Favorite Pool Covers Vs. Cars and Cows
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Loop-Loc pool cover with “Bubbles” the Elephant

It’s been a wild couple of weeks for some pool owners in a rash of interesting news stories of automobiles and animals ending up in swimming pools!  From horses to heifers to raccoon-dodging SUV’s, let’s round up the herd, and count our blessings that none of this ever happens to us!

Our winter pool covers are pretty tuff stuff, but they do have a weight limit. And a safety pool cover can hold a small elephant, right? Let’s see how they stand up to large SUV’s and large farm animals!


Photo by KRQE News 13

Photo by KRQE News 13, Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque, New Mexico, January 18, 2017 – Vickie Ashcroft, owner and manager of the Enchanted Trails RV park in Albuquerque, witnessed the driver of a red Jeep crash through the fence and end up in the pool. The pool had been closed for several months and is covered with a safety pool cover, which seemed to survive intact. The pool cover in this case could have saved the life of the 20-year old driver, who was taken by police for suspected drunk driving. No was hurt in the incident, with exception to the reputation and finances of the driver.


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Photo by abc13.com, Miami, Florida

Apex, North Carolina – January 9, 2017. It probably started out as an ordinary day for a pool owner in Apex, North Carolina but things escalated quickly when she reportedly “hit an ice patch” in her driveway that somehow was slick enough to launch her through the garage wall like Kool Aid Man, onto her back deck, and finally into her pool where it miraculously stopped.  Judging from the photos below and video, it looks like the pool had relatively minimal damage and no one was hurt. Strong pool; likely a steel wall pool from In the Swim. The winter cover looks like an ‘el cheapo’, next time use the Polar Protector ;-).


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Photo and video by WSVN 7 News, Miami, Florida viewer

Miami Beach, Florida, Dec 28, 2016 – The previous week a Miami Beach motorist totaled a pool fence, an apartment pool and their own vehicle in a kamikaze attempt to avoid hitting a raccoon. Being that it was a warm, sunny late December day in Florida, the pool was being used by unsuspecting swimmers and even more miraculously than the the previous crash—no one, including the raccoon and driver was injured. Automobiles are oily and grimy and these pools are going to need lots of pool enzymes, followed by a good pool shock.


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Photo by Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, via KOMO News

East Wenatchee, Washington, December 27, 2016 – In a scarier situation, but without serious injury, a 16-year old boy teaches us all a lesson in resourcefulness when he hits a patch of ice, slid 100 feet downhill, and crashed his pick-up truck into a pool. The truck landed upside down, and the teen had enough presence of mind to use the metal bars from his truck’s headrest to break the glass to escape his vehicle. The safety pool cover appears to have suffered only minor damage and the teen driver? He’s just fine but was cited for speeding.


Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, January, 16, 2017 – Switching gears here, pun intended, a cow was successfully rescued by OKC firefighters after pool owners heard “snorting” coming from their pool. A crane was brought in to remove the heavy heifer. The cow and pool were uninjured and it’s unclear if the cow was trying to “jump over the pool”. 1500 lbs of cow, thrashing around on sharp hooves completely destroys vinyl pool liners. The safety cover on this pool, seen behind the firefighter, likely also suffered substantial damage.


vet attending to horse after being pulled from cold winter pool

Photo by KCFD #44 (Mountain View Fire & Rescue / Black Diamond Fire Dept)

Auburn, Washington, January 12, 2017 – a horse was rescued from a freezing cold swimming pool after being extracted with a tractor. The pool owners attempted to save the equestrian swimmer in vain for about 45 minutes before calling in the KCFD #44 (Mountain View Fire & Rescue / Black Diamond Fire Dept) for back up. The poor guy couldn’t stand at first, but with a veterinarian’s help, he soon warmed-up and made a full recovery in about an hour. The pool safety cover however, barely visible in the far left by the ladder rail, likely did not survive the ordeal.


Pool Covers vs. Cars & Cows? A safety cover in good shape can in some cases support an automobile, but put in a ring against Cows – pool covers are going down in the first round. Deer are often sprightly enough to make it across a safety cover safely, with minimal damage to the cover, but not so for cows and horses, and perhaps pigs.

When cars hit a safety cover, typically several straps break but the panels remain intact. Large deer can poke holes through several panels, and cows or horses will likely break both panels and straps. Depending on the age of the cover, and the extent of the damage, safety covers can be repaired.

Pool safety for farm animals starts with good pool safety fencing and self-closing and latching gates. Keep small animals (and humans) safe by using a good pool safety cover, which can even support a car (in some cases). In season, when the cover comes off, you can protect your pets and woodland creatures with a pet ramp or pool alarm.

Thankfully, no one was injured in any of these stories; remember the importance of safety around pools, including keeping animals and automobiles – out of the pool.

Have you ever experienced large animals or automobiles in a pool?  Did we miss a recent pool ordeal?  Leave a reply below, we’d love to hear from you!

 


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

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

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

Californians – Take these steps to protect your pool, or clean-up after heavy rains.

Problem #1 – Too much Water in the Pool

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

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

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

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

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

Problem #2 – Contaminants in the Pool!

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

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

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


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

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Rain can also destroy your pool’s water balance. It dilutes the cyanuric acid, and can also soften the water, lowering calcium hardness, and it can affect pH and alkalinity as well. Acid Rain falling through smoggy summer air hits your pool at a very low pH, reducing pool pH and alkalinity. Be sure to test your water with a complete test kit like the K-2005, or use 7-way test strips.

Problem #3 – High Wind, Debris & Projectiles

Before a storm hits: Store all loose toys, furniture and cleaning equipment that could become airborne in high winds. Don’t cover the pool, which can be damaged severely in a heavy storm.

After a storm hits: Clean the pool, lower the water level, check the water balance and the chlorine level, adding sanitizer if needed. If your pool is a funky color, super-chlorinate with some pool shock, and run the filter overnight. It’s best to remove leaves and debris from the pool, and lower the pH to 7.2, before shocking the pool.

Problem #4 – Flooded Pool Equipment

Keep the filter running, however if flood waters threaten to submerge the pool pump, shut off power to the pool on the main home panel. If you can safely remove the pump, store it indoors, if the pump motor becomes submerged, it will likely need to be replaced.

Regular rain falling on your pool equipment will not usually cause any harm, even if it lasts for days on end. If concerned however, you can build a lean-to of some sort over your filter pump. Flooding however is the real problem. Sand bagging your pool equipment could save you from pump replacement, if flood waters rise above the equipment pad.

Problem #5 – Poor Water Drainage

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

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


Don’t let heavy rains and storms make your summer a bummer, follow these tips to avoid these 5 pool problems caused by heavy rains and summer storms!

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Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor

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What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Mistakes that Destroy Pool Equipment
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It’s the little things that can do the most damage to your swimming pool and your pool equipment. A simple, absent-minded mistake could lead to thousands of dollars in damages. A seemingly mundane habit could be accelerating your pool equipment’s early demise.

Perhaps a bad habit you didn’t take seriously has suddenly rendered your pump, cleaner or heater useless. It’s true, some warnings carry more weight than others, so we’re going to take a look at the most common pool mistakes that could be destroying your pool or pool equipment.


1. Exposing your Solar Cover to High Chlorine

solar-blanketHigh levels of pool chlorine and exposure to pool shock, even non-chlorine shock, is not something that you want exposed to your solar blanket. The fastest way to destroy your pool cover is to shock your pool, and then place the solar blanket over the water. The adverse effects that these chemicals have on the plastic of a solar cover is similar to the effects that it has on bacteria. Try not to use your solar cover for a few days after shocking your pool, or until chlorine levels are normal. Other overlooked factors that can destroy your solar cover are low pH and prolonged exposure to the sun while rolled up. Use a solar blanket Poly Tarp when you have it on the the reel to protect it from harmful UV rays.


2. Placing Chlorine Tabs Directly Into the Skimmer

3-inch-tabletsThis could very well be the most common mistake that pool owners make, or perhaps the most common mistake that just isn’t taken seriously enough. Chlorine tabs, especially In the Swim 3” Chlorine Tabs, are highly concentrated, acidic wonders of modern chemistry that are made to dissolve slowly throughout the pool. When left in your skimmer with the pump off, chlorine tabs continue to dissolve, filling the skimmer and pipe with chlorine. When the pump turns on again, it sucks several gallons of super concentrated chlorine directly into your pump, heater, and filter. What was once your ally has now become your nemesis, a singular corrosive force operating from within as it eats your pipes and pool equipment from the inside-out. Chlorine is strong; strong enough to sanitize 20 thousand gallons of water, and also strong enough to corrode plastics, rubber and metal.


3. Leaving your Robotic Pool Cleaner in the Pool All the Time

hayward-aquavac-500-robotic-pool-cleanerIf you own a robotic pool cleaner, odds are that you love the little guy. You might even have a name for yours. We call ours Roger, Roger the Tiger Shark. Odds are even higher that you paid a decent amount of money for your automatic pool cleaner. Protect your investment by removing your pool cleaner from the water when its cycle is complete. Prolonged exposure to the water alone can begin to deteriorate the softer parts of your cleaner, and aggressive water conditions can oxidize metals and plastics. Don’t shock your pool with your cleaner in the water, and try not to leave it in the water any longer than it needs to complete a cleaning cycle. And, be sure to store him (or her) in a safe place, out of the sun and weather, and protected from [other types of] harm.


4. Starting your Pump With a Dead Head

closed-multiport valveI don’t mean a Grateful Dead fan, a Dead Head is when the water has no where to go, because of a closed valve (or two), or because winter plugs are still in the wall. Your pump is creating powerful forces to pull and push water through the plumbing into the filter and and back to the pool. Starting the pump with closed valves or closing the return valves while the pump is running has a ‘water hammer’ effect. Make sure all valves are wide open because if a valve is closed, or a return line is plugged or blocked – the results can be destructive and also dangerous if you are standing next to the filter system. Perhaps this may seem obvious, but it does happen, be sure that all valves after the pump are wide open, and the return lines are clear all the way back to the pool.


5. Not Protecting your Pool Heater

pool-heater-coverYou probably don’t give much thought to your pool heater. It most likely works as it is supposed to and hardly ever has to be serviced. And then one late summer morning you jump into your pool like normal, only to emerge bug-eyed, startled, and very cold. Damage to pool heaters can be a subtle, gradual process that you are completely oblivious to. Acidic pH and Alkalinity levels feed on copper heat exchangers, stripping the copper and staining your pool. Exposure to the elements can also rust components of your heater especially if you live in a climate with harsh, snowy winters. It’s always best to use a Pool Heater Cover when your pool is closed. Covering your heater prevents insects and rodents from nesting inside, as well as protecting it from moisture.


6. Low Calcium Hardness

calcium-hardness-control-increaserPerhaps your pH and alkalinity, cyanuric and chlorine are perfectly aligned. You test daily and know just what to do at the slightest hint of disturbance in the force. All of your precise testing and measuring could be in vain if your calcium hardness gets too low. Aggressive water with a thirst for calcium can pull calcium from your pool’s plaster and tile grout. For vinyl pools, there are those that say it doesn’t matter, but to protect your vinyl liner and for good water balance, maintain a minimum calcium hardness level of at least 150 ppm. Plaster and pebble surfaces should keep calcium hardness closer to 200 ppm.


7. Not Brushing your Pool

pool brushesWe’ve been told to brush our teeth from a very young age, and perhaps this constant harping to “don’t forget to brush!” is the root of why so many pool owners fail to brush their pool regularly. Or maybe you have the best automatic pool cleaner money can buy (and store it in its own waterproof garage when its cleaning cycle is over) and don’t feel you should have to brush your pool. Not brushing your pool is a gateway for algae, and other nasty bio-films that build up layers to protect themselves from chlorine. Brushing may be the simplest warning on this list, and it’s not going to destroy your pool equipment if you don’t use a pool brush, but it can save wear and tear on your pool cleaner and pool surfaces.


8. Low Water Levels

This may seem obvious but there are several scenarios in which your water levels could fall below the skimmer line causing your pump to intake only air. This causes pool pumps to ‘lose prime’, which can lead to damaged pump and pipes. I’ve experienced this myself when vacuuming to waste, backwashing or draining the water level during winterization. Pool leaks can rapidly cause a loss of pump prime, as can air leaks in front of the pump (unrelated to water level). Any situation that causes your pump to lose prime, can cause your pump to overheat, which can warp pump baskets and melt shaft seals, or shrink the threads of the attached PVC fittings. In extreme cases of overheating, it can warp the pump housing itself.


These pool fails could end up costing you money in pool parts, replacement equipment or in time wasted on fixing the pool when you should be enjoying yourself! From the mundane to the extraordinary, these 8 pool mistakes are all easily avoided, yet often taken for granted.

Have a potential common pool mistake you think we should add to our list? We would love to hear from our pool community! Together we can pool our knowledge and make sure we spend more time enjoying our pools, not fixing them. Drop us a line, anytime.

 


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

 

How to Prepare Your Pool to Sell: Real Advice
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With the home selling season quickly approaching, it’s not too early to start thinking about what you can and should do if you selling your house, and your pool.

It may seem obvious, but with all the attention on the home and its interior, the pool can be easily overlooked. An open pool shows better than one with a cover on it. If your pool is open and your home is on display, make the pool look as sparkling clean as you possibly can.

After that, there are 10 other key things you should do to get ready when selling a home with a swimming pool.


1. Stain Removal. This is sort of grouped into making sure your pool is clean, but removing surface stains is worthy of being called out simply because a stained pool will look old, dirty and uninviting. There are many strong pool stain removers available that work on a wide range of stain types, in plaster and vinyl pools. Getting rid of old, weathered stains on your pool liner or coping can make your pool look well maintained.


2. Caulking Replacement. Caulk is needed between the pool deck and coping, to keep out water during winter, and prevent the joint from filling with grit and sand. Luckily, pool caulking is relatively easy to do, just cut out the old caulking and use the 1 Qt. tubes of EZ Patch 23 Expansion Joint Sealant. Self-leveling pool caulk requires no troweling, and dries fast. You’ll be amazed at what fresh pool caulking can do for your pool’s looks.


3. Get Rid of Old, Broken Stuff. If your once-shiny pool ladder now looks dinged, pitted or even a little rusty, replace it. Replacement stainless steel ladders are less expensive than you think and will make a world of difference when selling your home with a pool. Other items like the solar cover, telescoping pool poles, pool pump motors, pool cleaners and even vinyl liners should be replaced if they are bent, torn, broken or busted up. No prospective home buyer wants to think they’re getting pool equipment and accessories that are at the end of their lifespan, with their new home and pool. A pool inspection will turn-up all this stuff anyway, so you as well replace it now.


4. Replace Worn Out Parts. This goes beyond equipment and accessories, this advice suggests that you replace broken, non-working or worn out pool parts like cracked skimmer lids, missing skimmer weirs and that rusty pressure gauge. Any leaking pool valves or plumbing should be fixed or replaced. Take a look at all of your equipment with new eyes, or have another person help you identify those little things you’ve gone blind to; things that make your pool look a bit used and/or neglected.


5. Organize Pool Chemicals. To a new or prospective pool owner, pool chemicals can be confusing and downright scary. Find a clean, cool, dry and secure place to store your pool chemicals – whether it’s in a cabinet or on a shelf in the garage or in a locked shed. Families with children looking for a new home may view disorganized pool chemicals as a real hazard. Use up old or extra chemicals, or dispose of them properly. Clean the lids and containers with a clean cloth and store in an orderly fashion.


6. Trim Your Trees and Bushes. This is not about trees or bushes looking gangly and unkempt, but more about leaves, twigs and other debris getting into your pool. It’s also about cutting back overgrowth which makes your pool shady and messy. People like a sunny pool, but shaded pools dense in trees look cold and uninviting. Small bushes or trees that never took off, or took off too much, can be trimmed or replaced with something more attractive. For cypress or arborvitaes used for privacy or wind blocks, be sure to trim those up so they look nicely manicured.


7. Tidy Up Around the Pool. First, if you have an above ground pool, take some soapy water and a soft brush to the outside walls, especially up under the top rail and around the base, where dirt and dried mud always seem to gather. Then scrub and clean your pump, filter and heater so they look as fresh and new as possible. Use Cement Patch to fill cracks that have formed in the concrete equipment pad, remove any weeds and lay down new gravel in soft or wet areas around the equipment. Trim back any trees or bushes overhanging the equipment. Look for anything loose, worn or just plain ugly,  that you can fix around the pool and pool equipment area.


8. Remove Scale and Efflorescence. If you live in an area with hard water, have a salt water pool or have raised rock walls, then there’s a good chance calcium scale has developed on many of your pool’s surfaces. Calcium scale comes from your pool water and leaves a whitish deposit on tiles and other surfaces. Efflorescence comes from behind pool walls or other surfaces and seeps through mortar, leaving white deposits in mortar joints and raised stone walls. Both calcium scale and efflorescence can be removed using muriatic acid and a wire brush, or you can hire a bead blasting service to clean your pool tiles like new.


9. Pressure Wash the Pool Deck. Most of us do this somewhat regularly anyways, but it’s worth mentioning for this list. Pressure washing your pool deck and patio area is a fast, simple way to make hard surfaces look clean and fresh. Pressure washing quickly removes dirt, stains, food and pretty much anything else besides motor oil for a nice, clean look. A pressure washer can also improve the appearance of faded pool fences.


10. Refinish Wood Pool Decks. If you have a pool deck made of wood, consider refinishing or re-staining it to give it a fresh, updated appearance. There’s a couple ways of doing this, and they all involve a couple of involved steps, but it’s worth it when going to sell your home. Personally, what I do on my wood deck is pressure wash it first, and after drying I sand the surface with a medium grit sandpaper to open the wood’s pores to absorb the new stain. Finally, no matter what stain you choose to use, follow the application instructions on the can, for best results.


Remember that you’re not just selling your home, you’re selling your pool too. If you follow these ideas and tips on selling a home with a pool, your pool should be ready-to-show and will actually help your home look more beautiful, making it easier to sell.

If you have experience in getting your pool ready when planning to sell your home, feel free to share what you did to make your pool more enticing to prospective home buyers. We would love to hear your ideas about selling a house with a swimming pool.

This is the second edition in a four-part In The Swim blog series with the focus of providing valuable information and ideas to home owners, home buyers and real estate agents regarding swimming pools. You can find the first edition here.

 


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Water Test Fails: 12 Simple Mistakes You Could Be Making
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Dr. Pool water testingWelcome back, students of pool! I’ve spoken on the topic of pool water testing before, and we also have a nice beginner’s guide to pool water testing.

Today’s pool testing guide covers some of the finer details of conducting backyard water analysis, and a few common pitfalls of using an outdoor laboratory.

Pool water testing can become so routine that you may not realize these simple mistakes could make your test results inaccurate. There are 12 pitfalls to avoid when testing your pool or spa water:

1. Water Sample from the Wrong Area of the Pool

Where you gather your water sample from in a swimming pool matters. Avoid areas near return lines, steps, ladders and corners of the pool. These are locations in a pool where the pool chemistry is going to be different from the pool as a whole.

proper-water-sample-techniqueIn order to get an accurate sample of your pool water, don’t draw the water from the surface because that is where the highest concentration of pollutants like oils and debris gather. The surface is also where evaporation is taking place and the interaction with the air can throw your results off. As a rule of thumb, an elbow deep depth between the shallow and deep ends of the pool is the sweet spot.

2. Not Testing the Sample Immediately

You pulled the sample from the perfect area and depth of the pool but didn’t test it right away. Life is full distractions – letting a sample sit too long gives it time to react with the air, sunlight, and even humidity. Commit to the process!

3. Tilting The Reagent Dropper

testing-pool-waterThis is one of the small details that can make a big impact on the accuracy of your test results. Tilting a reagent bottle as shown, instead of holding it straight up and down will make the drop smaller and throw everything off. If your test kit includes tablets, remember to crush them fine. Just like drops, cutting corners on this step will ruin the chemical reaction. Speaking of proper measurements…

4. Too Little or Too Much Water Sample

Even the slightest inaccuracy of a water sample can skew your test results. It may only be a few dozen drops of water, but too little or too much can tip the scales. Precision is key when it comes to achieving the best results possible. Hold your test vial at eye level and the bottom of the meniscus or curve of the water should be lined-up with the “Fill” level line.

5. Not Swirling the Sample

You followed steps 1-4 perfectly, and added the perfect amount of reagent into the perfect amount of water and in all the excitement, didn’t swirl between drops. Take your time and mix the reagents thoroughly. Holding the comparator on the top between your thumb and forefinger, and rotate your wrist to swirl the sample within the test vial.

For the titration tests (FAS-DPD, pH demand, Alkalinity & Calcium), if you are unsure if the sample color has changed completely, add another drop. If you do not see a change, just subtract that drop from your count. Or when the color changes color briefly, and one more drop changes it completely, you can count the last drop as 5 ppm, instead of the normal 10 ppm.

6. Expired Test Reagents

pool water test reagentsPoring over every detail during the testing process could all be in vain if your pool water test chemicals were compromised before you even pulled your first water sample. It’s best to begin each season with fresh reagents. Typically, the chemicals used in test kits are considered to have a shelf life of about a year.

7. Improperly Stored Reagents

The best test kit money can buy can be rendered useless due to improper storage. The shelf life of pool test chemicals can be greatly impacted by hot and cold temps. Ideal storage temperatures are between 5° to 22°C (40° to 70°F). Bear in mind, that a constant fluctuation of temperature can also negatively impact the chemicals. Store pool test kits in a cool, dark place, and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.

Frozen Test Reagents: Water test kit makers suspend shipments of liquid test kit chemicals during freezing weather, however water test chemicals may still be viable after freezing for a short time period. Allow frozen reagents to thaw at room temperature. If the bottle has cracked or if there are crystals around the tip, or particles floating in the bottle after shaking, you should replace the reagent.

Clear Reagents Turning Colors: Taylor reagents 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 and 12 should be colorless and clear. Drop a few drops onto a flat part of the testing vial; if the drops look cloudy, or are any color other than clear transparent, you should replace the reagent.

Colored Reagents Changing Colors: Taylor reagents 4, 8 and 11 are colored indicator solutions. Reagent 4 or pH Indicator is red, while reagent 8 or Total Alkalinity Indicator is green and Calcium reagent 11 is a blue color. If another color, you should replace the reagent.

Colored Reagents Staining Bottle: Taylor reagents 4, 8 and 11 should not stain the bottle in which they are contained, which indicates a separation of the test pigment. If the reagent bottle is stained, you should replace the reagent.

8. Cracked or Faded Comparator Vials

Taylor test kit comparators and other test kit partsSimilar to reagents, a cracked test vial or comparator can lead to pollutants spoiling your results. Even a faded or slightly scratched test vial can open the door to particulates that have no business getting mixed up with your perfectly swirled reagents. If the test vial or optical chamber looks old, faded or perhaps slightly stained—it’s time for a new test vial.

9. Using Test Reagents From a Different Test Kit

You can’t mix and match test kit reagent chemicals; this isn’t a matter of brand loyalty. Pool test kits vary by manufacturer and even the slightest variation of pool test chemicals strength and dropper orifice size can (everyone in unison) Render-Your-Test-Results-Inaccurate. Where have we heard that before? While we are on the topic of mixing and matching…

10. Mixing Test Reagent Bottle Caps

When you are done with a pool test chemical it is important to put the cap back on immediately. Not only does this help protect it from reacting with environmental variables it can prevent putting the wrong cap on the wrong bottle. Even if both caps are the same color (more reason not to delay), the chemicals under the caps are certainly not and a little bit of residue is enough to unravel the fabric of the universe – or at the very least, cross contaminate your reagents and you know that is a gateway to trouble.

11. A Clean Test Kit is an Accurate Test Kit

Don’t touch the tip of the dropper bottles with your fingers. Exposure to these chemicals could irritate your skin and also the oils from your fingers can contaminate the drops. In addition to a clean reagent dropper bottle, thoroughly rinse out the test vials or optical chambers after testing. Lingering chemicals from a previous test is a surefire way to ruin your next test.

12. Misreading The Color Chart

As cool as you look in your sunglasses, take them off when reading discerning the hues on the optical chamber. Perhaps this is obvious, the tint of your sunglasses can make 7.5 look like 7.6 on the color scale.

esting-water-with-sunglassesHand-in-hand with removing your sunglasses is making sure you are not holding the optical chamber up to an artificial light source, or anything other than a white background (the purpose of the white rectangle, found in some test kits). A blue sky or blue water background can lead to a green pool when you misread test results.

 


If there is one key aspect of pool maintenance where spending more will ultimately save you money in the long run, it’s using a high quality test kit from a reputable manufacturer. Cut corners in this area and you could end up spending more on chemicals attempting to restore water balance and fight water problems.

I highly recommend the Taylor K-2005 test kit (and K-2006), and the ColorQ Pro7 by LaMotte, and greatly prefer the accuracy of liquid test kits over the convenience of test strips because, in pool chemistry, accuracy is king!

talk-to-us!Did we miss a tip or have a pool question you need answered? We love to hear from the In the Swim Pool Community! Please feel free to email us @ socialmedia or reach me directly @ Dr. Pool.

 

Dr. Pool

 

Favorite The Perfect Pool or a Guy’s Dream Pool
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clark-griswolds-pool-visionMy family and I were gathered on the couch in front of the big screen, watching Christmas Vacation, a treasured tradition in my house. Clark Griswold was getting ready to open his Christmas bonus which was going to buy a pool for the family but was instead given a Jelly of the Month club membership…

It might have been all the holiday busyness, or perhaps the eggnog, another treasured holiday tradition, but at that moment in the movie, I fell into a deep sleep-like state, but with lucid clarity, and a profound vision swept over me…

lazy-river-poolsLike Clark Griswold’s pool vision as he stared out the window, I saw a guy’s dream pool. The magnificence of this pool was mesmerizing, and I stared lovingly at the vision, every detail etched permanently in my memory. It was true paradise, the perfect guy’s pool.

The first thing about my dream pool, it’s a big pool – not stupid big but definitely big enough to swim laps or host pool basketball and volleyball games. On each side of the pool, there was a channel – four-feet-wide and as deep as the pool, flowing into a gentle lazy river weaving its way around the entire yard, front and back.

There was a giant pool slide attached to a deck off the upstairs master bedroom with a steep initial drop that flattened out as it neared the pool. It was a fast slide, but not too fast, as I pictured myself waking up each morning, walking outside and sliding down into the pool. The rush of fresh water splashing over me as I landed on the pool float made of $100 bills was more invigorating and stimulating than any cup of coffee. Ever.

pool-slide-from-upper-deck

As the money float carried me across the water, the music was beautiful and everywhere. Wireless speakers were embedded throughout the teak wood decking all around the pool and along the lazy river. I ran my hand along the soft wood planks at the edge of the pool and wondered why anyone would use anything else for a pool deck.

pool-with-teak-wood-decking

Half-laughingly I blurted out “Ain’t that a kick in the head,” and the music system responded by instantly playing the old Dean Martin song. In time to the music, the underwater lights automatically beamed soft, cool choreographed colors onto the glow-in-the-dark tiles that lined the pools interior surfaces.

forever-pools-glow-in-the-dark-tiles

Floating peacefully for what seemed like hours, I found myself at the far end of the pool where the water gracefully dropped over the infinity edge and into a pergola seating area. I sat down at one of the built-in underwater stools, leaned up against the cement and tile piano and asked the player to play something for old time’s sake.

pergola-seating-area

As he soulfully played, I looked toward the deep end, and saw the most beautiful open air pool cabana I’ve ever seen. I swam to the other end of the pool next to where the slide dropped into the water, and in front of me was a mahogany patio set, the kind like you see in a fancy Caribbean resort, perfectly placed in front of the outdoor fireplace.

pool-cabana-with-fireplace-and-outdoor-tv

The kids then walked out of the automatic sliding patio door toward the pool and picked up their pool toys they left lying around and put them into the storage cube. Slightly stunned, I turned back toward the fireplace, and saw above the stone mantel a huge UHDTV with my beloved Cubs playing in the World Series – the surround sound deafening, just like actually being at Game 7.

hayward-aquavac-500-robotic-pool-cleanerI got out of the pool, and something in my mind told me this was all way too good to be true and I twisted around to look at the guy’s dream pool one last time, and saw a hatch open up in the wood pool deck. Out came a sleek robotic pool cleaner, and I watched him scrub every inch of the pool. Then he returned to his hatch to recharge.

As I turned to walk toward the house, an automatic pool safety cover with a surface that looked like real grass began to cover the pool. I took a look at the fireplace one more time and glanced up at the TV. The baseball game was replaced with a scene of a house surrounded by snow.

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It was so real, yet surreal. The Perfect Pool. And then as quickly as it began, the vision was gone. I woke up and the credits were rolling, everyone had gone to bed.

I couldn’t wait to tell my wife about it, about my dream of a guy’s dream pool. She feigned interest as I explained everything I saw in vivid detail. As I told her all about the automatic pool cover that doubled as grass, and how this is a sign that we should actually build all of this, she just stared at me and asked, “just who is going to pay for all of this man dream pool stuff?” Valid point, I guess.

However, dreams and visions should never have price tags attached. Did Clark Griswold give up on his dream pool? No! At the end of the movie, his boss Frank Shirley, (under pressure from his wife) changes his mind and reinstates the bonuses.

Youtube Video of Swimming pool clip, "My Creedo is Go for it!" With Chevy Chase and Christie BrinkleyDon’t put a price tag on your dreams, live big and build or rebuild your own dream pool!

My Creedo is Go For It!

 

Mele Kalikimaka; (is a wise way to say Merry Christmas to you…)


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Selling Your Home With A Pool: Real Advice
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home-for-sale-with-pool-istk
The pool in your back yard is the crown jewel, the focal point of every summer day, but now you’re selling your home and that jewel could be something of a thorn in your side. You know what it takes to keep your pool clean and nice, but prospective home buyers list pool maintenance as their largest concern, along with pool safety.

In fact, depending on the area of the country you live in, having a pool in your backyard is seen as an “absolute must-have” when selling your home. Realtor.com mentions 10 best cities for homes with pools, and those cities are all in warm weather, sunny regions like Florida, Texas and Arizona where pools are open and used year-round.

Real estate agent Phil Rotondo in Melbourne, FL, agrees with this circumstance (as taken from Trulia.com), “in normal instances in Florida, we add $25-30K to the value of the pool home vs. non pool home.”

So you live in Michigan and want to sell your home with a pool, what do you do? We put together some ideas on what you can do with your pool to make your house more marketable to more people.

Advice On Selling Your Home With A Pool

Be Prepared. As a seller, you need to have a plan in place on how to handle potential negative views of having a pool before you even list your home for sale. Start with being honest with yourself and your pool appearance. Pool, deck and equipment should be spruced up by a deep cleaning and replacement of caulk, grout, and worn or broken pool parts. Trim overgrown trees to bring in more sunlight and reduce debris. Fix sagging gates or leaning fence posts. Make the pool appear bright & clean, low-maintenance, and safe for children.

Open the Pool. A closed, covered pool brings a lot of questions and worry in the eyes of home buyers. “A home with a pool is always more salable when the pool is open”, Mike Christoffel, owner and broker of MBC Real Estate Group in West Chicago, explains. “The idea of opening a pool is intimidating for a buyer, and can be overwhelming. If it is ready for a swim the day you close, that stress can be ignored until it is time to maintain the pool.” For pools that are closed during showings or contract negotiations, an offer can be written into the agreement that the seller will pay for a pool opening, to full operational status.

Time it Correctly. The best time to sell your home with a pool is when the weather heats up. Get your pool ready to go early in the season and have it looking pristine as possible for every showing. “When it’s warm out, a buyer who doesn’t want a pool is more likely to be seduced by an inviting pool,” Christoffel says. And also make sure that you plan for any repairs to get the pool ready. “If your realtor can advertise with confidence that the pool is in fantastic shape, they can draw in more non-pool buyers as well.”

Provide a Pool Binder. Having everything it takes to open, maintain and then close a pool thoroughly explained and neatly typed for prospective buyers can save a good deal from going bad. A Pool Binder contains everything about the pool equipment, with detailed information showing them exactly how the pool operates. Service records, chemical records, renovation and replacement work done, shows buyers you’ve cared for your pool which gives them confidence and alleviates some of the worry. Remember that pool maintenance and safety are often their largest concerns. Offer a complete pool orientation to the buyer, as well as providing names of reputable service companies.

Convey your Pool Gear. This is one thing home sellers often overlook. Have the pool chemicals, pool equipment and pool accessories you’ve purchased be a part of the deal. First go through all of your pool supplies, and throw away or dispose of broken or unusable parts or products. Organize and clean-up your pool supply storage areas to make it easier to understand.

Consider including your trusty robot pool cleaner, pool floats or pool furniture or other pool accessories that make pool maintenance easier or the pool more enjoyable. If you have pool alarms, removable fencing or pool safety covers, be sure to mention that to prospective buyers.

When is Installing a Pool Worth the Money?

family-by-the-pool-istkLet’s start by saying that you should enjoy life, and if you want a pool, then get a pool. Pools are a whole lot of fun, refreshing, a source of great exercise (don’t tell the kids that), and make memorable moments that last a lifetime.

Ask anyone who had a pool growing up, and they’ll tell you all about the good times they enjoyed on endless summer days in their backyard pool.

On the more “business side” of getting a pool, there are a couple of things to consider that might help you make a decision about installing a pool:

Your Neighborhood. If every home that is comparable to your home has a pool and yours doesn’t, that could actually work against you. Here, HouseLogic.com best explains if many home in your neighborhood have a pool and yours doesn’t, you might be leaving a lot of potential buyers out of the running. Check your Comps – to know what other homes with pools are on the market.

Your Market. Homes on the luxury end of the value spectrum tend to have bigger yards. According to Christoffel, a lower-priced, but attractive and well-kept home most likely has a smaller yard. If you install a pool in a smaller yard, the pool will also have to be small or it will take up a sizable chunk of usable space in the yard. That same-sized pool in a bigger yard in a more expensive neighborhood will take up much less real estate making the house, and yard, more attractive to buyers.

Your Climate. Pools in warm southern climates (growing zones 9 and 10), have their pools open year around, but here in Chicago, and points north, the pool season is only 4 months long. Those in the mid-section of the country enjoy a swim for 5 or 6 months out of the year. It makes sense why swimming pools are more common in the south, however, there are still millions of pools located in northern states.

home-icon-istkThis is the first edition in a four-part In The Swim blog series with the focus of providing valuable information and ideas to home owners, home buyers and real estate agents regarding swimming pools.

 

larry-anderson
Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

Best Swimming Pool Blogs for Pool Owners
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drpoolDr. Pool here folks, and today I offer up some referrals to other outstanding swimming pool blogs for pool owners. A resource that is sure to help any pool or hot tub owner.

Naturally, the In The Swim Blog is the best pool blog, yet we are part of a larger swimming pool community. Pooling our knowledge, we can all help educate on the countless aspects of pool maintenance, improvements and repairs.  

And without further ado, here is my list of Top Pool Blogs!


1. Poolcenter.com’s Pool Blog

poolcenter-com-blog-logoBlogging about pool owner concerns since 2007, PoolCenter.com’s Pool Blog is the oldest and wisest blog on the internet. PoolCenter not only carries one of the largest inventories of pool parts but also has a wealth of content to assist pool and hot tub owners in every aspect of DIY improvements, maintenance, and repairs. You are certain to find the answer to any question you have pertaining to your pool and if you like to do your own repairs, no matter the size of the task, the PoolCenter blog will break it down for you. Also found are topics on pool safety and how to operate your pool in ecofriendly ways.

2. PoolProducts.com’s Pool Blog

spp-blog-logo-2If you’ve owned a pool in the last 20 years, you’ve come across PoolProducts.com. One of the first pool supply companies online in 1994, for over two decades SPP has served as a leader in pool covers and liners. While they are known for their expertise in liners and pool covers their Pool Blog is written by a team of colorful characters whose expertise extends from inground and above ground pool kits to hot tubs and spas. Here you will find DIY projects, helpful tips, and seemingly endless resources to help you maintain your pool or spa. PoolProducts.com’s Pool Blog is regularly updated and certainly worth checking in on frequently.

3. Hottubworks.com’s Hot Tub Blog

hotOK, not a pool blog, but for those of you looking for expert advice specializing in spas and hot tubs, HotTubWorks.com’s Hot Tub Blog is a terrific resource for excellent repair and maintenance advice as well as a great place to find that elusive part or perfect accessory. The blog is updated weekly by a team of experts that really know their stuff about maintaining spas and hot tubs. They also write fun features like Hot Tubs in the News, in addition to hard-tack topics like Spa Error Codes. Anyone that owns a hot tub or spa would greatly benefit by familiarizing themselves with this outstanding blog.

4. Swim University

swim-university-logoSwim University is a vast content library kept in two huge buckets – pool and spa. We love SwimUniversity’s colorful approach to pool and hot tub care, and owner Matt Giovanisci is an excellent source for useful infographics as well as his fun and entertaining how-to videos. They offer free downloads of their collection of handbooks and eGuides on their site or through their app, all of which are thorough yet easy to follow. For a well rounded education in hot tub or pool care studies, enroll yourself at Swim University. I wonder if they would grant Dr. Pool an honorary degree, if I ask nicely?

5. Leslies Pool Pool-A-Pedia

leslies-blogIf you’ve ever visited a local pool store, odds are it was a Leslie’s Pool Store.  Leslie’s is simply the largest pool supply store in the world, and their PoolAPedia blog covers all of the bases for inground, above ground and hot tub or spa care. With excellent how-to’s, reviews on pool equipment, or an excellent Holiday Buyer’s Guide, Leslie’s Blog goes back several years and hits on every aspect of pool and spa ownership. Backing up their product lines, Pool-A-Pedia aims to educate their customers to ensure that the perfect part or chemical is prescribed for the job, and that is certainly something Dr. Pool highly recommends.

6. PoolSupplyWorld’s Just Add Water

poolsupplyworld-blog-logoPool Supply World’s exceptional blog dates back to 2010 and has consistently delivered unique content from a fresh perspective by their team of pool and spa experts.  We love their slightly outside-of-the-box topics and fun approach to their topics. Their website shares the same colorful approach to all things pools and strikes the balance of the fun side of pool ownership alongside the serious work and commitment of pool maintenance. With their diverse product line and fresh take on pool maintenance, Pool Supply World’s blog offers something for the thrifty pool supply shopper and the gritty Do-It-Yourselfer.

7. Hayward’s Poolside Blog

hayward-poolside-blogAs pool equipment manufacturer blogs go, Hayward’s PoolSide blog is among the tops, with categories for Savings, Innovation, Design & Maintenance. Sure they talk about their own products a lot, but it’s straight from the horses mouth, from one of the oldest pool equipment companies around. The blog is written in a straight forward style, to appeal to both pool owners and industry professionals. They tackle topics from National Water Safety Month to the Role of Electrical Bonding, or pool lifestyle pieces done in cooperation with Houzz. Check out their blog for some inspiration of your own!


blue-crossAs a doctor of all things pool, it’s my duty to make sure you have all of your bases covered and are fully educated to make your own prognosis when it comes to your pool’s well-being. It’s important to remember that we are treading water together, and it can be easy to get in over our heads with pool and spa maintenance.

Broken equipment, out of whack chemicals, poor water clarity and countless other ailments can be a source of great stress for pool owners – hopefully these top pool blogs will provide the answers you need to find true peace of mind.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or have your own favorite pool or spa blog, please write us at socialmedia@intheswim.com. We would love to hear from you!

Dr. Pool

Dr. Pool

Star Wars Pool Party on Jabba’s Barge
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jabba-the-huts-pool-partyEpisode I: “Jabba The Hutt’s Pool Party”

You don’t miss a Jabba the Hutt party. They are the stuff of legend and often went on for a whole weekend. It was a particularly hot Tatooine summer. Hot, even for a planet with two suns. Jabba had just put in a new pool at his palace, and the buzz around town was that he was pulling out all the stops for this party.

I still have the invitation:

“His High Exaltedness, the great Jabba the Hutt, has decreed
 that you are to be summoned to a POOL PARTY at The PALACE!

Live Music Provided By The Max ReBo Band

Dive Stick Competitions with Prizes!
 WHEN: Next Centaxday! From NOON Till ????
 WHERE: At The Pool BARGE
 WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING: Something for the snack table and your trunks!

(Clearly written in Jabba’s awful penmanship)
 BRING YOUR WOOKIE COOKIES AND YODA SODA!

My Wookie Cookies were a huge hit at Jabba’s Pot Luck last year, and my Yoda Soda is the stuff of legend but I can’t take all the credit. I owe a big thanks to my friends at food.com and niftyspoon.com for the excellent Star Wars Recipes. If these recipes could get me into Jabba’s Palace Parties, imagine what they could do for you on your planet.

YODA SODA RECIPE:

yoda-soda-recipe-photo-by-delicious-as-it-looks

Preparation:
1. Place 1 lime on the cutting board and cut it in half.
2. Squeeze the lime juice, add 3 tablespoons sugar.
3. Add a big round scoop of lime sherbet.
4. Fill glass with sparkling water and enjoy!

Variation: You can substitute rainbow sherbet or lemon sorbet for the lime sherbet, and use ginger ale for sparkling water.

Little Jawas and especially big Wookies love Wookie Cookies, and they make any Star Wars pool party better:

WOOKIE COOKIE RECIPE:

• 1 Eggwookie-cookies-nifty-spoon
• 1 tsp Baking powder
• 1/2 cup Cocoa powder
• 2 1/4 cup Flour
• 3/4 cup Sugar
• 1 tsp Vanilla extract
• 1 cup Butter

Roll out your dough to 1/8″ thick and use a gingerbread man cut-out. Just before baking at 375°, use fork tines to add the fur texture. When cooled, add the bandolier and face with frosting and sugar pearls.

Episode II: Ain’t No Party Like A Jabba Party

I don’t mean to be rude. But Bib Fortuna does not take to the sun well – but as usual, he’s the first person you see when you enter Jabba’s Palace. “How does he wear those robes in this heat,” I thought to myself as I tried not to stare at his sunburned horns.

bib-fortuna-pool-partyBib was thrilled to see that I brought a huge cooler full of Yoda Soda and his beady pink eyes lit up when he saw the huge tray of Wookie Cookies, “Wookie Cookies! Nice!” He said in broken English. I handed him the cookies, and he handed me a goodie bag full of awesome Star Wars Pool Party Toys. I was ready to soak up some suns and check out the action down at the pool!

Episode III Death Star? More Like Fun Star!

r2d2-drink-bar-droidR2D2 is one heck of a server. The Droid makes his rounds quick and before I knew it he set me up with some ice cold, frothy Yoda Soda, and used his built-in air compressor (what doesn’t he have in that can?!?) to inflate my Light Up Death Star Beach Ball from the the goodie bag Bib Fortuna gave me.

Speaking of Wookies, I turned just in time to see Chewbacca on the diving board and scream, “AAARRRRAAARGGGYAARG” as his massive, hairy body took flight in cannonball form.

“So that’s how you say, Cannonball in Wookie,” I thought to myself as a poor Storm Trooper followed Chewie around with a skimmer in a hopeless battle to skim as much Wookie hair out of the pool as possible. Good luck with that.

From the looks of it, we all got a Star Wars Death Star light up beach ball. Storm Troopers were playing volleyball with one, Boba Fett was twirling one on his on his finger like a basketball as he mingled about, and Jabba himself was batting inflatable Death Stars left and right with his tail sending them flying through the air, a fistful of Wookie Cookies in his tiny hand.

star-wars-beachball
We also got smaller foam pool balls, and before long several Death Star Hop Balls were skipping across the surface of the water and pool deck. Vader was actually pretty good at juggling the Hop Balls, and if he wasn’t busy with his career as a Dark Scythe Lord, he probably could have been in the circus. I bounced my Death Star Hop Ball off the surface of the pool water to a couple of Jawas and Sand People having a chicken fight.

Whenever I tell this story, people always ask, ‘What do Jawas or Sand People look like with their robes and hoods off?’ and the answer is, “I don’t know. They swim in their robes and hoods.” Go figure.

Episode IV: A New Float

Jabba didn’t skimp on the finer comforts for his guests, and I soon found myself staring up at the suns floating on my back on a Storm Trooper Spring Float next to Darth Vader, who was on a Darth Vader Spring Float. If the Max Rebo Band wasn’t so loud, I probably could have drifted off into a nap lying on the oversized float pillow, chilling on the comfortable, soft fabric. “I need to get one of these,” I said out loud to no one particular.

wookie-on-star-wars-pool-float
At almost 7 feet long, these Star Wars pool floats were even big enough for Chewbacca who was sprawled out on one as he swatted away the Storm Trooper’s skimmer net like a fly buzzing around his hairy head and screamed, ‘AAAARGG!” That’s a Wookie curse word that I can’t repeat in English.

Episode V: The Dive Stick Competition

Jabba loves spectator sports, and while no athlete himself, he sure knows how to bring out the competitive side in people. Whether it’s offering a huge bounty to bounty hunter scum to track down someone that owes him money or a Star Wars Character Dive Stick competition. Our Bib Fortuna Goodie Bags included an awesome set of 6 Star Wars Dive Sticks. They were molded after Captain Phasma, Kylo Ren (boy did he get a kick out that), an X-wing, a Tie-Fighter. Jabba, never one to avoid an ironic joke, even included a Millennium Falcon Dive Stick.

star-wars-branded-dive-sticks-poolThis year’s prize was an all-expenses paid winter getaway to the ice planet Hoth. “I don’t know why they call it Hoth,” Vader shouted in his raspy baritone, “They should call it COLDTH!” No one laughed harder at Vader’s joke than Vader.

On a planet with two suns like Tatooine, a winter time getaway was as valuable as a Kyber crystal and the competition was stiff with Admiral Akbar taking home first place. He may be old out of the water but the man can swim like a fish! Don’t fall for his old, Admiral Akbar routine if you are ever in a competition with him. “It’s a trap!”.

Episode VI: Light Up LightSabers

star-war-light-saber-dive-sticksAs the suns were setting the Force Awakens Character Dive Sticks were swapped out with Light Saber Dive Sticks and soon Jabba’s pool was glowing with green and blue lightsabers.   Super cool as dive sticks or fun as lightsaber glow sticks.

I don’t think Jabba realized that those were Yoda and Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber colors, and at this point in the evening, I don’t think he would have cared. The Yoda Soda was flowing freely, and he’d eaten his weight in Wookie Cookies.

Everyone appeared to be having a great time.   My attention was shifted towards dancing to The Max Rebo Band, and soon the Lightsaber Light Up Dive Sticks were just as much fun out of the pool as they were in the pool twirling them around like glow sticks and tossing them in the air.

star-wars-max-rebo-band

Jabba knows how to throw a pool party. Of course, I still have my Death Star Light Up Beach Ball and Death Star Hop Ball. But because I am a true collector, I kept my Lightsaber Light Up Dive Sticks and the Force Awakens Dive Sticks in their boxes because they’re worth more in the ‘original package’. I even convinced Bib Fortuna to let me take a matching set of Star Wars Spring Floats home with me – I got both a Vader Pool Float and a Storm Trooper Pool Float.

Get yours today! They make great holiday gift for any pool kid, or for any Star Wars fan, they make fun supplies for your own Star Wars themed pool party.

star-wars-branded-pool-products

FEATURED PRODUCTS:

ryan-dornan
Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Safety Pool Cover Lessons Learned
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safety-cover-lessons-learned
After 18 years of living in the city, I bought a house in the suburbs, and one of the big selling points was that the house had an inground pool. Like most new pool owners, the visions of pool parties and a backyard resort lifestyle completely eclipsed the reality of what it actually takes to maintain it. I’ve enjoyed four seasons as a pool owner and have experienced almost every repair, chemical imbalance, closing and opening obstacle imaginable.

Every fall there is one thing that I dread the most – the one-on-one, several hour battle between myself and a big, green mesh safety cover. After a gritty, exhausting bout with it last season, I laid the groundwork to make it easier this year.

I’ve learned many lessons as a pool owner; today I share my hard-knock wisdom about safety pool covers, with hopes that you’ll Learn from my Mistakes.


Safety Cover Lesson #1: Color Coded Corner Straps
The most annoying and time consuming mistake I made last year was completing my lap around the pool attaching the straps to the anchors one-by-one completely oblivious that I was actually off by one anchor. After cursing myself out, I had to undo every strap and slide the safety cover over one anchor several dozen times. To compound the problem, this made most of the strap adjustments I had made totally irrelevant.

safety-cover-tricks-and-tipsDetermined to prevent this mistake again, I marked three corner straps in one corner with yellow pipe cleaner as well as the adjacent, catty-corner straps with blue pipe cleaner. With an amoeba/kidney-shaped pool it can be confusing which side is which – especially when the safety cover is folded or rolled up. You can also use zip-ties to mark the deep end of your cover, or one corner of the cover. Taken a step further, you can use fingernail polish to paint the head of the matching brass anchor.

Safety Cover Lesson #2: Store Your Safety Cover Safely
theres-a-hole-in-my-safety-coverAs I pulled the cover from its storage bag I slowly realized that mice had chewed through several layers of the meticulously folded mesh. I was painfully reminded of folding craft paper in elementary school to cut snowflake patterns. The previous season I had stored the safety cover bag in my relatively rodent-proof garage. This year, as I patted myself on the pack for folding it perfectly to fit inside the bag, I decided to drag it to my tool shed just a few short feet from where I stood as opposed to dragging it the 100 feet or so to reach my garage. Store your safety cover indoors, or suspend it off the ground by hanging it high in the garage rafters, where it won’t make a lovely summer home for a mice family. If that’s not possible, I hear that using moth balls or sachets of mint leaves can discourage nesting rodents.

Safety Cover Lesson #3: Patching A Safety Coversafety-cover-patch-material
Luckily, the mouse must have been very small because the 4 or 5 holes in the cover were not very large. I was able to patch both sides of the safety cover with the Safety Cover Patch Kit (shown next to my spray adhesive and rubbing alcohol). The kit has 3 adhesive patches made of the same green material as my safety cover.

  1. Make sure the area with the hole is on a hard, flat surface to avoid wrinkles.
  2. Wipe down the radius surrounding the hole with rubbing alcohol and let dry.
  3. Use a short blast of spray adhesive to help reinforce the patch.
  4. Flip the cover over and repeat steps 1-3. Place a heavy object over the patch.
  5. Let the patch dry for several hours. The longer undisturbed, the better.


Safety Cover Lesson #4: Use a Safety Cover Anchor Key or a Power Drill

In my first season with the safety cover I used a regular, Allen wrench (probably leftover from an Ikea bookshelf) to raise the safety cover anchors. This not only was stressful on my back and knees as I worked my way around the perimeter of my concrete pool deck safety-cover-hex-keyunscrewing the 40+ anchors, it was brutal on my knuckles which inevitably scraped against the concrete with every other turn of the wrench.

With a long, 12″ Hex Key made for Pool Covers, you get much more leverage, and can spin the anchor open or closed much more easily than with a short Allen wrench. Another way I heard of here around the office, is cutting the 12″ long Hex Key at the elbow, and putting the long straight piece into a power drill.

Safety Cover Lesson #5: Choose the Best Starting Location
You want to unfold the cover in the same spot where the cover was folded, in most cases. For my odd-shaped pool, I use one of two straight sides, because that’s where I have the most room to fold the cover. Doing this gives me two solid anchor points, and even though much of the cover was in the pool, the tension from either corner made is much easier to start at one end and attach the straps down one side in one fell swoop, and then do the same to the curved side of the pool.

cover-on-side-of-pool

Safety Cover Lesson #6: Use the Safety Cover’s Black Seams As Guides
Even with a kidney-shaped pool, the safety cover’s black seams are laid out like a grid or graph. The lines from one side to the opposite should line-up straight across from each other. As simple as it sounds, it can help with second guessing whether or not the safety cover straps are aligned properly to the opposite side of the pool. This is a particularly useful way to measure your alignment with the first few anchors as you begin.

safety-cover-ryan-dornan

Safety Cover Lesson #7: Give your Springs and Straps Some Slack
In previous years, the biggest physical struggle was pulling the cover springs over the deck anchors with the cover tool. The installers had made sure that my cover was safe for children, but it took super human strength to install or remove the cover straps. After several painful pinches from the springs, a sore back, and serious disdain for the whole process I decided to loosen the straps. Safety cover springs only need to be about 1/3 compressed, there’s no need for it to be so tight, plus the spring needs some slack to compress during a heavy snow load.

safety cover installed on pool

Safety Cover Lesson #8: Put on your Safety Cover Quickly
This may seem obvious, to keep the pool clean. This season I closed my pool without incident after several hours of cleaning the pool, removing leaves. I went through all the steps to close an inground pool properly. (For more tips on closing your pool look here or here). Then I pulled the safety cover out of the bag and discovered the rodent holes. By the time I was able to purchase the Patch Kit and get the patches on, I had to go through the whole cleaning process again. I highly recommend beginning you pool closing process by  checking your pool cover. That was my biggest lesson learned this year.


animated-clock-by-clipartkid-smWhen it came time to installing my safety cover this year I was able to finish the job in about an hour vs the two or three hours it took the previous seasons. It was actually easy!

With the help of a few added steps initiated at the season’s opening, some simple tools, and a few careful observations the process of installing a safety cover by myself has become easier. Hopefully, you found these safety cover tips in time, before making the same mistakes I made.

If you have some additional tips, comments, or questions please feel free to email us – we would love to hear from you to pool our knowledge in a pool community we can all learn from!

 

ryan-dornan
Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger