Winterizing your pool in cold weather

While the weather right now is generally delightful and warm in Southeast Texas, it sure wasn’t that way a few weeks ago. Last month temperatures got down to the teens in The Woodlands and Conroe, weather that brought about parkas and broken PVBs. That’s why winterizing is important.

The hard freeze caused PVBs, which are also known as pressure vacuum breakers, to crack and break. This caused many customers to call our office for maintenance repairs. While we’re more than happy to attend to these repairs, there are steps you can take to prevent repairs from being needed in the first place.

Before discussing how to prevent your PVBs from cracking, let’s go over what a PVB is. A pressure vacuum breaker is a backflow device used in pools and home irrigation systems to keep contaminants from entering the public water supply. It keeps your pool water separate from water from your house and vice versa. Unfortunately, they are susceptible to damage or breakage in freezing weather. When the temperature gets to 37 degrees or lower (with the wind chill or without) your PVBs can crack. It’s a huge pain when they do, so here is how you can winterize them.

Keys to winterizing your pool

There are a number of steps homeowners can take to protect their PVBs from cracking due to freezing temperatures:

  • Drain all water from the corresponding pipes: While advice for underground plumbing in your house is to have water trickling from faucets to keep water moving in your pipes and not freezing, that logic doesn’t apply here. The pipes running from your pool aren’t thick enough for that to work, therefore the water is susceptible to freezing. Since frozen water expands, PVBs can burst. So drain the water completely so there’s no water that can freeze, expand, and cause chaos.
  • Wrap your PVB in insulation: During a freezing event, a few degrees can make the difference between a cracked PVB and a healthy one. That’s why it’s important to wrap the PVB in a towel or blanket after the pipes are drained. The wrapping will keep the PVB warm, which will help keep it safe in the cold weather. That tip can also be found in this article.
  • Make sure pool equipment continues to run: While you want to clear your PVBs of water, that doesn’t mean turning off your pool entirely. It’s important to keep your pool running to keep the computerized systems active in regulating the temperature of the pool and maintaining the water chemistry functions. Keeping the pool on will also keep the freeze protection on your computer system active and up to date. It also keeps pumps going manually and allows your pool to get quickly back to where it needs to be when temperatures rise. Also make sure your temperature sensors are in working order.

More on winterizing

We offer extra valving services so you can drain pipes completely in the event of a freeze. Also, read this article and this article for more tips on winterizing, and give us a call if you need help with cracked PVBs. Hopefully the worst of winter is over, but it’s always good to be prepared.


Discover Ultimate Pools

Ultimate Pools has been a leader in pool building and outdoor improvements in Magnolia, The Woodlands and Southeast Texas since 1991, specializing as a pool builder since 1999. From pools, waterfalls, hot tubs, decks, outdoor kitchens and outdoor improvements, Ultimate Pools will provide the highest of quality and customer service to you. Surf our website, send us an email, give us a call at (936) 321-9632, or visit our offices at 5170 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354 today!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Thursday was an unique day in Southeast Texas, as it actually snowed! It stuck too, which made for some classic holiday scenes that we don’t see too often. We decided to take a video of one of those snow scenes.

You can watch that video, and a few others, on our new YouTube channel. We’ll try to stock it with more videos down the road.

It’ll be another cold one tonight, so take a look at our winterizing article. And for those of you who have had your fill of winter, don’t worry, it’ll be 70 by Monday.


Discover Ultimate Pools

Ultimate Pools has been a leader in pool building and outdoor improvements in Magnolia, The Woodlands and Southeast Texas since 1991, specializing as a pool builder since 1999. From pools, waterfalls, hot tubs, decks, outdoor kitchens and outdoor improvements, Ultimate Pools will provide the highest of quality and customer service to you. Surf our website, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, send us an email, give us a call at (936) 321-9632, or visit our offices at 5170 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354 today!

Limited time offer! 25 percent off equipment checks!

As we wrote a few weeks ago, now is the prime time for maintenance checks on your pool equipment in preparation for the holidays and winter months. The earlier you schedule these checkups the better, as you don’t want to discover right before Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner that you need repairs on your lights or pool heater. Many people wait until the last minute to check, then to call us if there are problems. That makes it harder for those problems to be solved quickly.

So in that vein we’re currently offering 25 percent off of our pool equipment checks. Instead of $85, for a limited time that check will be $63.75. That’s $21.25 left for more holiday cheer, whether it be food or just some extra money for Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping. The service only applies to the equipment checks — any necessary repairs found in the service call will cost a separate fee. Either way, now is the perfect time to make sure your pool is heated for the post-holiday party dip and your lights are ready for your upcoming get-together. Give us a call or stop by the office to schedule your equipment check today!

Training with Pentair: We’re proud of our relationship with Pentair at Ultimate Pools. We’re working to add even more to our relationship, as we’re currently taking training courses through Pentair University on maintenance and repair for all Pentair products. This is a new thing Pentair has started and we’re proud to be on the ground floor of such a venture. Renee Fawcett-Dunbar, our client services coordinator, just finished a course on the EasyTouch and has the certificate to match. She, and the rest of our staff, will continue to take courses and get certifications in relation to Pentair’s many products.


Discover Ultimate Pools

Ultimate Pools has been a leader in pool building and outdoor improvements in Magnolia, The Woodlands and Southeast Texas since 1991, specializing as a pool builder since 1999. From pools, waterfalls, hot tubs, decks, outdoor kitchens and outdoor improvements, Ultimate Pools will provide the highest of quality and customer service to you. Surf our website, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, send us an email, give us a call at (936) 321-9632, or visit our offices at 5170 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354 today!

Pool maintenance: Five things to check in the fall

The chilly weather we had this weekend was a reminder that fall is upon us. While we’ll have plenty of time to swim in the upcoming months (thank you Southeast Texas subtropical weather), now is the time to make sure your pool maintenance is on point. Everyone likes lists, so we’ve compiled a quick checklist of five things you need to check on this fall to keep your pool maintenance up to date.

Five fall maintenance steps

1. Clean your filters: As we have written in a previous article, fall and spring are the ideal times to clean your pool filters. With the increased amount of leaves and debris that fly into your pool during this time of year, you want to make sure that your filters are in tip-top shape. It’s more important this year than normal, as the rainwater and biologicals (leaves, dirt, and other natural debris) from Hurricane Harvey have certainly tested the capacity of your filters.

Clean filters allow for your robotic cleaners to do their job and your water chemistry to stay on point. And it’s best to clean them now while it’s still warm — going out and doing it in the winter when the water and air temperature are in the 40s and 50s is no one’s idea of a good time.

2. Cover/drain your backflow preventer: One of the biggest problems one can run into in pool maintenance is a frozen backflow preventer. When a freeze comes (and it’ll most certainly come), the backflow preventers are susceptible to cracking. They crack because they aren’t completely drained, therefore the remaining water inside freezes, expands and puts stress on the backflow preventer. Near-freezing temperatures and wind can also cause trouble, as cold wind sometimes cools the preventer enough to cause freezing and cracking.

Draining the backflow is important (and something we’ll come over to do for a fee), but covering the preventer to keep out the wind is important, too. There are several ways to do this: you can wrap the preventer in a plastic bag, shield it with a dry box, or even put a trash can upside down over it. Call us for consultation or head to the websites of our suppliers (Febco, Wilkins and Watts) for covering and draining tips. These tips also work on backflow preventers for sprinkler systems. A Total Coverage can handle those issues.

3. Check your water chemistry: This is something that you should do regularly, but if you only do it a few times a year, the fall is one of those times. You’re just emerging from the high-usage summer/early fall months, which typically involves regularly placing chlorine tablets in the pool. If you use chlorine tablets regularly (or more than that), there’s a chance that your pool chemistry is a little off-kilter. Too much chlorine can result in too much cynaric acid, which not only will stain the surface of your pool, but could also corrode the elements of your heater (which we’ll go into more in point No. 4).

Along with the cynaric acid, it’s important to check your water’s calcium and alkalinity readings as well. Checking on these things are something you should do weekly via your IntelliChem system, but it’s very important during the fall months.

4. Make sure your heater and lights are tip-top shape: When it’s 95 degrees with 90 percent humidity, as it is during the summer months on non-rainy days, the last thing you think about is heating your pool. But come Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the water and air are cooler, a heater is suddenly very important for that post-meal/post-giftgiving dip. So it would stink if you turned on your heater Thanksgiving Day, only for it to be needing maintenance. As much as we’d like to help you right away in those circumstances, the logistics of the holidays make it extremely difficult to do so.

Therefore, this is the perfect time for a dry run of your heater to make sure everything is good to go. Hopefully all will be good, but if there’s corrosion or any other problems, finding that now will give you plenty of time to contact us and for us to come out and attend to the problem. A quick check/call now is a heck of a lot better than discovering the problem on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve. The same logic applies with lights — discovering any lighting problems now will allow us to fix them in time for your holiday get-togethers.

5. Skim your pool for leaves: This plays into No. 1 a bit, but it’s important to make sure that the leaves that fall in your pool don’t stay and accumulate. Not only do they make the surface of the water grimy, but they put stress on the the filters and the water chemistry readings. Stagnant leaves can get stuck in robotic cleaners and filters and clog skimmers. The remnants of them can also throw your chemistry out of whack and make your pool prone to staining. Here’s a previous article we wrote on leaf removal.

Leaves can also wreak havoc on variable flow pumps. They can crack baskets and manifolds while causing all sorts of issues. The IntelliFlo VF pump has monitors that alert you before such things happen, but even if you have one, be sure to remove falling leaves from your pool regularly.

While you can do a lot of this maintenance on your own, feel free to give us a call for help at any time. We’ll come out and perform these services for you for a fee.


Discover Ultimate Pools

Ultimate Pools has been a leader in pool building and outdoor improvements in Magnolia, The Woodlands and Southeast Texas since 1991, specializing as a pool builder since 1999. From pools, waterfalls, hot tubs, decks, outdoor kitchens and outdoor improvements, Ultimate Pools will provide the highest of quality and customer service to you. Surf our website, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, send us an email, give us a call at (936) 321-9632, or visit our offices at 5170 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354 today!

Want a swimming pool for the holidays? Now is the time to act

One of the greatest things about the holidays in Southeast Texas is being able to celebrate them with a dip in a swimming pool. The weather outside here is much more delightful than frighttful, allowing you to work off a big holiday feast with a little swimming pool time. But before you can do that, you have to have a pool to swim in.

That’s where we at Ultimate Pools come in.

If you’re looking to get that perfect pool for your holiday get-together, the time to act is now!

Holidays are a great time for pool installation

Along with having a place to relax after some Yuletide fun, getting a swimming pool installed now is also a very good idea from a financial standpoint. The last couple months of the year coincide with the international pool show, where pool equipment items for the next year are featured. As a pool installer, we get savings on equipment between now and the end of December, which is when the pricing for the new fiscal year starts.

Our savings on pool equipment will be passed on to you for the next couple months, so give us a call, email us or visit us at our Magnolia office to start the process of getting a new pool and make the holidays truly the most wonderful time of the year!

Rebates on equipment in Harvey-affected areas: If you were in an area that was affected by flooding for Hurricane Harvey, you are eligible for a rebate on any Pentair pool equipment damaged in the storm. Give us a call or visit us and we can walk you through the procedure of securing the rebate and getting your swimming pool back to normal.


Discover Ultimate Pools

Ultimate Pools has been a leader in pool building and outdoor improvements in Magnolia, The Woodlands and Southeast Texas since 1991, specializing as a pool builder since 1999. From pools, waterfalls, hot tubs, decks, outdoor kitchens and outdoor improvements, Ultimate Pools will provide the highest of quality and customer service to you. Surf our website, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, send us an email, give us a call at (936) 321-9632, or visit our offices at 5170 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354 today!

Getting your pool in balance post-Harvey

Cleaning and draining your pool (if necessary) is a big part of getting your pool back in shape after heavy rains. But just because your pool is glistening does not mean that its recovery from Hurricane Harvey is complete. For your pool to truly be in tip-top shape the water chemistry must be in balance.

In this article, we’re going to take that newly cleaned pool water and make sure it’s chemically in balance. If it isn’t, we’re going to show you the importance of that balance and how to achieve it.

Putting your pool water in balance

The pool in the picture above looks glistening and ready to go, but having clean, aqua pool water doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is up to snuff. There are three areas of water chemistry which are extremely important in the well-being of your pool — the amount of cynaric acid, the calcium content and the alkalinity.

It’s very important to continuously check these metrics and not simply stop and be satisfied once the water is a desirable color. If you don’t check them, especially when dealing with a rain and flooding event such as Harvey, you leave your pool susceptible to algae blooms and scaling.

We detailed these measurements in an article we did on IntelliChem. While the IntelliChem system will let you know what the measurements are, the cynaric acid and chlorine will have to be applied separately.

Of the three measurements, cynaric acid might be the most important. Cynaric acid acts as a stabilizer, protecting the chlorine from getting burned off by the sun and losing its potency. Cynaric acid operates in a similar way that sulfates do in wine or homogenization does with milk. It keeps the chlorine fresh so it can do its part to get your water in balance. Having 30-35 parts per million of cynaric acid will help chlorine do its thing and help with calcium and alkalinity.

If you simply shock the pool every so often or throw in chlorine tablets without paying attention to the cynaric acid output, you’re likely to get the dreaded algae and scaling. And that’s not a good time.

How calcium and alkalinity keep water in balance

Keeping tabs on calcium is extremely important, as too little calcium will cause the water to eat away at the plaster while too much calcium will cause scaling on walls and on the pool surface. You want to keep the calcium between 200 and 400 parts per million, with 250 being the sweet spot.

As far as alkalinity, keeping it under control is necessary to prevent corrosion of the metal equipment in the pool and staining of the plaster. The range for alkaline substances is 80 parts per million to 200 parts per million, with 120 being the ideal amount. You should also aim to have the pH in your pool between 7.2 and 7.8, with 7.5 the prime target. Chlorine, with cynaric acid as a lead blocker, can get these elements to where you need them to be. For best results, have your free chlorine at 3.0 parts per million. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions about these matters.


Discover Ultimate Pools

Ultimate Pools has been a leader in pool building and outdoor improvements in Magnolia, The Woodlands and Southeast Texas since 1991, specializing as a pool builder since 1999. From pools, waterfalls, hot tubs, decks, outdoor kitchens and outdoor improvements, Ultimate Pools will provide the highest of quality and customer service to you. Surf our website, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, send us an email, give us a call at (936) 321-9632, or visit our offices at 5170 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354 today!