When should I close my pool?
When it comes to your swimming pool and winterizing, we like to think in terms of “Close Late / Open Early!” We recognize that not everyone has the option of keeping their pools open later into the fall or even into early winter, but there are valid reasons to consider this. Let’s look at some;
- A pool looks so much better when it is open than after it has been closed. We always have some beautiful fall days and continuing to be able to use your pool extends the swimmable days for your family and friends. Also, even if the heater is turned off, looking at your pool or even sitting outside around it is so much nicer when it is open and operating.
- Pool maintenance has become more automatic and less labour intensive with many of the products now available. In-pool cleaners so you don’t have to vacuum or scoop leaves as much, auto chlorinators and salt pools that deliver chlorine consistently and are adjustable to reflect the lower requirement in cooler water. There’s even a ‘liquid’ solar blanket called Cover Free that keeps heat in, dramatically lowering heating costs in the ‘shoulders’ of the season. You just pour a little in each week.
- If you close your pool with a safety or mesh cover, closing as late as possible makes sense. As these covers allow the environment (rain, organics, phosphate, algae, etc.) to interact with your pool water by passing through the cover. This makes the care and treatment of your pool water under the cover a far more difficult challenge. Proper water balance is critical to the longevity and beauty of a pools surface, whether that be a vinyl liner, plaster finish or fibreglass. Damage occurs when water gets out of balance and the longer it stays out of balance, the more damaging it can be. With the lack of control over water balance over the winter with safety covered pools, the later you close and the earlier you open, the less time the pool water can sit in a state that is not ideal or controlled. Also, algae problems under a safety cover can become more severe the longer the time the cover sits on the pool. By closing late and opening early, you give algae less time to establish and grow, making clean-up easier and inexpensive in spring.
Remember, Dazzle Phos Cleanse Plus is an inexpensive and effective way to curb algae’s desire to grow explosively before the ice forms and after it melts, until you can get your pool opened.
Why did my retailer recommend shocking after a thunderstorm?
It’s important to shock your pool as soon after a thunderstorm as possible to remove pollutants and nitrogen that entered your water from the atmosphere with the rain. Ever wonder why the air seems so fresh following a storm? Now you know. All the undesireables have been cleansed from the air and are now in your pool! A simple shock treatment with Dazzle Pure Wow Amaze or Amaze Plus goes a long way to keeping your water clean and problem-free. Follow up with a dose of your favourite algae prevention product, like Dazzle Pure Wow Assure, as well for extra protection after shocking.
The same holds true for pool parties or any other situation that has placed a significant demand on your pool that isn’t typical. Give it a clean up immediately after. You’ll be glad you did.
Whenever I test my water, I never see a chlorine level but my water seems perfect; is that okay?
No, that’s not ok. What’s likely happening here is that you are adding just enough chlorine (or bromine) to sanitize and clean your water, but not enough to hold a little bit extra. Ideally, a pool should always have a little bit more chlorine available than just what is immediately needed. That little bit extra is called a residual. That little bit extra means you have available chlorine to fight any waste or bacteria that enters your water before it can cause a problem! You should always keep a free chlorine level of 1 to 3 ppm in your pool water at all times. That way, if any spike in demand happens, bathers will be protected and safe. A spike in demand could be as simple as an extra bather or two jumping in for a swim, a passing rain shower or a strong gust of wind when pollen is at its peak. You never know what will add an extra demand to your water so you just hold a little bit of extra chlorine just in case.
The newer you are with your pool, the more frequently you should test and adjust your chlorine (or bromine) level on a regular basis as well as other parameters like pH, to ensure the maximum problem-free swimmable days! Most swimming pool veterans agree that your pool will become more predictable over time and you’ll be able to manage it with less frequent testing. But that doesn’t mean NO testing. Even the best, most experienced operators check their results periodically to make sure they are on track. If you are concerned about the accuracy of your test kit, or how to read the results, you should bring it along with a water sample to your Dazzle pool and hot tub specialist to confirm its reliability.
I am always confused as how to use the water selection valves for my skimmer and main drain. When and why should I use different options?
First, let’s confirm and clarify what you are referring to here. From your question, I can assume that you have an inground swimming pool that has both a skimmer and a main drain. The skimmer draws water off the surface of your pool while the main drain draws water from the bottom of the deep end. Both are connected by piping to the suction side of your pump and have valves to control the suction and amount of water being drawn into the pump. In an ideal situation, you would want to draw 50% of the water from the Main Drain and 50% from the Skimmer. This allows an equal amount of water to enter the pump and pass through the filter, heater, chlorinator, etc. so you maximize circulation as much as possible in your pool. One of the issues with pools that have a deep end is getting the water from the very bottom to move. Having a suction point down there draws water out, allowing fresher water to move in and take its place. That’s needed and necessary to prevent stagnation of the water in the lower depths. For pools that don’t have a main drain (or bottom suction point), they must point their return jets down more to the bottom of the pool to try and displace or move the water that is down there. Asking a swimmer to go down there and move their arms and legs wildly is another option to get that water moving but having a main drain or pointing the returns down at a 45° angle is a bit simpler and more reliable.
There are, however, a few general exceptions to this rule and we will outline a few for you;
1) If you have an automatic cleaner that operates by hooking into the skimmers suction line or you want to use your manual vacuuming method, you will want to lessen the draw from the main drain so that you maximize the suction at the vacuum head. Trail and error will tell you the optimum position for the main drain valve. Reducing it too much could lead to an overabundance of suction at the vac head and you spend all your time trying to dislodge the vac head from the surface it has stuck to. Too little and you don’t have enough suction at the vac head and debris ends up just being shifted as opposed to picked up. Remember, the attachment of the vac hose adds resistance so more water will end being drawn from the main drain because it is easier to move there (water always takes the path of least resistance).
2) If the pool is collecting debris at the bottom or you’re seeing just the slightest tinge of algae growing down there, you may want to reduce the flow from your skimmer and add more draw from the main drain. This increase in suction from the bottom of the pool will help draw some of that dirt and debris into the pump basket and filter and keep the pool cleaner. It also increases the rate at which fresh, chlorinated water enters the area as the old water is pulled away. This might be all that is needed to turn around that potentially serious algae problem by arresting it before it gets any more established (a quick brushing of the walls would help here as well).
3) Having the option of drawing more water from the main drain is also a big advantage at pool closing when you are lowering the water. Simply shutting off the draw from the skimmer allows you to lower your water to the desired level without worrying about losing the prime of the pump once the level drops below the skimmer opening. In the fall, when the leaves are dropping, you can also reduce the draw from the skimmer if it is has a tendency to plug the skimmer basket with leaves. I’m sure there are also some other examples we could come up with but having the flexibility to adjust the draw at either the skimmer or main drain can be a big advantage.
My water is cloudy with white particles floating around, even after I added more chlorine and I used an algaecide. What is the matter?
Cloudy water is not always linked to the formation of algae or caused by a lack of chlorine. Certainly they can lead to cloudy water, but not exclusively. Cloudy water can be the result of a number of different factors and, sometimes, more than one. For example, when we rule out algae and a lack of chlorine, one of the leading causes of cloudy water is inadequate or poor filtration. A lack of attention to proper water balance can also be a cause. Let’s dive in here a little bit. As it relates to proper filtration, a few questions;
1) How long each day do you run your pump? Pool water requires filtration to remain clear, among other things. Every pool should have a filter. Whether it be sand, cartridge or DE, that filter is responsible for pulling the particulate from your pool water. Just like your furnace filter removing airborne particulate, your pool filter removes waterborne particulate. Dead skin, dust, dirt, vegetation, pollen, oils, pollutants, etc. etc.. The list is long of small types of particulate or solid debris that gets blown in, washed in and brought into your pool water. If your filter doesn’t operate long enough each day, you may not give it enough of a chance to remove that debris. Ideally, filters are designed to operate continuously. The pump never shuts off once the pool is opened until it closes. That’s ideal. Variable speed pumps have added a lot of economy to this by allowing reduced flow (not ‘No flow’) during more costly time periods for electricity. If you choose to use a timer on your pool and shut your pump off, be mindful that you’ll need to make sure you don’t overdo it.
2) Another consideration relative to filtration is how effective is your filter media? Sand, cartridges and DE can get dirty and filtration suffers if not cleaned. Regular backwashing and cleaning is important, but it’s not enough. Periodic cleaning of your filter media beyond just backwashing or rinsing with a hose is critical. I’m talking about a once per season cleaning with a product like Dazzle Rapid Action Filter Cleanse, or Jack’s Magic Cartridge Cleaner for cartridges and DE elements. You see, a filters media is what removes the dirt and debris. We backwash or rinse the media in hopes it comes back clean again. But it doesn’t. Sure, some debris is removed, but some stays there and accumulates. It won’t release with normal cleaning. As it accumulates, your filtration is permanently affected until you get more serious about getting it clean. Oils, pollutants, greases layer onto the media and coat it. They don’t release with normal cleaning. Add to that scale formations that solidify onto the media and you have a real issue that gets worse and worse. Your water suffers more and more as the fine particulate is no longer able to be removed. A quick 1 hour cleaning with Dazzle Rapid Action Filter Cleanse is all that is needed once per season to remove the waste that accumulates, restoring your filtration to ‘like new’ condition.
3) A 3rd consideration related to filtration is the capability of your filter media to remove fine particulate. Every filter media has a rating for the size of the particulate it can effectively remove. The size is measured in microns. A sand filter is basically understood to remove particulate down to approx. 20 micron in size. If the particulate accumulating in your pool is smaller than 20 micron, your sand filter won’t catch it. It will slip right through. Your water will get cloudier as it builds. The answer here is to use a clarifier to help your filter to remove the finer particulate. Dazzle Nature Sheen, Clarifying Tabs and Filter Enhance are examples of clarifiers that do this. Dazzle Nature Sheen, for example, is an agglomerating agent. It pulls small pieces of particulate together into larger masses. These large masses are now able to be trapped inside the filter. Regular use can help to keep water dazzling clear by improving the degree to which the media can filter particulate.
I typically only put chlorine in my pool and the water almost always look good, why would I need to add anything else?
Here’s a good analogy; you just bought a brand new car and you love it as we all do! It runs on gasoline so you only add gasoline and drive, and drive again. At first, everything is wonderful, everything is fine, you are loving it! Then, over time, its performance starts lacking and you’re left wondering what happened. The same can be said about pool and hot tubs. Water has requirements that chlorine just can’t take care of. Sure, if you add enough chlorine, it can keep the water clear for a period of time. But that’s not enough to protect the pool over the long haul. Water needs to be balanced so periodically you may need to add some balancers to manage the mineral content. You’ve heard of pH? Nothing matters more to the effective and efficient operation of your water than pH. If it gets too high or too low, a pH adjuster will bring it back to the optimum range. If you fail to account for this, bad things happen that can take your pool out of commission and lead to big repair bills. By not testing and adjusting your pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness levels properly, you will start to notice that your vinyl liner, pool heater, ladders, etc. are being attacked by the water itself. Water is nature’s most powerful solvent and you will want to keep it in check! Avoid premature and unnecessary repair costs with good water balancing. It will also help maximize the problem-free swimmable days for you and your family’s enjoyment. You should always bring a water sample at the beginning of the season or after a fresh fill to your local dealer for help. Once a month, repeat the process to make sure that you can benefit from your investment for as long as you should!
My water was almost crystal clear, I added some chlorine and now it has turned a green but still clear colour, what went wrong??
Some metals, likely iron or copper, have entered your pool water. When chlorine comes into contact with a dissolved metal, this results in oxidation, creating stains and water pigmentation as the metal gets ‘rusted.’ In short, your eyes can now see the oxidized metal in the water and its resulting colour! This can also lead to staining on the surface of the pool (ie. Vinyl liner) or on bathers themselves (think green hair – that’s copper, not chlorine). Where did they come from. There’s a few possibilities; 1) they entered with your fill water, especially if filling from a well or a large volume was added at once. 2) your water balance (especially pH) got out of alignment (low) and you’ve corroded any metal parts (heater element, ladders, fittings, piping, etc). You’ve basically dissolved them into the water. 3) you unknowingly added a product that is metal-based such as an algicide or other specialty chemical. Your Dazzle professional can test for metals and give you recommendations to effectively deal with the situation.
There are different ways of dealing with metals when they are present. The most effective is to remove them from your water so they cannot cause future staining or water colour issues. We developed the Dazzle Eliminator to put in your pump basket and slowly pull the metals out of the water as they flow by. This unique pouch has a compound inside that metals are naturally drawn to and attach, effectively reducing the level and maintaining it at near zero. We recommend one of these in every pool as all pools suffer from trace metal levels. There are also products available like Dazzle Stain & Scale Cleanse that are designed to seek out metals in the water and attach to them. This effectively holds them in place, preventing them from being able to be oxidized or precipitated. The use of Dazzle Stain & Scale Cleanse along with a filter aid, Dazzle Filter Enhance, allows the metals to be filtered out through the pool filter.
The bottom line is that metals stain and discolour water. Its best to test to know they are there through your Dazzle Professional and then remove them before they cause problems for you.
How Often Should I Backwash My Filter? How Long?
The Secret to Backwashing Your Filter: Backwash Longer, but Less Often!
Many pool owners backwash weekly as part of their maintenance routine. However, it’s not necessary to backwash that frequently! The ideal time to backwash is when the pressure shown on your filter gauge reaches 5 – 10 psi (pounds per square inch) higher than your normal running pressure.
This may sound odd, but allowing some dirt to sit in the filter sand actually helps to fill some of the pores, making them even smaller, so the sand can trap even finer debris. Backwashing too often never lets the pore size reduce and the fine particulate endures.
A sand filter should always be backwashed for approx. 3 minutes. Backwash for at least 3 minutes, even if the water leaving the backwash line or the water in the site glass is clear. That’s best practice!
What is the difference between Chorine Sticks and Chlorine Pucks?
Chlorine sticks, like Dazzle Pure Wow Protect Sticks, are hydraulically compressed and cylindrical. When we use this technique and shape, it means we can get the absolute best compaction rate and slowest dissolving product on the market. The stick is compacted evenly throughout. It is just as tightly compacted at the center as it is on the outside. The benefit of that is in the consistency of dissolution. In other words, the stick will dissolve evenly, providing a predictable release of chlorine to the water. The cylindrical shape allows us to reduce the surface area as well, which controls the release of chlorine. The combination means there is no waste so you use the least amount of product possible to treat your water.
Dazzle Mega Tabs, on the other hand, are made from the same chlorine that the sticks are, but they are mechanically compacted and formed in a tablet shape. This is a faster, less expensive process that results in a product without the same consistency in dissolution. This would be like a smartie or M&M. The tablet shape also exposes more surface area to the water. More surface, more dissolving. The mechanical stamp creates a product that loses its compression as you work outside to in. The tablet shape also exposes more surface area to the water. More surface, more dissolving. As a result, a Dazzle Mega Tab dissolves slowly at the beginning but more quickly as it gets smaller, releasing chlorine at a faster rate towards the end.
If we were to compare the two products, a Dazzle Pure Wow Protect Stick will typically last 1.5 – 2 times longer based on these factors.
Uh-oh! I forgot and left my pump on for too long backwashing and the water level is too low. What should I do?
Not to worry, you can just turn your garden hose on and re-fill the pool. Leave the pump off until the water level is back up. Return your dial valve to the filter position. Once you’re able to turn the pump back on, let it run for a few hours before collecting a water sample to take to your Dazzle Professional. A slight re-balance may be necessary.
I am wondering what causes a pool to lose all of its Total Alkalinity and/or pH? When I took my spring start-up water sample in to my local retailer, they said both were extremely low. The TA was gone and the pH below what they can test for?
That’s an interesting question. Let’s explain what happened and then go over some possible scenario’s;
What happened here is that an acid was added to the water, probably over the winter or at closing time that destroyed the total alkalinity and lowered the pH dramatically. Total Alkalinity is one of the important water balance factors along with the most important, pH. Both are adjusted downward using an acid. Dazzle pH Minus and Pristiva Acid Enhance are examples of products that we recommend and use to both lower pH and Alkalinity.
Let’s assume the pool water was properly balanced at closing, meaning the Alkalinity was in a proper range of somewhere between 80 and 150 ppm based on the surface type and the pH at the proper closing level of 7.6 – 7.8. For both to lower dramatically, a significant amount of acid had to be added to the water. As it is unlikely that anyone went out to the pool in the dead of winter and added Dazzle pH Minus or Pristiva Acid Enhance, let’s look at this possibility;
For pools that have a safety cover (mesh), are left uncovered for the winter or have a winter cover that is compromised with holes or doesn’t cover the entire pool (or fell in in spots), significant amounts of rain and snow can contact the water and cause this to happen. Although the degree to which we see acid rain (and acid snow) diminishing, it is still out there. Remember, any acid will deplete Alkalinity and lower pH. If enough gets in, both can be severely impacted. To impact the entire volume of the pool, it would have to be substantial, but it is possible.
Another possibility follows a different and more likely path. When a pool is opened in the spring, we recommend the water circulate for at least 24 – 48 hours before a water sample is collected and brought to your Dazzle Professional for testing. We recommend this to ensure the water thoroughly mixes before testing to get an accurate result. If the water isn’t circulated appropriately, the sample collected could be of water that is merely sitting on the top layer of the pool water, representing the rain and snow that collected over the winter. A water test after proper mixing may show an entirely different result for the TA and pH.
Another scenario is that the sample was collected too soon after a chlorine shock was administered, or after an acid product was added and it tainted the sample. High chlorine levels could bleach the colour out of the test results, leading to a false conclusion that there is no alkalinity and pH. Most other tests would be compromised as well in this situation. If a sample was collected to close to where an acidic product was just added, the water test could be measuring more the TA and pH of the product added than of the pool water.
A final scenario is that the water wasn’t balanced correctly just prior to closing. Perhaps an overdosing of Dazzle pH Minus or Pristiva Acid Enhance that wasn’t picked up on at the time.
The first step would be to gather another sample and test again to rule out scenarios that include a lack of proper mixing and the addition of products tainting the sample. Its best to confirm the results are accurate before pressing on with rebalancing. If accurate, your Dazzle Professional will help you with the procedures to restore the balance. It would also be worthwhile prior to the next closing to review and see what can be done to prevent this from happening again.
I have significant foam on the top of my pool and I don’t know where it came from or what to do?
Foaming in swimming pool water can come from a couple of different sources;
- One of the more common causes is the use of an algicide that can foam. Our Dazzle Algae Resist 50 is a high quality, concentrated algae preventative but it is capable of foaming if the product has been overdosed and there is a source of aeration. Poorer quality algicides can foam dramatically with smaller dosages and little aeration. Be careful with lower quality products. Some thoughts on foaming from an algicide;
- any air blowing through the system will cause an algicide like Dazzle Algae Resist 50 to foam. If you can fix the source of the air, the foam will go away. It is like blowing into chocolate milk with a straw. Check the ‘O’ Ring around the pump basket lid. Tighten any clamps on the suction side of the pump. Make sure the water level is high enough. All those things that could be causing air to be drawn in and through the system.
- the amount of Dazzle Algae Resist 50 probably exceeded the dosage rate? You always need to be careful not to overdose with an algicide that could foam. Dazzle Algae Clear 60 is the preferred algicide for destroying algae because you can add large amounts without fear of any foaming.
- adding Dazzle Algae Resist 50 too closely to the addition of a shock. The amount of chemical energy (oxygen) created by shock treatments when they are added is enough to froth an algicide like Dazzle Algae Resist 50. We usually stipulate at least 1 hour wait after the shock treatment to allow some of the chemical energy to dissipate.
- One tip going forward is to add a capful of Dazzle Algae Resist 50 to the skimmer before adding a larger amount. This will give you an indication whether the pool can handle a foaming algicide before an entire dosage is added.
- Vandalism is a more common problem with public fountains than it is swimming pools but it still happens. Soaps cause foam and when added, whether through vandalism or inadvertently, foaming will result. It is important to wash all bathing suits and rinse them well. Also review all products that are going to make contact with the pool water to see if they have a foaming possibility. If they do, be careful about the amount used or keep them away.
Now, when faced with a foaming issue, the best remedy is to fix the cause of the aeration. Foaming can’t be supported without a source of air. Check the suction side of the pump to see if there is a crack, loose clamp or poor fitting o-ring that is allowing air to be injected into the water. Make sure it isn’t something as simple as a waterfall or water feature that is agitating the water. If the source of the air cannot be identified and stopped, some Dazzle Defoamer can be used (don’t overdose – use just enough to suppress the foam). Water dilution and more frequent shocking will also lower or break down the algicide or other agent that is causing the foam.
I have a salt pool and I was wondering if there was an amount of acid that was required each week to keep the pH down? My pH always seems to be drifting up and I’m adding your Acid Enhance. Is there a recommended amount to add each week?
On your question regarding the amount of acid required in a salt pool each week, that’s a difficult one. As each pool is different, with potentially different water sources, water volumes, balance parameters (specifically Total Alkalinity) and chlorine demands, there is no general factor for the amount of acid needed weekly. For example, if you keep your Total Alkalinity closer to the higher acceptable level, you will need more Pristiva Acid Enhance than someone whose TA is closer to the lower point of the range. If you have to run your chlorinator at a higher output setting because you heat your water to a higher temperature, have a higher daily bather load or get more direct sunlight on your water, you would need more Pristiva Acid Enhance weekly than an identical pool without these factors. You are correct that most salt pools will require some Pristiva Acid Enhance on a weekly basis to keep their pH in the proper range, but the amount can vary, even with two pools next door to each other. The amount of Pristiva Acid Enhance will be proportionate to the amount of chlorine needed to be produced to maintain an effective residual of 1 – 3 ppm. The process of generating chlorine from salt creates a by-product that has a high pH. Therefore, pH has to increase in the pool water when the salt cell is functioning.
On average, I would estimate that an 80,000 litre pool, properly balanced with an average bather load may require 1 litre of Pristiva Acid Enhance per week but that is just an estimate. There are a host of variables that could change that from week to week (did it rain this week?). The best way to handle this is to have each pool owner test pH, record their additions and track their results. After a month, they may see a pattern emerge that could give them a weekly average in terms of the quantity of Pristiva Acid Enhance needed each week. That amount may not be the specific amount each and every week due to fluctuating variables but it may be consistent enough to stay largely in the range with only some minor tweaking needed periodically.