How to Deal with Spring Blooms Around Your Pool- Austin, TX

Blooms, blooms and more blooms. Everywhere you look there are blooms of every color and shape. Even though these blooms help beautify our wonderful city and roads, they can be quite the nuisance around a pool.

The worst of these blooming trees is our friend the Live Oak. Live Oaks are the type of tree featured on many logos because of their beauty and impressive size. Their imposing presence can provide plenty of shade for backyard comfort, but will also unleash the “11th plaque” upon you and your pool.

The Live Oak is probably the worst, but there are many trees typical to backyard landscaping that cause homeowners and their pools a lot of headaches. If you have owned your pool for a complete year, then you probably remember last year’s bloom. It was probably one the worst in recent memory. This is a yearly occurrence, the only difference is the intensity.

The amount of debris that these trees will drop can very easily overwhelm any pool. There are pool salesmen out there that will tell you that your pool will care for itself if you buy this, that and the other. I would call them all, “liars.” Many pool salesmen have never cleaned a pool and some don’t even know how the equipment works or how to maintain it. So, if you have a self-cleaning pool in Austin, Tx, you are one of a privileged few.

Pool professionals call this time of year, “the bloom.” We wait for it all winter long. Pool work being somewhat seasonal, it helps get the swim season up and running. If you have a lot of blooming trees incorporated in your backyard landscaping, here are some things you should incorporate into your daily routine to avoid costly repairs and having to drain your pool.

The things that you need to remember are all common sense things. You should remember that pool skimmers and cleaner bags have a set capacity. Once the capacity is reached then no more debris fits in it. So one of the most important things you should remember is to empty any receptacle meant to capture debris from the pool daily. If your pool has a huge canopy of trees above it, then you should remember to empty them twice a day.

Not emptying out your skimmers baskets daily will lead to the pump pulling air into the system, which will cause your pump to lose prime and burn up your seal, melt your impellar, or burn up your pump. When the amount of debris in the skimmer creates a seal in the skimmer and the skimmer is the only suction line to your pump you can expect all of the above to happen.

Not emptying your polaris bag or equivalent will lead to lost productivity in cleaning since ,once the bag is full, no more will go in. By emptying the bag daily you can ,at minimum, have that much less to deal with. If you do it every day, you would potentially have seven times less to deal with. If you don’t empty it at all then what will happen is the bag will fill up to capacity and then slump over and drag on the plaster until someone empties it. Dragging on plaster for even one day with a full load can potentially wear a hole in the bag. A typical polaris bag can cost up to $45.00. So, now not only is the pool full of debris, you now have to buy a new bag.

The next thing you need to remember is to empty out your pump basket. So many times when emptying your skimmer basket, debris gets around the basket when you pull it out of the skimmer. When the pool is overrun with blooms, it’s not a bad idea to turn the pump off before emptying the skimmers. This will at least not allow for the escaped material to go into the plumbing where a possible clog may form. Having the pump off will allow for you to remove the debris out of the skimmer before it can get into the plumbing. The blooms will fall apart in the skimmer under pressure from the pump. You will get a basket full of debris even with the utmost care. By remembering to empty your pump basket, you will prevent the pump from burning up a seal and allow for the pump to properly circulate your pool.

The blooms will also find there way into your filter. The blooms are delicate creatures and fall apart very quickly after drop and saturation in water. They will get past your skimmer basket and pump basket and then proceed to clog your filter. Remember to keep your eye on the pressure guage located somewhere on your filter. When your pressure gauge reads ten pounds above clean pressure, you should take the time to backwash the filter. This will make sure that pressure doesn’t build up to the point something may break. It will also keep the pool circulating properly, to ensure it does all it can to help clean the pool.

In the worst of scenarios, if your pool has such a thick canopy of trees that are blooming all over the place. Turn the equipment OFF. I sometimes turn equipment off when the situation is hopeless. When there is so much debris that only a full time employee can deal with it, turn the equipment off. If the pool is going to look bad regardless of all you do then it only makes sense. The pool will require a strong willed person to clean the pool as often as he or she can and at the same time protect the plumbing and equipment from becoming clogged or damaged. If you are in this situation, remember to shock the pool as often as you clean it to keep it from going green. Then we would be talking about something else. The pool may turn brown or black, this is the “tea” effect. Shock it, it will go away. Once the heavy drop has slowed up, then you can turn your equipment back on. You could potentially save a lot of money this way.

Regardless of circumstance, spring pool maintenance is only matched by fall maintenance. It is the time of year where all the needed ingredients for a swamp meet and have the best chance to upset your well-being. Being ready and proactive will get you through this tough season and hopefully get you into a long and happy swim season.

Posted in Spring | Leave a comment

What to do when you expect a hard freeze in Austin,TX

One of the many reasons we all live in the Austin metro area is to enjoy the wonderful weather almost all year round. Every so often we have an interruption to our bliss in the form of an “arctic blast”.

The weatherperson’s main job is to alert, inform and advise us what to do when conditions are going to make life here in Austin somewhat uncomfortable and to some, down right unbearable.

I would like to add one more “p” to the traditional three “p’s” of your preferred news channel’s reminder. Pets, plants, people should also include pools.

The main goal we are trying to achieve is to get water to move through the pool’s pipes during freezing temperatures. It’s that simple. Stationary water in pipes will freeze and expand, cracking pipes and equipment.

What you should do for your pool depends on what equipment you have or don’t have. Some pools have whats called a freeze protector. Some pools may not. A freeze protector is a simple device that acts much like your home’s thermistat. When the set temperature is sensed by the freeze protector, the freeze protector will automatically turn the equipment attached to it, on. It will remain on until the freeze protector senses a temperature above the set temperature.

Some freeze protectors are stand alone and have a copper sensing tube coiled neatly somewhere by your controller box, sometimes in it. Others are intrigrated in the controller, usually in automated systems like an aqualink. Automated systems will have a nipple like temp sensor, usually hanging just underneath the controller box.

Regardless of what type you have, there is a quick and easy way to check if your freeze protector is working properly. All you need is a cup of ice water. Dip the copper sensing tube or the temperature sensor in the cup of ice water and wait a few seconds. If the freeze protector is working, it should turn on whichever pumps are wired to it within a few seconds. If it does not, then likely it’s time to change out the sensor or at least have it serviced.

If your pool’s freeze protector fails to activate your pumps or if your pool’s equipment does not have one. Don’t worry. Remember the goal is to move water through the pool’s pipes. All you need to do is manually turn on your filter pump and any stand alone waterfeature pumps. If you have an automated system, put the system in “service” mode, and manually turn on the desired equipment. Leave it on until it warms up, then set it back in “auto” when it warms up. If you have a mechanical timeclock, remove the “off” tripper and flip the switch to the on position. Leave it like this until it warms up and then you can put it back the way it was.

Insuring the above Reliable Pool Care recommendations should get us through the anticipated freezing conditions. We can then return to normal run times for your equipment. Running your equipment for the next two to three days continuously will prevent costly repairs to equipment and pipes. Repairs can sometimes be as high as 500.00 to 1,000.00 dollars depending on damage.

Posted in Winter | Leave a comment

High temperatures mean more chlorine and add water to pool

We try to find new things to talk about as the seasons change in Austin, TX, however, once we hit summer, that’s all there is for five months. Summer in Texas is brutal and it stays for a long time.

With hotter temperatures and more use of the pool the obvious things things you should be concerned with are making sure you keep a high chlorine residual and keep enough water in the pool. We are losing about one-quarter inch of water per day now that the temperatures are well above the 90′s. It’s critical to remember to add water on a weekly basis during the maintenance of the pool to avoid problems with your equipment.

It’s almost that simple. Do it not and you’ll find out why there are so many pool companies in town. We are betting you will not take the time to do one or the other, sometimes neither. If you don’t do these simple tasks then you will at some point be calling one of us out to assist.

Do be proactive and avoid the problems altogether. Pool’s in summer don’t get a lot of debris in them, so what we’re having to deal with almost exclusively is the appearance of algae. Algae comes in a variety of colors, black, green, and yellow. If you don’t keep enough chlorine in the pool you will inevitably end up with one or the other or all. Some types of algae are harder to eradicate than others. Being able to determine which you have will help you deal with it in a way that is cost effective.

Green algae will literally turn your water green. Not only does it grow along the walls and floor it also floats in the water, which will turn the whole pool into a green mess. You can rid yourself of this type of algae with a strong brushing of the entire pool and a very heavy handed amount of regular pool shock.

Yellow algae usually forms on the shady side of the pool and is yellow. Once established it will go everywhere. This type of algae requires a particular type of algaecide specifically for yellow algae. Follow the instructions carefully and you will be successful in removing this type of algae. If you determine you have yellow algae, regular pool shock will not work against it as it is chlorine resistant. Go with the algaecide and save yourself the headaches and failure, believe me, I’ve tried it.

If you find black tar looking spots in your pool, then your likely looking at black algae. If you have black algae in your pool then get ready to do battle with the most stubborn and most difficult to eradicate algae you will deal with in your pool. The easiest way to remove black algae if you got it pretty bad is to drain the pool, power wash the spots and then chlorine wash the walls. Refill and start over. If it’s not bad and you only have a few spots then what you’ll have to do is get a tablet holder to put on the end of your pole. Using a wire brush, you’ll want to brush the spots until you get the top layer off. Once you get the top layer off, you’ll want to attach a tablet to your new tablet holder and then vigorously rub the tablet on the same spots until you can see the tablet leave a layer of white over the spot. Black algae is very difficult to remove because it digs into the plaster and then forms a waxy layer to protect itself against the chlorine in the pool. Tablets are made of triclor. Triclor is 99% pure nasty. Triclor wins every time if you prep the area correctly by removing the outer layer. Do this until the spots are completely gone. Don’t stop until they are completely gone or they will come back.

The moral of the story is simple keep your chlorine level high and your water level at no less than half tile and you won’t need to worry about equipment problems or any of the types of algaes I talked about above.

www.reliablepoolcareaustin.com

Posted in Summer | 1 Comment

100+ degree weather in Austin from now till September

Hello and welcome to 100 degree plus temps everyday till September or so. Temperatures here in Austin have reached the century mark and will not likely change for the next three months or so. Along with the scorching temperatures and unbearable humidity, this year the word drought has taken on a whole new meaning. We are experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent memory, along with very windy days.

The combination of all these factors is causing problems for many pool owners including pool care professionals. We are not only fighting to maintain chlorine residuals in the pools we care for, but also the yellow algae, and to top it all off, filtration issues for many of our pools.

The dry, windy conditions are blowing a lot of tiny particulate into pools. Many pool’s with sand or cartridge filters simply cannot filter the overwhelming amount of debris, resulting in a yellowish, greenish pool. To make matters worse, the overwhelming amount of dust is consuming the chlorine in the pool, which then requires more chlorine, left unguarded the pool will then get an algae bloom. It’s a vicious cycle.

If you find yourself in the situation I just described above then this is what you have to do. First, vacuum to waste what you can and try to remove as much leaf debris as you can in the process. Then use a floc, to drop out all the suspended material. When using a floc to help clear up a pool make sure to follow the instructions carefully and precisely. The results will amaze you. What you should be looking at if you did it correctly is crystal clear water with a layer of film across the entire bottom. The next step in clearing up an unruly pool is to vacuum the pool to waste. When doing this step what you want to do is isolate a skimmer. If you have the ability to valve off the maindrain and the other skimmer, if you have one, that is what you should do. Sometimes we use a tennis ball or plastic bottle to block another skimmer if there is one. After you have isolated a skimmer, set your multiport valve to the waste position. Sink your hose and get it into the skimmer, then run and turn the pump on. Move quickly to vacuum all the settled material around the pool as you are wasting water and depending on water level you only have so much to work with before you might lose prime on the hose due to low water level. If you did this part right, when you are done vacuuming you should be looking at a beautiful clean pool mostly free of dust.

Now that you are looking at a mostly clean pool, get the pool circulating and brush the pool up this will help move some of the remaining dust into the filter. After a 24 hour running of the equipment, backwash the filter and put it back into its normal run time. This time of year you should run the pool no less than 8 hours a day during the hottest part of the day, between 10am and 6pm.

Just when you thought the tree blooms were a thing of the past, if you own crepe myrtles, you should know that these trees bloom non-stop for the entire summer. Another tid bit about these blooms is that they are very delicate blooms and decompose very quickly. When they find their way into the skimmer they breakdown quickly and make a complete seal in the skimmer. Now these delicate pink and white blooms have jeopardized your equipment by obstructing the flow of water to the pump. If you own crepe myrtles around the pool, please remember to empty your skimmer baskets or you run the risk of damaging your equipment, it’s that simple.

Rising temperatures mean more use of the pool, protect yourself and pool patrons by insuring a constant chlorine residual. Make sure to add tablets to your chlorinator or floater, which ever you have, and if you don’t have one, get one. Using some type of chemical feeder this time of year will help replenish what use and UV rays are constantly depleting.

Be proactive, it’s the cheapest way to keep your pool ready for use during the summer.

Posted in Summer | 2 Comments

Spring is over, Let’s talk about Summer Maintenance in Austin, Tx

Spring, here in Austin, Tx appears to be over. The days are longer and hotter which means summer is around the corner. The trees and pollen off of those trees have completed their yearly assault, and will now provide wonderful shade for those of us who have trees around the pool. The nuisance of the green giants transforms into something more pleasant and useful, by shading, an otherwise blistering pool area. I always remind homeowners when they tell me they are going to chop down the trees that cause them so many problems, about the benefits of lush trees incorporated into their pool setting.

Now that we have made it through the unbearable spring season here in Austin, the next thing we will need to be concerned with is the super long and super hot summer season.

Let’s start by making one simple observation. The longer and hotter the days become along with rising pool water temperatures, the MORE chlorine the pool will require. If you add in the fact that the pool is now being used with some frequency, you should expect a higher chlorine demand. The chlorine demand is the amount of chlorine required to eliminate all contaminants in the water and leave a chlorine residual.

It just makes sense that if people are using the pool, the pool will be contaminated with whatever might be on the people using the pool. If you think about all the different things that might be on a person and multiply it by the number of people, it will far exceed Baskin Robbin’s 31 flavors. This is also the reason many commercial pool settings have a shower at the pool, not so much for you to rinse off after you use the pool, but before you use the pool at all. The point of today’s news bulletin is to give you a heads up on what you should be thinking about as far as a chlorine regiment for your pool.

I have dealt with many pools in the Austin area for many years now, and have come to this reality. If you try to maintain your chlorine levels at ideal, you will be fighting the algae all summer long. Ideal chlorine residual for a pool is between 1.5 and 3 parts per million. Try to keep an ideal level of chlorine in your frequently used pool during the scorching Texas summers and you will be fighting the algae all summer long. Have you ever noticed when at the neighborhood pool that the lifeguards ask patrons to get out of the pool so they can check the chlorine every hour or so? What they are doing is checking and adjusting the chlorine level every time they do that. My point is this, unless you have the time or desire to check your chlorine level with this kind of regularity, then err on the high side when adding chlorine to your pool.

Ideal levels of chlorine residual is just that, in a perfect world, your chlorine levels would always be in the ideal range. Ideally I would be a millionaire and never have to work. Trying to achieve this kind of ideal levels is hard without the continued daily supervision of the homeowner.

I will say this, however, some of these new salt system chlorination devices out these days, do a pretty good job at this task. If you happen to own one, remember to monitor the chlorine residual in the pool on a weekly basis to make sure your system isn’t over chlorinating the pool and adjust as necessary.
Because the salt cell produces chlorine everyday for the duration that the filter pump is running, it can actually achieve a constant level of chlorine residual that will not allow for algae to ever get a foothold in your pool.

For those of us who don’t have a salt system in place, the task of making sure the pool is always well chlorinated is a bit trickier, but there is a simple solution to the problem as well. Don’t try to keep chlorine levels at “ideal”, and figure out how long a slightly elevated amount of chlorine product will get you through the week, and then adjust it until you find a level that is ideal for your real world setting.

Free chlorine residual in a pool has no detectable taste, odor, and causes no irritation at levels as high as 10-20 parts per million. With this in mind you potentially have a big enough range to be able to elevate your chlorine levels to well beyond “ideal” and spent less time fighting the algae. This statement is only meant to make you aware that you can comfortably enjoy the pool even if you were to have a chlorine level somewhat higher than the established “ideal range.”

Along with elevating your chlorine residual to a summertime dosage, you should be proactive and shock the pool after a long weekend or after a day of heavy use. If you have a social event where the pool took center stage, after everyone is done enjoying the pool, your pool will likely not have much to any chlorine and will be very easily overrun by the algae. Algae can coat the entire surface of the pool overnight. In order to prevent an algae bloom of this sort be proactive, drop a few more tablets into the chlorinator and turn it up while the pool is being used. Then shock the pool hard after the party is over, especially if the water has a haziness to it. It would also be a good idea to run the equipment for a 24 hour period after you shock it, this will circulate the chlorine and filter particles. The end result should be a beautiful sparkling pool the next day. Not doing anything about it will inevitably result in an algae bloom.

I will summarize with this simple statement, if you are using the pool, make sure to adequately chlorinate the pool. The chlorine demand is different for every pool out there because the amount of use is different from one pool to the next. The chlorine demand for a pool that is never used will obviously be a lot less than one that is used daily by the entire family and some friends. The chlorine demand for your pool is determined by the amount of use and the environment around it. Yours will not likely be mine, take some time to figure yours out specifically and you will have less down time and more uninterrupted use of the pool.

Posted in Summer | 6 Comments

Ants, too, should be part of your pool maintenance

Just a quick news bulletin about spring time maintenance as it pertains to ants. In early spring, ants start coming out of wherever they hibernate for the winter. Along with doing all the other “beneficial” things they do, they can cause you problems with your electrical equipment.

The way this happens, is simple. The windings from your electric motor for your pump or mechanical time clock and even the exposed ends of wires put off a magnetic field. This magnetic field is irresistible to the ant’s antennae, who are then drawn to it. Sometimes this field makes them start chewing on things.
This is where the problems begin. When they get to chewing on the windings, they will eventually get through the protective outer coating or insulation. Once there are two or more exposed wires in close proximity, you now have a electrical short moments away from happening. All that is needed now is for something to bridge the two exposed windings. Yes, the ants can conduct electricity. As the ants move around, they can and will at some point touch the two windings at the same time. Ants have just shorted your motor.

Ants also find that the enclosures and boxes make good shelter and are a good foundation onto which they can build their home and start the next colony. So they set up shop and get to work. Before you know it, you have an ant colony inside your equipment. The likeliness of the type of damage, described above, is now possible. The likeliness of getting bitten is also a reality.

In addition to that, the other type of damage I run across with some frequency is the building of a mound directly underneath the motor housing for any type of pump. The problem with this scenerio is that at some point these ants will attack the windings, but a lot slower type of damage is also occuring. These mounds are typically made up of dirt and organic debris. The problem is that this material holds moisture. This moisture over time will corrode completely through the housing and oxidize the motors insides. If enough oxide forms, metal conductors have a hard time moving electricity around. This will eventually lead to the need to replace the motors as well.

Along with proper pool maintenance, the entire backyard should be looked at to determine what could potentially harm or make pool maintenance more difficult or costly. Especially with the ants, make sure at first sighting that you do something to prevent these little guys from causing you a headache or ding your wallet. The little ant bait disks work good for this type of problem. Getting rid of the ants before they harm your equipment is the moral of this news update. Be proactive.

If you do get ant intrusion and need help with the problem, please contact us @ www.reliablepoolcareaustin.com.

Posted in Spring | 6 Comments

Check your water level in the pool, save money and headaches

Thanks to the semi-arid region in which Austin, Tx is located in, checking and maintaining proper water level is both extremely important and quite the hassle.

Maintaining a proper water level is important for many reasons. As we have previously discussed here before, maintaining proper water circulation in your pool is one of the most important things you can do for your pool. If the water level in the pool is too low then you run the risk of pulling air through your skimmer and losing prime for the pump. Losing prime for your pump means the water will not circulate and the potential for equipment damage is likely.

Most pools, ideally, should be level with the equipment set, but it you live in Austin, you know finding a level area in town is hard to find. If your equipment begins to leak because of a burnt seal or a shrunken fitting and your equipment is below the level of the water, even after the pump shuts off it will continue to leak. If your equipment is higher than the level of the water, then you will get air intrusion and lose the vacuum in the pump, if this is the case, your pump will then have to work really hard to pull water from the pool to circulate it. If your equipment does get an air intrusion and has to prime itself up every day, the potential for even greater damage is now a reality. You can deform and melt all the plumbing close to the pump and ruin your seal, not to mention shortening the life of the motor. Depending on how long this problem exists you can rack up a very large bill to repair all the damages.

There is a real easy visual reference to determine whether your pool needs water. Most pools have a six inch tile of some sort around the perimeter just underneath the pool coping. If your skimmer was put in correctly, the mouth of the skimmer should line up with this six inch tile. The lowest you would want the water level to be in your pool is half tile. If you come down three inches from the top of the tile, you should be in the middle of the tile. This is the lowest level you would want your water level to be, for the safety of the system. If you have an autofill for your pool, this is a good level to set the autofill. It will always maintain the level and will allow for a large enough clearance for trash and debris to flow into the skimmer.

If you have to fill the pool manually, then you should fill it to the highest level possible. You should fill it as high as you can so you don’t have to worry about it a little longer. During summer here in Austin, it’s not unusual to lose up to a quarter inch of water per day. Over the course of a week you can potentially lose up to 1.75 inches just from evaporation, which does not account for splash-out. So if the pool is being used, you can lose more than two inches of water per week. The proper level to fill the pool if you have to do it manually is one inch below the top of the mouth of the skimmer. This level will give you maximum water and still allow trash to enter the skimmer.

There are so many things to think about for the pool this one is one of the easiest to do. If your pool’s water level is at half tile or below, fill it. It’s that simple. Not maintaining proper water level can lead to costly repairs. So if you have a leak of any size, even if it’s not in the budget, fix it or it will become a lot larger liability.

Posted in All-Seasons | 25 Comments

Austin, TX empty your skimmers and pump basket

The blooms are now eminent. They are currently growing and some may already be falling. This news post goes out as a warning to pool owners everywhere that have any amount of blooming trees around their pool. Please make sure to empty the skimmer and pump baskets for your pool every day, twice a day if you have a complete canopy.

Every March or so, we get a seasonal drop out of blooms. Right before the blooms, the leaves of the oaks will drop out to accommodate the emerging blooms, so you get a double wa-mee if you’re lucky enough to own a few oaks in your back yard. As if dealing with a constant rain of blooms isn’t enough, spring will typically bring rains and windy weather conditions. These things can make a pool owners frustration with the pool even worse.

The next thing you will have to endure is the pollen. Pollen is attracted to the pool water like a magnet. Along with being in amounts detrimental to human health, it is very tiny. Each grain of pollen is times smaller, in diameter, than a human hair. If you have a sand filter, brace yourself for what is in store for you.

Sand filter media is many, many times larger than a grain of pollen. That is the problem, it’s like trying to catch a mosquito with a large cargo net. Inevitably the mosquito will simply pass through the large holes in the net, as will the pollen simply work its way through the sand. If you have a sand filter attached to your pool, arm yourself with a good clarifier.

Clarifiers work on a simple premise, most particles have a negative charge, clarifier is a positively charged solution. Opposites attract, as the paricles become clumped together, they get heavier and will eventually drop to the bottom. Pollen being very small, keeps it in suspension, when it clumps, it gets heavy enough to drop to the bottom where they can easily be vacuumed to waste using your standard vacuum.

Cartrige filters and especially D.E. filters will do a lot better job of removing these tiny particles. Remember pollen is usually yellow and most pool water is usually some sort of blue, yellow and blue make green. Often times pool owners think that they have an algae bloom, when in fact all they are really looking at is the color created when blue and yellow come together.

If you have an “algae bloom” that doesn’t die, no matter how much shock you put in the water, take a step back and make sure you are dealing with algae and not a pollen infested pool. If that is the case, then a good clarifier will be a lot better investment than all the shock in the world. I have tried to shock the color out of the pollen, and have been unsuccessful.

If you have a severe pollen infestation, then you might want to try a floc. Floc is a super clarifier on steriods that requires a procedure, that must be followed to be successful. A floc will essentially drop everything suspended in the water in about a 24 hour period, that can easily be vacuumed to waste very quickly. Follow the instructions and you will clear up your pool quickly.

If during this difficult time of year you can at minimum remember to empty your skimmer baskets and pump baskets you would be doing yourself a huge favor. Not only are you helping keep your pool clean, but you are more importantly protecting your equipment. Your pumps are a mechanical device that turn on when asked, no matter what condition exists. If your pump can’t pull water because it is full of debris it will steam the water that is in it and begin to melt, shrink, and damage your plumbing. This also has the potential for buring up your seal. Water flowing through the pump acts as a radiator, cooling the pump, without it, it will burn up. If you need an example, try running your car without fluid in the radiator.

If you simply do the above, remembering to empty all baskets and bags, you will keep your pool cleaner and protect your equipment. If your pool turns colors like brown or maybe even black, don’t worry, this is the “tea effect”. All the debris in the pool is simply “teaing” up the water and can be “blued” by a good shocking.

A lot of things happen during the spring season, what doesn’t have to happen is damage to the equipment. A pool can always be cleaned up, but equipment needs to be repaired. Pools are a chore, even a challege this time of year. Do what you can to clean the pool and soon the trees will retreat and settle in for summer and things will get a lot easier. Hang in there, this spring season is not as bad as previous years and will soon be over. Then we will start to worry about algae and summer time use. That will be our topic next time.

If you need assistance during this difficult time of year, don’t hesistate to contact us at Reliablepoolcareaustin.com.

Posted in Spring | 47 Comments

How to deal with spring blooms around your pool in Austin, TX

Blooms, blooms and more blooms. Everywhere you look there are blooms of every color and shape. Even though these blooms help beautify our wonderful city and roads, they can be quite the nuisance around a pool.

The worst of these blooming trees is our friend the Live Oak. Live Oaks are the type of tree featured on many logos because of their beauty and impressive size. Their imposing presence can provide plenty of shade for backyard comfort, but will also unleash the “11th plaque” upon you and your pool.

The Live Oak is probably the worst, but there are many trees typical to backyard landscaping that cause homeowners and their pools a lot of headaches. If you have owned your pool for a complete year, then you probably remember last year’s bloom. It was probably one the worst in recent memory. This is a yearly occurrence, the only difference is the intensity.

The amount of debris that these trees will drop can very easily overwhelm any pool. There are pool salesmen out there that will tell you that your pool will care for itself if you buy this, that and the other. I would call them all, “liars.” Many pool salesmen have never cleaned a pool and some don’t even know how the equipment works or how to maintain it. So, if you have a self-cleaning pool in Austin, Tx, you are one of a privileged few.

Pool professionals call this time of year, “the bloom.” We wait for it all winter long. Pool work being somewhat seasonal, it helps get the swim season up and running. If you have a lot of blooming trees incorporated in your backyard landscaping, here are some things you should incorporate into your daily routine to avoid costly repairs and having to drain your pool.

The things that you need to remember are all common sense things. You should remember that pool skimmers and cleaner bags have a set capacity. Once the capacity is reached then no more debris fits in it. So one of the most important things you should remember is to empty any receptacle meant to capture debris from the pool daily. If your pool has a huge canopy of trees above it, then you should remember to empty them twice a day.

Not emptying out your skimmers baskets daily will lead to the pump pulling air into the system, which will cause your pump to lose prime and burn up your seal, melt your impellar, or burn up your pump. When the amount of debris in the skimmer creates a seal in the skimmer and the skimmer is the only suction line to your pump you can expect all of the above to happen.

Not emptying your polaris bag or equivalent will lead to lost productivity in cleaning since ,once the bag is full, no more will go in. By emptying the bag daily you can ,at minimum, have that much less to deal with. If you do it every day, you would potentially have seven times less to deal with. If you don’t empty it at all then what will happen is the bag will fill up to capacity and then slump over and drag on the plaster until someone empties it. Dragging on plaster for even one day with a full load can potentially wear a hole in the bag. A typical polaris bag can cost up to $45.00. So, now not only is the pool full of debris, you now have to buy a new bag.

The next thing you need to remember is to empty out your pump basket. So many times when emptying your skimmer basket, debris gets around the basket when you pull it out of the skimmer. When the pool is overrun with blooms, it’s not a bad idea to turn the pump off before emptying the skimmers. This will at least not allow for the escaped material to go into the plumbing where a possible clog may form. Having the pump off will allow for you to remove the debris out of the skimmer before it can get into the plumbing. The blooms will fall apart in the skimmer under pressure from the pump. You will get a basket full of debris even with the utmost care. By remembering to empty your pump basket, you will prevent the pump from burning up a seal and allow for the pump to properly circulate your pool.

The blooms will also find there way into your filter. The blooms are delicate creatures and fall apart very quickly after drop and saturation in water. They will get past your skimmer basket and pump basket and then proceed to clog your filter. Remember to keep your eye on the pressure guage located somewhere on your filter. When your pressure gauge reads ten pounds above clean pressure, you should take the time to backwash the filter. This will make sure that pressure doesn’t build up to the point something may break. It will also keep the pool circulating properly, to ensure it does all it can to help clean the pool.

In the worst of scenarios, if your pool has such a thick canopy of trees that are blooming all over the place. Turn the equipment OFF. I sometimes turn equipment off when the situation is hopeless. When there is so much debris that only a full time employee can deal with it, turn the equipment off. If the pool is going to look bad regardless of all you do then it only makes sense. The pool will require a strong willed person to clean the pool as often as he or she can and at the same time protect the plumbing and equipment from becoming clogged or damaged. If you are in this situation, remember to shock the pool as often as you clean it to keep it from going green. Then we would be talking about something else. The pool may turn brown or black, this is the “tea” effect. Shock it, it will go away. Once the heavy drop has slowed up, then you can turn your equipment back on. You could potentially save a lot of money this way.

Regardless of circumstance, spring pool maintenance is only matched by fall maintenance. It is the time of year where all the needed ingredients for a swamp meet and have the best chance to upset your well-being. Being ready and proactive will get you through this tough season and hopefully get you into a long and happy swim season.

www.reliablepoolcareaustin.com

Posted in Spring | 12 Comments

Austin, TX Spring is here, is your pool ready?

Finally, the weather is warming up and the days are getting longer. Soon the flowers will start beautifing our roads and highways and the trees will wake up, stretch their limbs, and begin their yearly assault on your backyard pool.

The warmer and longer days will cause the temperature of the water in your pool to warm up. This is why you need to start thinking about your pool. All winter long maintenance for your pool is just a passing thought, but now is the time to take action. Winter water temperatures will not allow for algae and certain bacterias to grow but with the temperatures getting higher, if no action is taken, you will soon be reminded about the need to do so.

The same way that trees bloom in the spring, so will the algae. The water temperature will soon be able to support algae blooms in your pool. Remember that algae are a type of plant. If your pool has not been properly maintained during the winter by backwashing your filter, vaccuuming and brushing the pool and adjusting the water’s chemistry, your pool is a ticking time bomb.

If your pool becomes unruly every spring, it’s likely due to the lack of maintenance during the winter. By not keeping your pool’s maintenance regiment during the winter, you have allowed for all the neccesary components for “a perfect storm” to assemble in your pool. The outcome, if action is not taken, will always lead to the need to drain your pool or at least go through an expensive turn around procedure.

Proper filtration is needed to remove dirt that blows in from the enviroment. Dirt contains nutrients, nutrients that algae feed on and thrive. Low levels of sanitizer will allow for algae to bloom freely and without restriction. If your filter has not been backwashed or cleaned out then your circulation is likely very poor as well. Proper circulation is fundamental in pool maintenance as it is responsible for moving the chemicals around the pool, to deal with things like algae. If you add a constant rain of tree blooms to this mix, your pool will simply be overwhelmed and unforturnately suffer.

If your pool is covered, I would suggest leaving that cover in place until the trees are done for the season. In the Austin area the trees will complete their bloom sometime by the end of April or mid May. Unless you have a heater the water temperature is usually still too chilly to enjoy recreational use of the pool anyway. This will save you a lot a hard labor to remove the tree debris and minimize the chance of equipment problems or damage.

If your pool doesn’t have a cover and has a conopy of trees directly above it then you will have to take action immediately, to avoid what we commonly refer to as a “swamp”. The first thing you will need to do is clean out your filter whether through backwashing or breaking the filter down to spray if off. If you have a D.E filter you might consider a D.E filter service. The next thing is to vaccum the pool to remove any and all sediment that has been laying around on the pool floor. Once you have all the debris removed from the pool the next thing is to brush the pool with some authority. Brushing the pool walls and other surfaces will get the dirt into the water, where it will likely find its way into the filter. Once the physical part of cleaning the pool is done, you will then want to check and balance the pool’s chemistry. Keeping the chems in proper range will allow for them to work effectively. Next you should run the equipment for a 24 hour peroid. This will allow for the chemical adjustment to circulate properly and allow for the filter to remove the dust floating around the pool. The next day, backwash your filter one more time and set the equipment run time to run at least 8 hours a day during the hottest part of the day. Lastly remember to empty the skimmer baskets, pump basket and cleaner bag frequently, sometimes twice a day. Remember to continue a weekly maintenace shedule from now until November.

Doing the above list of recommendations will help you minimize the chance of your pool turning into a swamp this spring, and hopefully save you some money. Prevention and being proactive is the key to less pool stress. Reliable pool care is an Austin pool company and is very familiar with the trouble spring brings to the area and is ready to help you with your pool’s needs.

www.reliablepoolcareaustin.com

Posted in Spring | 17 Comments