Pool & Spa Outdoor Blog

Category: Water Care & Technology

Water Care & Technology

BioSafe Systems Introduces New Eco-Friendly Water Care Products

Eco-Friendly Water Care for Pools & Spas - GreenCleanMAX by BioSafe Systems

GreenCleanMax non-chlorine pool spa treatments shock
GreenCleanMAX is the newest line of eco-friendly pool and spa products from BioSafe Systems.

This eco-friendly product line includes treatments for your pool, spa, deck, and outdoor furniture without the use of harsh chemicals. Learn more about each product below.

Non-Chlorine Pool Shock

GreenCleanMax non-chlorine pool shockBioSafe’s GreenCleanMAX Non-Chlorine Shock is a great liquid pool shock application.

It clears up pool water quickly, working as a powerful oxidizer, and is great to treat organic build-up, wastes, oils, and lotions in pool water. This chlorine-free shock reduces combined chlorine levels and controls odors.

Plus, you can swim within 15 minutes of application.

When to use:

- When combined chlorine levels are high
- After heavy use of the pool or spa
- After heavy rainstorms

Non-Chlorine Spa Treatment

GreenCleanMAX non-chorine pool hot tub spa treatmentThe GreenCleanMAX Non-Chlorine Spa Treatment oxidizes unwanted waste, oils, and lotions, and is a great treatment for water odors.

This liquid treatment is derived from activated peroxygen chemistries that contain no chlorine or copper. Its unique formula does not leave behind any odors or irritating byproducts; it simply breaking down into water and oxygen.

When to use:

- When chlorine levels are high
- When odors are high
- After heavy use of the hot tub or spa
- Weekly as a maintenance program

Non-Chlorine Algaecide

GreenCleanMax non-chlorine granular algaecideThe GreenCleanMAX Granular Algaecide eliminates and prevents algae, slime, molds, and bacteria in swimming pools (including saltwater pools), hot tubs, and spas.

The algaecide is both chlorine-free and copper-free and works without leaving behind skin irritants. It also requires no pH adjustment.

GreenCleanMAX’s sustainable approach softens the water and brings organic debris to the surface for easy removal.

When to use:

- When first opening your pool
- Weekly to prevent algae
- Prior to closing your pool

Moss, Mold, and Mildew Treatment for Decks & Patios

GreenCleanMax MMM Moss Mold Mildew Treament deck patioGreenCleanFX MMM is a moss, mold, and mildew treatment that is free of copper, chlorine, and phosphates.

The formula comes in a convenient spray bottle and is safe to use on many surfaces, including wood decks, patios, pool ladders, and outdoor furniture.

It is EPA-registered as a cleaning product for non-porous surfaces such as pool and spa covers, umbrellas, and cartridge filters.

How to use:

- Attach the ready-to-spray nozzle to a hose for quick application. Spray onto area to be treated. (No rinsing required.)
- For areas heavily stained with mold, mildew or moss, brush lightly with GreenCleanFX MMM to help remove stains quickly.

Where to use:

- Concrete and pavement: patios, sidewalks and retaining walls
- Outdoor furniture: chairs, tables, umbrellas and awnings
- Decks: composite, wood (natural, painted, stained) pre-treated lumber
- Pool covers and equipment: diving boards, covers, liners, tiles, siding

To learn more about this new line of eco-friendly pool and spa care products, visit www.GreenCleanMAX.com

Photos courtesy of BioSafe Systems

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How to Maintain Your Pool Before and After a Rain Storm

Pool Care Tips: What to Do with Your Pool

Before and After a Rain Storm

How to Prepare Your Pool Before a Rain StormAlong with beautiful sunshine and warmer temperatures, the months of summer also bring a fair share of rain. According to the National Hurricane Center, June 1 to November 30 marks the Atlantic hurricane season, while the Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30. (Peak hurricane season runs from mid-August to late October.)

The combination of rain, high winds, and even lightning can introduce an array of dirt, debris, and other unhealthy pollutants into your pool water as well as put a strain on your pool’s equipment and structure. Proper preparation and clean-up is important to ensure your pool remains protected and is safe for you to jump back in once the sun re-emerges. Follow the tips below to keep your pool safe, clean, and protected before and after a rain storm.

Photo courtesy of Pentair Aquatic Systems

How to Prepare Your Pool Before a Rain Storm

Keep the pool full – Never drain the pool before a rain storm. The weight of the water will help hold the pool in place in case the ground around it becomes heavily saturated with rainwater, which could cause the pool to lift out of the ground. If you’re afraid the pool will overflow, lower the water level no more than 2 – 3 inches and close the skimmer valve to prevent damage to the pump.

Freeform Swimming Pool with Loop-Loc Safety CoverRemove loose items from the pool area – High winds can blow items such as floats, lounge chairs, and other patio furniture into the pool which can cause major damage. Place pool floats, toys, and other items in a safe place, such as a garage, shed, or storage bin. Cover patio furniture or tie it down if you’re not able to bring it indoors.

Turn off power to the pool equipment – Turn the power off at the circuit breaker for the pump, motor, filter, heater, and lighting to avoid dangerous electrical problems due to flooding.

Protect the pool equipment – Even with the power turned off, your pool’s equipment are vulnerable to damage from high winds and heavy amounts of rainwater. It’s best to remove the pump motor and bring it indoors, or cover it with a plastic tarp and tightly tie it down to prevent water from getting inside.

Balance the water and add algicide – Rainwater carries many organic contaminants from the atmosphere. Balancing the water and adding algicide or extra chlorine before a storm will help ease contamination and save you a lot of trouble during the clean-up process.

If you have a mesh safety cover, put it on – A lightweight solar pool cover can easily be blown off or into the pool during high winds and a solid tie-down cover can tear if it accumulates too much rainwater; in most cases, it is best to leave these covers off of the pool. Mesh safety covers are better equipped to withstand harsh winds since they are tightly anchored to the pool deck with minimal gaps where wind can enter and blow the cover off. The mesh material also allows rainwater to filter through the cover and into the pool, so it will not collect on top. [Cover Concerns: Some pool owners prefer to leave their pool uncovered during storms fearing that fallen tree branches or other harsh debris will destroy the cover; however, these items can cause considerable damage to the pool's interior, which can be more difficult and expensive to replace than a pool cover. Decide which investment is more important to you.]

Photo courtesy of Loop-Loc, Ltd.

How to Clean Your Pool After a Rain Storm
Skim and remove debris – Remove any large branches, leaves, and other debris from the pool with a rake and skimmer.

Check the pump strainer and skimmer baskets – There’s a good chance these have been filled with dirt and debris from the storm. Clean them out to prevent clogging the system once you restore power to the equipment.

Inspect the pool equipment and restore power – Uncover the pump motor and check for water or water damage. If the equipment is dry, you can turn the power back on and start running the pool’s circulation and filtration systems. Do not turn the power back on if the equipment is wet or if there are signs of water damage. Instead, contact a licensed electrician and have him/her come out and inspect the equipment. Never try to clean or dry the equipment without first consulting a professional.

Pentair Kreep Krauiser Pool VacuumVacuum the pool – After restoring power to the pool equipment, it’s time to clean the pool. Brush the pool walls and floor to remove any dirt and then vacuum the pool.

Shock and balance the water – Even though you balanced the water before the storm, the organic materials in the rainwater most likely wiped out any residual chlorine levels and lowered the water’s pH and alkalinity. Add enough pool shock chemicals to bring the chlorine level to around 10.0 ppm. (Always pre-dissolve chemicals in water before adding to your pool.) Once the chlorine level recedes to 3.0 ppm, begin balancing the water.

Run the pump and filter – Keep the circulation and filtration systems running for at least 10 hours after shocking the pool to ensure the water is properly sanitized.

Turn on the pool heater – Due to rainwater and wind, the pool’s water temperature is probably a little on the chilly side. Turn on your pool’s heating system so that it has enough time to warm the water to your desired temperature.

Photo courtesy of Pentair Aquatic Systems

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FAQ: Pool Water Care, How to Prevent Algae, Energy-Saving Tips

10 FAQ: Pool Water Care, Preventing Algae in Pools, Energy Savings & More

Pool maintenance is an important part of pool ownership. To keep your pool clean and sparkling, you have to test the water regularly and keep it clean.

We spoke to BioGuard®, one of the leading manufacturers of pool and spa products, to get their expert advice on some frequently asked questions about water care, how to prevent algae in pools, energy saving tips, and routine pool maintenance.

BioGuard family in pool lifestyle water care1. How long should I run my pool filter?

The best time to circulate the water is during the day, for 10 hours or more. Pool water must be circulated for maximum sanitizer effectiveness. The more your water is in motion, the harder it is for bacteria and algae to take hold.

2. How often should I clean or vacuum my pool?

The walls and floor should be brushed and vacuumed at least once a week to remove debris missed by the filter.

3. How often should I test the chemical levels in my pool?

Test your pool water for sanitizer and pH two or three times per week. Also, take a sample to your dealer every four to six weeks during the season. This will help you maintain proper water balance and greatly reduce the potential for problems.

4. How do I prevent algae in my pool?

BioGuard recommends the following steps to prevent algae:

- Add a weekly preventative algaecide such as BioGuard Back Up® or Smart Algicide, using the dosage recommended on the product label
- Weekly shock routine to eliminate unwanted contaminants
- Maintain a sanitizer residual in the range of 1 – 4 ppm
- Brush your pool once a week
- Maintain a filter run time of a minimum of 10 hours daily, during daylight hours, to help keep algae from adhering to surfaces and beginning to grow.

5. I have algae in my pool currently. How do I get rid of it?

While it is always easier to prevent algae than to treat an algae problem, using an EPA registered algicide, such as BioGuard Banish, along with shocking the pool can be very effective at killing algae. An often overlooked element to treating and preventing algae is ensuring the filtration and circulation system are running effectively. Addressing these areas of pool care will help solve your existing issue, as well as help prevent future algae problems.

6. How often should I backwash my sand or D.E. filter?

Generally, a sand or D.E. filter should be backwashed when the water pressure in the filter reaches 8 to 10 psi above normal (check manufacturer's guidelines). Because backwashing does not remove oils and deeply embedded debris, every filter needs to be chemically cleaned regularly (twice a season) using BioGuard Strip Kwik® and Kleen It®.

BioGuard pool lifestyle water care7. How often should I clean my cartridge filter?

If a pressure gauge is installed, you can follow the same guidelines that you follow for a sand or D.E. filter. You should remove and flush the cartridge with a strong spray of water when the operating pressure is 8 - 10 psi above normal or “clean” operating pressure.

If no pressure gauge is installed, you should remove and rinse the cartridge when you see a noticeable decline in the pressure of the water being returned to the pool through your jets.

As stated above, cartridge filters also need to be chemically cleaned at least twice a season to ensure the buildup of oils and debris is effectively removed.

8. What conditions might require a chlorine shock treatment? How long after shocking is the pool water safe to swim in?

Shocking the pool is a vital and often overlooked part of weekly pool care and maintenance. In addition to weekly maintenance to help keep the pool clean and clear, shocking is also great for troubleshooting problems such as cloudy water, low chlorine residual, and algae. Chlorine shock treatment is always a necessary component to treat chlorine demand.

Swimming can resume when the chlorine residual is 1 – 4 parts per million. The amount of time it takes for chlorine to drop to the acceptable level after shocking varies in different pools.

9. How should pool chemicals be stored?

Here are some general storage guidelines for pool chemicals:

- Store chemicals in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space.
- Keep chemicals away from heaters or open flames.
- Store chemicals on shelves or pallets whenever possible, but particularly anytime water is used for cleanup of floors; use caution during cleaning to avoid wetting of any dry chemicals.
- Store chemicals away from doors and windows.
- Do not store pool chemicals with incompatible or flammable materials, such as gasoline, oil, grease, fertilizer, herbicides, paint, solvents (for example, turpentine), oily rags, and alcohol.
- No smoking in storage areas or when handling chemicals.

10. What are some energy-saving tips for my pool?

Covering your pool can make a big difference in energy efficiency and maintenance cost. A covered pool will stay warmer than an uncovered pool, reducing heating costs when using a heater to warm the water. Covering the pool also decreases evaporation, which decreases the amount of new water you have to put in the pool. Saving water saves valuable energy and resources.

Pool covers also keep out dirt and debris, reducing the work done by the pump and filter. Less debris leads to shorter pump run times and increasing energy efficiency. Coupled with that, proper pool maintenance helps keep water clean and clear, also reducing the amount of filtration needed to maintain water clarity. In addition, make sure your pump and filter are properly sized and in good working order. This will maximize efficiency when they are running.

Photos courtesy of BioGuard; photography by Dale Peterson

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6 Tools That Make Pool Care Easy

Automatic Pool Equipment for Easy Maintenance

Routine maintenance is a necessary part of pool ownership—and it’s easier than you think. Thanks to technological advances in swimming pool equipment, pool care has become more simple, convenient, and efficient than ever. Here are six pool tools that will make taking care of your pool a quick and easy process.

1. Automatic Pool Cleaner

Automatic pool cleaners automate the otherwise manual task of removing dirt, leaves, and other debris from the pool. There are different types of automatic pool cleaners and most manufacturers offer a variety of models to fit any swimming pool, budget, or lifestyle.

Sandshark Suction-side Pool Cleaner from Pentair

Suction-side pool cleaners are the least expensive option, ranging in price from $200 to $500. These cleaners attach to the suction (input) side of the pool’s filter system and suck up dirt and other fine particles and transfer them to the skimmer.

Some models come with a separate filter bag to keep large debris from building up in the skimmer basket while others contain features that remove algae. For instance, the foot pad on the Kreepy Krauly® SandShark™ (pictured at right) has rows of squeegee-like fins that wipe away dirt and debris from vinyl, gunite, or fiberglass surfaces as the unit moves across the pool’s floor.

Click to see more automatic pool cleaners from Pentair Aquatic Systems >>

Pentair Pressure-side Pool CleanerPressure-side pool cleaners use either the return (output) side of the pool’s circulation system or a separate booster pump with a dedicated water pressure line to move around the pool and draw up dirt and debris into its attached filter bag.

Pressure-side cleaners have a larger intake than suction-side cleaners and can handle both small and large debris. Most models have a tail that stirs up the pool water and helps filter out finer particles to the main drain. Models typically cost around $425 without a booster pump and approximately $900 with a booster pump.

Robotic pool cleaners contain their own filtering systems and are self-powered by solar energy, a rechargeable battery, or a water-safe cord plugged into a standard GFCI-protected outlet. Because they have two intake ports, robotic cleaners are efficient at sucking up small and large debris, from pollen and sand to leaves and small twigs.

Many cleaners will also dislodge dirt and grime from the pool’s floor, walls, stairs, and waterline tile using built-in rotating brushes or powerwashing jets.

Robotic pool cleaners cost more than other automatic cleaners, with basic models starting at $1,190 and higher-end versions running as high as $3,350; however, they offer the most convenient and efficient cleaning process.

How to choose the right automatic pool cleaner model for your pool >>

2. Automatic Pool Covers

Automatic Pool Cover Installed on Freeform PoolThe simple addition of an automatic pool cover provides major maintenance benefits: Covering your pool between swim sessions not only keeps your pool cleaner longer by blocking out dirt and debris; it also prolongs the need to replenish water and chemicals by stopping the evaporation process.

Most automatic pool cover systems consist of a rectangular vinyl cover that fits into tracks permanently installed along the sides of the pool.

These cover systems can be installed in a variety of ways to fit any type and shape pool or design aesthetic: the tracks can be mounted into the pool deck, installed under the pool coping or in the pool wall for a seamless look, or mounted under a slightly raised rectangular or cantilevered deck to accommodate freeform pool shapes and vinyl-liner or fiberglass pools.

Above: This automatic cover by Cover-Pools, Inc., is able to accommodate a freeform pool with a built-in spa and water feature. View more automatic pool cover installations by Cover-Pools, Inc. >>

HydraLux White Slat Automatic Pool Cover

Right: The HydraLux cover from Aquamatic Cover Systems (right) is a trackless automatic pool cover system composed of interlocking PVC slats that float on the water’s surface. The cover deploys from a flooded vault installed behind the pool wall or in the pool floor and each slat is individually cut to fit the exact length and contour of the pool. The trackless design allows for installation on the most complex or limited pool shapes.

See more photos and watch a video of the HydraLux pool cover in action >>

3. Chlorine Feeders

Chlorine feeders, also called erosion feeders and chlorinators, hold several chlorine sticks or tablets (trichlor) and continuously dispense a stream of chlorine as the pool water passes through the feeder and slowly dissolves the tablets.

Chlorine feeders are available as a floating dispenser or an automatic chemical feeder that is plumbed into the pool’s filter system. Most automatic chemical feeders feature a regulation valve or dial that lets you adjust the feed rate to meet your pool’s specific needs.

Salt Chlorinator for Pool from Pentair Aquatic Systems
4. Salt Chlorinators

While saltwater pools still contain chlorine, they produce and disperse the chlorine automatically via a salt chlorinator or salt chlorine generator. Instead of using sticks or tablets of chlorine, salt chlorinators use pounds of sodium chloride (salt) to indirectly chlorinate the pool water. At startup, and typically a few more times throughout the season, several bags of salt are added to the pool. As the salt-infused pool water passes through the chlorinator, an electrolytic cell inside the device converts the salt in the water to chlorine before it re-enters the pool. Once the pool is effectively sanitized, the chlorine converts back to salt and the process starts over.

Check out automatic chlorine feeders and salt chlorinators from Pentair Aquatic Systems >>

5. Digital Test Strip Reader

AquaChek Digital Test Strip Reader

Digital test strip kits make maintaining balanced water chemistry an easy and straightforward task.

After a test strip has been placed in a water sample, a digital test strip reader will automatically compare the reacted color blocks on the test strip against the color chart pre-loaded inside the device and translate the reading into numerical results, displaying the current levels of sanitizer, pH, and total alkalinity in the water on an LCD screen.

Photo courtesy of Hach Company/ETS Business Unit AquaChek

6. Floating Pool Sensors

GAME ePool Floating Pool SensorFloating pool sensors take digital water chemistry a step further. These wireless systems consist of a floating pool sensor that analyzes the water’s chemistry and transmits the results to an indoor display unit. This makes it simple and convenient to check the pool’s chemistry levels at any time without walking outside to the pool.

GAME ePool Water Chemistry MonitorThe floating sensor continuously monitors the water’s chemical levels, and if they become unbalanced, the indoor unit will register the exact chemicals and dosage that the water needs. In addition, the indoor unit monitors the temperature of the pool so you’ll know when it’s time to turn up the heater.

Photos courtesy of Great American Merchandise and Events

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Top 5 Pool Products for 2013

Must-Have Pool Products for Fun, Fitness, and Faster Maintenance

Today’s high-tech pool equipment and accessories can boost your pool’s fun factor, improve your fitness level, and make pool care a breeze. Enjoy a great swim season this summer with the help of these top 5 pool products.

1. Swim Current Generators

Stream by Swim Ex Portable Swim Current GeneratorA swim current generator can maximize your pool’s fitness factor. This portable, self-contained unit sits at the edge of your pool and produces a smooth adjustable current that you can swim in place against for a low-impact, high calorie-burning workout.

With a swim current generator you can enjoy continuous swimming without the interruption of flip turns or risk of injury. They can be used in aboveground and inground pools of any shape, size, and depth and are especially great for small or oddly shaped pools that are not conducive for swimming laps.

Variable speed settings offer a range of current paces to suit swimmers of any age or fitness ability. You can also swim laps, jog, or walk in place while the rest of your family relaxes and enjoys the pool.

The new Stream by SwimEx is a convenient swim current generator that operates via a rechargeable battery and requires no installation or setup.

Check out swim generator photos and videos of Stream by SwimEx >>

Photo courtesy of SwimEx

2. Automatic Pool Covers

Cover-Pools Automatic Cover on Freeform PoolAn automatic pool cover retracts open and slides closed over your pool via a motor-driven track system that is permanently mounted along the length of your pool. Most automatic pool covers operate at the push of a button or turn of a key and can be installed on any type or shape pool, old or new, and indoors or out. Additionally, the track system can be mounted on top of your pool’s existing deck, under the coping, or seamlessly built into your pool’s design during construction for an aesthetically pleasing look.

Using a pool cover can significantly reduce your pool’s energy consumption and operating cost by minimizing the evaporation of heat, water, and chemicals. A pool cover also helps prevent dirt and debris from entering the water so your pool stays cleaner longer and requires less frequent skimming and vacuuming. This also reduces the workload on your pool’s circulation system and equipment.

In order to reap all the energy, money, and time savings, however, you need to keep your pool covered between uses. Automatic pool covers make it quick and easy to cover your pool when it’s not in use.

View more automatic pool cover photos and videos from Cover-Pools, Inc. >>

Photo courtesy of Cover-Pools, Inc.

3. Control Systems

Easy Touch Automatic Pool Control System

Swimming pool control systems allow you to manage all of your pool and/or spa equipment with the push of a button. Daily pool operations such as filtration, sanitation, and cleaning cycles are programmed or activated from a wireless, easy-to-use control panel located outdoors or inside your home. Most pool control systems can manage an unlimited number of pool equipment and features, including pumps, heaters, waterfalls, pool and landscape lighting, fountains, and more.

Additionally, some manufacturers offer optional remote controls, such as a spa-side remote or handheld wireless remote so you can operate equipment from anywhere in your yard. Automated pool control systems are available in various configurations, including pool only, spa only, pools and spas with shared equipment, and custom pools and spas with separate equipment.

With everyday pool operations on autopilot, you’ll have more time to relax and enjoy your pool. In addition, having automated control over your filter pump’s run time can help you save energy and money. For instance, when manually operating your pool, you’re probably running your filter during the day (between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.) when demand for electricity is at its highest. What’s more, chances are you’ve forgotten to turn off the filter on more than one occasion.

With an automated control system, you can set your filter pump to run during off-peak hours (before 1 p.m. or after 9 p.m.) and for the minimum duration. (Note: Time requirements for filtering depend on pool size, bather load, equipment, and amount of debris. Generally, filter operation should be no less than 4 – 5 hours.)

Learn about automatic pool control systems from Pentair Aquatic Systems >>

Photo courtesy of Pentair Aquatic Systems

4. Pool Waterslides

Fiberglass Pool Waterslide by Dolphin WaterslidesThere’s no doubt your swimming pool provides countless hours of fun and excitement for you and your family, but there’s nothing quite like the thrill of zipping down a pool slide and splashing into the water. From stand-alone units with a straight or corkscrew runway to custom built-ins that zig and zag around landscaping or take riders through a cave waterfall, there are a variety of waterslide options to fit every swimming pool.

Fiberglass pool waterslides have become a common choice among homeowners due to their durability, low maintenance, and customization. Pre-designed models are available in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes and can typically accommodate any pool design or decking allocations. If you can’t find the exact waterslide you’re looking for, the majority of fiberglass waterslide manufacturers will work with you and your pool builder to create a custom slide that’s just right for your pool, family, and thrill-seeking needs.

See more photos and videos of fiberglass waterslides from Dolphin Waterslides >>

Photo courtesy of Dolphin Waterslides/Creative Rock Formations

5. Robotic Pool Cleaners

Spend more time enjoying your pool with a robotic cleanerWant to spend more time enjoying your pool and less time cleaning? Replace your manual pool vacuum with a robotic pool cleaner. A robotic pool cleaner is a type of automatic pool cleaner that is driven by an electric motor, which can be powered by batteries, solar energy, or a low voltage water-safe cord plugged into a GFCI-protected outlet. The self-contained unit roves around the pool, sucking up dirt, leaves, and finer particles and transferring them into an attached filter bag; some models feature rotating brushes or rollers that scrub surfaces.

Pentair Automatic Pool CleanerThe majority of robotic pool cleaners contain a microchip that allows you to program the cleaner’s route for effective and efficient cleaning, though most pools can be cleaned in about one to two hours. Some models come with a remote control for easy spot cleaning.

The perks of a robotic pool cleaner go beyond not having to manually clean your swimming pool: Because a robotic pool cleaner does not hook up to your pool pump or filter, it reduces the use of your pool’s circulation systems, which lowers energy costs and extends the life your pump and filter.

Check out automatic pool cleaners from Pentair Aquatic Systems >>

Photo courtesy of Pentair Aquatic Systems

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Types of Filters & Pumps

Swimming Pool Filters and Pumps

Your filter system is an integral part in keeping your pool and spa clean. The three types of swimming pool filters are sand, D.E. (diatomaceous earth), and cartridge. Both sand and D.E. filters require backwashing; this means that whenever the pressure gauge reads 10 psi higher than the starting pressure, you’ll have to run the water in reverse so it passes through the filter and is flushed out of the pool. This process wastes a great deal of water.

Filter cartridges require less maintenance and are more eco-friendly because they don’t have to be backwashed. All they need is a periodic spray with the hose to stay clean. Experts recommend rotating between two cartridges; you can insert a clean one while rinsing the other one and leaving it to dry. Cartridge systems are used in most hot tubs and in many swim spas and pools. 

The type of pump you choose will determine the effectiveness of your filtration and how much energy will be used. While older pools may still be using single-speed pumps, variable-speed pumps are highly recommended because they allow the pump to run at a slower speed for a longer period of time. This means the water is filtered most consistently and effectively; it also saves a tremendous amount of energy, helping to lower your operating costs.

For a list of recommended filter cartridge companies, visit our Water Technology Buyers' Guide.

Photo courtesy of Pleatco, LLC

12 Steps to Opening a Pool for Summer

How to Open a Pool

Photograph of Inground Pool

Spring is in full bloom and Memorial Day is right around the corner. For many pool owners across the country, this means it’s time to start getting the pool ready for the summer swim season. If you properly closed your pool for winter, opening your pool should be an easy process. Follow these instructions for how to open a pool for summer and ensure a great season of swimming fun.

1. Check your chemicals.

Before you open your pool, it is recommended that you take inventory of the pool chemicals you currently have on hand to see what supplies you’ll need to purchase. (This will also eliminate the hassle of taking multiple trips to the pool supply store.) Any pool chemicals that have expired or were not completely sealed should be properly disposed of and replaced. Also check the amount of product available in the remaining containers to see if you’ll need additional supplies.

2. Clean the pool cover and deck.

Before removing the pool cover, clean the deck area to prevent debris from being swept into the swimming pool; this also gives you an area for preparing the pool cover for storage without the worry of scattered twigs and stones causing punctures, advises Thomas Cal Brown, executive vice president of Aquatech, a society of pool-building professionals. If you have a solid vinyl pool cover, remove any leaves and debris from the cover with a pool rake or leaf net. This prevents any extra debris from entering the pool, which you’ll eventually have to vacuum out. Once most of the debris is gone, use a submersible cover pump to remove as much standing water as possible. When using the cover pump, don’t place the pump near or over any seams of the cover--this will cause water to drain from the inside the pool.

3. Remove and store the pool cover.

Remove the pool cover and lay it out in an open area such as a deck, patio, or driveway. Sweep or brush off any remaining debris and then use a mild detergent to clean the cover. Let the cover air-dry completely before rolling up or folding for storage to prevent mildew and deterioration. Be sure to keep the cover stored in a dry place away from insects and moisture.

4. Inspect the pool.

If you have a vinyl-lined pool, check for tears or washouts; these can occur when groundwater erodes the sand under the pool’s vinyl floor and causes the liner to rest on sharp rocks and stones. Any small tears can be repaired using a patch kit (available at your local pool supply store). Consult the pool’s manufacturer or a local swimming pool maintenance company for any damage that you’re unsure how to repair. For concrete and fiberglass pools, look for cracks in the waterline tile, chips in the plaster, or depressions in the pool decking or coping. Some minor repairs can be made yourself following the advice of a pool professional; more serious defects should be left to the experts.

5. Remove the plugs.

Remove expansion or freeze plugs from all of the water inlets. If your pool equipment was winterized with antifreeze, you’ll need to lower the water level in the pool until it’s below the inlets. Then remove the plugs and drain the antifreeze into a bucket.

6. Reinstall skimmer baskets and fittings.

Remove the winter plate (if used) from the skimmer box and reinstall the skimmer. Hook up any hoses from the skimmer and return jets that lead to the pump and filter. Make sure all fittings are clean and tight.

7. Reconnect the equipment and plumbing.

Reconnect the filter, pump (if you removed it), and heater (if you have one) and inspect them for signs of wear or rust. If anything needs to be repaired or replaced, do so at this time. Remove the top of the filter and check that your filter media (sand, diatomaceous earth, or cartridge) are in good condition and clean. Make sure all valves are open and fill the pump with water so it primes properly. Also check O-rings and gaskets for damage and make sure all have been lubricated

8. Fill the pool.

Grab your garden hose and add water until the water level reaches midpoint on the waterline tile or the middle of the skimmer opening to allow for proper circulation. While you’re waiting for the pool to fill, skim out any leaves, twigs, and debris, and remove any debris from the leaf basket. Re-attach any equipment such as ladders, rails, diving boards, etc. This is also a good time to remove any scale from the pool tile.

9. Start the filtration system and vacuum the pool.

Turn on the power to the pool system (you may need to turn on the circuit breaker if your pool was winterized). Following manufacturers' instructions, start the pump and filter system. Look for leaks, split hoses, and cracks. If some pieces of equipment are damaged or not operating properly, turn off the power and contact a service technician for any repairs. Once everything is in working order, hook up your vacuum (pool cleaner) and vacuum/ sweep the entire pool and clean the walls with a wall brush.

10. Test the water.

Allow the pool water to circulate 24 – 48 hours to mix up the old and new water. Then test the water chemistry following the instructions on your pool water test kit. To ensure proper analysis, it is recommended that you bring a water sample to a local pool professional, who will provide you with instructions for balancing your pool water. For pools with a mesh cover, it is recommended that you add two or three gallons of liquid shock to the water about two weeks before you plan to open the pool to ensure good water clarity since these covers allow debris and sunlight to get through to the water which can lead to an algae bloom. It is also best to open your pool early (late April, early May) to avoid strong sunlight and temperatures above 80 degrees which can quickly turn the water into a green “swampy” mess.

11. Run the filtration system until the water is clean.

Continue to run the filter until the water begins to clear (it may take several days). During the first few days, it may be necessary to backwash sand and D.E. filters a few times or clean your cartridge filter, depending on how dirty the water was when you started. After the filter has run for a few days, test the water again to ensure it is properly balanced. Chemical levels should be as follows: pH: 7.2 – 7.6 Alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm ( for unstabilized chlorine); 100 – 120 ppm (for stabilized chlorine, chlorine gas, or bromine) Calcium Hardness: 200 – 400 ppm Chlorine: 1 – 3 ppm Bromine: 1 – 3 ppm Cyanuric Acid: 25 – 50 ppm Once the water is properly balanced, you’re ready for the final step…

12. Jump in!

REMEMBER: Routine maintenance is essential to retaining a beautiful pool all summer long. Check out our Pool Maintenance Guide for tips on keeping your pool clean and healthy.

Photo courtesy of APSP; Vernon Poolman

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Guide to Winter Hot Tub & Spa Use

Hot Tub Spa in WinterMany people enjoy using their outdoor hot tub or spa during the cold winter months. There’s nothing like soaking in a warm hot tub as you sip hot cocoa and watch the snow fall around you. If you live in a cold climate, follow these six tips to ensure proper operation and efficiency of your hot tub all winter long.

1. Stock up on Supplies –
Make sure you have an extra filter cartridge and enough sanitizer, chemicals, test strips, and other spa supplies to last you through the winter. The weather can be unpredictable and you don’t want to take the chance of having to go out and purchase these items when the roads are icy or unmanaged.

2. Protect Your Pipes – One of the major risks of operating a hot tub in the winter is that water can freeze in the pipes. Check that your spa’s freeze protection system is activated, which will help maintain a constant water temperature even when you’re not using the spa. If your hot tub doesn’t have freeze protection, set your timer switch to cycle on for 15 – 20 minutes every hour to keep warm water circulating through the pipes.

3. Keep it Covered
– A good insulated cover is essential for reducing the energy requirements of your hot tub during the winter. It is also recommended to use an inexpensive thermal blanket under your regular hot tub cover to help keep the heat in, reduce chemical use, and decrease moisture build-up on the cover. Be sure to spray the vinyl cover with a quality protectant to safeguard against harsh weather conditions and also remove snow before it accumulates on the cover.

4. Watch the Water Level
– Check your hot tub’s water level regularly, especially if you do not use your spa every day. If the water in your spa gets too low, the pumps and heater may stop working which will cause the water to freeze.

5. Maintain the Water Temperature
–The colder it gets, the longer it takes for your spa to heat up. It is less expensive and more efficient to maintain the water temperature of your hot tub on a daily basis than it is to let it get extremely cold and then reheat it when you want to use the spa. It also keeps water from freezing in the pipes and reduces chemical use.

6. Turn off Air Jets
– Running the air jets in the winter uses a great amount of energy because they inject cold air into the spa water. If you do use your jets, make sure you turn them off after every use.

For a list of recommended hot tub manufacturers, visit our Hot Tubs Buyers’ Guide.

New AquaChek 6-in-1 Test Strip for Hot Tubs & Spas

AquaChek 6-in-1 Spa Test StripHach Company/ETS, the manufacturer of AquaChek® Pool & Spa Test Strips, is pleased to announce the introduction of AquaChek Spa, a 6-in-1 test strip developed specifically for testing in the hot tub environment. AquaChek Spa provides spa/hot tub owners an efficient and comprehensive means of testing the water.


The new 15-second, dip and read AquaChek Spa test strip includes tests for six chemistries: Total Chlorine, Total Bromine, Free Chlorine, Total Alkalinity, pH, and Total Hardness.


Spas and hot tubs present unique challenges to manage healthy, balanced water. The higher temperatures and lower water volume can cause faster chemical reactions and increased evaporation rates. Maintaining ideal levels of active and total sanitizer (Bromine or Chlorine), pH, Total Alkalinity, and Hardness will help ensure that the water is clean and healthy. In addition, it will protect the spa/hot tub against damage from fluctuations in pH, and a build-up of scale formation.


“Owners should test their water before and after each use, and treat the water regularly,” advises Joe Sweazy, Technical Sales and Service Manager for AquaChek. “We recommend tracking results each time the water is tested,” he adds.


AquaChek Spa 6-in-1 test strips are fast, accurate, and easy to use. Simply dip the test strip into the spa/hot tub, compare using the color chart comparator on the bottle, and adjust chemical levels that are not within the acceptable range by following chemical manufacturer’s recommendations. Each bottle includes 50 test strips with instructions in English, French, Spanish, and German.

For more info, visit www.AquaChek.com or call 888-278-2243.

Pleatco Crowns the 2011 Perfect Pool Guy and Gal

Pleatco Perfect Pool Guy/Gal 2011Pleatco, LLC, a leading manufacturer of pool and spa filter cartridges, announced the winners of the 4th Annual Pleatco Perfect Pool Guy/Gal contest at the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo (IPSPE) in Vegas on Nov. 2, 2011.


The contest is an innovative way to honor the hardworking men and women of the pool service industry. With over 200 contestants, this year’s entrants were as impressive as ever. This year’s Perfect Pool Guy and Gal winners are Gil Serrano of Bay Area Pool Service in Florida, and Jennifer Angevine of Gold Coast Swimming Pools in New York.


"From all of us here at Pleatco, thank you to everyone who entered, nominated, and voted," said Howard Smith, Pleatco's CEO. "We have been truly overwhelmed by the quality of the hundreds of nominated entrants and the thousands of votes cast. The entries were extremely powerful and heartfelt across the board."


“Over the four years that Pleatco has sponsored this contest, we’ve learned that being a professional pool or spa service technician is more than a job—it’s a passion. Many homeowners treat their service guy or gal like family; it’s a special relationship," said Pleatco’s COO, John Antretter. "A pool or spa is an integral part of a home—a way to relax and a place for a family to share time together. Homeowners trust their service professional to keep their backyard oasis safe.”


In addition to a trip to the IPSPE, both winners received a $5,000 continuing education scholarship from Genesis Three Design Group to attend the G3 Certified Pool Operator Program. Serrano and Angevine will also star in Pleatco's nationwide follow-up ad campaign.


Gil Serrano has become the go-to “service master” over the past 14 years and now trains and re-trains pool service technicians in industry best practices. Humble through the entire competition, Serrano was shocked to learn how many people supported and rallied for him through voting and calling as references during the Perfect Pool Guy Contest. His long-time local title as “the pool whisperer” is also well-earned. Regarding the pool and spa industry, Serrano says he is “full of excitement to be part of this industry… It is all about the heart you put into it.”


Jennifer Angevine has owned Gold Coast Swimming Pools for nearly 10 years and has been in the industry since she was old enough to accompany her father on service calls. Every member of the Gold Coast team expressed great pride in working for Angevine and could not brag enough about their boss who goes above and beyond for clients and her team every day of the year. In regards to winning the 2011 Perfect Pool Gal title, Angevine “couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the contest and to hold the title of the year.” She gracefully acknowledges that she wouldn’t be where she is today without the encouragement and enthusiasm from her team and the true support of her father.


Pleatco Perfect Pool Guy/Gal 2011 Awards CeremonySpecial Awards


With so many worthy entrants, Pleatco once again expanded the contest and created additional awards. "During our final interviews, we were impressed with the caliber of so many individuals that we felt it was proper to recognize the outstanding achievements of several other entrants,” says Antretter. "In that spirit, we selected contestants for six other Special Awards based on their contribution towards their community and the pool and spa industry."


  • 2011 Industry Achievement Awards to Jim DeBerry of Aqua Pool Dealer in Florida and Annie Abbate of Chem-Tech Pool Cleaning in Arizona
  • 2011 Big Heart Award to Bob Charlton of The Pool Guy in Florida
  • 2011 Future Leadership Awards to Chris Hamm of Crystal Clear Pools in Florida
  • 2011 Most Creative Entry Award to Jonathan Santoscoy of True Blue Pool Service in Texas and Larry Sniezek of Burnett Pools and Spas in Pennsylvania
  • 2011 Customer Service Award to Lesley Leal of Optimus, LLC in Tennessee
  • 2011 Biggest Pool Personality Award to Paul Beauparlant of Paul and Sons Pool Service, LLC in Nevada

14 other finalists were also named:

  • Adam Shulte of Watson’s Cincinnati in Ohio, Cameron Dillon of Tri-County Pool and Spa in Florida
  • Bob Hickle or Nierman Brothers Pool and Spa in Indiana
  • Andrew Meece of Amerimerc in Kansas
  • Michael Berggren of Berggren Pool and Spa Services, LLC in Washington
  • Geoffrey Dillon of Pools and Spas a Go-Go
  • Bob Malsack of Hansens Pools and Spas in Wisconsin
  • Jason Blake of B&S Pools in Arizona
  • Anne Bostwick of Gulf Coast Pool & Spa in Florida
  • Jim Eiler of Aqua Pools in Illinois
  • David Bristow of David Bristow’s Pool Service in North Carolina
  • Beau Braisher of Beau Braisher’s Pool Service in California
  • Kyle Conlon of Cypress Pools in New York
  • Ryan Landriault of In Hot Water Spas in Alberta, Canada

About Pleatco


Pleatco, based in Glen Cove, N.Y., has served the pool & spa community for the past 40 years and continues to be a leader in the industry through innovation and the desire for constant improvement.

Photos courtesy of Pleatco, LLC

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