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SPRING SWIMMING POOL OPENINGS 

  • Remove, clean, fold and store pool cover properly.
  • Testing water balance; adjusting calcium, Alkalinity and pH levels as needed.
  • Replacing stored items; ladders, auto cleaner, baskets, and pool maintenance equipment (vac hose,  vac head,  brush & pole…)
  • Inspect electrical to pumps, lights, heaters, etc. Load testing.
  • Lube plugs, fittings, valves and o-rings.
  • Flood lines, prime, and start-up and adjust filtration equipment as necessary.
  • Brush tiles and scrub skimmers with a cleaner such as cleanser.
  • Skim pool surface.  Vacuum pool and backwash filter
  • or clean cartridge often.
  • Super chlorinate to breakpoint levels with liquid chlorine.
  • Brush pool walls and steps. Re-check chemical levels in 12-24 hrs, adjust as needed.
  • Also, Backwash filter if pressure gauge rises 8-10 lbs above start-up pressure, or flow diminishes considerably.

$AVE   $$$…Pool openings in the Northeast US can typically range $150-$350. You can often save money by doing some of the work yourself, such as removing the cover, or vacuuming the pool. You are probly going to have to vacuum the pool many times!

   LIVING IN THE SNOWBELT REGION____

 1: Removing the pool cover:

    Solid Covers: Use a small cover pump to remove rain and snow melt. As the water is being pumped, "tighten up" the cover by pulling on its edges, so the water gathers into one easily pumped area. A "bag type" leaf net and your pool brush on the pole can be used to remove leaves and debris. After water and debris is removed, drain water bags (or remove whatever is being used to hold down sides of cover). Water bags can be folded or rolled after being hosed clean. Remove cover quickly by fan-folding it into 3-5 ft folds on one end of the pool. Take cover to open area where it can be unfolded and hosed clean. A sloping yard or driveway makes this easier. When cover is cleaned, allow drying or using blower to shorten drying time. Fan fold (accordion-style) cover to facilitate its installation in the fall. Roll tightly and wrap with rope or twine to prevent it from unrolling during storage. Place in a cool dry, rodent free location for its summer storage.

    Mesh Covers: Use broom, brush, leaf net, hose and/or blower to remove leaves and debris from top and edges of cover. Remove springs from anchors with removal tool. Use 3/4" pipe to lever springs from anchors, if removal tool cannot be located. Use 1/4" hex key (Allen wrench) to put anchors into the down position, flush with the deck. It's good practice to clean with hose and lubricate with light oil. Fan fold cover (accordion-style) to facilitate its reinstallation in the fall. Use hose, broom or blower to clean off cover as it's folded. Fold it seam to seam, then roll like a sleeping bag and stuff it into storage bag. Place on chair to dry for a few hours before moving it INDOORS for summer storage. If storing outdoors, hang up off the ground, and / or use mothballs to repel rodents from nesting in the cover.

2. Remove expansion plugs (Freeze Plugs) from skimmers and wall returns

     Put plugs in ziploc bag and place near cover for use. Discard any that are dry-rotted and/or cracked. Replace any wall fittings.

3. Reassemble filter, pump, heater, etc.

    Replace drain plugs into pump, filter, heater, chlorinator, etc. If aboveground pool, reattach hoses removed at closing. Replace pump and skimmer baskets, pressure gauges, pool ladders, diving boards etc. Use thread sealant such as Teflon tape on all threaded plugs, connections. Do not over-tighten! If your filter is a D.E. powder tight filter, make sure clamp band is tight and properly positioned. (It was probably removed in the fall to have the filter grids pulled out and cleaned with a hose, so make sure it was re-installed correctly) Place filter valve to filter position and open-air bleeder (beneath pressure gauge, usually). Open all incoming valves (before pump) and all return side valves (after filter). Lubricate valves and o-rings as needed. Fill pump basket with water from pool or hose. Replace pump lid tightly. Look for leaks out of pump. Double check that all valves and pressure relief orifices are open. Place filter valve in proper position. Slide valves (push-pull valves) should be in the down position on most DE filters and in the up position for Pac-Fab sand filters. Multiport valves should be on the filter position. {Or...the method we use is to start the pump with the valve in the Drain to Waste position, and when water begins to run out the waste line, shut off the pump. Place valve into the Recirculate position and run pump until water flows into the pool. Shut off pump; switch the valve to the Filter position to complete the process.}

4. Turn on power to pump & start system

    Watch pressure on gauge closely with your hand on power switch! Turn off if pressure rises above normal range, usually above 30 psi. Recheck that all return side valves are open. If no pressure builds at all, and pump is not pumping, shut off power after 1 minute. Repeat priming process above. If pump still won't prime up, try closing main drain valve, if present, and starting off the skimmer alone. If pump still won't catch prime after 5 or so attempts, check incoming pipes for air leaks. Repair as needed. (Call a professional if you don’t know!) Add 1 lb of DE powder per 5 sq. ft of filter area into the skimmer (if you have a DE filter, of course). Do this quickly, within 2 minutes of starting filter. If you have a cartridge filter you should replace the cartridge element every 6-12 months. Sand filters should have their sand changed every 5 years.

Once system is started, adjust valves and return fittings for proper flow. Check for leaks around pump and filter; repair as needed. Note start up pressure on filter gauge. When psi is 10 lbs above this number, backwash the filter or clean cartridge. Empty pump basket also at this time, or earlier if you notice a drop in filter pressure. If you have a heater, follow pilot lighting and test firing instructions, usually printed on back of front heater door. Operate to test and adjust all other equipment.

5. Equipment and Safety inspection

Spring opening time is ideal for annual preventative maintenance steps such as cleaning, lubricating, inspecting and replacing components in all of your system equipment. Consult your owner's manual and give everything a good inspection. Look for and correct hazardous electrical conditions, such as broken conduit or connectors, lack of proper grounding or bonding, wires exposed to weather, etc. Inspect pool for tripping and slipping hazards. Check again for pressure leaks, which may result pipes or equipment blowing apart. Note water level and watch the pool for leakage during the following few days. If you find a problem and don’t think you can tackle it yourself, call a pool professional.

6. Clean pool

Skim pool, vacuum pool, brush pool. Leaf rake (bag) types skim nets are best. Also useful for scooping large amounts of leaves/debris from pool floor. If pool is especially silty or has lots of algae, Vacuum Pool to Waste. This means to bypass the filter, and vacuum dirt from floors/walls out the backwash line. This prevents constant clogging/cleaning of filter. To do this, you may need to fill pool to the very top, so you can waste 1-3". Place the multiport filter valve on drain to waste position (usually 2pm, if viewed as a clock face) If you have a push-pull filter valve, or a cartridge type filter there is no easy way to vacuum to waste, except for cutting the pipe coming out of the pump and then reconnecting afterwards. Brush the pool thoroughly. Also, you may have to clean your cartridge element many times!

7. Check and Balance Chemistry

Use a good quality pool water test kit. Replace test kit reagents every spring (annually). Follow pool water test instructions carefully to obtain accurate results.

1)Alkalinity first. If below the range of 80-120 ppm, add Total Alkalinity Increaser (Sodium Bicarbonate or baking soda) at a rate of 1 lb per 10,000 gals to raise Alkalinity levels 10 ppm.

2) Calcium level should be 180-220 ppm. Add Calcium Hardness Increaser (Calcium Chloride) at a rate of 1 lb per 10,000 gals to raise Calcium levels 5 ppm.

3)Test pH level after water has circulated 8 hrs. pH level should be 7.4-7.6 - Add pH Increaser (soda ash or sodium carbonate) if the water is acidic / corrosive (below 7.4). Add pH Decreaser (muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate) if water is basic / scaling (above 7.6). A good test kit will allow you to perform an acid demand or base demand test to determine exact amounts of acid or base needed (demanded).

 After balancing chemicals have been circulated for 8 hrs, shock or superchlorinate the pool. Add granular Shock Treatment (Calcium Hypochorite) to pool at a rate of 1 lb per 10,000 gallons, or use Clorox Bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite) at a rate of 5 gals per 10,000-gallons/pool water(but, personally I’d stay away the bleach!).

 4)Cyanuric Acid levels should be tested if chlorine is used (outdoor pools only). Add CYA (Conditioner or Stabilizer) to raise if Cyanuric Acid levels are below 30-50 ppm. A clarifier may be used to help filter efficacy.

Always read instructions on packaging for proper handling, treatments and application of the pool chemicals. Distribute them broadly and never mix chemicals. Brushing pool after adding chemicals is helpful to distribution. Re-test water daily and readjust if needed. Backwash filter after 24 hrs. If algae is still present, re-shock pool, or add "kill" dosage of quality algaecide. Your pool is ready for use when chlorine level drops below 3.0 ppm, and water is clear. It may be a good idea to have an annual check-up to your pool by a pool professional, which is why many people use pool companies to open the pool.

 __LIVING IN THE SUNBELT REGION_____

If you don't really winterize your pool, like most of us here in Florida…and reduced the amount of filter time and attention you gave the pool, then you can probably skip items 1-3 above. But follow 4-7 to keep things sanitary and working safe and properly. Again, consider hiring a pool service professional, at least once annually to double check your work and spot problems or maintenance items you may have missed. This may save you from a BIG HEADCHE while waiting for parts on your filtration system should something go up with your system; NO FILTRATION can mean green pool.

Seasonal Pool Check Ups

O-Rings...

There are many items worth checking through out the season.  Simple checks are as common as making sure the pump lid o-ring is properly lubricated.  Products like Jack's lube, and Magic Lube can give the proper lubrication to o-rings to help maintain longer life of the o-rings.

Pump Baskets...

Another thing that should be checked is your pump and skimmer basket for cracks, and splits.  A cracked basket can allow debris to clog your impeller.  This can cause loss of flow, that can lead to poor filtration, and other water clarity problems.

D.E. Filters...

For D.E. filter owners it is a good practice for you to clean the filter grids thoroughly mid season.  Opening the filter and removing the entire grid assembly and hosing off all the D.E. from the grids is a wise move.   During regular backwashing you get about 80% of the D.E. out, so if 20% is left that can add up to a lot of extra D.E. in your filter.  With too much D.E. in the filter the grids can bridge together, and cause high filter pressure, and poor filtration.

Ladders, Slides and Diving Boards...

If It is VERY important to check your ladder, handrail, and diving board bolts and hardware.  When the bolts are not tightened properly it can be dangerous, and cause injuries.If you have a diving board always check it for cracks, and rusty bolts.  Also check your ladder, and handrail bolts.  It is important that they are tight, and don't let the ladder, or handrail rock this happens it is wise to replace the hardware to prevent injury.

Equipment Area...

You may want to check your equipment area for leaves, grass and mulch.  It may look nice, but heavily landscaped equipment areas cause problems.  If equipment is covered with various types of debris it can cause the pumps to over heat and wear out or burn up.

Electric...

Check to make sure all wire connections and conduit is intact.  If it is split or cracked... Electrical tape is not the proper repair... have it replaced.  Unsafe electrical conditions can cause injury, or death.  Most electrical work should be done by a licensed professional.

Skimmer Baskets...

Another area you will want to check is the skimmer baskets.  Check for cracks and splits.  This can cause unwanted debris in the pump basket.  Also check the skimmer housing for cracks.  Most small cracks can be repaired before they crack completely and need to be replaced.  This is a VERY costly repair.

Safety Covers...

For those of you that have safety covers, such as Loop-Loc safety covers, you should check your anchors to make sure they thread out, or pop up properly.  Also check to see if they are still secure in the concrete or wood deck.   If the anchors are not anchored properly have them re secured as soon as possible.

In-Floor Cleaning Systems...

On in-floor cleaning systems at the distribution system there is an in-line filter.  It is located at the union going to the unit.   This filter should be checked and cleaned regularly.  If it is clogged it can cause the in-floor system to not work properly.

Heaters...

Pool owners with heaters should test the heater from time to time if it is not being used.  Not only to make sure it is working, but to prevent rodent infestation.  These pesky critters can do a lot of damage to heaters.   Some desert regions even go as far as doing rodent proofing around the pool area.

Auto Fills...

It is wise to check your auto fills from time to time.  Make sure the float operates properly, and shuts off at the appropriate level.   When these floats malfunction they will over flow your pool, and raise your water bill.  Better safe than sorry.

 

POOL WATER BALANCE

Water balance is not such a complicated exercise. It is simply the relationships of different chemical parameters to each other. Your water is constantly changing. Anything and everything directly and indirectly affects water balance - from sunlight, wind and rain to the oil, dirt and cosmetics, which may enter the water.

You will likely not change the water in your pool for many years. Continuous filtration and disinfection remove contaminants, which keep the water enjoyable, but this is not water balance. A pool that is "balanced" has proper levels of pH, Total Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness. It may also be defined as water that is neither corrosive or scaling. This concept is derived from the fact that water will dissolve and "hold" minerals until it becomes saturated and cannot hold any more water in solution. When water is considerably less than saturated it is said to be in a corrosive or aggressive condition. But when water is over saturated, and can no longer hold the minerals in solution; this is known as a scaling condition. So then, “balanced water” is that which is neither over or under saturated. The clich that "water seeks its own level" certainly applies here.                                                                        *Water, which is over saturated, will attempt to throw off some of its content by precipitating minerals out of solution in the form of scale.                                                                     *Water, which is under saturated, will attempt to saturate itself by dissolving everything in contact with it in order to build up its content.

How do we know when our water is over or under saturated? First of all, we use a good test kit (with fresh testing reagents) to measure the chemical parameters of pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness. Again buy new (replace) reagents each Spring, discard old ones!

PH: pH is a measure of how acidic or basic the water is. pH is a logarithmic scale from 0-14, with 7 being neutral. Below 7, a substance is defined as being acidic, while levels above 7 are said to be basic or alkaline. Everything that enters your pool has a pH value. Heard of acid rain? This is rainfall with a very low pH. The human eye, at a pH value of 7.35, is just slightly basic. This is coincidentally, in range with proper pH levels for your pool. To have pH in balance, we adjust the water with additions of pH increasers (bases) or pH decreasers (acids) to achieve the range of 7.2 - 7.8. If your testing (recommended daily) of the water shows a pH value below 7.2, the water is in an corrosive (acidic) condition, and we need to add a base to bring the pH into a more basic range and prevent corrosion. Conversely, if the pH is above 7.8, we are in a scaling (basic) condition and must add an acid to bring down the pH to prevent the formation of scale.

Total Alkalinity: A close cousin of pH, the level of alkalinity in the water is a measurement of all the carbonates, bicarbonates, hydroxides and other alkaline substances found in the pool water. pH is alkaline dependent; that is, alkalinity is defined as the ability of the water to resist changes in pH. Also known as the buffering capacity of the water, alkalinity keeps the pH from "bouncing" all over the place. Low alkalinity is raised by the addition of a base (just like pH); sodium bicarbonate is commonly used. High levels of alkalinity are lowered by the addition of an acid (again, just like pH). Experts recommend, "pooling" the acid in a small area of low current for a greater effect on alkalinity. That is, adding an acid will lower both pH and alkalinity. Walking the acid around the pool, in a highly distributed manner is said to have a greater effect lowering the pH than the alkalinity. Pooling the acid has the opposite effect. A very important component of water balance, alkalinity should be maintained in the 80-120 ppm range. Levels should be tested weekly.

Calcium Hardness: When we speak of scale, we are talking about Calcium Carbonate, which has come out of solution and deposited itself on surfaces. It is a combination of carbonate ions, a part of Total Alkalinity and Calcium, a part of the Calcium Hardness level. The test for Calcium Hardness is a measure of how hard or soft the water is. Hard water can have high levels of calcium and magnesium. If these levels are too high, the water becomes saturated and will throw off excess particles out of solution, which then seek to deposit themselves on almost any surface inside the pool. This is calcium carbonate scale, a whitish, crystallized rough spot. If the levels are too low, the water is under saturated. The water becomes aggressive as it attempts to obtain the calcium it needs. Such soft water will actually corrode surfaces inside the pool, which contain calcium and other minerals to maintain its hardness demand. If your Calcium Hardness levels are too high, you can use TSP to lower the levels, or a product called Hydroquest. It can also be accomplished by dilution (adding water to the pool which has a lower calcium hardness content). Levels, which are too low, require the addition of calcium chloride. Recommended range for calcium hardness is 200 - 400 ppm. Levels should be tested weekly.

The Saturation Index: Also called the Langelier Index, this formula or chemical calculation is used to diagnose the water balance in the pool. The formula is SI = pH+TF+CF+AF-12.1. To calculate the Saturation Index, test the water for pH, temperature, calcium hardness and total alkalinity. Refer to a chart for assigned values for your temperature, hardness and alkalinity readings and add these to your pH value. Subtract 12.1, which is the constant value assigned to Total Dissolved Solids, and a resultant number will be produced. A result between -0.3 and +0.5 is said to indicate balanced water. Results outside of these parameters require adjustment to one or more chemical components to achieve balance. This formula is not foolproof, however. Some readings for pH, calcium and alkalinity which, taken individually would be considered to be well beyond recommendations, can combine within the formula to produce "balanced water", when it just isn’t so. Regardless, the Saturation Index can be used to pinpoint potential water balance problems! 

 

WINTERIZING YOUR POOL

    _     SNOWBELT REGION_____

1. Balance the water chemistry:

    Approximately 1 week prior to closing the pool, adjust your water balance within the ranges below:

  • pH: 7.2-7.6
  • Alkalinity: 80-120ppm
  • Calcium Hardness: 180-220ppm

     Then, shock the pool with a Chlorine shock or a Non-Chlorine Shock, at least 1lb per 10,000 gallons (follow package directions). Allow the chlorine level to return to 1.0-3.0ppm before adding any winter algaecide and your pool cover. Chlorine tends to break down both algaecides and floating pool covers.

2. Remove skimmer baskets, wall fittings, cleaners, solar blankets, and ladders from the pool.

     Put these in a safe location during the winter. Don't coil pool cleaners hoses tight.

3. Lower water level in pool.

    Using the filter pump, or a submersible pump, lower the level 12-18" below the skimmer for mesh covers, and 3-6" below the tile for solid, floating covers.

4. Drain all pumping, filtering, heating and chlorinating equipment.

    Every pump and filter, heater and chlorinator has drain plugs to allow water to drain out. All water must be drained or blown out or it will freeze and crack. After draining, DE filter grids or Cartridge filters should be removed and cleaned thoroughly. If the filter and pump is small enough to remove it and store it indoors, this may be best. If not, using a small amount of air from a shop vac, compressor or leaf blower is good to blow out any water that may still be in the equipment.

5. Lubricate

Fall closing of the pool is a good time to lubricate the pump lid o-ring o-rings with a lubricant such as Magic Lube. If you have a push-pull valve ( slide valve) on the filter, lubricate its o-rings as well. If you have a gas heater with cast iron plugs, lubricate these threads or leave the plugs in after draining to prevent rusting.

6. Clean pool

Skim pool, vacuum pool, brush pool. Leaf rake (bag) types skim nets are best. Also useful for scooping large amounts of leaves/debris from pool floor. If pool is especially silt or has lots of algae, Vacuum Pool to Waste. This means to bypass the filter, and vacuum dirt from floors/walls out the backwash line. This prevents constant clogging/cleaning of filter. Place the multiport filter valve on drain to waste position (usually 2pm, if viewed as a clock face) If you have a push-pull filter valve, or a cartridge type filter there is no easy way to vacuum to waste, except for cutting the pipe coming out of the pump and then reconnecting afterwards. Brush the pool thoroughly. The pool should be as clean and clear as possible before covering.

7. Winterize the plumbing to and from the pool

If you have an inground pool, you should blow out the lines using a blow air from the skimmer, through the equipment, and back to the pool. Then plug the lines at the pool using expansion plugs.  If you don't blow the lines, then add Swimming Pool Anti-Freeze into the line (follow package directions). Above ground pools usually just need to disconnect the hoses to and from the pump and filter, and plug the wall outlets.

8. Add winterizing algaecide and other floaters.

Remember not to add algaecide and shock at the same time. This tends to result in the chlorine breaking down the algaecide. High chlorine levels can also be harsh to floating solid pool covers.

9. Cover the pool.

A tight fit of your pool cover is essential. Your cover should not have holes or gaps where leaves and debris may enter the pool. A mesh type safety cover provides the highest protection and safety. Solid Type Pool Covers are not safe and will require a cover pump or siphon to remove rainwater and snow melt. Water Bags are used to secure an inground solid pool cover. Above ground pool covers use a cable/winch device to secure the cover around the pool. Inflatable Air Pillows are used in above ground pools to absorb the expansion of ice inside the pool. A leaf net can be very useful if you have a lot of trees surrounding your pool.

 ____SUNBELT REGION_____

In areas where it rarely gets below freezing temperatures, many people simply reduce the amount of filtration time per day, and also will find that the pool needs fewer chemicals. Covering the pool, even if not winterizing, will reduce cleaning and chemical and filtering demand even further.

 

 

 

 

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          Article Written By: Al Brooks
          "Certified Pool Operator"
   NATIONAL SWIMMING POOL FOUNDATION

FloridaPoolSupplies.com * P.O. Box 773312 * Ocala, Florida 34477 * USA * Phone: (352)207-2133