Host a Luau Pool Party!
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luau-party

I loved the White Pool Party ideas that Christine recently shared; for a more colorful summer pool party idea, why not host a Hawaiian Luau?

Nothing beats a sunny day by the pool with delicious BBQ right off the grill. As Emeril would say, kick it up a notch, and instead of a regular BBQ, it’s easy serve a Hawaiian BBQ, with a Luau theme!

Bring the taste of the islands with fruity cocktails and Hawaiian-style barbeque recipes. Add more island flavor with Lei floral necklaces for the guests, and grass skirts for the hosts. Buy a few tiki torches and other island decorations. For $20 at a Party Store, you can get all you need!

Char Siu Glazed Pork on Buns

Photo: Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Photo: Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Char Siu, which is Chinese-style barbecued pork, is a popular dish in Hawaii. Below is an easy recipe. To make the brine, you’ll need to mix up Kosher salt, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Chill the liquid until it is cool. Next, put two, 1-lb. pork tenderloins into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, cover with the brine and put it in the fridge for three to 12 hours.

Meanwhile, make a char siu glaze with ketchup, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Cover the pork with glaze just before laying on the grill, and use a brush to coat while cooking. Serve with grilled and glazed pineapple slices,  stuffed into a Hawaiian roll.

See MyRecipes.com for the whole recipe.

Huli Huli Chicken

Photo: Allrecipes.com

Photo: Allrecipes.com

Combine chicken pieces with pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, sherry, ginger, garlic, and green onions in a large sealable plastic bag, stirring until brown sugar has dissolved. Place chicken into bag, squeeze out air, seal bag, and refrigerate 4-12 hours. Crank up the grill to 475°, and turn every 10 minutes, for 35 to 45 minutes. Baste with remaining marinade after each turning. AllRecipes has the details.

Hawaiian Island Surfer

Photo: MarieClaire.com

Photo: MarieClaire.com

For a fun and fruity non-alcoholic beverage, look no further than the Hawaiian Island Surfer recipe from Love to Know. To make it, combine a half cup of orange sorbet with a small can of pineapple juice, an ounce of coconut cream and a cup of crushed ice. Blend the ingredients until they are the consistency of a smoothie and pour into tiki cups or colorful tall plastic cups, topped with fruit and maybe a little umbrella!

Pineapple Drops

Photo: BakedNorthWest.com

Photo: BakedNorthWest.com

For your guests who are 21 and up, consider serving the Pineapple Drop, also from MyRecipes.com. In a pitcher, mix pineapple juice, vodka, and lime juice, then chill until cold. Rub lime wedges around rims of 6 martini glasses. Pour sugar onto a large plate. Dip rims of glasses in sugar. Divide vodka mixture among glasses. Push a few pineapple chunks onto each skewer and set one in each glass.

Frozen Coconut Dessert

Photo: RecipeTips.com

Photo: RecipeTips.com

Taste of Home provides a recipe for a scrumptious Frozen Coconut Dessert. In a saucepan, bring 1 1/3 cups of water and 2/3 cup of sugar to a boil and then cook for five minutes. Once it cools, stir in 2 cups of coconut and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. In another bowl beat 1 pint of heavy whipping cream until it forms soft peaks, and then fold the whipped cream into the coconut mixture. Pour into a pie dish, cover and freeze overnight. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and chopped macadamia nuts.

Pre-Pool-Party Planning Tips

Buy a set of tiki torches and set them up around the edge of the pool for a beachy glow at sundown. Get a few other decorations at the dollar store or your local party store to really set the theme.

When it comes to seating, it’s always better to have too much than not enough, so enhance the backyard living experience with some additional pool furniture; for both serving and eating.

Toodles!

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Sheryl Sollis
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Labor Day White Pool Party
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labor-day-white-partyAs Labor Day is fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about one last pool party! Since it’s a fashion faux pas to wear white after Labor Day, what better time for an all white pool party?!

So gather up all your friends and get ready to transform your backyard. It’s time to throw the perfect Labor Day White Party!!

After you invite all your guests with the perfect all white invitations, the first thing you need to do is decorate. Make sure you have as much white as possible! Grab some white streamers and white (clear) Christmas lights, or floating Chill Lites (shown below).

white-pool-lightingYou can use white table cloths and chair covers, and even float a giant inflatable swan in the pool! This is also the perfect party to have candlelight from white candles in all shapes and sizes.

Don’t forget to hang some white pom poms and flowers around for an extra elegant touch, and make sure you have white plates, cups, and eating utensils!

Now for the food! There are so many possibilities for all white party foods, especially if you’re willing to be a bit creative! For the main dishes, why not try a white cheddar mac ‘n cheese, a chicken Alfredo pasta, or grilled scallops? For your sides, you could include things like white rice, cauliflower, mashed potatoes, and even white asparagus!

pina-coladaDrinks are a great way to add some fun to any pool party. For your guests who are over 21, there are so many adult beverages you can make. White Russians are a great choice! You can also offer white chocolate martinis, white wine, white sangria, and pina coladas. For your party goers who won’t be drinking alcohol, you can make non-alcoholic pina coladas or vanilla shakes- or milk and coconut water!

Desserts are always a really important part of any good party spread! Anything with white chocolate works for an “all white party”! You could have a white chocolate fountain with all kinds of sweet treats for dipping, like marshmallows, hunks of angel food cake, and bananas. You can also make white chocolate dipped pretzels or some white chocolate mousse, and don’t forget to make the white cookies and cupcakes with white cream cheese frosting!

white-flip-flopsWardrobe: Well, obviously you want to wear as much white as possible. Pull out some extra white shirts for guests who may have forgotten about the white rule. You could also supply white party hats or white flip flops for everyone. Another fun idea is a Toga Party and have your guests arrive wrapped in white!

Music sets the mood, and is a fun way to really develop a party theme. Make a playlist including all your favorites, like Barry White, Average White Band, Jack White, White Snake… well, you get the idea.

Now you’re off to a great start in planning your Labor Day White Party! Have fun!

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Christine Silvestri
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Pool Safety Covers Save 6 Ways

safety-cover-meycoIt’s that time of year again, folks. The summer is winding down. The kids are back to school, and it’s time to drag the pool cover out of the garage and prepare for pool closing.

A safety cover is an investment in your pool, which is another way to say something is expensive.

If you’ve ever thought about upgrading to a safety pool cover – did you know safety covers can actually save you money?

SAVE WATER: A mesh safety cover will save you money on refilling your pool at the beginning of the year. Since they are made of a highly durable mesh material, all of the snow that collects and then melts on the cover is collected into your pool, and it’s the same for rain water. The money saved by not adding 500 gallons per inch is a welcome sight and makes melting snow more enjoyable. Don’t think of it as snow, think of it as money sprinkling down from the sky, collecting on top of your mesh safety cover, melting down like liquid gold into your pool and back into your bank account where you can save it up – for a rainy day.

SAVE EFFORT: If you’ve ever pumped and dredged, scrubbed and clean, hung to dry and then folded and stored a solid, water bag type pool cover – you know why pool service companies charge upwards of $200 for the service. A safety pool cover is so fast and easy to remove, that service companies charge 75% less. This adds up to loads of money over 15 years time. After only a few years, a safety cover will have paid for itself in reduced effort, or from reduced service fees.

SAVE ACCESSORIES: Pool safety covers are so durable and hardy, you may not even spend $50 in replacement hardware over 15 years. A few anchors, maybe a replacement hex key. But solid covers – every year you need new water bags and every few years a new cover pump. If you bought just 2-3 water bags per year, and one cover pump every 5 years, you’d spend nearly $500 over 15 years time.

SAVE REPLACEMENTS: A mesh safety cover is a tough, durable and safe pool cover. Safety covers can last 4X longer than the best solid, floating pool covers. The average safety pool cover lasts 12 years; and some last years longer. You’d go through 3-5 solid pool covers during that same period, not to mention dozens of water bags and a few cover pumps. Sure, a solid pool cover is a quick fix and much easier on the wallet, but in the long term a safety cover is a better buy.

graffe-in-poolSAVE LIVES: Besides saving money, a pool safety cover saves lives and protects people and animals alike. If you are like me, and have an elephant roaming your backyard, but can’t quite afford a long-necked giraffe (safer around pools), it’s important to have a cover that won’t collapse when an animal or toddler runs across the pool cover.

Solid, floating pool covers are quite dangerous, and even if nearly dry, are unsafe for kids and animals to be around.

SAVE ENERGY: I know it’s fun to watch a hardworking cover pump blast water off the of a solid cover on a slightly warm day as the snow just begins to melt. If you imagine it as money being blasted out of your bank account dollar by dollar – it’s not quite as fun to watch. Cover pumps use electricity every time it discharges water from a solid pool cover. Sure, not a lot, but over the long term, little expenses add up, especially over 15 years time.


looploc-bubblesAside from the money saving aspects of a durable, dependable mesh safety cover, you cannot put a price on the peace of mind you will have knowing that your pool in the off-season is not a trap for your dogs, wild animals, or elephants.

Rest easy knowing that kids or grandchildren are safe no matter how carefree, clumsy, or even daring they maybe around the safety cover.

Once a pool safety cover is installed, it requires no extra effort in resetting or adjusting because it is rock solid and secure. A safety pool cover is the wise investment that ultimately pays for itself in just a few seasons of use.

 

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Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

5 Ways to Prep for a Family Friendly Pool Party
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pool-party-ideas-kids-on-raftPool season has been redefined. From spring get-togethers that make a splash, to autumn fireside cookouts—pool fun isn’t reserved just for the dog-days of summer anymore.

With just the right amount of planning and a few key accessories, your backyard pool party will be the talk of the town. But how do you pull-off the best pool party of the year, and where do you start?

Pool Party Pre-Game

Make sure you plan ahead. A pool party can be a big affair, especially if you want to pull it off without worry. Whether hosting a small celebration for just you and your family, or a block party with all of your friends and neighbors, a little planning can make the difference between a good party and a great one. Take the time to sit down and write out a guest list, game ideas, event agenda, food inventory, and even fun prizes that you want to include.

pool-equipment-by-jandyMake sure that your pool is party-ready with some pre-party pool maintenance – you don’t want a blowout during or just before the big day! Check your filter, pump and heater well in advance to spot any potential problems, and be sure to test, balance and shock the water several days ahead of the party, so that cloudy water or algae won’t ruin the fun.

Get the Word Out

Everyone loves to receive fun party invites online or via snail mail. Invitations are a great way to get the word out. When creating your festive invitations don’t forget to include the basics like date, time, location and if they should bring anything, like a towel or sunscreen, or a dish to share if you want to do a potluck pool party.

Set the Scene

Cantilever Umbrellas, $299Dress up your backyard, patio and pool area before your event. Make sure you have enough pool and deck furniture to accommodate everyone who will be coming. Pool umbrellas, deck chairs, hammocks allow your guests to feel comfortable and cared for. And don’t forget the little details—insect repellents, sunscreen and outdoor heaters ~ in case the pool party runs into the evening.

Add a Little Ambiance

Balloons and streamers are great, but keep them to the indoor areas—there is nothing worse than trying to clean pieces of rubber and paper out of your pool filter. Matching plates, platters, and napkins can provide you the opportunity to add a theme to the party. Pool lights are one of the best ways to add ambiance around the pool, if your hosting an after-dark pool party.

It’s Showtime

water workout beach ballpool parties need beach balls!Here’s where your planning pays off. Keep the kids and adults entertained with a wide variety of inflatables, everything from sports rafts to slides and kiddie pools. Just make sure you get an air pump to help with inflating today’s big pool rafts. Add some pool toys and games! Basketball games or treasure hunts are sure-fire hits for the kids, and pool volleyball is a hit with all ages, especially if played with a beach ball!

Summer’s almost over! Plan your summer soiree soon! I hope you found these pool party ideas helpful, and wish you and your guests lots of good, clean fun!

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Christine Silvestri
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

 

When is it Time to Change a Filter Cartridge?

gravestone for Pool F. CartridgePool filter cartridges don’t last forever, that’s their dirty little secret.

“Carts” can last a long time, over 5 years in a best case scenario, or they can die in as little as 1 year, in other situations.

If you have a cartridge filter, knowing when to buy new filter cartridges can be the difference between an easy pool season, and a season full of pool water trouble.

HOW TO KNOW WHEN TO REPLACE POOL CARTRIDGES?

unicel-cartridge-guy-in-boxForget about the horizontal bands around the filter, they don’t do much. If they break off, you can glue them back on with a glue gun, but there’s no need really.

Also, forget about cracks in the end caps as a way to determine when to replace the filter cartridge, because that almost never happens to a good quality cartridge.

There’s 3 main ways to know that your filter cartridge needs replacement

1. SHORTER FILTER CYCLES: The length of time between cleanings will become shorter over time, all else being equal. When your filter cartridge reaches it’s half-life, it’s time to replace that cartridge. For instance, a new set of filter cartridges may go 8 weeks between cleanings, but after a few hard years at the helm, they load-up faster, taking only 4-5 weeks before the filter pressure rises the same amount.

2. POOR WATER QUALITY: If the water just doesn’t have that sparkle anymore, all else being equal, it may be time for new filter cartridges. With the constant battering from high velocity water and harsh chemicals, the woven fibers of cartridges begin to separate over time, and they lose the ability to trap very small particles. This becomes evident with more frequent cloudy, hazy or dull pool water.

3. VISIBLE FABRIC PROBLEMS: Finally, if your pool filter cartridge has holes in the fabric or splits along the seam, or if the pleat edges become “furry and fuzzy”, that’s a good sign that a new pool cartridge is in your future. Stains and oily deposits that don’t seem to rinse off. Holes are rare but can be caused by pouring chemicals into the skimmer, or from using a pressure washer to clean the cartridge, or when the filter size is too small for the pump size. Which is a nice segueway to my next discussion point.

There is another way to calculate the length of time between pool cartridge replacement, and that is the tipping point of filter size vs pool size.

pool-filter-cartridge-replacement-chartBigger cartridge filters have longer filter cycles and fewer cleanings per year, in many cases requiring only a single cleaning at closing time. Put simply, larger filters will last longer than undersized filters, so go big!

If you have a typically sized cartridge pool filter with 100 sq ft of filter surface area per 10000 gallons, your filters should last 2-3 years. If you have double the filter size, you can get nearly double the cartridge lifespan! All else being equal!*

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Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor

* Meaning, Generally good water chemistry and few poor water conditions to clean up, and no accidents with chemicals or pressure washers!

 

 

 

How to Cool the Pool
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woman-splashing-water-in-a-hot-swimming-poolSwimming pool water a little warm? If your pool gets lots of sun, summertime water temps can reach the high 80’s or even 90°. Too warm for a refreshing swim, it’s like bath water!

Heat consumes chlorine, and makes it easier for algae to grow, who prefer the warm water. What to do when your swimming pool feels  like a hot tub?

I took a short walk from the In The Swim Offices to the R&D building, to speak with the one guy who could help me with this question.

Hi, Dr. Pool, can I ask you a few questions?” I asked. “Certainly David” he said, peering over his safety glasses. “What can I do for you?”

CAN I COOL A POOL WITH ICE?

Everyone has this idea pop into their head first, but can you really lower pool water temperature with ice? “Of course you can, but you would need a truckload of ice, thousands of pounds, to lower the temperature even 5 degrees”, he said.

I pressed him for a formula for determining how much ice would be needed to lower pool water temperature, so he scratched this out on a slip of paper.

formula-for-how-much-ice-it-would-take-to-cool-the-poolWhere PV = Pool Volume (in gallons) and TR = desired Temperature Rise. For example, cooling my 25000 gallon pool down 10 degrees Fahrenheit would look like this: 25000 ÷ 1000 x 10 x 4.375 = 1094 lbs of ice! That’s gonna be pricey!

CAN I COOL A POOL WITH DRY ICE?

I asked Dr. Pool about this one too, and the look on his face told me that this is another idea that’s going nowhere. Great for adding a spooky fog on the surface of the pool, but not so good for lowering pool water temperature. “Dry Ice evaporates into a gas as it cools, not into water – having very little effect on pool water temperature”, he said. He also warned that it will pummel your pH level, being very acidic, and could cause skin burns if swimmers touch it. Ok – next idea!

CAN I COOL A POOL WITH AERATION?

three tiered pool fountain, item A5500“Aeration can reduce pool water temps, especially in arid regions, but if the outside air is warm and humid, the effect will be minimal”. He explained that aeration of the water (spraying it over the surface) cools the water by evaporation during the few seconds that the water droplets are airborne. “Pool fountains or cascading water features can be used to lower water temperature 5 or 10 degrees, depending on humidity levels and volume and type of spraying apparatus used”. “Like our Triple Tier pool fountain!” I said, he nodded.

CAN I COOL A POOL WITH REVERSE RADIATION?

I know that this one works; when I lived in Texas, I used our solar pool heater at night, to cool water temperatures. But I ask him anyway, as a sneaky little test. He paused for a moment and said “Are you talking about solar pool heaters? I suppose you could, if you shut it off during the day, and ran the system during the night, there should be a reverse radiant effect.” Good answer, Doctor. I told him that in arid regions with hot days and cool nights, running the solar system for a few hours in the early morning hours keeps lots of pools from overheating during August. “Yes, exactly David. I suppose it would depend upon the size of your solar system, the humidity and the night time air temperature, but it certainly seems like a viable method – if you have a solar pool heater”.

CAN I COOL A POOL WITH REFRIGERATION?

hayward-heat-pro-heat-pumpThe good Doctor gives me a knowing nod, realizing the game I’m playing. “Now you must be hinting at pool heat pumps, no?” I shrugged and nodded to the affirmative. “As you know David, some heat pumps have the ability to reverse the flow of the refrigerant, and behave as an air conditioner. What are those called?” “Chillers”, I replied. That’s the term used for pool heat pumps that have a “chilling effect” just as Dr. Pool described. They normally run as a pool heater, but at the flip of a switch, can operate backwards and pull heat out of the pool water and discharge it into the surrounding air. “Chillers are quite expensive, are they not?” he asks me. He is correct, the Heat/Cool heat pumps for pools start at $3999, but could be the easiest way of reliably cooling a hot pool.

HOW ELSE CAN YOU COOL A POOL?

  • Add Shade over the pool. Shade sails or cabanas to block the sun.
  • Add Water to the pool. 2 inches of water can lower temp by 1-2°.
  • Run the pump at night, aim jets to surface to increase circulation.
  • Open the main drain or run pool cleaner, to equalize thermal layers.
  • Set-up large fans to blow across the water during the evening/night.
  • Use the Pool! Cannonballs and splash fights disperse water heat!

DrPool-thumbThanks, Dr. Pool! I’m glad we got to the bottom of this question about how to lower the water temperature in a swimming pool. If you have questions of your own you’d like to ask the good Doctor, you can find him in the lab of the R&D bldg, or just send them to Drpool@intheswim.com.

 

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Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor

 

Reducing Pool Water & Energy Use

drpool-earthReduce, Recycle & Reuse – you’ve heard the phrase, I’m sure.

You may think about reducing pool energy costs when the electrical bill arrives in the mail.

But beyond the pool pump, there are a plethora of products and practices that will make your pool more eco-friendly.

Most of these methods and equipment I use on my own in-ground pool, as ways to reduce my water and energy usage, and recycle or reuse what I can.

Reducing Pool Water Consumption

  • Find and fix any pool leaks
  • Backwash only when the pressure gauge is 5-10 lbs above clean
  • Cover the pool or use Liquid Solar to reduce evaporation and heat loss
  • Install wind blocks to reduce evaporation and heat loss
  • Install a Cartridge pool filter and save thousands of gallons per year
  • Maintain the pool to reduce the need for draining the pool for repair

Reducing Pool Energy Consumption

Recycle Your Pool

  • Pool chemical bottles, pails and buckets can be recycled. Rinse well first
  • Pool liners, pool covers, water tubes and solar blankets can be recycled
  • Most filters, pumps and cleaners can be recycled for the plastics
  • Pool heaters have copper heat exchangers and lots of steel

Reuse Your Pool

  • Pool chemical bottles, pails and buckets can be re-used. Rinse well first
  • Pool liners, pool covers and solar blankets can be re-purposed
  • Pool filter tanks can be re-imagined into colorful planters or compost
  • Pool Noodles can be re-created into something fun or useful

Do run the filter pump as often as needed, usually 12-15 hrs per day during summer, to avoid water problems that require excess chemicals (and filtering) to restore clarity.

saving-water by LefloresYour swimming pool’s water and energy use can be reduced by half or more with a few products and practices designed to reduce the impact of swimming pools.

 

DrPool-thumb

Dr. Pool

 

More Information:

Pentair Water: Reducing Pool Energy Consumption
Zodiac Pool Blog: How to Save Pool Energy Usage
Hayward PoolSide Blog: 5 Ways to Conserve Pool Water

 

How to Clean a Swimming Pool Like a Pro
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me-and-mr-miyagiEvery time I think I have this pool thing down to a science, something comes along to remind me that there is still much to learn in every facet of pool ownership.

I recently had a veteran of the pool business over at my house. I proposed to him what I thought was the best way to clean a swimming pool like a pro.

He let me finish detailing my my step-by-step (4 steps, actually) pool cleaning process and the silence and stoic expression on his face led me to believe that he was not impressed. What came out of his mouth next would enlighten me to how a pro truly cleans a pool.

Step One: Clean the Deck: I learned a lot during our time together. The first thing he taught me was to clean the pool deck. At first I didn’t understand—“I thought we were cleaning the pool, not the deck!” He would show me the error of my ways, and that a clean pool extends beyond just the water. I had to look beyond the pool and take into account the entire pool area, to truly clean the pool like a pro.

“Ah, you mean sweep and hose down the pool deck?” I asked. “No, Grasshopper – blow and bucket the deck” he said (with a leaf blower and then 5 gal buckets of chlorinated pool water). And speaking of water, water level is one of the first checks to make during a pool service call. “Throw the hose in the pool, right?” I proudly pronounced. “No, Grasshopper – place on the edge of pool, so you don’t forget it is on.” Good advice; I did flood the pool once (and the yard, the neighbors, the cul-du-sac).

mark-your-pressure-gaugeStep Two: Check the Equipment: If any part of your filtration system is under performing, you should be able to see the signs. As you approach the filter system he told me, look at the pressure gauge. Write the clean/dirty pressure on the filter tank with a Sharpie pen, or mark the gauge.

The poolman continued, “If pressure is lower than normal, that means something is clogged up before the filter, like skimmer or pump baskets, or clogged impeller, or air in system. If higher than normal, that means something is clogged up after the filter, usually a dirty filter, but could also mean broken filter, closed return side valves, or plugs in the wall returns”.

You must observe the operation of the system, he said. “Use all of your senses, smell, touch, sight and sound – is everything normal?” He made me close my eyes and listen to the sound of the motor; then he guided me to the heater. “Turn on heater!” he commanded. I fumbled for the switch, my eyes still closed. After a few seconds of electronic ticking, I heard a whoosh!, as the heater fired off. “Listen” he said. “Smell the combustion, feel the heat!” Now, check the flow” he said.

He motioned for me to observe the water flow in the pump basket. “See any leaks anywhere?” he asked. “Check the wiring from the pump and heater, to the timeclock. Now, open the timeclock.” I opened it, and he had me check that the timeclock was on schedule, keeping current time.

Step Three: Empty the Baskets: A full skimmer basket can reduce the flow of water circulating through the filtration system. This creates additional stress on your pump and makes your filter less effective.” Also – very important – Inspect skimmer weir – to be sure it’s not misaligned or broken.” Remove your pool cleaner (if you have one) and if your pool cleaner has a bag, empty it. In my case I have to clean my Tiger Shark’s filters with a filter wand.  Clean your wall strainer or inline strainer if you have a pressure cleaner.

leaf-rakes-for-poolsStep Four: Skim the Pool: On a calm day, skimming the pool can be a relaxing, almost zen-like experience. I enjoy walking the edge of the pool and thoroughly cleaning the pool water of any debris. What I really enjoy is a perfectly immaculate pool. I don’t skim on windy days anymore. “Use a Leaf Rake to skim beyond the surface and collect debris on steps or corners. Leaves can affect your pH, cause stains and lead to algae growth”.

Step Five: Check Your Levels: With a quality water test kit like the Taylor Test Kits from In The Swim, make sure that your pH levels are ideally between 7.3 and 7.5. Confirm that your alkalinity is between 80-120 ppm. Be sure to use a test kit that can test for calcium hardness and that it also can determine both Free and Total chlorine levels. If you see signs of algae developing, shock the pool or if combined chlorine (chloramines) is above 0.3 ppm. “After testing the water, you must balance the water” He said. Once you have the chemicals all in order it’s time to…

vacuum-the-pool-by-myselfStep Six: Vacuum the Pool: Time for the manual labor portion of the process. Set up your vacuum hose, blow all of the air out of the hose with your return and once the hose sinks on its own, connect the opposite end of the vacuum hose to the skimmer. I use a pool plug on the other skimmer to increase suction because I don’t have a valve to control it. If you have a valve in front of the pump, “Close the other skimmer or main drain – until you hear the pump complain”, he says, (becoming louder, he means).

Step Seven: Clean the Filter: Open the main drain valve again, and in my case I unscrew the plug from the far skimmer, and if you sucked-up a lot of debris, your pump basket may need to be emptied as well. After all of the extra work that your filter has done from vacuuming the surfaces of your pool, its pressure gauge may have increased by a few psi’s. If it has increased by 5-8 lbs it is time to backwash the filter. If you do not see an increase in pressure, do not backwash. The wise pool master said, “A dirty sand filter is an effective sand filter.” Unnecessary backwashing will reduce a sand filter’s ability to collect the finer particles, which improves as the sand bed loads up with dirt.

pool-brushStep Eight: Brush: I enjoy vacuuming the pool, and I enjoy skimming the pool. I don’t know what it is about brushing the pool that I don’t like. If I were to guess, I would say that brushing kicks up all the particulates that have since settled since vacuuming and temporarily makes the water cloudy. It’s an absolutely vital step in the pool cleaning process, but initially, it feels like a step backwards. Brushing is very effective to kick up settled particles so that the skimmer and drain have an opportunity to collect them. “Brush walls, then brush floor to main drain.”

Step Nine: Weekly Treatments and Top-Offs: The pool should almost be perfect at this juncture. Add chlorine tablets to your chlorinator, and if you do weekly treatments of algaecide and clarifier now is the time to add them. I like to throw a Mighty Pod into my skimmer. They are extremely aptly named and work wonders on my water.

Step Ten: Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3: With the equipment all working in sync, the chemicals balanced, and my water so clear the pool almost looks empty, I take one last look at the pressure on the filter, check that the heater is off, check for drips in plumbing near the pump, take another peek at the wiring before closing up the timer box, and shut off the hose that is playfully splashing in the pool.


I stand back and take it all in with new knowledge about how to clean my pool like a pro. Arigato! ~ my thanks to the pool master who passed on his knowledge to me like an aquatic Mr. Miyagi!

ryan-dornan
Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Fun & Funny Pool Inflatables
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man-in-pool-tubeWhen I think of a swimming pool, my first thought is usually relaxing in the water. What better way is there to spend a lazy day in the pool than to float around on your favorite pool float?

Traditional pool floats are practical and simple, but nowadays you can buy something more playful and fun, and add some whimsy to your water.

Here are some crazy cool pool floats, both fun and funny!

candy-pool-floatsCandy pool floats! Any kid or kid at heart would love to float around on one of these Tootsie® Brands.

Smarties, Dots and Junior Mints too, these candies will bring back nostalgia, but won’t melt in the hot sun.

You can find these fun floats at fancy.com

 


pool-party-food-floats

Time for Dessert pool floats! For a fun pool party, or just everyday at the pool.

Inflatable Ice cream cones and ice cream sandwich, cupcakes and even a donut, with a bite out of it!

If the Ice Cream Truck doesn’t come down your street, buy these inflatable treats at Urban Outfitters

 


pizza-and-pretzel-floatsPizza Slice & Pretzel Float – it’s snack time at the pool, with this Pretzel Float or Pizza Slice Float!

Tie 8 Pizza Slices together for a giant party float! But, tell your friends not to bite these floats.

Find these goodies at Urban Outfitters

 


pool-flip-flop-floatDo you like wearing Flip Flops? Well how about lounging in the pool ON a flip flop? Lock yourself into the foot straps to keep from falling out!

The Flip Flop inflatable pool float makes a great gift, because it’s fun, funny and functional!

 


hydro-massage-pool-floatThe Hydro-Massage Pool Float hooks up to your pool return line!

Air filled PE frame is cushioned with durable closed cell foam padding, with head rest, arm rests and cup holder!

Connect the 12 ft hose to your pool return line and the jets spray up and down your back! From Hammacher

 


fruit-slice-islandsFruit Slice Floating Islands are 5 ft wide floating citrus slices! Big enough for two, but you’ll want it all to yourself!

Available in Lemon, Lime and Orange, Citrus pool floats are super thick to keep you high and dry, and 60″ in diameter.

Fresh fruit slices are available from the Grizzly Supply Co.

 


inflatable-duck-and-swanIf you like ride-on floats, maybe this Swan Float or this Giant Inflatable Ducky Float are just what you’re looking for to add some pool fun this summer!

Giant Floats are big enough for several kids, or even Dear old Dad. Multi-Chamber heavy duty construction.

The best part about these two fun floats is that they’re from In The Swim, see them – buy them in our Fun Pool Inflatables section!

 


intex-lobster-ride-onThe Intex Lobster Ride On pool float is a full 2 pounder! Super thick lobster shaped inflatable is 84″x54″, with heavy duty handles.

You’ve seen the Inflatable Alligator, Killer Whale, Shark and Dolphin. So, Ho-Hum – when have you ever seen a Lobster pool float?

Get yours at Bigwords

 


pacman-pool-floatsPac Man pool floats! If you were a fan of the original video arcade game, these are for you!

Pac Man and Blinky are 3 ft diameter pool floats, inspired by the Pac Man video game, and reimagined as inflatable pool rafts!

Find these at PerpetualKid.com

 


inflatable-toilet-seatToilet Pool Float. Want to give pool guests a good laugh? Grab this hilarious toilet seat shaped pool float!

Simple inflatable vinyl toilet bowl measure 36″ with an 18″ diameter center opening. The toilet tank works as a back rest.

Get yours before they run out again! At Craziest Gadgets

 


Well there you have it! Any of these floats are sure to provide you with hours of fun in the sun! So pick up your favorite one, and get more smiles out of your pool this summer!

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Christine Silvestri
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Pool Liner Repairs

borderlines-pool-liner-kitIf you have a vinyl liner pool, and most pool owners do – learning a few tricks of the trade can keep your liner looking good.

I’ve always had a vinyl pool – and, as call center manager, we get calls everyday from all over, asking how to patch a liner, or put the bead back into the track, or remove stains.

How to Patch a Vinyl Pool Liner

pool-liner-patch-kit

Patching a pool liner can be done Wet (underwater) or Dry. There is no need to lower the water level before patching a pool liner. We have Peel ‘N Stick liner patches, but for the best bond, use a “Wet” Vinyl patch kit with liquid glue.

  1. Rub the area with a soft cloth and then with some wet/dry sandpaper.
  2. Cut the patch to cover the hole by at least 1/2 inch, or 1 cm.
  3. Cut the patch in a round or oval shape, without corners.
  4. With the dauber, apply a thick layer of glue to the patch.
  5. Fold the patch in half lightly, and plunge it underwater.
  6. Quickly unfold the patch and place over the hole.
  7. Smooth out the patch and press down on the edges.

TIP: Don’t use so much glue that it squeezes out of the sides.
TIP: Check on the patch every 5 minutes for 30 minutes; smooth edges.
TIP: If available, use patches cut from your pool liner during installation.

How to Put a Vinyl Liner Back into the Track

liner-bead-out-of-the-track-on-a-vinyl-poolA tight fitting pool liner, or a loose fitting pool liner for that matter – can pop out of the track at the top of the pool wall. In many cases, you can just pull up and push the track in, folding and tucking the bead into the track. Use Liner Lock to hold it in place, and keep it from coming out again.

In other cases, however, the liner has slipped and stretched, and no matter how hard you pull, you can’t get the liner to budge. In theses cases, you need to apply some heat to the liner, to gently stretch it back into place.

  1. Lower the water level to the bottom of the skimmer, or a bit more.
  2. Apply heat to the liner with Hair Dryer -or- Hot Water from the kitchen.
  3. Quickly grasp the liner edge firmly and gently pull the liner to stretch.
  4. Lock the bead into the track, use coins to hold in place while you work.
  5. Work small areas of about 6″; a second person helps.

TIP: Don’t Melt the Liner! Keep hair dryer moving; don’t use boiling water.
TIP: Lowering the water 12-18″ reduces heat loss, and gives more stretch.
TIP: Lock in the bead a few inches at a time; using coins to hold it.

How to Remove Vinyl Liner Stains

The great thing about a vinyl pool is that it doesn’t stain as easily as a gunite pool, but – they do stain. I remember my first vinyl liner stain like the first scratch on my once new car. Had to dive in there with a mask and check it out. Hair Pin, rusted.

The first thing to do before any stain removal is attempted is to balance the water. I’m talking about pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness levels, all tested and corrected, if needed. The pool should be clean and clear, with good sanitizer levels.

ez-stain-remover-2Spot Cleaning: To get rid of pesky stains on a pool liner, you can use EZ Stain Remover in an old sock or stocking, to make a stain bag. Add a cup of EZ Stain and use your pool brush to position it on top of the stain. Cover the stain with the “stain bag” for 20 seconds or so, and Presto – stain is gone or if not, let it sit a bit longer.

Whole Pool Stain Removal: There are 3 products that I can recommend, depending on what kind of stain you have. For an all over pool liner stain, in shades of brown, orange or blue-green, take a look at these:

jacks-magic-vinyl-liner-blue-stuff-2Jack’s Magic The Blue Stuff for Vinyl Liners

Or actually, it’s the Vinyl Liner Blue Stuff – by Jack’s Magic, the stain guys. Blue Stuff works great for pools in hard water areas or pools with high mineral content (copper, iron, manganese) in the water. Use 1 bottle per 10000 gallons.

aplus-stain-remover-2A+ Stain Remover

A+ Stain Remover is a granular form of stain remover works best on dirty organic stains from leaf build-up or dead animals, but it also removes copper staining and scale very effectively. Follow treatment guidelines and add 1 bottle per 10000 gallons.

stain-free-for-vinyl-poolsStain Free

A natural stain fighter, Stain Free is granular ascorbic acid or Vitamin C. Don’t be fooled by the cute packaging, ascorbic acid is a great stain remover, but mild enough to be used on older pool liners. Test at home first by crushing up some Vit C tablets. Use 1 bottle per 17000 gallons.

TIP: For more on vinyl liner pool stains, see Davy’s post.


Take care of your vinyl liner and it will take care of you! And when it comes time to replace your inground or above ground pool liner – you’ll find all the Tips you need to replace your own pool liner, right here on the In The Swim Blog!

 

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Sheryl Sollis
InTheSwim Staff Blogger