Only Alpha Pool Products – Building the Future of In Ground Pools


Traditionally the walls of a vinyl liner in ground swimming pools are made out of 14 gauge G35 galvanized steel.  These walls are made up of several individual panels that get bolted together to create the overall form of the pool.  This is the way that vinyl liner in ground swimming pools have been made for decades.  The only problem with this type of material is that it corrodes.  Steel will rust at some point.  It may be thirty years from now or it could be 5.  There are so many variables that aid in the corrosion of steel that most if not all manufacturers of steel panels for swimming pools will not warrant the panels against corrosion or discoloration.  This is just the way it is.  They cannot be held responsible for the steel panels rusting.  If they were then they would quickly be out of business because all steel wall pool panels rust.  Some last much longer than others but eventually the outcome is the same.  So what aids in the corrosion of the steel?  What can be done about it?

First there are so many things that aid in the corrosion of the steel wall that I will probably forget one or two.  The main thing I can think of is the water in the pool.  More and more people are getting “salt water pools” these days.  If you live in a northern state then you know what salt does to metal.  Also, even if it is not a salt water pool then the chemicals in the pool can aid in the corrosion of the steel walls.  I know what you are thinking, “the liner will be between the water and the walls so how could the water affect the steel?  Well thats easy.  At some point in the life of a liner, it will likely develop a hole, tear, or leak around a fitting.  That will allow the water to get behind the liner.  In addition to the water in the pool you also have to realize that there is plenty of ground water outside of the pool that can aid in the corrosion of the walls.  This can be even more dramatic if you live in an area where the rain water is more acidic due to pollution.  Also stray electricity in the ground can aid in corrosion, and fertilizer on your lawn can help do some damage.  There is just so much.  Just think about it this way, there is a large amount of steel buried in the yard and exposed to the elements of mother nature.  So how to combat the problem?

There is really not a lot that can be done.  Originally the steel was galvanized to help prolong the life of the wall panels.  Galvanization is a process in which the steel is coated with zinc and is something that all pool wall manufacturers do.  The zinc acts as a barrier between the steel and the elements.  It does help protect the steel but eventually the outcome will be the same.  Only Alpha Pool Products have taken it a step further.

They have developed a process in which an extra layer of protection is added to the steel on top of the galvanization.  This process dramatically increases the life of the pool panel, and every steel component that Only Alpha makes get this coating.  However the steel will eventually begin to corrode.

The next step to combating the rusty pool wall is to make it out of a material that does not corrode.  That is exactly what Only Alpha has done.  In addition to that Only Alpha has created a non – corrosive bracing system to compliment the non – corrosive pool wall.  These two items combined together make up their Fuzion line of vinyl liner in ground swimming pools.  This is the largest advancement in the fight against rusty pool walls that have ever been made in the industry.  In addition to the fact that these components are non – corrosive Only Alpha has developed them to also be the strongest non – corrosive pool wall panel available.  Others may boast about the strength of their non – corrosive pool walls but they aren’t even playing on the same level as Only Alpha Pool Products.  Check out the website Here you can access some youtube videos that demonstrate beyond a doubt that their panels are superior to anything else on the market today.

These new non – corrosive panels are relatively new and are still being implemented into the industry.  I expect them to become the new standard in the vinyl liner in ground pool industry.  Check out their website and watch the youtube videos to get the full effect of the strength in these new panels.  The side by side demonstrations pinning other manufacturers panels against Only Alpha’s is very powerful and will open your eyes to the way in which the pool industry is going.  Also check out my other blogs posts as they all pertain to vinyl liner in ground pools and cover basically cover any topic you could think of.  If not please feel free to bring it to my attention and I will do my best to cover it in a future post.

Best Inground Pool Light Available

There have been some significant technological advancements in the swimming pool industry within the last 10 or so years.  These advancements have made products better and allowed pool owners more time to just enjoy their pools.  One of these advancements comes in the form of the underwater light for your pool.

Years ago there were only large, bulky, metallic lights available, and they were wired into a 120 v circuit.  It has become very evident that this is not the best way to make a light for a swimming pool.  One downside is that these lights are not the brightest.  They only light up a small area of the pool.  The other problem is that the gasket system of these lights often failed resulting in water leaking into the light housing.  If you know even the littlest thing about electricity, you know that water and electricity are not two things that work well together.  This fact has resulted in some tragic events taking place.  Even to this day we hear about people being injured or killed by faulty pool lights.  Zodiac has taken the steps to remedy these issues.

They have created a new style of pool light that is not only brighter but it also runs on low voltage, eliminating the risk of electrocution.  In addition to that they have the capability of changing colors.  The Jandy Pro Series Nicheless LED light delivers bright, efficient, and reliable lighting to your pool for up to 50,000 hours of enjoyment.  These lights are designed to be smaller and can be installed just 4 inches below the waters surface.  These lights are also 100% non-metallic so there is no need for bonding.


There is also no requirement for a traditional niche and they can be installed in a standard return fitting.  This will allow homeowners some piece of mind knowing that they don’t have a enormous hole in the liner where the light is cut in.  They offer 9 vibrant colors and 5 different light shows.  The amazing thing is that they can be hooked up to Zodiac’s RS or Z4 automation systems and if you have more than one light in your pool they can be synced together so that they are always on the same color.  They can also be controlled by Zodiac’s iAquaLink.  This allows the pool owner to control the lights through their smart phone or any other internet capable device.  If that is not something you are interested in they can also be controlled with a regular light switch.  However if that is the way you want to go, be advised that in order to change the color or light show you will have to turn the light off and on.  The colors change by killing and restoring the power to them.  They are so small that for larger pools, in order to have adequate lighting you may need more than one.  However they are safer than traditional pool lights.

Another benefit is that they are fully compatible with Jandy Pro Series Standard LED lights.  These are larger LED lights that still function on less power than the traditional white lights.  Again these two styles of lights can be used in conjunction with one another and synced together through their automation systems.  As stated above they will last for up to 50,000 hours.  However if there should be a problem then they can be easily replaced and you won’t have to break the bank to do so.

The right lighting can transform even the most ordinary looking pool into a work of art.  For more information on Jandy Pro Series Nicheless LED pool lights visit  There you can also take a look at a wide variety of products offered by Zodiac Pool Systems.  For more information on vinyl liner in ground pools please check out my other blog posts.

Only Alpha’s Garden Gems

There is an ongoing mindset that bigger and more is better.  In almost every aspect of American life people strive to have the biggest and the best.  We do this with our cars, houses, and swimming pools as well as food portions.  We have extra large sodas, plates of food that we couldn’t, or shouldn’t finish.  It seems like everything is about the biggest and the best.  I have recently been posting pictures of very nice swimming pools on our Facebook page.  In doing that I noticed again that people are striving for very large swimming pools.  However through my research I have found some very nice and tranquil looking smaller swimming pools.  That being said I want to take this opportunity to stress that in regard to swimming pools sometimes less is more.  I have seen some very nice smaller pools that I would be happy to call my own.  Only Alpha Pool Products has an entire line of swimming pools dedicated the idea that bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.  This post is all about our Garden Gems.

Basically with our building materials one could build any size or shape pool they desire.  That includes our Garden Gem line of vinyl liner in ground swimming pool.  With everybody wanting more and more I am pleased to be able to offer these smaller yet beautiful pools for the more modest home owner.  I understand that this line of smaller pools is not for everybody.  A family with multiple children might find that a larger pool better fits their needs.  Another thing that you will want to consider in addition to the size of the pool is the depth of the pool.  These Garden Gems aren’t necessarily designed to function as diving pools.  However If you are looking for more of a place to relax and enjoy the sounds of the water and the sounds of nature around you then you may be more inclined to consider a smaller pool.

Lets take a look at a few pools that I consider to be Garden Gems.


This pool is one that I had posted on our Facebook page.  Looking at this pool, it is clear that it was designed to bring a kind of tranquil beauty to this back yard.  It is complimented by the landscaping around it.  This pool appears as if it is a hidden treasure in the middle of beautiful garden which makes it a very good example of a Garden Gem.  In my opinion this pool would be a wonderful place to relax after a long day.


This next pool is another one that maintains that simplistic beauty that is easily attainable with the Garden Gem line.  It again has little concrete around it, which makes it seem as though it belongs there.  This one also has a gorgeous pool house and stone wall nearby.  In the foreground of the photo, a couple hedge rows give the feeling that this pool is in a secluded location, surrounded by nature.  Here they have set out some lounge chairs for themselves and guests to relax in.

Here you can see how this pool and the one above are similar in that they are both smaller rectangular pools.  The difference is in the landscaping and architecture of the pool houses.  Many different feelings can be achieved by altering the way the area around the pools is designed.  The pool to the left is equipped with deck jets as well.  This would give the owners and guests the relaxing sounds of running water.  There is a bit more concrete around this pool, but I don’t think that it necessarily hurts the overall aesthetic value of the pool.  However with the amount of concrete and the architecture of the pool house, I get more of a suburban feel from it.  In the last photo, the architecture of the pool house and landscaping around the pool offer a more countryside feel.

This next pool offers a completely different feel all together.  For starters this pool breaks away from the rectangular shape and heads for more of a natural look.  That, coupled with the awe striking landscaping around it makes this pool stand out from the others that we have seen thus far.  Clearly a lot of time and thought went into the design of this Garden Gem.  The multiple levels and planter areas around the pool offer an eye catching focal point to what would likely be an ordinary backyard.

The point of all of this is to demonstrate that bigger is not always better.  In some cases a smaller pool can be far more interesting than a large pool.  The few pools that I have shown here today are all in my opinion representative of Garden Gems.  A Garden Gem is a concept.  It can be any shape, but typically it will be smaller and complimented by the area around it.  As you have seen, it can be enclosed by nature, or it can be somewhat open.  Either way I find these Garden Gems to be much more interesting and aesthetically pleasing than the larger cookie cutter pools.  So if you are contemplating getting a pool, give the Garden Gem some serious consideration.  If that is the route you want to go I would also recommend checking out some ideas on Pintrest as well.  Like us on Facebook to see even more Garden Gems, and other amazing pools.

Zodiac Automation

As technology gets better and better, automation is getting more and more prevalent in the swimming pool world.  Leading the swimming pool automation industry is Zodiac Pool Systems.  Zodiac offers several different types of automation for your pool to make life easier and more enjoyable.  Although they offer a couple different systems, today I am going to focus on their AquaLink RS system specifically.  I am not going to go into the technical aspects of the system.  Instead I am going to focus the bulk of this post toward the features of the system and what it can do.

The AquaLink RS system will allow you the convenience of being able to change variables about your pool and spa with the touch of a button.  From spa temperature to sanitizer generation, all the main functions of your equipment can be adjusted by simply touching a button.  There is more to it than that.  This system allows you to control individual pool and spa equipment from the comfort of your home, and automate daily pool equipment functions such as filtration, sanitation, and cleaning.  Below is a list of control features that come standard with the system as well as a few that are optional.  This list can also be found at Zodiac’s website by following this link

AquaLink Standard Control Features

Remote control of your entire system:  Immediately control all pool equipment with a single touch.  Manage your pool and spa temperatures, jets, cleaners, lights, heater, and more.

Equipment Protection:  Sophisticated sensors ensure automatic freeze protection.  Heater cool down and system lockout modes keep valuable equipment running smoothly, protecting your investment.

Automatic Monitoring and Scheduling:  Allows you to custom program to suit your lifestyle.  Monitors status of equipment functions, keeping your pool sparkling clean and ready to use.  Scheduled automation will maximize energy savings.

Automated Filtration:  Automatic and efficient filtration cycles allow you more time to relax.

Automatic Spa Control:  Switch from pool to spa with the touch of a button or automatically at a set time.

Water Feature Control:  Set your water features to perform at your command.  With one touch your backyard will come alive with relaxing sounds.

Pool and Spa Lighting:  Create a mood or just brighten the backyard for an evening swim.  Effortless and fully customizable from within your home.

Landscape Lighting:  Dim pathways, thresholds, safety lights and more at different times or all at once.

Solar Heat Priority:  Maximize energy efficiency by prioritizing solar energy to heat your pool.

Optional Features

Control From Any Internet Device:  Monitor, adjust or program your pool’s equipment form anywhere.

Computer Control:  Set up programs, boost the heat in your spa, and check the temperature from your personal computer.

Whole Home Automation:  Integrate AquaLink with your current home automation systems for both indoor and outdoor enjoyment.

These are some of the capabilities of the AquaLink RS automation system by Zodiac.  To see more innovative products from Zodiac check out their website at

How pool professionals plumb a Paramount Swing Sweep system

                Paramount Swing Sweep Plumbing

There are some things that as the customer, you may not know about your pool.  The more bells and whistles you have on the pool the more there is that you will likely not know.  I think that it is important for a customer to know as much as possible about their pool and how it works.  Today I am going to go into detail about how a pool professional would go about plumbing a Paramount Swing Sweep in floor cleaning system.  However before I get into that I think I should first give you some general pool plumbing information to start from.

A basic pool will have a skimmer, main drain, and returns.  The skimmer is what removes debris that are floating on the pool surface.  It has a basket inside of it that can be removed and emptied.  The plumbing line for the skimmer goes to the pump and hooked up to a valve.  The main drain is the drain that is located on the floor of the pool.  If you have a newer pool then you will likely have two main drains on the floor.  The reason for having two main drains is for safety.  Both drains are plumbed into one line which goes to the pump and hooked to the same valve as the skimmer.  This valve will allow you to turn on either the skimmer, the main drain, or both at the same time.  This type of valve is ideal for vacuuming the pool as it allows you to isolate the skimmer, which will give you better suction for vacuuming.  From the valve, the water goes through the pump, into the filter, and then either through a heater or heat pump if you have one, or through a chlorinator or salt cell before going back to the pool. The water goes back into the pool through the returns.

Returns are the jet like fittings on the walls of the pool.  You will likely have two or more in your pool.  When you have more than one they will likely be plumbed together into one line.

That is just a basic explanation of how swimming pool plumbing works.  When you get into using a Paramount Swing Sweep system things will get a bit more complex.  First you will notice that the main drain, and returns are different than that of standard returns and main drains.  This is because these are specially designed for the Paramount system.

The MDX-R3 is the main drain that will get used for this system.  It is designed to receive large amounts of debris and remove it from your pool.  Another thing you will notice is that there is only one of them.  That is because this system uses a secondary drain called an SDX.  This allows there to be only one drain on the floor of the pool if desired.

The SDX can be installed on the wall of the pool, or the floor if needed.  This is again a safety precaution.  If the MDX-R3 gets blocked off then the SDX is fully capable of taking on the full suction of the pump.  This allows whatever is blocking the MDX-R3 to be easily removed.  Like standard main drains, these two are plumbed together underground.


More often than not you will also have a Debris Canister as well.  This is a device much like a skimmer that takes all of the debris removed by the main drain and stores it until it is ready to be emptied.  Also, like a skimmer, you can gain access to the debris canister through the deck of the pool.  You simply have to remove the lid and pull out the full net and dump it out.  Without the debris canister, all of the debris removed by the MDX-R3 will go all the way to the pump and get trapped in the pump basket.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, you will just have the inconvenience of having to shut the pump off every time the basket gets full, which would be more often than when using the debris canister.

You will also notice that the returns are very different than a standard return.  This is because they are specially designed to Move back and fourth in a 90 degree pattern.  This is what moves all of the debris to the main drain for removal.  These are very unique returns and very effective.  They function in zones.  There will be a few going at a time for around 30 seconds or so.  Then they will switch to a different zone where a few more will kick on.  Every time they turn off they change positions, so that when they come on again they are aiming a different direction.  They do this by being plumbed into a water valve.

The water valve acts like the brains of this whole operation.  It uses a system of gears to open and close different ports and actuate the different SwingJets.  To give you a better idea let’s pretend that you have a pool that has 9 SwingJets on it.  That many jets would require a 3 port valve.  That is because you can have 3 jets on one port.  The water flowing through the valve turns the gears and opens the ports individually.  Every time a port is opened you will have three jets working.  As the gears continue to turn that port will close, the jets will change position, and another port will open.  It continues cycling in that way the entire time the pump is on.  So how does all this get plumbed together to make it all work?

I always start at the pool.  I will get the MDX-R3 set where it needs to be and then determine where I want the SDX.  A lot of the time I will choose to put the SDX on the wall of the pool but toward the bottom.  From there I will start to plumb.  With the MDX, there will be a 4″ section of PVC, and a reducer bushing to reduce the 4″ down to 2 1/2″.  The 4″ pipe must be used for the system to work properly.  However you can again reduce the 2 1/2″ down to 2″.  After that I will Tee in the SDX line and run the plumbing up the wall of the pool to the debris canister.  See the image below.

The line will go in one side of the canister and out the bottom.  From there it will go all the way to the pump to be hooked into a valve.  At this point I can switch to 1 1/2″ pipe if I choose, however with hydraulics, the bigger the pipe the better.  Here the system will be plumbed into the equipment like normal.  It will go into the pump, then filter, then heater/ heat pump, and then through a salt cell or chlorinator.  Coming out of the salt cell or chlorinator is where it gets different again.

This is where the water valve comes into play.  The center of the valve is where the water comes in.  In the example above there will be three other openings in the bottom of the valve that represent the different ports.  Each opening will get a line plumbed into it.  From there the lines will make their way back to the pool.  Being that there are 9 jets to deal with I will have already planned out what zone each jet will be on, keeping in mind that each port will get 3 jets.  Once I have that figured out I can take the lines from each jet and plumb them into the appropriate port.

To do this I will create a branch from each port of the valve.  Basically I will make it so each of the 3 lines coming out of the valve plumb into the three lines coming from the pre determined jets for that port.  This may sound more confusing than it really is.  Once you have all of the lines in the appropriate ports you are finished.  From there the system is ready to go once the water is in the pool.

For more information on Paramount please check out their website at or take a look at my 3 part blog posts on how to have your vinyl liner in ground pool clean itself.

How the Harsh Winter has Affected the Swimming Pool Industry

Rough start

Well most of us know that this past winter was exceptionally harsh.  Here in northern Indiana we had temperatures close to – 30 degrees F, not to mention thigh deep snow or more for most of the winter.  I think the thing that made it seem even worse than that was the fact that it seemed like it lasted way too long.  If I remember correctly we still had snow in April.  I know that things here started off slowly in regard to swimming pool season.  People just couldn’t open there pools as early as they have been able to in years past.  For all of you folks living in southern states where your pools remain open all year, here in the north we have to close are pools each winter.  Closing a pool consists of disassembling the plumbing components and clearing all the plumbing lines of water.  In addition to that most people will put antifreeze in their plumbing lines.  If the water is not removed from the lines then there is the possibility of them freezing and bursting.  So pool openings and closings are a big part of the industry up here.  With this past winter being so bad and long many openings were delayed and kind of put a damper on things.  Sales were down in the first few months and many worried what the rest of the year would look like.  So now that we are once again approaching the end of our swimming pool season we get the opportunity to look back and see how things went.

Starting off slowly

I have spoke to several retailers and builders about how their year has gone with the harsh winter starting it off.  As I expected most of them reported a slow start.  Pool openings were down at first and retail sales were down as well.  I did have one person say that they were fairly busy early on with service calls for covers that had been damaged by the crushing weight of all the snow we got.  Obviously for the pool owner that is very unfortunate but for the service company that went out to fix them I sure it was a relief to have the business.

Things begin to pick up

As the weather got better the market seemed to improve as well.  All those openings finally happened and people started buying chemicals again.  I think that the harsh winter, forcing folks to be cooped up all winter gave them a feeling of cabin fever.  When the weather finally broke people were very eager to get back outside.  I think that many of us fear that this coming winter will be as bad or worse than our last one.  For that reason I think people are even more amped up about spending time outside now while it is nice.

Why sales are up

Many pool stores, where one would buy their chemicals and accessories also sell things like patio furniture, grills, and outdoor kitchens.  The idea behind this is to invest in a “staycation”.  People are going all out and upgrading their plain backyard for the one straight out of a magazine add or from one of those t.v. shows where the people spend X amount on a home and then use the rest of their money to improve on it.  Another reason people may be more willing to spend this year more so than years before is partly because many feel that this “recession” is lifting a bit and allowing people to be a little more relaxed with their money.  Regardless of the reason it seems as though this year has been pretty good for the swimming pool industry.  I mean it is august already and some builders have at least 15 more pools to put in this year.  I understand that some companies may yet be struggling this year but I think that overall it has been a decent year for most.  I am not an expert in economics or anything, I am just relaying information given to me back to you.

What you should do    

I know that not everybody has the means to purchase an inground pool, or an out door kitchen, but at the very least you can do what I am doing.  Get outside, enjoy the weather while it is still nice.  Don’t make excuses to stay inside.  It will be winter again soon and more than likely it will be another harsh one.  We will all be cooped up again in the house with nothing to do.  With that in mind, use this nice weather to get outside.  If you have small kids, let them stay up a little later to go out a catch fireflies, plan a trip to the park for a day and have a picnic, and all you daddy’s out there, or mommy’s take the opportunity to camp out in the backyard before it gets too cold.  Take your kids on nature hikes, get them away from the t.v. and video games, and do something fun and exciting outside.  If you have the means, think about getting a pool.  I mean really give it some thought.  Research the pros and cons, read my blog posts related to the benefits of owning a pool because there are many.  Owning a pool is an investment, not just in your backyard, but in the lives of you and your family.  Save the money you would spend on vacations, get a pool, and stay at home.  Have cook outs, and pool parties, and let your kids invite their friends over to enjoy the pool.  It will change the way they look at the you and the world in general.  Remind them that there is still fun outside of the virtual world.  Get unplugged!

Swimming Pool Safety Tips

Swimming pool safety is probably the single most important part about owning a pool.  After all, the fun of owning a pool goes away if it is not safe.  Even though I consider my pool safe I am always on alert when I have people over.  Especially if those people include kids.  I have written several posts about how to be physically safe in the pool.  The fact is that I have probably covered most precautions that can be taken to remain safe in the pool.  Today I am going write a post to refresh the memories of those who have already read my previous posts on this subject.  If this is your first time reading one of these posts then pay close attention, the information within is especially valuable if you have children.

To start I want to discuss the things that you can do to help ensure the safety of those using your pool.


  Being that there have been a few instances this year already of people being shocked in their pools, or community pools I want to stress the fact that you should have the electrical components of your pool inspected each year.  If you see that the light in the pool has water inside of it or even if it has algae starting to grow then that is a sign that there is a leak in the light.  A leaky light can be a dangerous thing.  Today more and more builders are using low voltage lighting in the new pools that they install, however years ago all the lights installed in pools were the standard 120v.

Bad Idea!!!

Another thing to watch out for is people using electrical devices too close to the pool.  I understand that having a radio playing while people are enjoying the pool is a very nice luxury, however just make sure that it is either running on batteries or that it is at least five feet away from the water at all times.  Obviously water and electricity do not mix so do your best to not get an unfortunate reminder.

Overhead wires are another concern of mine.  Not that they are going to suddenly fall into the pool or anything, but there is a degree of danger that is associated with them.  Think about what you do in regard to pool maintenance.  I know that a lot of people will vacuum their pools at least once a week.  Keeping that in mind, what things do you need to vacuum your pool.  Does a long aluminum extension pole come to mind?  This is where the concern lies.  When someone is vacuuming a pool they are focused on the bottom of the pool and not necessarily what is above their heads.  Aluminum conducts electricity quite well and one slight touch of the pole to an overhead wire could very well be a horrible mistake.  Just be cautious please.


Having a fence around your pool goes a long way in keeping people safe.  Many states require a fence around the pool.  Some will allow you to have either a fence or an automatic pool cover.  Check your local building codes to determine what is needed at your pool.  If you do end up getting a fence around your pool there are a few things that you should keep in mind.  One is that the fence should be at least 4 feet tall.  I would personally go a little taller on it but that is ultimately up to you.  Another thing that you should be aware of is that the gate to access the pool area should open away from the pool, and have some kind of automatic latching mechanism on it at the top so that it cannot be left open.  You may be wondering why it matters that the gate opens away from the pool.  Think of it this way, if the latch to open the gate is at the top then a little person attempting to gain access to the pool area would have to get a chair or something to stand on in order to reach it.  More than likely they will place it right in front of the gate.  If they do get it unlatched, making sure it opens toward them would add an even bigger challenge and likely force them to give up.  Does that make sense?  If the chair they are standing on is in the way of the gate opening then they will be more likely to give up trying to gain access.  You could even go as far as installing an alarm system on your gate, or having motion activated lights in the pool area to deter anyone from trying to sneak in at night.

Automatic Pool Cover

This is an added bonus to the safety of your pool.  In case you are not aware, there are covers available that allow you to open and close your pool at the touch of a button, or the turn of a key.  Typically this is something that would have to be installed as the pool is being built, but if you have one then you are a step ahead in the pool safety game.  These covers will usually come with either a code activated key pad or an actual key that you will have to turn and hold to uncover and cover the pool.  Obviously if you don’t have the key or don’t have the code then gaining access to the pool will be much more difficult.  These are not always required but they definitely add to the safety of the pool area.

Clean up the pool area

This is more for if you have smaller children in the house.  The theory behind this is that if a lot of pool toys are left scattered around the pool after “pool time” is over then small children might see them and be tempted to enter the pool area to retrieve a toy that they remember having fun with earlier.  If you as the adult were to remove the pool toys from the pool area, or store them in a deck side container of some sort then you will have effectively removed the temptation to enter the pool area later on.  Along with this idea is the notion to have an ordinary looking chlorine feeder in the pool rather than one that looks like a dolphin or alligator or whatever.  Cute little alligator or dolphin chlorine feeders in the pool may look like toys to smaller children and possibly give them that temptation to enter the pool area again.

Have an undistracted, responsible adult supervise children in the pool

The key words in this are “undistracted”, “responsible”, and “adult”.  This does not mean teenager, with ear buds, and a Facebook friendly smart phone.  The supervising adult should be alert and capable of reacting quickly.  Great grandma and her life alert pendant might not be the best supervisor for the swimming pool.  Ideally the supervisor should be an adult and have the understanding that they are there to watch the swimmers.  They should be unconnected from the internet and have no other distractions while they are supervising.  Although being tuned into your smart phone while supervising is a bad idea, actually having a phone nearby is a very good idea.  In case an emergency were to occur you would be able to call 911 without having to leave the area.

Make a Pool Safety Tool Kit to keep near the pool

You can put anything you want in this kit but there are some things that you should definitely have in there.  Below is a short list of the must haves in your pool safety too kit.
1) A first aid kit
2) A pair of scissors – to cut hair, clothing, or a pool cover it needed.
3) A charged telephone  – to call 911 in the event of an emergency.
4) A floatation device – Foam noodles, water wings, and little inflatable rafts are not life saving devices – They are toys and do not replace the need for supervision by a responsible adult.

There are many other ways to ensure the safety of those using your pool.  For more information regarding pool safety please check out my other blog posts with “Safety” in the title.  You can also check out This website will give you the most up to date information available on how to remain safe in the pool.  You can also find more general and specific information on vinyl liner in ground pools by checking out my other posts.


Sand filters – Why all the settings?

So lets say you got yourself a brand new vinyl liner in ground pool, and along with that pool you got

the standard sand filter with a top mount multi port valve.  These valves will typically have several different settings.  You may know that each setting does something different but you are just not too sure as to what each setting does specifically.  Some of these may be self explanatory like the setting that says “filter”.  Okay that is the setting that cleans the water being delivered to the filter by the pump.  What about the other settings?  What do they do?  Well that is the purpose of this post.  I want to shed some light on this topic because I feel that sometimes people act like they know whats going on because they are too embarrassed to ask.  Trust me, when it comes to something that you have spent a substantial amount of money on then there is no shame in asking what does what.  That being said let’s get started.

Being that I have already mentioned “filter” or “filtration” I will start there.

(Please note that it is important that you shut off the pump before switching the multi port valve settings.  Failure to do so can cause damage to the valve and filter)

“Filter” – This setting is used for filtering the pool

-The incoming water from the piping system is directed by the multi port valve to the top of the filter bed.  As the water is pumped through the filter sand, dirt and debris are trapped by the filter bed and filtered out.  Then the filtered water is returned from the bottom of the filter tank, through the multi port valve and back through the piping system to your pool.

“Backwash” – This position is for cleaning the media (sand)

Water flow is reversed by the multi port valve through the filter bed so that water flow is directed to the bottom of the tank and up through the filter bed, flushing the previously trapped dirt and debris out the waste line.

“Rinse” – This is the position for flushing the filter system

The water flow is directed by the multi port valve through the filter bed and out the waste line. This process settles the filter media bed into place and ensures that any dirt or debris is rinsed out of the filter, preventing any possible return to the pool.

“Waste” – Position for bypassing the filter bed for waste

Water flow is directed by the multi port valve straight to the backwash outlet, bypassing the entire filter bed.  This position is used for lowering the water level or for vacuuming water with high dirt loads.

“Recirculate” – Position for bypassing the filter bed to the pool

The multi port valve recirculates the water flow directly back to the swimming pool, bypassing the filter.

“Closed” – Position for closing all flow to the filter

This position is not to be used while the pump is running.  This setting closes all ports, not allowing the water pass through.  Operating the pump while on this setting could result in damage to the filter, pump, or yourself.

“Winter” – This setting is to be used when closing the pool for the winter

This position will allow water to continually drain from the multi port valve.  This is to prevent water from staying in the multi port valve.  Water left in the valve could freeze and cause damage.

If you have wondered about this I certainly hope this helps.  I know that when I first started in the swimming pool industry I had no clue what these different settings did.  As always if anyone has any questions, concerns, or comments please feel free to speak your mind.  After all that is how we learn.
For more information on vinyl liner in ground swimming pools please check out my other blog posts.  I have written about almost every topic that I can think of so if you are wondering about something related to pools then chances are I have a post about it.  If you can’t seem to find what you are looking for let me know and I will do my best to cover it in a future post.

Closing Your Pool

Summer time is almost over 🙁 … I know that there wasn’t much of one anyway.  On the other hand we did have some good days for swimming.  Here in the northern states people will be thinking about closing their pools in the next few weeks.  I know it seems like this summer has gone by too fast.  The kids are gearing up for school and the moms and dads are breathing a sigh of relief.  I am sure that there are many of you who will have a company come out and close your pools.  In my opinion that is the best way to do it.  It allows you peace of mind to know that it was done right and in most cases if not, then it will be that companies responsibility to repair anything that happens due to them improperly closing the pool.  At the same time I am sure that many of you are thinking that it can’t be that difficult to close a pool.  Even more so I am sure that some of you have had companies close you pools in the past and after seeing the bill you are seriously contemplating closing the pool yourself.  So how do pool professionals close your pools?

To begin they come fully equipped to handle anything that might occur.  They will usually have a truck full of tools and know what to expect.  You on the other hand may have some tools but are not sure what you will need, and there is nothing worse than needing a tool right now and having to wait on it.  Here are 10 typical tools that a pool professional is likely to have for closing a pool:

1. Large channel locks
2. Small channel locks
3. A roll of tape
4. Rags
5. Flat head and Phillips screwdrivers
6. Antifreeze (specifically for pools or marine craft)
7. Plugs
8. A mighty vac (Powerful shop vac)
9. PVC pipe and fittings.
10. Assortment of rubber pressure plugs.

These are all things that will help a pool professional close your pool.

The Process:

1) First thing is first, they will have to shut off your pump and heater.

2) Now they are ready to disconnect the plumbing.  Hopefully the person who initially plumbed the system did it using unions.  Unions make it much easier to disconnect the plumbing and close the pool. (Be sure to remove all of the o rings in the unions and save them in a safe place)

3) It is important to drain the filter of the water. (at least most of it)  There is usually a cap near the bottom of the filter that can be unscrewed for the water to drain out of.

4) I would usually stick the nozzle of the mighty vac into the filter head and switch the multi port valve from one setting to another to make sure that it too is free of water. (If this is done while on the filtration setting water will spray everywhere.)

5) They will also remove the sight glass and pressure gauge from the filter.

6) The pump is another thing that they take care of.  They will remove the plugs from the pump.  There are usually two that will unscrew using a flat head screw driver.

7) It is also a good idea to blow out the heater or heat pump as well.

8) They will also have to blow out each of the lines going from the pool to the pump. Blowing out the
returns and skimmers are where the PVC pipe and fittings come into play.  Using the pipe and fittings they can make “up pipes”.  These are pipes that get threaded into the return fittings and the skimmers and stick up above the water level.  Before they can thread these pipes into the returns they will need to remove the eyeball fittings, and they will need to put these pipes in all of the returns.  Once the up pipes are in place the will blow the lines out from the pump side.  Typically one return will be blown out before the others.  When that happens their helper will put their hand over the pipe to force the air through the other return line.

9) When the lines are free of water they will then dump a gallon of antifreeze into the line and get ready to plug it. (for the returns they will need to remove the PVC up pipe they made.  To do this they will need to plug the up pipe they made so water doesn’t get into the line while they are removing it and they have to have fast reflexes, because as soon as that pipe is free, water will start to enter the line again.  They will have to quickly plug the return.  Repeat the process for each return.

10)  The skimmers are a bit different, typically they can close the pool with water in the skimmers.  They will need to have some sort of foam on hand to do this effectively.  First you will want to remove the skimmer basket and insert the up pipe they made into the skimmer.  Ideally they will want the pipe to be long enough to be above the water level but short enough so that it does not stick up past the deck height of the pool. This pipe is going to stay there all winter so they will make sure that they have plenty of teflon tape around the male adapter so that it doesn’t leak.  Again they will blow out this line from the pump side.  Once the line is free of water they can pour a gallon of antifreeze into the line, and plug the opening.  Repeat this process for each skimmer.  They will then fill the empty space in the skimmer with the foam.  This will keep the skimmer from cracking when the water freezes

11) The main drains are again a bit different.  Typically on newer pools there will be two main drains on the bottom of the pool.  They will be plumbed together and being that they are on the bottom of the pool would be difficult to plug.  However they are actually easier to winterize.  They simply have to blow out the lines until they see bubbles coming out of BOTH main drains.  It is good practice to let them bubble for a good 30 seconds to make sure that all of the water is out of the line.  Again this is a point in which they will need fast reflexes because they will have to plug the line at the pump side and quickly.  As soon as the blower leaves the line water will begin to enter.  Once the plug is in place, then the water can no longer enter the line.  If bubbles come up from the main drains after they plug it then they need to blow it out again.  Once they have all the lines blown out they can start plugging the openings to the pipes at the pump side.  I always plug the openings on the pump, filter, and heater just to make sure that no critters get in there over the winter and cause any damage.  I also find it convenient to store all of the plugs from the filter, and pump in the pump basket along with the o rings and sight glass.

12) The next step is to place anything that can be removed inside a garage or storage area so that they are out of the elements.

This process may be different from person to person.  Not all companies work the same way.  This is just some general information on how a pool professional would go about closing a pool.  In my opinion it is always best to let the professionals take care of things like this just so if there are any problems it will be the professionals responsibility to correct them.

For more information regarding general swimming pool information and specifically vinyl liner in ground pools please check out my other posts.  My entire blog is geared toward vinyl liner in ground pools and I have used my experience as a pool builder and service technician to put together information that I feel a pool owner may be interested in knowing.