Spring Algae

Algae are extremely common single-celled microscopic plants that can be quite the nuisance for a swimming pool owner as well as the service provider. There are several thousand species of algae that can take residence in your pool and spa. Millions of algae spores are carried by the wind every day and end up in outdoor pools and spas.

Some algae can reproduce so quickly that your pool can go from crystal clear one day to cloudy and green the next day. This is why prevention of algae is such an important element to maintaining the integrity of your pool.

Algae are most commonly grouped by color. They are; black, green and mustard. You can see samples of all three colors in the above photographs.

Black Algae: Forms in cracks and crevices on pool surfaces, especially in plaster finishes. Black algae love to live in the shady areas of your pool.

Green Algae: is often free-floating turning your pool water green. It can also cling to the walls making green patches. Green algae can cause surface damage if left untreated as well as clog filters.

Mustard Algae: Mustard algae are possibly the most misdiagnosed form of algae because it often resembles dirt or sand. It can be brushed away very easily but quickly returns.

Preventative care is key in keeping algae from your pool, but should algae take hold we are ready to treat it immediately.

Fall and your pool

As the temperature outside cools, we often tend to forget about those massive bodies of water sitting in the back yard. The idea of the swimming pool exits our minds only to return on the first really warm day of spring. We feel that it is important to point out just how fall affects your pool. Many may not realize it, but fall is 6 times harder on your service technician than summer is. We live in a beautiful county full of gorgeous trees… that have leaves… lots of leaves… that fall right into your swimming pool.

Leaves in your pool are not only difficult for the technician to remove, (wet leaves are extremely heavy!) but can cause sizeable issues within the pools’ system.  Decaying leaves, minerals and organic deposits in the pool act as “tea bags” and can turn your pool green and acidic. This is an issue not easily resolved with just chemistry.  The leaves can also fill the skimmer baskets quickly slowing and potentially stopping water flow through the system. It is essential that we monitor your pumps and motors to make sure that no leaves or other debris have slipped past any of the baskets. Debris in the impeller or motor can cause problems with the functionality of your system. The pumps are designed to run with or without water flow, but will burn up without water flowing through them leading to a costly replacement.

Fall is also hard on your poor pool sweeps. They work awfully hard picking up all the debris from the floor of the pool. It is very important that we check and perform any necessary repairs or tune ups to your pool sweeps before fall hits. These tune ups will help to ensure that your pool sweeps are in tip-top shape before fall comes full force.

So although the pool may not be in use, the work put into it is far more than in the summer months. We take pride in the fact that we have developed a customized program to maintain your great investment year-round. Fall is also the time to prepare your pool for the winter freeze. We will talk more about freeze protection later.

Preparing your System for Freeze

As you may have already felt, Jack Frost is stepping out. With Christmas just around the corner we are beginning to awake to freezing temperatures. You probably know, freeze can be catastrophic to your filtration equipment and plumbing.  It is absolutely crucial that we try to be proactive before the freeze hits. After the leaves have finished falling you can typically start the process of reducing the run times associated with your systems, but we suggest you run your system at dawn, when freeze is prevalent.  If  your system is not running at dawn it is vulnerable to freeze, leading to costly repairs. It is understandable that nobody wants to hear their pool running at 5 in the morning, but it really is important to do so. Running water is less likely to freeze. By simply following this rule in the winter you can help prevent major damage to your system.

Energy Savings for All!

Who likes saving money on energy costs? I do! I do! Of course we are all constantly trying to find ways to lower costs and yet they just seem to keep going up and up. From fuel to food we continue to pay more. When it comes to saving money on our electric bill we get creative. Keep the house a little warmer in the summer, a little cooler in the winter and a little darker at night. All of these help, but there is one thing that can be done to save energy without disrupting your lives. Energy efficient variable speed filter pumps are the wave of the future with dramatic energy cost savings.

Traditional pool pumps have been available in select single speed and two-speed designs. The speeds are set and can’t be changed. This often means that the pump is running at a higher speed than needed to do the job thus wasting energy and money. These pumps also have induction motors, which are great energy hogs. It is implied that even the “energy efficient” models use more power than all other appliances in your home combined.

With that in mind, it is time to learn about the benefits of a variable speed pump, specifically the Pentair IntelliFlo vs+svrs. IntelliFlo pumps are the first to use the same technology used in hybrid cars called permanent magnet motor technology.  Not only will this save money on running cost, but also it is amazingly quiet. These pumps include a variable speed capability with digital controls. What this allows is the opportunity to set your pumps to run at the speed required for the job. Higher speeds during peak swim hours and lower speeds during off times. Slowing the speed of your pump is comparable to driving a car; you get better gas mileage at 30 mph than at 90 mph. Average savings range from $600 – $1200 per year based on 6-12 hours of run time. . You can estimate your savings online at www.pentairpool.com. Simply click on the Pool Pump Energy Savings Calculator and enter the required information.

Not only do these pumps offer tremendous cost savings, but also they have an incredible safety feature. The Safety Vacuum Release System offers a critical layer of entrapment protection. The built-in software detects any blockage of drains causing the system to shut down within seconds. This is now a required feature for all public swimming pools to comply with the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool Safety Act and will be required on all new residential builds.

Not only is the IntelliFlo a more energy efficient and safe pump, it offers the quickest return on investment based on energy savings. PG&E is also offering a $100.00 mail in rebate to residents that switch to a qualifying energy efficient pump. Call Jamie in the office today for more information.


Water Balance, A Year Round Science

Maintaining your swimming pool is more of a science than most realize. Chemistry in your pool is in constant motion. From environment, weather and swimmers to debris, temperature and waste, the chemistry of a pool is ever evolving. The filtration equipment helps to reduce contaminates and make swimming more enjoyable, but does not keep the chemistry balanced.  Balanced water has the correct levels of pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness as well as sanitizer levels. Properly balanced water is described as neither being corrosive or scaling.

Water will continue to dissolve minerals until it is completely saturated and cannot hold any more. When water is considerably under saturated it is corrosive. Just as it sounds, corrosive water can corrode your pool and equipment. Over saturated water can no longer hold mineral and creates a scaling condition. This can cause mineral build up in your pool, plumbing structure and filtration equipment. Mineral build up can lead to slower or blocked water flow within the filtration system and burn up your pool motor. As part of our service to you we test your water on each visit and adjust as necessary.

pH is a measure of how acidic or basic the water is.  pH is a logarithmic scale from 0-14, with 7 being neutral.  Below 7 is acidic, while levels above 7 are alkaline.  Everything in your pool has a pH value.  Ever heard of acid rain?  This is rainfall with a very low pH.  The human eye has a pH value of 7.35.  This is how we measure the proper pH for your pool.  To have pH in balance we adjust the water with additions of pH increasers (bases) or pH de-creasers (acids) to attain the range of 7.2 – 7.8.  If your testing (recommended daily) of the water shows a pH value below 7.2 the water is in a corrosive (acidic) condition and you will need to add a base to bring the pH into a more basic range to prevent corrosion.  On the other hand, if the pH is above 7.8, we are in a scaling (basic) condition and must add an acid to bring down the pH to prevent the formation of scale.

A close cousin of pH, the level of alkalinity in the water is a measurement of all carbonates, bicarbonates, hydroxides, and other alkaline found in the pool water.  pH is alkaline dependent; that is, alkalinity is defined as the ability of the water to resist changes in pH.  Also known as the buffering capacity of the water, alkalinity keeps the pH from “bouncing” all over the place.  Low alkalinity is raised by the addition of a base (similar to pH); sodium bicarbonate is commonly used.  High levels of alkalinity are lowered by the addition of an acid (similar to pH).

When we speak of scale, we are talking about calcium carbonate, which has come out of solution and deposited itself on surfaces.  It is a combination of carbonate ions, a part of total alkalinity and calcium, and a part of the Calcium Hardness level.  The test for Calcium Hardness is a measure of how “hard” or “soft” the water is testing.  “Hard” water can have high levels of calcium and magnesium.  If these levels are too high the water becomes saturated and will throw off excess particles out of solution, which then seeks to deposit themselves on almost any surface inside the pool.  This is calcium carbonate scale; a “white-ish,” crystallized rough spot. If the levels are too low, the water is under-saturated.  If under-saturated, the water will become aggressive as it attempts to obtain the calcium it needs.  Such “soft-water” will actually corrode surfaces inside the pool which contain calcium and other minerals to maintain its hardness demand. Keep in mind that calcium is a natural substance and will build up even with a perfectly balanced pool everyday. Keeping your water balanced helps to reduce some build-up

As you can see, it is an amazing science to maintain your swimming pool, and this is only one element of your pool that we must monitor. The dance we do on a weekly basis with chemistry must be precise. As we transition into fall the balances of your water can massively fluctuate even more with falling leaves and high debris.  So next time you jump in you can be confident that your service provider is taking care of the science so you can sit back and relax.