Favorite Preparing your Pool for a Pool Party

Pool parties are as much a part of owning a pool as chlorine and pool floats. While there are countless blogs and Pinterest boards featuring pool party recipes, decorations and themes, we’re not going there.

Today we dive deeper into the details of hosting a pool party – prepping your pool for the onslaught with tweaks to pool safety, some cool pool accessories, and solid water chemistry for a heavy swimmer load. Let’s jump right in!


pool life vests for kidsMay is National Pool Safety Month, and as the saying goes, “safety first!”  The number one priority of any pool party should be ensuring your guests are safe especially if your party is kid friendly. Young children should all be secured with life jackets or water wings, and remind them of the pool rules before unleashing them into the water.

Designate a Lifeguard! If you don’t hire a lifeguard, put responsible adults in charge of watching the pool, in 30 minute shifts. Give them a lifeguard hat to make it official. Deflect conversations away from your lifeguard, and show up promptly with a replacement guest-guard in 30 minutes. Accidents do happen, recruit your guests for better pool party safety.

pool first aid kitPool safety certainly transcends age, and the first party of the season is a great time to make sure that your handrails are secure, there are no loose steps on on your pool ladder, or loose bolts on the diving board. And, no pool should be without a first aid kit! Also be sure to store your pool tools, chemicals, and electrical boxes safely out of reach of children.

Dri-Dek pool floor tilesIf you have changing room or bath room that you know swimmers will be using during the party, you can put down a rug or even some non-skid tiles so that no one slips and falls. Dri-Dek tiles are an affordable and effective way to keep slippery swimmers safe. They lock together quickly and can be easily stacked during the off-season, or put to other uses.

POOL PARTY PREP: Pool Accessories

Outdoor pool showersA pool accessory that may not always be practical but certainly affects pool sanitation and will save you money in the long run is a pool shower. Asking your guests to shower before they enter the pool, that’s the impractical part, but affordable outdoor pool showers spare your pool sanitizer the extra work keeping the pool clean. Our simple hose-attached pool showers makes it convenient – maybe even fun!

BigFoot Foot Bath for poolsAnother great pool party accessory is the simple foot bath for your guests to rinse their feet off in before entering the water. Durable and easy to use, just fill our Big-Foot foot bath with pool water, and dump it out after the party. Stops grass clippings, dirt and gunk from sticking to kids faces – no fun!

blue striped pool towelsAt my own Las Vegas style pool parties, I like to make sure that I provide plenty of pool towels for all my guests. These In the Swim blue-stripe pool towels are super affordable at $19.99 per dozen. While guests may bring their own towels there certainly will be some that don’t. These look really pool-y, and everyone appreciates a fresh pool towel at the ready.

pool noodles and pool floatsA pool party can never have too many pool floats or pool noodles for guests to float around on especially if there are children involved. Investing in a box of pool noodles or several of these affordable Color Brite Pool Floats will ensure everyone that wants a float or a noodle will have one.

POOL PARTY PREP: Chemical Maintenance

In an upcoming post, we’ll talk about the chemical maintenance that goes into recovering your pool water after the heavy swimmer load of hosting a pool party. However, there are a few preemptive strikes that will put you ahead of the game and help ease the time it takes to get your water back to pre-party form.

InTheSwim Super Pool ShockThe first thing is to shock the pool, about a week before the party. My shock recipe is pretty simple. For my 20,000 gallon pool, if the water looks great, I use 2 lbs of pool shock. If it looks hazy and dull I use 3 lbs, and if there is measurable combined chlorine (chloramines), I would use 4 lbs. And for visible algae in the pool, I’d use 5 lbs of pool shock, for my 20K pool size.

Pool Perfect by Natural ChemistryTreating your water with a dose of Pool Perfect enzymes can help eliminate oily, waterline build up and removes human skin, hair and (other) waste, and any organic pollutants that find their way into the pool during a party. Not only do these enzymes help prevent stains, they also clarify, and help make sanitizers like chlorine last longer and work better. It’s a win-win-win.

In The Swim Pool ClarifierA pre-party treatment of In The Swim Clarifier is a smart move, especially for small filters that have trouble with heavy pool use. Pre-treating your water with clarifier a few days before the party will remove suspended but invisible solids that get in the way of sanitation, and make pool water dull and hazy. Pre-treat, before the party to give polish and shine to your pool water.

The Perfect Pool Party Plan:

Pool parties are certainly one of the best things about owning a pool but they can also lead to maintenance headaches and even some safety concerns when not approached responsibly. One of the most common questions we encounter is, “I threw a pool party, and now my water won’t clear-up!”. It is almost inevitable, depending on the size of your party, that your water is not going to be as clear as it was before the party. But with proper pool party preparation and planning… 🙂

Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at the steps you can take to make pool party maintenance and safety as simple and effective as possible. Following the steps and tips suggested in this article is a great way to ensure your pool party will be off to a great start.

Now you only need to plan pool party games, and add décor and snacks!


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger





Get your Swim On, America!

Spring Break. My kids excitedly clung to the pool coping at the deep end as their dad backed down the pool ladder and pretty much fell into the pool a little less than gracefully. The waves from my impact with the water scattered across the surface, lifting each kid up along the pool’s edge like boats on the incoming tide. They loved it of course, and I was just thankful no one else was near the pool, and that I’m a rather naturally-buoyant person.

As my kids swam about showing me their newly learned skills from recent swimming lessons, they were skimming the surface like dolphins, effortlessly kicking their legs and wiggling their bodies through the water, reaching the surface with a big smile and giggles, wanting to see me copy their moves. So I did, and I wasn’t smiling or wiggling, and I was more tug-boat-like than dolphin.

Swimming Freestyle - Illustration istockphotoIt was right then I decided this time in the pool would be a perfect opportunity to get some exercise. So I swam across the pool once, about 25 feet or so in distance, stopped long enough to turn around and swam back to where I started. It actually felt like a big accomplishment – so I did it again, and then a third time. The kids joined me, my oldest wanted to race me of course, pushing me to refine my stroke and speed. It felt great and quickly improved my mood – even before my first cup of morning coffee.

Reeling at the unfamiliar rush of energy, I lurched over to the waterfall and reached up to grab hold of the large flat rock. Pulling my arms to lift my head above the ledge, I realized I had just completed a pull-up, which is my first one since… ever, I do believe. I dropped myself back down fully into the water, and repeated the pull-up a few more times. The water kept my lower body just buoyant enough to make my body lighter but not completely weightless.

Of course I knew it was time to get out to supervise, so I swam to the pool ladder, dried off, put my t-shirt back on and went to join my wife, watching the kids in the little pool. My wife joined me and I explained how my little pool workout was invigorating and almost … enjoyable. Of course, she was happy to hear that, especially since she swims laps 3x per week, for exercise.

With a big grin, she started searching online for “water workouts”, and not surprisingly, there’s an amazing amount of ideas to be found. For instance, on GetHealthyU.com, she  found these great stretchy cord water exercises.

water workouts Image credit to GetHealthyU.com

She found a great ab workout for the pool, which I tested. Start by standing in the pool, with your back against the pool wall. Then place your elbows and forearms up on the pool deck, raising your body just slightly. Keeping knees locked and legs straight, move your legs from the vertical to horizontal position, hold them there for three seconds, and then bring your legs down. It’s easy enough to do several reps over three sets, but the water creates enough tension that you’ll feel your work in your stomach.

From swimming laps using a variety of swim strokes to working your legs, rear and abs using one of our classic pool kickboards, we found something that was low-stress but effective as a pool exercise. There are other muscle building and toning exercises that use your body weight and natural buoyancy, or you can make great use of a pool noodle.

Here’s another great chart that my wife came across – looks to be a few years old and maybe from an army field manual, but it gets the idea across just as well.

For more fun pool water workout ideas for your swimming pool, visit these other fine In The Swim blog posts for more cool pool exercises you can do to get back in summer shape.

Water Workout Calorie Burn Guide

Water Workout: 5 Pool Noodle Exercises

Water Aerobics and Water Fitness Exercises

AquaJogger Pool Fitness Routines


As Dr. Pool would say, Get your Swim On, America! There’s a hundred different ways to get a good water workout. Make use of your pool – that’s why you have it, for fun, fitness and family togetherness!


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



Favorite National Water Safety Month

Now that National Pool Opening Day is behind us, we flip the calendar to May, and begin to observe National Water Safety Month. As most pool owners are opening their pools this month, May is a fitting month for pool safety awareness.

Spring is also a good time to review and inspect – simple things you should do and know, and pool safety equipment and barriers that need to be maintained, to make your pool safe for the entire summer swimming season.

Pool safety all starts with taking pool safety seriously and making it your top priority. Some simple steps you can take to make your pool and pool area safer is to never allow children in the pool area unattended whether the pool is covered or not. Never let children near the pool unsupervised no matter what – this just can’t be stressed enough.

safer aboveground pool laddersFor aboveground pools, be sure to install (and use) a locking safety ladder. Above ground pool ladder systems range in prices and features, from basic locking ladders to  secure pool entry systems with a self – closing locking gate. Put that cheap ladder that came with your pool in the garage, and invest wisely in a locking pool ladder.

If you have an inground pool in the backyard, you should already have a perimeter fence around your backyard, but a secondary safety fence around your pool is even more effective to keep small swimmers from getting into the water.

safety-fence-gateRemovable safety fences that are quick and easy to put up and take down, are perfect for pool owners who plan to have family or friends visit on occasion.They can provide 4-sided pool perimeter protection, or the 10 ft sections can be linked to walls, fences or other barriers to separate the pool from the rest of the backyard, or in reverse to barricade the patio from the pool area.

As a final Layer of Protection, pool owners also can install pool alarms that detect motion in your pool water should a highly determined person defeat your pool safety defenses and precautions. Safety Turtle is another popular alarm for kids and pets, the wearable turtle wristband sounds an in-home alarm when submerged in water.

With all the pool safety equipment available, there’s still no substitute for being aware and prepared. The best thing you can do as a pool owner is know how to swim, and then teach your children how to swim. If you don’t know how or never learned how to swim, taking swim lessons is a great way to build your own confidence in and around the water and a great activity to do with your kids.

Learning CPRRed Cross water safety tips Infographic for children and adults is another great life-saving safety skill to know, allowing you to assist in pool emergencies while medical help is on the way. Something that is is much more common today than just 10 years ago is to have a phone nearby just in case you need to dial 911 in an emergency. Know where your phone is if you’re in the pool, and react fast to emergencies while trying not to panic.

Finally, if you notice a child is missing from your house or yard, make the pool or spa the first place you look. Seconds count when an inexperienced swimmer accidentally gets into the pool, so check the pool first, then other vulnerable places first before searching the yard or the neighborhood.

As we kick off May, the best way to “celebrate” Pool Safety Month is by knowing the best ways to be safe in and around the water, and then practicing those methods and use the right equipment to make your pool a fantastic, fun and safe spot to enjoy all summer long. Another way to celebrate is with low prices – check our safety equipment pages and our steps and ladders, we’re keeping sale prices all month long

Safe Swimmer PledgeTake a visit to NationalWaterSafetyMonth.org for other pool safety resources like more useful Pool Safety Tips. Have your kids take the Safe Swimmer Pledge, suitable for framing! Click the image on the right for a larger version for printing (be sure to set your print properties to ‘Landscape’ printing).

Have a safe summer swimming season!


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



National Pool Opening Day!

National Pool Opening Day is a registered national holiday that falls on the last Saturday in April. You may have not heard of this joyous event before, but we celebrate the occasion every year, as pool covers come off all across America, and the pool season begins!

Not everyone opens their pool on the last Saturday in April, of course. Many northern pools stay buttoned up for a few more weeks, but this weekend is the perfect time to start the ball rolling by ordering your start-up pool chemicals, supplies or equipment now for the summer season!

To help you get in the spirit of the season, we’ve lowered prices this weekend on the pool opening supplies you need to join in National Pool Opening Day festivities! And, see our Spotlight Savings for more pool equipment specials.

And because this blog is all about pool information, here’s some tips to help you open the pool this weekend – the last Saturday in April, or at least to help you get prepared for your pool opening day, coming soon!

Take a Pool Chemical Inventory

You may not need all of these or may need other pool chemicals that aren’t listed below – every pool is a bit different in the what is needed for a pool opening. Check your stock on hand for start-up chemicals and season chemicals needed.

  • Chlorine tablets and chlorine shock >>>
  • pH increaser and decreaser >>>
  • Alkalinity and calcium increaser >>>
  • Cyanuric Acid or stabilizer >>>
  • DE Powder or Aqua Perl >>>
  • Algaecides, Clarifiers, Enzymes >>>
  • Test kit reagents or test strips >>>
  • Metal and mineral control or stain removers >>>

Inspect your Pool Equipment

Ah the big reveal – what will the pool look like underneath the winter cover? On National Pool Opening Day, take the time to closely inspect the pool, deck, equipment and supplies – to be sure you have everything you need to open the pool, successfully.

  • Inspect pool cover for holes or winter damage
  • Locate filter system drain plugs and pressure gauge >>>
  • Test pump motor briefly for a few seconds
  • Inspect pool cleaning tools, pole, brush, nets, vac >>>
  • Inspect filter, pump, chlorinator for visual damage
  • Clean off equipment area, trim overhanging branches
  • Inspect pool cleaner for needed parts >>>
  • Inspect skimmer baskets, lids and weirs >>>
  • Check pool lights briefly for a few seconds
  • Lube pump lid and filter o-rings with Teflon lubricant >>>

Pool Safety Audit

It’s easy to become complacent about pool safety in your quiet little backyard pool, but staying vigilant could prevent tragedy. Spring pool opening time is the perfect time to reassess your Layers of Protection around the pool, and take steps to protect family and friends.

  • Inspect the fence for gaps greater than 4″, between slats or below fence
  • Remove anything near the fence that could be used for climbing fence
  • Check that pool fence gates are self-closing and self-latching >>>
  • Keep pool chemicals separated, clean, dry, and out of reach of children
  • Inspect pool pump wiring and other equipment pad electrical
  • Push the TEST button on your GFCI outlet with a plug-in nite light
  • Push the TEST button on any GFCI circuit breakers (yellow button)
  • Check for loose coping stones, and inspect deck for trip hazards
  • Inspect main drain and suction covers for secure attachment
  • Plan a Pool Safety meeting for all pool users, and lay down the law

Happy National Pool Opening Day! We wish you an uneventful pool opening this Saturday, with blue water and nothing leaking, creaking or squeaking!

If you have any pool opening questions when you do start-up the pool, you can send an email to me, drpool, InTheSwim resident chemist and swimming pool evangelist!


Dr. Pool



10 New Pool Tools to Ease Pool Maintenance

image by istockphoto
As a pool owner, I always have my ear out for new and inventive pool products that help make pool maintenance easier. New Pool Accessories that promise to save time, money or effort (especially effort) will always pique my interest. This year does not disappoint, with springtime deliveries bringing in some great new pool tools to make pool maintenance easier, or at least more interesting.

  1. Filterballs Blu10 and Filterballs Minis

FilterBalls - filter sand alternativeIt’s a rare that a new product comes along that can potentially revolutionize an element of pool maintenance. In the case of Filterballs, this new approach to filter media can make your existing sand filter better. 1 pound of Filterballs is the equivalent of 100 lbs of sand, they function on a lower working pressure, have a 45% greater flow rate, filter better than sand at 10 microns, and they are 100% recyclable. Filterballs save time, money and effort. I’ll be swapping out the sand in my Hayward Sand Filter in two weeks with 3 pounds of Filterballs when I open my pool in two weeks. Stay tuned for more – we will post my FilterBall installation soon, with a review to follow after a few months.

  1. Leaf Bone – Leaf Net Skimmer Clip

the Leaf BoneFalling into the “why didn’t I think of that?” category is the new Leaf Bone Skimmer Clip.  I’ve tried various DIY concepts to attempt to employ my skimmer net full time by using duct tape and some other ideas that were not quite up to MacGyver standards. The Leaf Bone is brilliant in its simplicity. It snaps-on to standard pool ladders or hand rails and the opposite end snap fits to any standard leaf net. It dangles the net in the water to offer hands-free assistance to your skimmer. Why leave it hanging up on your pool deck when it’s not in use? Put it to work full-time with the Leaf Bone, and trap the leaves before they sink, to keep your pool cleaner and your skimmer basket from becoming jammed in the fall.

  1. 24” Commercial Strength Leaf Net

24" Jumbo Leaf RakeIt’s no coincidence that our next inventive product is a new take on an old standby – the leaf net, or actually the leaf rake. A few minor tweaks make a major impact with a nifty beveled edge that helps kick up debris more effortlessly and an extra-wide 24” mouth because in this case the bigger the leaf net mouth, the better. A heavy-duty aluminum frame covered with a super-strong protective plastic rim and a dual layer carbonized fabric net over a soft mesh makes this leaf rake tough enough to last for years. I’ve had mine for going on 4 years now, and it almost looks like new. No holes, no tears, just a little faded around the red rim – and I have put this skimmer net to the test many times, it easily dredges very heavy bag-fulls from the pool.

  1. Skim-It

skim itFull disclosure, the Skim-It isn’t really a “new” product but it’s a best seller that has proven to work that our customers (and myself) love to no end. I imagine a utopian future for pool owners where brilliant inventions completely eliminate the need for lifting a finger to skim the pool.  The Skim-It leads the way to this brave new world. With it’s tool-less, spring-loaded installation, it simply pops in and out it’s a convenient way to extend the reach of your skimmer niche. I bought one for my deep end skimmer last fall, and it literally reaches out into the pool and draws leaves into the basket. This meant much more basket cleaning, but less pool cleaning – mission accomplished.

  1. Skim Doctor 2.0

Skim Doctor 2.0Not a bad band from the 90’s, it’s yet another hands-free way to assist your pool’s filtration process. The SkimDoctor 2.0 easily attaches to any inground pool skimmer basket and instantly turbo charges the suction power of your skimmer creating a vortex system to draw more debris into your skimmer basket – up to 3 times faster, while also tripling basket capacity! If you have a variable speed pump it’s perfect for when using low speed modes because you can adjust it for low levels of suction. This skimmer suction turbo charger is compatible with most all inground skimmer basket and installs in minutes. This is one new product I have to buy this summer, you should see the video! Utopian pool maintenance future, here we come!

  1. Giant Inflatable Birds and Fantasy Beasts!

Fun Inflatables at InTheSwim, Swan Float, Flamingo Float, inflatable gators, pizza float, and more!Before you think to yourself, “Wait a minute! How are inflatable Pegasus, Parrots, and Unicorns (oh my!) pool maintenance inventions? Believe it or not, they help keep annoying birds from swimming in your pool when you aren’t around. This is especially an issue this time of year when self-entitled water fowl show up from their Florida winter homes and think they just found their roost for the summer, with your pool serving as their personal bath tub. This could cause undue trouble with algae and bacteria. Until we have Wacky Wavy-Arm Guys for the pool, a giant swan float or pool flamingo will work just as well to keep out birds, snakes or gators – OH MY! Plus, they look cool floating in the pool, and even cooler featured in your kid’s instagrams or snapchats.

  1. Shock Value Packs

Shock Value Packs of IntheSwim ShockNew to our In the Swim Brand chemicals are our Shock Value Packs. Frankly, we can’t believe it’s taken us this long to combine our best-selling pool shock products into a money-saving bundle. We all love chemical value packs, a great value that adds-up to more bang for the buck, especially when it comes to saving money on pool chemicals. Our shock value packs also combines our clarifier and algaecide for a powerful 1-2-3 punch that will have your pool looking picturesque faster than you can say “discount pool chemical value pack”! We’ve even custom tailored the doses for above ground or inground pool owners, so you always have the correct amount of shock for the job.

  1. InTheSwim Replacement Salt Cells

Whaaaat? InTheSwim Generic Salt Cells - Replacement Turbo Salt Cells ?!?It pains me to type this, but this stuff literally writes itself, I tell you. Last summer my salt cell began producing less chlorine than it should, and during a routine fall cleaning and inspection I noticed that one of the metal plate solder joints was broken, so I may be needing a new salt cell this spring. Fortunately, the company I work for has a new line of replacement T-Cell salt cells for Hayward Aquarite, Aqualogic, Swimpure and others that use a Turbo Cell T-15, T-25 or T-40. So, now we have our own In The Swim salt cells, and at a significant savings, too! Generic salt cells – what will they think of next?

  1. Intex Rechargeable Handheld Vacuum

Intex Pool Power Vac, rechargeable intex pool vacuumI personally haven’t tried this out yet but the early feedback from our customers are in with rave reviews. For those with Intex soft-sided pools, like Intex Metal Frame, Ultra Frame, Easy Set, or an Intex PureSpa the filter system may not be set-up to vacuum the pool. You can use a Leaf Rake (see above) for the heavy stuff, but how to get the smaller stuff? Intex invented this rechargeable pool vacuum for convenient spot cleaning in a lightweight, but powerful package with two interchangeable heads. It’s also great for anyone with a smaller pool or a spa, not just Intex pools and spas! Rechargable handheld pool vacuum can be used to spruce up the steps or swimout, areas that the pool cleaner may miss.

  1. StarWhite Above Ground Pool LED Light

Carvin pool StarWhite pool lightAnother one for the aboveground pool owners, didn’t want you to think we forgot about you! This last product is more of a new pool accessory but it’s actually a new and improved version of the Aqualuminator, this LED pool light is made by Carvin. StarWhite features a waterproof 15’ 3-prong cord to plug into a GFCI outlet. It fits to your existing pool return wall fitting, turning your pool wall return into a pool light return! StarWhite is perfect for smaller pools to allow you to clean the pool at night, and be able to see how dirty the pool really is! This affordable, 12V LED pool light is super bright but doesn’t use a lot of electricity to get the job done. It’s brilliant!


Have any questions about any of these new pool products or have a pool maintenance product that you think belongs on this list?  We love to hear from our pool community!  Drop us a line at socialmedia@intheswim.com


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Earth Day Swimming Pool Tips

Earth Day
is but one day of the year, and of course we should be mindful of our planet every day, but Earth Day gives us that one day to personally reflect and focus on how we, each individual, impacts our environment. Everything that each one of us owns and does somehow affects our planet, and I would like to take this Earth Day to help you better understand how to make your pool friendlier to the environment.

Your pool – with the chemicals, pumps and heaters, may not be a shining example of earth friendly modern conveniences, but there are simple and inexpensive things you can do to reduce your pool’s impact on our planet. And remember that every little bit helps.

Let’s start with pool chemicals. Just the word “chemicals” makes pool chemicals less environmentally friendly, but, believe it or not, there are many pool chemicals that are are made with natural ingredients. Natural Chemistry and SeaKlear offer stain removers, filter cleaners, enzymes, clarifiers, and metal removers that help keep your pool water clearer and cleaner. There are also chlorine-free sanitizers like Aqua Silk, and you can use non-chlorine pool shock to oxidize your pool.

A great way to reduce chlorine consumption is to install a salt chlorine generator. A chlorine generator produces chlorine naturally from salt to sanitize your pool without the use of chlorine tablets. Another way is with a pool Mineral system or a pool UV system, which work very well at removing contaminants and algae, but you will still need to use some chlorine, but only half as much.

Now for your pool pump. Inefficient pool pumps can use as much energy as a home air conditioner, but you can reduce the environmental impact from your pool pump. First, get a pool pump that is the right size for the design flow rate of your pool filter. A pump that is too big draws more amps than needed, when a smaller, more energy efficient pump would get the job done just as well. The biggest eco-gain however is upgrading to a variable speed pool pump – saves over 70% in energy use when compared to standard single speed pool pumps.

intermatic time clock trippersYou can also run your pump and filter system during off-peak hours – outside of the 9-5 peak demand hours. However, to avoid cloudy water, algae and bacteria during hot and sunny periods, mid-day pump runs may be needed. You can use several sets of pump timer trippers to keep your pool water from sitting stagnant for long periods of time. Or, use Intermatic’s digital pool timer to program several pump runs throughout the day and night.

Covering your pool. A pool cover, or more specifically, a solar blanket will greatly reduce evaporation which conserves water, but equally important, less pool water evaporation also means less pool heat loss and also fewer chemicals used. The thought of having to roll out a solar cover after using the pool and roll it back up to get in the pool deters many from covering the pool all the time. However, a solar cover reel makes the process much easier.

Creating natural wind breaks around your pool is a great way to reduce evaporation as well. Planting taller grasses or bushes to form a natural wall to block wind from hitting your pool does a surprisingly good job of preventing evaporation. Wind breaks also help keep the pool water and swimmers warmer which makes the pool more enjoyable without excess energy to keep it warm.

Heating the Pool. Solar pool heaters are very popular with pool owners since they are very effective, easy to understand, inexpensive to buy and free to use. The solar heater absorbs the energy of the sun and transfers the warmth to the water. They don’t work on rainy days, and also don’t work at night of course, and as such are best used with a solar cover to retain heat at night and during rainy days.

A pool heat pump combines the use of solar energy and a small amount of electricity to draw in sun-warmed air around your pool, and transfer the air’s warmth to your pool water with zero emissions. A heat pump costs more than a gas pool heater initially, but the energy savings will more than pay for the heat pump within 2-3 pool seasons.

Hopefully these green concepts for your pool will help you gain confidence and give you ideas to make your own pool more eco-friendly. Don’t think you have to do everything to your pool all at once, but try to do something every year; every little bit helps. 

If you have ideas on making your pool greener, let us know by leaving a comment for other pool owners to create a more environmentally friendly pool in their backyard as well.


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


How to Open a Pool Without Chlorine

It’s the middle of April, which means a good portion of us not lucky enough to live in an area that enjoys year-round warmth and sun are now thinking about or preparing to open up our swimming pools. And with Earth Day being next week, I thought it would be prudent, and perhaps interesting, to discuss ways of opening a pool without the use of pool chlorine.

Honestly, a pool doesn’t use that much chlorine, but you will be hard pressed to find a pool owner who says they love the idea of handling and using chlorine no matter if it’s liquid, granular or tablets. You also will not find many swimmers who will tell you they miss that chlorine smell and how it burns their eyes and bleaches their hair. No one really likes the stuff, but it’s the most popular pool sanitizer used today, possibly due to pool owners not knowing any other way.

chlorine-free-pool-shockGoing chlorine-free isn’t necessarily easy, especially if your pool opens green. Non-chlorine shock has trouble killing algae, and although it oxidizes most contaminants, it is not a disinfectant, so it can’t remove all bacteria or other pathogens.

The most complete way to reduce your conspicuous chlorine consumption is by installing a salt chlorine generator. Chlorine generators convert ordinary table salt into pure hypochlorous acid, the killing form of chlorine found in pool chlorine tablets, granules or liquid.

Making your own ‘natural chlorine‘ has many benefits for pool owners. First and foremost, you won’t have to buy, handle or guess how much chlorine to use at any given time since the chlorine generator is doing all the work. It also means your pool water is less likely to get cloudy or develop algae when you don’t have to check chlorine levels daily – especially in hot, sunny climates – because the chlorine generator does all of this automatically.

Plus, your swimmers will no longer complain about irritated skin, burning eyes, faded bathing suits or bleached hair. Instead they will comment on how soft their skin feels after getting out of the pool.

Yes, salt chlorine generators can be expensive, and on average salt cells only last 5 years, but a 50-pound bag of pool salt is considerably cheaper than the same amount of chlorine. The saltwater can also dull shiny finishes on some pool equipment, mainly in-pool products like pool ladders and pool lights, that have shiny chrome metal in constant contact with the (salty) water. There is an easy solution to ‘galvanic corrosion’ however, just use a sacrificial anode.

I know you’re about to ask… I thought this is about opening your pool without using chlorine? Well, if you really want to do that – but you also want to be sure the water is safe for swimmers and doesn’t harbor any germs…

How to Open or Operate a Pool without Chlorine

  1. Install a solid safety cover (without drain panels) to keep the water fresh
  2. Install an oversized D.E. filter, or Cartridge filter with Microban cartridges
  3. Install a Variable Speed pool pump, to circulate water 24/7
  4. Install a Mineral Purifier and/or a UV Generator
  5. Shock the pool weekly with non-chlorine shock
  6. Maintain a clean pool with precise water balance
  7. Specialty chemicals as needed; Enzymes, Clarifiers, Algaecides

The truth is – it can be hard to open a pool without chlorine – you can operate a pool without chlorine, but for opening pools, you really need the power of chlorine to kill the algae, bacteria and other gross stuff that has developed over winter.

That is why our closing kits contain non-chlorine shock, but our spring opening kits, or start-up kits contain chlorine pool shock. Shock the pool hard when opening, and then turn on the salt chlorine generator, or use a Nature 2 or Pool Frog mineral sanitizer to cut your chlorine use in half.

But opening the pool without chlorine? That’s more difficult – if you’ve found a way to do it on your pool, please share a comment below!


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



Variable Speed Pool Pump Utility Rebates

Welcome back to pool school. Did you know that inefficient pool pumps can be the biggest energy hog around the home? Oversized pumps with standard motors can cost hundreds of dollars per month to operate, in areas with expensive electricity.

In an effort to reduce peak energy demand, utility companies, and cities and towns, are offering rebates of up to $400 – to convince pool owners to switch to variable speed pool pumps. In some states, there is also a legal mandate or requirement to switch, when replacing a pool pump.

Here’s a state by state list of current (2017) Pool Pump Utility Rebates. Be sure to download and read the application, some exclusions and limitations apply!


















If you don’t see your state or utility listed – not every state or electrical utility offers rebates for variable pool pumps. 🙁 Check your own electrical provider website for information on energy savings programs or rebates, and claim your rebate of up to $400 for installing a variable speed pool pump! Some utilities also offer rebates on pool covers and pool heat pumps.

Plus, you’ll save big in reduced energy costs, as much as 75% of your current pool pump costs. Get rid of that energy hog this year, and install a quiet, cool running variable speed pool pump with rebate this spring. You can thank me later!

Class dismissed!


Dr. Pool

19 Common Pool Opening Mistakes

Ah, Spring. The time of year when the weather heats up, the days grow longer, and algae blooms in pool water faster than you can say Daylight Savings Time. Yes, it’s time to pull back those winter pool covers, convince yourself that last year’s swimsuit is still going to fit, and get to work opening your pool!

Even if you cut a few corners, clearing up your pool water should be a simple process that most importantly requires a little patience. Overcompensating with chemicals, hastily readying pool equipment and other little details that are often overlooked daydreaming about the long, glorious summer months that lie ahead.

It happens – here are the most common mistakes made when opening your pool.

1. Not Cleaning Your Pool Deck FIRST

The first pool-opening mistake you can make actually doesn’t have anything to do with your pool water; it starts on the outside with your pool deck. Clear the deck of the 6 months of debris that collected around your pool so that it not only doesn’t end up in your pool, but it also won’t dirty-up the pool cover you are about to clean.

2. Not Cleaning Your Pool Cover

I know I’m guilty of it – in the midst of wrangling your winter cover or safety cover off of your pool you realize when it’s already too late that you just compounded your work because all of the leaves and debris that were atop the cover are now floating gracefully in your pool water.

I know you just cleaned your deck – so it will be much easier to fold and clean your cover after it’s been removed and splayed out flat on the ground. Ideally, it should only take a few minutes to clean the cover as you fold it, using a hose and brush on solid covers, or leaf blower for mesh covers.

Be mindful of where you store your cover as well. I had a family of adorable field mice burrow their way through my ever-so-neatly-folded pool cover last winter and had to patch it several times over. It may have been a single tunnel to the mice, but it was actually a dozen holes all over the cover once unfolded. Try to hang a safety cover bag in your garage or inside your house if possible. Mice are a pool cover’s second worst enemy.

3. Missing the Opportunity to Raise Water Level

Once you start removing the cover, take the time to refill your pool water levels while you are working. Don’t get all the way to the point where you are ready to fire up the pump only to realize the water line is too low for the skimmer. You were on a roll too and it’s too early to take lunch while the water refills. Depending on the water level, you may move-up topping off your pool water level to Step 1.

4. Not Cleaning Cover Water Bags

If you use water bags on a solid pool cover, or to close safety cover gaps, they are usually gross and slimy after the long off-season. In order to get a few more seasons out of them, lay them all out on a sloped surface like a driveway, and hose and scrub them clean. Let them dry before rolling or folding them up, and store them in a safe location for next year. You can patch any holes with a vinyl patch kit.

5. Missing a Safety Cover Anchor

If you have a safety pool cover you may have fallen victim to stubbing your foot on a rogue, forgotten cover deck anchor. After you’ve allen-wrenched your way around the perimeter of your pool and screwed all the anchors back into their homes to hibernate for the summer, do a double-check. Odds are, you’ll find one or two brass anchors that were missed, or a few that require a little more elbow grease to turn them down. Better to do it now, than for them to find you later.

6. Forgetting To Pull All of the Pool Plugs

Forgetting to pull your winter freeze plugs can potentially damage your plumbing when you are finally ready to fire-up your pump and filter. Be sure to do a quick recount, and get all plugs from your pool skimmer, pool returns, spa jets, cleaner line, whatever lines were plugged in the fall.

7. Not Opening All of the Valves

This is another easy-to-forget pool opening mistake and a great way to damage your system and possibly injure yourself. Make sure all of the valves are open so that your pump isn’t exerting itself in vain as you scratch your head and try to figure out why the pump isn’t priming, or why the filter lid just blew 20 ft. into the air.

8. Not Ready For Prime Time

If your pump has a basket with a locking tab inside, lock it into place and if you removed the drain plugs on your pump be sure to tightly secure them back into place. Remove any old Teflon tape, and replace with new. Also make sure to clean (with a rag) and lubricate (with Teflon pool lube), the pump lid o-ring, and tighten down the lid very snugly after filling the pump with water.

9. Forgetting the Filter Details

Before turning on your pump for the week (we’ll get to that part), you will need to put the pressure gauge and drain plug or cap back into place. Hopefully, you stored these and other easily misplaced filter parts somewhere safe last Fall. Be sure to check the filter tank clamp, to be sure that it is fully tightened, and completely covering both tank halves.

If your filter has a multiport valve, set the valve to the “Waste” setting, and roll out your backwash hose. Starting-up the pump on waste, and letting it run for a minute, will clear out antifreeze, worms, dirt and other slimy gunk. Switch to the “Filter” setting afterwards, and for DE filters, add the DE powder immediately, through the skimmer. Open the air bleeder valve on top of the filter tank to bleed off any air trapped in the filter.

Once the pump is primed, and the water is flowing freely on the “Filter” valve setting, make a note of the PSI on the pressure gauge. This will help you benchmark the optimal running pressure so you know when to backwash or if you are losing pressure. With a permanent marker, you can write the PSI on the filter tank, or mark directly on the gauge dial.

10. Not Running the Filter as Long As It Takes

You might not want to hear it, but it’s normal to leave your pool filter system running 24/7 until the water has cleared. It may cost a few more energy dollars, but it won’t blow-up, I promise you! You will save money on chemicals and time clearing the pool by letting the system run continuously for a few days. It shouldn’t take much more than that, for most filter systems. Unless, of course, your water chemistry and sanitation is lacking…

11. Not Adjusting the pH and Alkalinity FIRST

We probably could dedicate an entire blog post to the pool opening chemical mistakes one can make. The biggest mistake is not balancing your pH and alkalinity first. I know it’s probably the one thing you’ve heard the most: pH levels should be 7.2 to 7.6, and the total Alkalinity is best in the 80-120 ppm range. Having your pH a little on the low side 7.2-7.4, will help your chlorine shock work more effectively as well.

12. Ignoring Calcium Levels and Cyanuric Acid Levels

Even if your pH and alkalinity levels are balanced perfectly, your pool water quality will suffer without the proper levels of cyanuric acid also known as stabilizer and conditioner.   The level should be between 30-50 ppm and if your pool is freshly filled, add 3 lbs per 10,000 gallons to raise the level. One treatment in spring, if cyanuric acid level is low, is usually all that is needed. If too high, treat with Bio-Active CYA Reducer.

Ignoring your calcium levels can lead to stubbornly cloudy water, staining, and scale. The recommended calcium range is 150-400 ppm. Again, after adjusting the calcium hardness initially, you shouldn’t have to be concerned with it again for the rest of the season.

13. Adding all the Chemicals at the Same Time

Once all of your water is balanced with good pH, Alkalinity, Calcium and Cyanuric levels, it’s easy to be blinded by ambition by adding shock, algaecide, clarifier and a stain & scale treatment, or an entire Spring Start-Up Kit, all at the same time.

For the best results, adjust water balance and shock the pool on Day 1. On Day 2 add clarifier, on Day 3 add your stain & scale treatment, and on Day 4 or beyond, add algaecide. Shocking can deplete or deactivate other pool chemicals, so shock first, then add the other stuff over the following days, once chlorine level drops.

14. Not Closely Monitoring Chemical Levels

It’s certainly easy to perfectly balance the aforementioned chemical levels, follow the instructions to a tee, pat yourself on the back and be done with it. Spring pool chemistry can be affected by any number of elements, including incorrect adjustments. Keep an eye on it by testing the water several times during the first week after opening, and making additional adjustments as necessary.

15. Not Vacuuming To “Waste”

Once you’ve shocked your pool or if you used a Floc treatment, it’s best to vacuum out all the dead algae and fine debris with your multiport valve set on “Waste”. This prevents the finest of particulates from joyriding through your filter and running laps through your plumbing. If you don’t have a multiport valve, you can install a 3-way valve between the pump and filter, just for this occasion, and also for lowering the water level after heavy rains.

16. Not Brushing the Pool

After vacuuming the pool, hit your tile, walls, floors and steps with a good pool brush, and then continue daily. Brushing your pool walls twice a day during this first week (and once a week thereafter) may seem unnecessary, but it helps clean the pool faster, improves circulation and filtration, and is a killer workout for your biceps, triceps and traps!

17. Forgetting To Add Chlorine To Your Chlorinator

chlorine tablets and hayward chlorinator shownIf you have a floater, chemical feeder, or even a salt system in your pool be sure they are loaded or ready to go to work! Note that most salt cells won’t produce chlorine under 60° F, so you may need some chlorine tablets for a few weeks. After the initial shocking of the pool, chlorine levels will be sky-high, but can quickly deplete, allowing algae a fighting chance to bloom again. Keep your test kit handy, and use it frequently for the first few weeks.

18. Forgetting to Set the Timeclock

And resetting the timeclock to the current time. If you have the classic Intermatic timer with the yellow dial, pull out on the dial and turn it so that the current time aligns with the down-arrow (located at 6 o’clock). After the water clears, place the timer dogs (trippers) on the dial, and use pliers to tighten down the set screw, so they don’t slip out of place.

19. Forgetting to Yell Cannonball

Look at that crystal clear pool water. The sun is shining. The pool is open for business.  Your swimsuit fits. All those pool opening details have left you feeling carefree. It’s time for the first cannonball of the season.  Don’t blow it by not yelling, “CANNONBAAAAAALLLL” as you fly through the air.


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



Not Opening the Pool this Year?!?

Pool Renovation beginning for Thompson Pools - http://www.thomaspoolservice.com/Another swimming pool season is inching closer and closer which means the time to open up your pool is soon approaching. Normally, this occasion is met with great celebration as the birds chirp, the snow shovels are tossed into a lost corner of the shed, and the marching band fires up to announce the arrival of summer!

But not this year. Maybe you plan to travel a lot more than normal, or perhaps the house is not occupied, or the pool needs a major renovation, or for financial reasons you’ve decided the pool shall stayed closed for the summer. OK, what now? You know what to do to close a pool and to open it again, but what do you do to keep a pool covered and closed?

Below are some tips when it comes to not opening a pool for summer.

What You Should Do

First, this might not be the news you want to hear, but you may want to maintain the pool to some degree at least. A pool isn’t designed to be stagnant during the warm months of the year, and pool covers deteriorate faster in strong summer sunlight. Leaving the pool closed all summer is a guaranteed way to end up with a green, smelly mess and permanent stains or damage to the pool surfaces.

how to know when to shock a poolWhat I would recommend ~ is to brush the pool well, then and add water balancers as needed, and then add a good stain & scale chemical, followed by a strong algaecide, and a floater kept full of chlorine tablets. Come to think of it, these are the chemicals in our Winter Kits. Keep the water level at the bottom of the tile, or a few inches lower, and keep the winter pool cover installed tightly.

If you cannot do all of this, ask a neighbor, a family member or a pool service to check and maintain the water on a monthly basis. If you don’t keep up with some maintenance, your pool liner or plaster will deteriorate into a big mess that’s harder and more expensive to open the next time.

Another thing you will need to maintain is the water level in the pool. If you have a safety cover, rainfall will raise the pool water levels. When it touches the cover, debris is trapped and turns the cover into a giant tea bag. It also weakens the fibers over time, and makes the cover less safe, and – allows the water to warm too much. Keep the water level a few inches below the tile, or 8-10″ below the cover.

If you don’t mind the possibility of permanent stains, and possible damage to the pool plaster, vinyl or fiberglass surfaces, then go ahead and just let it go. This is a good option if you are planning a pool renovation. Next year, or whenever, the pool will be drained and acid washed, or pressure washed, filled and started-up again, after repairs are made.

Don’t Drain the Pool

Whatever you do, do NOT drain the pool. Draining your pool for any extended period of time will lead to serious damage, and the damage is different for inground pools and above ground pools, but equally devastating for both.

If your pool has a vinyl liner and you drain all of the pool water at any time of the year, you run the risk of ruining the pool liner, or developing large wrinkles when refilling. Especially for older liners, if you drain the pool completely, a vinyl liner could rip or ‘snap’ when trying to refill the pool later. A liner not covered in water will quickly shrink, harden and slowly disintegrate, even if the pool is covered.

Inground pools face a different threat. If you drain your inground pool for any length of time, you’re likely to see cracks form in the plaster, which will shrink and crack if left dry in warm temperatures – even with a pool cover on it. Delaminations can also occur, leading to ‘pop-offs’ of plaster in areas of the pool.

collapsed aboveground pool wallsFor above ground pools, a drained pool won’t only destroy your vinyl liner, but you will risk the collapse of the pool’s metal walls as well. Above ground pool walls are designed to stand up to the sheer force of the water weight, and without that force pressing outward, the walls could fall inward in a strong breeze.

Having no water in your inground pool lends the potential for catastrophic damage. If you drain your pool completely, and the water table around the pool is high, the ‘hydrostatic‘ pressure of the ground water can actually lift your concrete or fiberglass pool out of the ground. It can also ‘float’ vinyl liners, forcing large puddles of water underneath the liner.

Our Recommendation

Really, you should always open your pool. Believe it or not, opening your pool will save you a truckload of money in the long run. If you keep your pool closed, at a minimum, you will have to drain it, acid wash, or replace the liner the next time you open the pool. Other problems often also occur to the pool or equipment, when a pool falls into dis-use.

So unless money is a very serious issue, it’s best to either open and maintain the pool yourself or hire a pool service, or a local kid home for the summer – especially if you are planning to travel extensively or be out of town for long periods of time.

An option for above ground pool owners is to disassemble your pool entirely if you know you won’t use it for an extended period of time. Plan on replacing the pool liner when you go to re-install your pool down the road.

Another option is to go ahead and open up your pool and keep it covered but run the pool filter less. The best combination for this scenario is to use a solid pool cover and run your filter for about 3-6 hours a day. Good water balance, a little bit of chlorine and daily filtering will help keep the pool water fairly fresh so the water doesn’t get too stagnant and smelly, but this could all fall apart, if you don’t check on things once or twice per month.

In Summary, if you’re not opening the pool this year, you have 3 options:

  1. Keep it closed but maintain good water balance, a good water level, and use chlorine tablet floaters, algaecides and stain away (Winter Kits).
  2. Open the pool, but keep it covered all summer, and run the filter only as much as needed. Keep the water balanced and chemically treated.
  3. Keep it closed and maintain proper water level. Open next year with a drain and clean, or replace the plaster or vinyl liner at the same time.


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger