Of course, the answer to this question depends largely on the weather we are experiencing in a given year. However, generally speaking pools are usually opened between the beginning of April and the end of May. The landscaping surrounding your pool is also something to consider. If you have blooming plants and trees near your pool, it is best to let them shed before opening.
There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that properly sanitized and balanced water is necessary for the safety of those swimming in your pool. Without the correct chemicals in the correct amounts bacteria will begin to form in your water and swimmers can experience eye and skin irritation as a result. The second is for the safety of your pool itself. Pool water has a chemistry all its own and if it becomes unbalanced your pool equipment can become damaged. Trying to treat your water with guesswork can result in your having to buy a new liner, filter or pump. On the other hand, properly sanitized and balanced water can add years of longevity to your pool. Taking the time to learn from our technicians about your pool’s chemistry will increase the comfort and enjoyment you get out of your pool and save you money in the long run.
Yes, you most definitely need to keep your water analyzed. If your water gets too far out of balance, it affects how your sanitizer works. The water can also become harsh and harm your pool equipment. In fact, liner manufacturers often ask to see test results from in-store analysis before they cover a liner replacement under warranty. You should have an in-store analysis at least once every three to four weeks. Always inspect your pool before bringing in the water sample. If you see water mold, algae or have cloudy water, let our technician know.
Your system is designed to run continuously. This keeps the pool clean and clear. You use more chemicals when you only occasionally filter than when you continuously filter. Turning the system on and off can also cause seals to leak.
Again, weather largely determines the response to this question. As a general rule of thumb, we can say it is time to close your pool when the water is too cold for swimming. Usually this occurs around the middle or end of October.
It absolutely is. A winter cover can save you a lot of headaches. If your pool is properly winterized, then the water is in good condition and the pool will open in the spring looking great. Leaving your pool uncovered through the winter is like asking for a pond in your backyard.
First, it is unnecessary work for you. You have to keep debris out of the water by brushing and vacuuming and chemicals must continue to be added to keep bacteria levels low. To do all of this in cold weather when you cannot swim is a waste of your time and money. Second, since the pool is not being utilized over the winter there is a tendency to become complacent in your maintenance. We see pools every spring that have gone unattended all winter. The homeowner buys more chemicals than average and tends to fight algae all summer. Another reason to winterize and cover your pool is the fear of an electrical outage due to severe cold. If this occurs, your pump, filter and skimmers could freeze and be permanently damaged. If you have an inground pool, your plumbing can also freeze and burst causing the concrete deck to have to be removed and plumbing replaced.
Keeping your pool clean is an important step in maintaining water clarity and protecting your investment. Brushing the pool, scrubbing the waterline, cleaning inside skimmer boxes, vacuuming and backwashing when necessary are important steps in maintaining and cleaning your pool.
Below we have included daily and weekly checklists for maintaining your pool. Following this, we will outline the individual steps for performing several of these tasks.
With the hot weather comes pool problems, often algae! Keep the pool shocked and add algicide weekly. The sanitizer level for chlorine or salt pools should be 1.0 ppm or slightly above. Make sure the shock does not have stabilizer or conditioner. This is often in sodium dichlor shock! We recommend a 3-step system for pools. A once a month water test is a great way to keep a check on your water and to prevent future problems.
1) Empty skimmer baskets.
2) Check the pool water level. (The water level should be at the middle of your skimmer.)
3) Check your pool system. (Give your pump and filter a glance to make sure that it is operating properly.)
1) Clean skimmer(s) by scrubbing the basket(s) inside the skimmer as well as the skimmer weir.
2) Clean the pump basket.
3) Scrub above the waterline. (When cleaning the liner above the waterline, we recommend using a surface cleaner such as “Off The Wall” to aid in breaking up oils and grime that can build up over time.)
4) Brush the straight walls of the pool using your pole and 18” brush. (When brushing the pool, it is best to use full strokes from the waterline all the way down the slope and bottom of the pool to ensure that all debris is knocked off the liner surface.)
5) Manually vacuum the pool. (Even if you have an automatic cleaner, vacuuming once a week helps prevent algae.)
6) Check the pressure gauge on your filter. (The pressure gauge is key to determining when you need to backwash your filter. Only backwash when the pressure (psi) increases 10 lbs. from the normal reading. If you are not sure what your gauge normally reads, check it immediately after backwashing. This should be your normal reading.)
7) Backwash if necessary.
1) Turn pump motor off.
2) Place ball valves in the off position (skimmer valve and main drain valve).
3) Place filter valve in “Closed” position.
4) Remove pump basket lid.
5) Remove basket from pump.
6) Empty debris and hose off basket.
7) Replace basket back into pump.
8) Replace pump basket lid.
9) Place filter valve in “Filter” position.
10) Open ball valves.Turn pump on.
Note: You will need your telescopic pole, vacuum hose, vacuum head and vacuum plate adapter (round plate that sits over your skimmer basket).
1) Close the main drain ball valve. (If your pool has more than one skimmer, you may vacuum off of any one you choose and close the ball valve to the other.)
2) Attach your vacuum head to the pole.
3) Attach the swivel end of the vacuum hose to the vacuum head.
4) Place the vacuum head into the pool and prop the pole against the side of your pool.
5) Prime the vacuum hose with water. To do so, place the other end of the vacuum hose against one of the return lines (where the water comes back into your pool) and let the hose fill with water (wait for all the air bubbles to stop coming out of the vacuum head).
6) Attach the vacuum plate adapter to the end of the hose and place it in the skimmer directly over the basket.
7) Proceed to vacuum.
NOTE: With your vacuum cleaning kit set up in this way, water that would normally be drawn through the skimmer mouth is now being drawn from the bottom of the pool through the vacuum head. Since your Multi-Port Valve is still in the “Filter” position, you will not lose any water during this process. The filtered water will return to your pool as in the normal filter cycle.
Helpful Vacuuming Tips:
If your pool is equipped with more than one skimmer and a main drain, you will gain more suction through the vacuum head by closing the ball valve controlling the other outlets, leaving only the skimmer to which your vacuum is connected completely open.
If, during vacuuming, you notice a loss in suction, this may be an indication that your filter has collected a large amount of dirt during the vacuuming process or that your skimmer basket, pump basket or vacuum hose are clogged. STOP Vacuuming. Check and clean the various baskets and then open all ball valves and backwash the filter.
In the extraordinary circumstance of a very dirty pool (such as a pool left uncovered all winter), it will be to your advantage to vacuum to “Waste.” To do so, connect your vacuum as outlined above. Just prior to vacuuming, rotate the Multi-Port Valve to the “Waste” position. By doing this, the excessive amount of dirt you will be picking up from your pool floor will bypass the filter and go directly out the waste line. In this cycle you will, of course, be pumping water out of the pool. However, it will be to your advantage if the pool is in an extraordinarily dirty condition. During and after vacuuming to “Waste,” check the pool water and raise it to the proper level if necessary.
NOTE: To maintain maximum suction through the vacuum, it is important that the pool water level be at the middle of your skimmer. There are two screws on the skimmer faceplate that can serve as a marker. A water level below the mouth of the skimmer will cause a drastic loss of suction and possible loss of prime at your pump.
Always inspect your vacuum head and handle before each use. A damaged cleaning tool can result in damage to your pool. Be sure that the mounting screws on your vacuum head are turned completely in so that their heads are below the brush surface.
Do not store your vacuum head on the brush bristles. Do not drag vacuum head over a concrete deck or other rough surfaces. This will cause undue wear and tear on the unit.
Check the wear of the vacuum brush. The brush assembly can be replaced if necessary.
Your sand filter system is equipped with a pressure gauge to indicate when backwashing is necessary. This task is required only when the pressure builds up 8-10 psi above normal operating pressure. Take the normal pressure gauge reading after backwashing. If the pressure gauge reads 10, then backwashing is required at 20. Too much backwashing washes the fines from the sand, which makes your pool cloudy.
* If the pool water is low, raise the water level to mid-skimmer.
1) Turn off your pool pump. (The pressure gauge should read zero when the pump is off.)
2) Close the ball valves to the skimmer(s) and main drain.
3) Rotate Multi-Port Valve handle clockwise to “Closed” position.
4) Remove pump lid and clean out the pump basket if it is dirty or contains debris.
5) If your pump sits above the water level of your pool, refill the strainer pot with water to prime the pump.
6) Replace the pump lid.
7) Rotate Multi-Port Valve handle clockwise to “Backwash” position.
8) Open the ball valves for the skimmer(s) and main drain.
9) Turn pump on.
10) Backwash for approximately 2-3 minutes or until water appears clear through the sight glass on Multi-Port Valve.
11) Turn pump off.
12) Rotate Multi-Port Valve handle clockwise to the “Rinse” position.
13) Turn pump on.
14) Watch the sight glass until the water clears.Turn pump off.
15) Rotate the Multi-Port Valve handle clockwise to the “Filter” position.
16) Turn pump on.
17) The pressure gauge should now read your normal operating psi.
Good cleaning equipment is a must. If your brush bristles are worn out, they will not do a good job and might tear your liner.
When cleaning the baskets and above the waterline, use a soft bristle brush or scrubbing pad. Using abrasive cleaners will not only ruin your pool’s surface but will also change your pool’s chemistry. We recommend BioGuard’s “Off The Wall” or Baquacil’s “Surface Cleaner”.
Do not store your vacuum head with the brushes facing down.
When using an automatic vacuum, run it for several hours (4 to 8 hrs depending on your pool’s size) and then remove it from your pool. Store the cleaner out of the sun and in a clean place. Storing the automatic vacuum properly keeps it running properly and keeping it clean helps prevent algae.
For a cleaner pool, we recommend chemically cleaning your filter both at the beginning and end of the season.
Your pump is designed to operate for years with proper maintenance. The pump housing, seal plate, diffuser, hair and lint pot and impeller are made from high quality thermoplastic materials selected for their corrosion resistance. When installed, operated and maintained properly, it will provide years of service.
Your pump is driven by an electric motor. The motor is directly attached to the pump impeller. As the electric motor turns it causes the impeller to turn and this causes the water to flow. The water flows into the hair and lint inlet and through the basket assembly to prestrain large particles. The flow then enters the center of the pump housing. If the pump does not contain the hair and lint assembly, the flow simply enters the center of the pump housing. The flow goes through the impeller into the stationary diffuser and out the pump discharge port.
The strainer basket in the pump should be inspected and cleaned 1 to 2 times each week. Remove the clear lid and basket and clean out any debris. Inspect the lid and O-ring. If they are damaged, replace them. The pump seal requires no lubrication.
Priming your pump:
Before starting your pump, fill the tank strainer area with water. To do so, remove the strainer lid, closing all ball valves from pool and fill pump tank. Turn on pump and open ball valves. Your pump primes and re-primes itself providing the pump tank is filled with water. Should you lose the water from the pump tank accidentally or by draining it, it will be necessary to refill it with water before starting. High suction lifts or unusually long suction lines require additional time to prime.
We know that a pump is only as dependable as its power unit. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. The water being pumped cools and lubricates the seal. Always keep water in the pump tank. No further lubrication of the pump is necessary.
After the pump tank has been filled with water and the motor started, allow a few moments for the pump to start delivering water. If flow does not start within a few minutes, stop the motor and determine the cause. Be sure at least one plumbing line to and from the pool is open when the pump is running. Operating the pump with all ball valves closed can cause damage to the pump.
Your high rate sand filter is designed to operate for years with a minimum of maintenance and when installed, operated and maintained properly, it will provide years of trouble free operation.
Dirt is collected in the filter as the water flows through the control valve at the side of the filter and is directed into the top bulkhead. Dirty water flows into the diffuser at the top of the tank and is directed downward into the top surface of the filter sand bed. The dirt is collected in the sand bed and the clean water flows through the laterals and lower piping at the bottom of the filter up into the lower bulkhead. The flow then goes into the control valve at the side of the filter. Clean water is returned through the piping system into the pool.
The pressure will rise and the flow to the pool will be lowered as the dirt is collected in the filter. Eventually, the filter will become so plugged with dirt that it will be necessary to perform the backwash procedure. It is important to know when to backwash the filter. See the section on Backwashing above.
Please note that a filter removes suspended matter and does not sanitize the pool. The pool water must be sanitized and the water must be chemically balanced for sparkling clear water.
The filter is a very important part of the pool equipment. Proper care and maintenance will add many years of service and enjoyment to the pool. Follow these suggestions for long trouble-free operations:
1) To clean the exterior of the filter of dust and dirt, wash with a mild detergent and water then hose off. Do not use solvents.
2) If internal maintenance is required, sand may be removed by removing the sand drain from the bottom of the filter and flushing with a garden hose.
3) If after a number of years, the filter tank appears foggy in color or rough in texture, the tank surface can be painted. We recommend the use of a Quick Dry Spray Enamel. Do NOT paint the valve.
WARNING — Always visually inspect filter components during normal servicing to ensure structural safety. Replace any item that is cracked, deformed or otherwise visually defective. Defective filter components can allow the filter top or attachments to blow off and could cause severe bodily injury or property damage.
4) The filter closure on your sand filter was manufactured with high quality corrosion resistant materials. This part should be carefully inspected whenever servicing your filter. If excessive leakage is noted coming from the closure/tank interface, the closure and o-ring should be carefully inspected and replaced if any signs of deterioration exist.
5) Your filter is a pressure vessel and should never be serviced while under pressure. Always relieve tank pressure and open the air bleeder on the filter closure before attempting to service your filter.When restarting your filter, always open the manual air bleeder on the filter closure and stand clear of the filter.
Sand filters have multi-port valves that allow you to perform different functions with your filter. Most multi-port valves have the following six functions:
Filter – Normal position during the operation of your system; i.e. the position that filters your pool’s water.
Backwash – The position when operating the system to clean filter of accumulated debris. This process reverses the water flow and flushes out the filter, cleaning it and readying it to function efficiently again. This is necessary only when the filter’s pressure gauge reads 10 psi higher than starting pressure of a clean filter. Consult your filter operating instructions and see the “Steps to Backwashing” section above.
Rinse – This position is designed to flush stray sand from the system before returning to filter operation after backwashing. Always rinse your filter after backwashing. When you backwash, the reversing of the water flow can “fluff-up” the sand while cleaning it. The “Rinse” position packs the sand back down tightly so that it will filter the water properly.
Closed – The valve may be set in the “Closed” position when servicing filter tanks located below the water level. This function may be used when cleaning out your pump basket (to avoid back-flow into pump), when you are chemically cleaning the filter media or if there is a technical issue that requires the system to be shut down for a period of time.
Recirculate – This position allows the pump to continue circulating water (chemicals, heat, etc.) without flowing through the filter. This is advantageous when the filter or its components are being repaired or replaced. However, this function is not recommended to use on a regular basis since the pool water should otherwise be filtering at all times.
Waste – This position allows draining or lowering of your pool’s water level without running it through the filter. This function can be used when you need to let water out of your pool, for example, after a heavy rain.
We install the IntelliChlor Electronic Chlorine Generator salt chlorinator on all of our new pools. The IntelliChlor unit uses a process known as electrolysis to produce chlorine gas that immediately dissolves into a solution to create Hypochlorite and Hypochlorous acid pool and spa water sanitizer from a low concentration of salt added to the pool water. These chemicals kill bacteria, oxidize organic material, and kill algae, then revert back to salt. The IntelliChlor unit then reuses the salt and the process starts over again.
The system is comprised of the IntelliChlor Electronic Chlorine Generator and Power Center. The system is very easy to operate, with LED status lights, a push button sanitizer output and boost (super chlorinate). It is the most user-friendly product on the market.
Maintaining your IntelliChlor unit means monitoring your pool’s chemistry and making sure that your pool’s water remains properly balanced. You can test at home to monitor your pool’s levels of pH, alkalinity and chlorine. Your pool’s pH should fall between 7.2 and 7.8 with a range of 7.4 to 7.6 being ideal. The ideal range for total alkalinity is 80 to 120 ppm and 2.0 to 4.0 for free chlorine. You can adjust the chlorine level in your pool by using the “More” or “Less” buttons on your IntelliChlor unit.
To ensure that the correct chemical balance is maintained in your pool, it is important to perform recommended salt and pool water tests by bringing a water sample into the store every month. Here we can check the levels of salt (ideally between 3200-3800) and cyanuric acid (30-50 ppm) as well as monitor your pool for calcium hardness, the presence of metals and total dissolved solvents.
Follow these winterize tips and you’ll be ready to enjoy it come Spring!
1) Close it. We highly recommend closing your pool for the winter, as it is much more cost effective. You save on electricity and chemicals. Closing during colder months will also extend the longevity of your pool equipment.
2) Preventative Maintenance. The most important reason to winterize a pool is “preventative maintenance.” If the electricity should turn off, the lines could freeze under the concrete deck. The equipment also has potential to freeze and these repairs can be costly.
3) YES! Algae will grow in cold water. If you leave the pool running during the winter, you will need to keep the pool water balanced and continue to add chlorine sticks or tablets throughout the season. If you have a salt-water pool, your generator will shut off when the water reaches 50 degrees F. You will need to maintain the chlorine level using chlorine tablets or sticks (place in your skimmer), as well as keeping the water balanced. Visit Roy Vaden Pools and stock up on chlorine tabs or sticks.
4) Cleaning 101. Just because the water is too cold for swimming does not mean it can be left unattended. Continue regular cleaning maintenance: empty baskets, brush the walls, dip out any leaves and vacuum the pool.
Plumbing: If the pump stops pumping during the extreme cold, the lines and the plumbing will freeze causing costly repairs.
Pool Equipment: Running the pool through the winter is reducing the life expectancy of the equipment. The weather and the unbalanced water (pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness) will decrease the longevity of the pump and filter. Electrical outages can cause repairs and/or replacement of equipment and plumbing.
Pool Surface: Cold, harsh weather, and unbalanced pool water are hard on a liner, concrete, or fiberglass pool. It not only detracts from the appearance but it reduces the life of the surface.
Pool Water: The water may appear clean through the winter without adding chemicals but, bacteria grows in the cold water and it creates a sanitizer demand (chlorine, salt, bromine, Baquacil, etc.) and often algae. The coming season will be a battle to keep the water clear and clean.
Economically: The savings on the electricity, not doing costly repairs from winter damage, and just taking this worry off your plate is worth the cost of winterizing the pool.
It’s not too late to do a partial closing now (winterizing the equipment and blowing out the lines).
For user comfort, as well as protecting your equipment and spa surface, be sure to follow these important tips:
Test your water. In hot water, the chemistry will change more rapidly, so it’s important to test it often. Your spa or hot tub water should be tested professionally monthly, as well as using a home test kit/strips before enjoying. This will ensure the spa water is properly sanitized. Visit Roy Vaden Pools with your water sample for a comprehensive water analysis.
Routine cleaning maintenance. Clean the cover every few weeks to reduce the risk of the cover dry-rotting or having an old, musty smell. Chemically cleaning your filters each time you drain and refill your spa greatly enhances water clarity and reduces the amount of sanitizer needed to maintain the proper level.
Drain. Drain and refill the spa every 60-90 days. We are here to help you throughout the entire season! We offer highest quality of cleaning products, chemicals and complimentary water testing for both pools and spas.
Let us help you take care of your investment!