage.pool-winterizing-kits

Follow the instructions carefully when applying winter chemicals to your pool, some require the pool filter on while applying the chemicals. Stain prevention chemicals and Enzymes, for instance, should be added before you lower the pool water.

If you are anxious about determining the types of chemicals to use for your pool a great alternative is getting a winter pool kit. These kits have all the chemicals you need to protect your equipment and pool from the elements. Saves bundles over buying the items separately.

Filter Cleaning Chemicals

granular filter cleanerAfter the DE filter grids or Cartridge filter is removed and sprayed clean, you may want to clean the fabric more thoroughly. Avoid using an acid solution or any household cleaners. Use the correct pool filter cleaner designed for your pool filter type.

In addition, if you decide to use a pool filter cleaner during the fall, rinse extra thoroughly, and soak in a large bucket (not the pool!) afterwards to remove any remaining trace of cleanser. Then dry and store for winter, the safest place being inside the filter tank.

Pool Antifreeze

pool-antifreezeIf possible try to avoid using antifreeze in your pool pipes,and never pour it into your pump, filter, heater or chlorinator. Instead, make sure the pipes are emptied out with a high volume air blower.

Filling the pipes with pool antifreeze is expensive, and even though it’s non-toxic, and has little effect on water chemistry, do you really want gallons of propylene glycol in your pool water?

Chlorine-Free Shock

chlorine-free-shock-Using a chlorine–free shock will get rid of impurities in the pool, and won’t disrupt the effectiveness from other winterizing chemicals being applied.

Chlorine pool shock can break apart polymer-based chemicals such as algaecide, knock minerals out of solution, and can etch erode plaster, fade and weaken vinyl finishes; not recommended for winterization.

 

When all is said and done, taking the time to close your pool properly will save a lot of hassle come opening time in the spring. Do the work now to clean the pool and store equipment  safely so it can be used many years to come. Basically, the more tender loving care you put into your pool at closing time, the more it will give back – for years to come!

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Jaquelynn Pettinato
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Inground Winter Pool Covers: Parts and Accessories
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inground-pool-cover-accessoriesAs the winter season gets closer, it’s time to prepare for pool closing.

Here’s the different categories of in ground pool cover accessories and parts to take care of your pool cover and your pool this winter.

Pool cover pumps are one of the most important accessories for solid pool covers. Left unattended, excessive water weight stresses cover seams, and could pull the entire cover in the pool! Even small amounts of water are a problem – water attracts worms, and worms attract birds, who can damage your pool cover with sharp beaks and claws.

rule1800The Rule 1800 Pool Cover and Utility Pump pumps up to 1800 gallons per hour. It is easy to install – all you have to do is attach a standard hose to it and plug into a 110 volt outlet. The Rule 1800 comes with a 3/4 inch male thread adapter to attach to any standard garden hose. Even in the event that the Rule 1800 is sitting on a frozen sheet of ice, it will not be damaged.

lil-giant-water-wizard-cover-pumpThe Little Giant Water Wizard pump is another top of the line pool cover pump. It has a 1/6 HP motor which moves 1200 gph, at a value price. It comes with a garden hose adapter and a 110 volt, 25 ft. power cord. Standard model or with automatic shut off switch and stabilizing plate. Pumps boats and basements or outdoor areas too, in as little as 1/8″ of water depth.

little-giant-APCP---automatic-pool-cover-pumpThe Little Giant APCP will pump up to 1700 gallons an hour. Sturdy and compact, so it can be moved easily and will remove water from any type of pool cover. It can drain the pool, spa or pond as well. This reliable and strong cover pump can handle any size job. You can attach it easily to any garden hose and connect the 110 volt, 25 foot power cord.

Pool Cover Patch Kits

winter-pool-cover-patchesOur Winter Cover Patch Kit is an adhesive backed poly patching material that can fix minor tears and rips in any pool cover, from animals or branches. Easy to use – just clean and dry the area, measure, cut and apply.

loop-loc-patch-kit-3MLoop-Loc Cover Patches can be used on any cover, but are made to match popular safety cover colors, like green, blue and grey. They also match the material, either solid vinyl or mesh fabric. Self-adhesive cover patches are peel and place, and made by 3M, a name you trust. Our most durable pool cover patches.

Pool Cover Weights, Sealers, Protectors

water-tubes-cirWater tubes are used to secure floating pool covers, and they can also be used around safety covers, to keep leaves from blowing under the edge and into the pool. Water tubes come in either single tube or double tube. Double water bags cost 80¢ more, but they don’t roll off a pool deck, and if one side pops, you still have the other.

pool-noodles-for-winter-cover-usePool Noodles can also be used around safety pool covers to seal up gaps against steps or walls. Cut in half lengthwise, and they can be inserted under the edge of a safety cover, to keep leaves from blowing in, while keeping the cover from contacting rough coping stones or edges. Great use for old or new pool noodles.

Cover Guard has a sole purpose of protecting your pool cover against rough coping stones and sharp edges. It’s a long sheet, 24″ x 20 feet – of PVC reinforced vinyl that you lay over the pool edge to protect your pool cover from wearing on the pool.

cover-guard-for-swimming-pools-with-sharp-edgesCover Guard adds years of life to mesh safety covers. Two-tone color, blue on the bottom and green on the top. Just lay it around the edge of the pool underneath the pool cover. Can be cut into smaller sections with scissors.Cover Guard also prevents leaf stains on light colored coping stones.

Heavy Duty Leaf Removal

Leaf Catchers for pool covers are lightweight open mesh (1/4″) covers that are placed on top of a floating solid cover, but can also be used with safety covers.

leaf-catcher-leaf-netThey do just what they say – they catch the leaves and hold them for you to remove them in one easy motion, without brooms or blowers. Tuck the Leaf Net under a few water tubes and it will stay in place.

Leaf catchers pull off the pool super easily, even with a very thick layer of leaves. For longest life, we recommend that you remove and store your Leaf Catcher after all the leaves have fallen.

Pool Safety Cover Hardware

safety-cover-hardware-accessoriesIf you have a safety cover, at some point you’ll need replacement hardware for your cover. Not to worry! In The Swim has safety cover hardware replacement parts and accessories by name brands such as GLI, Meyco and Loop-Loc. We have your stainless steel springs and brass anchors, cover tools and hex keys. Over 50 different pool safety cover hardware and accessory items!

Vinyl pool owners! Protect your skimmer by blocking water from entering the skimmer, as it rises and freezes. Prevents a very costly skimmer replacement caused by pool water freezing inside of your skimmer. If a vinyl pool freezes with a 4 inch thick, key-shaped sheet of ice inside the skimmer, it can not only crack the skimmer walls, but crumple the wall beneath it, if the ice sheet drops or tilts slightly.

skimmer-plug--To prevent this, use either the Aquador or Lid’L Seal, to cover the skimmer opening, with a tight, Tupperware™ type of seal. A new product (left) acts not as a cover, but as a plug.

The Skimmer Plug makes a seal on the inside of your existing faceplate to block water from entering, and prevent ice damage to your skimmer.

Inground pool cover accessories will help you protect your pool cover and your pool from freezing temperatures. Winter pool covers will put up with some tough winter conditions this year, with El Niño settling in. Give your pool cover some TLC, and you’ll get many more years of service in return.

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Alex Malamos
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Pool Safety Covers: Costs vs. Benefits
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inground-safety-covers-cost-vs-benefitThis article aims to be a reference article for you regarding pool safety covers. These covers are for both inground and above ground swimming pools (with complete decks) and they provide many benefits to the pool owner or operator. Pool safety is always regarded as the highest concern, as it should be.

Accidental drowning is all too common and unfortunate – it can occur in people of all ages, especially in children. It can also occur with animals – both wild and domesticated. You don’t want to have to find dead frogs or other critters in the pool, just waiting for you to fish them out!

Pool Cover Benefits

Other advantages to owning a safety pool cover – also important, though not quite as important as safety – is protecting your pool. Algae can be formed in the water when sunlight is allowed to peek through to the water. Safety covers keep out the light and organic debris during the closed season.

Pool covers are an energy saving solution, since they conserve water and reduce chemical consumption. At the same time, covers reduce cleaning time – since it keeps dirt out of the pool. Before you leave this page to go out and buy a safety cover, there are a few different types of winter pool covers you need to be aware of before jumping in.

Pool Cover Distinctions

What’s the difference between a pool safety cover and a winter pool cover? Safety covers are made from solid vinyl or woven mesh material. Safety covers are made to be pulled tightly across the pool and secured using straps that attach to brass anchors installed around the pool’s perimeter.

safety-pool-covers-for-winterSafety covers are trampoline-tight, keeping leaves and debris dry, so they quickly blow away. Safety covers also keep children and pets out of the water, as they are able to hold thousands of pounds, safely.

Safety pool cover materials offer two different options – Mesh or vinyl covers. Mesh covers are not as expensive as most vinyl safety covers, and they are lighter as well. While winter covers may require maintenance during the winter to remove leaves and water, safety covers usually don’t need any attention.

Solid safety covers won’t allow sunlight to enter into the pool. As mentioned above, this is good because it keeps unwanted algae from growing in the water. Solid Vinyl covers (without drain panels) will also keep contaminated water out of the pool.

solid-winter-pool-coversMeanwhile, winter covers offer pool protection – but the protection that winter covers were designed for is the weather. Winter covers should not be relied upon to protect children or animals because they cannot support concentrated weight.

When leaves fall onto the cover during the winter and it rains, they breakdown and leach their tannins into the water, and a mesh cover allows dirty water through to the pool. Solid pool covers however, will keep out that dirty water.

While winter covers blocks out the sunlight, heavy snow and tree branches can take down a winter cover, creating a nasty and costly cleanup. If you pay to have your cover removed in the spring (or if you do it yourself), the labor of removing and cleaning a water-bag type winter cover can be many times the cost of a safety pool cover.

safety-covers-vs-winter-covers

Winter covers require more supervision and maintenance than a safety cover. They do keep out the sunlight but don’t stay in place as a safety cover will. They also require frequent check-ups to remove standing water, clean debris or adjust the fit and tightness.

Pool Cover Costs

In the long run, a safety cover, which can last 15 years, will cost about the same as replacing a winter cover 3-4 times. Add to that the expenses of water bags and cover pumps, and the increased labor of springtime cover cleaning, and a safety cover can even be cheaper – in the long run.

Really it is up to you what you are willing to go without – the advantages and disadvantages of each allow you to anticipate potential issues you may expect from one or another, and you can decide based on personal preference, and what features are most important to you.

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Alex Malamos
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Aboveground Pool Winterization Accessories
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aboveground-pool-winter-accessoriesWinterizing an above ground pool would be easy – if it weren’t for Old Man Winter!

Wind, Snow and Ice and will soon be on its way, and for an aboveground pool, these can be particularly troublesome.

Make mistakes with any of these and you can easily end up damaging your pool cover or your pool itself!

winter-treesDebris

Every picture of a winter cover that you see is dry and clean, but in the real world Mother Nature and Old Man Winter will make a mess of things.

Cleaning your pool cover protects your cover and your pool water. A small hole in a winter cover can contaminate the pool water, and berries and bugs can attract birds that can damage your cover with their sharp beaks.

leaf-rakes-at-intheswimLeaf Rakes: A leaf rake is a bag shaped skimmer net that attaches to any pool pole. Just push is gently across the pool cover to scoop up leaves, twigs and other debris.

leaf-catchersLeaf Nets: An easier method for sure – if you have lots of large trees around the pool, spread a leaf net over top of your winter cover until all of the leaves have dropped. Then remove all of the leaves from the pool cover at once, and easily take the bundle of leaves to the curb or woods.

snow-and-rainWater

Keeping water pumped off of your pool cover is important to prevent the cover from tearing – just 100 gallons of water weighs over 750 lbs, stressing the walls and the edges of your winter cover.

winter-pool-cover-pumpsCover Pumps: Electric submersible pumps, manual or automatic, allow you to easily remove rain water and snow melt from the pool cover. Just attach a garden hose, and plug it in. Manual pumps should be unplugged when done, but automatic cover pumps will safely turn themselves on and off as needed.

dryco-winter-pool-cover-drainGravity Pumps: We also have gravity fed, siphon-type pool cover pumps, that work great with above ground pools, such as the Cover Drain or the Dryco pool cover drain kit.

Snow? It’s best to leave it alone, to avoid damaging the pool cover with a sharp snow shovel, but if it gets over 12″ deep, you can either carefully use a leaf rake to push off the top 6 inches, or spray the snow with warm water, and then pump off with your cover pump.

winter-windsWind

High winds can wreak havoc on an aboveground pool winter cover, tearing and ripping the edges as heavy winds get up underneath. However, there are a number of winter accessories made specifically for this problem.

winter-cover-sealCover Seal: This is like a giant roll of Saran Wrap™ – only stronger! Once your cover is installed, wrap around the pool 3 or 4 times to block wind and prevent your cover from rubbing on the top rail of your pool. Reusable Cover Seal can be rolled back up on the spool in spring.

winter-cover-clipsCover Clips: This product clips your pool cover to the top rail of your aboveground pool, to keep winds from getting under the cover. Use 2 cover clips for each vertical upright in your pool (between wall panels). Sold in 5, 10, 20 and 30 packs

wall-bags-for-above-ground-pool-coversWall Bags: Vinyl bags that you fill with water and hang on the cover cable, or they lay up against the pool wall, on the inside of the pool cover. Reusable for years and years.

icey-poolIce!

Not a friend of aboveground pools, ice expands nearly 10%, putting pressure on pool walls and skimmers. Of course, there are products to help you deal with the damaging effects of winter pool ice.

air-pillow-for-aboveground-pool-coversAir Pillows: Place an air pillow in your pool before you button up the pool cover. The pressure of the pool cover pushes the air pillow down into the water, preventing a continuous ice sheet from forming across the pool, which can damage pool walls.

skimmer-guardSkimmer Guard: Dual purpose item plugs your skimmer line tightly, and the raised plastic cylinder absorbs ice expansion in the skimmer, saving your skimmer from ice damage that can quickly crack it into pieces.

skimmer plugSkimmer Plug: Works like a Lid’l Seal™ or the Aquador™, with the big exception that you don’t need to replace your skimmer faceplate. Just push it into the front of your skimmer, and it makes a water tight seal, keeping water out of the skimmer, all winter long.

Old Man Winter and Mother Nature throw a lot of weather at your aboveground pool during the off season. Fight back with these smart accessories to prevent damage from Debris, Water, Wind and Ice!

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Sheryl Solis
InTheSwim Staff Blogger