Taking at look at IntelliChem

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One of the products that we have mentioned frequently in our write-ups since redesigning the website is the IntelliChem system. A product of Pentair, IntelliChem is an automated system which allows a user to control and monitor a pool’s chemical levels and water chemistry from their computer or devices such as iPads and smartphones. It’s a product that can be installed in new pools or retrofitted into pools that have already been built.

But what does the IntelliChem system measure and how does it keep your pool’s water and structure in tip-top condition? Here are some of the elements that IntelliChem monitors and the reasons why its an ideal tool to have installed with your pool.

Chlorine: The primary job of the IntelliChem is to keep the pH levels of the water at a certain level, ideally between 7.2 and 7.8 pH. A main way to do that is add and dilute the water’s chlorine level. Instead of “shocking” a pool with jugs of chlorine and making it unswimmable for 4-5 hours, the IntelliChem releases the chlorine necessary to stay within the ideal pH level.

If you want to speed up the process, you can pour a little bit of liquid chlorine to raise the pH or add some water to lower it. Those are better and safer alternatives to shocking to raise the pH (which can leave your pool in a dangerous state to swim in for several hours) or adding muratic acid to lower the pH, which is a common do-it-yourself solution to lowering the water’s pH level. Muratic acid is corrosive, not only to the concrete around the edge if it spatters, but to your skin as well.

Cynaric acid: Cynaric acid serves as a stabilizer for your pool, as it protects the chlorine that’s present in your pool from elements such as sunlight. However, having too much cynaric acid in your pool will decrease the chlorine’s effectiveness in combating bacteria and algae while also making the water cloudy. Using IntelliChem to keep your cynaric acid levels between 40 and 70 parts per million will allow your chlorine to do its job effectively.

Calcium: Another thing IntelliChem will do is monitor your pool’s calcium levels. The ideal calcium level in your pool should be roughly 250 parts per million, with a range of 200 to 400 parts per million being acceptable, as that serves as the margin of error for cynaric acid to stabilize the calcium in your pool. Excess calcium can cause scaling on the pool surface and cloud the water of the pool, while not enough calcium will cause the pool water to eat away at the calcium in the plaster of your pool’s surface to compensate. IntelliChem will allow you to set your system to find the ideal calcium balance.

Alkalinity: Like with cynaric acid, alkaline substances serve as a stabilizer, as they keep the pH levels of the water from going all over the place while allowing chlorine to do its thing. However, like cynaric acid, water with too much alkalinity can make your water murky and unclear along with hamstringing your chlorine’s effectiveness. Too little alkaline has a similar effect to having too little calcium, causing plaster and metals to corrode and cause scaling on the surface. You can program your Intellichem to keep the alkaline substances in between 80 and 200 parts per million, with 120 parts being a good place to set it at.

The IntelliChem system works to keep your water chemistry on point using technology. We install the system for a fee, so ask us about IntelliChem today!

Rain and Ultimate Pools: Installing a deck and laying down stone

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This is fifth and final part of our series on rain and moisture and how it affects the pool-building and maintenance process of Ultimate Pools. To access the first four parts, click here.

We’re finally to the end of our series about how rain affects the pool-building process, so hopefully the rain takes a hint and ends as well — at least for a little while. Maybe we can give our excess water to California or something, who knows?

Either way, the last month or so has seen us tread very lightly when it comes to installing pools, and that care translates to items that we build to supplement your dream pool, namely decks and stone. Just like that luxurious pool that you enjoy swimming in, rain and moisture can have a big effect on how effectively your deck and stone is installed.

Just like with your pool, we want to build your deck and lay your stone correctly the first time. We’d rather take some extra time to wait for the rain to stop and the ground to become drier and more secure at the beginning than to deal with the problems that come from rushing a job on saturated ground later.

One caution. Even with best intentions decks can move, crack, etc. as our planet is constantly moving. But we do our best!

So what are some of the risks of building a deck or laying stone on soaked ground?

Insecure foundation for decks: The first part of building a deck is constructing a sturdy concrete foundation that will keep the deck secure for years to come. To do that, you have to frame the foundation of the deck, pour concrete down underneath it, and let it dry before you start the construction of the actual deck.

However, if you do this on wet, saturated ground, you run the risk of the foundational concrete becoming misshapen or slipping during the drying process, compromising its integrity and exposing it to cracks down the road. Overly saturated ground can also cause the concrete itself to take on water, making it weaker and subject to cracking and eroding down the road.

Uprooted stone: When we place stone in your yard — whether for the surface surrounding your pool or to create a walking path from your pool to your house — we want to make sure that the first time is the only time we have to set it. If you think we’re repeating ourselves, you’re right, because we really do strive to do it right and do it well the first time, even if it takes a little more time than initially planned.

As for laying stone, wet, saturated ground encourages slippage, as it is a lot harder for the stone to adhere to the surface when that surface is soaked. This can cause problems down the road, from stone slipping out of position to popping up from the surface. Insecure stone can be dangerous, so we’ll wait until the environment is right to keep it in place.

We know that you want your new pool, deck and stone to be done as soon as possible so you can enjoy all the perks that they have to offer. But when the weather outside is frightful, it might take a bit longer than usual. We’re confident you’ll enjoy the end result, though.

Rain and Ultimate Pools: Dealing with algae

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This is Part Four of our series on rain and moisture and how it affects the pool-building and maintenance process of Ultimate Pools. To access the first three parts, click here.

Algae is something that can be beneficial in nature, as it serves as a generator of oxygen and also provides a necessary food source for fish and other underwater creatures. It can also turn into beautiful offshoots of kelp and other seaweeds in ocean waters. But when algae gets in your pool, it can be annoying at best and make your pool dangerous and completely unswimmable at worst.

Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Bill has brought even more rain to this area. While it could have been worse, another side effect of all of the rain we’ve seen is an increase of algae in pools. Algae can enter pools in a variety of ways, from being blown in by the rain and wind to germinating from phosphates that accumulate on the rock and plaster of the surface to blooming from bacteria and dirt that’s brought into the pool by humans. Algae can turn your crystal clear pool murky and green. Maybe not as green as your grass is right now after all of this rain, but green enough to bum you out.

At Ultimate Pools, we have a few services we offer for a fee upon installation of your pool. Not only do we have the Intellichem System that maintains the pH and chlorine levels of the pool at levels that dissuade algae growth, but we also offer Del Ozone ozonators that sanitize your water with minimal chemicals and Maytronics Dolphin cleaners that brush and get rid of debris from the surface of your pool.

These products do a great job of keeping your pool swimmable, but they aren’t cure-alls and need a little do-it-yourself help from you, the homeowner. If you want to make sure that your water is clean and clear and your surface is clear of the green, slimy algae that makes your pool’s bottom and sides feel more like the bottom of a lake than a beautiful centerpiece to your backyard, there are a couple of things you can do to help win the war on algae.

1. Scrub your pool: Algae is a tricky opponent, a lot like the agents from the movie The Matrix. One moment algae is invisible and all seems well and hunky dory. But with a trigger (most notably the sun), algae makes itself known and blooms on the surface and in the water of your pool.

Just like the agent in the clip above, algae is nearly impossible to detect until it blooms. But you can “unplug” the algae by scrubbing the sides of your pool. Instead of invisibly adhering to your walls and being out of reach of your cleaner, a good, hard scrub — especially when it’s overcast right after a shower — breaks down the phosphates and releases the algae particles into the water, where they can be broken down and cleaned up by the Intellichem or your cleaner. And scrubbing can be fun — pretend you’re a Zamboni resurfacing an ice rink in between periods of a hockey game. If you do this a few times a week, you’ll stay ahead of the algae.

2. Pour out a little liquid chlorine: The most damaging part of rain when it comes to algae growth and bloom is the fact that a heavy shower or thunderstorm can disrupt the pH and chlorine levels. The addition of rain water dilutes the chlorine, allowing algae to sit in a perfect marinade, ready to bloom once the sun comes out.

The Intellichem System is designed to keep your chlorine and pH levels in balance to hinder algae growth, among other things. But a potent rainstorm can add time to that balancing process. Therefore, pouring out a little liquid chlorine for your homies (into your pool of course) can jumpstart the balancing process and allow the Intellichem to get you back into the safety zone quicker. While the algae that is there already won’t necessarily die off at that point (add step 1 to help with that), it won’t multiply pre-bloom.

Stick with us as we finish the rain series with a look at how it effects outside-of-pool elements such as decks and stone. And hope for no more tropical storms in the meantime!