Here are the answers to some of the questions we frequently get from our customers:
Q: Why should I use a pool service?
A: Here are only four of the many reasons you should use a pool service:
- Convenience: Many of us simply cannot afford the time it takes to maintain a pool on a regular basis. We do the work and take the time to inspect your pool and your equipment for proper operation. We'll bring small parts to you, so you can save time and avoid an inconvenient trip to the pool store. And, you will no longer need to lug home gallons of acid and chlorine and then try to find a safe place to store them unless you want to. That is optional.
- Competence: We are experts; we maintain pools for a living. We have plenty of practice obtaining proper water chemistry. Also, we know what to do if we spot an algae bloom. As with most things, consistency and experience is critically important. It is why we come on the same day every week. We notice changes in the water balance and adjust the chemicals accordingly so you can enjoy your pool or spa without interruption.
- Cost Effective: It may cost you a little more for us to maintain your pool, but probably not much. You probably already spend an average of $50.00 to $60.00 per month for the necessary chemicals, including chlorine tablets, muriatic acid, shock treatments and chemical test kits. For only a few dollars a week more, we will come to your house and do it all for you.
- What is Your Time Worth?: Let's do the math. If you spend 1 hour per week, 4 weeks per month cleaning your own pool, and you earn $25 per hour at your job, you are sending 1x4x$25=$100 in labor costs to maintain your own pool. Now, add $60 per month on chemicals (and perhaps time to pick up chemicals, too). It's costing you at least $160 per month to maintain and clean your own pool!
Q: Why do you charge more than my old “pool guy”?
A: The answer to that is quite simple: we are professionals. We may not be the cheapest service, but we hope you’ll consider us the best! Your old "pool guy” is the old "pool guy" for a reason. We always show up. We always do a great, professional job. We care about your pool and we will strive to make your pool look better than it ever has before. Besides, how much are you really saving if your other service doesn't really do everything they are supposed to do? Inexperienced service companies frequently are not dependable and can destroy your expensive equipment. They may also leave you doing most of the work yourself.
Q: Do you add water to my pool every week?
A: Generally not. Here are some good reasons why not:
- When water is being added it makes it difficult to see the bottom of the pool. Therefore, we cannot do as good a job when vacuuming.
- Our pool technicians are at your home for only about 30 minutes. In 30 minutes, at 7 gallons per minute, we would only be able add about 210 gallons. That may sound like a lot, but it won't make a significant difference in your pool.
- If the pool service technician forgets to shut the water off, you're probably not going to be happy with us. We want happy customers and would rather notify you if water should be added.
Q: Do you service salt pools?
A: Yes, SunCastle Pools does service salt pools. More and more of our customers are switching to salt chlorination. Interested in switching? Give us a call!
Q: What is cyanuric acid?
A: The UV rays in sunlight lead to the decomposition of chlorine. Cyan uric acid, also known as "conditioner" or "stabilizer," is added to swimming pools and spas to slow this decomposition process. When its level is properly maintained, cyan uric acid can decrease chlorine consumption by up to 80%. The cyan uric acid level is ideal at 50-80 ppm and should not exceed 100 ppm.
Q: What is TDS?
A: The sum total of all the dissolved material in the water is called total dissolved solids (TDS). Sources of TDS include disinfectants, balance chemicals, calcium hardness, source water, bather waste, algaecides, total alkalinity, wind blown dust and dirt, phosphates, nitrates, and sulfates.
TDS buildup is inevitable. Every time you add chemicals to the water, the TDS increases. Even adding makeup water to the pool increases TDS. When water evaporates, only the pure water leaves the pool and all the material that was dissolved in the water remains behind.
The ideal range of TDS is from 1000 to 2000 ppm, and the maximum level is 2500 PPM to 3000 ppm. There is no way to reduce TDS chemically. You must drain or partially drain the pool and replace with fresh water.
Q: What are phosphates?
A: Phosphates are the major cause of algae in swimming pools. Phosphates and nutrients are required by all living organisms, including algae. Phosphate is introduced to pool water from a variety of sources including rain, runoff from lawns and gardens, fertilizers, bird seed, plant material, pool fill water, dust, suntan oil, and leaves. Over time, these sources will increase the concentration of phosphates in your pool water and facilitate algae growth. There are lanthanum-based compounds/phosphate removers available to reduce the phosphate level in your swimming pool.
Q: What should the free chlorine, pH, and total alkalinity levels be in my pool?
According to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals:
- Your free chlorine level should be between 2.0 and 4.0 ppm.
- Your pH level should be between 7.2 and 7.8. (7.4 to 7.6 is ideal.)
- The appropriate level of total alkalinity depends upon the chlorination method used in your pool. For liquid chlorine, cal hypo, and lithium hypo, total alkalinity should be between 80 and 100 ppm. For gas chlorine, dichlor, trichlor, and bromine compounds, total alkalinity should be between 100 and 140 ppm.
Q: Why does my pool/spa need to be chlorinated?
A: Chlorine is a type of "disinfectant", or "sanitizer," that destroys living microorganisms and bacteria. Chlorine and other disinfectants help prevent the transmission of disease. Salt chlorination can also be used as a disinfectant in swimming pools.
Q: Are salt chlorinated systems better than a traditional hand chlorinated ones?
A: Salt chlorinators do have many advantages over the traditional hand chlorinated system.
The salt chlorinator converts the salt in the water to a chlorine gas, which sanitizes your water before the salt chlorinator turns it back into salt. Adding fresh water to the pool causes the salt level to drop. Therefore, salt pools require the addition of salt periodically.
Also, the salt in the water works as a natural water softener. Salt pools provide a much more comfortable swimming environment than do traditional hand-chlorinated pools.
And finally, it comes down to safety. When it comes to pools, the most important thing is that your family is kept safe from bacteria and algae. Chlorine does not have a long life, so in only a few short hours well-chlorinated water can become chlorine-deficient, giving dangerous bacteria an opportunity to do harm. A salt chlorinator will help keep your family safe by continuously adding new chlorine to sanitize your pool.
Salt cells do require periodic manual cleaning and maintenance. Also, your swimming pools pH will tend to run high and may require addition of muriatic acid on occasion.
Q: How do I select a filter? What are the pros and cons of each filter type?
A: Three filter types are described below. For more detailed information and suggestions about what filter best fits your individual needs, please give us a call. Note: The size of bacteria and algae is measured in microns; the smaller the micron value, the smaller the particle.
- Sand: This is the most common filter in the North East of the USA and also the filter we usually recommend. It is very easy to use, but does require frequent backwashing. Backwashing, which is needed to clean the sand in the filter, wastes both chlorine and water. Sand filters can filter particles as small as 50 - 100 microns.
- Cartridge: This is the most user-friendly filter. However, cartridges wear and tear easily, requiring the frequent (and costly) replacement of cartridges. Cartridge filters can filter particles as small as 30 - 50 microns.
- Diatomaceous Earth (DE): This filter provides the best water quality. Although the water clarity will appear similar to when a sand or cartridge filter is used, the DE filter can filter out algae which pass through other types of filters. Unfortunately, this is the most difficult filter to use and requires a lot of attention which is why we usually don’t recommend it. DE filters can filter particles as small as 2 microns.
Maintaining Your Pool
Q: How long should my filter run each day?
A: Your pool filter is the most important component in keeping your swimming pool clean. We recommend you run the filter for a minimum of 8 hours per day in the summer and 6 hours per day in the spring and fall. However, For maximum circulation and debris removal, your filter should be run continuously without interruption.
Q: When should I run my pool filter?
A: To retard chlorine evaporation, maximize water clarity, and prevent algae, you should run your filter during the hottest part of the day.
Q: Should I change my own water?
A: You should change your own water only if you have a submersible pump and are familiar with adding start up chemicals (cyan uric acid, stain out, chlorine, and acid). Once the water level has dropped below the skimmer and there is a lot of strain on the filter grids, draining a pool using the filtering pump will not work. We do offer pool draining service which includes the balancing of chemicals in the newly filled pool.
Q: How often should I change the water in my pool?
A: Whenever your total dissolved solids (TDS) are in excess of 2000 ppm your pool water should be changed. This will probably occur every 4 to 5 years.
Q: Is it okay to drain my pool for the winter?
A: No! A pool should never be drained for more than a couple of days. Without water, your plaster will crack and, in very rare instances where water tables are high, pools have actually risen or popped out of the ground.
Q: How can I calculate how many gallons of water are in my pool?
A: First, determine the average depth of your pool. The average depth can be calculated by adding the depth of the deepest end of your pool and the depth of the shallowest end, then dividing by 2. Complete you calculation by following whichever one of the below formulas best describes the shape of your pool. Note: All measurements must be in feet.
Square or Rectangular: total gallons = length x width x average depth x 7.5
Circle: total gallons = diameter x diameter x average depth x 5.9
Oval: total gallons = long diameter x short diameter x average depth x 5.9
Q: How can I tell if my pool is leaking?
A: Compare your pool's drop in water level to the pool's normal evaporation, which amounts to about 1" to 2-1/2" per week. When the days are warm and the nights are cool, evaporation is at it's highest.
Using an ordinary plastic bucket, you can perform this simple test to determine if your pool is leaking:
- Bring pool water to the normal level (middle of skimmer).
- Place bucket on the 1st or 2nd step of the pool.
- Fill bucket with pool water to same level as pool.
- Mark the water level on the inside of the bucket.
- Shut off pump, and mark pool water level on outside of bucket.
- Resume normal pump operation.
- After 24 to 48 hours, compare the two water levels. If the pool water (outside mark) goes down more than inside water level, there is probably a leak.
In case of rain, repeat the test. (If your pool is equipped with an auto fill, be sure to shut off the water supply.) This test is invalid after 48 hours.
Q: How often do I need an acid wash?
A: Typically a pool should be drained and acid washed to remove discoloring caused by chemicals every 5 to 7 years. An acid wash is, put simply, purposeful stripping of a tiny layer of plaster, exposing fresh plaster beneath.
An acid wash will generally remove superficial stains, fine scale deposits, and various colored deposits from the plaster. The process generally restores 75 to 85% of the plaster's brightness. An acid wash will not remove heavy deposits or stains that have penetrated through many layers of plaster.
As a rule, acid washing should be done only by a licensed professional.
Q: If I have a pool service, do I need to empty my baskets?
A: Yes! We highly recommend assisting us in emptying your skimmer and pump baskets, especially during the fall/windy season. If your baskets are overflowing, the leaves will impair the water circulation, and your pump may run dry which is likely to damage it.
Q: If I have a pool service, do I need an automatic vacuum?
A: No, you do not need one. But, we do recommend it! An automatic vacuum can assist in keeping you pool clean in between visits. After all, out of the 10,080 minutes in a week we are only at your home for 30.
Q: My hair turns green when I swim. Is this caused by the chlorine?
A: No. Exposure to metals dissolved in the water, particularly copper, iron, and manganese, causes your hair to turn green. When metals attach to the hair shaft and are oxidized by the chlorine, they can leave behind a green residue. To remove the metals from your hair use a swimmer's shampoo that contains ethylenediamine tetra-acetic acid (EDTA).
Q: Is it okay for my dog to swim in the pool and drink the pool water?
A: Dogs love to swim in the swimming pools. However, chlorinated water is not good for dogs. The chlorine can remove the natural oils from the dog's body and cause dry, itchy skin. Also, a high sanitizer level can irritate the dog's esophagus if they drink the pool water.
Q: How do I keep ducks out of my pool?
A: Ducks will avoid your pool if the majority of the water is somehow obscured or if the pool seems to be in use. So, fill up as much of the water's surface as possible when the pool is not in use. Throw two large multicolored beach balls in the pool or add a couple large alligator floats. A few safety ropes stretched tightly across the pool will also create the illusion that the water is full.
Q: When it rains, will the water cause my pool to flood the yard?
A: No more than if you have only grass or cement in your back yard. Most backyards are equipped with a drainage system, so there is nothing to worry about. If you are still concerned, you can backwash your filter for a few minutes to get the desired water level. Be sure to add fresh D.E. as soon as you are done or the filter will need to be cleaned again.
Q: Is it safe to swim with my pool/spa light on?
A: We do not recommend swimming with your pool lights on unless you have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter(GFCI) that is tested at least once a month. You can check your GFCI by following these steps:
- Turn your pool light on and press the "Test" button on your GFCI.
- Press the "Reset" button.
- If your light turns off when you press "Test" and turns back on when you press "Reset," your GFCI is working correctly. If not, it is not safe to swim with your pool light on.
Q: How long does it take to heat my pool?
A: It depends heavily on the size of the pool and the BTU rating of the heater. As an example, it is quite common that a gas heater will raise the temperature in an 18' X 36' pool (about 25,000 gallons) by about 1/2 degree per hour.
Q: How long does it take to heat my spa with a gas heater?
A: To raise the temperature in an average size spa (580 gallons) from 55 to 104 degrees, it should take about 45 minutes. If your heater takes significantly longer to complete this task, it is too small or needs to be serviced.
Q: How long does it take to heat my spa with an electric heater?
A: If you have an electric heater, you have a portable spa/ hot tub, which must be covered when heating it. If you do not have a cover, get one immediately. Portable spas are made to be heated and stay heated. Electric heat elements heat water very slowly, at a rate of about 4 to 5 degrees per hour. It takes approximately 6 to 8 hours to heat the water to 104 degrees.