Archive for the ‘Pool equipment’ 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.

SmartPhoneAPP

 


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.

ispaca.com

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!


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


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


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!

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“Every little thing’s gonna be alright!”

-Martin Smith

 

 


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.


“…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!

 

Summary:

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.

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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.