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Frequent Questions Pool Tips

Water Testing

Keeping your pool water balanced is one major key in proper pool ownership, which is why we found it extremely important to offer our customers free water testing. There are a number of different factors and minerals that we look at when we test your pool water. Teaching you the best practices when it comes to pool ownership is something we love to do, so we’ve broken down what we look at in a water test to help you understand what it all means.

Total Alkalinity

This is the measure of alkaline material in your pool such as carbonates, bicarbonates and hydroxides. These are necessary for proper pool water balance.

Ideal range: 80 – 120 ppm. (parts per million)

Alkalinity is your pool water’s ability to resist change in your pH levels. It acts as a buffer so when anything is added to the pool that would otherwise affect pH levels, the changes are much more manageable. It helps to keep pH levels within the proper range and prevent severe changes to your pool water balance.

This is one of the first things that we look at when we get your water test results. We recommend correcting your total alkalinity before pH to ensure efficient and proper correction of your pH levels, and because it will make reaching and maintaining the proper pH levels easier.

pH

This refers to the degree of acid or base activity in your pool water. This is incredibly important to monitor in order to keep your swimmers safe and healthy.

Ideal range: 7.2 – 7.8

As the pH scale shows, anything zero to seven is acidic, with zero being the greatest acid activity. When your pool water’s pH is below 7.2, it is considered to be corrosive. This is harmful to swimmers’ and can burn skin and eyes. It can etch away at plaster, plumbing, pool surfaces, and the metals in your pool equipment and severely shorten the life of your liner. Water that is acidic will consume larger amounts of chlorine as the chlorine is less effective in these conditions.

Anything above a 7 on the pH scale is considered basic or alkaline (not to be confused with alkalinity.) A too-high pH level will increase the chances of scale forming and your pool water becoming cloudy as calcium becomes less soluble and ends up just floating around your pool. Bacteria is more likely to thrive in basic water. Swimmers’ skin may feel somewhat slimy. Since a too-high pH can also affect the way chlorine sanitizes your water, this can expose swimmers to potentially harmful microorganisms.

Calcium Hardness

This is the level of calcium that has dissolved in your pool.  Calcium, or calcium carbonate, is a naturally occurring chemical compound.  Issues involving calcium are typically a result of a larger chemical imbalance in your pool water.

Ideal range:  200 – 400 ppm.

Too much calcium in your pool water can corrode fittings, leave rust stains, and create tiny leaks in your pool equipment.  Calcium is actually more soluble in cold water.  Calcium buildup and scaling is a common problem that we see often in pool heaters.

Too little calcium can lead to problems as well.  Calcium is necessary to balance your pool water.  If there isn’t enough, your water will naturally try to balance itself.  It will do this by pulling calcium from other places, like plaster, metal fittings and heat exchanges.  It can destroy fittings, cause leaks and leave stains.

(Free) Chlorine

Your free chlorine reading specifically tells you how much chlorine is available to sanitize your pool water.

Ideal range:  1 – 3 ppm.

Chlorine is the main chemical that sanitizes your pool water.  Even if you have a salt water pool, your pool water is still chlorinated – it’s just a different process.  (Bromine pools are a different category.) 

We check to make sure that your free chlorine is higher than your combined chlorine, or the chlorine that has already combined with the contaminants it’s attacking.  This ensures your pool water is being properly sanitized.  We keep it easier for pool owners by having them focus more on their free chlorine level to keep swimmers safe.

Phosphates

These are a chemical compound that contains Phosphorous, a naturally-occurring, non-metal element.  These enter your pool in many ways, including dead leaves, twigs, dirt, natural water, lawn fertilizer and pesticides, swimmers, adding water, and any phosphorous-based pool cleaners.

Ideal range: 0, or as far under 200 as possible.

High phosphate levels turn your pool water green and cloudy and make it extremely difficult to maintain proper chemistry.  Phosphates feed algae and mask your free chlorine and eat it up quickly.  Proper chlorine levels are necessary to keep your pool inhospitable to algae.  It can clog up your filter and hurt your pool liner.  It could also affect the health of swimmers.

Low calcium levels can lead to high amounts of phosphates in your pool, which is one reason why a low level of calcium is necessary for proper pool water balance.

The presence of phosphates makes pool maintenance more expensive and time consuming.  There are day-to-day tasks you can do to help prevent phosphate levels getting too high.  These include:

  • Preventing lawn fertilizer or pesticides from making contact with your pool area.
  • Skimming out debris with a skimming net to remove them from your pool.
  • Vacuuming dirt and debris from your pool walls and floor.
  • Checking your filter regularly and cleaning it when necessary.

Tips for collecting a water sample

Ideally, your pool should be running for at least an hour before collecting a sample.

Use a clean, empty water bottle or container that you can tightly seal for your sample.

Collect the sample from elbow-deep in the water, away from skimmers and return lines.

When you come in for a water test

We ask that you be aware of how many gallons your pool holds or at least the dimensions of your pool so we can figure out how large it may be.  This will help us get a better understanding of what is going on with your water and how to treat it.

We will remove the water that we need for your sample and run it through our SpinLab Water Test.  We’ll create you a profile within our testing system so we can keep track of your pool water chemistry over time.  It takes just a minute or two to run the test and get the results.

Once we have the results, we will identify where the water imbalances are.  We will ask you a few questions regarding the maintenance you’ve done, the chemicals you have recently added, and any other possible factors that could be disrupting your pool water balance.

With all of that information, we will recommend products and a course of action to help correct any water chemistry issues and to get your pool back to pristine swim conditions.  We will most likely recommend a simple test with testing strips to see how well your pool water takes to the action plan.  You’ll typically wait 24-48 hours after adding any products to your pool before following up with a test strip to give your pool water time to adjust for an accurate reading.

Not sure about the results you get from the test strip?  Feel free to bring another sample into the Credible Pools store for another free water test.

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Frequent Questions Pool Tips

How to Clean Your Pool Cover

GLI ProMesh Safety Cover.

When Credible Pools opens your pool at the beginning of the season, we spray off dirt and debris off of your cover before we remove it. If you want to scrub it before leaving it to dry and storing it away, we have some tips to help you do that.

After we have finished removing your cover and opening your pool, we will leave your cover in the location of your choosing so you can clean it. We will have removed the big debris from the cover before removing it to ensure that everything you have been protecting your pool from over the winter doesn’t fall into your pool.

It is not entirely uncommon to see mold on your pool cover. A mesh pool cover allows air and water to pass through, so they do not collect a great deal of mold. (Which is why we love GLI ProMesh safety covers.)

Cleaning

To clean the cover, it is best that you lay it out as flat as possible in a clean section of your yard. To clean your cover, you could use a mild detergent diluted with water or a spray-on pool cover cleaner.

If your cover is full of dirt and grime, you will need to scrub it with a pool cover brush or something similar, like a push broom. Never use any type of metal brush on your cover.

Be sure to rinse your cover thoroughly and be sure that all of the detergent, soapy water or cover cleaner has been removed completely. You do not want these cleaning agents sitting in the fibers of your cover.

Drying

Once clean, it needs to dry. Your cover must dry completely before you can put it into storage. This will prevent any mold or mildew from growing on your cover as it is locked away over the Spring and Summer months.

Move your cover into the sun. Laying it flat in your driveway or hanging it over a clothesline are the two best ways to make sure the entire cover can drain and dry. Leaving your cover to dry on the grass will take much longer and may potentially harm your lawn and kill your grass. You want people to notice your pool, not the giant patch of dead grass in your yard.

Storing

To store your cover, it is best to fold it in half over and over again, or a “fan fold,” until it is small enough to fit inside the storage bag that came with it. You may need a second set of hands for this task.

We recommend a secondary storage step; one step further than just the bag, but this is optional. It’s a good thought to either hang the bagged cover up high or to put it in a large container and lid. A large Rubbermaid container or a large trash can with a lid will do. This is to make sure that no creatures find their way into your cover and burrow there over the next few months.

All of this will help keep your cover in good shape and is ready to go at the end of the pool season when it’s time to reinstall it. If cared for properly, we’ve seen pool covers last nearly 20 years.

Are you considering replacing your current cover? Now is a good time to put that plan into action. Ordering a new winter cover early in the season will get you ahead of the rush and ensure that you will be prepared when pool season comes to an end.

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Pool Tips

Different Types of Pool Covers

Proper protection for your pool in the off-season is extremely important. Credible Pools is based in southwestern Pennsylvania where we can potentially see significant snowfall. We’ve already seen more snow this winter than we’ve seen in the last few years with a real chance of seeing even more. Unfortunately, we got quite a few calls about the damage the recent snow accumulation has done to some pool owners’ covers.

We want to take this opportunity to teach you about different types of pool covers, how they hold up throughout the winter, and furthermore, why we strongly recommend and only sell Commercial Grade Mesh Safety Covers.

Standard Covers

Just a standard pool cover is made of a cheap, tarp-like material and is held down by water bags, which are inconvenient and take a lot of time to fill.

This type of cover offers next to no protection. It will keep sunlight and small debris out of your pool, but it can only hold very little weight. This poses a real risk if you have children, pets, animals that visit your backyard, or anyone around the pool in general. They can easily fall into the pool and the cover itself poses an entrapment hazard.

This type of cover requires the pool owner to remain vigilant throughout the fall and winter of any accumulation on top of the cover. An additional pump is necessary to remove any water that collects on the cover. The pump will do nothing to remove any snow. It won’t take much to damage the cover or cause it to cave in, so snow and water removal must be done diligently.

A standard cover will only last one to three seasons. The pumps usually last only two to four seasons. It’s not a sound purchase, especially in areas that see a lot of rain and snow. Lastly, it’s an absolute eyesore.

Automatic Covers

Automatic pool covers are made of a vinyl material and require an entire mechanism of pulleys, tracks, motors and more. They give you the convenience of covering your pool whenever you want or need just by turning a key.

We want to be clear – Automatic cover, or Autocovers, are NOT winter covers. They are simply not designed to hold heavy snowfall and the ice that we can potentially see in our area. This can cause damage that is costly to repair.

Automatic pool covers can be expensive, both initially and throughout their lifetime. The vinyl material typically wears out in about five years. With so many components involved in the entire mechanism, there more potential for parts to break down. Autocovers also require an additional pump to keep water off the top.

These covers are great to use day-to-day during the pool season and are also excellent from a safety perspective. They can help leaves out of your pool to help make your regular cleaning easier. They are also good for keeping heat in, giving your pool heater a break. Autocovers are simply not a winter cover.

Solid Covers

Solid covers are composed of a single, solid piece of material, typically vinyl. They allow nothing to pass through them into your pool throughout the winter months.

Compared to mesh, solid covers requires a more involved installation, a more difficult removal and additional concerns when it comes to storing them during the season. Since they are one solid piece that doesn’t really “breathe,” any moisture on or in your cover will mold while in storage.

The lifespan of solid covers isn’t ideal and they typically only last about 7 to 10 years if you’re lucky. They also require an additional pump to remove any rainwater that collects on top of the cover. Pumps typically last about two to four years.

Solid covers require constant maintenance in the off-season to protect it from accumulating too much water or snow. This weight causes the cover to sag and really shortens the life of the cover.

Overall, we just don’t see these as being a reasonable option when you could get as much protection, a longer warranty, and much less hassle from a mesh safety cover.

Standard Mesh Safety Covers

Standard mesh safety covers are made with a woven, polypropylene mesh material. They will let some light through vs a solid cover, which can cause additional algae growth through the winter.

They are held by anchors that are drilled into the concrete around your pool and metal springs to provide great protection from debris during the off-season. The mesh material allows water to drain right through so you don’t have to worry about any accumulation on top of the cover.

While this type of cover will provide a basic level of protection, they do not live up to the standard that we want to sell to our customers. Unless your pool will be completely undisturbed during the winter months, we just can’t fully recommend a standard mesh cover.

Commercial Grade (ProMesh) Covers

The step up from standard mesh is GLI’s ProMesh Safety Covers. They’re woven tighter, achieving nearly 100% light blockage, so you do not have the algae growth and they are stronger than standard mesh. The heavy duty commercial grade springs allow the cover to flex under the heaviest of snow loads. The extra strength material provides greater tear resistance and tougher winter wear-ability.

We added this brand new GLI ProMesh Safety Cover to a customer’s automatic cover.

These covers offer almost 100% protection from UV light, preventing any algae growth in your pool, making your pool opening a breeze.

If you have children, pets, rain, or snow and want a longer lasting cover with a better warranty, we strongly recommend GLI’s ProMesh Safety Covers.

These covers are known to last up to 15 years and beyond. In terms of safety, protection, longevity, and cost, these are the best in the industry.

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Frequent Questions Pool Tips

The Brands We Choose and Why We Choose Them.

We would never sell you anything that we wouldn’t trust selling to our families or putting in our own pool. With over 25 years of dealing with just about all of them in the industry, we have confidently narrowed it down to the absolute best brands out there. And that’s all we sell.

Hayward shares our views of making your pool experience simple, low maintenance and hassle free. They have been manufacturing cutting edge, technologically advanced pool equipment worldwide for over 80 years. The pumps, filters, lighting, controls and salt-chlorine generators that are included with our inground pool packages are all Hayward products.

Their slogan is “We Build Better,” and we can vouch for that. In our over 25 years of pool experience, we’ve seen firsthand how Hayward products operate at maximum efficiency, and outperform and outlast the competition.

Raypak has effectively expanded to meet constant and fast growing demand for more than 70 years. Their ability to adapt to whatever the market calls for has resulted in a worldwide, highly regarded reputation for this company.

They manufacture the absolute best heaters and heat pumps in the industry. Their products not only meet but exceed customer and regulatory requirements. They align with the ISO 9001, which is defined as the international standard that specifies requirements for a quality management system. This made them the first boiler manufacturer to achieve the highest registration level attainable, really setting them apart from everyone else.

Raypak’s goals of high quality, reliability and energy efficiency is thoroughly executed in every product they put out, and that’s why we trust them.

Maytronics/Dolphin explains it best themselves.

“Dolphin has a rich heritage of over 35 years cleaning the world’s swimming pools. This heritage is built on a legacy of innovative pool cleaning technologies. Today, we continue to build on those technologies and provide pool owners with products that are efficient and fit into everyday life. Our latest generation of cleaners are cloud connected, giving you the ability to clean your pool from anywhere, anytime. With Dolphin, you can relax knowing your pool will be clean and ready for fun when you are!”

That’s why we include a Dolphin robotic cleaner in our inground pool packages. We even have them in our own pools. They have created the best easy, efficient, low-maintenance way to keep your pool pristine with just a couple taps on your smartphone.

Pentair’s mission is to make the most of water – life’s most essential resource. They deliver smart, sustainable solutions to ensure people can do just that. Their work and expertise goes way beyond just the pool industry and includes giving people the best tasting tap water to industrial water management.

Their dedication to safe, clean, healthy water is why we trust their salt systems to sanitize your pool. We trust them for our customers and our own families. The water you swim in needs to be clean and safe, just as the water that you drink needs to be. Pentair salt systems help us make sure your pool water is as good as it can possibly be so you can thoroughly enjoy your pool.

GLI is a leader in pool products. We put only GLI vinyl liners in our pools and in our customers’ pools and we swear by GLI safety covers.

They have an impressive range of liners, which guarantees that there’s one to give your pool the look you’re going for – from the most vibrant blues to shimmery finishes to textured sandstone styles.

We’ve found their mesh safety covers to be the absolute best. We have witnessed them stand the test of time as we’ve put on and removed the same safety covers year after year. Their Liner Doctors Program makes it simple to ship your cover to them to have it repaired or replaced should you need to. Their 20-point inspection will keep it in tiptop shape.

pHin is a younger but innovative company. They’ve developed Smart Water Monitoring technology to help you easily keep track of your pool or spas pH and ORP levels. Their bluetooth-enabled device pairs with their app so you can monitor your water levels from your smart phone.

pHin Smart Water Monitor is simple to learn and understand and will send you notifications if anything about your water chemistry is off. It’s a revolutionary way to care for your pool.

pHin is also branch of Hayward. All the more reason they can be trusted.

In their 40+ years, Dimension One Spas has become the leading manufacturer of award-winning hot tubs. They became the world’s first and only hot tub manufacturer to receive the Silver Medal Shingo Prize for being such a world-class organization. They’ve also achieved the Spasearch Buyer Guide’s highest “Recommended” rating.

We were honored to become a dealer (the only Dimension One dealer in our area) and to work with such an innovative and unique company. Continuous improvement is one of their goals and we are so glad we now get to witness this in the years to come. We are entirely confident in this brand and trust that their products will meet and even exceed all of our customers’ needs.

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Pool Tips

Chlorine vs. Salt Water Pools

Keeping your pool water sanitized and maintaining proper chemical levels will be your biggest responsibility as a pool owner. The two main options you have to sanitize your pool are the traditional chlorine method or a salt water system.

Your choice will mostly depend on your level of commitment to your pool, and whether you’re prepared to make a large initial financial investment or would rather spend less money at first but put money toward your pool continuously over time.

Let’s break the two systems down a little bit.

Chlorine

A chlorine pool system is cheaper to install – the initial cost is much lower. All you really need is just the pump system and a device to chlorinate your pool. A floating chlorinator is the device most commonly recommended and used. You simply fill it with chlorine – which can come in stick, tablet or liquid form – based on the size and needs of your pool.

Initially, this may seem like the most reasonable option, but the real cost will add up over time.

The chemical levels in your pool water will be much more unpredictable, should you opt for chlorine. You will have to regularly, habitually pay attention to the levels, requiring you to test your water at least once daily.

Chlorine is corrosive. It can be harmful to your hair, eyes and skin, especially if you do not properly maintain your chemical levels. High levels can damage equipment and eat away at you deck paint. It can cause the fabric of bathing suits and towels and the material of your liner and pool toys to fade due to chlorine’s bleaching properties.

Chlorine rash can result from swimming in a pool with chlorine levels that are too high. While not fatal, medical treatment is necessary if it doesn’t clear up on its own.

You will have to factor the cost of regular chlorine purchases into your budget for the entire life of your pool. This adds up and in the long run, can end up costing you so much more – hundreds and hundreds of dollars a year.

That does not take into account that sunlight, rainfall, temperature, number of swimmers, and frequency of pool use all affect the rate that the chlorine will dissolve. These factors will drive up your chlorine usage, thus unpredictably increasing your cost each year

Salt Water

A salt water pool does not mean chlorine free, it is still chlorine that is the sanitizer it is just created from salt in the water. It is easier to maintain and the water feels softer.

A salt-chlorine generator includes a salt cell. The salt you add to the salt cell goes through “electrolysis.” This process produces just enough chlorine to meet your pools needs, based on how many gallons of water your pool holds.

The upkeep that you’ll have to worry about the most is simply adding salt when the levels go below the unit’s operating range. Again, this varies from pool to pool, but your pool professional will inform you of the proper level for your pool.

Salt is much gentler on your skin, hair and eyes. It won’t fade your fabrics, damage your liner or eat away at your deck paint.

Your annual maintenance cost will be lower since you won’t have to constantly buy chlorine.

Where the main cost lies is in your initial investment. The price upfront is indeed mich more than a traditional chlorine pump system. A salt water system is more complex and repairs can be a little more complicated. This type of system also requires more power and will add to your electric bill noticably.

Salt cells much also be cleaned and changed periodically. You will have to check the cell for calcium deposits.

In conclusion…

It all comes down to if you have the money to spend now on an initially more expensive system OR if you are willing to put in more daily work and are able to factor in a constant long-term expense to maintain your pool while spending much less up front.

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Pool Tips

Do NOT Add Chlorine to Your Skimmer

While putting chlorine directly into your skimmer may seem like an easy way to sanitize your swimming pool, THIS IS A BAD IDEA.

Your skimmer is designed to keep your pool free of debris.  The suction from your pool pump siphons water through the hoses connected to your skimmer.  The water is then routed through your filter and clean water is pushed through the return jet of your pool. 

Adding chlorine to this sounds like a good way to add it to your pool water, right? 

Wrong.  This does far more harm than good

– especially if you’re not running your pump 24/7.

With the pump off and no water flowing, the chlorine tablets will sit inside the skimmer and dissolve slowly.  What you’ll end up with is a rich, extremely acidic amount of chlorine that can eat away at the skimmer walls and the basket.

Chlorine Tablets in Pool Skimmer
Chlorine Tablets in Pool Skimmer
This line was so full of chlorine that it collapsed.

The longer it sits, the more damage it does as it clogs up and eats away at the hoses.

Chlorine Tablets in Pool Skimmer
Chlorine Tablets in Pool Skimmer
This skimmer line needed completely replaced. This job took about 10 hours to complete over two days.

You can save yourself so much work, damage, money and headache if you just sanitize your pool properly. 

It’s so easy to do!

The simplest solution, if you decide chlorination is the way to go, is to purchase a floating chlorine dispenser.  All you do is fill it with chlorine tablets and let it float around your pool. You can also plumb in an off-line chlorinator (we do not recommend in-line) specifically designed to house tablets.

The BEST option is to switch to a salt water system which makes caring for your pool as easy as possible.  Salt water pools require less maintenance, provide softer water, and are more cost effective in the long run.

Categories
Pool Tips

Tips for Keeping Your Kids Safe Around the Pool This Summer

by Alex Robbins

Swimming pools provide all kinds of benefits for kids. Not only are they a great source of exercise, but they also offer hours of entertainment and an excellent place to spend quality time with family. But pools can also be dangerous. It’s important that parents take steps to secure the pool against accidents and teach their kids how to be safe around water. With some good swimming skills and safety equipment, your family will be able to splash away all summer!

Upgrade Your Pool

Pools are hotspots for summer fun. So, make sure your pool and the surrounding area are in good condition to prevent accidents.

  • Is your pool showing signs of age? Start budgeting for a pool repair now!
  • If you need a new pool filter, switch to a DE (Diatomaceous Earth) filter for cleaner water.
  • Make your swimming pool deck less slippery with textured concrete or pavers.
  • Prevent sunburns by shading a portion of your pool and deck with a canopy or gazebo.
  • Since chlorine can irritate the skin and eyes, make sure you take steps to lower the chlorine levels when kids are swimming.
Build a Proper Fence

Ensure your pool is fenced off from the rest of your home so kids can’t fall in accidentally.

Teach Your Kids to Swim

Helping your kids develop strong swimming skills will keep them safer in the water.

  • Make sure your kids have the right gear before introducing them to swimming.
  • One of the first swimming skills your kids should learn is how to float in the water.
  • If your kids are interested, swimming-based activities can strengthen their skills.
  • Teach your kids safe swimming practices to prevent accidents in the water.

Don’t spend your summer worrying about the safety of your kids in your backyard pool. Your pool should be a place of fun and relaxation! Take the time to make safety upgrades to your outdoor oasis and teach your kids to be strong, safe swimmers, and you’ll be able to enjoy it too!