Pool College/FAQ

Construction

How can I make sure pool construction stays on schedule and on budget?

You should always agree on a detailed budget and estimated timeline before you sign a contract with a professional pool builder. Obviously, unforeseen factors can alter the schedule and sometimes impact the budget. For example, weather, customer change requests, permit delays, etc. can all affect the project, but a good builder will communicate and coordinate with you throughout the project to ensure successful pool construction and complete customer satisfaction.

How do I know if my pool fence satisfied local legislation requirements?

When you purchase a fence, choose a product that is designed and manufactured in compliance with safety guidelines. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has published a document to help choose a safety fence. Find the latest information from the CPSC.

How do I select the right pool builder?
It’s always a good idea to consult with several professional pool builders and consider key issues such as experience, reputation and customer service before deciding who will build your pool.
As when hiring any contractor, you should always inquire about references, insurance and make sure they are properly licensed. You should also check the Better Business Bureau database for any unresolved complaints
Also, make sure to interview your pool professional carefully. Here are a few things to consider:

  • What is the company’s reputation in the community?
  • Do you know a friend or neighbor who has used the same company with good results? If not, can the company provide you with dozens of reliable references or customer report cards?
  • How does the company treat you as a potential customer?
  • How long has the company been in business, and how long have they been building in your area?
  • How many pools have they built?
  • Will the company provide you with a clear written estimate so that you’re not confused about what work will be done
  • Will they finish the project on time?
  • Is the company in good standing with your local Building Department, the State Department of Consumer Affairs and/or Contractor’s Board?
  • Will the company add hidden charges after the construction process has begun?
  • Is the company financially stable so that there is no risk that you’ll be left with an unfinished pool if they go out of business?
  • Will the company be careful to remove or take care of landscaping and other outdoor structures?
  • Will they keep your property clean and safe throughout the construction process?
How easy is it to install a saltwater system?

Installation on home pools and spas usually takes only an hour or two, and is often done by home owners themselves. Commercial installations are also very simple and can become slightly more complex due to equipment and pipe work layout, or access and space limitations – but if there is a pump and filter, the saltwater system can be installed.

How long does it take to build a pool?

Different types of pools take different lengths of time to build and/or install. The length of time it takes to build an inground gunite pool depends on many factors including the weather, the size of the pool and the features and options that you select. A professional pool builder can give you an estimated timeline along with a budget when you request a quote.

How should I decide on the design of my pool?

Design choices are best made after you have decided how you are going to best use your new pool or spa. Family activities vary greatly depending on the age of the family.

How thick is gunite used in swimming pools?

Gunite is generally 7 to 12 inches thick depending on the area of the swimming pool. In specific circumstances, the engineer (or plans) may specify the gunite be thicker.

Is painting my pool a good idea?

The answer is always NO. Paint causes a condition known as “chalking.” Chalking causes cloudy water while swimming, particularly while in use by children, as they tend to agitate the water more than adults. Chalking causes spotting on swimwear, and can clog your filter. The biggest problem with chalking is that it will cause your pool to appear dirty. Painting is at best a temporary “fix.”

What can I expect to see during the excavation process?

Building a gunite pool is a major construction project. In addition to excavating where your pool will be there also needs to be trenches that go from the pool to the pool equipment, from the pool equipment to the main electrical panel, from the pool equipment to the gas meter and if necessary from the pool equipment to any controller locations. This often results in the entire yard being dug up.

A homeowner should expect existing landscaping to be disturbed.

What can I expect to see during the gunite process?

Gunite is applied pneumatically. The day this is applied you will have a large compressor truck and several large gunite trucks in the front yard during the entire process. As the gunite is applied it is shaped and molded as desired.

What color pool surface is best for heat retention?
Regarding the pool shell and finish itself, then the darker the finish the better. Black has been a recent favorite of pool owners for a surface color. A black finish gives the swimming pool a “lagoon” look, however there are people who do not like that look. A disadvantage to the black is that if you are not diligent with pool chemistry, you can end up with black algae because it is hard to see in a black finished pool. Another is that, again, if you are not right on with chemicals you can end up with a nearly white pool within a few years due to calcium buildup.
What is gunite pool?

A mixture of cement and sand sprayed onto contoured and supported surfaces to build a pool. Gunite is mixed and pumped to the site dry, and water is added at the point of application. Plaster is usually applied over the gunite. The plaster is actually the material that is visible and that comes into contact with the water.

What's the different between a pebble type surface and a plaster surface?

Traditional pool plaster surfaces are composed of cement and crushed marble fines. They are smooth by nature and many colors are available through the addition of color pigments. A pebble type pool finish is an exposed aggregate, meaning there are small rocks embedded in the finish. Whereas, they provide a beautiful look they tend to be rougher on the feet than a traditional plaster. The longevity of both of these finishes rest solely on proper water chemistry and can easily last up to 20 years.

Why should I choose a gunite pool?

Gunite swimming pools can be any shape or size, with smooth corners and edges. Walk in steps, beaches, waterfalls, weirs, standing ledges, water seats and islands can all be incorporated to provide clients with the swimming pools they want, and not just an 20 x 10 hole in the ground! Additionally, gunite swimming pools rarely leak.

Why do I need a site plan when designing my pool?

Your building department may require a site plan to be submitted with your application for permit along with the swimming pool plans. It must show all property lines, any structures and the proposed swimming pool or spa. It has to be to scale and dimensioned. It also has to show other details such as your fence, gates, electric and gas meter location.

Decking & Coping

What kind of material should I use for my pool deck?

The material you ultimately choose often depends on a number of factors including your surrounding landscape, space availability, how much traffic the pool deck will receive, budget, and how much time and effort you want to devote to care and upkeep. We offer an array of options and materials to enhance your pool deck area.

Are there benefits of sealing my pool pavement area?

The benefits of sealing your pool pavers cannot be underestimated. Sealing them will intensify the colors and help you manage the everyday stains that may occur. This will ensure you can enjoy your pool for years without the need for constant repair and maintenance.

How can I keep my pool deck looking attractive?
  • Cover frequently traveled areas of the pool deck with no-slip mats to prevent wear and tear.
  • Keep metal furniture off of the pool deck. Rust stains from metal chairs can stain your pool deck.
  • Clean your pool deck frequently with a leaf blower or hose.
  • Clean up spills as soon as they drop to prevent staining.
  • Keep your deck area clear of overhanging trees. Leaves and fruit that drop on the deck can stain it.
  • Likewise, avoid spilling fertilizer on your pool deck. Fertilizer contains iron, which can leave a hard-to-remove orange stain.
How do pavers compare with patterned or stamped concrete?

Patterned concrete pavers are merely slabs of concrete that are embossed with a pattern. Therefore, they are prone to the same problems with freeze/thaw cycles, namely cracking and spalling. Pavers won’t crack or spall. Stamped concrete requires expansion joints every 10 feet or so, which are very distracting in some patterns. Also, unlike pavers, patterned concrete pavements don’t allow access to underground utilities or the ability to make repairs.

Energy Efficiency

At what temperature should my pool heater's thermostat be set to help conserve energy?

The American Red Cross suggests that 78° is the most healthful swimming temperature. By setting the thermostat to 78°, you will also be conserving energy.

How do I know if there is enough solar energy in my area to heat my pool?

Studies have shown that there is enough solar energy in all parts of the United States and into Canada for you to enjoy a longer swim season with a solar pool heater.

How will energy-efficient products make a difference in my backyard and my power bill?

Depending on the size of your pool, filtration equipment, and heating requirements, your energy driven equipment may operate up to 12 hours per day to properly circulate your water for effective filtration. A small increase in efficiency can yield larger savings later; therefore, the right pool equipment is essential to your power bill. Whether you’re building a new pool or replacing existing equipment, your equipment selection can save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

Once I have my new energy efficient equipment, what other steps can I take to ensure maximum energy efficiency?
  • Invest in a pool controller or timer.
  •  Use a pool cover or thermal blanket on your pool when it’s not in use. Evaporation accounts for 70% of heat loss from your pool.
  • Add wind breaks to your pool. (A 7-mph wind at the surface of a pool can increase energy consumption 300%!)
  • Set your pool water’s temperature between 78° for most applications.
  • Maintain top operating condition of your pump, filter, and heater.
  • Maintain proper water chemistry.
What would my annual savings be if I select a variable speed pump?

Depending upon utility rates, pool characteristics, and equipment selected, your savings can be significant. It is possible to recoup the premium cost of an upgrade from standard equipment to energy efficient equipment in the first year of operation. For example, a system featuring an energy efficient high performance pump, D.E. filtration, and an induced draft high efficient heater can deliver a savings of over $900 annually compared to a standard equipment setup.

What is the best time to run my pool's filtration system?

The best time to run the pool’s filtration system is during off-peak hours when electricity demand is lower – typically between 8pm-10am.

Chemicals

Does chlorine prevent all recreational water illnesses?

Chlorine in swimming pools kills the germs that may make people sick, but it takes time. Chlorine in properly disinfected pools kills most germs that cause RWIs within minutes. However, it takes longer to kill some germs such as Cryptosporidium that can survive for days in even a properly disinfected pool.

Also, many things can reduce chlorine levels in pool water. Some examples are sunlight, dirt, debris, and material from swimmer’s bodies. Healthy swimming behaviors and good hygiene are needed to protect you and your family from RWIs and will help stop germs from getting in the pool.

How do I clean my stained plaster?

Dirt, rust and other minerals can stain the finish of your plastered pool. If the stain is organic; from leaves for example, a small amount of granular chlorine added at that location and allowed to settle on the stain will usually remove it instantly. Other non-organic stains will not be removed by chlorine.

Do not place chlorine tablets directly into the pool. They will stain and etch the pool plaster. If chlorine doesn’t work, acid usually will. Draining and acid washing will remove a thin layer of plaster (and stains), exposing fresh, new looking plaster beneath. Stains can also be sanded with pumice stones or wet/dry sandpaper.

How long do I have to wait to use my swimming pool after chemical treatment?

Generally it is safe to use your pool after chemicals have dispersed throughout the pool, usually 15 minutes to one hour. If shocking your pool, wait until the chlorine levels drops to recommended levels.

How often do I need to test my pool water?

Weekly testing works for most backyard pools, but the best bet is to test your pH and chlorine levels at least twice per week. Chlorine should be fed continuously through a chemical feeding device to maintain a consistent level.

I still have pool chemicals left over from last season. Are they okay to use?

You should check the expiration date on your pool chemicals and discard and replace any that have expired. Never dispose of chemicals in the household trash or down any drains unless directed by a water treatment facility. Never pour chemicals down a drain or toilet if they lead to a septic tank. Always make it part of your spring pool opening plan to buy new chemicals from your local professional pool retailer.

Is chlorine safe for swimming pools?

Yes. Chlorine sanitizers are safe when used according to package directions approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Chlorine levels within the recommended range for swimming pool water do not pose any known health risks. Chlorine sanitizers have been used safely and successfully as pool and hot tub disinfectants for over a century. The majority of public pools and 9 out of 10 residential pools are sanitized with chlorine.

What causes chlorine odor, red eyes and itchy skin?

These unpleasant conditions indicate that the pool water has not been properly treated. A common cause is high levels of chloramines, formed when chlorine combines with body oils, perspiration, urine and other contaminants brought into pools by swimmers.

Contrary to what most people think, a strong chemical smell is not an indication of too much chlorine in the pool. In fact, the pool may actually need additional chlorine treatment to get rid of chloramines and sanitize the water.

What does it mean if I smell a strong chlorine odor in my pool or hot tub or it burns my eyes?

A common misconception, even among some pool and hot tub “technicians,” is that the strong odor of chlorine means there is too much chlorine in the water. This is absolutely incorrect and in fact, the opposite is true. There is not enough chlorine to neutralize the ammonia in the water. More chlorine-based product should be added to solve this issue.

What is the correct balance for my pool water?

In order to prevent scaling or corrosive action and to achieve maximum swimmer comfort, pool water should be balanced to the following levels:

TestRange
pH7.2-7.6
Total Alkalinity120-150 ppm
Calcium Hardness200-250 ppm (Gunite)
Calcium Hardness175-225 ppm (Vinyl)
Free Chlorine1-3 ppm
Free Bromine3-5 ppm
Copper0 ppm
Iron0 ppm
What is the difference between the chemicals that a professional pool supply store sells compared to a big box retailer?

A big box retailer will not stock the variety of chemicals that a professional pool supply store can provide. You may be able to choose from several different brands at a professional pool supply store. Also, most of the highest quality brands can only be found through authorized dealers and NOT in a mass merchant.

When do I need to shock my pool?

Routine shock treatment is necessary to destroy water contaminates that reduce the efficiency of the disinfectant or sanitizer. Contaminates like hair spray, suntan oil, cosmetics and other organic materials react with chlorine and cause eye or skin irritations and an unpleasant chlorine odor. Most often pools are inaccurately accused of having too much chlorine when this problem is present.

Why is there a strong cholorine smell?

A strong chlorine smell, contrary to what may seem logical; often means chlorine needs to be added. High levels of chloramines emit a strong chlorine smell, and chloramines form when chlorine interacts with introduced contaminants, like sweat and body oil. In this scenario, chlorine needs to be added to sanitize the water and get rid of the chloramines.

Why should I purchase pool chemicals from a professional pool store instead of a big box retailer?

The main reason that you should purchase chemicals from a professional pool store instead of a big box retailer is the knowledge and expertise of the pool professionals. Your swimming pool is a huge investment. You want to be sure that you are purchasing the right chemicals and treatment to prevent problems in the future.

In addition, professional pool retailers offer reputable brands that are proven in the industry to function consistently and efficiently. You can damage your liner or gunite pool or hot tub by using poor quality chemicals, which can cost you much more money in the long run. Not to mention the ill effects some of these can have on your skin, hair, and eyes!

Service

Do you have to service the pool every week?

Weekly service is essential to maintain a great looking, healthy, sparkling pool. Consistency is vital to your pool’s overall health.

How can I make sure the pool construction stays on schedule and on budget?

You should always agree on a detailed budget and estimated timeline before you sign a contract with a professional pool builder. Obviously, unforeseen factors can alter the schedule and sometimes impact the budget. For example, weather, customer change requests, permit delays, etc. can all affect the project, but a good builder will communicate and coordinate with you throughout the project to ensure successful pool construction and complete customer satisfaction.

Never be afraid to ask your builder:

  • Are we still on schedule?
  • Are we within budget?
How do I select the best company for my pool renovation?

Interview your prospective renovation company carefully. What is the main focus of their work? Do they have references? Hiring a pool renovation contractor requires careful thought and consideration if you want the job done to perfection within your budget.

Make a list of contractors of who your friends and associates have referred. Get all estimates from each pool renovation contractor separately, with as much details as possible. Ask them to break down each work schedule detailing the labor and material involved with cost for each component of work involved to give you an overall picture of what lies in store.

Ask the contractor about his labor pool and who will be supervising the work on daily basis. This is very important because a professional pool renovation contractor will have an experienced team of labor specializing in different areas of the work, like concrete lining, lighting, and chlorination specialist. If the contractor cannot satisfy you about his labor force, stay clear off him or you will have cost and time overruns.

A supervisor to direct the work is also essential and advisable and you should insist on it. Check whether permits, if required are already built into the estimate or an additional cost to be incurred by you. Also ask whether he will get all the necessary permits on your behalf before the work begins and how much time is required for all these permits. Selecting the right pool renovation contractor will give you peace of mind and a sparkling new pool to be proud of.

How much does a do-it-yourself pool maintenance cost?

With the recent rise in the cost of chemicals, the monthly expense of chemicals will average $50 – $60. There is also the extra cost of your time – putting aside time every week to clean the pool, making trips to your local pool supply store, when you would probably rather be spending time with your family. Your time is too valuable, so let a pool professional do the work, and spend the time in your pool.

With every product or service, price is always a consideration. However, you should consider value for your dollars spent, as opposed to the simple bottom line. Ensure that any pool professional you consider hiring is properly licensed and insured for your state or municipality, and is water chemistry trained or certified. Look for members of professional affiliations that offer continuing educational opportunities.

Isn't it easier to just take care of the pool myself?

Taking care of your pool yourself is always an option. Proper pool maintenance does however, require weekly supervision. All of the chemical levels such as; Chlorine, Alkalinity, Free Chlorine, P.H. and T.D.S must be consistently maintained to have a safe swimming environment.

In addition, pool professionals are trained to notice any changes in the performance of the pool. They can then immediately troubleshoot any problems and put into action a repair plan to bring your pool back up to 100%.

My pool has plumbing and/or electrical issues. What should I do?

For electrical or plumbing issues, contact your pool professional – electricians and plumbers are not usually versed in the special needs of a swimming pool or spa. Your pool professional can advise you as to whether a plumber or electrician is needed to resolve your specific issue.

Should I hire a professional landscape architect to work on my landscape?

Besides tree limbing, there are many other specialty tasks for which you may want to hire professionals. For instance, you may wish to hire an arborist to have a prize tree pruned properly. “Limbing” and “pruning” are entirely different operations. You may even want to have a landscape architect or landscape designer to re-do your entire landscape.

What should I expect from my pool and hot tub professional?

You should expect that your pool professional will orient you to your equipment, share safety concerns, and notify you of any issues that can become costly repairs later. True professionals will strive to provide you quiet enjoyment of your yard and swimming pool or hot tub during service calls. Your professional is not a pool cleaner today – he is an equipment specialist and a water chemist.

You should expect clean, chemically balanced water, and quiet, efficient running equipment. They should always be available to assist you with any warranty concerns and be available to you by phone during business hours to answer your concerns directly, or return your call promptly. Finally, you should always receive detailed estimates and invoices.

Here at Thomas Pools and Spas, Inc. upon the completion of our customer’s pool and spa, after “Start-up & Balance”, we take customers through what we call “Pool College” which is an extensive systems and maintenance instructional tutoring session to be sure customers are completely knowledgeable and comfortable with all aspects of their pool and spa.

Why should I hire a pool service company?

A professional pool service company can protect the valuable investment that is your pool or spa’s surface through properly working equipment and water chemistry, as well as allowing you to enjoy your pool instead of chasing down chemicals, educating yourself and making time to try to care for it yourself. Once your pool is in trouble, it is probably already going to be necessary to call out a pool professional to solve the problem anyway. Avoiding algae and equipment problems is the reason to hire a professional in the first place.

Remodeling

Can I change the depth in my pool?

Yes, the depth of your pool can be changed. There are pool owners who want to raise their deep end to match the shallow end and there are owners that want the shallow end made deeper. Either one is possible but must be done in conjunction with a new liner or pool finish.

Can my pump and filter be moved to a different location?

Absolutely, in fact the best time to move a pump and filter system into a different location is when a renovation is being done. A good recommendation is putting the pump and filter in a location where it won’t be seen or heard but is easily accessible. This is often on the side of the house or behind a shed.

How can I enhance the appearance of my pool area at night?

Creative landscape lighting is another feature to highlight and accent your outdoor experience in the evening. Many homeowners like to ease the tensions of the day by relaxing outdoors after the evening meal. A creatively designed lighting system will dramatically accent landscaping and artistic features of your swimming pool area.

Dramatic effects can be achieved that are visible from indoors as well as out. You can create a climate that extends your living area rather than separating it. Lighting options are more flexible than ever. Adjusting the ambiance to suit your mood; from entertaining to romance gives you greater flexibility of feel.

How do I select the best company for my pool renovation?

Interview your prospective renovation company carefully. What is the main focus of their work? Do they have references? Hiring a pool renovation contractor requires careful thought and consideration if you want the job done to perfection within your budget.

Make a list of contractors of who your friends and associates have referred. Get all estimates from each pool renovation contractor separately, with as much details as possible. Ask them to break down each work schedule detailing the labor and material involved with cost for each component of work involved to give you an overall picture of what lies in store.

Ask the contractor about his labor pool and who will be supervising the work on daily basis. This is very important because a professional pool renovation contractor will have an experienced team of labor specializing in different areas of the work, like concrete lining, lighting, and chlorination specialist. If the contractor cannot satisfy you about his labor force, stay clear off him or you will have cost and time overruns.

A supervisor to direct the work is also essential and advisable and you should insist on it. Check whether permits, if required are already built into the estimate or an additional cost to be incurred by you. Also ask whether he will get all the necessary permits on your behalf before the work begins and how much time is required for all these permits. Selecting the right pool renovation contractor will give you peace of mind and a sparkling new pool to be proud of.

How long does a swimming pool remodel take from start to finish?

The length of time to complete your pool remodel project really depends on the scope of work being performed. If you desire to replace coping, tile, and plaster, you can typically expect your swimming pool and hot tub remodel to be complete within two weeks or less. However, if your vision includes remodeling your pool and your entire backyard with new concrete decking, plumbing, and equipment, then the job could take several weeks to complete.

I am considering a pool finish as well as a deck and copying remodel. How long will this take?

The length of time a pool will be under construction for renovation is directly related to the extent of the work we are performing. Pools that are being refinished with plaster or NPTPool variety of pool finishes can be operational in ten days or less. Pools that require tile and coping or are being extensively remodeled require additional construction time.

Should I add handrails to my pool during a remodel for safety?

Safety handrails are another pool safety product that homeowners should use in conjunction with a pool barrier. They can be installed in any area around the swimming pool. Most handrails are stainless steel to keep them from rusting or being damaged from constant contact with water and the heat of the sun. Handrails promote proper techniques for getting in and out of the swimming pool and can help children and older swimmers.

What are some ways that I can remodel my pool area to add value to my home?

There are many special touches that a builder can add to your pool that enhance the backyard environment and create a relaxing retreat from the everyday world while adding value to your home. Adding waterfalls, fountains, rock formations (using both natural and realistic faux rocks), lighting, pavers, outdoor kitchens, and spas can make a significant addition to any pool area for both a beautiful visual landscape as well as added home value.

What are some ways that I can remodel my pool area to make it a great place for my family?

There are several additions that you can make to a pool area through a remodel to make your backyard a year-round vacation spot. Update your pool with a walk-in beach entry as a wading area for small children. You can also add water spraying features to the wading area that will make playtime in the pool even more fun!

Also, you can install a bar right at the edge of your pool so that you can enjoy a cool drink without even getting out of the pool. In addition, sunken bar stools add a resort style feel and allow for a comfortable place to have lunch or just sit and enjoy the pool.

And of course, there can be no denying the fun a swimming pool water slide can bring to your swimming pool area. Pool slides are designed specifically with fun in mind, and whether you’re young or just young at heart, people of all ages find swimming pool slides to be a great addition to their swimming pool area.

What are some ways that I can update/remodel my pool area to make it current?

Whether you’ve had your swimming pool from its original installation or if you’ve just purchased a home with a swimming pool, you may be in the market for a remodel. A swimming pool remodel can encompass updating pool tiles and the surrounding deck and patio area, installing energy saving swimming pool pump systems, refurbishing cracked or stained gunite or adding lighting or a hot tub area.

You also want to be sure that when you remodel, that you complement your home’s architectural design to create a beautiful landscape.

What features can I add to my pool area?

Whatever you can imagine can be added to your pool area including custom finishes, tile, decking, coping, lighting, water features, and specialty features such as rock waterfalls, vanishing edges, raised spas with spillways, swim-up bars and underwater bar stools.

When is the best time to remodel my pool and hot tub?

The answer varies depending on your location. A pool remodel is possible year-round in milder climates. If you do live in milder climates, remodeling a swimming pool during the winter has a number of advantages. Obviously, pools are generally not used as much in the winter and your family will not be without the use of the pool during the swim season. Since the pool renovation business is somewhat cyclical it is also easier to obtain desired scheduling when remodelers are not in the summer “busy season”.

Will the renovation process be messy?

A renovation can be a little dusty. We suggest that all decorative items such as plants, furniture, toys, etc. be moved away from the project site until completion. We also recommend that all windows be kept shut to avoid any dust entering your home. Other than that, there should be as little disruption as possible to your everyday activities.

Maintenance

Can a pump for a water feature or outdoor foundation run continuously or does it need to be shut off at specific times?

The majority of pumps last longer if they are run constantly. It is the stopping and starting that is tough on the motor.

Do I need a pool heater in a warm climate?

If you only want to swim during the hot months, then you don’t need a heater. However, if you would like to extend your swimming season, you should consider a heater. A solar heating system can extend your swimming season a couple of months earlier and a couple of months later, but probably can’t heat your pool year round. A gas or other fuel-based heater can provide year round swimming, if desired.

Do I need to drain my pool each year?

No. Pools can handle cold temperatures better when partially filled with water as a buffer. A drained pool can also crack or pop out of the ground because of pressure from ground water.

Do you have to empty my gunite pool every winter?

No, simply lower the water just below return inlets, which is approximately 20-24″. This allows for winter precipitation to have a place to go.

Does chlorine prevent all recreational water illnesses?

Chlorine in swimming pools kills the germs that may make people sick, but it takes time. Chlorine in properly disinfected pools kills most germs that cause RWIs within minutes. However, it takes longer to kill some germs such as Cryptosporidium that can survive for days in even a properly disinfected pool.

Also, many things can reduce chlorine levels in pool water. Some examples are sunlight, dirt, debris, and material from swimmer’s bodies. Healthy swimming behaviors and good hygiene are needed to protect you and your family from RWIs and will help stop germs from getting in the pool.

How can I clean my stained plaster?

Dirt, rust and other minerals can stain the finish of your plastered pool. If the stain is organic; from leaves for example, a small amount of granular chlorine added at that location and allowed to settle on the stain will usually remove it instantly. Other non-organic stains will not be removed by chlorine.

Do not place chlorine tablets directly into the pool. They will stain and etch the pool plaster. If chlorine doesn’t work, acid usually will. Draining and acid washing will remove a thin layer of plaster (and stains), exposing fresh, new looking plaster beneath. Stains can also be sanded with pumice stones or wet/dry sandpaper.

How do I keep debris from floating on top of my pool?

You should first purchase a nice leaf rake. There are also chemical products which are used to keep surface tension high, moving small debris to the sides of the pool. Another possible problem could be skimmer. Make sure it is operating properly so that it creates a draw or “waterfall” into the skimmer basket. Also check that the water level is not so high that it is above the opening of the skimmer. Also be sure to trim some of those trees and bushes near the pool.

How do I measure water evaporation from my pool?

You can measure water evaporation in your pool by doing the bucket test. Place a five gallon bucket on the second pool step and fill it to match the water level of the pool (probably have to put concrete block in bucket before you fill it with water to help keep in place). Over the course of 2-3 days the bucket will lose water from evaporation and gain water from rainfall at the same rate as your pool! As long as there is no splash-out or backwashing during that time, if the pool level drops more than the bucket level then you have a leak.

How do I remove calcium deposits from my tile?

Calcium deposits usually originate from grout or setting mortar. To remove, scrape it off the pool tile. Another method for removing calcium deposits is the pumice stone. Pumice is a light porous glassy lava stone that can be rubbed over a pool stain to remove it. You can get a pumice stone that can attach to your telescopic pole or a pumice stone that has a handle you can swim with.

How long do I have to wait to use my swimming pool after chemical treatment?

Generally it is safe to use your pool after chemicals have dispersed throughout the pool, usually 15 minutes to one hour. If shocking your pool, wait until the chlorine levels drops to recommended levels.

How long should I wait to get into the water after the water treatment?

How long to wait after a treatment depends on the chemicals you are adding. Typically, you will want to wait for the water to turn over one full time (all the water to pass through the filter), which typically takes 8 to 12 hours.

How much water evaporates from a pool?

The evaporation rate depends on the surface area of the pool, the temperature, and the relative humidity and the wind. “Splash-out” water is probably a much more significant source of water loss than evaporation. To calculate evaporation, mark the water level on the wall of the pool. After some time, mark the water level again. It should be lower than the original one. Measure the area of the pool and then multiply it by the difference of the two water levels. The result is the amount of water evaporated.

It is important to remember to turn off the pool’s auto fill for this process. You must make all measurements using the same units. If the pool is 10 feet by 20 feet then you would multiply 120 inches by 240 inches to get 28,800 square inches. Multiply this by the inches of water lost: for example, 28,800 x 0.5 inch lost to get 14,400 cubic inches of total water lost. Multiply this by 0.00433 to convert to U.S. Gallons. 14,400 cu. in. of water equals 62.352 Gallons (US liquid).

How often do I need to add salt to my saltwater pool?

Salt is added to the water at the time of installation. After that, only top-up salt is required to make up for salt lost through water splash-out, overflow due to rain, filter back-flushing, leaks in the pool etc. Evaporation does not reduce the salt level nor is the salt consumed in the saltwater system process.

How often do I need to test my pool water?

Weekly testing works for most backyard pools, but the best bet is to test your pH and chlorine levels at least twice per week. Chlorine should be fed continuously through a chemical feeding device to maintain a consistent level.

How often should I drain and or acid-wash my pool?

This can vary greatly depending on usage, proper chemistry maintenance, and hard water. Generally speaking, acid-washing is required every 2-7 years. In some areas where water is very hard, it is recommended every year to drain your pool. Your local pool professional can answer this question best.

How salty is the water in a saltwater pool?

In fresh-water applications (such as pools, spas, water-features, etc.) salt is added to the water to produce a salinity of approx 3000 ppm (parts-per-million), which is 1/12th as salty as ocean water, or 1/3rd as salty as human tears. Pool-side plants and water-feature vegetation, in almost all cases, are unaffected by the low salinity water.

I still have pool chemicals left over from last season. Are they okay to use?

You should check the expiration date on your pool chemicals and discard and replace any that have expired. Never dispose of chemicals in the household trash or down any drains unless directed by a water treatment facility. Never pour chemicals down a drain or toilet if they lead to a septic tank. Always make it part of your spring pool opening plan to buy new chemicals from your local professional pool retailer.

If there are stains on the pavers, what is the best way to remove these?

Do not use any type of acid that you would use on clay house bricks. Always try scrubbing with a firm brush and dish soap first. If the stain persists, brick paver supply companies carry a cleaning solution that is safe to use on pavers. If all else fails, remember that one advantage gained by using pavers is that you have the option of simply replacing the few stained culprits.

Is chlorine safe for swimming pools?

Yes. Chlorine sanitizers are safe when used according to package directions approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Chlorine levels within the recommended range for swimming pool water do not pose any known health risks. Chlorine sanitizers have been used safely and successfully as pool and hot tub disinfectants for over a century. The majority of public pools and 9 out of 10 residential pools are sanitized with chlorine.

Is it necessary for my pool pump to run every day?

Yes. Your pump should turn over the water through your filter in your pool at least once per day.

Should I brush my pool regularly?

Brushing your pool will keep dirt from occupying the small pores and starting small organic farms. Steel bristled brushes, called algae brushes, are very effective. Done regularly, brushing can also reduce the time spent vacuuming. Brush from the shallow end towards the deep end in overlapping strokes. Circle the pool towards the main drain, and much of the dirt will be swept up into the filter in this manner.

What causes chlorine odor, red eyes and itchy skin?

These unpleasant conditions indicate that the pool water has not been properly treated. A common cause is high levels of chloramines, formed when chlorine combines with body oils, perspiration, urine and other contaminants brought into pools by swimmers.

Contrary to what most people think, a strong chemical smell is not an indication of too much chlorine in the pool. In fact, the pool may actually need additional chlorine treatment to get rid of chloramines and sanitize the water.

What does it mean if I smell chlorine odor in my pool or hot tub or it burns my eyes?

A common misconception, even among some pool and hot tub “technicians,” is that the strong odor of chlorine means there is too much chlorine in the water. This is absolutely incorrect and in fact, the opposite is true. There is not enough chlorine to neutralize the ammonia in the water. More chlorine-based product should be added to solve this issue.

What is the benefit of an automatic cleaner?

Automatic cleaners increase the opportunity that your pool will always be “swim ready.” Automatic cleaners today are sophisticated and reliable. There are many different types for all applications depending on the type of pool and your locality to suit your needs and existing equipment.

Since it is not possible for your pool professional to be in your yard every day to ensure all debris is cleared, this is an excellent option to ensure that algae does not have a good chance of getting hold of your pool’s finish. The most common types of algae are caused botanical debris settling in your pool. Algae is unsightly, unhealthy for both swimmers and the longevity of your pool’s finish (plaster). Automatic cleaners are a very good option in avoiding algae and staining of your pool’s finish.

What is the best way to clean my discolored coping and deck?

Leaves and dirt may stain concrete. Pressure washing can remove these soils and restore original brightness to concrete and coping stones. A light acid washing on the coping stones also works very well, and algae or mildew can be lifted by scrubbing with a paste of bleaching agent. If you do not have any cleaning agent on hand, you can try powdering the area with Baking Soda and then spraying it with vinegar before you scrub it with a brush.

What kind of maintenance do I need for lighting?

Lighting should be checked periodically to ensure proper bulb operation. If bulbs are burned out it can overload other fixtures. Also make sure that no leaves or other materials are touching the bulbs. This can decrease the lifetime of the bulb and create a potential fire hazard.

What kind of maintenance do I need for pavers?

Pavers are generally maintenance free. Cleaning with a high pressure cleaner is a common way to keep pavers clean. Over time, re-sanding might be necessary.

What kind of maintenance does a water feature need?

The two main duties needed to maintain a water feature are cleaning the filters and the debris brackets. If installed correctly, no other upkeep should be necessary. Algae is also a common threat to a water feature. Exposure to sun is the largest factor in determining the growth rate of algae in fountains. If there are no fish or plants present, a small amount of bleach can be used (if necessary) to eliminate algae. There are also several organic products available, such as barley extract, used to control algae.

What upkeep do gunite pools require?

Weekly, seasonal, and long-term maintenance is recommended to keep your pool functioning properly. With maintenance, your pool can last for decades.

Weekly: Chemical maintenance, addition of water, cleaning out debris from baskets and pumps, scrubbing tile.

Seasonally: Proper winterization for pool closing and opening, as well an occasional acid wash of entire plaster surface is required for heavy staining.

Long term maintenance: We recommend that re-tile, re-plaster, and re-set coping stones should be done every 15-20 years. Some tile needs to be redone more often in particularly harsh microenvironments.

When do I need to shock my pool?

Routine shock treatment is necessary to destroy water contaminates that reduce the efficiency of the disinfectant or sanitizer. Contaminates like hair spray, suntan oil, cosmetics and other organic materials react with chlorine and cause eye or skin irritations and an unpleasant chlorine odor. Most often pools are inaccurately accused of having too much chlorine when this problem is present.

Why does my pool lose water over the winter?

There are a few reasons why you could lose water in your pool over the winter:

  • It is possible that you could have a leak in the liner.
  • The winter cover could have a hole in it, and as you pump the water off of the cover you are actually pumping out the pool water.
  • The most common is the weight of the snow, ice, and water on top of the cover pushing down on the water in the pool and forcing the water out over the pool sides.

We highly recommend a solid safety cover to help prevent this problem from reoccurring.

Why is it important to be sure that my pool water's chemistry is correct?

You want to be sure to provide a sanitary swimming environment, balance the water to protect the equipment and pool surfaces and provide inviting, sparkling water to swim in.

Why is my pool cloudy, and how can I clear it up?

Several causes of a cloudy pool could be the pH is not in proper range, high amounts of calcium or the filter needs to be cleaned. Make sure all levels are within proper range and then clean the filter. If you have a sand filter, this doesn’t necessarily mean to replace the sand but clean the filter with a filter cleanser.

Will the salt in a saltwater pool corrode or damage my pool, or the pool equipment (pump, filter, etc.)?

No, the salinity is not sufficiently high to cause corrosion. The water salinity is similar to that of eye-wash solution (very mild).

Will tree roots destroy my pool?

It is a good idea to avoid any trees or plants that have wide-reaching, potentially destructive roots. These may damage swimming pools, creating the need for expensive repairs. If you feel that you absolutely must have plants or trees that are potentially dangerous or may create maintenance issues, plant them at least eight feet from the edge of your pool to avoid such problems.

Landscaping

Does swimming pool water harm grass and shrubs around the pool?

No. Chlorine in a pool is one parts-per-million (1ppm). This is very similar to the city water that comes out faucet, and people have been watering their gardens with this for years.

How do I arrange the stones in a rock garden to make them look natural?

Taking your cue from nature, the idea is to make it appear that the stone in your rock garden is merely the exposed fraction of a massive underground formation. To achieve the look of natural stones, each stone should appear firmly grounded. Each stone also should appear as if connected to its immediate neighbors, separated only by the crevices in which you’ll be growing the plants of the rock garden.

As in the natural world, stay away from constrained stone patterns and even distribution, striving instead for a feel of randomness in your rock garden. Have a massive grouping of stones here, a smaller grouping there, and mulched areas in between. Arrangement is crucial in achieving the look of natural stones.

I have a small and difficult yard to work with. Can I still have a pool?

Pool professionals can construct quality pools in yards of all shapes and sizes. Professional pool design and engineering teams can work with the most challenging properties. You’ll be surprised by our innovative solutions that can turn your dreams into a beautiful backyard resort. Before you give up on your impossibly small yard or hillside location, call a pool professional for advice.

What is the best way to provide shade for my pool area?

Large trees should never be used to landscape a pool area. Instead, install an arbor or pergola on the western edge of the pool. A climbing evergreen vine on the structure will fill it in and give additional shade.

What is the best way to suppress and/or remove weeds from a paver patio?

If you find weeds growing on your paver patio, there are a few things you can do: You can use a weed killer, but make sure you test in a small area to be sure that it won’t create a stain. You may also remove by hand, or by using a brick paver weeding tool. It may be advantageous to lift the paver to remove all root material, then set back in place.

Will tree roots destroy my pool?

It is a good idea to avoid any trees or plants that have wide-reaching, potentially destructive roots. These may damage swimming pools, creating the need for expensive repairs. If you feel that you absolutely must have plants or trees that are potentially dangerous or may create maintenance issues, plant them at least eight feet from the edge of your pool to avoid such problems.

Hot Tub & Spa

Do I need a fence around my spa or hot tub?

Yes, a pool fence should also enclose the area around a spa or hot tub.

What are some ways that I can remodel my pool area to promote my health and fitness?

One of the best pool area remodeling projects is the addition of a hot tub. Hydrotherapy, or warm water therapy in hot tub, consists of three main healing ingredients; heat, buoyancy, and massage. Together, they create an experience that is both relaxing and healthy. Hot tub hydrotherapy on a regular basis provides physical health benefits that go much deeper than just relaxation and pleasure.

Water is so pure and simple, yet it can do the most amazing things. Whether you are experiencing joint or muscle pain, having trouble sleeping, or are just plain stressed out, spending time in hot tub can provide therapeutic benefits for just about everyone.

Another way to promote your health and fitness by remodeling a pool area is to add resistance jets to a lap pool. This provides an “endless” current that a swimmer can swim against. Swimming is an activity that can be done at any age and provides an excellent workout of all muscle groups.

When is the best time to remodel my pool and hot tub?

The answer varies depending on your location. A pool remodel is possible year-round in milder climates. If you do live in milder climates, remodeling a swimming pool during the winter has a number of advantages. Obviously, pools are generally not used as much in the winter and your family will not be without the use of the pool during the swim season. Since the pool renovation business is somewhat cyclical it is also easier to obtain desired scheduling when remodelers are not in the summer “busy season”.

Health

Can I get head lice from a swimming pool?

Head lice are unlikely to be spread through the use of swimming pools. Head lice survive by holding onto hair, and, although pool chlorine levels do not kill lice, the lice are not likely to let go when a person’s head goes under water.

Head lice can be spread by sharing towels or other items that have been in contact with an infected person’s hair. To protect yourself from head lice at the pool, do not share towels, hair brushes, or other items that come into contact with someone else’s hair. If you already have lice, do not swim or wash your hair within 1–2 days of treating it with anti-lice shampoo — these actions will make the treatment less effective.

Can I get sick from using a swimming pool?

Swimming is a fun and healthy activity. However, contaminated water can still spread germs that cause recreational water illnesses (RWIs). RWIs cause a wide variety of symptoms, including skin, ear, respiratory and eye infections. The most commonly reported RWI is diarrhea.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that the number of RWI outbreaks has increased over the past decade. The CDC also warns that children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are particularly at risk of more severe illness if infected.

The CDC provides state specific healthy swimming resources.

Do dead animals in pools pose a health risk to swimmers?

Most dead animals in pools do not pose a health risk to swimmers. Many germs carried by animals infect only those animals, though a few of the germs they carry can infect people.

Most germs carried by animals are killed by chlorine within minutes in a well-maintained pool.

Does chlorine prevent all recreational water illnesses?

Chlorine in swimming pools kills the germs that may make people sick, but it takes time. Chlorine in properly disinfected pools kills most germs that cause RWIs within minutes. However, it takes longer to kill some germs such as Cryptosporidium that can survive for days in even a properly disinfected pool.

Also, many things can reduce chlorine levels in pool water. Some examples are sunlight, dirt, debris, and material from swimmer’s bodies. Healthy swimming behaviors and good hygiene are needed to protect you and your family from RWIs and will help stop germs from getting in the pool.

How can I protect myself and other swimmers from germs in the pool water?

To protect yourself, your children and other swimmers from RWIs, follow these six recommendations from the CDC:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. This is especially important for kids in diapers.
  • Don’t swallow the pool water. In fact, try to avoid getting it in your mouth at all.
  • Take a shower before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilets or changing diapers.
  • Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom and not at poolside. Germs can spread to surfaces and objects in and around the pool.
  • Wash your child thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before swimming.
How can I recognize a healthy pool?

While you can’t see germs that cause RWIs, you can use your senses to help recognize the difference between a healthy pool and a potentially risky one. Look for water that’s clean, clear, and blue – free from algae and unclouded. From the perimeter of the pool, you should be able to clearly see the drain or painted stripes on the pool floor. Also, look for drainage grills at the top of pool walls. Water should be constantly lapping over the grills to be filtered.

Check for tiles that feel smooth and clean. Sticky or slippery tiles are caused by algae and other unwanted organisms. Chlorine helps keep pools healthy, and will not cause a strong chemical odor in a well-maintained pool. Strong chemical odors, as well as skin, eye or respiratory irritation, are caused by the high levels of chloramines, formed when chlorine combines with contaminants brought into pools by swimmers.

How do I prevent swimmer's ear?

There are additional steps you can take to protect yourself and your children from swimmer’s ear. This is a focus of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention this year and there is great information on the CDC website.
http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/rwi/illnesses/swimmers-ear.html

How do pool operators keep a swimming pool healthy?

Chlorine and pH are the first defense against germs that can make swimmers sick. Swimming pool operators should vigilantly monitor chlorine levels and pH, and make adjustments accordingly. The chlorine level in a pool should ideally be maintained between 2 and 4 parts per million (ppm), and should never fall below 1 ppm. The pH should be maintained between 7.2 and 7.8. Keeping the pH in the proper range will help maintain chlorine’s germ-killing power while minimizing skin and eye irritation.

Pool operators should also keep pool cleaning equipment running properly. Filters help remove debris, while pumps circulate clean, chlorinated water to all parts of the pool. In addition, periodic replacement of pool water helps reduce contaminants that are not removed in the treatment process.

What are some ways that I can remodel my pool area to promote my health and fitness?

One of the best pool area remodeling projects is the addition of a hot tub. Hydrotherapy, or warm water therapy in hot tub, consists of three main healing ingredients; heat, buoyancy, and massage. Together, they create an experience that is both relaxing and healthy. Hot tub hydrotherapy on a regular basis provides physical health benefits that go much deeper than just relaxation and pleasure.

Water is so pure and simple, yet it can do the most amazing things. Whether you are experiencing joint or muscle pain, having trouble sleeping, or are just plain stressed out, spending time in hot tub can provide therapeutic benefits for just about everyone.

Another way to promote your health and fitness by remodeling a pool area is to add resistance jets to a lap pool. This provides an “endless” current that a swimmer can swim against. Swimming is an activity that can be done at any age and provides an excellent workout of all muscle groups.

What causes chlorine odor, red eyes and itchy skin?

These unpleasant conditions indicate that the pool water has not been properly treated. A common cause is high levels of chloramines, formed when chlorine combines with body oils, perspiration, urine and other contaminants brought into pools by swimmers.

Contrary to what most people think, a strong chemical smell is not an indication of too much chlorine in the pool. In fact, the pool may actually need additional chlorine treatment to get rid of chloramines and sanitize the water.