Archive for the ‘Equipment maintenance’ Category

Remote Controls And Other High Tech Stuff- Part 1

Bob Russell | February 12, 2015 in Equipment maintenance,Indoor pools,Pool,Pool equipment,Pool Service | Comments (0)

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There are many remote control options for the pool and spa owner today. The one pictured above is from a pool inspection I did last summer in Westport. I’ll be nice: I hated this thing. I wondered what it must be like for pool owners.

If you are interested in remote controls, here are some tips to make your decision easy:

1) Ask someone who services and operates all these systems- I’m referring to your professional pool and spa service person. This is where you will get the best advice. Of course, you can ask your neighbor or co-worker, but I’m guessing they won’t be comparing ALL the systems an experienced service professional sees on a weekly basis.

2) Ask the right pool and spa professional.

That may smack of arrogance but here’s some inside information about the pool and spa trade:

  • Some companies are construction oriented- this orientation tends to select systems that install easily and give favorable margins.
  • Some companies are design oriented- this orientation seems to love bells and whistles and handsome controllers that integrate with whole-house systems- things that an interior designer or architect would approve of.
  • Some companies are service oriented- this orientation tends to select systems that are easiest to repair and maintain.

It is rare to find a company that is ALL THREE, this is what Glen Gate brings to the marketplace: brilliant design, installation AND a committed service relationship that makes owning a pool truly enjoyable.

Here is what we look for in remote control systems:

  1. Easy to operate: This may sound like a no-brainer, but in the end, it’s the Owner who will operate this equipment on a day to day basis.
  2. Supported by manufacturer: This is critical for us as our service clients expect reliable performance. On our end, that means our service team can always depend on technical support, available parts and a company that stands behind their work.
  3. Brilliant Design: Our demanding design team simply wants it all. When designing an award-winning property with a pool, spa and water feature- everything has to come together.

There are a LOT of remote control options out there. My advice is, don’t ask just anybody who looks like an expert. Ask a company that values and demands it all.

If you are interested in hearing more on this subject- including our 24/7 monitoring capabilities; or the new remote control APPS for your smart devices, please contact us. What you’ll get is a depth of experience and advice you can’t get anywhere else.



Pool and Spa Winter Maintenance

Bob Russell | in Equipment maintenance,Pool,Pool equipment,Pool safety,Pool Service,Sanitizers,Winterize | Comments (0)

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Winter And Your Outdoor Pool/ Spa

New England winters are long and harsh. You may have noticed :)

Protecting your outdoor pool and spas however, is pretty basic.

Here are 4 basic things you must do to protect your outdoor pool and spa:

1) Make sure the water is balanced and sanitized when pool or spa is closed.

If you are unclear how to do this, I suggest you consult with a professional.

There is a science to minimizing winter damage through good water chemistry.

This step is critical to protecting your investment and conserving water.

2) Make sure circulation system and all related plumbing is properly winterized.

The reasons for this may be obvious- ice can break or damage just about anything. As a pool inspector I am still amazed at how much ice damage I see. My advice, hire a professional to handle this aspect of seasonal maintenance. If you prefer to do it yourself, make sure you obtain good instruction from a professional.

3) Minimize damage to masonry by keeping ice below pool tile and coping.

Pool tile that is rated as “frost-proof” can be misleading. Ice against pool tile expands and contracts every day as temperatures go up and down, this will break any tile and can also lift pool coping off it’s setting bed. Masonry damage is very expensive to repair.

Winter ice must be maintained below tile. Care should be taken to NOT exceed the levels specified by your winter cover installer as the cover is designed to float on water when bearing the weight of heavy snow. Typically you should not exceed 8″ below the bottom of pool tile.

Maintenance of ice levels in pools often requires 3-4 pump outs between fall closing and spring opening- this is based on average rainfall.

4) Utilize a good quality winter safety cover to keep pets and people safe as well as keep fall debris out of pool.

Our #1 reason for using a good quality winter cover is safety.

#2 is to keep the massive amounts of leaves and debris out as these will overwhelm the sanitizer and allow pool to turn green with algae by spring.

Failing to maintain clear, sanitary water will encourage staining of the finish that will require draining pool to remove. Unsanitary water also provides a breeding place for mosquitos.


There are other things a pool owner should be aware of, such as protecting critical components such as heater and filter, but these are the (4) critical things for protecting your investment.

For more information please contact Glen Gate Company.


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Automatic Pool Covers- Tips For Use and Special Safety Memo

Bob Russell | April 16, 2014 in Equipment maintenance,Pool,Pool equipment,Pool safety,Pool Service | Comments (0)

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Pools Are Fun! Great Exercise! Wonderful For Family… and… They Require:


“Layers of safety”

The news out of Indiana this weekend was awful. Twin girls wandered into the neighbor’s yard and drowned in their pool.

It wasn’t a “normal” drowning – the pool was covered. Unfortunately, the cover was full of rainwater.

In the pool business we are trained to think in terms of, “layers of safety. As professionals we train pool owners to also think this way- to not rely on one thing,  because things can go wrong, systems can fail- a terrible reminder of this is the news of the loss of these beautiful 2-year-old girls.

Pool covers are considered a reliable safety barrier- a layer of protection;  but they can fill up with rainwater. Unfortunately, in 2011, Indiana decided that an automatic pool cover served as an adequate stand-alone barrier.

In Connecticut, an automatic pool cover does NOT satisfy the barrier code. Pools in our state require a barrier- such as a fence- the code is very strict on how such barriers are constructed.  Here is a link for summary of CT pool barrier code.

Swimming pools – part one.pdf

Automatic Pool Covers

The automatic pool cover is a very popular feature in the Northeast; and for good reasons:

  1. Covers increase efficiency and save on operation costs by containing heat; preventing water and sanitizer loss.
  2. Covers keep pools cleaner than uncovered pools.
  3. Automatic covers can extend the length of the “normal” pool season (for reasons cited above).
  4. Covers offer a layer of safety.

The Layer Of Safety That Every Pool Requires

Adult / professional supervision remains the #1 requirement for reducing or eliminating swimming pool accidents.

In the case of an automatic pool cover, the manufacturer recommends having a system in place to keep rain water pumped off. In Connecticut, a cover without water on top is not enough- there must also be a barrier. For some, this is not enough and a gate alarm might be installed on the barrier. Professionals think in terms of layers of protection. I highly recommend for YOUR peace of mind, that you employ an expert in the field to discuss and review these things. One should enjoy their swimming pool and not feel fear or anxiety over safety.

Remember, in Connecticut, to hire a licensed pool professional.

For further reading, visit the APSP, NESPA or CONSPA websites and locate the excellent literature available. I recommend “Layers Of protection” and “Children Aren’t Waterproof.”


Enjoy your swimming pool!

Again… “Is My Pool Safe?”

Bob Russell | August 8, 2013 in Equipment maintenance,Pool,Pool safety,Pool Service,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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It always shakes us up a bit to think that a swimming pool- a symbol of recreation, laughter and family summer fun- could be otherwise. The recent news of entrapment and near drowning in a swimming pool has again shaken the confidence of pool owners -or those who might consider owning a pool.
I have reviewed this issue before (see previous post).
The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) has released the statement below. For those of us here in Connecticut- we’ve been down this road before.
At Glen Gate- where safety is engineered into our design and woven into our service- we cannot imagine a swimming pool that is NOT safe. I must admit, I get mad over this issue. For us at Glen Gate, it is not only unacceptable to build or service a pool with entrapment risks, it is criminal.
When I do pool inspections for Real Estate Agents and see loose or missing suction outlet covers or other missing layers of protection I take the opportunity to educate and advise, and, I try hard to hide my anger. But, I have no problem advising a would-be Buyer or Real Estate Agent to find another service provider who gets it right.
My advice to all pool owners: 1) Find a licensed service provider! 2) Interview your service provider well; in CT,  ask them if they are licensed!
Safety and recreational swimming go hand in hand- it is basic and foundational!
The details of this incident are not yet out so I should temper my comments: I have found that most of the suction outlet problems I see in the field during inspections, are on pools or spas where the Homeowner is handling their own service. I do believe the pool industry has greatly improved in this area! While it’s not 100% yet, I think the facts will emerge- we’re dealing with another layer of “service providers” here, namely: unlicensed service providers, homeowners, caretakers and uncle Fred.
As far as I can see in Connecticut and New York, MOST service providers have gotten this issue right!
Thanks for reading.
Below is the APSP release.

Dear Member,
Yesterday a national recording artist’s son nearly drowned in a residential pool. While the specifics of the incident aren’t known at this time, there is some indication it was a limb entrapment due to a missing drain cover.
This serves as an important reminder about safety and entrapment avoidance in pools and spas, particularly residential pools and spas built prior to the enactment of the VGB and the
ANSI/APSP-7 Standard . This also creates a unique opportunity for you, the pool and spa professional, to reach out to your customers (as well as potential new service customers) and even local media to bring these pools into compliance with the ANSI-7 Standard, which was developed to eliminate this very hazard. The design recommendations and construction practices in this Standard are based upon sound engineering principles, research, and field experience. The Standard is referenced in the 2009 International Residential Code, the 2009 International Building Code, the 2012 International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC), and has been adopted by many state and local authorities.
The ANSI/APSP-7 Standard allows for several options with regard to existing pools, including drain disablement or converting the suction outlet to a return inlet. Where suction outlets (drains) are used, they should be equipped with fittings (covers) that are certified in compliance with the ANSI/APSP-16 Standard for Suction Fittings for Use in Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs as referenced by the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, along with one or more of the additional measures provided in the ANSI/APSP Standard (multiple main drain system, gravity flow system, engineered vent system or properly listed SVRS).
As you are aware, residential pools and spas are not required to meet these safety requirements unless specified in state or local code. Hence you should not make the statement that the pool must be upgraded because of federal law. You can point out, however, that public pools throughout the country are required to install new suction fittings and other necessary means, and that as a residential pool owner, they can get the same level of protection for their family and friends. Any pool with a missing or broken drain cover is at the highest risk for an entrapment incident.
Please also contact your customers and your local media to emphasize these important safety tips:
  • Never enter a pool or spa that has a loose, broken, or missing suction fitting or drain cover.
  • Immediately notify the pool or spa owner/operator if you find a loose, broken or missing drain cover.
  • Never play or swim near drains or suction fittings.
  • Contact an APSP pool and spa professional to repair and bring the pool or spa into compliance with the ANSI/APSP-7 Standard.
That is your consumer message.
Feel free to refer your customers and others to or for general drain cover safety information and tips. In addition, you can purchase brochures on Entrapment Avoidance Guidelines or copies of the ANSI/APSP-7 Standard from . Please offer your services to help replace and upgrade pool drain covers and do an inspection so that pools and spas can be enjoyed safely. It’s just good business.
Carvin DiGiovanni
Senior Director, Technical & Standards

Snow And More Snow!

Bob Russell | March 8, 2013 in Equipment maintenance,Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool equipment,Pool renovations,Pool Service,Sanitizers,Uncategorized,Winterize | Comments (0)

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It’s been a snowy and rainy winter.

What can we expect when we open our pools in a couple months?

Here is a short list of general things to check out after a snowy/ rainy winter:

Check for winter cover damage. Heavy snow can pull out wall anchors; cause sharp coping to rip through cover; heavy snow on a winter cover can pull deck anchors and deck stones towards pool causing related masonry damage.

Check heaters for mouse damage- during periods of deep snow, mice move into heaters- more than usual.

Water chemistry- heavy snow and rains means your water chemistry has changed. Of primary concern is:

a) Sanitizer levels- these must be maintained to keep water clear and algae-free until opening day!

b) Calcium Hardness- rain water contains about 0 ppm calcium. After about 18″ – 36″ of rain between September and May, a pool’s Calcium Hardness has been diluted making the water “softer” and more aggressive towards plaster finish. Water left in this state for too long will cause finish problems.

For more details on these and related issues we recommend you consult with an experienced and licensed pool service professional.

If you are interested in our pool services, please contact us!

Meanwhile, Memorial Day Weekend is only 12 weeks away!

- Bob

Pools And Heat Waves

Bob Russell | July 9, 2012 in Equipment maintenance,Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool Service,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Heat Waves:

Every pool owner should understand two basic concepts about their pool during a heat wave:

1) Chlorine demand (or which ever sanitizer you are using)


2) The Petrie Dish 

Chlorine Demand is basically the understanding that it will take more chlorine to maintain a sanitary and clear pool under certain conditions. Chlorine demand increases during a heat wave because the things that “spend” chlorine tend to increase- these include: increased bather load; heavy thunder showers (including wash-ins); higher temperatures.

The second concept of the Petrie Dish helps the pool owner understand and visualize that without a sanitizing agent present in the water, algae or micro-organisms can grow very fast.

In the “perfect storm” of heavy bather load, thunder storm and high temperatures a pool can go from the ideal of 3.0 ppm chlorine to zero in a day. Generally a chlorine feeder cannot recover to 3.0 ppm by the time algae or micro-organisms have already started to multiply. Once plant and animal life has been established in a swimming pool, the chlorine demand can double or triple quickly. Unless you intervene, you will have a real problem and it all can happen in 24-36 hours.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. First, understand these two concepts. Awareness that something is happening before the pool is green, or someone gets an ear infection is best.
  2. Adjust chemical feeders to handle an increase in bathers.
  3. Careful with use of time clocks! I see this all the time- a pool owner trying to save $100. on their monthly electric bill winds up spending $500. to kill algae that has gotten out of hand. Chemical feeders are only adding sanitizer to pool while pump is running.
  4. Check pool water after a heavy storm or a pool party. This, more than anything, will help you understand chlorine demand and keep you aware when you need to do something between normal weekly service visits.


For more information about pool and spa service, check out “Water Blog” on our website!:

Safety First?Appliance Installations- Part 1- Heaters

Bob Russell | December 4, 2010 in Equipment maintenance,Pool safety,Pool Service | Comments (0)


Why do smart and successful people take risks and do dumb things?

I performed a pool inspection this past summer and came across a strange and dangerous situation. Unfortunately, I see a LOT of this sort of thing.

 In May 1995, a tennis star (Vitas Gerulaitas) took a nap in an apartment that also housed the pool equipment. He was 40 years old and making a spirited comeback. What he didn’t know was that the new high-tech pool  heater had been set up incorrectly plus the vent was positioned at the air condintioning intake. The apartment filled up with carbon monoxide. Vitas never woke up. The event made international news.

When I see problem installations I report them in no uncertain terms. Usually folks are responsible and will deal with a dangerous situation, but sometimes I hear:  “…well, we’ve been doing it this way for years and haven’t had a problem before (or yet)…”

When I hear this, I do my best to sound an appropriate (and ethically responsible) alarm; but often, I must leave the Owner with the information and my urging to make things right.

My point?

Look at this picture. It’s an example of some of the things I see doing pool inspections.  That’s a 400,000 btu heater installed beneath a shingled roof and propped up with a board. It’s a fire hazard. Making matters worse, the roof weighs about 150 pounds and has nails protruding below making this heater difficult and hazardous to service properly.

In my report I pointed this out as an “incorrect installation” and “a fire hazard.” The cartaker of this very nice property informed me: “… we’ve been doing it this way for a long time…” and “…our pool service person works on the heater…”

Maybe we’ll see the charred remains of this building in the papers someday. I hope and pray no one is hurt. Here’s an excerpt from the NY Times, 1995 May 23:

Today the pool mechanic, Bartholomew Torpey, and his employer, East End Pools and Courts, also known as Recreational Concepts of Sag Harbor, were arraigned in Suffolk County Court here on charges of criminally negligent homicide. Mr. Torpey and the company pleaded not guilty.

My point? Be sure your appliances are installed in accordance with local, state and national codes as well as the manufacturer’s specifications, and hire licensed and responsible service people.  End of story. Thanks for reading.

“…Is my pool/spa safe?”

Bob Russell | June 30, 2010 in Equipment maintenance,Pool equipment,Pool renovations,Pool safety,Pool Service,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Is my pool/spa safe?

I enjoy writing about the joy and recreational benefits of owning a pool or spa. When it comes to safety, things get very sober and serious for pool and spa Owners and those in the business.

In the last decade there have been several changes to standards and codes in the pool and spa industry.  The question I am asked most frequently is: “Is my pool or spa safe?”

Today’s safety codes are complex. Pools and spas are also complex. Most pool and spa Owners are bombarded with media hype, marketing gimmicks and general misinformation. I’d like to help. Here are the basic things I look for while inspecting a pool or spa. 

 1) Suction Outlet Covers: Floor and wall drain covers should be in place and secured by stainless steel screws. Residential pools and spas built since 2003-2004 are required to have two suction outlets that are spaced 3 feet apart.

Spa above with a single suction outlet- built before 2003.

2) Anti-entrapment Covers- In December of 2008, all [existing] commercial pools were required to install specially designed “anti-entrapment” suction outlet covers. Residential pools were to have existing covers replaced when they failed, or at the discretion of the homeowner. Note: The new covers are designed to prevent an object (such as a human body) from creating a seal over a suction outlet; they are also designed to prevent hair entanglement. As expected, these new covers are much more expensive than the old style; they are also made of extraordinarily strong material- unlike the older covers which are relatively easy to break.

Should you replace your spa or pool floor suction covers now?

That’s a good question to ask your service professional!

Some floor suction outlets (e.g. such as the single suction outlet pictured above) are more of a risk than others- it depends on how the pool or spa is plumbed.

The first and most important “layer of safety” is the most obvious: make sure the suction outlet covers are in place and secured.

Spa pictured above is fitted with an approved anti-entrapment cover.

3) SVRS Or, Vacuum Release System- A vacuum release system is an additional layer of safety that became law in 2005  for new residential swimming pools or spas

Vacuum release units (SVRS) vary in shape and size but are all designed to do the same basic thing: release an object that has made a seal over a suction outlet. 

Some ask, “…how can people get stuck on a main drain?” The answer requires a discussion of physics but in short, there can be tremendous force at a suction port that has been sealed. A one horsepower pump (for instance) has enough force to trap a grown man and hold him fast. Some drowning accidents have in fact happened in this way.

Pictured above is a common mechanical SVRS installed on suction-side of pump.

Is your pool or spa equipped with an SVRS?

Is it operational?

These are questions to ask your service professional!



When inspecting your pool or spa, look for the following  “layers of protection”:

1)      Secured and approved anti-entrapment suction outlet covers. This is the most important layer of safety!

2)      Dual suction outlets - pools built after 2003-2004. (A second outlet can be added to existing pools.)

3)      SVRS system (vacuum release) - required in pools built after April 2005. SVRS systems can be added onto any pool for an additional layer of [anti-entrapment] protection.


If you have concerns or questions about your pool or spa after reading this post, you should contact your pool professional and get your questioned answered! Safety is nothing to guess at.