Spa mode helps keep spa water fresh and clean

Taking a dip in your spa usually isn’t the first impulse you have during the winter months. With the temperature being inconsistent at best and cold at worst, it’s easy to forget about your pool and spa and not put it into spa mode, letting the water sit idle until there’s a hint of spring in the air.

That is not a good idea.

Keeping your pool sitting in pool mode during the winter months can make that first spring dip into the pool uncomfortable, even harmful. Even when you aren’t planning on using it for a considerable length of time, it’s extremely important to switch your pool from pool mode to spa mode for a few minutes a day to keep your water’s circulation and chlorine dispersal in tip-top shape.

spa pool

What exactly does spa mode do?

Before we identify the consequences of not utlizing spa mode every day, we’ll explain what spa mode does in the first place. From here on out we’ll explain spa mode in relation to your actual spa, as that’s the part of your pool system where water needs to be circulated the most.

There are two main lines that are utilized when spa mode is activated — the suction line and the return line. The suction line takes water from the pool and sends it back in the pump for it to be refreshed. Once the water travels up to the pump it is sent back through the return line into your pool through a variety of avenues which include waterfalls, the jets in the spa, and bubblers.

On the way back to the pool, water is sent through to the cleaner line to the cleaner pump, where debris is filtered out and chlorine is added before returned to the pool as fresh water. That is why it is also important to periodically clean your filters, which will help your suction and return lines keep your water as clean as possible.

Consequences of not running spa mode

Ok, so you’ve let your pool sit during the winter months and are itching to jump into the spa and take a soak. Maybe you are looking to have some friends over to celebrate the first pool day of the spring. You turn on the jets and the first thing you notice is a strong chlorine odor. You ignore it, thinking that it’s just the chlorine working overtime to treat your pool.

That’s not what’s happening.

That smell coming from the jets and waterfalls isn’t indicative of over-chlorination. Instead, it’s indicative of the presence of chloramine. Chloramine is a combination of chlorine and ammonia. While it is a disinfectant, it isn’t nearly as effective at combating debris and bacteria as traditional chlorine. It’s also a lot harder to filter out through the suction and cleaner lines in the pool and can cause respiratory and skin discomfort at times, along with that annoying smell.

As for that smell, chloramines are smelly because they basically are the product of stale, spoiled, used-up chlorine. Equate it to milk being left out for too long. The heavy chlorine smell is a sign that the powerful cleaning elements of the chlorine in your pool have been compromised, leaving less-effective, “spoiled” chloramines. Not only is the smell unpleasant, but the ability of your suction cleaners, robotic cleaners or smart automated systems such as IntelliTouch to keep your water cleaned and chemistry on-point is negatively impacted.

Be proactive

Whether you are planning on using your pool or spa in a day, a week, or in a few months, you should put your pool into spa mode five minutes a day. That means running all of your water features such as jets, waterfalls and air bubblers, along with any water pumps you might have, for five minutes. Prior to putting the pool into spa mode you need to turn your pool’s air blowers on and keep them going for an extra minute after switching back to pool mode to clear out any remaining water.

Putting your pool into spa mode is something that can be handled remotely with smart systems such as IntelliTouch, Easy Touch, and Easy Touch Lite. You can program the time you want the pool to be in spa mode and let the system do the work. That will make that first spa day of spring a lot more pleasant!

Cleaning your pool filters: Why it’s important to do

Ultimate Pools offers many cutting-edge products, such as IntelliChem and Dolphin cleaners, that help keep your pool clean and swimmable at all times. That being said, it’s important for pool owners to clean their filters on a regular basis, as clean pool filters provide a base that keeps your pool water fresh and ready to go at all times. If your pool filter is dirty or compromised, water flow is compromised and your IntelliChem/Dolphin Cleaners aren’t as effective in doing their jobs.

How do you know when it’s time to get your pool filters cleaned? Here are some common indicators:

pool with waterfall steps

  • When the spillway of your spa is producing a weak stream of water: When a pool filter is clean, the pumps in your spa will send out a steady stream of water in pool mode which eventually gets circulated throughout your spa and pool. When a filter is dirty, that water stream is reduced greatly, even to the point of dribbling out. That lessens the circulation of water throughout your pool.
  • Your suction cleaner isn’t moving as fast: Your suction cleaners (such as the Pentair Racer) use the energy that comes from water being pumped into your pool to run. If you notice that your cleaner is going slower or even sputtering along, then there’s a good chance that your filter is dirty and depriving your cleaner of the necessary water energy. As a side note, robotic cleaners such as the Dolphin cleaner do not rely on suction and still work effectively when your pool is in this state.
  • If your pool isn’t chlorinating properly: Whether you use a smart system such as IntelliChem to refresh your chlorine levels or prefer to use chlorine disks, a dirty pool filter will hamper the efficiency of getting the appropriate level of chlorine in the water. If you notice that your readings are off, or that the chlorine disks aren’t as effective, the filter might need to be cleaned.

Cleaning filters and water pumps

There are other ways to figure out when it’s time to clean your pool filters. One of them is checking to see if there’s any change of pressure in your conventional water pump. This will only work if a) you have a conventional pump instead of a variable pump like the IntelliFlo® VF pump and b) if you took a reading of your water pressure upon installation of the pump.

Part b is very important because it gives you a base pressure to base future observations off of. If there is an increase of over 10 PSI from installation, then your pool filter is dirty and likely clogged, but there is no way to know this if you don’t take an initial reading. However, once the filter is cleaned you can reset the pressure gauge as a reference for future readings. If you have the IntelliFlo VF pump, reset your sensor for the same effect.

How often should you get your filters cleaned?

Getting your filters clean increases the life of your pool and also decreases the frequency and cost of replacing your filters. While your pool filter will never be fully back to 100 percent pristine after you get it cleaned — body oils and suntan lotion, among other things, prevent a 100 percent cleaning — treating pool filter cleaning as a regular process such as changing oil in your car will save you money and aggravation in the long run.

So how often should you get your filters cleaned? At Ultimate Pools, we recommend getting it done twice a year. There are two ideal times to do this — in the spring after the pollen has fallen (which usually proceeds the hot weather ideal for swimming) and once your pool season ends (typically late fall). You can get the most bang for your buck by having them cleaned at these times.

As far as cleanings, it is possible for you to do them yourself, but to do that, you have to get the exact model of your filter and research how to specifically clean that model. That can be inconvenient and difficult, so let us do it for you. We offer cleaning of your pool filters on a by-appointment basis. Give us a call or email us to set this up!

College Park boys basketball starting its district season

college park logo

The new year means turning the page on many things, including the high school basketball district season. Ultimate Pools is proud to be a sponsor of College Park High School boys basketball, which has been quite successful since College Park High School opened its doors in 2005. The Cavaliers started District 16-6A play last week with a loss to Atascocita, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today. College Park then fell to The Woodlands this past Friday.

If the history of the program is any indication though, this season is one that will be worth watching. College Park has won four district titles and made the playoffs five times in its 10-year history under head coach Clifton McNeely, most recently during the 2013-14 season. The Cavaliers have advanced as far as the regional semifinals, which they did during the 2011-12 season.

This season’s Cavaliers squad has a mix of youth and experience that will be fun to watch. College Park is led by 6-foot-4 sophomore Quentin Grimes (17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game) and sophomore Shannon Scott (14.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg). It also gets solid veteran leadership from senior guard McKinley Green (9.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg) and senior forward Dax de Boer, who leads the team with 6.1 rebounds per game.

With games coming up against teams such as Kingwood, Oak Ridge, Summer Creek and Conroe — along with rematches with The Woodlands and Atascocita — there is a lot of entertaining College Park basketball action to come this season. You can follow the Cavaliers on, Twitter, or check out the team’s website.

Taylor sureTRACK test strips gives a water reading in seconds

pool spa steps

After a long, grueling day, there’s nothing you want to do more than hop in your pool for a quick swim or soak in your sauna. But you want to make sure that your pool and sauna are at the appropriate chemical levels for doing that. With the Taylor sureTRACK test strips, you can get accurate chemical readings in the matter of seconds without any gadgetry.

The Taylor sureTRACK test strips come in the sureTRACK-4 and the sureTRACK-6 varieties. The sureTRACK-4 monitors the basic chemicals that contribute to determining whether water is safe for swimming, as it has color-coded indicators for determining levels of free chlorine and bromine along with pH and total alkalinity levels. The sureTRACK-6 tests for the above factors but also has tests for water hardness and for the amount of cynaric acid. Either way, the sureTRACK test strips are handy items for testing the chemical quality and safety of your water.

Along with that, they are easy to use. How easy? This is how to use the sureTRACK test strips.

  • Immerse the strip pads into water: As the linked brochure specifies, try not to do this test around a chemical feeder or dead zone, as that can give you a skewed result. Just find a place in your pool away from filters or feeders and dip the test strip pads into water until it is completely immersed.
  • Hold the strip horizontally while the chemical reactions take place: It takes roughly 20 seconds for the readings to settle into the correct zones, which is nice and quick.
  • Compare the color on the strip to the corresponding color key: Once the chemical reading settles, each indicator will be a certain color. Compare those colors to the included color key to get the readings. Each color will have a numeric value attributed to it, along with the recommended safe specs for each test.

From there, you can use the readings to find the desired balance in your water. The sureTRACK allows you to buy one set of strips instead of multiple sets of strips and the container prevents moisture from seeping in and compromising unused strips, giving them a shelf life of up to two years. These strips are available for a fee, so ask us about sureTRACK today!

Use ScreenLogic to control your pool remotely

night fire pool 2

Let’s say you’re sitting in your office on a Friday, counting down the hours till the weekend. After a long week of work, all you want to do is just jump in your pool — and you want to do it immediately upon arriving home. With the ScreenLogic interface, you can get your ideal weekend siesta started with your smartphone, tablet or computer.

The ScreenLogic is an automation bundle that can be synced with Pentair products that you’ve already purchased such as IntelliChem, allowing you to create the perfect aquatic environment from a remote location. You can program your pool to be at your desired temperature from your office or your car (obviously do this when parked or stopped at a stop light) and you can use ScreenLogic with IntelliChem to set your water at its designed pH and ORP (Oxidization Reduction Potential) levels. No more waiting around until you get home until you can make your pool jump-in ready: You can hop into your Ultimate Pools pool right away with the ScreenLogic.

Along with water chemistry and temperature, the ScreenLogic can be synced with exterior pool features from your smartphone or tablet. You can use the interface to adjust lighting amount and color, set timers for the activation of waterfalls and fountains, and monitor all of the major functions of your pool from wherever you are — whether you are laying down on the couch in your house or are several time zones away. The interface also stores a history of your readings to let you know how they are evolving throughout the course of time. You can also use the interface to help keep energy costs down while you are out of town.

Once you have purchased the ScreenLogic interface, you can go to the Apple App Store or Google Play to download the Pentair ScreenLogic interface. Once you do that, you’ll be able to control all of your pool’s essential functions from your mobile device. Ask us about ScreenLogic today!