Extending the Life of Your Solar Blanket Pool Cover

A few simple steps will maintain or extend the life of your solar blanket.

Handle with Care
Be sure to lift your solar blanket over sharp, rough, or ragged items when placing your blanket on the pool and when removing. Sharp, rough, and/or ragged surfaces can damage your swimming pool cover!

Protection from High Temperatures
Water temperatures above 90° F can shorten the life of your solar blanket. If pool temperatures rise above 90°, remove your solar blanket and place it in the shade or cover it with an opaque white protective cover. Direct rays from the sun can cause delamination and will void your warranty.

Maintain Proper Chemical Levels
Monitor chlorine levels to ensure they do not pass 3 parts per million (PPM). If you need to raise chlorine levels to more than 3ppm, be sure to remove your solar blanket. This includes the use of chlorine pool shock (oxydizer). Do not put the solar blanket on the pool immediately after shocking – wait until morning so chemical levels can return to normal. Damage caused by chemicals will void your warranty.

Cleaning
Your solar blank will heat the water more effectively and last longer if you keep it clean. You can do this by hosing off leaves and debris and cleaning it with a soft brush.

Storage
When pool season ends, clean your solar blanket and allow it to dry thoroughly. Fold it on the seams and roll it from one end. Place the blanket in a clean, dry area, free of rodents and out of the reach of pets. Storage temperature must be below 120° F.


Intex Swimming Pool Considerations

An Intex pool makes a nice beginner’s pool, one that will help you decide if a “real” swimming pool is something you want to invest in. But there are drawbacks.

Pool Chemicals

Our Choice for Chlorine: The Flippin’ Frog
Flippin' Frog by King TechnologiesFloats ’til it Flips! That portable backyard pool is there for one reason – FUN! Flippin’ FROG keeps it that way with its patented minerals and a low dose of chlorine in an easy-to-use, easy-on-the-pocket, dual cartridge system. Best of all, it flips over when the chlorine is empty and needs to be replaced. For pools 12-18 feet in diameter or 2,000 to 5,000 gallons.

How It Works
Simply click the mineral and chlorine cartridges together, tether as directed and set in the pool. The mineral cartridge lasts an entire summer while the chlorine cartridges last roughly 3-4 weeks. Simply replace the bottom chlorine cartridge when Flippin’ FROG flips over. No touching or measuring the chlorine again.

Comparison
Most pool owners haul heavy chlorine buckets to the pool side and dump chlorine into their pool or skimmer on a daily basis. That’s a lot of hassle and those costs add up quickly. Flippin’ FROG operates at only .5 parts per million of chlorine compared to 3-5 parts per million for most pools so you’ll spend less on chlorine and experience soft, silky water all summer.

Filtration
Intex pools generally come with a cartridge filter, something a lot of pool owners consider to be a hassle. Replacement cartridges, while readily available at mass-merchandisers such as WalMart, can become difficult to find during peak season, and require much more time for maintenance than does a sand filter.

Our recommendation:
Replace the standard cartridge filter that comes with your pool with a Hayward VL-Series Sand Filter. Unlike cartridges, the sand in a sand filter generally only needs changed every three to five years, is readily available, and is down-right inexpensive. Backwashing, which is comparable to washing/rinsing a filter cartridge, flushes debris out of the sand, takes only a couple minutes, and only needs done when the pressure gauge reads about 10psi higher than when the filter was installed (about every 3 weeks).

Replacement Parts
Replacement parts for an Intex pool can be difficult to find locally, usually requiring you to wait for delivery from an on-line purchase.

Our recommendation:
If you choose to start with an Intex pool, replace it with a Fairfield (aluminum wall) or Zenith (steel wall) swimming pool (sold and installed by Caldwell Pools, of course) before you need to replace parts!


How Phosphates Enter the Swimming Pool

Phosphates are derived from phosphorous, the 11th most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust. It makes its way into pool and spa water from a variety of sources, including fertilizers, industrial discharge, swimmer waste (sweat and urine), detergents, and even tap water (which contains coumpounds used to treat corrosion).

Phosphates attach themselves to larger molecules such as proteins or eventually break down into orthophosphates. Orthophosphates are the only form that will show up on water test kits and the only form that will be affected by current phosphate remover products.

How Phosphates Affect Algae Growth

Algae growth is a common problem and some experts have suggested an effective solution is to remove phosphates from the water. The belief is that this action takes away a food source, reducing algae problems or even killing it (by starvation). It is important to note that phosphate-removing products are NOT EPA approved or registered as algae killers (algaecides) or algae inhibitors (algaestats).

Phosphates and Algae
Phosphorous is the base element phosphates derive from and is a significant nutrient source for all living things, including algae (it also requires carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen). There are more than 7,000 species of green algae alone and the phosphorous requirement varies widely between each of them. Algae even have the capability to store phosphorous within their cells and can still thrive in phosphorous deficient environments. This is called “luxury phosphorus uptake” and demonstrates that removing phosphates from the water will not remove the algae’s ability to continue feeding itself.

Algae feed on phosphorous from sources other than orthophosphates (the only form removed with current products) and those products have little to no residual, making it is difficult to provide a lasting effect due to the constant influx of phosphates from various sources.

Regular Maintenance and Algae Growth
There are typically four treatments used to inhibit or kill algae; chlorine (hypochlorous acid), quaternary ammonium compounds, polyquats, and copper. Chlorine will disrupt the metabolic activity within algae cells and growth will not continue, even in nutrient rich surroundings. Often, algaecides are only used as a corrective treatment, but an initial dose added at the start of each season or whenever significant amounts of water are added will prevent algae growth during the course of a season. The addition of an algaecide can also contribute to improved water quality.

A properly maintained pool or spa utilizing a regular 3-step process of treating with chlorine (measuring a free chlorine residual ranging from 1 to 3 ppm), balancing chemicals and algaecides will remain relatively algae-free and reduce the need for additional products.

Phosphates and Chlorine Demand

Chlorine demand is the consistent inability to establish or maintain a free chlorine residual in a swimming pool or spa due to elements that deplete chlorine.

In a properly maintained pool or spa (one that has a free chlorine residual ranging from 1 to 3 ppm), the presence of phosphates do nothing to add to or eliminate this problem.

Some experts have suggested that removing phosphate will decrease chlorine demand. However, for this to be true, it would also suggest that the addition of phosphate will increase chlorine demand. Scientific evaluation demonstrates that phosphates and chlorine do not react to each other or that any depletion of chlorine occurs.

Why Phosphates Do Not Affect Chlorine Demand
The key to the relation between chlorine (hypochlorous acid) and phosphates is that larger phosphorous-containing materials have been broken down into orthophosphates in the water. Orthophosphate is the final stage of phosphorous breakdown, meaning it cannot oxidize any further. If it cannot oxidize, it cannot react with an oxidizing compound such as chlorine and cause a demand situation.

Compounds other than phosphates that also don’t react with chlorine include nitrates, balancing chemicals or any other material that is essentially inert (unreactive).

What Does Cause Chlorine Demand?
Inorganic material, such as ammonia, are fast-reacting with chlorine while organic material, such as the proteins found in urine, sweat, other waste and beauty products, are slow-reacting but all contribute to a demand situation. Algae and bacteria are also known contributors. These contaminants are introduced from rain and source water, fertilizers, swimmers, animals or plants and leaves.


Hayward Sand Filter Basics: Installation & Initial Start-Up

{ article based on the Hayward S180T, S210T, S220T, S244T Pro-Series High-Rate Sand Filters }

Your filter uses special filter sand to remove dirt particles from pool water. Filter sand is loaded into the filter tank and functions as the permanent dirt removing media. The pool water, which contains suspended dirt particles, is pumped through your piping system and is automatically directed by the patented filter control valve to the top of the filter tank. As the pool water is pumped through the filter sand, dirt particles are trapped by the sand bed, and filtered out. The cleaned pool water is returned from the bottom of the filter tank, through the control valve and back to the pool through the piping system. This entire sequence is continuous and automatic and provides total recirculation of pool water through your filter and piping system.

After a period of time, the accumulated dirt in the filter causes a resistance to flow, and the flow diminishes. This means it is time to clean (backwash) your filter. With the control valve in the backwash position, the water flow is automatically reversed through the filter so that it is directed to the bottom of the tank, up through the sand, flushing the previously trapped dirt and debris out the waste line. Once the filter is backwashed (cleaned) of dirt, the control valve is manually re-sequenced to Rinse, and then Filter, to resume normal filtering.

Sand Filter Installation

Only simple tools (screwdriver and wrenches), plus pipe sealant for plastic adapters, are required to install and/or service the filter.

    1. The filter system should be installed, not more than 6 feet above pool water level, on a level concrete slab, very firm ground, or equivalent, as recommended by your pool dealer. Position the filter so that the piping connections, control valve and winter drain are convenient and accessible for operation, service and winterizing.
    2. Assemble pump and pump mounting base, No. S160TPAK1, or S160TPAK3 (if supplied) to the filter according to instructions packed with the base.
    3. Filter sand media is loaded through the top opening of the filter.
      • Loosen flange clamp and remove Filter Control Valve (if previously installed).
      • Cap internal pipe with sand shield to prevent sand from entering it. Be sure pipe is securely in place in bottom underdrain hub.
      • We recommend filling tank approximately 1/2 way with water to provide a cushioning effect when the filter sand is poured in. This helps protect the underdrain laterals from excessive shock. (Be sure the winter drain cap is securely in place on drain pipe). NOTE: Check to confirm all laterals are in the down position before loading with sand.)
      • Carefully pour in correct amount and grade of filter sand, as specified on Table 1 below. (Be sure center pipe remains centered in opening). Sand surface should be leveled and should come to within 6″ of the top of the filter tank. Remove sand shield from internal pipe.

how much sand to put in your sand filter

  1. Assemble Filter Control Valve to filter tank.
    • Loosely pre-assemble both halves of the clamp with one screw and one nut, turning the nut 2 or 3 turns. Do not tighten. Wipe filter flange clean.
    • Insert Filter Control Valve (with valve/flange o-ring in place) into the tank neck, taking care that the center pipe slips into the hole in the bottom of the valve. Install clamp around tank and valve flange and assemble second screw and nut. Tighten just enough so that the valve may be rotated on tank for final positioning.
    • Wrap two turns of Teflon pipe sealant tape manufactured for plastic pipe on the ¼” NPT male end of gauge. Carefully screw pressure gauge, into ¼” NPT tapped hole in valve body. Do not over tighten.
    • Connect pump to control valve opening marked PUMP according to instructions. After connections are made, tighten valve flange clamp with screwdriver, tapping around clamp with screwdriver handle to help seat valve flange clamp.
  2. Make return to pool pipe connection to control valve opening marked RETURN and complete other necessary plumbing connections, suction lines to pump, waste, etc.
  3. Make electrical connections to pump per pump instructions.
  4. To prevent water leakage, be sure winter drain cap is securely in place and all pipe connections are tight.

Initial Start-Up of Filter

  1. Be sure correct amount of filter sand media is in tank and that all connections have been made and are secure.
  2. Depress Vari-Flo control valve handle and rotate to BACKWASH position. (To prevent damage to control valve seal, always depress handle before turning.)
  3. Prime and start pump according to pump instructions (be sure all suction and return lines are open), allowing the filter tank to fill with water. Once water flow is steady out the waste line, run the pump for at least 2 minutes. The initial back-washing of the filter is recommended to remove any impurities or fine sand particles in the sand media. WARNING: ALL SUCTION AND DISCHARGE VALVES MUST BE OPEN WHEN STARTING THE SYSTEM. FAILURE TO DO SO COULD CAUSE SEVERE PERSONAL INJURY!
  4. Turn pump off and set valve to RINSE position. Start pump and operate until water in sight glass is clear – about ½ to 1 minute. Turn pump off, set valve to FILTER position and restart pump. Your filter is now operating in the normal filter mode, filtering particles from the pool water.
  5. Adjust pool suction and return valves to achieve desired flow. Check system and filter for water leaks and tighten connections, bolts, nuts, as required.
  6. Note the initial pressure gauge reading when the filter is clean. (It will vary from pool to pool depending upon the pump and general piping system). As the filter removes dirt and impurities from the pool water, the accumulation in the filter will cause the pressure to rise and flow to diminish. When the pressure gauge read ing is 8-10 PSI (0.55-0.69 BAR) higher than the initial “clean” pressure you noted, it is time to backwash (clean) the filter.

NOTE: During initial clean-up of the pool water it may be necessary to backwash frequently due to the unusually heavy initial dirt load in the water.

KEEP SAFETY LABELS IN GOOD CONDITION AND REPLACE IF MISSING OR DAMAGED.

IMPORTANT: To prevent unnecessary strain on piping system and valving, always shut off pump before switching Filter Control Valve positions.

To prevent damage to the pump and filter and for proper operation of the system, clean pump strainer and skimmer baskets regularly.

 


Proper Water Balance

Anyone who’s had a liner wrinkle has met with the down side of deceptively clear, acidic water. And, on the other end of the test strip, constantly cloudy water can be frustrating, and could be a sign of pH that is too high. There is an easy solution to both of these problems: have your water tested regularly, and be sure to keep your swimming pool water balanced!

Every pool owner should have a test kit, and should also bring their water in for professional testing about every two weeks, once the pool has been balanced.

Total Alkalinity

Total alkalinity is a measure of the water to resist change in pH. The greatest contributor to total alkalinity in the pH range of swimming pools is bicarbonates. The higher the total alkalinity reading, the more difficult it is to change the pH level in swimming pool water. Everything added that could change pH is neutralized or buffered, and pH does not change.

Conversely, lower total alkalinity makes it more likely for pH reading to change, often being greatly affected by chemicals, swimmers, and weather. Low total alkalinity makes it difficult to maintain an ideal pH level. The pH reading will “bounce” or change rapidly in response to outside influences.

pH

pH, an important parameter of water balance, is a measurement that indicates whether the pool is acidic or basic, and is expressed as a number on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7.0 being neutral. The ideal pH for a swimming pool is 7.4 to 7.6. This is the ideal for swimmer comfort and protection of equipment and surfaces.

Everything introduced to the water has an impact on pH, including swimmers, chemicals, and rain.

Acidic Water = Low pH
Acidic water is clean and clear but corrosive, causing damage to equipment and pool surfaces and causing swimmer discomfort such as burning eyes and skin.

Acidic water can corrode metal surfaces such as pumps, filters, pipes, heaters, and valves, as well as etching plaster pool surfaces. Corrosion, which dissolves metal into pool water, can also lead to stains on walls and the pool floor. Low pH (acidic water) also causes the pool liner to lose elasticity, which in turn causes wrinkles.

Basic Water = High pH
Basic water (high pH) is often cloudy and can cause eye irritation and itchy skin. Chlorine activity is also slowed and becomes inefficient. Keep in mind chlorine is what sanitizes your water.

Basic water is also scale forming, and can cause scale build up on pool surfaces and equipment, making them less effective and efficient.


Why Swimming Pool Water Turns Blonde Hair Green

Despite popular opinion, chlorine is NOT what causes blonde hair to turn green. The real culprit in pool water is copper, which, when oxidized, binds to the protein in hair follicles causing a greenish tint.

Copper can enter the pool if you are using a copper-based algicide, well water, or, if your pool water is acidic, the water will begin to corrode the copper in your swimming pool heater and other equipment.

How To Remove the Copper From Your Swimming Pool Water

You can remove the copper from your water by using BioGuard Pool Magnet Plus and Sparkle Up, both of which are available at Caldwell Pools. A water test will determine how much Pool Magnet Plus you will need to add, after you have balanced your pool water.

Pool Magnet Plus removes and prevents pool staining.Pool Magnet Plus – 1 Qt
Pool Magnet Plus is a highly concentrated formula that removes some present stains and prevents staining from iron, copper and manganese. It also eliminates discolored water from metals. Use monthly in pools that hold metal containing fill water. Use in conjunction with Sparkle Up® to remove metals from the water.

Sparkle Up restores swimming pool sparkle.Sparkle-Up – 2#
Sparkle-Up restores water sparkle and keeps pool water clear by assisting the filter with removing tiny particles of suspended dirt, plaster, dust, dead algae, etc. It also absorbs metal ions to help prevent staining on pool surfaces.

Removing the Green From Your Hair

Special shampoos that chelate metals are available to remove the copper from your hair.

 

Suggested ReadingSuggested Article:
Proper Water Balance: pH and Total Alkalinity