Tips and Suggestions

Chemical Balance in your Swimming Pool

Chemicals1 287x300 Chemical Balance in your Swimming PoolAre you checking the chemical balance in your swimming pool regularly? Proper chemical balance improves the effectiveness of chlorinating products as well as other sanitizers. It will also prevent corrosion of metal equipment and the formation of scale that damages equipment, stains surfaces and clouds pool water. More importantly, the right chemical balance allows swimmers to remain comfortable and free from irritation. Here’s how often you should check pool levels:

Total Alkalinity should be checked once per month to prevent cloudy water and scaling of your pools surfaces.

pH Level should be checked once per week to prevent corrosion of metal parts and equipment, etching on plaster, cloudy water, scaling of pool surfaces as well as eye and skin irritation.

Calcium Hardness should be checked two or three times per season to prevent scaling of pool surfaces.

Diving Board Safety

DivingBoardSafety 287x300 Diving Board SafetyHave you considered putting in a diving board before the next swimming season? Please take some time to consider the safety of your friends and family before doing so. Diving accidents can be both devastating and permanent. Unfortunately most states have not passed legislature that outlines specific regulations for diving board installation. However, safety experts and pool manufacturers strongly recommend certain diving board safety precautions.

Board Regulations

  • The diving board should have a permanent label that indicates the manufacturer, the year the diving board was produced, weight limitations and the required depth for safe diving from that specific board. The diving board also should be made of a textured, nonslip surface to reduce falls when the board is wet. Diving boards that are more than one meter above the water must have a rail that extends to the end of the diving board. All boards should have steps or ladders with handrails.

Pool Depth

  • Another crucial factor in diving board safety is the depth of the pool. For competitive diving boards, water depth must be at least 12 feet. A depth of 10 feet is recommended for all other diving boards, although some sources believe that 7.5 feet is sufficient.

Pool Width

  • Pools with diving boards also must contain enough water on each side of the diving board to facilitate safe diving. As a general rule, there should be at least 10 feet of water on either edge of the diving board.

Pool Shape

  • A large number of diving accidents occur when divers hit their heads on the upward-sloping bottom of the pool. In order to prevent this, the diving end of the pool should extend at least 16 feet from the edge of the diving board before it begins to slope up. The pool should not slope up more than 1 foot for every 3 horizontal feet.

Labeling

  • Another important factor in maintaining safe diving is to ensure that the pool depth is clearly labeled. According to a study published on visualanalysis.com, 83 percent of diving accidents occur in water that is less than 3.25 feet in depth. In order to prevent these accidents, the area of the pool that is safe for diving should be sectioned off by a rope. Alternatively, some facilities choose to install a separate pool for diving.

Installation and Adjustment

  • Diving boards should only be installed and adjusted by a trained professional and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Always have a professional inspect your pool before having a diving board installed or changing the fulcrum of the diving board.

Is It Time to Resurface?

Resurface 287x300 Is It Time to Resurface?With so many different surfaces on pools these days, there are a lot of variables. The length of time you can expect a pools surface to hold up varies greatly from surface to surface. Regular brushing and proper maintenance of your pool as well as how well the pool was put together when built will also help determine how often your pool will need to be resurfaced.

Chips and cracks will alert you that it’s time to resurface, but so will the presence of black algae.  Black algae are airborne algae comprised of pieces of dirt. It can get underneath the plaster of your pool very quickly, and once it does, it is definitely time to resurface your pool. For certain pool surfaces it is much easier to tell when a problem has started to occur. Pebble pools are one example. When pebble starts to fall off, you will know that it’s time to resurface.

Tiles frequently will crack and fall off around the inner edge of a pool. These tiles might be falling off as a result of shifts in the soil around your pool. You can try using adhesive to reattach the tiles if the damage is minimal. However if your pool has sustained structural damage from the loss of tiles then it is time to contact a licensed professional. Structural damage from cracked tile could mean that you need excavation and major repairs in order to repair the outer edge of your pool.

If you should need to resurface, you shouldn’t be too worried about the process. It is fairly quick, taking only a couple of weeks in most cases. It’s also an excellent time to consider changing the material or color of your pools surface. If it’s time to resurface, please contact us today so that we can discuss your many exciting options.

Tiles frequently will crack and fall off around the inner edge of a pool. These tiles might be falling off as a result of shifts in the soil around your pool. You can try using adhesive to reattach the tiles if the damage is minimal. However if your pool has sustained structural damage from the loss of tiles then it is time to contact a licensed professional. Structural damage from cracked tile could mean that you need excavation and major repairs in order to repair the outer edge of your pool. We can help! Please contact us today!

Did You Know?

Thinking 287x300 Did You Know?Proper maintenance of your pool and the addition of the necessary chemicals make your pool a safe place to swim, however did you know that it is unsafe to swim if you have open wounds? Here’s why:

  • Although chlorine kills bacteria in the pool, it takes some time for it to work. Some germs, including Crypto, can survive in your swimming pool for several days after chemicals have been added. These germs can enter your wound and cause an infection.
  • You’re more likely to spread germs to other people who are using the pool. You should never swim with wounds that are releasing fluid.
  • Never expose wounds to undiluted swimming pool chlorine. It can burn your skin and/or cause serious health problems. If chlorine accidently gets on your skin, rinse with plenty of clean water to reduce the risk of adverse reactions.

Another common problem is urine. If you have a swimming pool then you’ve heard the endless jokes about kids and even adults peeing in the pool. Urine in your pool however is no joking matter as it can lead to health problems as well as a very strong chlorine smell to your pool water.

Chloramines are chemical compounds formed when chlorine mixes with ammonia. Urine in a pool can leave ammonia, especially if there are not high levels of chlorine in the pool. Chloramines are responsible for:

  • Strong smell of chlorine in the swimming pool water
  • Eye irritation

Prolonged exposure to chloramines can cause:

  • Increased irritation to the eyes, nose and throat

To prevent chloramines from forming, or to clear them from your pool, you must achieve breakpoint chlorination. This means that you must add enough chlorine to the pool to neutralize the chloramines, so that the chlorine is focused on cleaning rather than combining with the ammonia.

Which Type of Chlorine Should I Use?

ChlorineFloater 287x300 Which Type of Chlorine Should I Use?If you are a new pool owner you are probably wondering which type of chlorine to use. With so many choices available it can be quite overwhelming. The type of chlorine you select depends upon three key points; application, preference and pool maintenance habits.

  • The most common and least expensive form of chlorine is the 3” tablets. They are slow dissolving, which means less maintenance for you. You can just fill a floating chlorine feeder or automatic chlorine feeder with large amounts of slow dissolving 3” tablets, and as long as the feeder is adjusted properly, you probably won’t have to worry about your chlorine level for a week or more. Water testing should always be performed at least two times per week to ensure proper water balance.
  • Chlorine sticks are larger than 3” tablets and dissolve much slower.
  • 1” chlorine tablets dissolve much faster than 3” tablets or chlorine sticks, and are better suited for above ground swimming pools, smaller in ground swimming pools or spas.
  • Granular chlorine works just as well as tablets or sticks but must always be pre-dissolved in a bucket of water before it is added to your swimming pool. This must be done almost every day to maintain proper water balance.
  • Organic Sodium Dichloro or inorganic Lithium Hypochlorite do not require pre-dissolving and allow for very precise control over the chlorine level of your swimming pool. This method does require daily testing and addition of the chemical as necessary.

*Always remember to carefully follow the included package instructions and keep chemicals out of reach of children no matter which type of chlorine is used.

Chlorine Safety

chlorineSafety 300x281 Chlorine SafetyChlorine tablets are the most popular and usually most inexpensive way to keep swimming pools sanitized and safe for use; however they pose serious safety hazards for people. This could be a big problem if you have children or if children frequently use your pool. Are you taking the right steps to prevent injury caused by chlorine tablets?

Since chlorine tablets are dangerous to handle, they should always be stored out of the reach of children. Keep them in a cabinet that is high up or hidden and keep it locked at all times so that children cannot access chemicals. The cabinet should be in a cool, dry location, far away from flames and should never exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Store all dangerous pool chemicals with your chlorine, and make sure that adults know to lock cabinet immediately after opening it.

Before retrieving chlorine tablets from storage, always ensure that you have the proper protective gear. Industrial rubber gloves, eye goggles and a breathing mask should be worn every time to protect your body from exposure. Long sleeves and long pants can also be worn to provide extra protection by keeping exposed skin minimal.

Children should never be in the area of your chemical storage cabinet, or by the pool when it is being treated. Make sure that they understand that they must go inside while you treat the pool, or better yet, treat your pool at night or early in the morning while children are sleeping. Always put on your safety gear before opening the chemical storage cabinet, and place chlorine tablets in the pool as directed on the box. Lock the storage cabinet and place all clothes immediately into the washing machine. Wash your gloves with soap and water before removing them, and then place all of your protective gear back into safe storage. Ensure that your children do not disturb the washing machine while it is washing your contaminated clothing.

Choosing to use chlorine tablets always means that you incur a certain level of risk, even if you think you are being as careful as possible. Children can figure out how to get into the chemical cabinet, it could accidentally be left open, or they could come into contact with your contaminated safety gear. If chlorine touches their skin or eyes it could cause serious injury and burns. If they inhale the dust or fumes, their airways may become extremely irritated. If any chlorine is ingested it can be serious or even fatal.

If a child does come into contact with chlorine tablets, safety measures must be taken immediately. If in the eyes, flush with clean water for 15 minutes and seek immediate medical attention. If contact occurred with their skin, flush with clean water for 15 minutes and seek immediate medical attention if the irritation persists. If ingested, force them to drink large amounts of clean water, but do not induce vomiting. Go immediately to the hospital emergency room or poison control center. If inhaled, move child to fresh air, treat symptoms and seek medical attention if irritation persists.

What to do to your Pool After it Rains

RainPool 287x300 What to do to your Pool After it RainsAfter it rains your swimming pool water will probably become green and dirty from algae and debris. It is best to clean it up immediately after a storm to prevent the algae from multiplying making the water much greener.

  • First you will want to clean all the debris from the surface of the water with a skimmer or debris net. Be sure to empty your skimmer baskets and clean the impeller pot on the pump.
  • Next, vacuum the pool bottom and sides using a pool vacuum.
  • Shock the water and add an algaecide and/or liquid chlorine to kill the algae.
  • Start up your pool pump and let it run for a full 24 hours.
  • Once the pool pump has run for the full 24 hours, it’s time to backwash the pump. Backwashing will reverse the water flow and expel the algae and debris from the pump filter.
  • After backwashing it is the time to shock the water again.
  • Add clarifier to your pool water four to five hours after the second shock treatment. Be sure to follow the instructions on your clarifier as most of the time it is very concentrated. The clarifier will clump the dead algae together so that it can be vacuumed up and discarded.
  • About two hours after adding the clarifier, it is time to vacuum the pool again.
  • Backwash again and allow the pump to run for the rest of the second day.
  • Repeat these steps until your pool water is clean and clear. Sometimes this can take up to a week to accomplish. Just be patient and backwash often to clear all of the algae out of the pump.

The Dangers of Draining Your Swimming Pool

EmptyPool 287x300 The Dangers of Draining Your Swimming PoolAlthough there are certain repairs that require you to drain your swimming pool, most can be accomplished underwater. Never attempt to drain your pool unless it is absolutely necessary and you are thoroughly familiar with the steps involved to do so safely. Thorough draining of a swimming pool can cause serious damage to its structure. The dangers of draining a pool are different for each pool type.

  • After draining an above ground pool, the liner can shrink which may then tear when refilling. The older the liner, the less it will stretch when refilling. Do not drain the pool in cold weather as this also reduces the stretching capability of the liner. After draining, complete your repairs and begin refilling as quickly as possible. As the pool is refilling, you may need to shift the liner around to make sure it is aligned properly. You will need to do this with only an inch or so of water in it because the weight of the water will quickly prevent you from being able to shift the liner.
  • An in ground vinyl liner pool is the most dangerous to drain and should only be done by a professional. Older pools may not have been built structurally to hold back the weight of the dirt against it when the pool is drained. This can cause the walls to collapse. These pools were backfilled with dirt as the water level came up, equalizing the pressure as it fills. Modern vinyl pools have been designed and built to hold the weight of the dirt without water in the pool.

The next problem you must deal with is ground water which can make the liner float away from the wall as the level in the pool gets equal to or lower than the ground water level. Ground water must be lowered below the bottom of the pool by pumping it out through the well point line installed during construction. No well point line? Then you will need to install at least two (one on each side of the deep end) to pump out the water. Even if there was not any ground water present when the pool was built, this can change over time.

You must also be very careful about rain. Normally most rain water runs off the surface and does not soak into the soil (except for very sandy soils). However, when the pool was built, it disturbed the soil, loosening it, and this can allow a lot more water to penetrate, filling the bowl that was excavated and causing the liner to float. We have even seen this happen to a pool that was full. That is why you may find your liner floating and/or wrinkles in it after a heavy rainstorm.

  • With an in ground concrete or fiberglass pool you are dealing with the same groundwater problems as for a vinyl pool. Most in ground fiberglass and concrete pools are built structurally to withstand the weight of the dirt against them when drained. However, if the ground water is high enough, it can push the entire pool out of the ground. The pool shell acts like a ship and floats up in the ground water.

Please contact us to discuss your needs and concerns with draining your pool. We might be able to help you with the repairs without thorough draining.

Spa Safety

Spa 287x300 Spa SafetyJust like a swimming pool, it is important to keep you, your family and friends safe while using your spa. Accidents can occur but following certain safety guidelines can lessen the chances.

  • A spa poses the same drowning hazard as a swimming pool. A locked safety cover will keep kids from being able to get into the water unsupervised.
  • Water in a spa that is hotter than body temperature can cause drowsiness. Having the water too hot could lead to unconsciousness and cause drowning, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
  • According to the CPSC, there are 74 known incidents of body parts being entrapped by the suction of drains on swimming pools, wading pools and hot tubs. There have also been drowning due to hair becoming entangled in drain covers. There should be two drains with dome covers installed in a spa to help eliminate these dangers.
  • Regular professional inspections of your spa can help eliminate safety hazards. Inspectors can check that drain covers are not cracked, and that the drains and other equipment are working properly.
  • Alcohol intoxication is a very real downing hazard for spa use. Safe use of a spa requires knowledge of how to turn off the pump in case of emergency.
  • Children should always be supervised when using a spa or pool.

Please contact us with questions regarding the safety, repair or installation of your spa.

Swimming Pool Fencing

PoolFence 287x300 Swimming Pool FencingA pool safety fence protects children and pets from pool accidents. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 3,000 children under the age of 5 are taken to the hospital each year due to pool accidents and approximately 260 die from their injuries. In California, in 2007 there were 38 incidents of drowning in pools for children 4 years of age and under. Barriers, such as pool fences, can help to prevent such accidents and deaths.

California law states that any new or remodeled pool or spa, done on or after January 1, 2007, is required to have at least one of the seven required safety features. One option for homeowners is to install a fence, wall or removable mesh fencing around the pool or spa. The fence must also include a gate that is self-closing, self-latching and able to be locked. The law applies to privately owned, single-family residences.

The law sets specific requirements for the minimum height of a fence, the maximum gap between fencing and the maximum space between the ground and the bottom of the fence. A fence must be at least 60 inches tall. The spaces between the slats in the fence must be less than 4 inches and the space between the bottom of the fence and the ground is limited to 2 inches. The gate latch on the fence cannot be lower than 60 inches from the ground. Lastly, there cannot be any objects or protrusions near the fence that provide a way for a child under the age of 5 to climb over it.

All of this can be confusing for homeowners. We can help you to decide what type of fence is right for you. We can help you select and install a fence that abides by current laws but also suites your own personal taste. Please contact us today.