Archive for the ‘Pool’ Category

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)

and…

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.

Enjoy!

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


What To Expect After A Mild Winter

Bob Russell | March 10, 2012 in Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool Service,Sanitizers,Summerize,Winterize | Comments (0)

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For pool owners in Fairfield, Connecticut and Westchester, New York the winter of 2011-2012 was one of the mildest on record

Here’s what you can expect for your pool (and what we are seeing in our pools):

  • Chances are your winter floaters are empty by March.  Under average winter conditions [chlorine] floaters last till mid-May.
  • Without an established layer of ice, pools will warm up much quicker.
  • Though winter was mild, we still had plenty of dilution- 2011 was described locally as, “the wettest year on record,” with plenty of rain falling after pools were closed and through much of the winter.

Between warm weather and dilution, the sanitizer level in your pool water is very likely running near or at zero right now. Sanitizers, such as chlorine, are critical for  preventing the emergence and growth of plant life (like algae) and bacterias in your pool.

Q: Under these conditions, what should a pool owner do?

A: Here’s what we do, and it’s not as hard as it might seem.

Over the next few weeks, we will visit our Client’s pools, peel back a portion of the winter cover and re-load the winter floaters. That should be enough to keep the water clear and algae-free until opening.

Q: What will happen if I don’t do this?

A: You’ll most likely have a green pool and be breeding mosquitoes when you pull the cover off in May. A green pool is not only more labor-intensive to open and get clear, but will cost you about 2-3X as much to open.

At your service,

B

p.s. Since I’m giving advice let me toss in two more things:

  • Spray for deer ticks. I pulled one off the other day and am being treated for lyme disease as I write this. According to our in-house experts, this is going to be a bad year.
  • Once you’ve treated tick habitat, put up the hammock and set out the Adirondack chairs. The folks at Agway told me today it will hit close to 70 this week (and as all experienced Hammockers will tell you- this outdoor “sport” is best enjoyed before the bugs are out in force and after the ticks are under control).  :-)

Pool Work In Winter

Bob Russell | December 25, 2011 in Pool,Pool equipment,Pool renovations,Pool Service,Uncategorized,Winterize | Comments (0)

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Equipment enhancements and plumbing projects.

November and December can be tricky times of year to do such work, but if the weather is cooperating, I say, “…go for it!”

Generally the ground is well-frozen in January and this frost layer can be as deep as 18″ or more.

Still, If you can get such projects out of the way now, during the “off season,” there are some big benefits including these:

1) Most service companies are happy to do the work now when pools are closed. They actually prefer to do these sort of projects, while things are a bit quieter. Also, you may find a service company more willing to negotiate on costs this time of year.

2) The risk of a delayed spring opening is reduced. Things get very busy very fast for pool companies in Spring, especially if the winter is prolonged by March snowfall and colder weather.

3) Landscape repairs over trenches get an early jump in Spring. Anything dug up in December will be well settled by Spring. Lawn repairs will not be delayed.

So, if you can, I recommend doing the project or installation now. Not everyone thinks this far ahead, but for those who do, these and other benefits can be realized by May the following season.

May you and your family enjoy a wonderful holiday season and prosperous new year!

Bob


Water and Ice Levels

Bob Russell | October 19, 2011 in Pool,Pool Service,Winterize | Comments (0)

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In the Northeast, the average swimming pool is covered and “winterized” for 6-7 months or approximately 31 weeks.

 

 

 

 

Here is a short list of service issues, relating to water and ice levels, that we focus on after pools are winterized and covered:

1) Maintain water levels in Fall: When a pool is closed and covered in September or October, we typically lower water levels between 13″ and 11″ (respectively) below the bottom of tile- Why? Because with average rainfall water levels will be back up and close to bottom of tile by early December; this is when we do our first round of pump downs. Average rainfall in Fall is about 1″ per week.

2) Maintain ice levels in Winter: During Winter months we modify our acceptable water level ranges to:  8″ below bottom of tile (maximum) and bottom of tile (minimum). The main reason for this is snow. A pool safety cover is engineered to sag and rest on top of water. By keeping water or ice levels in this range we protect the tile from ice damage and also the winter cover from snow damage.

A note about  water tables: In areas where water tables can rise dramaticvally during heavy Fall rain we do not remove as much water in September and October.

 

Look for my next post about pool care during months when pool is closed. Coming soon!


Post Irene Clean-Up For Swimming Pools

Bob Russell | September 1, 2011 in Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool cleaning,Pool equipment,Pool safety,Sanitizers,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Cleaning Up After The Storm

In my previous post I wrote out some tips for preparing for storms with heavy rain and strong winds. I hope you found them helpful.

In this post, I’ll lay out some post-storm clean-up  advice in some detail, using the FAQs format.

Q: What about wash-ins?

A: This week I have done a lot of “triage” work- deciding which pools have water that can be saved and which need to be drained and refilled with new water. We can clean up some pools that look “too far gone” while other pools that seem in pretty good shape, we decide to drain re-fill.

The key factors in my decision to save water or drain and re-fill include:

  1. Amount of silt and organic material in pool- Less than an inch of silt and mulch on a pool’s floor is generally easy to vacuum out. Silt that is in suspension (i.e. brown murky water) can be dropped to floor by “flocking” the water with an agent that drops suspended fine particles to floor.
  2. City Water vs. Well Water- If a pool Owner is on a well, or has city water but is in a hurry, I often advise that pool water be replaced. It’s just quicker. If you are on a well and must truck in water- this will add to clean-up expense and will be one of your deciding factors.
  3. Phosphates and Nitrates- This is an important decision-maker for pool professionals.  Often a wash-in will bring with it fertilizers or worse (e.g. in cases where septic systems in area are full with rain water and  overflowing). Phosphates and Nitrates can be detected with a good test kit in the field. The issue is this: Phosphates and Nitrates encourage plant growth AND interfere significantly with chlorination, this will make clearing the pool more difficult, and sometimes near impossible. So, this is a major determining factor for me when making the decision to save or change pool water.

Q: What about power failures?:

A: When power is knocked out and it is unclear when it will be restored, it is critical to protect the pool water – you have about 3 days to do this:

  1. Open up your winterize supplies and locate your chlorine floaters. By adding chlorine floaters to your pool- you can hold the water for weeks.
  2. Remove heavy debris like piles of leaves, branches and other organic matter as this will cloud pool and use up chlorine.
  3. Maintain a 3.0 ppm chlorine level.
  4. Other benefits include: Prevents mosquitoes from breeding in water. Prevents spread of algae- making clean-up much quicker when power is restored. Keeps water potable, or at least suitable for flushing toilets if necessary.

Remember the Health issues in Florida with all those foreclosed homes with pools? It is critical to protect the water and to do so early in a prolonged power outage.

Q: What if sea water got into my pool?

A: Salt water- especially if diluted- is generally NOT going to hurt your pool finish or equipment. However, if salt levels exceed about 4,000 ppm, you should consult with your pool service professional.

Q: My equipment is in a pit or basement that flooded, is it ruined?

A: A gas heater should NOT be activated until a professional, licensed service technician has inspected it. Gas valves that have been immersed under water should be considered unsafe for use. Your pump motor should be inspected as well; sometimes a pump motor can be dried out, reconditioned and saved.  Generally electronic equipment cannot be saved if immersed for a prolonged period of time. Your service professional will need to determine this.

This pool was hit by salt water from the Long Island Sound. We were able to drop sediment to the bottom, vacuum it out and save the water. Not everyone was as fortunate.

 

Summary:

As of 9/1/11 there are still may pool Owners without power- (2) things to focus on in such cases:

1) Minimize organic matter in pool as possible- remove leaves, twigs and branches by hand or with a leaf net.

2) Maintain a chlorine count of around 3 ppm. This can be done using chlorine floaters. If you do not have floaters on hand, you can make your own from plastic jugs or other creative means. Be careful not to allow chlorine tabs to come into direct contact with pool finish as a permanent “chemical burn” mark may result.

I hope you are finding these posts to be timely and helpful. Happy Labor Day!


Preparing For Hurricane Irene

Bob Russell | August 26, 2011 in Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool equipment,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Preparing For a
Hurricane-

Frequently Asked
Questions.

If you are a pool owner, there are some things you can do to
prepare for strong storms.  Here are some questions we are typically asked and our answers:

Q: What about deck
furniture?

A: Secure umbrellas and pool deck furniture, especially anything with glass. Severe storms can carry gusts of wind that
will pick objects up, turning them into projectiles. Anything that can sail
will (e.g. a glass covered bistro table). Stack or store such such objects in a
protected area if there is time. If you do not have the time or muscle to store
all furniture before the storm hits, try to at least remove the glass table tops and store in a safe place.
If no indoor storeage is available, chairs and tables can be massed together and tucked into an area protected from direct wind- perhaps close to a wall of the house.

 

Q: What about deck and yard drainage?

A: Check yard drains to be sure they are clear. Drains
can clog during a storm causing water to mass in areas- if you are able and if
it is safe, you should monitor critical
storm drains and keep them clear
during the heavy rains so water can get
away from area unimpeded. Please exercise great caution.

 

Q: What should I do with my automatic pool cover?

A: If your pool is equipped with an automatic cover:

Open the cover and leave
open during heavy downpour
. If you leave it closed it will collect
water on top. The water on top of cover will displace the water below it
pushing it up and out of the pool. The heavy weight on top of the cover will
damage the cover track system.

A: Open the cover early -
don’t wait till storm is in full swing as water removal during a storm is very
difficult and even dangerous. Also, if you experience a power failure, your
pool cover will not operate.

 

Q: Should I leave my
pool filter pump running?

A: Yes. In most
cases you should leave pump running.

I do recommend turning off the heater.

 

Q: What if my pool
overflows? Will water hurt the lawn?

A: Many pools
have a high water overflow OR they leak above the tile line and will settle
there. The “first response”
for a pool that’s been through heavy rains is to lower water levels, remove
debris, clean baskets and filter, etc.

A: Regarding gardens and lawns- generally a pool’s sanitizer (Chlorine or
Bromine) is much diluted after heavy rains and will not have an adverse effect
on lawns or gardens around the pool
.

Usually the larger problem is when soil,
mulch and fertilizer from the lawn and garden get into the pool.

Fertilizer contains Phosphates and Nitrates- both generally interfere with
sanitization and promote algae growth- this will make clearing pool a real challenge
after the rain.

 

Q: I have a stream beside my pool that floods. What should I do?

A: Monitor the level of the river and turn off power to pool equipment if water reaches that
area.

(Consider calling us about flood control measures that can
be built into your landscape after storm.)

 

Summary Check List:

  • Secure objects like furniture that can become projectiles.
  • Keep drain grates clear
  • Keep automatic pool covers open during heavy rains
  • Leave filter pump running unless advised otherwise.
  • Turn off heater.
  • Call your professional service people if you have concerns or questions.
  • Don’t worry about the grass if pool overflows.

If you would like to experience a higher level of service, please contact us!

Be safe out there!

———————————————————-

“Every little thing’s gonna be alright!”

-Martin Smith

 

 


Hazy, Hot and Humid!

Bob Russell | June 1, 2011 in Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool Service,Sanitizers | Comments (0)

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Sanitization Basics:
You should know these two concepts:
1) Chlorine demand
2) The “Petri Dish”

Chlorine counts can drop dramatically during very heavy bather use.

Chlorine Demand:
When I teach new pool owners about sanitization, I look to make the complex simple. The chemistry behind sanitization is complex. Understanding a principle like “chlorine demand” is easier than trying to understand the science behind it (although understanding the science is helpful if you’re in the pool business).
Chlorine demand is self descriptive. How can you recognize chlorine demand increases? Here are a few things a pool owner should watch for:
1) Increased bather load (number of swimmers)- swimmers (and pets!)  introduce things like ammonia into a pool which complicates chlorination and increases chlorine demand..
2) Water Temperature- high temperatures increase chlorine demand.
3) Sunlight- UV causes established chlorine counts in a pool to deteriorate. To minimize the effects of sunlight on pool sanitizer, “Chlorine Stabilizer” is added (also known as Cyanuric Acid).
4) Wind and Rain- Both introduce contaminants into pool water. Whether wind-borne pollen and debris or waterborne pollutants, both interfere with chlorine effectiveness or just use it up.
This past weekend, many pool owners turned on their heaters, the weather was hot and humid, the pools were used- a LOT; and we had some storms. It was a weekend of very high chlorine demand.
This is why many pools get algae shortly after Memorial Day weekend- chlorine settings that could handle a chilly, unused pool were not adequate to handle a warm and well-used pool.
Think about chlorine demand and you’ll anticipate these things and save yourself a lot of problems.

Pools on the coast have unique chlorine demand challenges:

The Petri Dish:
High School Biology taught me this principle: Introduce animal or plant life into a sterile environment with food and you have exponential growth. This is how you should look at your pool. What prevents the growth of things like: plant life (e.g. algae), Bacteria (e.g. E-Coli) or Parasites (e.g. Cryptosporidium)?
A: Your sanitizer does.
Example: When chlorine levels are at zero, one algae spore can turn a pool green (what is called an “algae bloom”) in about 36 hours.
Using these two principles will help you anticipate changes and prevent problems.
Enjoy the pool!

The Recall

Bob Russell | May 28, 2011 in Pool,Pool safety | Comments (0)

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What’s the real story?
On Friday of memorial Day weekend, the government issued a recall of the VGB and ANSI-7 approved “main drain” covers. (Remember, “main drains” are now called “suction outlets” ).
The media- as it often does- reported this story in such a way that produced some unwarranted fear among our residential pool Owners.
I spent 1/2 hour on phone that weekend with a Client who was afraid to swim in her pool and was upset that we had installed a main drain cover that was on the recall list.
She’s fine now… as is her pool and spa for bathing.
Some details and thoughts on this issue:
1) The recall has to do with concerns over accuracy of flow ratings stamped on the covers- in the rush to develop and mass produce suction outlet covers by the 2008 deadline- companies such as Hayward, Waterway and a few others used “independent testing firms” to confirm the safe maximum water flow through each cover. The new covers where then stamped with this data which is expressed in gallons per miniute (gpms).
The difficulty came when it was discovered that different testing labs were rating the same covers at different gpms. The inconsistency and confusion surrounding this issue has been attributed to a lack of national testing protocols and standards. For example:  Should a cover’s capacity rating be measured in gallons per minute (gpms) or feet per second at cover surface (fps)?
Velocity of water at the suction outlet cover is critical in preventing certain types of entrapment such as hair entanglement.
An example of new testing standards emerging is in the newly implemented “whole head of hair” test. This test uses a wig and mannequin head rather than the older “pony tail test”.
When it was discovered that suction cover outlet ratings varied significantly from testing firm to testing firm, the recall was ordered and new testing standards are being put in place.
2) Pools and Spas with dual suction points are NOT part of the recall.
3) It should be noted that the covers we have been installing since the VGB Act became law (Dec. 19, 2008) are superior to the old in many ways:
These new covers are made of better plastic (stronger, more durable); they are also better designed to protect from entrapment by hair-entanglement.
That said, by law, a service company cannot install a recalled suction outlet cover.
Other important considerations:
Statistics reveal that incidents and accidents involving a pool or spa suction outlet almost always involve: a) an improperly constructed pool or spa b) a missing or broken suction outlet cover. Data also shows that the majority of accidents involves small children.
This recall is about correcting the flow ratings that are stamped on suction outlet covers; it is also about correcting and standardizing procedures used by testing firms. Flow ratings are critical to get right- especially in commercial pools and spas employing multiple pumps; but again, a pool or spa owner should realize that these recalled covers are still superior to the old covers they replaced. It is my judgement that the reporting of this issue is a bit sensationalized.
This pool’s single floor suction outlet was “split” during a recent renovation. The third “dummy drain” was added to handle water table. New safety codes require pool companies to bring older pools up to the current standard when such work is done.
If you have any questions about the recall or obtaining a C of O, please contact us!
For further reading on this subject please visit: http://www.apsp.org/Public/Safety/DrainCoverRecall/index.cfm
Enjoy your pool!

Spring Is Here! How To Start Up Your Pool Fast! Part 1

Bob Russell | April 27, 2011 in Pool,Pool chemicals,Pool finishes,Pool Service,Uncategorized,Winterize | Comments (0)

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It was a winter of heavy snowfall, a Spring of heavy rainfall…

 

Heavy rains filled our rivers and pools this past few months...

 

Question: What Impact Do Harsh Winters Have On Your Pool Finish?

Answer: It means precipitation has changed your water chemistry and diluted your pool water. This year you will find that your pool water is more corrosive than usual. (e.g. calcium hardness is very low) These things must be corrected at your pool opening; but what is the effect on the pool before it is opened?

A [plaster] pool finish has a high calcium content. Pool water is “hardened” with calcium chloride in order to protect a pool’s finish. This is an important part of the overall balancing required to maintain pool water that is neither corrosive or scaling but water that is just right.

A pool finish can get pretty “beat up” when water is soft (as far as calcium goes). To make matters a bit worse, we are also finding (THIS year) that our pools have a generally low pH and Total Alkalinity. Taken together these factors make for more-than-normal corrosive water. This is one of the primary factors that lead to degredation of finishes while pools are closed.

This year, pools in our area have had about 2-3 feet of new water added from snow and rainfall! Water from snow and rain is not quite like your city or well water. Rain water is very soft and what is in the atmosphere often winds up in your pool.

Key Point: Swimming Pool water will tend to be very soft and corrosive this Spring- more than normal .

Next up: Other pool challenges brought on by dilution from rain water, and how to protect your investment.

 B


Modern vs. Traditional Pools

Bob Russell | November 15, 2010 in Eco-friendly,Pool,Pool equipment,Pool renovations | Comments (0)

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Recently, I heard someone ask about “Modern Pools” and wondered what he meant.

I thought about the eye-popping pictures of swimming pools atop skyscrapers in Dubai. I thought about the huge pool on a tropical coast that you can take a sailboat out on.

So, what is “modern?”

We restored a Frank Lloyd Wright pool to it’s original beauty last year. (The pool pictured here is NOT that pool). The design of this pool is timeless and spectacular in form- grabbing one’s attention. In his day, Frank Lloyd Wright was beyond modern- he was pushing the limits of architecture in both form and function. His work was spellbinding- it’s as though you cannot look away from it. That said, this was a low-tech, 40 year old pool that happened to be designed by a man who was way ahead of his time…and perhaps ours too. So, I look at it and think it still looks “modern” …but that’s my opinion.

So what makes a modern pool “modern?”

What about the “common” rectangle pool with state-of-the-art remote controls, automatic cover, LED lighting, sonar safety system, underwater speakers and salt/chlorine generator. Does the latest technology make a pool “modern?” or, is it the design? Or both?

At Glen Gate, we create state-of-the art pools. Some of these pools are architectually beautiful to look at, some appear to be very traditional. Does “modern” and “traditional” work in the same sentence? Perhaps. Super-efficiency and cutting edge technology is modern, though the design may be “timeless.”

When I was a kid, my favorite car was the Ford GT. It’s a 40+ year old machine now and considered “old technology” but, boy are they pretty!

Recently, Ford had a brilliant idea and re-made the GT! …with the best stuff available under the hood! Timeless design never goes out of style. Performance and innovation is usually hidden out of sight.  

I think the (2) basic rules of the “modern Pool” must go something like this:

1) The modern pool must delight the eye of the Owner and be married to the surrounding land. It might look 40-50-years old or it can look like a spaceship- but it must be love every time I look at it. 

2) There’s something else the modern pool must do: it  has to run better and smarter than anything else out there.

We’re still working on the definition here.