Swimming pools that require little maintenance

In today’s fast pace lifestyles, people always seem to be looking for the quickest or easiest ways to do something.  This is apparent by the way we live our daily lives.  For example, when my wife and I are sitting at home in the midst of a discussion that our opinions differ on, the quickest and easiest way to settle the difference of opinion is to look the answer up on the internet.  Instead of going to the computer, to do this we grab for our phones.  This is a perfect example of how we as americans want things “now”.  It is no longer acceptable to have to go to the computer to get information.  We would rather have that information readily available in our pockets.  It used to be that at dinner time, one would have to physically prepare food.  Now there is a restaurant on every street corner.  These are just examples that demonstrate what I am saying.  This same mentality is now crossing over into the inground swimming pool industry.

People are still wanting inground swimming pools, but either they are not too keen on doing the maintenance on them, or they just don’t have the time in their daily schedules.  So what can be done?  Obviously the water would have to be maintained in order to keep it clean, and the pool itself would surely get debris in it.

With the technology that is available today the swimming pool industry has seen dramatic shift in the way that people are maintaining their swimming pools.  There are now systems that have been designed to clean the swimming pool so that you don’t have to.  Paramount has developed a system that uses specialized returns, floor nozzles, and main drain to remove debris from your pool.  This system basically eliminates the need to sweep the swimming pool.  They have a few different versions of this system that have different levels of cleaning.  I break it down a good, better, and best.  The good version utilizes the specially designed main drain and a secondary safety drain to clean debris out of the pool.  The better system uses those drains as well as the specially designed wall returns to direct debris to the main drain and remove it.  The best version is when the main drain, wall returns and floor nozzles are being used together.

So lets break this down even further.  The main drain that they have specially designed is called the MDX – R3.  This is basically an over sized main drain that is capable of removing even large debris from your swimming pool.  The way this works is by using a 4″ opening on the bottom of the drain.  This then gets reduced to a 2 1/2″ pipe.  All the debris that gets removed from the pool then gets deposited into a debris canister or it goes into your pump basket.

With this main drain it would be necessary to use the SDX secondary drain.  This drain acts as a safety drain.  It gets plumbed into the same line as the MDX- R3 so if something were to completely cover the MDX-R3 then the SDX is completely capable of taking on the full force of the pump.  This way, whatever is covering the MDX-R3 can be removed easily.

The specially designed returns are called SwingJets.  The SwingJets have ratcheting technology so they actually pop out pointing in one direction.  They then go back in and when they come back out they point in a new direction.  They ultimately have three different directions that they point to.  For the system to work properly there would need to be multiple jets in a single pool.  With multiple jets all working together they effectively push debris toward the main drain.  If the pool were to only have these SwingJets and no in floor nozzles then you might find that the debris is settling in the center of the pool in a line up the slope.  This would require you to simply brush the debris toward the main drain.  To Eliminate this problem you would want the “best” version which uses the in floor nozzles.

The in floor nozzles are basically a type of return fitting that actually gets installed in the floor of your pool.  There would typically be a few of them strategically located in your pool and would effectively force the debris to the main drain to be removed.

These systems are designed to take the work off the shoulders of the homeowners.  However this still leaves the problem of treating the water.  For some people this is not that big of a deal, however there are others that don’t want to even mess with it.  For this reason there have been products designed to treat the pool water so that you, the homeowner do not have to.  I say that, however they don’t completely take the human element out of it.  There are two particular products available that when combined they make your pool sparkling clean, and crystal clear.  They are the Clear O3 and Ultra UV.

These units work together to kill 99.9% of all bacteria and viruses in you pool water.  As I said, they work well together but the way they kill bacteria and viruses is completely different.  The Clear O3 system injects ozone into the filter system by way of the pump.  The Ultra UV uses Ultra Violet Radiation to sanitize the water.  The Clear O3 Unit will mount near the filter system and actually has a small hose that runs to the pump where it injects the ozone.  The Ultra UV will actually get plumbed into the system so that water will run through it where it will pass by an ultra violet lamp allowing the UV rays to kill any viruses or bacteria in the water.

As I said these systems will allow for the bare minimum of work to be done by the homeowner in regard to water sanitation.  However there will still need to be some residual chlorine in the water to take care of any excess “filth”.  This simply means that from time to time you would have to add some chlorine to the pool.

If you are interested in getting a swimming pool but have no desire to spend extra time taking care of it then you may want to look into these systems as they take a lot of the work out of owning a swimming pool.  The Clear O3 and the Ultra UV can be installed after the pool has been built, however the good, better, and best Paramount in floor cleaning systems will really need to be installed at the time that the pool itself is installed.

For more information regarding the Clear O3, Ultra UV, and the Paramount in floor cleaning systems please check out Paramounts website here http://www.paramountpoolsystems.com/

Costs of maintaining an in ground pool

There are more and more people buying in ground swimming pools these days.  There are several ideas as to why this is.  Some say that it is due to the economy beginning to bounce back.  Some say that more and more people are buying into the whole staycation idea and investing in their own back yards.  Regardless of the reason the fact remains that people are buying in ground pools.  I will go out on a limb and say that most of these people probably have not owned a pool before and really have no idea about what they are getting themselves into.

People seem to have this mindset that owning a pool requires a lot of work.  However let me be the first to tell you that this is not always the case.  The way I see it, owning a pool is like owning a car in that it can require a lot of work, but depending on how you use it and take care of it you might find that owning a pool does not require a lot of work.  Along with the work, people feel as though a pool will cost them a lot of money after the initial installation.  I will be the first to admit that there is some inherent cost that goes into pool maintenance.  However, keeping with the car analogy the cost of pool maintenance is similar to the cost of car maintenance.  You will have to fill up with gas, change the oil, rotate the tires, and check the fluids.  With a pool you will have to occasionally add chlorine,  maybe put some algaecide in from time to time, sweep it, and regularly test the water.  If you stay on top of the regular pool maintenance then you will likely not have an issue.  That being said you will not have to keep dumping a lot of money into it.  Also, like a car if you just let it go on and on without doing anything to it then you will start running into problems.  If left alone long enough these problems can turn into expensive repairs.  So to say that owning a pool requires a lot of work and money is a bit of an embellishment.  A standard pool will require a little bit of work, and yes you will have to put some money into it from time to time, but the idea that it is a money pit is not entirely true.  You just have to stay on top of the little maintenance that will keep your pool healthy.
Paramount’s Swing Sweep System
As technology has improved, so has the concept of in ground swimming pools.  In today’s world a person could purchase a system with their pool that will make their pool virtually maintenance free.  There are a number of products on the market that will allow you to not even worry about adding chemicals to your pool as well.  Basically with the right products plumbed into the pool’s filtration system a pool is capable of keeping itself clean.  In addition to those products, we as consumers have the luxury of having a pool that will keep itself free of debris such as dirt and leaves.  I have written about this topic in the past so if you are curious as to what products I am referring to please check out the three part series I posted titled How to have a vinyl liner in ground swimming pool clean itself.  Within those posts you will learn what products are available to make your pool virtually maintenance free.
Granted to have a “maintenance Free” pool you will have to spend a bit more.  It’s like this.  If a standard pool with a main drain, skimmer, and returns is like a basic car with a tape deck, crank windows, and those pull up locks, then a maintenance free pool with all of these technologically advanced products would be like a high end luxury vehicle with blue tooth, wifi, heated seats, power windows, GPS, and so on.  Obviously the high end car will cost much more than the standard everyday car.  Similarly if you were to spend more money on the pool and the products going into it then you will end up with a much more luxurious pool.
For more information on how to cut down costs of owning an in ground vinyl liner pool, or general swimming pool information please check out my other blog posts.

Floating Liners

Have you ever had your liner float?  This typically only happens when the pool has to be drained for one reason or another.  Basically what happens is that there is water that builds up in the ground around and under the pool.  most of the time it is due to rain, but there are other variables that come into play from time to time.  Anyway  as that water builds up around the pool, the pressure from that water pushing up becomes greater and greater.  Usually the water in the pool is heavy enough to keep the water outside the pool back.  However if you have to drain the pool for some reason then the weight of the water in the pool decreases and the water behind the pool has the opportunity to flow in behind the liner.  I have seen this happen many many times.  Fortunately most of the floating liners that I have seen were being replaced anyway so it didn’t make much of a difference.  Still it always seems to alarm the homeowner, and when I tell them that it is ground water underneath the liner they always question me saying “well it can’t be, it hasn’t rained since last week”.  The fact is that it can be because that is what it is.  The ground has the ability to retain a lot of water and being that it is underground, it doesn’t have the sun aiding in evaporation.  Then when the water in the pool is drained, it suddenly has a place to flow to.

This happens quite often around here.  However it is rare that the liner will float with the pool full of water.  Don’t get me wrong, it has happened before and it is because the water pressure behind the liner is greater than the water pressure on top of the liner.

There are some things that most builders will do to ensure that the liner doesn’t float and give the home owner some piece of mind.  One is that they will often run a perforated tile around the pool that will collect any rain water and allow it to flow away from the pool.  There are a couple places that it will likely go.  One place is to a sump pit.  This is just like the pits you see in basements.  It is usually located just behind the deck of the pool and has a pump in it that will kick on if the water level gets too high.  The other way they take care of this issue is by having what is know as a French drain or Gravity drain.  This is dependent on the elevation of your yard.  It is basically the same perforated tile running around the pool, but instead of it going to a sump pit, they will dig a trench down hill away from the pool.  That way any water that the tile collects will be directed away from the pool.

I have even worked on a pool that was built with a line underneath the very bottom that could be used to pump water out from behind the pool.  This was a extenuating circumstance though.  The pool was built in an area that retained a lot of ground water. For the most part liners floating is not a problem around here, other than when a pool is drained.

There is also a product available that was made to combat this issue.  It is something that I have never used and something that I would be cautious about using.  Hydrostatic vales were made to keep ground water from ever being a problem.  They get installed in the bottom of the main drains on the pool floor.  They use the pressure of the water to work.  Basically they have a spring in them and if the water pressure under the pool gets too great the the spring assists the pressure to force the valve to open.  This allows the water from under the pool to flow into the pool rather than behind the liner.  Then once the pressure is equalized the valve closes again.  My only concern would be that there is a possibility for something to get into the valve while it is open and prevent it from closing again.  If that were to happen you would then have a pool that no longer holds water.  I suppose it is not a major issue, as i imagine the hydrostatic valves are not too difficult to replace if needed.  Honestly it is up to the discretion of the builder on what they think is best.

If you do happen to see that you liner is floating, it is very important that you get it taken care of right away.  Usually the pool will have to be drained and the water will have to be pumped out from behind the liner.  Hypothetically if you were to let it go, then you could end up with a much bigger issue on your hands.  I have seen one liner float to the extent that the water under it pushed it up so much that it stretched out the screw holes in the main drain.  At that point the liner had to be replaced to ensure that it wouldn’t leak.  In addition to that the water under the liner can damage the bottom to the extent that some patch work needed to be done.

Ground water is very common when digging down especially eight feet or more.  Looking back I think that the majority of the pools I have built have had ground water from day one.  It is just a matter of keeping it under control.  Usually we would dig the pool a foot or so deeper than the finished depth.  Then we would drill small holes into a plastic 5 gallon bucket and bury it in stone in the bottom of the pool.  That stone would also bring the depth back to finished grade and allow any ground water to flow through the holes in the bucket so we could easily pump it out.  Then when it came time to do the bottom, we would keep the pump in the bucket until we were ready to finish the bottom.  At that point we would pull the pump out, fill the bucket with stone and do the bottom over top.  Then we would get the liner in, cut in the main drains, and start filling the pool.  Basically it is a matter of staying ahead of the ground water.  If you can get more water in the pool than there is under the pool there won’t be an issue.  It comes down to experience.  Most reputable builders know what they are doing and very very rarely ever run into an issue.  If for any reason there is a problem a reputable builder will likely take care of it at no extra cost.

The reason that I wanted to write about this issue today is just to offer some information as to why liners float and what can be done, both to prevent it from happening, and to resolve it once it if if does happen.  Like I said before, ground water is very common but usually doesn’t pose a problem for vinyl liner in ground pools.  Typically the weight of the water in the pool is enough to keep the ground water back.  In most cases people with vinyl liner in ground pools aren’t even aware of ground water until the pool is drained.

Polaris Robotic Pool Cleaners


When you hear the words robotic cleaner what comes to mind?  No not Rosie.  I am referring to robotic pool cleaners.  First be aware that there is a difference between a robotic cleaner and a suction side cleaner.  The main difference is that robotic cleaner creates its own cleaning power, where a suction side cleaner depends on the pools pump to create the power to clean the pool.  The easiest way to spot this is by looking at the skimmer of the pool.  If it is a suction side cleaner then you will see a line going into the skimmer.  This is what is doing the cleaning.  With a robotic cleaner you will see no such line.  Instead you will see a line going from the cleaner to its “caddy”.  The caddy supplies the power and acts as storage for the robot when it is not in use.  Lets take a look at the actual mechanics of each of these types of cleaners for a moment.

Suction Side Cleaner

A suction side cleaner utilizes the power of the pump to clean the pool.  It basically crawls around the pool sucking up dirt and debris and depositing it into the skimmer basket or pump basket.  Without the suction of the pump then the cleaner would just sit at the bottom of the pool doing nothing.  A robotic cleaner does not require the use of the pump to clean the pool.  It gets power from the caddy and uses a brush or brush like component to clean the pool.  Any debris or dirt that it stirs up gets deposited into a net that is built into the robot itself.  This aspect of the robot is enough to peak the interest of pool owners across the country.  It is a major selling point for the robot due to the fact that pool owners won’t have the task of cleaning out their skimmer baskets, pump baskets, or backwashing their filters after cleaning the pool.  You now see that there is an obvious difference between a robotic cleaner and a suction side cleaner.  Now you should know that there are differences from one robotic cleaner to another.  For me there is one brand of robotic cleaner that stands out from the rest.  Polaris robotic cleaners are in my opinion at the top of the game when it comes to innovation.  One reason is that they have redesigned the debris containment basket so that the cleaner remains highly effective even as the basket fills up.  Polaris has developed a new line of robotic cleaners that I want to briefly talk about.  These are the 9350 Sport, the 9450 Sport, and the 9550 Sport models.  Obviously, being that there are three different models available you can assume that the higher the number the more features the robot will have.  So lets look at the 9350 Sport.

9350 Sport – This model offers the fewest options.  It is kind of like the base model with no bells or whistles.  However it still utilizes the new design as far as the Vortex Vacuum Technology.  This basically allows this line of robots to have 25% more vacuum power than other robots on the market.  In addition to that this model offers dual cleaning cycles, which allow users to choose from a cycle of 1.5 hours, or 2.5 hours.  Basically, if your pool is extra dirty then you can set the robot to clean for a longer period of time to remove more debris.  It also offers floor, wall, and tile line cleaning.  Out of the three new models this is the only one that has two wheel drive.  To me this means that this model is ideal for smaller pools, shallower pools in which the robot will not have to work too hard to access all areas of the pool, and pools with gradual turns.  The amount of cord you get with this model will accommodate a 50′ pool.  Another feature that should be noted is that the brush on this model is pleated rather that a solid blade.  The last thing is that the caddy is included.  I am not sure why this point would need to be stressed so much unless with other brands you would have to buy the caddy separately.  I just don’t know for sure.  Anyway lets move on to the next one.

9450 Sport – This model is the next step up.  It still offers the Vortex Vacuum Technology, but it also comes with a few upgrades.  For instance instead of the dual cleaning cycles, you get a seven day programable timer.  This model also offers the floor, wall, and tile line cleaning.  Another difference is that this model is four wheel drive.  This feature would be ideal for larger pools or pools with sharp corners.  Again this model comes with enough cord to accommodate a 50′ pool.

9550 Sport – This model is like the fully loaded Cadillac of cleaning robots.  It has options that are unique to this particular brand and model.  One of which is a motion sensing handheld remote.  Yes motion sensing!  This is basically like the remote of a popular video game system in which the robot will move in the direction that you hold the remote.  With just the tilt of your hand you can get you robotic cleaner to turn left, right, or up, and down.  No other robotic cleaner has this technology to my knowledge.  This basically changes cleaning the pool from a chore to a fun way to relax or interact with the kids.  Another feature that is unique to this model is the dirty canister indicator light.  This light will come on when it is time to empty the robots debris basket.  In addition to that you can program the robot with cleaning patterns that are unique and specific to your pool.  This makes for a very efficient cleaner.  It is also four wheel drive and comes with a seven day programable timer.  The caddy is again included.  However this model is the only one of the three that comes with enough cord to accommodate a 60′ pool.  It is also the only one of the three that has a solid blade brush, which means that there will be no debris escaping.

These are the features available with each model.  I wanted you to know in case you happen to be thinking about getting a robotic cleaner for your pool and are unsure of which one to get.  I would recommend getting a Polaris robotic cleaner, however it will be up to you to determine which model best suites your needs.  One thing that I forgot to mention about all of these models is that they are equipped with an easy lift system.  When you are ready to remove the robot from the pool you simply have to press and hold a button on the caddy and your robot will come to the surface and make its way to the edge of the pool where it will wait for you to remove it.  Another thing is that each of these models is equipped to deal with being overturned.  If your robot ever flips over then it will shut itself down and float itself upright again.  For more information on swimming pool basics, please check out my other blog posts.  If you have a specific topic in mind that I have not yet covered please feel free to mention it in the space provided for questions and comments.

Equipment I Will Need for My Vinyl Liner In Ground Pool

Thinking about getting an in ground swimming pool?  Then I will first recommend that you get a vinyl liner in ground pool.  There are other types of in ground pools that you can get but in my opinion the vinyl liner in ground pool is the best bang for your buck.  I am not going to get into the reasons that I feel this way at this point but if you would like more information on why I personally feel this way please check out my blog post titled “Why My Vinyl Liner In Ground Swimming Pool is Better Than Other Types of In Ground Pools” or “Types of Swimming Pools and Which is the Best”.  These two posts go into detail about the different types of swimming pools and the pros and cons related to each.  The reason for this post today is to let you know what type of equipment you will need on your swimming pool.


Heat Pump

To start we need to identify your expectations of your swimming pool.  Are you the type of person that does not like to add additional chores to your list?  Are you like me and find that doing certain light chores is more relaxing?  The reason we need to ask ourselves these questions is to figure out how much you want to do as far as maintaining the pool.  Also if your pool is in an area that gets a lot of sun you may decide that you don’t want a heater or heat pump on the pool.  In my opinion though if you are spending the money to have a pool installed then you may want to go ahead and get the heat pump or heater anyway just in case.  It is better to have it and not need it rather than need it and not have it.  So this brings me to my next point.  Heater or heat pump?  The difference is that a heater uses natural gas or propane to heat the water and the heat pump uses the air temperature outside to heat the water.  There are some drawbacks and benefits to each one.  For instance a heater has the ability to heat the water quickly and in lower temperatures.  The downside is that the heater costs more to operate each month.  A heat pump is electric and does not require a gas line to be ran so the initial install will be a bit cheaper for you.  Also running the heat pump costs significantly less than a heater.  The downside of this is that a heat pump will not heat the water in lower temperatures and it generally takes longer to heat the water.  However once the water is up to the desired temperature the heat pump will kick on and off to maintain that temperature.  For more information on heat pumps and heaters please check out my blog  titled “Gas Heater V.S. Heat Pump.

Once you get that figured out you will have to decide on if you want an automatic pool cover installed.  For this decision you may want to check your local codes that regulated swimming pools in your area.  For instance here in indiana it is state law to have either a auto cover or fence around your pool.  That may be the case in other states as well or there may be a variation of that law.  Ideally if you have the means, it is a good idea to have both.  A fence is a good safety measure to keep unwanted guests out of your pool or neighborhood kids.  The automatic pool cover will do the same thing and in addition to that will help keep the cost of heating the pool and chemical cost down as well.  I am big on safety and I feel that having two or more barriers to get past is safer than just one.  many auto covers require a code or key to operate and a fence will help prevent children from gaining access to your pool area.  For more information on swimming pool safety please check out my blog posts with “Safety” in the title or visit http://www.poolsafely.gov/ which is a government website dedicated to keeping pool users safe.

Now you will have to decide on how much time you want to spend on maintaining the pool.  In recent years some pretty dramatic steps have been taken to lessen the amount pool owners will have to spend on maintaining their pools.  I have gone into great detail about this subject in several of my blog posts.  However just to recap, Paramount Pool Products have a number of products that will keep the cost and time of maintaining a pool down considerably.  Their Swing Sweep system is a wonderful in floor cleaning system that will literally clean debris out of the pool for you.  In addition to that it promotes better circulation of both water and chemicals.  That alone will help keep the cost of heating the pool down.

If that is not something you are interested in then you might be thinking about an cleaning robot of some sort.  If this is the case I would most definitely recommend Jandy’s Polaris 9550 Sport.  This product comes with pre programed cleaning patterns as well as the ability to control it with a handheld motion sensing remote much like that of a certain video game system.  This is something that could turn a chore into a fun activity for the kids.


There are also a few other products by Paramount that I would recommend in addition to the Swing Sweep system.  Their Clear O3 and Ultra UV can be used in combination to dramatically reduce the cost of pool chemicals for you the pool owner.  If you were to use these items in conjunction with the Swing Sweep system and Venturi skimmer than you could potentially have a maintenance free swimming pool and could then use all of your spare time to just enjoy the pool.  I have also posted about these items in the past including the Venturi skimmer for you to take a look at and I assure you                                                         that you will be intrigued.

AquaLink Z4


AquaLink RS One Touch

Another line of very intriguing products are Zodiac’s automation systems the AquaLink Z4 and AquaLink RS.  Both of these systems allow you to sit back and let the pool take care of itself.  The RS system is a little more complex as far as what it can do but both of these systems are designed to be user friendly and allow you the pool owner to make certain changes to the pool at the touch of a button.  One of the coolest things is that you can now hook up these systems to the internet and access them from your mobile device.  Out of town? Forget to turn down your heat pump?  Leave the water feature on?  Just pull out your phone and turn it down, or turn it off without burdening a neighbor to go over and do it.

These products are all things that are available today.  for more information look at my other posts, or go to the websites http://www.paramountpoolproducts.com/,  http://www.zodiacpoolsystems.com/.  Talk with your builder to see if they offer these products and if not you may want to consider another company.  These products work well and could potentially create a very relaxing environment free of the stress of pool maintenance.

How to decrease the cost of maintaining/operating your pool

One of the biggest fears among people who are thinking about getting a pool is the cost of maintenance/operation.  They tend to think that owning a pool will be a costly investment over time.  Now, like any investment there will be some cost associated with it but I wan’t to
inform you that it does not have to break the bank.  There have been some pretty significant technological advancements made in the swimming pool industry.  In this age of “going green” many people are looking for the next better, more efficient way of doing things.  That is also true about those who own or want to own a swimming pool.  Not only are more and more people expressing concern for the environment but for the majority of Americans times are tough.  People are finding that they can no longer spend they way they have in the past and are pinching pennies anywhere they can.  So it makes sense that they would be concerned about the cost of operating and maintaining a pool.  To some it seems like every aspect of owning a pool requires money.  Heating and chemicals stand out to them as things that require the spending of money on each month.  That may be true to a certain degree, but with the right components you can substantially lower the cost of both heating and chemical usage.

First let’s look at the chemical usage issue.  First I want to stress the importance of maintaining the proper water chemistry.  Not only will having poor water chemistry cost you more money in chemicals to get it back to normal, but there is also the potential for the water to actually damage components of your pool like the liner, the coping, hand rails, cover, and step to name a few.  It can be a snowball effect if you don’t know what you are doing.  Say you have too much of this, so you buy some of that, and now it affected those, so you get some of that to correct it, and now this is out of whack, so you buy that, or add more of whatever that is, and now……… Get the point.  If you don’t know exactly what to add it is probably best to take a water sample to your local pool supply store for testing, and they will usually be able to tell you what to add and how much of it to add.  The other thing is the chlorine.  Chlorine is something that the pool uses for sanitation purposes.  If you have too much then it can affect the skin and eyes, if you have too little then it won’t be able to do what it needs to do.  You can find yourself buying chlorine frequently to keep the water safe to swim in which can add up.

Another thing you could do is install an Ultra UV and Clear O3 by Paramount to your filtration system.  The Ultra UV uses ultraviolet light to kill 99% of the tiny little organisms and bacteria that live within your water.  The Clear O3 uses ozone to help kill those pesky little things.  The benefit is that they don’t need the chlorine to kill those uninvited guests, so you will need a much lesser amount of chlorine to act as residual sanitizing agent.  This will cut down the cost of chemical tremendously.

As far as heating the pool there are a couple options available.  The first is a gas heater.  These run off of either natural gas or liquid propane.  If you live in a rural area you will know that the cost of these gases is fairly steep.  If you had a gas heater and ran it the way you would likely want to the you could expect to see very large gas bills each month.  Over $1,000 is not uncommon.  On the other hand a natural gas heater is very quick to heat the water in a pool.  For instance if you were planning a Saturday pool party at 1:00 p.m. you could turn the heater on early that morning and have the water temperature where you want it by the time your guests arrived.  If you don’t use the pool during the week very often the this might be a viable option for you.  Operating the heater like this will save quite a bit compared to running the heater daily.

Another option would be to use an electronic heat pump to heat the pool.  They are slower to heat the water, but they are more energy efficient and will save you money in the long run.  This type of heating will usually take a day or two to get the water from say 56 degrees to where you want it but once it is there it will stay there.  Heat pump work like the thermostat of you house.  You set it to the temperature that you want and once the water reaches that temperature the heat pump will kick off.  When the water cools to below set temp, the heat pump will kick back on until the water reaches that temp again.  Another thing that you can do is to when having a pool built is have an auto cover installed.  Here in Indiana sometimes during the summer we get pretty cool nights.  That cool air can suck the heat out of an uncovered pool very quickly.  If you have an auto cover, you can close the pool each night and trap the heat in the pool.  This will also help save money on heating because the heater or heat pump won’t have to work as hard.

When combining these products in a swimming pool you will spend far less on maintenance and operation costs each month.  This will allow you to better enjoy your pool knowing that it is not costing you and arm and leg to have it.  For more information on the Clear O3, and the Ultra UV check out Paramount’s website at www.paramountpoolproducts.com.  For more information on Jandy heat pumps and gas heaters visit click here The Jandy Website

The Importance of Taking Care Of Your Pool

In life, there are certain things that should be treated with care.  The obvious things are family, pets, and friends.  In addition to those things, some people might take extra special care of things like their classic cars, boats, or even their yards.  My neighbor growing up was that way.  His yard was his pride and joy. At one point, he re-seeded the yard and would get very upset when people would walk on the grass.  Even years after re-seeding, nobody but him was allowed to step foot in the yard.  I know this is a strange introduction to a blog post about swimming pools, but the point is that owning a swimming pool comes with responsibilities similar to those that come with owning anything of value.  All too often I come across a pool that has been neglected by its owner.  If the owner decides to restore an unkempt pool, they will be looking at a fairly costly undertaking to restore the pool to its former glory.  In my opinion, anything is possible with the proper equipment and budget.  The problem is that many pool owners are not wanting to spend the money required to get the job done right.  The point of all this is that with the proper care, a pool can last a very long time and it doesn’t have to turn into a money pit.

There are certain expenses that come with owning a pool, and these must be understood before purchasing a pool.  It’s like a child owning a dog.  They see only the good things that come with pet ownership, and don’t have a firm grasp on the responsibility that accompanies it.  Eventually, the parents end up taking care of the animal.  I suppose that the parents usually understand this ahead of time.  At any rate, owning a pool requires that it be taken care of (just like owning a dog), and there are costs involved as well.  The difference is that if the owner decides not to take care of the pool, then nobody will.  This leaves them with a potential hazard in the backyard and the worse it gets the more expensive it may be to restore it.  Just like owning a dog and having to buy food for it, owning a pool requires that you buy chemicals for it.  Also, from time to time, you have to give a dog a bath, just like you have to clean the pool periodically.  You have to take the dog to the vet.  You have to occasionally hire someone to do repairs to the pool.  You get my point.  Owning a pool is a responsibility.  Another huge difference is that a dog can be a relatively inexpensive addition to the house where a pool represents a significant investment.  It’s a shame that some people just let there pools become a place that people avoid rather than the welcoming focal point of the backyard that it once was.  I have seen some very elegant pools turn into disgusting breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and frogs, while simultaneously becoming burial grounds for spiders, worms, mice, squirrels, and any other creatures that happens to fall in.  This has always been something that I could not quite understand.  Why would people spend the money for a pool to eventually let it get so unbearably gross that they stop taking care of it all together?  I still don’t know.  With a little effort they could have had a beautiful place for entertaining, and backyard bar-b-cue’s for many, many years.

If you are looking into getting a pool, understand that it will need to be properly cared for.  If that is not something that you will be able to do, then I would suggest that you not get one.  However, before you write it off completely, you should know that there are products available that can accompany the pool to make the maintenance much easier, and in some cases you can get your pool to take care of itself with very little effort on your part.  The reason I created this post was in an effort to inform the people who are looking into getting a pool about the work and responsibilities that follow the initial installation of the pool.

At this point, you realize that I have not offered any specific information on how to maintain a pool.  The reason for that is that I have several other posts on my blog related to pool maintenance. I also have a three part post that offers information regarding how to have a vinyl liner pool clean itself.  I have worked in the in-ground swimming pool industry as a builder, service technician, swimming pool renovator, and technical sales associate for about ten years now.  I have seen many things over the years, from the most disgusting pools to the most elaborate, elegant pools.  I have been put in the position of solving many problems that pool owners encounter, and with the right equipment and proper application there has yet to be anything that I am unable to resolve.  That being said, please take the time to take a look at my other blog posts and feel free to ask any questions or make any comments that you may have.  As a pool professional, I will do my best to answer any questions or respond to any comments with respect to those who who offer them.  As I am new to the blog scene, I look forward to any feedback from my readers.  I am happy to help and having that feedback will allow me to learn as well.

How To Maintain Your Vinyl Liner

More and more people are purchasing in ground vinyl liner pools over concrete or fiberglass.  They find it ideal to be able to change the look of the pool simply by changing the liner design.  For some people I think that they sometimes ignore the importance of properly caring for their liner, or they don’t understand that having a vinyl liner represents a significant investment.  Then after a few short seasons they find the need to replace the liner and become upset that it didn’t last very long.  I know of this situation first hand.  I installed a vinyl liner pool for a customer and by the next year I was replacing the liner.  I know that at the end of the initial build process the owner of the company I worked for would go to every customer and talk to them about proper care and maintenance of the pool.  In addition to that he would offer classes to every customer in an effort to better educate them on the responsibilities of owning a pool.  Now I don’t know if this particular customer just didn’t understand or if she just didn’t take him seriously, but the day I went to replace the liner I showed her the areas of chemical damage and explained the importance of keeping the water well maintained.  At that she informed me that had she known that she would have to maintain the water she would have never purchased a pool.  The following year she had set up a weekly maintenance schedule with the company that I worked for and when I went out to her house to perform the maintenance in the middle of the day the cover was open and the pump was off and it was full of debris.  I still don’t think she understands the importance of proper pool care.  That being said I would like to give some basic information on the proper care of a vinyl liner that will prolong its life and allow pool owners to enjoy their pool rather than resent it.

There are several things that you as a pool owner can do to help prolong not only the life of the liner but also the life of the pump, heater, and filter as well.  Water chemistry plays a huge role in proper liner care.  If your water is all out of whack it can destroy a liner in a relatively short period of time.  If the pH in the pool is too low then the water becomes acidic/corrosive and can eat away at the liner.  If the pH is too high then it can start leaving calcium deposits on the liner which can also be corrosive.  To help prevent the liner from fading you will need to maintain the proper alkalinity somewhere between 80 and 120 ppm. Chlorine levels are very important as well, not only can they cause the liner to wrinkle if too high but if the level is too low then you will start to get algae and bacteria growth.  In addition to that too much chlorine can cause your eyes to burn or your skin to itch.

 While chemicals are an essential part of maintaining your pool you have to be careful of how you use them.  It is a good idea to have the water tested periodically.  Most pool companies will test the water for you and they will be able to tell you what chemicals to add and how much of them to add.  In regard to adding chemicals it is important that you know how to do that.  First you will only want to add one chemical at a time.  Don’t just go home and dump a bunch of chemicals in the pool.  You will also want to allow the chemicals to completely dissolve before adding another type.  Another thing is to make sure that you don’t dump the chemicals directly on the liner.  That could result in discoloration or deterioration of the liner.  In some cases there may be a stain at the water line on the liner.  If this occurs it is important that you not go at it with some type of abrasive household cleaner.  There are specific cleaners available that are formulated for use in swimming pools, and those are what you will want to use.  Household cleaners may contain ingredients that can ruin the liner or strip the color.  If you live in an area where you will have to close the pool during winter months then you will wan to allow the closing chemicals to circulate for at least twenty four hours before covering the pool.
Another thing you can do is brush and sweep the pool once a week.  Just keeping the pool clean will go a long way in the maintenance process.  I have a couple of other recommendations as well.  One is that when purchasing a pool get an auto cover!!!  This will allow you to close the pool when its not in use.  It will help to keep it free of debris, save you money on heating and chemical usage, and protect the liner from UV rays that can fade and deteriorate the liner.  It is also an added safety feature and you will most likely find it to be a good investment.  The other thing is that if you have children take the time to teach them a little bit about the pool.  Let them know that the liner is soft and can be torn.  I installed a pool years ago and two days after it was finished and full of water I was back out to patch the liner after their son had used the vacuum pole as a harpoon a pretended that he was spearing fish at the bottom of the pool.  Do you get the visual?

Also I know that some dogs love water.  The problem is that vinyl liners and a dogs nails don’t mix well.  We have all seen how dogs swim, and if they can’t touch the bottom they will generally go for the side of the pool.  When that happens their nails can easily shred a liner.  There is also a cleanliness issue with having dogs in your pool. (For more information on that see my post titled “Swimming Pool Safety – Recreational Water Illnesses”)

These are some things that can be done in order to prolong the life of you vinyl liner.  With proper care a vinyl liner can live to see many joyful summers to come, and in some cases see an infant grow into a teenager.  It all depends on how well you take care of your pool.  Please see my other posts for more information regarding vinyl liner in ground pools, and general swimming pool information all together.

How To Clean Fiberglass Pool Steps

It is not uncommon for fiberglass steps in swimming pools to develop stains over time.  I have seen them in a variety of colors.  They can be caused by different types of algae, and in some cases can be the result of having metals in the water such as iron.  Regardless of the cause, it is possible to clean steps and restore their original color.  In this post, I will describe some of the more common stains and what causes them, and offer some advice on how to remove the stains.
If you have had a pool for some time, then you have probably experienced this problem first hand.  For those who have only had their pool for a short period, then you may have been alarmed at the first sight of these stains on your steps.  Rest assured that these stains can be removed in a number of ways depending on what caused them.  Even though some stains are not green, they can be caused by algae. It is important for you to know that algae can appear in a variety of colors, even though many associate algae with the color green. Depending on the type of algae, it may be yellow, pink, brown, or black.  Regardless of the type of algae, there are ways to clean them.  Before you go about cleaning algae off the step, you need to make sure you also work toward keeping the algae from coming back.
You will want to shock the pool and add the appropriate amount of algaecide. I want to point out that black algae is typically more difficult to get rid of.  You will want to take the same steps as with the other types of algae, however, you will need to get an algaecide that is specifically formulated for killing black algae.  Additionally, you will want to scrub all of the areas of black algae with your pool brush.  Black algae has a hard outer layer that will help to protect it from the algaecide and you will need to break through that layer with the brush to allow the algaecide to effevtively kill it.  Once you have treated the pool for the algae, you are ready to tackle the steps.  Typically, once the chlorine and algaecide begin to work, the algae stains on the steps should just scrub off with a brush.  If that does not completely clear the algae, you may want to look into some products that are available for cleaning steps.
The other cause of step stains in a pool is the presence of metals in the water.  These can leave yellow, or rusty colored stains on the step, which are more visible on white steps.  In some cases, these stains can be removed by using a brush, but that does not always work completely.  I have found that stubborn pool step stains can be adequately removed by using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  This actually works rather well.  Depending on the severity of the stain, you may have to look into specific product for cleaning metal stains off of pool steps.  Check out this video posted on YouTube on how to remove metal stains from a fiberglass step using a specialty product https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufySSK5grWw.  The easiest way to keep stains from getting out of hand is to stay active in keeping the steps clean and maintaining your pool water chemistry.  With properly balanced pool water, these types of stains should not be a problem.
For more information on algae in pools and other pool water problems check out my post titled “Pool Water Problems” and feel free to look at my other posts which cover a number of swimming pool related topics. I am always open to any feedback you may have regarding any of the topics I post about, so feel free to comment.

How To Maintain Your Vinyl Liner In Ground Swimming Pool

In recent posts, I have offered information on how to have your swimming pool clean itself.  Basically, this can be done by utilizing three types of technology;  one is the in-floor cleaning system; two is having a Venturi skimmer; three is using Ultra violet cleaning systems.  I understand that for some folks the upfront cost of installing these items is a bit more than they would want to dish out.  However, I think that it is important to understand that overtime these items will pay for themselves.  These items reduce chemical usage, increase overall circulation, and reduce heating costs.  So, with time the amount of money that you will save will far outweigh the initial cost of the items themselves.  That being said, I know that the some will still not want to add those expenditures to the cost of the pool installation, and they will need to know how to properly maintain their swimming pools.

Chemical Damage

To begin, I want to touch on the importance of water sanitation.  As I have stated in a previous post, the failure to maintain your water chemistry can have some adverse effects on your pool as well as yourself.  Improper water chemistry can damage the liner, steps, pump, filter, heater, and basically every component of your pool.  Granted, this will not necessarily happen immediately, nor will the components become damaged simultaneously, but the fact remains that the longer the water is unbalanced, the faster things will become damaged.  In addition to the risk of damaging your pools components and equipment, there are also very real health risks that are involved in having poorly maintained water.  (See my post titled Swimming Pool Safety – Recreational Water Illnesses.)  A number of health related problems can occur as a result of poorly maintained swimming pool water ranging from skin rashes to diarrhea.  In addition to that, if you have too much chlorine in the water, it can cause skin and eye irritation as well.  With those things in mind, it is important to have your water tested periodically, and if something is off you must add the appropriate chemicals to bring your levels back to their acceptable ranges.

Acceptable Ranges
pH: 7.4 – 7.6
Chlorine: 1.0 – 3.0 ppm
Total Alkalinity: 80 – 140 ppm
Calcium Hardness: 200 – 400
Cyanuric Acid: 25 – 50 ppm
Total Dissolved Solids: 500 – 5000 ppm

To avoid confusion, it is usually best to take a water sample from your pool to your local pool store.  They will usually offer water testing, and will be able to tell you what chemicals and how much of them to add in order to get your levels to where they need to be.


A big part of maintaining your pool is to clean it regularly.  this includes cleaning out your skimmer and pump baskets, and sweeping the pool to remove any debris.  Depending on the location of your pool you may have to sweep the pool frequently especially if your pool is located near trees.  (See my post titled Vacuuming Your In Ground Swimming Pool for more information.)