Slash Swimming Pool Maintenance Costs
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Pool owners are all-too-familiar with the continuous cost of maintaining a swimming pool.  Many of us accept the high pool maintenance costs of outdated pool equipment because an existing pump or heater still perform, as they should.

And some of us just accept higher energy bills in the summer. Take a look at the big picture to spotlight some opportunities to save some money on pool expenses by spending a little more on pool equipment and accessories that could potentially pay for themselves!


SOLAR POOL HEATERS

solar-pool-heatersInground and above ground pool owners can take advantage of surprisingly affordable solar panel heating for their pools. If you have a sunny southern exposure for 6 hours of daily sun, each 100 sq. ft. of solar panels can add 10 degrees to the pool, without burning fossil fuels.

Swimming pool solar panels absorb heat from the sun as the pool water passes through a series of coils or tubes and transfer the heat to your pool water. Solar panels are daisy- chained, modular, so you can add as much as you need. A small solar system can cut your pool heating costs in half, and a larger solar pool heater can replace the need for gas or electric pool heaters.

SOLAR COVERS

Solar blankets, for both inground and above ground pool owners, can work all on their own or in tandem with your pool heater or solar panel heaters. During the day, they help collect the sun’s energy to heat your pool (up to 10°!), but their best use is to stop heat loss when the sun goes down. Warm pool water coupled with nighttime temperatures accelerates evaporation, which can be reduced by over 90% when you use a solar blanket.

Solar blanket covers are a little bit of effort when you don’t have a solar reel, but when you pay to heat a pool, solar covers pay for themselves in just a month or two, by reducing heating costs and stopping pool evaporation, which also saves money.

VARIABLE SPEED PUMPS

The biggest return on investment on our list could be Variable Speed Pumps. The Variable Speed model of Hayward’s Super Pump can use 70% less energy and as cliché as it may sound, spending a few hundred dollars more on a variable speed pump as opposed to a single speed pump can literally pay for itself!

Running a pool pump at half speed doesn’t use half as much energy, it uses 1/8 as much energy! You’ll notice this efficiency on your very first electricity bill of the season. Many VS pumps qualify for a green energy tax rebate making it that much smarter of investment.

POOL HEAT PUMPS

Heat pumps work like a reverse air conditioner, they capture heat from the outside air and transfer it to your pool water. Heat pumps only work if the air temperature is over 50 degrees which may not be an issue for most fair-weather swimmers.

A pool heat pump can reduce your pool heating costs by up to 50% or more when compared to gas pool heaters, and also tend to require less repairs. They are more expensive to buy than gas pool heaters, but can pay for themselves after just a few seasons. Heat Pumps often qualify for green energy tax rebates as well!

GOOD WATER CHEMISTRY

There are less obvious, less costly ways to invest in your pool that can save you money in the long run. By spending a little more on the top-of-the-line Taylor K-2005 Test Kit you can expect commercial grade test results.

Improper pool testing practices can lead to a domino effect of unbalanced water and algae, and a pool chemical spending spree to restore well-balanced pool chemistry. Spending $80 on a test kit can directly lead to saving hundreds on pool chemicals. It’s pool ownership 101 but it’s a lesson that is time tested.

POOL SAFETY COVERS

safety-cover-meycoInvesting in a high quality pool safety cover is not only a wise investment from a safety perspective, safety covers can save money on a much grander scale. Mesh safety covers save water (the pool refills), they save electricity (no cover pump needed), they reduce cover and water bag trash (good for landfills), and they save you time and effort in not having to pump and clean a slimy solid pool cover.

Since safety covers are made of interconnected squares, the cost for rectangular safety covers is quite low, and a quick payback is assured. And for custom shaped pools too, the benefits of a safety pool cover for winter far outweigh the cost savings of the alternative.

POOL CAULKING

Pool Caulking is used in the expansion joint between inground pool coping and a concrete pool deck. It’s important for two reasons; the first being that the joint needs to remain clear of grit and dirt, to allow room for expansion of the pool deck, without hitting the pool. The second reason to caulk your pool is to prevent water from freezing during winter. Ice can be very powerful as it expands, and over time this can damage your pool.

Vulkem Pool Caulk, is pool owner friendly pool caulk. Put backer rod foam in the expansion joint, and then squeeze in the self-leveling caulk to seal up the expansion joint on the back of the coping stones, all the way around the pool. It’s a small step that could save you thousands in repairs to tile and coping.

FILTER CLEANER

Filter cleaner, last and least costly on our list of money saving investments for your swimming pool is again, back-to-basics. An optimized pool filter is everyone’s friend, requiring less pump run time, and fewer sanitizers or clarifiers, and it makes you work less by effectively filtering larger quantities of smaller debris.

It’s a small investment to to use a Pool Filter Cleaner to deep clean your cartridge, DE, or sand media. Like well-balanced pool water, a clean pool filter creates a positive domino effect, making water management much easier.


From small investments like filter cleaner to big ticket investments like a pool heat pump, technology and modern chemistry is leading the way to more eco- and wallet-friendly ways for  pool owners to save money for the more important pool accessories like giant inflatable slices of pizza and ride-on Pegasus floats.

Do you have a money-saving pool investment that we missed?  We love you hear from our pool community and welcome your comments or emails to socialmedia@intheswim.com.

 


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

Hot New Pool Products 2017
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new banner sales tags by istockphotoSwimming pools have long been the largest area of innovation around the home.

Pools inspire people to invent gadgets of fancy, and pool owners and pool techs around the world are constantly dreaming up new ways to clean, heat, sanitize and enjoy the water.

Technology never sleeps, and since we haven’t done a new pool products post in several years, the time is right to look at what’s hot and new for swimming pools.


NEW POOL CHEMICALS

bioactive-cyanuric-acid-reducer-smBioActive Cyanuric Acid Reducer:

Stop draining half the pool to lower cya levels. BioActive is the only chemical that reduces cyanuric acid levels, saving thousands of gallons. One 8 oz bag of Bio-Active treats 25000 gals, and can reduce cyanuric acid levels from 100 to 50 ppm – overnight!

 

EZ Pods natural clarifier for poolsEZ Pods Natural Clarifier:

Ultra-Concentrated EZ-Pods are a natural clarifier tablet that you drop in the skimmer. No measuring, each pod treats 10000 gallons to restore water clarity. Natural water clarifier is made with chitosan obtained from sea crustaceans. Now that’s science!

 

HAYWARD UVO3 SYSTEMHayward Hydrorite UVO3 System:

The Hydrorite UV and Ozone system produces UV, Ozone and Hydroxy Radicals, to kill up to 99.9% of bacteria. Designed for commercial pools, see also the Pentair Bioshield UV Sterilizer. For residential pool UV purifiers, see the Solaxx NUVO 3000 UV System.


NEW POOL ACCESSORIES

SAFTRON POOL LADDER SHOWN WITH COLORSSaftron Pool Ladders:

Yawn! What’s so special about pool ladders and hand rails? Saftron pool ladders and rails are made from 1/4″ thick, high impact ding and dent-free polymers. Impervious to stains, salt, sun and chlorine, they also remain cool to the touch, in any weather. Plus, they come in six cool colors!

 

SKIM-A-ROUND FLOATING POOL SKIMMERSkim-A-Round Floating Pool Skimmer:

The Skim-A-Round is a floating pool skimmer that attaches to a skimmer, vacuum line, low-water suction, even to a main drain. Floating skimmer moves around to trap debris in a lily pad style basket. Great for above ground pools with no skimmer or inground pools with a vacuum line.

 

filterballs shown inside sand pool filter cutawayFilterBalls Advanced Filter Media

FilterBalls filter better, last longer and improve flow rate during filtration and backwashing. Made from extruded polyester, these tiny sponges trap particles down to 10 microns in size, twice as good as pool filter sand. New this year are FilterBall Minis, smaller FilterBalls, for filters that use less than 150 lbs of filter sand.


NEW POOL FLOATS

Derby Duck Ride-On Giant Duck by GAMEDerby Duck Ride-On:

Not sure if you saw the viral video last week of a guy riding a giant rubber ducky down a flooded street. The Derby Duck Ride-On is a new pool float by GAME, a giant version of their popular Derby Ducks, so famous all around the world for charity fund raising. Giant Inflatable Duck is huge!

 

Pool Candy LED Float

Pool Candy pool float is a classic 18 pocket sun tanner pool float by day, but at night, this pool lounger lights up with 18 super bright LED lights, that change color to brighten your pool and your mood! Choose from 3 light modes to flash fast, slow, or simply glow. AAA batteries included.

 

Capri pool loungeCapri Lounge

The Capri pool lounge offers luxury and comfort, with chic styling and colors. Capri lounges are covered in a soft and durable 6-D polyester cover that is removable for cleaning. Unique curved design and tall profile makes it super comfy in the pool, or on the deck. Measures 73″ x 31″ x 24″, and comes in 5 cool colors.


NEW POOL EQUIPMENT

pool boy III battery powered solar blanket reel for poolsPool Boy III Solar Reel:

Pool Boy III is the world’s first battery powered (rechargeable) remote control operated solar blanket reel. Earlier versions operate with a power cord, which is so – last century! Wireless remote works from over 50 ft away, to remove and replace the solar blanket automatically.

 

Supreme Duo-Brush by Red LeopardSupreme DuoBrush:

Yawn! Now we’re talking about pool brushes!?! The Supreme Pool Brush has over 20,000 bristles attached in a fan-style, to do more work with every brush stroke. Duo Brush is easier to use and much more effective. Aluminum handle and V-clip fits all standard pool poles.

 

SkimDevil Solar Pool SkimmerSkim Devil Solar Skimmer:

The Skim Devil Solar Skimmer is a solar powered, app controlled pool skimmer. Customizable and programmable, or you can guide the Solar Skimmer with remote control using the Android or iOS app on your smartphone or tablet. Sucks up leaves, before they sink.


2017 MANUFACTURER REBATES

rebates - image by istockphotoThere are rebates every year from the manufacturers, usually given in the form of a Visa gift card, send to you after you fill out the form and mail it in to the manufacturer. In 2017, rebates are available on the following items:

Pentair Rebates: Racer, Legend, and Warrior Pool Cleaners, UltraTemp Pool Heat Pumps.

Hayward Rebates: Pool Vac XL, AquaVac 500, TigerShark, SharkVac, TriVac 500 Cleaners, AquaRite and Swim Pure Plus salt systems.

Zodiac Rebates: Nature2 Mineral Cartridges, Polaris 3900 Sport, 9450 and 9550 robotic pool cleaners.


I hope you enjoyed this look at some of the new pool products we have available at In The Swim. Is there a hot and cool new pool product that you just simply can’t live without? Let us know by ‘Leave a Reply’ below, or email to socialmedia@intheswim.com.

 


Sheryl Sollis
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

 

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Things to Consider When Buying A Home With A Pool
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Imagine the following scenario: After searching dozens of neighborhoods in five different towns, you finally find your dream house. It’s perfect in every way – and has real curb appeal. As you take a tour through the house’s interior with your real estate agent, that’s when you see it – a swimming pool in the backyard. Yeah, that might be a show stopper. So now what?

I asked Elizabeth Graffagna for some advice on how to approach this situation. Elizabeth has managed her family’s home construction and renovation business in Illinois for the past 10 years. She’s had a few moments where a deal was nearly perfect but the pool ruined it, or vice-versa where a house was not distinctive but the pool and backyard was a home run. “First, you have to be pragmatic and realistic about the situation,” she says. “It’s an absolute must that you ask yourself and your husband, wife, business partner, or anyone else buying the home with you, if a pool is something you want.”

Pools are great. There’s nothing like having your own pool to use on those perfect summer afternoons and evenings, but there’s a lot to owning a pool, kind of like getting a dog. If you’ve never owned a pool before, keep in mind that your pool will require regular maintenance and cleaning that will take time and cost money.

how-much-do-pools-cost-to-maintain - istock photoWhat’s a Pool Cost to Maintain? Maybe an hour per week, and $100 per month, might be usual. This covers unexpected repairs, replacement parts and fun accessories that you’ll want to buy, in addition to pool chemicals.

For professional pool service, prices vary widely from south to north, up to $100+ per week to clean your pool, add pool chemicals and maintain the pump and filter. If you want to save the money and do it yourself, which we recommend ;-), you can find all the pool parts, supplies, chemicals and accessories you need, right here at In The Swim.

If you don’t clean your pool regularly it will eventually turn into a swampy mess so there’s no skimping here. For the DIY inground pool owner, you may spend $250 per year in chemicals and $250 in parts and accessories, plus costs for running the pump and heating the water, if the pool has a pool heater.

What About Pool Safety? If you currently have children or are planning a family, pool safety is at the top of your list. Pools can be made safe for small children with safety products like mesh fencing and mesh covers, door alarms and pool alarms, in addition to swim lessons and vigilant parental supervision.

In some cases, homes being sold by older folks may not have a lot of pool safety accessories, but you can child-proof a pool.

You Go For it! Nevertheless, it’s your dream home, you say. If that’s the case, here’s what you should do before you make final decisions and especially before you make any deal or sign on the dotted line.

First, look closely at the pool and see if there are any warning signs you should be concerned about. Are there any large cracks in the pool, tile or deck surfaces? If the pool is above ground, are the walls and top rail in good condition? You should also check and see if all of the needed equipment and accessories are there such as filters, pumps, ladders, cleaners. Inspect the plumbing and valves for any signs of leaks. What’s the overall condition of the pool and all of its equipment and accessories? How about the vinyl liner or plaster interior, does it look to be in good shape with few stains? Have your realtor ask the home owners for pool maintenance records – the more detailed the better.

pool-inspection - istkAfter looking over everything, if you’re confident to move forward and purchase the house and your offer is accepted, you should have a pool inspection with a local pool company. Home inspectors focus on the house and might miss possible issues with the pool, which is why you should consider a pool specialist who can test for aspects of the pool that may be a challenge for a general home inspector.

Beyond the home and pool inspection, it would be wise to find out as much information as possible regarding the pool. Ask the sellers questions like, who built the pool? What year was it built? How much does the pool pump (or heater) cost to run every month? What conveniences or accessories does the pool have? Does everything related to the pool convey with the home sale? And for snowbelt pools, what type and condition is the winter pool cover?

You will also want to check out ancillary items like the condition of the pool fence and gates, pool drain covers, and if there’s a pool cleaner, what condition is it in, and how effective is it? You can also ask about repair, replacement or renovation work that has been done in the past.

After everything with the pool checks out and you purchase your dream home, consider hiring a pool company to give you a pool orientation, to show you how to maintain the pool on your own. In The Swim has a plethora of information to help pool owners educate themselves on pool maintenance, pool chemistry and pool equipment repair and replacement.

Although it’s not easy and can be expensive, removing the pool is an option, and Graffagna explained that her company has removed pools in the past. “Houses with pools that need very extensive repairs and were built 30-40 years ago can be removed.” she says. “It’s not easy and it’s not cheap, but in some cases it’s the right thing to do for the home to sell fast. It’s not just a matter of filling in an inground pool however, the floor must be broken up so water can permeate, and the top half of the wall must be removed. $10-12K on average.

To sum all of this up: if you find your dream home also has a pool, don’t be scared off. Most inground pools take less than an hour per week to maintain, on average, and about $100 per month in parts, chemicals and accessories, or about $500-$1000 per year. If you have pool safety concerns, possibly not shared by the current pool owner, you can make the pool safer with good fencing, alarms and covers.

If you’ve bought a house with a pool, what things did you learn after closing the deal and moving in? What would you tell others in your situation to look out for?

This is the third 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 and second editions 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