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Ask the Residential Swimming Pool Expert - Russel Koch

Updated: Sep 29


October 2020


Commonly asked questions about pool closing. (Winterizing)


What kind of chemicals do I need to close my pool.? We suggest a good dose of chlorine, plus a non -chlorine oxidizer and finally a strong algaecide. Don’t forget to balance the water. PH and Alkalinity.


Do you put any antifreeze in your pipes.?

Yes we do. We use a plumbing antifreeze, along with a compressor and vacuum to blow out the lines. Once we blow out the lines, we add plumbing antifreeze to everything. It prevents any water that might be left in the lines from freezing.


Do you remove the light or drop it?

In most cases we remove the light and wrap it in a plastic bag for the winter. If we leave the light in the pool, we will drop it to the bottom. What we don’t want is for the light to be in ice. The expansion of the ice can crack the light.


Do you lower the water in the pool?

For a vinyl liner pool , the water is usually dropped below the return fittings. This way there is no chance of water entering the system and freezing. The water in the pool is helpful in keeping everything in place until the spring. We never drain a vinyl liner pool in the winter. Even if you are going to replace the liner in the spring, you still must have water in the pool for the winter. For an above ground vinyl liner pool the water is lowered to just below the returns and cover for the winter.


Do I leave my pool open or should I cover it for the winter?

We recommend covering the pool with either a black winter cover or a winter safety cover.

A black winter cover is held in place with water bags and will sit on top of the water. Once the water freezes the cover will just sit there. The snow and leaves and dirt will collect on the cover and in the spring the water that is on the cover and the leaves will have to be removed.

A winter safety cover is attached to your deck and will keep the leaves out of you pool. The snow that collects on the cover during the winter will melt and the water will go into the pool. The leaves will just blow away. A winter safety cover is idea if there are dogs or cats. The dogs and cats can walk across the cover and , except for getting a little wet will be fine.


What do I do with my sand filter or cartridge filter for the winter

For you sand filter, make sure your drain the filter and put the handle on the valve into winterization. Leave the drain plug off , and make sure that water can not enter the filter.


For a cartridge filter, take it apart the clean the cartridges with clean water. If you want to soak them in a solution of muriatic acid( diluted), do so for 24 hours then give them a really good wash with clean water. This would also be a good time to clean out the canister for the filter.

September 2020


What is water chemistry when we are talking about pool water?

About 90% of all pool problems arise from faulty water chemistry. The chemistry of your pool water is constantly changing or being altered because of rains, hot spells, heavy bather loads and even falling leaves or grass clippings.


What does it mean when they talk about water balance in my pool?

Water balance deals with the tendency of water to corrode or scale. Water Balance tells us one of three things:


Is the water scaling?

This means does the pool water precipitate or deposit a crusty, white substance called calcium carbonate or scale? This is the same as the deposit one sees at the bottom of a kettle used to boil water. Scale formation can form abrasive deposits on the pool surfaces, plug filter sand, reduce circulation by depositing scale inside the piping and cause cloudy pools. Allowing a scaling water condition to continue does irreparable damage to pool surfaces and equipment.


Is water corrosive?

Most pool owners understand the concept of “corrosion” Rusting is an example of corrosion of steel. In the pool environment corrosion can mean pitting of concrete surfaces, dissolving copper elements inside the pool heater or pin holes in metal filters and piping. The only way to correct corroded equipment or pool surfaces is by replacement... a very expensive proposition.


Is the water balanced?

Balanced water is neither scaling nor corrosive and does no damage to pool equipment or surfaces. Obviously, our objective is to have Balanced Water! There are three main factors or parameters which determine if water is balanced or not. There is pH, Calcium Hardness, and Total Alkalinity.

August 2020


When should I close down my pool?


Closing your pool is really a personal choice and depends on your lifestyle. In the past, we have had some incredibly spectacular weather in September. Temperatures in the mid to high 20s for the entire month have blessed Medicine Hat in the past. The weather in September is similar to June.


Keeping your pool operational in September does not have to cost a lot more than the rest of the summer. Pay attention to the weather, and check the 7 day forecast If the weather does not look favorable for the near future, or if you don’t think that you are going to use the pool for the next couple of days, then keep it covered and turn off the heater until the day before you are going to use the pool.


Keeping your pool operational in October is also a possibility. Again, by watching the weather, you can keep your cost down by covering the pool and turning on the heater only when you think you are going to use the pool.


Are my pool’s chemical needs any different in the fall than in the summer?


If you are going to keep your pool running in the fall, you must continue to balance your water and sanitize it with some sort of chlorine. The only difference is that if you don’t keep it heated all the time you will not need as much chlorine. You will also find that water evaporation is not as great in the fall as it is in the summer. If you do not add water to the pool, you do not have to treat it. One of the biggest drawbacks to running your pool in the fall is having to remove the leaves that fall into the water. Make sure you check the skimmer basket on a regular basis when the leaves are falling.


When I do decide to close the pool, what is the correct procedure?


Just before you shut down your pool, you should give it one final cleaning. Vacuum the pool, and do a thorough backwash (if you use a sand filter) or remove the cartridge filters and clean them. Run the pump for another 12 hrs, and during this time, shock the pool to about 10 ppm with a good chlorine shock.


Now, you can turn off the pump and start to drain the pool to just below the return inlets of the pool. After you have drained the pool, blow out all the lines and the skimmer. Depending on the system, I will usually run plumbing or RV antifreeze in the lines. Now, it’s time to cover your pool for the winter with either a safety cover or a black tarp. Before your finish, make sure that you blow all the water out of your heater, pump and filter. Now, you can sit back and wait for winter to end so that you can open your pool in the spring and enjoy it again!


Call 403-502-5082 for more information!

July 2020


DO I NEED TO USE MY SOLAR COVER WHEN IT IS HOT OUTSIDE?


A solar cover has more than one purpose. One reason for using a solar cover is to heat the water in your pool. Depending on your pool location, with the sun, a solar cover can raise the temperature of your water 4 to 8 degrees in one day. However, there are many factors to consider. The depth of the water, the amount of sun the pool receives, and the outside temperature are all considerations. As well, look at the length of time the cover is left on if the water is normally 82 degrees but the sun warms it to 86 degrees by 2 o’clock in the afternoon. If this is the case, no mechanical energy is being used to heat your pool. Note that if the pool is covered at night, the heat loss during the evening will be minimized. At times, the pool may only lose a couple of degrees if it is covered at night. In fact, it is not uncommon for an in-ground pool to maintain a temperature between 82 and 86 degrees without the use of a heater during a warm deteriorate.


Another purpose of a solar blanket is to minimize the evaporation of the pool water. If the day is hot and windy, a pool may lose up to 3/4 of an inch of water in one day. Even without the wind, water may be lost due to evaporation. A simple test that will show how much evaporation occurs in one day is to take two empty ice cream pails outside. Fill both with pool water, and set them on your swimming pool deck in direct sunlight. Cover one pail with a green garbage bag, and leave the other one uncovered. Check both pails in a day in order to check the water levels. The covered pail should have more water as it would have had less evaporation.


The solar blanket also helps to keep dirt and debris out of the pool. When the wind blows, it carries dust in the air. When the wind passes over your pool the dust from the air will be extracted and ends up in your pool. Also if leaves fall in your pool, sometimes a cover will keep the leaf on top and the leaf stands a better chance of blowing off. During grasshopper season, keeping your cover on your pool helps to keep some of the grasshoppers out of your pool. If a grasshopper lands in your pool, he can’t jump out, but if he lands on your cover, he still has a chance to hop out of your pool.


Keeping your pool cover during the hot weather also helps to maintain your chlorine levels. One of the factors concerning chlorine and how it is diminished is direct sunlight. Two pools, side by side, with one beginning cover and the other pool left uncovered, will require different amounts of chlorine if all other variable are the same.


WILL MY SOLAR COVER LAST AS LONG IF MY POOL IS ALWAYS COVERED?


No, the sun will also deteriorate your solar cover the longer that the cover is in direct sunlight, but it is still cheaper to replace a cover than the cost of fuel, the time to clean, and the cost of water and chemicals.


Covering your pool makes sense, but at the same time you can’t enjoy your pool if it is always covered. So keep your pool covered when not it use, but lets remove the cover and enjoy the pool as much as we can during the summer. Have a great summer.


June 2020


DO I NEED TO USE MY SOLAR COVER WHEN IT IS HOT OUTSIDE?

A solar cover has more than one purpose. One reason for using a solar cover is to heat the water in your pool. Depending on your pool location, with the sun, a solar cover can raise the temperature of your water 4 to 8 degrees in one day. However, there are many factors to consider. The depth of the water, the amount of sun the pool receives, and the outside temperature are all considerations. As well, look at the length of time the cover is left on if the water is normally 82 degrees but the sun warms it to 86 degrees by 2 o’clock in the afternoon. If this is the case, no mechanical energy is being used to heat your pool. Note that if the pool is covered at night, the heat loss during the evening will be minimized. At times, the pool may only lose a couple of degrees if it is covered at night. In fact, it is not uncommon for an in-ground pool to maintain a temperature between 82 and 86 degrees without the use of a heater during a warm deteriorate.

Another purpose of a solar blanket is to minimize the evaporation of the pool water. If the day is hot and windy, a pool may lose up to 3/4 of an inch of water in one day. Even without the wind, water may be lost due to evaporation. A simple test that will show how much evaporation occurs in one day is to take two empty ice cream pails outside. Fill both with pool water, and set them on your swimming pool deck in direct sunlight. Cover one pail with a green garbage bag, and leave the other one uncovered. Check both pails in a day in order to check the water levels. The covered pail should have more water as it would have had less evaporation.


The solar blanket also helps to keep dirt and debris out of the pool. When the wind blows, it carries dust in the air. When the wind passes over your pool the dust from the air will be extracted and ends up in your pool. Also if leaves fall in your pool, sometimes a cover will keep the leaf on top and the leaf stands a better chance of blowing off. During grasshopper season, keeping your cover on your pool helps to keep some of the grasshoppers out of your pool. If a grasshopper lands in your pool, he can’t jump out, but if he lands on your cover, he still has a chance to hop out of your pool.


Keeping your pool cover during the hot weather also helps to maintain your chlorine levels. One of the factors concerning chlorine and how it is diminished is direct sunlight. Two pools, side by side, with one beginning cover and the other pool left uncovered, will require different amounts of chlorine if all other variable are the same.



WILL MY SOLAR COVER LAST AS LONG IF MY POOL IS ALWAYS COVERED?

No, the sun will also deteriorate your solar cover the longer that the cover is in direct sunlight, but it is still cheaper to replace a cover than the cost of fuel, the time to clean, and the cost of water and chemicals.


Covering your pool makes sense, but at the same time you can’t enjoy your pool if it is always covered. So keep your pool covered when not it use, but lets remove the cover and enjoy the pool as much as we can during the summer. Have a great summer.


May 2020

What does it mean when they talk about water balance in my pool? Water balance deals with the tendency of water to corrode or scale. Scale formations can form abrasive deposits on pool surfaces, plug filter sand, reduce circulation by depositing scale inside piping, and cause cloudy pools. Allowing a scaling water condition to continue does irreparable damage to pool surfaces and equipment. In the pool environment, corrosion may cause the pitting of concrete surfaces, dissolve copper elements inside the pool heater or, pin holes in metal filters and piping. Balanced water is neither scaling nor corrosive. How do I balance my pool water? To balance your water, you should check your “ Total Alkalinity, PH, and Calcium Hardness” Total Alkalinity is the measure of the amount of alkaline salt in the pool water. It is important to the pool water chemistry as it is a buffer to the PH in the pool. Water that is low in Alkalinity has a hard time holding the PH at a certain level. What this means is that the PH will bounce around quite easily, and you will be constantly trying to correct it by adding the appropriate chemicals. Also, low alkalinity in the water tends to corrode .To raise the alkalinity, add “Alkalinity UP” to your pool. Low alkalinity can lead to the following: • PH bounce • Corrosion of pipes and staining of pool walls If, on the other hand, the Alkalinity is too high the PH will tend to drift up therefore leading to scaling water. Also, higher PH levels affect the effectiveness of the chlorine. To lower the alkalinity in your pool water requires the use of Muriatic Acid. Talk to a pool professional before using Muriatic Acid. Alkalinity that is too high can lead to: • High acid demands • Scaling • Cloudy water • PH will drift up PH is a term that measures how acidic or alkaline your water is. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. 0. The higher the number the more acidic the water. If the PH is too low, your equipment may corrode. If the PH is too high, then you may get scaling. The effects of improper PH are: Too low: • Skin and eye irritation • Equipment corrodes • Vinyl liners can wrinkle Too High: • Chlorine loses effectiveness • Water Clouds or scales • Skin and eye irritation To adjust the PH, simply add PH UP or PH Down. Calcium Hardness is a measurement of the calcium ion content of the water. Low calcium in the water may do serious damage to concrete pools. On the other hand, high calcium will increase the probability of scaling. To increase the Calcium Hardness, add “Calcium Hardness Increaser. To lower the Calcium Hardness, add a product like “Pool Secure by Tabex” or a similar product. Once you get the hang of it, maintaining a balanced swimming pool is not that dificult. When you open the pool in the spring start by adjusting the Hardness, then the Alkalinity, then the PH and finally the Chlorine. After you have your pool up and running adjust your Alkalinity first, then your PH, followed by your Chlorine level and finally the Calcium Hardness.

April 2020 I have read that it is now possible to automate your pool. Is this correct and does it cost an arm and a leg? If you have a salt water system in your pool you are on your way to full automation. One of the simplest systems on the market today is made by Hayward Pool Products (http://www.hayward-pool.com). The “Sense and Dispense” by Hayward is designed to work along side of the Pro Logic, Aqua Plus and Aqua Rite Pro, also by Hayward. The following information has been provided by Hayward: This professional - grade ORP and PH Sense and Dispense technology was previously only available for commercial pools. Hayward offers an economical approach, with the same level of accuracy, for residential pools. Unlike others on the market, Sense and Dispense, uses a proportional feed that continuously tests the water, sampling pH and chlorine activity, adjusting chemical feeding on a basis proportional to the demand. Other approaches don’t sample the water often enough and release larger doses which is far less effective and can create highs and lows similar to a manual approach. Sense and Dispense consists of two basic functions. AQL-CHEM kit senses pH and chlorine levels and dispenses a self-renewing supply of pure chlorine generated from salt. pH dispense can be achieved using a second kit which connects to a carbon dioxide tank or a peristaltic pump acid feed tank. Either method is effective at controlling the pH drift that naturally occurs with the use of salt chlorination. What can a Sense and Dispense system do for my pool and how will it make my life easier? Once you add the Sense and Dispense you will set your requirement for your Chlorine levels (ORP) and for your PH levels. Your water will be continuously monitored and your levels will be adjusted automatically. The Sense and Dispense does not do everything for you. You will still have to test your water on a regular bases but it will certainly make your life a whole lot easier. Having a pool with improper Chlorine levels or a really high PH will almost be a thing of the past. Depending on what is required to operate your pool, full automation is now available for the average pool owner. To get an actual cost please contact your pool professional.




March 2020


When should I open my pool for the summer?


The best time to get your pool running is right after the ice is gone. This year that could be as soon as the middle of March to the beginning of April. When your pool water is cold, algie has a hard time growing. The warmer your water gets the more likely you are to have algie.


After the ice is gone, remove your winter cover, and check your water. It should be clear, and any dirt and leaves should be sitting on the bottom. Slowly remove the leaves and other large debris. If you have to add water to your pool to get it circulating, try not to disturb any dirt that has settled on the bottom of the pool. To get rid of any dirt that has settled on the bottom of your pool, start your pump, and if possible, vacuum your pool “to waste.” The dirt is usually so fine that it will clog up your filter in as little as 3 to 5 min. If you end up stirring up the water and the water becomes cloudy, turn off the pump, and let the pool sit for a few days. All the dirt will settle back to the bottom. Once you have removed the dirt, you should balance your pool water and add chlorine. If you don’t plan to use your pool for a few months, try and bring the chlorine level up to 1PPM. Keep the heater off. Cold water requires less chlorine than warm water. If you have a winter safety cover, you can re-install it for safety reasons and to keep out debris.


As long as the water is cold, you do not have to run your pump 24 hrs a day. Depending on the temperature, you can probably run your pump as little as 4 hrs every 3 or 4 days. Check your water, and keep your chlorine level between 1 and 3PPM. Do not try and heat your water if it contains algie. It is much easier to clean up your pool if the water is cold than if it is warm.


When you are ready to open your pool for the summer, just turn on the heater, and you will be ready to enjoy your pool.



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