Elk Grove Pool Service
Quality Pool Service For Elk Grove, CA
Pool Care Tips and Suggestions
1. Treating New Water
Something most people don't understand is that tap water is not pool water.  To make tap water into pool water, adjustments must be made to the alkalinity and calcium hardness, metals and minerals in the water must be sequestered and stabilizer has to be added so your chlorine will remain in the pool. Lastly, the pH has to be actively managed and sanitizer (chlorine)  added.  

If, while adding water, the pool is overflowed, all the new water MUST be treated. Similarly, if the pool is over drained and refilled, the water MUST be treated. Not doing so can result in staining and damage to the plaster, damage to the equipment, algae growth and unsafe swimming conditions. This should be addressed any time 12 or more inches of water is replaced.
3. Dogs In Pools
People ask all the time if it is OK for their dog to swim in the pool.  The answer is yes. However, you should expect the pool to require more attention, more chemicals and more filter cleanings.  DO NOT let your dog swim after playing in the ocean, lake, river, creek, etc. Those waters are filled with things that we don't want in our pools. Also, do not let your dog swim to wash off soap after a bath.  Soaps and detergents can add phosphates to the pool and cause uncontrollable algae growth.
5. Valve Settings with Cleaners
If you don't know what the valves do, have a pool guy out to label them for you.
In an attempt to speed up the cleaner, sometimes people will change the valve to be "all cleaner".  This is never ok. Neither the cleaner nor the pipes are designed for it.

7. Filters
Filters should be cleaned regularly.  Under normal circumstances, for every 100 square feet of filter, you will get one month between cleanings. For example, if you have a 300 sq.ft. filter, it needs to be cleaned every 3 months. They should NEVER be pressure washed.  In the most desperate of situations, only a professional should attempt pressure washing. When cleaning the filters, use a hose nozzle with a strong, single beam of water. If you are not using a good hose nozzle, you are not getting a good cleaning.

You will also need to replace the filters. For every 100 sq.ft. of filter you will get 1 year of life span. The same 300 sq.ft. system will last 3 years. Going beyond the life span will cause issues such as poor water clarity, heavy chemical demands, algae growth and broken internal parts.

DE filters are different than described above and will not be addressed here as Elk Grove Pools does not service DE systems.

2. Draining Pools
Draining a pool can cause serious issues. The pool can "float" out of the ground, plaster can delaminate, gaskets and o-rings dry out. Plus, when you refill with fresh water it will need a full new water start up, $$$. We never recommend draining. 

Instead, we water swap. This is where a sump pump is placed on the first or second step to remove 6 to 8 inches of water at a time, while a hose is in the bottom of the deep end adding the new water.  This process is longer and more expensive, but does not carry any of the draining risks.

The only reason to drain a pool is to lower a chemical level that can't be treated. Calcium and conditioner are really the only two items.  Other than those specific chemicals, your total dissolved solids is the only other reason.  Over time your pool will dissolve so much "stuff" that it will no longer be able to work with pool chemicals.  This is when water must be drained.
4. Solar Blankets
Solar blankets are used to help warm the pool. If you have one, follow these guidelines.

Don't allow water to pond on the surface. It will grow algae or bacteria and eventually get into the pool. Put the cover away if it is going to rain.  While pools can handle the slow daily accumulation of dust and dirt and stuff, having a nice downpour wash a months worth of debris in can't be handled. Be sure to take the cover off at least one day a week to let the pool breath.

If you have a chlorine floater, put it next to the skimmer. This helps circulate chlorine better and is easier to get to.
6. Salt Water Pools
Here is the short version of my tirade against chlorine generators:

If you want soft water, just add some salt.  That is the only part of the sales pitch that is true. Everything else they tell you is misleading or a flat out lie. You do not need or want a chlorine generator. It is expensive, only works half of the year (so you add chlorine the other half), creates a huge acid demand, requires regular cleaning (with acid), lasts about 4 years...and all this magical machine does is make the exact same chlorine that you could have received from an $8.00 floater and a tablet.

Also, not all equipment is rated compatible with salt water, the concrete around the pool is not going to like the salt and the landscaping won't either. 

Links:

Precise information and details outlining chlorine generator and pH problems.


For people who already have a salt water system, be sure to maintain the salt level near the high end of the range.  The generator will make chlorine more efficiently that way.  Never trust the salt reading on your equipment.  A dirty cell will cause a low salt notification.  Use a salt level test strip to get an accurate reading.  Also, always turn the generator off when adding salt.  Concentrated saltwater going through the cell will cause it to burn out and is not covered under the warranty. New salt must circulate for at least 6 hours before turning the generator back on.  Test your pH levels every two days and keep a lot of acid on hand to maintain the correct pH.  When the water gets below 56 degrees F you will need to add chlorine yourself.  The easiest way is to put a floater in the pool with some 3" tablets.  Inspect and clean the generator every 3 months.  You will need a cleaning stand to mount the generator on while it soaks in the acid bath.  This can take 30 minutes or more depending on how much scale has built up.  Use a good hose nozzle to blast out stubborn pieces out and never use anything sharp to poke at it.  Keep in mind that the unit has a life span of about 3 years.  Some have lasted 4 or 5, but most start exhibiting reliability issues at the age of 3.  Replacement units vary in price , but generally cost $500.00 or more.
8. Phosphates
Phosphates are a fertilizer (plant food) and algae is a plant. It can come from many different sources, however the most common are fertilizer overspray, plants/trees hanging over a pool and landscape water running into the pool.

Chlorine is simply a chemical and it will attempt to oxidize away any organic material that is in the pool. When the pool is full of debris chlorine works to break it down. Leaves however are quite large and the chlorine is exhausted before the leaves are dissolved. This causes a few problems. 

As the leaves are being broken down they essentially become compost; releasing all their nutrients into the pool water. These include nitrates and phosphates. Once the water is full of these nutrients (plant food) algae can begin to grow rigorously.

At the same time your pools supply of chlorine has been exhausted. The algae can grow uninhibited.  Despite large doses of chlorine the cycle continues.

The best way to keep the phosphates and nitrates down at your pool is to keep the debris out and prevent foliage from growing over the water.  This is only one example.  You can try to identify your source of phosphates by researching on the internet.

Treatment involves cleaning the filters and adding a chemical that brings the phosphates out of solution and makes it a solid.  The filter system and cleaner is run for 24 hours non stop to remove it all.  Afterwards the filters must be cleaned again.  With two filter cleanings and an expensive chemical, phosphate treatments can commonly cost $150 or more.
9. Black Algae
There are several types of algae that can grow in your pool, however none as difficult, permanent or destructive as black algae.  

Black algae usually starts in grout lines, cracks or around wall fittings and has a thick, slimy, hard body.  Under that body, the algae grows roots into your plaster and even into the gunite.   It can be scraped off, but will grow right back.

Treatment is an ongoing procedure.  Initially all the bodies must be brushed off with a steel bristle brush (plaster pools only).  Then a slow dissolving, granular oxidizer like calcium hypochlorite should be sprinkled over all surfaces that had the algae.  It should sit with the filter off for a minimum of 5 minutes.  Finally,  a copper based algaecide can be added to help prevent the return.

The pool will now need to be kept in perfect balance with moderate to high oxidizer levels in the pool at all times.

The only way to truly get rid of black algae is to resurface the pool.  This removes the roots.
10. Circulation Pump Laws and Restrictions
Back in 2008 there was a law that quietly went into action; CA Title 20 Appliance... blah, blah, blah.  The laws purpose is to require conservation of energy in household appliances and your pool pump is considered a household appliance.  It restricts the installation/replacement of any motor that is one horse power or more with anything other than a multispeed/variable speed motor.  Here is a link to a better description of the impacts of title 20 and your options.

What this means for pool owners is if you have a main circulation pump (filter pump) with a motor that is greater than a total .99hp (hp rating x service factor) then it can not be replaced with the same motor once it dies.  You are required by law to replace it with a two speed, multispeed or variable speed.  This law also requires that you upgrade your control system to properly operate one of the new pumps if needed.

These upgrades cost a lot of money and customers are often shocked when they get an estimate for $1200.00  or more to replace what was just a bad motor.  There is no way around it for a reputable, licensed contractor.  

The law does allow for downsizing.  If your system will run correctly with a smaller pump then you can opt for that.  Currently there are pumps that come in right at .98hp.  These will work on some, but not all pools.  If you have multiple features running off of the pump it may not work.  If you have solar on a two story it will not work.  Your specific situation should be inspected by a pool professional before any decision is made.
Current Topics
1. Treating New Water
2. Draining Pools
3. Dogs in Pools
4. Solar Blankets
5. Valve Settings W/Cleaners
6. Salt Water Pools
7. Filters
8. Phosphates
9. Black Algae
10. Circulation Pump Laws and Restrictions