Salt Water Pool Chemistry

drpoolWelcome Back to the Lab, Students!

Salt Water Generators or pool salt systems, create chlorine from electrolysis of a saline solution.

In the process of making your own chlorine, chemical reactions occur that aren’t present in tablet chlorinated pools.

The Topic of Discussion today is pH Rise, Corrosion and Cyanuric Acid; in a salt water pool.

pH Rise in a Saltwater Pool

ph-rise-in-a-salt-water-poolIn a salt pool, when electrolysis occurs (within the pipe), the products are hypochlorous acid, which is very acidic (as you may assume), and sodium hydroxide which is very basic. However, the acids and bases created by your salt cell will neutralize each other with very little net pH change.

The pH rise noticed by some salt chlorinator users may be a result of the outgassing of carbon dioxide, as water is agitated through the salt cell with hydrogen production.

A simpler answer is that Trichlor tablets, which have a very low pH, tends to suppress pH levels, or drive them lower over time, and in their absence, pH levels will naturally drift higher.

Corrosion in a Salt Pool

Salt is a corrosive substance, which is why winter road salt creates problems for concrete and steel.

Salt levels in a salt pool are usually quite low, under 3500 ppm. But even at low levels, galvanic corrosion can occur to stainless steel equipment (filters, lights, ladders) and pool heaters. Passive corrosion can affect soft porous stones and concrete around the pool.

sacrificial-anodes-for-salt-poolsWhat to do? One solution is pool equipment made of thermoplastics or bronze, or you can slow galvanic corrosion with a sacrificial anode. Zinc anodes attach to ladder, pool light or skimmer, and self-sacrifice, to draw corrosion away from other metal sources with lower electrochemical potential.

Cyanuric Acid in a Saltwater Pool

cyanuric-acid-protectsYou didn’t know that you have to use cyanuric acid (Stabilizer or Conditioner) in a salt pool? In fact, you should use more than pools that chlorinate with Trichlor tablets. Hayward and Pentair both recommend 60-80 ppm of cyanuric acid for their salt systems.

Why more CYA? Manufacturers of salt systems want more output from the salt cell, without fighting against UV degradation. A salt cell is able to increase output without working harder, as cyanuric bonds to chlorine increasing it’s lifespan considerably.

However, when using high range CYA levels of 60-80 ppm, you must also maintain a higher Free Chlorine level, in the range of 5 ppm, to compensate for the effects of cyanuric acid on chlorine.

cyanuric-acid-compensation-chart-for-chlorineWhat effects? Cyanuric acid protects chlorine from the sun, but it also restricts the activity of chlorine, reducing kill rates considerably. Recent studies have shown this to be true, and I have blogged on the topic. As a result, many public pools are raising their FC minimum, for pools treated with cyanuric acid, or stabilizer.

in-a-nutshell-2In a Nutshell, water chemistry of salt water pools is not much different than tablet chlorine pools. Here’s the key takeaways from the discussion.

  • Maintain your pH at 7.4-7.6 and Total Alkalinity at 90-110 ppm
  • Invest in a Sacrificial Anode for metal equipment or soft stones
  • Test and Adjust Cyanuric Acid to manufacturer recommendation


Class Dismissed!


Dr. Pool




Why? Because of the

Automatic Pool Chlorinators: Buyer’s Guide

Chlorine tablet in water with bubblesChlorine Tablets are the easiest and safest way to get chlorine into your pool.

Automatic Chlorinators are the perfect partner, allowing a way to provide a constant and consistent chlorine level.

Using tablets in the skimmer? That’s a No-No, and can cause big problems over time.

Chlorine Floaters? Well OK, better than nothing, but less effective than a real, stand-alone chlorinator, aka chlorine tablet feeder.



Hayward CL200 (In-Line) and CL220 (Off-Line) Feeders

Hayward Automatic Chlorinators are probably the most well known and ubiquitous of chlorine feeders on the market today.

Hayward Chlorinators are available for inground and above ground pools, in both In-Line and Off-Line versions. They feature a venturi standpipe to draw-in chlorinated water, which is cleanable, should it ever become clogged with residue.

9 lb capacity (inground models) is larger than most residential feeders.



Pentair Rainbow Model 320 In-Line and Model 300 Off-Line

Rainbow Automatic Chlorine Feeders are also available in a variety of sizes, to hold 5lbs of stacked tablets, up to 40lbs for the largest model HC3330.

Rainbow feeders offer a simpler lid assembly, with fewer lid o-ring problems as a likely result. Small 4inch lid is easy to open, without a special wrench.

Rainbow Off-Line hoses are noticeably heavy duty, and the base plate is thicker than other feeders, and hold up to twisting force while removing a sticky lid.



CMP PowerClean Ultra In-Line and Ultra Off-Line

Custom Molded Products is a new player on the feeder scene. Their PowerClean Chlorinator brings some interesting features.

CMP Feeders have a clear, see-thru lid to check tablet level, and a side-mounted flow meter. Double Unions allow the In-Line feeder to be easily disconnected for service, storage or cleaning.

Internally, the operation of the PowerClean Ultra borrows design technology from the Hayward chlorinator, while the PowerClean Econ is a Rainbow design.



Sani-King Perform-Max Inground and Aboveground Chlorine Feeder

Not a new player on the scene, King Technology has been patenting chlorine feeders since the early 70’s.

Sani-King Perform-Max chlorine feeders offer the patented Inline Dispersal valve, which only wets the bottom few inches of chlorine tablets, instead of flooding the entire chamber.

Frog Chlorine feeders and New Water Cyclers also use the King Control Dial Assembly, and all have the oversized dials and lids for easier removal.


In-Line or Off-Line Chlorinator?

In-Line chlorinators are plumbed in place, into the return pipe – after all other equipment. Plumb the chlorine feeder into a section of clear pipe, near the ground, so chlorine gas won’t back up into a heater or filter valve. You’ll need a hacksaw, measuring tape and PVC primer and glue.

Off-Line chlorinators are used when there is no room to install an In-Line chlorinator, or not enough clear space on the return pipe, after all other equipment. 2 holes are drilled into the PVC pipe, one before the filter and one after the filter. Hoses are saddle clamped to the pipe to carry water in and out of the ‘Off-line’ or ‘Off the Pipe’ chlorine feeder. rainbow-320-feeder

In-Line is a better way to go, for a more sturdy installation and less parts to replace. If pipe space is tight on the return line the Rainbow 320 In-Line requires only 4″ of pipe to install.

If you do install an Off-Line feeder, be sure to install the base into the concrete or into a heavy block of wood, to keep it steady while opening the lid.

For other questions about how to install or maintain a pool chlorinator, leave a comment below, or reach us by phone or email!

Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


There’s an App for That!

swimming-pool-appsJust over 15 percent of American homes have some type of pool or spa, according to the American Housing Survey. If you’re reading this, you’re likely part of that crowd.

And over 75% of homeowners have either a smartphone or tablet, capable of running applications, or apps. Chances are, you’re in that crowd, too.

Swimming pool apps assist in chemical calculations and track chemical and service history. Here’s some pool apps that are useful for the pool (or spa) owner!

Pool Maintenance Apps

Pool Boy Pro App for pool care alerts and pool calculatorsPool Boy Pro: Designed to remind, this task-oriented app keeps you from forgetting to clean and care for your pool. Equipped with calculators and calendars, Pool Boy allows users to enter individual information for personalized results. Enter your pool dimensions and volume to determine the correct dose of chemicals to buy or use the equipment log to track performed pool-cleaning tasks. With the apps’ water parameter log, you can graph changes in pH, Chlorine, Alkalinity, Calcium and more. Perfect for hands-on pool owners, Pool Boy is a helpful app.

Price: $2.99
Platform: Apple iOS

Pool Cloud app for chemistry test history graphs and chartsPool Cloud: Chemical calculations are done in the background as you complete each task, so you never have to think about it. Pre-loaded with more than 40 chemical brands. Pool Cloud gives you the data you need to recognize patterns and trends in your own water. Pretty graphs plot historical chemical readings, with ideal ranges overlaid on the chart. Graphs also display cleaning tasks and chlorine usage over time. New pool app, built by the people who brought you the Pool Doctor App, it has plans for added features in version 2.

Price: Free
Platform: Apple iOS


Swimming Skills & Drills Apps

Speedo App for swimmers, track your swimming progress and set goalsSpeedo Fit: Make every swim count with this goal setting, time tracking, competition challenging swim app. Use the timetable to log your swim times, sets and notes or push yourself with the distance goal setting feature designed for all expertise levels. Need a refresher in order to perfect your technique? Use Speedo Fit to study how-to videos ranging from suggested breathing patterns to freestyle strokes. Want to see how you compare to other swimmers? Choose a virtual swim challenge and invite friends on social media to compete.

Price: Free
Platform: Apple iOS

Go Swim App - for Swim Instruction with Olympic examples of swimming skills Go Swim: The go-to place for all things swimming, this app offers a virtual community for every level of swimmer. With video drills, weekly inspiration and an RSS feed of the latest swimming news, Go Swim keeps users in the know. Want to practice your turns, starts or any of the four strokes? This app features instructional videos, photos and articles designed to help you improve your technique. Go Swim features Olympic medalist athletes, including Brendan Hansen, Jason Lezak and Amanda Beard. Pool owners, take your mark, get set, Go Swim!

Price: Free
Platform: Apple and Android


Itching for more swimming pool owner apps? Just search ‘swimming pool’ in your smartphone or tablet for many free or nearly free app-lications to simplify your pool maintenance or your water workout!

Dana Katz
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Favorite How Long to Run Pool Pump?

how-long-to-run-the-pool-pump12 hours per day, that’s my usual answer, or maybe “it depends”.

That’s because there are so many variables that affect how often you should run the pool pump.

The question “How long should I run my pool pump?” is difficult to answer, without asking more questions, like:

  • What type and size of pump and filter do you have?
  • What water treatment chemicals or purifiers do you use?
  • How much debris enters the pool? Precipitation?
  • Temperatures: Air & Water?

Pump & Filter

When a pool builder or a manufacturer designs a pool, aboveground or inground, most use an 8-hour Turnover formula to size the pool pump and filter. That is, the size of the pump and matching filter is large enough to pump and filter ALL of the water in the pool, in an 8 hour time period.

For a 20,000 gallon pool, an 8-hour filter system (pump, filter, valves, pipes) would be designed to produce at least 42 gallons per minute, or gpm. (480 mins X 42 gpm = 20160).

when to clean a dirty pool filter cartridgeHowever, in the real world, filters get dirty and pump baskets get clogged, which slows down water flow. Additional equipment like chlorinators, heaters, cleaners are often added; slowing down flow rates by adding more resistance, requiring more filter pump run time.

The age of the filter media is another variable. Older filter sand or cartridges just don’t filter as well as they used to, and will require more cleaning and longer pool pump operation times.

And of course, not all pool filters are created equal. D.E. pool filters are up to 10x more efficient than sand filters, filtering down a a very small particle size. A sand or cartridge filter will need to run the filter pump longer, than an equivalent sized DE filter.

In short, if your water is over-filtered, you can run the pool pump less hours per day, but small or less effective pool filters require more hours per day of running the pump, to compensate.

Water Treatments

How clean is your water? Pools that are over-treated require less pump circulation and filtration, to a certain degree.

Using supplemental water treatments such Ozone or Minerals can drastically reduce the amount of chlorine needed. They also purify the water, by removing tiny particles, helping out your pool filter.

specialty-chemicals-to-improve-pool-filterSpecialty chemicals such as Enzymes, Clarifiers and Algaecides can also affect how long you should run the pool pump. Clarifiers are great filter helpers, enzymes remove filter clogging oils, and algaecides prevent tiny spores from growing into visible, filter clogging colonies.

We are all guilty of letting the chlorine level slip from time to time, or finding our water balance out of whack. Running the filter pump longer each day provides protection against low chlorine or stabilizer levels, or high pH and alkalinity levels.

In short, you can run the pool pump less often if your water is over-treated, if not, you may need to run the pump longer each day.

Debris in the Pool?

This question is pertinent because organic debris sucks up sanitizers, affects water balance and clogs up pumps and filters.

Pools that are in a desert environment can have nearly no debris (sand doesn’t count, it’s inert) – while pools in wooded areas can be surrounded by dense forests or lush landscaping.

Debris can stain your pool if the water is stagnant for too many hours. Circulation helps prevent staining, and brings micro-particles from leaves, twigs, bugs into the filter.

in-a-pool-with-an-umbrellaHeavy rainfall also means you should run the filter pump longer. Rain washes in lots of pollutants, dust and oils, and heavy storms wash off of nearby trees or flow into the pool from nearby planters. This brings in phosphates, nitrates, microbes and other stuff you don’t want in the pool.

In short, a neat and tidy pool can run the pump for fewer hours per day than a pool surrounded by trees.

Temperature: Air & Water

During the off-season, with water temperatures below 60°, you can run the pool pump less than 6 hours per day, in most cases. But as the water warms up into the 70’s you should run the pool pump longer each day.

When the pool water reaches the 80’s, your water may need 2 turnovers to stay clean and clear, or 12 hours at a minimum. For pools that get very warm with long, sunny summer days, run the pump as much as 18 hours per day, or as needed, to keep the water clear.

how-long-should-i-run-the-pool-filter-pump-each-day50-60° – 4-6 hours per day.
60-70° – 6-8 hours per day.
70-80° – 8-12 hours per day.
80-90° – 12-18 hours per day.

In short, run the pump more when the air & water temperatures rise – but also consider the other factors above; regarding filter effectiveness, water treatments and amount and type of debris and rain in the pool.

What’s the Best Time of Day to Run the Pump?

During the daytime, when the sun is shining on the pool, and during the warmest hours of the day. Unfortunately, these are also peak hours for energy consumption, but it is the best time of day to run the pool pump.

timeclock-for-pool-pumpsUse a timeclock to operate your pool pump, and reset it as needed, to maintain water clarity. If you don’t have a timeclock, you may as well just run the pool pump 24 hrs/day, so you don’t forget to turn it back on.

If you worry too much about how long to run the pump, or forget to turn it back on – the water condition can quickly deteriorate, requiring expensive chemicals and extra filtering to bring it back.

it’s best to over-filter the water by running the pump about 12 hours per day, give or take, or as needed, to maintain water clarity.

Pay close attention to the water quality, or the condition of the water, and you can tell when you need to increase the amount of time that you run the pump each day. 

When the pool is clean and the chemistry is good, but the water is a little dull or hazy, run the pool pump a bit longer each day.


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


At-Home Water Exercises for Athlete Rehab

water-exercises-for-rehab-and-recoveryAlthough most people associate backyard pools with swimming, splashing and cooling off during the summer, they are great for rehab from sports-related injuries.

Whether you are an athlete who pulled a muscle during a workout or a homeowner who overdid it on a weekend project, the pool can be your best friend.

Here are just a few ways that most common sports related injuries can be helped with water physical therapy:

Ankle Strains and Sprains

Strains and sprains are the most common injuries that come from physical activity. If you hurt your ankle (wrist or shoulder) by falling or twisting during exercise, being in the water provides you with a low-impact way to help heal and strengthen it, with less risk of further injury.

ankle-bends in the pool, aquatic physical therapyAnkle Bends are an easy exercise to try, with the blessing of your physician or therapist. Sit in the shallow end or on a step with your back supported and straighten your knee and leg out in front of you. Keep your knee straight, bend your ankle and point your toes straight, up, and down.

ankle-circles for sprained ankle recoveryOnce this feels comfortable, move your ankles around in a circular pattern, underwater. Try to do 10 circles on each side (unless you feel pain, at which point you should always stop).


Another useful exercise involves a pool noodle, tied in a pretzel knot around your ankle. This gives added resistance, against the noodle, and is used in ankle and knee aquatic physical therapy sessions at the Mayo Clinic.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are a fairly common injury for many types of athletes that pound the pavement. If you are plagued by this painful condition, try jogging in the pool to aid recovery, and continue to exercise without further injury.

eastshoreathleticclubAqua Jogging gives you a good workout while allowing your shin splints to heal. Using a device like the Aqua Jogger buoyancy belt (or a pool noodle) to hold you up, start at the deep end of the pool. Move forward in the water with a running motion; the water provides you with resistance, so you’ll still get a good workout, but with low to no impact.

While some trained athletes can jog in the water for up to two hours, take it at your own pace. When you first start aqua jogging, go until you start to feel tired, and gradually increase your time.

Knee Injuries

Tendonitis, runner’s knee and more—our knees tend to take a beating from sports and exercise. Knee injuries can be very painful, and it could be harmful to continue to exercise as normal. According to the University of Washington Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, water exercises help keep painful joints moving, which will prevent them from becoming weak and stiff.

If your physician agrees that water exercises would be beneficial for your injured knee, start by doing knee bends in the pool. Standing in the water, slowly lift one of your feet to straighten your knee, and hold the position for three seconds. If you can sit in the shallow end or on the steps, you can also try lifting your knee up in the water and, using your hands to bring the knee toward your chest.

stork-yoga-pose-in-the-poolAnother great exercise for knee injuries involves the yoga move called the Stork Pose. Stand in waist-high water and bend your knee, bringing your thigh parallel with the top of the water. With your toes pointed, straighten your knee and extend your leg straight out. Return to starting position and repeat with your other knee.


There are many ways to strengthen muscle groups supporting an injured area. Physical therapists and sports medicine doctors agree that aquatic therapy is a safe way to speed recovery and restore full function lost to sports injuries or other over-exertion.

Almost all physical ailments can be helped with water exercise, but for the conditioned athlete, aquatic therapy and water exercise can both heal the body, while also being an excellent substitute for dry land training.


Christine Silvestri
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



Pool Maintenance: DIY or Go With a Pro?

image purchd from iclipartA pool is an impressive feature of a home, but it can also be the most difficult and expensive to maintain.

When it comes time to decide between DIY pool care and using a professional pool cleaning service, consider such tasks as maintaining the filter, surface skimming and chemical testing.

What can you do yourself, and what should you leave to the pros?

Weekly Pool Maintenance

Generally, professional pool maintenance will run you between $100-$500 per month, depending on your location and the size of your pool, but mostly your location. In Florida you can get weekly service for $100 per month, but in Virginia, it’s $100 per week. Supply and Demand, I suppose.

Pool care may involve skimming the surface, vacuuming and brushing, emptying skimmer baskets and automatic cleaner bags. After cleaning, water balance is tested and balancing chemicals may be added.

Sanitizer levels are checked and other water treatment chemicals applied. The filter, pump, heater and chlorinator or other equipment is checked and cleaned.

Though pool professionals have the experience and tools for greater efficiency than the average owner, many pool maintenance tasks can be accomplished on your own for less money.

Pool Filter Maintenance

pressure-gauge-for-poolsThe filter pressure gauge; check it every few days. When it rises 5 lbs or more, the water flow rate slows down, making filtration inefficient. Pool filters need to be cleaned every 2-6 weeks, depending on their size, age, and the dirt load. But, wait until the pressure gauge has risen 5-10 lbs to tell you when to clean the cartridges, or backwash the [sand or DE] pool filter.

When the pressure gauge is Lower than Normal, it could be that the pump basket or skimmer baskets are full, and are restricting the water flow. Most pump baskets have a see thru lid to tell when it needs cleaning.

To empty the pump basket, shut off the pump, remove the lid and pull out the basket. Some baskets have a twist lock, but most just lift straight out. Bang it out or hose it out and then re-insert the basket fully. Replace the pump lid very tightly, and turn on the pump.

jacks-pool-lubeOther pool filter maintenance items include annual lubrication of O-rings, or replacement of filter media [sand, grids, cartridges] every 5 years or so; which can be DIY friendly. Pumps and heaters can go for 10 years without mechanical problems or replacement.

Pool Cleaning

Pool skimming can be difficult after storms, but with the right process and equipment, you can do it like a pro. First clean off the deck, with a leaf blower, broom or water – so you don’t slip, and so more leaves or debris wont blow into the pool.

leaf-rake-for-poolsAttach your Leaf Rake to your Pool Pole. Extend the inner pole about 4 ft and lock it in place, for a comfortable counter-balance. Walk briskly around the entire edge of the pool, with the edge of the Leaf Rake touching the edge of the pool at the water line. Then push the Leaf Rake back and forth across the surface. Leaf Rakes are also useful to scoop piles of leaves from the floor and steps of the pool.

Pool vacuums, however, make this job a lot easier for the DIY pool owner. You can buy a nice manual pool vacuum for under $100, and vacuum the pool through the skimmer. A Skim-Vac plate makes the job faster. Be sure to invest in a good pool brush, too. Regular pool brushing is not only good exercise, but also water quality and clarity.polaris-3900-sport-pool-cleaner

Water powered or robotic vacuums can roam the pool, eating up dirt, bacteria, algae and sand. Automatic pool cleaners can cost half-a-paycheck, but free up half-a-week’s worth of time within the first season. Before you buy, do the research on the best pool cleaner for you and your pool.

Pool Chemical Management

Pools require frequent chemical testing and adjustments. Altering the pH levels consists of adding acid to lower pH or adding a base to raise it. The hardness, alkalinity and cyanuric acid levels should also be checked weekly.

Chemical treatments also involve adding consistent and continuous chlorine to regulate algae and bacteria growth. Shocking the pool with granular chlorine clears the water by removing contaminants and chloramines.

Your pool may also benefit from other chemicals such as:

Many pool owners are not comfortable with their chemistry skills, and actually drive a water sample to the pool store several times per season!

taylor-k2006-pool-store-test-kitEscape from pool store water testing with the pool test kit that the pool stores use! With the included booklet, you’ll know exactly how to test, analyze and calculate proper adjustment dosages. And, you can always trust the results!


When deciding to DIY or Go Pro with pool maintenance, it is important to weigh all the factors. How much time are you willing to spend on your pool? Do you enjoy working on [cleaning] the pool? Are you comfortable taking care of the pool equipment? Is pool chemistry at least somewhat interesting?

The answers to these questions should lead you to the best decision for you and your pool.
Brett Rotelli
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Favorite Fall is Here! Time for a Spa Check-Up!

eurobricks-lego-hot-tubCool weather is the perfect time to enjoy a hot tub or spa.

Swimming pools are closing, but backyard spas are just heating up! For those of you fortunate to have both a pool and a spa, peak spa season is here ~

It’s also peak spa repair and maintenance time. After sitting neglected for most of the summer, it’s good practice to give your spa a thorough check-up, before winter sets in.


Spa covers are not the most durable part of a hot tub, but if they are maintained well, can last over five years.

To keep your spa cover from becoming water logged, inspect the surfaces for nicks and cuts, and patch any holes with a vinyl patch. Using a floating spa cover protector is a sure way to keep moisture in the spa and out of your spa cover.

spa-cover-cap-2If your spa sits out in the open, the cover is especially vulnerable to damage from rain, snow and UV rays. Protect your investment and apply spa cover conditioner at least once per year. Using a Spa Cover Cap can add years to outdoor spa covers.

Replace your hot tub cover if the foam cores are broken or if it begins to sag in the middle, or becomes frayed and torn.

soft-spa-coverTired of expensive spa cover failures? Try the new Soft Spa Cover – with no foam panels to break and absorb water, it may be the last spa cover you ever buy!


Some spas can have hundreds of feet of piping – lots of opportunity to spring a leak. Small leaks have a way of turning into big leaks, so before that happens, get a flashlight and inspect the ground under the spa shell.

Cold weather condensation can look like a leak, so don’t be fooled. If you do see drips beneath the pump or filter, or around a plumbing fitting or jet return, take action – before it gets bigger.

Spa pumps can leak from a loose union, bad o-ring seal, failed shaft seal or from loose bolts that hold together the impeller housing. Spa Jets can leak from loose lock nuts on the back of the spa shell, or a failed gasket. Wooden hot tubs can leak between wood staves.

marlig-fix-a-leakFix-A-Leak can be a fast fix for small leaks in wooden tubs or spa plumbing. Just pour in the emulsion, and it seeks out and seals leaks, up to 1/8″ wide! However, if you have a mechanical leak, it’s better to improve the seal or replace the defective spa parts.


spa-pak-heater-and-controlsYour Spa Pak and spa side controls are electronic (think circuit boards), in a very wet environment. High humidity can take a toll over the summer. Run through all the functions to be sure your equipment operates properly, without any error codes.

Test your circulation pump and jet pump, or run a two-speed pump on low and high speeds for several minutes. Test the spa heater to full temperature, to be sure that safety circuits aren’t shutting it down. Check forced air blowers and passive air intakes for proper operation.

Ozonators need regular repair or replacement every few years. Yours may have an indicator light, or you may be able to smell ozone when you lift the spa cover, or you can use the new Del ozone test kit.

spa-eclipse-by-DelOne day your ozone unit will stop producing ozone. Replace it with the latest and greatest unit by Del, the Spa Eclipse with Advanced Plasma Gap technology. It’s small, easy to hook-up, and only $99.


Like an ozonator, the spa filter cartridge won’t last forever. Depending on how much work it has to do, filter cartridges reach a half life in 12-18 months. And when it’s only filtering half as well as it used to – your spa water is only half-healthy.

Each time you clean a spa filter, the woven polyester fibers separate, allowing small particles to pass through unfiltered. After about 10 cleanings, replace the cartridge with new, to avoid the need for more chemicals and more filter run time.

tired-cartridge-filterThere’s no way to tell that a spa cartridge needs replacement just by looking at it, so be sure to keep track of how often you clean it, or when it was last replaced.

For spas that are used 2-3x per week, replace annually, 1-2x per week, replace at 18 months, and for spas used only 2-3x per month, your cartridge may last 24 months.


Allow me to reiterate that spa controls live in a wet environment, and we all know the saying that “water and electricity don’t mix”.

Test your spa light, which is not only for a cool glow, but is important for spotting anything that shouldn’t be there, and also helps to safely enter the spa or hot tub.

Look closely at all power supply cords and wires, looking for damage from heat, rodents or insects. Secure any loose or hanging wires with zip ties or tape, to keep them safely tucked out of the way.

gfci-outlet-for-spa-hot-tubTest your GFCI outlet by pushing the Red test button. If it doesn’t “pop”, or is unable to be reset, have a qualified electrician replace this very important safety feature on your spa or hot tub.

With the power off, check for tight cable connections on the heater element, using a wire brush or toothbrush to clean off any corrosion or build-up.

So ~ that’s 5 ways to inspect your spa or hot tub, and be sure it’s ready for spa season! If you discover something worrisome and confusing, give us a call, we have spa techs standing by!

Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


Favorite How to Install Pool Safety Cover Anchors

safety-cover-brass-anchor-installationIf you own or just purchased a pool safety cover, congratulations! A safety cover is one of the best pool products you can buy.

Safety covers look great, protect the pool while keeping kids safe, and with a 12 year lifespan, they far outlast non-safety pool covers.

In addition, they are easier to care for; very low maintenance.

With exception to installation. Safety covers require drilling into the pool deck, to place the pool cover anchors.

How to Install Pool Cover Anchors

Our blog today is not about How to Install a Safety Cover, we’ve covered that before, here. We’ve also covered brass anchor problems that a safety pool cover owner may encounter…here.

Today we look at the finer details of installing new deck anchors; in wood, concrete and paver pool decks, or directly into the ground.

Wood Pool Deck Anchors


Because wood can rot, or soften with age, a Wood Deck Anchor is used, which has a wide flange on the top of the anchor, to protect the deck and hold the cover securely with more lateral strength.

brass wood-deck-pool-safety-cover-anchor with top flange and screwsInstalling the flange type anchors is more involved than other anchor types, and I recommend using 2 or 3 power drills, so you don’t have to change bits so often.

First you drill a counter-sink hole, 3/16″ deep, using a Forstner bit of the right diameter, so the anchor flange will sit flush into the wood, and not be a toe-stubbing hazard.

forstner-drill-bit-for-safety-cover-installation-into-a-wood-deckNext, using a 3/4″ wood drill bit, drill a hole in the center, all the way through the wood. Drop the Wood Anchor into the hole, and then screw in the brass flange screws, using a #2 Phillips screw head. That’s 3 bits, if you are keeping count. Now you can understand why I suggest using more than one drill!

Can you use concrete anchors in a wooden pool deck? You could, it would be faster and easier, but your safety cover may not be so safe, and doing so voids the manufacturer’s warranty.

Concrete Pool Deck Anchors


The brass concrete anchor is the most common type of safety cover pin used. The standard cover anchor is threaded, but Meyco offers a pop-up anchor, which requires only 1/2 turn to raise or lower the anchor.

brass-anchor-for-safety-pool-covers-Brass anchors are 1/16″ wider at the top, and when tapped into the hole, it press-fits into place, holding the anchor body stationary, as you turn the threaded insert up or down.

To install a brass cover anchor, you’ll need a rotary hammer drill with a 3/4″ masonry bit. A sharp, new bit will cut a clean hole; dull drill bits will cause more chipping of concrete around the hole, and can also take twice as long to drill the hole.

Place a piece of sturdy tape around the bit at 2-1/4″, so you know when to stop drilling. Hold on tightly to the drill which may jump if you hit some steel mesh or large piece of aggregate in the deck. Be sure to hold the drill perpendicular to the deck, to create a vertical hole.

tamp-in-brass-anchorAfter drilling the hole, remove the dust with a blower, wet-dry vac or with a garden hose. Then tamp the anchor into the hole, using a tamping tool so you don’t damage the hex key hole, or bend the top rim of the anchor.

Paver Pool Deck Anchors

paver-deck-safety-pool-cover-anchor-installationA paver pool deck is made up of interlocking bricks, pavers, stone or ceramic tiles. They are placed over a concrete sub-deck or on a bed of crushed stone or sand. Pavers can be mortared in place, but often are placed tightly together with a steel band on the outer edge.

For mortared joints or very tight pavers, you can drill into the joint between 3 pavers, and place the anchor in the same way as for concrete decks. Always place anchors into a joint, adjusting strap length as necessary to reach the anchor. Drilling directly into a paver (unless you use a core drill), risks paver cracking.

anchor-in-pipe-safety-cover-installationFor pavers that have some movement, or for a more secure installation, the anchor-in-pipe method is used. A 3/4″ x 15″ aluminum tube, available from your safety cover dealer, is inserted through the deck and into the earth below.

Use an extra long drill bit to open the earth up to the full depth of the tube (aka Lawn Tube), and pound the tube into the hole with a piece of wood on the tube, so the hammer won’t damage the tube.

When flush to the deck, pop-in a brass anchor into the top of the tube and you’re done!

Planter & Grass Cover Anchors

grass-and-planter-safety-pool-cover-anchor-installationI once installed a safety cover on an inground pool that had no deck. Grass surrounded the pool, so we used the anchor-in-pipe method around the entire pool, sinking the pipes very low so the lawn mower wouldn’t hit them.

Loop-Loc recommends not more than 30% anchor-in-pipe, but the cover held up fine over the years. Another option is to use a 6″ auger to dig a 15″ hole; insert a PVC pipe into the ground, and fill it with with concrete. Insert the brass anchor into the wet concrete and let it set-up for 48 hours.

lawn-and-garden-stakes-for-safety-pool-coversMany inground pools have planter areas on the edge of the pool, or no deck at all on one side of the pool. In these cases, the anchor-in-pipe method is used, or also available are 18″ safety cover stakes, suitable when you have just a few straps that run off a short deck, or into a planter. Stakes can be easily removed during pool season, if desired.

Meyco has introduced an improved stake (shown) they call the Garden Stake, with side wings in an X fashion, to hold more securely, even in wet or loose soils.

Installing new or replacement safety cover anchors is a snap – and totally DIY friendly. You can rent drill(s) from any rental shop, and for safety cover hardware – we’ve gotcha covered!


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


5 Safety Measures to Kid Proof Your Pool

Keep your kids safeIt’s important to keep in mind several pool safety practices, especially if children are present in your home. Children aged 1-4 have the highest risk of drowning, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additionally, the majority of accidents occur in home swimming pools.Take the necessary precautions to allow your family to safely enjoy the pool.

Start with Basic Barriers

pool safety-fence-gateThe barrier that surrounds your pool is the best line of defense for pool safety. A pool fence should be at least four feet tall, non-climbable, with self-closing, self-latching gates, and latches that are above the reach of children. Be sure you have the right type of inground pool fencing.

The best pool fence will completely separate the pool from the house. Consider pool barriers that have no handholds or footholds, since these can be used by a child to climb over the fence. In addition to pool fencing, safety covers can also be used as an effective barrier for inground pools and spas.

Install a Second Layer of Protection

Safety Turtle pool wristband alarms

Technology has improved many aspects of our lives, including pool safety. A pool alarm offers a second layer of protection; in addition to a sturdy pool fence. Alarms can be installed on windows, sliding glass doors, frame doors and gates that lead to the pool area.

Wearable alarms such as Safety Turtle are worn by children (or pets!) and sound an in-house alarm if submerged. If you have young children, a pool alarm is must-add safety feature. Pool alarms also have features like a low battery indicator, auto-reset and portability for travel to other water venues.

Establish Pool Safety Rules

pool-safety-signageOne of the best methods to avoid accidental drownings is to talk to your children about water safety. Pool rules include no running, no diving in the shallow end, no riding toys by the pool and no swimming without an adult present.

Display safety signage in an area that is highly visible, such as the pool entrance. Pool safety signs really do work! Especially when you speak to your children about the reasons for the rules and stress that safety comes first.

Consider Survival Swimming Lessons

The American Academy of Pediatrics reinforces its recommendation that children over the age of four should learn how to swim. In their recent updated guidelines they mention that swimming classes for younger children are a good idea.

Pay attention to a child’s emotional development, physical ability and willingness to follow instructions to determine if her or she is ready for swimming lessons, says the AAP.

Keep in mind that the APP continues to discourage swimming lessons for children under 1 year of age. However, courses like the Infant Self-Rescue program (ISR) teach children how to rescue themselves from drowning using floating and breathing techniques.

Maintain a Safe Pool Area

pool-safety-ropeChildren are susceptible to water-related accidents even when there’s adult supervision or when they’re playing on the other side of the pool fence. Lower the risks by making the entire pool area a safe area. In case of an emergency, keep lifesaving equipment nearby (a first aid kit, rescue buoys and a long pole).

Keep all pool chemicals locked in a child-proof locker or cabinet and cover the pool when not in use. Following pool safety precautions at all times, both in and out of the pool, is the only way to successfully prevent water-related accidents.


Sheryl Sollis
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Adult Friendly Swimming Pool Games

pool-party-games-from-HTHWhen we were kids, it seemed like we naturally knew how to have fun in the pool. From diving down to the bottom to grab little toys to spirited and loud games of Marco Polo, we didn’t need encouragement to jump in and start playing some swimming pool games.

Now that we are adults, there’s no reason why we still can’t have a blast in our backyard pools. While floating on a raft and reading a book is certainly relaxing, returning to the days of our youth and playing in the water is also a lot of fun. The following pool games are ideal for adults who still kids at heart.

Pool Volleyball

beachball-pool-volleyballIf there is one game that levels the playing field for players of all skills, it’s Volleyball. Play with a Beach Ball, Not a Volleyball, to slow down the action, and make it possible to still hold your favorite adult beverage in one hand! Our Inter-Fab Volleyball Game is professional tournament quality, and includes brass anchors for in-deck pole mounting, and stainless steel flanges for on-deck installation. A game of Volleyball (with a beach ball) isn’t intimidating, everyone can join the fun!


In this loud and lively game, one adult is assigned to be the jailer and hang out near one end of the pool. His or her job is to tag anyone who crosses from one side of the pool to the other. The other players have a certain amount of time, say 30 seconds or so, depending on how long the pool is to get across the pool and get past the jailer without being tagged. Anyone who is caught becomes a jailer, and you can keep on playing until there is only one swimmer left.


tug-o-war-over-pool-image-by-clkerYou know this one, take a long rope (not string), and stretch it across the deep end area.

Break up your players into teams of two (2), and position them on each side of the deep end, 5-10 feet from the edge. At “GO!”, each team pulls on the rope, with the goal of eventually, slowly, pulling the other team in the pool. The winner of the first round can take on a second team, and so on, until a champion team emerges. Keep it safe by playing in the deep end, with small teams of 1-2 players on each end of the rope. Caution the teams about making a safe water entry (without hitting their teammate), if they get pulled into the pool.

Cannonball Contest

cannonball-4, image purch'dYou know this one too, and it’s even better if you have a microphone (Karaoke, anyone?), to announce and judge the height of the splash. The judge should stand a distance away to best view the height and width of each cannonball splash. It helps to have a dark background (trees or roof) to more easily see the water droplets.

For safety, be sure to observe the weight limit of your diving board, which is usually 250 lbs. If your crowd skews heavy, make it a Belly Flop Contest, and have players leap from the edge of the pool, into the deep end.

Chicken Fights

chicken-fights,-image-purched from iclipartAnother classic pool game! Just be sure to keep away from the edge of the pool. Divide your players into teams of two, with one player sitting on the shoulders of their teammate. Chicken fights can be played with just two teams of two, or with larger group teams, for an all-out Pool Brawl.

Use off-deck judges to keep score and call fouls. No punching, biting or eye-poking allowed, and the person on the bottom cannot touch the other team players. A point is scored, or a winner declared, when the top person is pushed off into the water.

Pool Noodle Joust

pool-noodle-jousting-gameTwo players ride on an inflatable raft or mattress, while holding a pool noodle. In the middle of the pool, use the noodle to “joust” with your opponent and try to knock the other swimmer off their raft. Whoever wins can stay on the raft and go on to try to defeat the next swimmer. To keep this game as safe as possible, it’s important to keep the raft away from the edges of the pool.

Floating Golf Greens

Floating golf greensfloating-golf-green-games are great fun for both amateur and more experienced golfers. Just stand at the edge of the pool and use a club to chip the ball onto the realistic looking floating green. Depending on your skill level you can have the green close to the edge or floating way out in the deep end. If you are playing with friends, feel free to keep score and have a fun and friendly competition to see who can sink the ball with the fewest shots.

Getting adults into the pool can sometimes be a challenge, and it’s not a real pool party unless they get wet! Use these adult pool party ideas to give a little encouragement!

Dana Katz
InTheSwim Staff Blogger