A lot of pool-related accidents are preventable. Follow this checklist to childproof your pool and ensure everyone enjoys the water safely.
Sources: CDC; Kidproof; American Red Cross; U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
What you should know about building a swimming pool before taking the plunge.
A pool can provide hours of enjoyment, but it's also a major expense that you should research thoroughly.
Ask yourself what will it cost versus what will I get out of it?
Building that perfect pool—and keeping it that way—depends a lot on who you hire.
Because installing a pool can be a lengthy project—sometimes taking a month or more—develop a good dialogue with your contractor.
Check references and ask about warranties.
Be prepared for some inconvenience during the construction. Building a pool is a big disruption to your landscape and your lifestyle until it's complete. If everything is well planned, it will be worth it.
Regularly test water to maintain proper pool chemical balance.
Unbalanced pool chemistry can lead to an algae and or bacteria.
Keep your pool clean and safe with these tips from pool care experts:
1. Treatment options
After decades of killing germs and eradicating algae, chlorine reigns as king of pool maintenance chemicals. It's really hard to avoid chlorine.
Other options include salt chlorine generators, which use a mechanical system to create and distribute chlorine. These systems are winning the popularity contest in new pools, experts say, but a misconception exists that a saltwater pool eliminates chemicals and work.
Salt pools use more acid because the chlorine that it generates produces a higher pH level than traditional chlorine. Pool companies also equate the feel of using salt generators versus straight chlorine like using hard versus soft water in your home.
Less popular options for home pools include ozone, ultraviolet systems, and oxidation reduction potential systems that use light or machines to balance pool sanitization levels.
2. System drawbacks
Every pool cleaning system has downsides, whether it's handling or measuring chemicals with a chlorine system; preventing salt's corrosive nature on pool decks, plants, and furniture; or the lack of effective testing for ozone, UV systems, and oxidation reduction potential systems.
Because ozone is an invisible chemical and UV uses light, pool companies must rely on manufacturers' guidelines to make sure these type of machines operate properly. Talk to an expert and make a list of pros and cons to help determine what's best for you.
3. Climate matters
To keep your pool properly balanced and the water sparkling clean, you'll need to add more chemicals and test it more often as the summer heats up and more people enjoy your pool, experts say.
Make sure your pool service company understands how the local climate affects your pool.
4. Cost concerns
Chemicals are not cheap for anyone; you get what you pay for.
More effective products, as well as those that are more environmentally friendly, cost more. Salt systems cost $1,000 to $2,000 to add to a pool. Every pool needs ongoing maintenance, so keep that in mind when deciding whether to purchase one.
5. Pool professionals
Don't want to mess with upkeep but still want to enjoy a crystal-clear pool? Companies offer weekly service to vacuum, test, balance, and add chemicals to the splash zone at your pad. Costs typically range from $70 to $200 a month, depending on where you live, what service you require, and the amount of chemicals added.
Water chemistry is by far the most important thing about a swimming pool.
Experts regularly service, open, and close pools. Costs for chemicals vary based on pool size and type. The warmer the climate and the more use the pool gets, the greater demand for sanitation. So pools in the South use more chemicals and must meet different standards than those in the Midwest or on the East or West Coasts.
To keep your pool properly balanced, you should regularly test or hire someone to test the pH levels, available chlorine, total chlorine, calcium hardness, alkalinity, and cyanuric acid/stabilizer. Pools may need to be over chlorinated or "shocked" to return to normal levels when water levels don't balance. Unbalanced pools may have algae growth or scaling.
The oldest and most popular method of pool chemical maintenance comes in liquid form with limited shelf life. It's also available in more expensive solid forms, such as sticks or pucks, that last indefinitely.
Rain, heat, humidity, sweat, and the number of people using the pool affect the amount of chlorine needed and how often owners need to replace it and test chemical levels.
Salt pools may leave your skin feeling softer, but they're not like swimming in the ocean. The systems require a chlorine generator that constantly converts salt to chlorine and then adds it to the pool automatically. They don't eliminate the need to test or use chemicals, but owners can leave their pools for vacation or work and come back to clean water since the system continues to run.
Salt systems also cost more since they require the installation of a generator, which can fail when calcium builds up inside. To prevent buildup, keep your pool's water properly balanced and clean the generator's cell once a year.
In addition, owners must purchase salt and chemicals to add to the system, but tend to shock pools fewer times per year than chlorine systems.
While not as popular as chlorine or salt systems, ozone and UV systems, as well as oxidation reduction potential systems are the latest technologies available to homeowners. These methods use mechanical equipment that checks water chemistry and make the adjustments necessary. Ozone and UV systems reduce the number of chemicals that pool owners must use to keep out harmful bacteria and algae. As with any solution, there are drawbacks. Carefully consider your options to avoid costly mistakes.
Even minor drips at pool equipment can have a massive impact on your water loss.
One of the most confounding problems that swimming pool owners face is water loss—loss through leaks or, more commonly, loss through evaporation. While some evaporation is inevitable, there is much you can do to lessen its impact on your pool.
Here are four recommendations:
1. Go simple
Water features and waterfalls have a dramatic impact on your pool's appearance, but did you know that they can also impact your evaporation levels? By expanding the surface area of the water, they also increase the speed at which water evaporates. Minimize this impact by turning off these features when your pool area is not in use.
2. Use a cover
One of the most effective steps you can take to reduce evaporation is to use a cover whenever your pool is not in use. Manufacturers estimate you can cut evaporation up to a staggering 98 percent by keeping it covered.
As an added bonus, covers can also reduce your energy and chemical consumption up to 50 percent by minimizing temperature changes, chemical evaporation, and preventing debris.
3. Keep pets away
The ins and outs of your pet over the course of a day while you and your family are away from the home can have a surprising impact on your water loss. Limit their access to when you can be around.
4. Plug the leaks
If your pool level is dropping by more than a quarter inch per day, your problem may be more than simple evaporation—you could have a leak. Leaks, even minor drips at the equipment, can have a massive impact on your water loss, costing you upwards of a thousand gallons of water per week. Never hesitate to have unusual water loss investigated and any leaks repaired by an expert such as Christal Clear Pools.
Pools surrounded by large trees and foliage can put a lot of stress on your swimming pool. DE filters need to be broken down and cleaned once every year and a half, and cartridge filters need to be replaced regularly as well.
Large amounts of debris will cause your filter to work extra hard, ultimately decreasing its life span. Additionally, debris can cause clogged impellers, which need to be unclogged by a professional.
Solution: Talk to your pool technician to see if it is time to replace or break down your filter.
2. Your pool is leaking.
Swimming pools can have leaks anywhere there is plumbing present, as well as in the walls and drainage system. If you find that you constantly need to add fresh water to your swimming pool, even during the cooler months, you probably have a leak.
Adding fresh water to your pool causes it to dilute the chemicals that were just added. They usually end up requiring extra stabilizer and chemicals on a more frequent basis to keep them blue.
Solution: First have a pool technician inspect your outer equipment. Pool plumbing that is leaking on the outside is often an easy fix. If there are no visible leaks present, contact a leak detector that specializes in finding and repairing swimming pool leaks. It will be well worth the money in both chemicals and your water bill.
3. You have no main drain.
Pools are designed to pull water from both your main drain (the drain at the center of the deep end of your swimming pool) and the skimmer. In the past, we have found that other pool technicians have capped off main drains as a quick solution to a leak or as a solution to another pool problem.
Additionally, some pools may have a clogged main drain or have been designed without one at all. With no main drain, your swimming pool is operating at half the capacity that it should be. Your circulation is low, thus your pool water is filtering too slowly to keep your pool clean.
Solution: If your main drain is clogged or has been capped off, call a professional to your home to fix the problem. If your pool has been built without a main drain, your pool technician can set up a system to vacuum your pool in a way that replicates this action.
4. Your equipment is too small.
Both pumps and filters come in different sizes and horsepower designed to meet the needs of your specific swimming pool. If your pump or filter is too small, it creates poor circulation and puts stress on the rest of your plumbing and equipment.
Solution: Have a repair technician install the proper size filter and pump that best meets the needs of your size and type of swimming pool.
Improper water chemistry damages traditional plaster pool surfaces. Using a professional pool service such as Christal Clear Pools to monitor the chemical levels in your pool is a good idea. Calcium levels being too low and high stabilizer levels are both detrimental to finishes. Most homeowners have difficulty keeping up with them.
The pool industry is slowly moving away from the plaster surfaces of the past and switching to a pebble-based cement material. The plaster finishes from 30 years ago used asbestos as a hardening agent, but since the outlawing of asbestos, new plaster finishes only last about 12 to 14 years.
Other long-lasting finishes are available, such as those made of glass or quartz, but typically cost more than the pebble-based finish. If you notice surface damage in your pool, it is recommended to resurface the entire pool. Patching isn't ideal because more areas can deteriorate with time.
Resurfacing with the pebble-based material costs $4.75 to $5 for each foot of internal surface area. Therefore, a pool with an internal area of 1,000 feet will cost around $5,000 to resurface.
The typical resurfacing job costs $4,500 to $5,000, but the same job could cost three times as much in northern states.
The average price most companies charge to install a hot tub usually ranges between $3,000 and $8,000, depending on the size and features of your tub. Many pool and spa companies can also set you up with a portable spa. Instead of being inserted into the ground, a portable spa is a self-contained hot tub that is manufactured, transported to your property, and then placed at a convenient location of your choice.
Portable spas are often more affordable than in-ground hot tubs, as the average price for a portable spa ranges from approximately $1,000 to $5,000.
Many pool and spa companies can also provide maintenance services to uphold the condition and quality of your pool.
A pool maintenance service has the primary responsibility of verifying that the pool is at the appropriate chlorine pH level. If the water does not contain a sufficient amount of chlorine, bacteria can develop and spread through the water to contaminate the entire pool. But if your pool or hot tub contains an excessive amount of chlorine, people swimming in your pool can suffer from skin rashes, respiratory problems, and eye infections.
Thus, the experienced maintenance crews at most pool and spa companies understand the appropriate amount of chlorine that your pool should contain and can adjust the chemical balances of the water to achieve that optimal pH level. Additionally, the maintenance crew can inspect your pool's electrical system, filtration devices, and pump units to ensure that the system is operating effectively.
Maintenance crews also clean your pool and hot tub area to ensure that the condition of your water remains safe and sanitary for swimmers. An excessive amount of dirt and bacteria accumulating in your pool can contaminate the water and damage the electrical equipment. To clean your pool, the maintenance crews usually remove insects and leaves from the pool and the equipment, replace dirty cartridges from the filters, scrub the walls and the floor, vacuum debris from the water, and add chemicals to the water to prevent algae from developing.
Maintenance crews typically service your pool or hot tub once a week or once every month, and the average cost that companies charge to maintain and clean your pool usually ranges from $75 to $200 per month.