FAQs & Tips

FAQs & Tips2018-01-15T17:26:55+00:00
  • Never allow children to handle pool chemicals. Do not store pool chemicals in proximity of children’s toys.
  • Never mix non-like chemicals together. They may explode or produce poisonous fumes.
  • Wear safety glasses and gloves when handling all chemicals.
  • Use clean, dry scoops (not wood) to transfer chemicals.
  • Don’t put spilled chemicals back into their containers – Dispose of in pool or in a large container of water.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling chemicals and there containers.
  • Don’t smoke while handling chemicals or in the storage area.
  • Avoid contact with pool chemicals (skin contact can cause irritation; eye fluid can cause the chemical to decompose) If inhaled or ingested, follow the treatment information listed on the container label.
  • Make sure labels are intact and legible.
  • Know the volume of your pool so you know how much product to add.
  • Read and follow instructions on label carefully.
  • Always use common sense when handling chemicals.

Taking proper care of your water chemistry is a plaster pool will greatly extend its beauty, finish and lifespan.

Make sure the water chemistry is checked regularly.
A heavily used pool will need to be checked more often. Do not over do it when adding chemicals to the pool. Proper water balance being maintained has a significant effect on the plaster as well as other pool components.

Maintain pH in the 7.4-7.6 range
pH levels of less than 7.0 can cause damage to the surface.
You can use muriatic acid to adjust the pH. Follow the directions on the container. A safer alternative is to use sodium bisulfate to raise the pH .

Maintain Total Alkalinity @ 100-150ppm

Maintain Calcium Hardness; 200 to 400 ppm minimum

Maintain free chlorine residual between 1.0 and 3 ppm
If free chlorine drifts below 1.0 ppm, algae and bacteria can take hold and cause staining. Maintain cyanuric acid (stabilizer) (conditioner)between 25-100 ppm. Chlorine is quickly absorbed by sunlight. For this reason, it is recommended that all pools be stabilized properly.

Test for the presence of metals in water supply sequestering agent 10-12 ppm
Test seasonally. If metals are present, check monthly. Dissolved metals may contribute to staining of the plaster. Follow the manufacture’s recommendations concerning the use of Metal Sequestering Agents materials to inactivate dissolved metals.

Make sure the filtration system is on long enough
To effectively “turn over” the volume of pool water twice daily, a typical filtration system, with an adequate filter will need to run 8 to 12 hrs a day. We recommend running the system during the time of day when the pool is typically being used. Turnover rate is the time required to circulate a volume of water equal to the capacity of a given pool or spa.

We DO NOT recommend the use of floating chlorinators
They can become stationary in the pool and release high concentrations of chlorine in a small area causing etching of the plaster.

Use proper equipment
Make sure you use the proper equipment for the type pool you have. Tools that are broken, worn or that have sharp edges will damage your pool shell.

The expansion joint is an important interface between the pool and the deck. These two independent structures need to remain independent. Keeping debris out of the joint ensures that the joint is “true” and the two structures are not in contact with each other. When they do come in contact, the pool may develop a crack in the tile, which is usually an indication that the “beam” has cracked all the way through. The beam is defined as the top 6 or 8 inches of the pool wall which holds the tile and coping. Beam damage gets worse with time, eventually crumbling, requiring beam reconstruction. To avoid this costly expense, caulk those joints! Caulking also keeps out water which can freeze and expand. This can damage the coping, beam and eventually, the tile.

Price for professional expansion joint caulking run $5.00 – $6.50 per linear foot for first time application. Add up the perimeter of the pool to figure your price. The variance depends on the width of the joint, which is usually 1/2″ – 1”. Price includes full prep, backer rod, caulking and finishing.

Taking proper care of your vinyl liner will greatly add to the beauty and lifetime of the liner

  • Make sure the water chemistry is checked regularly.
    A heavily used pool will need to be checked more often. Do not over do it when adding chemicals to the pool. Proper water balance being maintained has a significant effect on the liner as well as other pool components.
  • Maintain pH in the 7.2-7.6 range
    PH levels of less than 7.0 can cause the liner to form wrinkles. Do NOT use muriatic acid to adjust the pH. This acid will attack the print pattern on the liner and make it more susceptible to wearing off and fading. Use ONLY sodium bisulfate to raise the ph.
  • Maintain Total Alkalinity @ 100-150ppm.
  • Maintain Calcium Hardness; 200 ppm minimum
  • Maintain free chlorine residual between 1.0 and 1.5 ppm.
    If free chlorine drifts below 1.0 ppm, algae and bacteria can take hold and cause stainingof the liner.
  • Maintain cyanuric acid (stabilizer) (conditioner)between 25-100 ppm
    Chlorine is quickly absorbed by sunlight. For this reason, it is recommended that all pools be stabilized properly.
  • Test for the presence of metals in water supply
    Test seasonally. If metals are present, check monthly. Dissolved metals may contribute to staining of the liner or plaster. Follow the manufacture’s recommendations concerning the use of Metal Sequestering Agents materials to inactivate dissolved metals.
  • Use an enzyme based additive 
    An enzyme based additive keeps the tile line clean and extends the backwash cycle for the filter. Ever see that black sticky ring inside your skimmer? That is a noxious cocktail of hydrocarbon from the air, body oils and lotions. You see the “scum” line on the skimmer and the steps, because they are white, but the same “scum” is also inside your filter, reducing its effectiveness. An enzyme actually consumes the hydrocarbons and organics, keeping you steps, tiles and filters clean. If you have a cartridge filter, it is important that an enzyme is used. We prefer a product called Pool Perfect.
  • Make sure the filtration system is on long enough
    To effectively “turn over” the volume of pool water twice daily, a typical filtration system, with an adequate filter will need to run 8 to 12 hrs a day. We recommend running the system during the time of day when the pool is typically being used. Turnover rate is the time required to circulate a volume of water equal to the capacity of a given pool or spa.
  • We DO NOT recommend the use of floating chlorinators
    In vinyl liner pools, they can become stationary in the pool and release high concentrations of chlorine in a small area causing the liner to bleach out, losing it color.
  • Use proper equipment
    Make sure you use the proper equipment for the type pool you have. Tools that are broken, worn or that have sharp edges will damage your pool liner, causing wrinkles or leaks.

A common cause of staining and discoloration of your liner below the water line is secretions by micro-organisms. As these micro-organisms feed, they secrete dyes, which can be one of many colors that stain the vinyl. These stains in no way degrade the performance of the vinyl. These dyes are compatible with the plasticizers in the vinyl, causing the stains to go all the way through the sheet. There is no proven method for removing these stains.

There is a common misconception that the microbial resistant additives used in pool liners will kill the micro-organisms in the area adjacent to the liner. Many people believe that there is a “protective zone” near the liner that will not support life. This is not the case. The additive in the vinyl prevents the vinyl from supporting life but in no way does it prevent life in areas adjacent to the liner.

There can also be changes in the ground water that introduce organisms into an area that had not been previously exposed. Extended periods of heavy rains will often cause significant changes in the microbiology of the ground water. Whenever there is a change in the environment around your pool, there is an opportunity for micro-organisms which hitherto were not present to move into the ground water, thereby creating the possibility of staining.

Bacteria and Fungus Stains 
Some types of bacteria and fungus found in the soil can actually penetrate through a vinyl liner and cause stains to appear on the liner. Usually they will start off as spotted or cloud-like formations on the liner. Algaecides used in the pool water have little if any effect on the stains caused from bacteria, since it doesn’t get to the source of the bacteria in the soil.

One method which has been used several times is the use of Copper Iron Sulfate (FeSO4) to change the pH of the soil around the pool, therefore killing off the source of the bacteria or fungus. This is not a guaranteed cure in all cases but in the last few years it has had some astonishing results. Best of all, this can be tried without having to drain the pool and replace the liner! Copperas Iron Sulfate is a chemical used by tree nurseries for treating the pH of soil for some iron deficiencies in plants. For an average size pool, say an 18 x 36 rectangle, you need about twelve to fifteen pounds of this powered chemical. Sprinkle it on the ground next to the pool deck on as many sides of the pool as possible. Then turn a lawn sprinkler on the ground for two or three days, long enough to get the ground around the pool thoroughly saturated with water. The idea is to get the powder to soak deep into the ground so it can change the pH of the soil and hopefully kill off the source of the bacteria. Usually results are not seen for a week or two since it has to get deep in the ground to have any effect on the bacteria. The Copper Iron Sulfate has not been known to have any harsh effects on grass and care should be taken when using around delicate flowers.

Our vinyl manufacturer has invested a great deal of time and money into discovering the causes of and the prevention of wrinkling. Wrinkles that develop in swimming pool liners after installation are caused by the vinyl absorbing water and thereby changing dimensions. Testing has shown that high levels of chlorine or bromine will initiate excessive water absorption into the vinyl liner and lead to wrinkles. Low pH and cyanuric acid stabilizer are also factors in wrinkle formation because the activity level of the chlorine is affected by pH and stabilizer level.

Our experience has shown that the use of trichloroisocyanuric acid sanitizer (Trichlor) and low pH levels can cause wrinkling of your vinyl liner. Alkaline sanitizers (Hypochlorite) and non- chlorine sanitizer systems have been found to be safer to use with vinyl liners.

Discoloration, Deterioration and “Dry Rot” Above the Water Line

In most cases, these three problems are different stages of the same phenomenon. The cause of these problems are many and varied, but have a universal theme. In most cases, the discoloration (usually brown), the deterioration (stiffening of the vinyl) and then the complete failure of the vinyl, commonly referred to as “dry rotting”, is due to the extraction of the plasticizers and stabilizers from the vinyl. (Plasticizer is the additive which gives the vinyl its flexibility, stabilizers give the vinyl its high temperature stability.) Under normal circumstances, the volatility of these additives is very low and the vinyl will maintain its physical characteristics for many years.

Experience has taught us that under certain circumstances the area above the water line can begin to deteriorate very quickly. There are three main contributors to this problem; chemical attack, high temperatures and UV rays. The UV resistant characteristics of pool vinyl are excellent and by itself the UV rays do not present a significant problem. However, acid based vinyl cleaners, when not rinsed completely from the vinyl, exposed to extremely high temperatures and the effects of UV rays, will accelerate deterioration of the vinyl liner. There are however, certain steps that can be taken to combat these problems.

We had found, through laboratory testing, that acid based vinyl cleaners will diversely affect the life of the vinyl. Exposure to sun light and high temperatures will greatly accelerate that deterioration process. From a vinyl standpoint, we do not recommend using any cleaners that contain acid. If you do use an acid based cleaner, you must rinse all traces of the cleaner from the vinyl. If you do not remove all traces of the cleaner, you are creating a situation where accelerated breakdown of plasticizer and stabilizer will take place, thereby significantly shortening the life of the liner. Use alkaline based cleaners. They are more vinyl friendly and they work just as well as the acid based cleaners. In all instances, rinse the liner fully.

Clean your pool often by taking a soft cloth and using the pool water to rinse contaminates from the vinyl. Substances such as body oil, sun tan lotion, baby oil, etc., will collect at the line. These substances, when exposed to the sun and the high temperature that can be found just above the water line, will often times turn brown and be very difficult to remove from the vinyl.

With proper cleaning and a properly chemical balance, there is no reason why your liner should not last many years. However, unless you follow these simple rules, your liner’s life will be significantly shortened.

If Trichlor Sanitizer is Used in a Vinyl Lined Pool:

  • DO NOT allow the pH of the pool to drop below 7.4. **Range 7.4-7.8.
  • DO NOT allow chlorine levels to exceed 3 ppm using Trichlor sanitizer.
  • DO NOT shock or super chlorinate your vinyl lined pool with Trichlor. Alkaline sanitizers (hypochlorite products) should be used.
  • DO NOT continuously heat your vinyl lined pool to temperatures above 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot water will dissolve Trichlor sanitizer at a faster rate making the water very aggressive to the vinyl liner.
  • DO NOT allow true total alkalinity to drop below 90 ppm when Trichlor is used as the sanitizing agent. Alkalinity range 90-125 ppm.
  • DO NOT forget to correct for cyanuric acid level when measuring true total alkalinity. True total alkalinity equals measured total alkalinity minus one third measured cyanuric acid level.

Failure to limit and control cyanuric acid level could result in the following:

1.  low alkalinity
2.  pH drop or bounce when Trichlor is added
3.  increased chlorine demand (more Trichlor is needed)
4.  aggressive water
5.  bleached and/or wrinkled vinyl liner

DO NOT add trichlor to a floating dispenser and ALWAYS continuously run the water circulation system 24 hours a day during the pool season when Trichlor is used.

It should be understood that the absorption of water is a function of the PVC. However, the absorption will not take place with proper care. It should also be understood that the affects of the chemicals on the vinyl are cumulative and irreversible.

Remember: less is best when adding chemicals to your vinyl liner pool.

There can be many contributing factors that lead to the fading of your liner. All of those factors can be grouped under the heading of chemical attack, however the leading cause is simply over chlorinating. Just as excessive use of bleach will fade your clothes, over chlorinating of your pool water will greatly accelerate the fading of your liner.

From the vinyl’s standpoint, any chlorine level above 3 PPM will accelerate the fading process. The use of a chlorine based sanitizing system is going to bleach your liner. There is no way around this fact. The higher the active chlorine level, the quicker the fading will occur.

The specific gravity of the chlorine is higher (weighs more) than that of the water. It is therefore critical that you circulate your water long enough to insure that the chlorine will not settle out of the water and concentrate in the deepest part of the pool.

Our experience has shown that of all the sanitizing systems, Trichloroisocyanuric acid has the greatest potential to bleach a vinyl liner. Alkaline sanitizers (Hypochlorite) are much more vinyl friendly and just as effective. No matter what system you use, always use the minimum amount of chemical that will get the job done.

Remember: less is best when adding chemicals to your vinyl lined pool.

For many years now it has been known and proven that termites and ants will sometimes attack a vinyl pool liner. It is suspected that termites are attracted to the pool area due to dampness in the soil around the pool.

Usually the first signs are very small holes in the liner above the water line. The liner may have dozens of holes in it within a short period of time after they have begun their attack on the liner. Most of the time if the liner is taken out of the bead track and pulled away from the wall you may see trails that the termites have left behind. Usually the holes are relatively small, about an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch in diameter and are round or oval shaped holes.

If the pool liner has been attacked by termites or ants, the homeowner is advised to get an exterminator to treat the ground beneath the pool and the area around the perimeter of the pool deck when the liner has to be replaced.

Some of the more likely places for termites or ants to appear are: in the yard which has a stump or a tree removed, where a patio or a walkway has been removed, around wooden flower planters, or a wooden fence around the pool.

Most people put off the opening of their pools until the weather has changed to the point where there is a likelihood of the pool being used. Therefore, when the pool is first uncovered, the pool water is usually this ugly shade of green. So what is the natural tendency? Throw a ton of chemicals in the water to clean it up as soon as possible. This is exactly the wrong way to go about it.

Try to start a few weeks earlier in the season thereby allowing the water extra time to clear. Use lesser amounts of chemicals. By using more chemicals you may be able to clear and balance your water more quickly, however, you would be exposing the vinyl to risk. It would be much better to use fewer chemicals for a long time frame and thereby extending the life of your liner.

Remember: Less is best when adding chemicals to your vinyl lined pool.

Before you call for service, there are a few steps you can take to help determine if you have a leak in your pool.

Check Equipment:

Check around your pool equipment area. There should not be water dripping or flowing from your equipment, it should be dry. If you see water flowing from the pump, valves, heater, or filter, you need to have it properly repaired.

Valves:

If you have a sand filter or a DE filter, you have either a multiport valve or a push pull valve. Check this valve for leaks. If the backwash port of the valve is pre-piped, find the end of the pipe, and with the pool running in filter mode, check to see if any water is leaking from the end of the pipe. Water leaking from the pipe indicates that you need to have the valve repaired or replaced.

Pumping off the winter cover:

Another common loss of pool water is pumping rain water off the winter cover. If there is a hole, or a series of small holes in the winter cover, they will allow the pool water trough the top of the winter cover. As you pump the water off the top, you are inadvertently pumping out the pool water as well. If you are the least bit suspicious that this might have occurred, just refill the pool, mark it and watch the level for a day or so after it is uncovered.

Evaporation:

A common source of water loss is evaporation. Water evaporation occurs at different rates in different pools. Evaporation rate is contingent on water temperature, wind velocity, humidity, water movement, water features and other factors. A good test to determine water loss is the “bucket test”. The bucket test exposes water in a bucket to the same conditions as your pool. By comparing the water loss in the bucket and the pool, you can determine if the pool is leaking or if it is just normal evaporation.

Bucket Test:

  • Make sure the pool is at its normal operating level.
  • Fill a clean bucket with pool water to about one inch from the top of bucket and place it on the 1st or 2nd step.
  • Mark the water level inside the bucket.
  • Mark the water level of the pool on the outside of the bucket.
  • Run the pool for 24 hours as you normally do.
  • After 24 hours, compare the two levels. If the pool water (outside mark) goes down more than the inside water level, there is probably a leak.

If you do find you are losing water, don’t stop there. Do the same test with the PUMP OFF and compare the results of the two tests.

  • If you lose MORE pool water with the pump RUNNING….you may have a plumbing leak on the return side.
  • If you lose LESS pool water with the pump RUNNING….you may have a plumbing leak on the suction side.
  • If you lose the SAME amount of pool water ….you may have a leak in the shell or liner.

There is one last step you can do yourself before shelling out your hard earned money.

Plug the pool returns and the skimmers with the winter plugs and close ALL valves. This will isolate the plumbing from the pool. Wait a day and see if the water level dropped from the mark. If it didn’t, the remove 1 return plug and wait a day. If no water loss, then remove another, and so on. If your returns are all piped together, then move on to the skimmer after removing the 1st plug. If you remove one and the level drops, then that may be the bad line. There are still some variable with this test. Depending on how it is plumbed and there is a bottom drain, this test may no be accurate.

Many customers ask us this question every year. We have uncovered the pool, started the pump and filter, added chemicals, and brushed your pool down. Our job is complete, now it’s your turn, after all, it is your pool. It is recommended that you leave the pool filter for at least 48 hrs before reverting to the time clock operation. The chemicals that we put in need to circulate and the water needs to filter.

Vacuum and brush the pool.

If the pool has a lot of silt or 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. If you have a push-pull filter valve, or a cartridge type filter there is no easy way to vacuum to waste, unless you have a bypass valve installed. Brush the pool thoroughly and repeat vacuuming until clear. Don’t run your automatic cleaner until water chemistry is proper.

Check and Balance Water Chemistry

We recommend you use a clean water bottle and take a sample of you pool water to a pool store, like Leslies, to get a full test done in it. Follow their directions for adding the chemicals. Retain the paper work for your records and use them as reference. If you choose to test the water yourself, 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.

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.

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.

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). A clarifier may be used to help filter efficacy.
After balanced chemicals have been circulated for 8 hrs, shock or super-chlorinate the pool. Add granular Shock Treatment (Calcium Hypochlorite) 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.

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.

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 re-adjust if needed. Backwash the filter after 24 hrs., if algae is still present, re-shock pool, or add “kill” dosage of a quality 40% or 60% algaecide. Your pool is ready for use when chlorine level drops below 3.0 ppm, and water is clear. It may be a good move to have an annual check-up to your pool by a pool professional, which is why many people use Aqua-Ducks to open their pool. If there is a pool store like Leslies nearby, you should at least take a water sample in to be tested by another test kit.

Pool Cover

Place a bag of cedar chips, a rag soaked in WD40 , mothballs tied in an old nylon, or other mouse proofing in with the winter cover and store in an area free from rodents. If you have a solid cover, open it on a flat surface and wash and brush it down. Dry completely before storage. Take note on how we have it folded. Fold it in a fan fold then roll it up. Don’t fold it in half and in half etc. it make it very difficult to put on in the fall. If there is ANY DAMAGE to your safety cover, NOW is the time to have it repaired. Waiting until the fall will only cost you more in time and money. Contact us for cover repairs or replacement.

Dive Board

Replace the dive board. Make sure there is no damage to the board, base or hardware. If there is any damage DO NOT install it and contact us for assistance.

Spring Cleaning

Clean up the fall debris from around the pool area, it will help keep the water clean.

Heater

Order Propane or oil. Don’t wait until the last minute. Fill your tank early. Do not run the heater until the pool chemicals are within the proper range.

Pool Safety

Make sure all gates and locks are in place and functioning. Building codes indicate that any door opening to the pool area MUST have an audible alarm. The pool fence must have a self closing gate and latch that opens away from the pool. There is no substitute for supervision around the pool and there is no one thing that can prevent an accident. Multiple layers of safety is your best defense. Contact us for safety product information.

Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act

What does this mean for your residential pool and spa? In short, If you have a single bottom drain, or bottom drains that are not 36″ apart from each other, then you need to:

  • disable the drains or re-plumb to make them pool returns
  • install a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS) to release the suction from the lines if someone was to become entangled.

In any case, all floor drain covers need to be replaced with styles that conform to ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 performance standard and must be embossed with the proper insignia.

There are plenty of things to do before and after your pool closing.

Before the closing:

  • Clean the landscaping debris up to keep it out of the pool.
  • Remove patio furniture and clear the deck and area around the pool.
  • Maintain proper water chemistry. Approximately 3 – 7 days prior to closing the pool, adjust your water balance within the ranges below:
    pH: 7.2 – 7.6
    Alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
    Calcium Hardness: 180 – 220 ppm
  • Even though you’re not using the pool or running it as much, bad water chemistry will still damage the pool shell, liner, and other equipment.
  • Keep skimmer baskets free from leaves and debris.
  • Vacuum the pool and net any nuts that lay on the bottom to prevent staining
  • Lower the water level 4-6” below the tile line or the bottom or the skimmer.

After the closing:

  • Clean, dry and roll solar cover. Place mouse proofing (an old nylon with mothballs) with the cover and store in a clean dry rodent free area.
  • Keep all baskets, return fittings, ladders, rails and accessories together. Store away from pool chemicals in a dry place.
  • Store diving board and base in a dry area.  Silicone nuts and bolts.
  • DO NOT store Chlorine or Muriatic Acid in your shed, garage, or basement. As an oxidizer, it will rust any metal surface.
  • DO NOT open or touch any valves after we have closed your pool. Certain lines are air locked and turning a valve may allow water into the pipe, causing freeze damage.
  • For solid covers, maintain a pump on the cover and keep the cover pumped dry all season. Make sure pool water level is maintained 4″ below the skimmer during the freezing weather.
  • For mesh covers, maintain the water level below the cover. Pump out high water that presents itself through the mesh. Make sure pool water level is maintained 4″ below the skimmer during the freezing weather.
  • Add a quality 40% or 60% algaecide to the pool at the end of March or beginning of April to assist with keeping the water clear.