When should I close my Pool?

IMG_0223As a pool owner, the times of year for opening and closing your pool are entirely up to you.  However the “pool season” as defined by the industry is typically between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Many pool use this definition as their way of knowing when to open and close their pools.

This is by no means a strict rule but more of a general guideline that people can use.  Some pool owners opt to open their pools earlier in the spring, and close it later in the fall.  They can do this because they either live in an area that stays warm longer or they have a heater that is powerful enough to keep the water warm in cool ambient temperatures.

As a pool owner you just want to make sure that your pool is closed before your area reaches freezing temperatures.  When water freezes it expands and if it expands inside of your swimming pool plumbing components it can cause a lot of damage.  To avoid the potential for this to happen many people wait until after Memorial Day to open their pools, and then close them down again by Labor Day.

DSCN0635I always recommend having a pool professional do the actual opening and closing of your pool, or at the very least the closing part.  It is recommended for a couple of reasons.  First, they tend to know exactly what they are doing.  There can be quite a few steps in the process of closing a pool and if even one small step is missed the result can be dramatic.  The other reason is that many pool companies will guarantee their work.  This means that if anything does happen over the course of the winter, they will be the ones who correct it.  If you were to close your own pool and something happened then the responsibility to fix it would be yours.  Depending on what happens that responsibility can be very costly.

In my opinion the best way to avoid any sort of mishap with your swimming pool over the winter is to make sure it is opened on or after Memorial Day, and closed on or prior to Labor day.  I understand that we generally have warm days outside of that range, but like I stated before this range is more of a general guid line.  Also it is always best to have a swimming pool professional actually do the opening and closing of your pool to ensure that everything will get done the way that it needs to in order to survive the winter.

Is it a Leak or just Evaporation?

IMG_2683This is something that almost every pool owner will ask themselves at some point.  Does the pool have a leak or is the water just evaporating?

Just like every body of water, over time the water will begin to evaporate.  Typically you can expect about a quarter inch of water or less to evaporate each day in an uncovered pool.  There are a number of things that contribute to this.  Wind, sunlight, and humidity are the key players in water evaporation.

Wind can blow across the surface of your pool which will cause the water molecules to evaporate much faster.

Direct, intense sunlight will help to dry up water molecules and cause more rapid evaporation.

DSCN0635Humidity in the air plays a big role in evaporation.  The more humid the air is, the less water in your pool will evaporate.  Conversely, during dry spells you can expect more water loss through evaporation.  If you think about the air outside like a sponge then you can expect that if it is dry, then it will be able to pick up more water from your pool, whereas if it is already wet then it will be limited in how much water it can soak up.

So how do you know if you have a leak or if the water is just evaporating?

You can not be certain just by measuring the amount of water loss in you pool per day.  However you can conduct what is know as the bucket test.  To do this it is best to start with a full pool.  Then fill a five gallon bucket 2/3 of the way full and set it on the second step of the pool.  From there you will mark the water level on the inside of the bucket.  Next turn off you pump and mark the water level on the outside of the bucket.  Once that is done, turn the pump on again and let it sit for at least 24 hours.  At that point you can compare the water levels.  If the level on the outside of the bucket has gone down further than on the inside then there is likely to be a leak in your pool.  If the level is the same both inside the bucket and outside then the water loss is likely to be due to evaporation.

The Amount of Activity in your Pool – How It Affects The Ph of the Water

137A6264Properly maintaining water chemistry is a very important aspect of owning a swimming pool.  The water quality in your pool can not only affect your health but it can also affect the swimming pool itself and the equipment which circulates the water.  That being said you can begin to understand the importance of properly maintaining the water in your pool.

People often assume that by adding more chlorine to the pool they will effectively be keeping the pool water clean.  They also tend to think that with more people in the pool they will need to add more chlorine.  The thing about the water in a swimming pool is that you will never know what it needs without testing it.  This is why test kits were made.  Typically with a heavy bather load in the pool the water quality will decrease.  This is due to the fact that the oils in our skin as well as the sun screen that we use get into the pool and bond with the free chlorine preventing it from effectively killing the bacteria and viruses that may be there.

DSCN0637On the other hand if there is a fairly long period of time in which the pool is not used, will it affect the water quality?  In other words, does inactivity in a pool affect its water quality?

This depends on a couple of things.  Typically the water quality will not change much during time of inactivity.  However, one thing that can change is the volume of water in the pool.  If the volume changes, then the water quality can begin to change.  For instance, if the pool is left open and experiences heavy rainfall throughout the time of inactivity then the volume will increase.  It may not be much, but it may be enough to dilute the amount of chemicals in the pool.  In this case you would need to add more to stay within the appropriate range necessary to maintain a clean, healthy pool.  Conversely, if over the time of inactivity in the pool, the pool is left open and experiences several sunny, windy days then you may find that the water volume in the pool has decreased.  This is due to evaporation caused by the sun and wind.  In this case the amount of chemicals in the pool would seem to increase.  In both cases the amount of chemicals in the pool has remained constant, but because the volume of water changed it will either dilute or concentrate the chemicals in the pool.

The amount of activity your pool receives weather it is more or less will affect the water quality to some degree.  All in all it is really best to test the pool water at least once per week to get a good idea of what it needs in order to maintain a clean healthy pool.

Why does my Vinyl Liner In Ground Swimming Pool Need a Sump Pit

More-Plumbing-001There are many ways to build a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool.  There are many things that go into building a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool.  One thing that many builders do is install a sump pit just outside of the sidewalk that goes around the pool.  Why do they do this?

It actually makes perfect sense when you really think about it.  We all know that when it rains, the ground absorbs much of that water.  The water that gets absorbed by the ground is what is know as groundwater.  More often than not when a pool is dug the groundwater is visible in the deep end.  If the hole were to be left like that, you would likely see that ground water begin to rise a bit, especially when it rains.  Instead, pool builders finish building the pool and put a liner in.  In some cases this process is a race against time.  They have to get the liner in the pool and get water in before the groundwater rises enough to make the liner float.  You may be wondering why the liner doesn’t float anyway, even after the pool is full.  It rains all the time throughout the spring and summer right?  Well the reason the liner does not typically float after the pool is full is simply because the weight of the water in the pool pushing down on the liner is greater than the pressure from the groundwater pushing up on the liner from underneath it.

IMG_2683Keep in mind that I said that a liner will not “typically” float after the pool is full of water.  There are always some that don’t want to behave.  This is why many pool builders install a sump pit right outside of the sidewalk around the pools that they build.  It is more of a precaution.  If the amount of pressure from the ground water pushing up on the liner exceeds the amount of pressure pushing down from the weight of the water in the pool, then the liner will float.  Having a sump pit will allow you to remove some of the excess water from behind the liner to prevent the liner from having a chance to float.

If you have an in ground vinyl liner swimming pool that has a sump pit installed, then I would recommend using it, especially at times when there is a lot of rain.  This will help to ensure you don’t have a problem with the liner floating.

Rainwater and Swimming Pools

rain poolIs it okay to allow rain water to get into your pool, or is it better to cover it?  This is a question that many new pool owners ask themselves the first time it rains after their pool is installed.  After all rain water is supposed to be fairly clean right? So how could it have a negative affect on your pool?

After your pool is installed you will find that there is some initial maintenance that you will have to do.  Basically you fill your pool with water and you then you will have to add chemicals, ie. chlorine, algecide etc. to make it healthy to swim in.  From there you will likely be checking your pool chemicals once a week to maintain that ideal amount.  Obviously this represents a fairly significant investment of time and money.  If you fall behind or just brush it off, and you are not keeping up with it then you may find yourself spending more time and money to get it back to where it needs to be.download

Rainwater can change the chemistry of your pool.  Just as it is, it can “dilute” the chemicals in your pool.  Ideally you want to keep your free chlorine level between 2 and 4 ppm. (Parts per Million) So this is based on the amount of water in the pool.  If more water is added to the pool then you will have to add more chlorine.  So if a lot of rain water gets into your pool, the amount of water increases and in turn you will have to add more chlorine.

LXI400P_LXiHeater-1-1Another thing that is likely to happen is really only an issue if you have a heater or heat pump installed.  Obviously it costs money to run a heater or heat pump.  That being said, if the set temperature is warmer than the temperature of the rain water (which it will likely be) then the cool rain water will decrease the temperature in the pool and you will have to run the heater or heat pump more often to maintain the desired temperature.
So back to the original question.  Is it okay to allow rain water to get into your pool?  The answer is really yes.  It is okay for rain water to get into your pool.  This will not cause enormous problems for the pool and in fact many pools are open to the rain all of the time.  However, if you have the luxury of covering your pool while it is raining, then I would certainly recommend doing so.  It will decrease the amount of time and money you put into maintaining your pool.

Automatic Pool Covers – Things to Know

5When someone gets a vinyl liner in ground pool installed with an Automatic Pool Cover, there will usually be some questions that arise regarding that cover.  Should I close my pool every night? Should I open it during the day while I am at work?

These are good questions and the answer to both of them is… It’s up to you.  I say that because ultimately it is up to the owner of the pool to decide what he or she wants to do with it.  There are some questions you should ask yourself before making this decision.  Is the pool fenced in?  Is it heated by a gas heater or heat pump?  Do you rely on the sun to heat the water?  Are there a lot of trees nearby?

automatic pool coverIf your pool is heated by a heat pump or gas heater, then I would recommend closing the cover at night.  This will help save money on heating cost in the long run.  Basically cool summer nights can really suck the heat out of a pool.  The result would be that you would have to run your heat source more frequently to keep the pool water at the desired temperature.  This in turn would result in an increase in your electric bill or gas bill.  By closing the cover over night you will effectively trap the heat in the pool.  Therefore you will be able to maintain that desired temperature without having to run your heat source as frequently.  Granted there still may be some heat loss over night but I assure you that by keeping the pool covered, you will minimize the amount of heat loss.  If there are a lot of trees around the pool then by keeping it open for long periods such as over night or during the day while you are at work you will run the risk of creating a chore for yourself.  Trees lose leaves throughout the summer and fall.   If you have an open pool nearby then you will likely find that these leaves are landing in the water resulting in you having to scoop them out.

auto cover UvThe other thing that should be considered is do you have a fence around you pool/backyard.  Obviously an open pool in your yard that is not fenced in, and sits open is somewhat of a liability.  If you have a fence around your pool and you don’t have a heat pump or gas heater then you may want to leave your pool open during the mid day heat to allow your water to heat up.  Although you may have a fence around the pool there is still a certain amount of liability to worry about.

Ultimately I find it to be more beneficial to keep your pool covered when it is not in use.  You will cut down on heating costs, decrease the amount of potential debris in your pool, and be able to rest easy knowing that nobody can gain access to your pool while you are not around.

The Best Equipment for your In ground Pool

There are many manufacturers of in ground swimming pool equipment.  By equipment I am referring to pumps, filters, heaters, etc.  However they are not all the same.  Like anything else there are different levels of quality associated with them.  The brand of equipment that I have found to be the best is Jandy.  In my experience Jandy offers the best features and highest quality associated with their equipment.  They also have a very extensive selection of accessory goods ie. lights, water sanitation, automation, and pool cleaners.  One of the coolest things that is offered by Jandy is their automation systems.  This is a system that will allow you to link the aspects of your pool together to be controlled remotely without having to physically open valves, adjust your pump, or adjust your heater.

If I were having a pool built I would definitely look into what Jandy products fit my needs and lifestyle.  I don’t necessarily mind putting a little work into the things that I have, but at the same time it would be really nice to not have to worry about it.  With the right Jandy products I would be able to just sit back and enjoy my pool rather than worry about how much time I will have to spend getting the pool ready to be enjoyed.  For instance if I were having a pool party over the weekend I could simply go to my controller and adjust the heat so it is ready for swimmers.  I could also toss the robotic cleaner in for a while to remove all of the debris from the pool.  I could set the system to turn the waterfall on when my guests arrive.  I could even program the lighting to cycle through the various colors throughout the evening.


So clearly I would want one of their automation systems.  The type of automation system that I would get would depend on the number of items I want to control.  If I only needed to control four or less items then I could go with the Z4 system.  Anything more would require me to move up to one of their RS systems.  Either way I could make sure that I could control the components that I want.


They have several pump options available, from single speed to variable speed.  All of their pumps are designed with efficiency in mind so I won’t have to worry about an over usage of electricity increasing my power bill.  If I were going for quiet efficiency I would choose their Stealth pump.  As the name suggests this is a quiet, powerful, and efficient pump and it is available in several models depending on my horsepower needs.  Lets say that I already have a pool and my current pump has just failed.  In this situation Jandy offers the FloPro pumps for easy replacement of existing pumps.  Several different bases for these pumps are available which change the height of the pump allowing you to install it in an existing system without having to alter the plumbing.


They also have several styles of filters available.  They have everything from sand filters to DE (diatomaceous earth).  For me I would likely go with one of their standard cartridge filters, and I will tell you why in a minute.  Their cartridge filters are designed with efficiency in mind and will work well with their pumps and heaters.  With a cartridge filter their is no need to backwash so their are no long hoses that I would need to stretch out to the street or under the fence into the neighbor’s yard for a few minutes only to have to wrap it all back up.  In addition to that I find cartridge filters easier to maintain.  When it comes time to replace the cartridges it is a fairly simple process whereas with a sand filter it can be difficult to remove the old sand.


When it comes to heating I will always spoil myself.  I am not a big fan of swimming in cold water.  That being said, when I go swimming I want my pool water to be warm.  Jandy offers a few different options when it comes to heating.  They offer a heat pump as well as a standard gas heater.  With the gas heaters they even come set up for either natural gas or liquid propane.  The difference between the gas heater and the heat pump is simple.  The heat pump uses the ambient temperature to heat the water, whereas the heater burns LP or natural gas to heat the water.  This means that the heater will heat the water much faster than the heat pump.  On the other hand it typically costs more to run the heater than it would to run the heat pump.  However when it comes to warm water versus cold water I am willing to pay a bit more to be comfortable.  It really comes down to personal preference.

Versa Plumb System:

With Jandy products, when you use a pump, cartridge filter, and heater you have the option of using their Versa Plumb System.  This is basically a way of plumbing the entire system allowing the best hydraulic efficiency.  They provide you with the fittings and pipe needed and it is just a matter of putting it all together.

These are all reasons why I think that Jandy has the best equipment for your pool.  They have so many options available that they are able to fit the needs of anyone.  In addition to that I know that their standards of customer service are set much higher than any other equipment manufacturer out their.

Concerns About Swimming Pool Safety –

I came across an article in Pool and Spa News that basically stated that there is too much emphasis on safety in the swimming pool.  You can check out the article by clicking on this link http://www.poolspanews.com.

I certainly see her point with this article.  There is a lot of information out there on how to stay safe in the pool.  There are also a lot of stories about tragic things happening in pools.  You will also see stories about the importance of teaching your children how to swim.  There are government web pages you can visit to get the latest information of swimming pool safety as well.  The point is that there is this enormous spotlight on swimming pool safety.  The argument is that with all of this attention on safety, it may result in a fear of pools.  It seems that with all of this attention on swimming pool safety it may make people feel as though swimming pools are dangerous.  However the truth is that with the proper precautions swimming pools can be a place of entertainment and relaxation.  I think that with all of this attention on swimming pool safety people are starting to overlook the fact that it it is just meant to be informative.  It is not a ploy to scare anyone.  It is just to make people aware.

I understand that there is a concern that people won’t want swimming pools if they think that they are dangerous.  I understand the need to inform people of the dangers associated with swimming pools.  However I think that it needs to be done in a way that won’t scare potential customers away.  On the other hand, perhaps a swimming pool is the type of thing that is enticing enough that the safety concerns are at the back of most peoples minds.  Perhaps this woman who wrote the article just happened to be talking with one of a few people that has an irrational fear of their pool.  Think about it in this light.  Alcohol is a dangerous drug.  There are known safety issues associated with drinking too much alcohol.  However people still buy it and drink it.  There are huge safety issues related to riding a motorcycle.  We hear about crashes every year.  We see bumper stickers raising awareness for motorcycle safety and yet more and more people are riding.

With all that in mind I think that there is room for both pool sales and safety concerns in the swimming pool industry.  I feel as though, if the safety concerns weren’t so widely publicized they would still exist.  I also think that people are buying pools regardless of the safety concerns.  In my humble opinion, I think that swimming pool safety awareness is an important part of owning a swimming pool.  I personally do not think that safety awareness will have an adverse effect on swimming pools sales.  The more knowledge that someone has about how to be safe in a pool, the less concerned they will be about it.  So this emphasis on swimming pool safety might actually help pool sales.

Let the Pros Build Your Pool

It has come to my attention that there are quite a few people buying vinyl liner in ground swimming pool kits online and building them on their own.  This may seem like a good idea in the aspect that it will save money.  However there is a downside to doing this.

Think about it this way.  Companies that build these pools usually have a good deal of experience to rely on when something previously unseen comes to light.  When building a pool there are many things that must be done throughout the process.  First is that you will need to have all of the appropriate permits to do the things required in building a swimming pool.  In addition to that you will also have to have inspections done throughout the process.  These things represent costs that you may not have taken into consideration.  Having a pool professional build your pool will allow you to rest easy knowing that all the appropriate permits and inspections are being obtained.  It is my personal recommendation to have a company that has been in business for a while build your pool.  They will likely know what permits they will need and what kinds of inspections will need to be done.  This is only the start of it.

Please understand that there are a lot of things that must happen in a certain order to end up with a well built pool.  In some situations if a step is missed or done out of turn then it could result in added expenses to you.  In addition to that there are certain building codes that must be met to be in compliance with state and local authorities.  Again these are things that a professional pool builder would already know.  If you were to do something wrong and it was caught by the authorities you could be looking at a fine and have to spend even more money to fix it.  I have read that in recent years state and local authorities have been using google earth to spot swimming pools in backyards.  Then the cross check their paperwork to determine if all permits were obtained for building that pool.  This is just a heads up to anyone thinking about going around the codes.  You may have read or heard about several incidents this year where someone was hurt or killed in a pool due to electricity.  This is a very real concern when it comes to building swimming pools.  Proper precautions must be taken to prevent such things from happening.

Aside from all the legal stuff that one must make sure they follow when building a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool, there are also things that may happen related to the actual build of the pool.  Suppose you are building you own pool and as you dig deeper and deeper you encounter ground water.  How would you deal with that?  Do you know how to solve the problem?  Some do some don’t.  If you successfully build the pool do you know how to plumb the system, or cut in the liner?  I’m almost certain that people willing to take on such a big project, will more than likely have a background in construction of some kind.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will turn out a flawless swimming pool.  That really goes with any trade.  An electrician may not be the best plumber and vise versa.  For instance I have been building pools for almost ten years, but that doesn’t mean that I would feel comfortable in taking on a project like building my own house.  While they are similar in that they both fall under the field of “construction” they are still different enough that I would never think about building my own home.  I suppose that is what it comes down to.  Are you comfortable enough to try to build your own pool?  Are you comfortable enough to know what permits are needed and what inspections are needed?  These are the things you must consider before you start.  Even though the materials may be cheaper online than buying them from a pool professional, they still represent an investment.  Are you confident that the finished product will be worth the time and money you put into it.  If there is even a shred of doubt then I would let the professionals take care of it.

There are so many variables that come into play that building your own pool may not be something you want to try.  Below is a list of things to consider.

1) Are you confident in you construction skills?
2) Are you confident in your knowledge of building codes?
3) Do you know what permits you need?
4) Do you know how to trowel a bottom?
5) Do you know how to plumb a pool system?
6) Do you know how to wire the lights, cover, and sub panel?
7) Do you know how to properly bond the pool?
8) Are you confident in your ability to cut in a liner?

These are just a few things to think about when it comes to building your own vinyl liner in ground swimming pool.  There are many, many other things that go into building a pool that I did not mention.


The benefit of a 12v Light over a standard 120v

Since 1990 there have been over 60 deaths by electrocution and over 50 serious electricity related injuries due to faulty wiring in and around swimming pools. You might be thinking why would anyone have electrical lines around their pool area. You must understand that the majority of swimming pools have underwater lights. These lights can go bad in a couple different ways and result in stray electricity entering your pool water.

A swimming pool is meant to be a happy place where people can relax and enjoy a hot summer day. It shouldn’t be a place where people are at risk of injury. Older pools are at greater risk of having an incident. The lights used in older pools were likely to have a full 120V going to them. Today many manufacturers are changing their lights to a low voltage to prevent this type of thing from happening, or at least offering this option to those with concerns. What is likely happening is that the lights are failing and in some case water can get inside the light. Obviously this is a huge concern, especially if that light had 120V going to it. There could be other possibilities as well. If there is lighting around the pool then you will want to make sure that it is properly wired and grounded.

There are a couple ways that you can help to ensure the safety of your swimmers.

1. Signs of mold or other growth on the inside of the lens are signs of water leakage.
2. Have an electrician inspect the underwater lights and make sure that junction boxes and wiring connections are installed correctly.
3. Be sure that the power switch and GFCI for underwater lights are properly marked and easy to get to in case of an emergency.

One thing that you can do to help prevent any unfortunate events related to electrical shock in your pool is to have low voltage lighting installed in the pool when it is built.  There are several manufacturers of low voltage lights for in ground swimming pools.  Granted one low voltage light will not be as bright as a standard 120v light but you can make up for that by simply adding additional lights to the pool.  In addition to that these low voltage lights typically have the same capabilities as the larger 120V lights that are out there.  For instance many 120v lights are capable of changing colors.  In many cases the same goes for low voltage lights as well.
The point of all this is to inform you that you have options when it comes to swimming pool lighting.  One option being a low voltage light for your pool.  This will greatly reduce the risk of electric shock in your swimming pool, as opposed to a 120v light that would be very dangerous if it were to fail.