Opening with Algae

The classic pool-opening weekend, May 24th, is coming up. We thought that now would be a good time to give you some advice on opening your pool if you find that it is filthy green. Since none of your friends or loved ones would be interested in a cool and refreshing algae bath, here are some basic suggestions for clearing up a pool…


Firstly, make sure that your pump is running. If your water is sitting stagnant, any chemicals that you add will be fighting an uphill battle as they work to clear up your pool. Run your pump constantly and follow the next suggestion(s) until the algae is gone.


With the pump running and the water circulating, you are ready to shock the pool. Liquid chlorine or pre-mixed powdered chlorine shock will usually do the trick. If the algae is very bad and you choose to add an algaecide, check that it is a synthetic kind. Chlorine shock will lessen the effectiveness of an organic-based algaecide.


You may need to scrub the walls to remove algae that has attached to surfaces. Agitate the sitting algae as much as possible to help the chlorine kill it.


When the algae is dead, you will probably have white, cloudy water. If you want to clear it up quickly, use a liquid or powdered flocculant, and follow the directions carefully. These products drop the dead algae that is causing the cloudiness to the bottom of the pool so that it may be cleaned out.


If you aren’t in a rush to clear up the cloudiness, a clarifier can often help remove the dead algae over the course of a few weeks.


We hope this has been helpful. Enjoy your pool this summer!

Safety Cover Advice

Safety covers are becoming more popular every year. The ease of opening and closing a pool with a safety cover is hard to argue against, even with a bit of a cost up-front for the fancy cover.

Though the covers have become more popular, common knowledge hasn't spread quite yet regarding the best ways to open a pool with a safety cover. In some ways, it is very different from a tarp cover.

Since the cover itself is porous, allowing small bits of silt and liquid to pass through, the water level will be higher (than with tarp covers) and the pool will have much more organic material in the water. This can mean a lot of algae if you open your pool a number of weeks after the water has thawed.

There are two common ways to treat the water to make opening day easier...

The first way is to pour liquid chlorine into the pool a few weeks before you plan on opening it. Starting with one corner, remove a few springs from their mounts and pour a jug of chlorine into that corner. Re-attach the springs, and wait a week. The next week, do the same thing with a different corner. Repeat the process weekly until you open your pool.

The second way is to treat the water with algaecide. Adding half a bottle before the water freezes in the fall, and another half of a bottle after it thaws in the spring will limit the amount of algae on opening day.
Neither method guarantees a crystal-clear pool, but it helps to limit the one and only draw-back from opening a pool with a safety cover.

As always, if you would rather have your pool opened professionally, call (519.857.5069) or email us. We'd be happy to help you out.

When is the Best Time to Replace a Pool Liner?

No matter how nice it once looked, your old liner will eventually start to fail on you. Small tears and folds will add up to big problems over the course of a season. Maybe you're reading this because you already know that your liner needs to be replaced, or perhaps you're just looking ahead. Either way, what follows are a few quick pros and cons for the two most common liner-replacement times.

End-of-Season


At the time of writing this, we're coming to the end of another Summer season in London, ON. That means that people are starting to close their pools for the Winter. Though many don't expect this, end-of-season can actually be a great time to replace your pool liner.

The primary benefit of replacing a liner at this time of year is that you won't lose any in-season time for next year. Your pool will be up-and-ready as soon as the weather permits it. This can be really nice for people with inground pools, as every week shaved off of the Canadian swimming season can be frustrating.

Another benefit is that your pool can be closed by the company who replaces the liner, ensuring that everything was done correctly and leaving you with someone to go to in the following season if something isn't right.

A final (potential) benefit can be scheduling. Most people will be peeling off their cover and seeing a damaged liner for the first time in the Spring, meaning that most of the liner-replacements will be happening at that time. If a company is less booked because they aren't doing as many liner-replacements at the end of the season then that can mean priority scheduling for you and your project.

Keep in mind that many pool companies will have a breadth of work that they do, which can include liner replacements as well as things such as safety cover installations. As a result, they won't be able to guarantee a miracle liner-replacement schedule because they will be booking a different set of seasonal projects.

Beginning-of-Season


As mentioned above, the beginning of the season is generally the most common time for people to replace their pool liners. As expected, this comes with its own pros and cons.

The primary benefit is that you are going into the season with a brand new liner, while an end-of-season installation means that the liner has gone through one Winter before you've ever actually used it.

The second benefit is that a liner replacement requires draining and refilling your pool. Doing this at the end of the season can seem like a hassle, but at the beginning of the season, it guarantees fresh, clean water.

Alongside these two primary benefits is the clear downside: most people get their liners replaced at the beginning of the season, so priority scheduling can become difficult. Most of this drawback can be eliminated by opening your pool early and/or booking your liner replacement ahead of time.

The company who replaces your liner will expect the pool to be open and in decent condition prior to draining it (unless you have arranged for them to also open your pool), but you could potentially book a liner replacement before you open. This approach gets your name in the 'queue,' allowing for faster turnaround time.

Usually, the bulk of the time spent waiting for a pool liner replacement is while the manufacturer makes the liner. That being said, getting the process started before the manufacturer is flooded with orders can make your experience much more preferable.

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We hope that this information was helpful!

What Pool Shape to Choose?

There are a lot of decisions to make when buying a new pool.

A rectangular pool may not have the exact aesthetic that you are looking for. You're looking at your options... Humpback Kidney, Lagoon, Roman... It can be hard to decide. Unfortunately, if cost is a factor for you, choosing a pool shape may make a bigger difference in the long run than you expect.

In the pool industry, most things are standardized around a 16X32 rectangular, inground pool (~80,000 litres). If you're looking for a heater, the best value will probably be one that's fitted for ~80,000 litres. If you're looking for a solar blanket, the best value will almost certainly be a 16X32 rectangle.

Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that an 18X36 rectangular solar blanket is going to cost you an arm and a leg, but it will usually be more expensive per square foot than its 16X32 counterpart. Where the big price differences arise are in the pool shape.

As people start closing their pools for the winter, the two main cover types that you will see are tarp and safety covers. Tarp covers are generally available in rectangles, circles, and ovals. This means that a 16X32 kidney shaped pool (due to how kidney pools are measured) will usually need an 18X36 pool cover. This difference will probably cost you an extra $20-40. The biggest issue for most people when getting a tarp cover will be the inconvenient shape of their pool.

The massive price differences in pool shape will arise in safety covers. A 16X32 standard rectangular safety cover may cost you half the amount of a 16X32 safety cover with rounded sides. This means that adding Roman ends to your rectangular pool for a visual improvement could cost you an extra $1000 later down the road.

Now, none of this is meant to scare you away from purchasing your dream pool. Sometimes, though, these price differences are tough to spot up-front and can take unknowing pool-buyers by surprise. We want everyone to be able to enjoy their pools, not spending their time worrying about unexpected expenses.

Hopefully this advice helps you!

What is Hivercide?

When you're getting ready to close your pool this year, you will probably reach for some algaecide and some antifreeze. Sometimes, next to these familiar products will be a less familiar one: Hivercide.

Many pool owners will assume that it is a 'premium' algaecide, but the lower price-point helps indicate that's not the case. Hivercide is a winterizing product for pools that are closed with a safety cover. It allows for a cleaner, easier-to-open pool the following Spring.

Safety covers are primarily a thick mesh, allowing water and silt to phase through them into the pool. As a result, the pool water in the Spring can be extremely green or black, with thick algae on the pool walls if proper care was not taken to open properly with a safety cover.

Hivercide can help to prevent these opening issues by keeping the algae suspended in the water. Suspended algae is much easier to kill with chlorine than algae that is attached to a surface.

While it's not the cure-all, one-stop solution to safety cover opening issues, Hivercide can be a relatively affordable factor for safety cover owners who are looking to close their pool this year as effectively as possible.

Is Solar Heating Worth It?

Gas heaters can seem expensive up-front. For a typical inground pool, those heaters start around $2000. In comparison, some solar heating units are sold by the roll or by the sheet at $100 per unit. With a price difference so dramatic, it's common for people to wonder if solar is worth a shot.

The first thing to understand is that not all solar heaters are of equal quality. A common model by Game (Solar Pro) is not going to hold-up as well as an Enersol panel, for example.

Another important factor when deciding for or against solar heating is checking what kind of pool the heater is built for. To refer back to the Solar Pro again, many of its connections are odd sizes. They are technically designed for Intex pools, which has fittings that are largely proprietary. Hooking up a poorly-suited solar heater can be difficult if this factor is not considered from the start.

The next point is that solar heaters are not one-size-fits-all. You can't expect the same gas heater to be effective on both a 20-by-40 foot inground pool and a 15-foot aboveground. Solar heaters are no different. Modular units like the Enersol panels are meant to be purchased as a batch and hooked together, with the number of panels purchased being dependent upon the size of the pool.

Complete units like the Solar Pro often come in varying sizes. These models are rarely large enough to heat an inground pool, but they can be effective on modest abovegrounds.

Once you have researched how many panels/units your particular pool needs, based on its size, you will probably find that the upfront cost is very similar to that of a gas heater. Many people are surprised by this, but spending less could mean that you have spent money on too few solar panels and will not see a return on your investment.

The benefit of solar heating is that it is free after you have purchased it. The downside is that it is less dependable than a gas heater because it relies upon the appropriate weather conditions. To get the best of both worlds, some people will pair a reduced number of solar panels with a gas heater. This allows the solar heating to do what it can, while the gas heater only kicks in when the solar panels cannot keep the pool up to temperature. As a result, your gas bills are reduced and the lifespan of your gas heater is potentially extended.

Overall, if you are willing to spend the same amount of money upfront on solar heating as you would on gas, the option is generally going to be worth your investment. The biggest limitation with solar heating is usually space. If you have enough space on your roof for the requisite number of solar panels then you are good to go. If you live in a very shaded area or are limited by space, solar heating may not be a good option for you.

Algaecide: Copper or No Copper?

The variety of algaecides on the market can become confusing. Some have percentages, while others do not. Some contain copper sulfate, while others do not. Below is a basic breakdown of the differences between your algaecide options.

Algaecides that come labelled with a percentage are organic-based algaecides. These products become more concentrated as the percentage increases. For example, a 40% algaecide is less aggressive than a 60% algaecide.

Percentage algaecides, however, should generally not be used in conjunction with a chlorine shock. The chlorine actually damages the algaecide’s organic elements, making it less effective. As a result, algaecides that are labelled with a percentage are best used as a preventative or maintenance treatment.

Synthetic algaecides do not have a percentage attached to them and can be used alongside an aggressive chlorine shock. These products can be used for maintenance, but they truly shine as algae-removal treatments.

Two common variations of synthetic algaecides are those that contain copper-sulfate and those that do not contain copper-sulfate. Copper-sulfate is a highly-effective algae killer, making algaecides that contain the chemical very powerful. Unfortunately, some pools tend to have high copper levels, and adding more copper to the water in such cases can be a bad idea.

For pools that already have high copper levels, avoiding copper-sulfate-based algaecides is usually best. Keeping metal levels low will help to prevent staining and scaling. Copper can also sometimes turn light-coloured hair green.

What is a Robotic Cleaner?

A robotic pool cleaner is a self-contained unit that operates independently from your existing pool equipment. Robotic pool cleaners are powered by electricity and usually come with a power cord between 50 and 60 feet in length. Robotic cleaners contain software that drive the unit and are moved by an internal motor.

There are many brands of robotic cleaners that can differ greatly in both features and quality. One brand that we recommend is Hayward, which carries the high-end Aquavac 500 DS. The Aquavac 500 DS has two scrub pads on the bottom of the unit, which clean your liner as the unit vacuums and filters your water through internal cartridge filters.

By sucking water in through the bottom and exhausting it out through the top, the cleaner is able to climb the pool walls, scrubbing your liner up to slightly above the waterline.

Being self-contained means that robotic cleaners allow your existing pump and filter system to run as normal, instead of interrupting the system like suction-based cleaners. Though they come in at a higher price-point, the constantly-improving functionality and thorough cleaning capacity that robotic cleaners provide has led to an increase in their popularity over the past decade.

It is worth keeping an eye out for the Aquavac 500 DS next time you’re shopping for a new pool cleaner.

Free vs. Total vs. Combined Chlorine

Testing your pool’s chlorine levels is just as simple as looking at one number, right? Unfortunately, no. There are three different chlorine ‘levels’ that you should track if you’re trying to keep your water balanced.

Free chlorine is the most commonly tracked chlorine level. If you are using test strips, the chlorine reading you’re seeing is likely for ‘free’ chlorine. This level is the amount of chlorine in your pool that is available to help sanitize the water. You should aim to keep the free chlorine level between 2 and 4ppm (parts per million). This amount will provide enough chlorine to sanitize the pool effectively without requiring excessive amounts of chlorine in the water.

Combined chlorine is the amount of chlorine that is already ‘attached’ to something in the water. When you open your pool, and it is very green, the first shock will usually yield high combined chlorine levels. Combined chlorine cannot contribute to sanitizing your water. Using a chlorine shock or oxidizing shock will lower combined chlorine levels, which should be kept to a minimum (below 0.2ppm).

Total chlorine is simply the sum of your free and combined chlorine. This level should be kept below 4ppm. If you manage your free and combined levels properly, you will never have an issue with your total chlorine level. Most commonly, total chlorine will be high after a heavy shock treatment and/or when combined chlorine is not being balanced effectively.

What are Phosphates?

Many London, ON pool-owners struggle to maintain the clarity of their water.

Due to a mild winter, without a ‘hard freeze,’ algae has much more time and freedom to grow. With such a difficult struggle, it’s no surprise that pool owners are looking for something to blame. For some people, the scapegoat became phosphates.

Are phosphates truly the root of your issue? The answer is: ‘possibly.’ Here’s what you should probably know…

Phosphates are food for algae. With lots of food, algae can grow more quickly and will be more resistant to methods for removing it.

In pools that are properly maintained (consistent sanitizer, pH, and proper water chemistry), phosphates are rarely an issue.

When a pool is maintained poorly, phosphates can make the fight against algae much more difficult.

The take-away here is that your pool may be very well-maintained during the season, but very few pools open at the beginning of the season in ‘great’ or ‘well-maintained’ condition. As a result, you are faced at the beginning of the season with many of the problems that plague a poorly-maintained pool, including phosphate levels.

When algae is already abundant, having high phosphates can make removing that algae much more difficult. Some people see almost no response to chlorine with phosphate levels over 2000. In such cases, removing the phosphates will make removing the algae much more manageable.

To be clear, removing the phosphates will not necessarily remove the algae. The sanitizer (chlorine, for example) will still be needed for that part. However, with the algae food less available, the algae will die much more quickly in the presence of chlorine.

You should not necessarily need to worry about removing the phosphates in your water if the water is already clear and/or algae-free. You are unlikely to notice much of a difference in your regular pool maintenance whether your algae is high or low (assuming that you maintain your water chemistry appropriately).

What is a Suction-Based Pool Cleaner?

A suction-based pool cleaner is a self-propelled vacuum that travels around your pool by using the suction created from your pump. A hose connects from the head of the cleaner to the opening in your pool skimmer.

Most suction-based cleaners have one moving part: the diaphragm. The diaphragm looks like a rubber sleeve with a mouth at one end. The suction from the pump causes the mouth to open and close, creating a vacuum effect that draws the cleaner forward.

Most suction-based cleaners simply follow the water current in the pool. As a result, they can get caught on ladders and/or miss sections of the pool. If you are having problems with your suction-based cleaner, start by looking at the direction in which your return ‘jets’ are facing. They should generally point slightly down and toward the center of the pool, to encourage the cleaner to cover more surface area.

A suction-based cleaner is often referred to as a ‘Kreepy Krauly,’ though they are rarely Kreepy brand anymore. Colloquially, people will know what you are talking about, but it is highly recommended that you know the actual brand of your suction-based cleaner, as replacement parts are brand-specific.