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!

Building a pool around irrigation systems

Very rarely does building a swimming pool simply involve digging a hole and installing a pool within that hole. Not only are there the occasional weather concerns (especially during thunderstorm season), but you also have to deal with things that are already in the backyard. Sometimes it’s as simple as moving playground equipment around or rearranging mulch and flower beds, but a lot of the time there are more complicated elements. Irrigation systems fall under that category.

The piping, valves and wiring that are involved in irrigation systems make dealing with them a formidable task. Valves and wires can be hit, pipes need to be re-routed, the system often needs to be shut down and re-done. For most pool builders, that’s a complicated process which involves separate companies and weeks of additional side labor. That’s not the case with Ultimate Pools.

Dealing with irrigation systems

Before Ultimate Pools designed its first blueprint of a swimming pool, it dealt with the installation of irrigation systems under A Total Coverage. A Total Coverage installed sprinkler systems and outdoor improvements for much of the 1990s before pivoting into swimming pool installation in 1999. That experience carries over into what we do today, as we can skillfully navigate and rewire irrigation systems and relocate sprinkler valves.

The co-founder of Ultimate Pools, Bryan Stuart, is a Texas Licensed Irrigator #4542. What does that mean for you? Substantial savings — from money to time to overall hassle. Instead of having to call a side irrigation company to come deal with the carnage of digging in a pool, we can handle that for you. From replacing the wiring and valves to making any adjustments on piping, we are a one-stop shop for pool and irrigation work.

Along with not having the hassle to hire another company, we can handle any irrigation alterations at less of a cost and with less downtime than if you hire another company. How does that work exactly? Since we are dealing with the pool excavation and irrigation system concurrently, we have the ability to make the irrigation alterations before installing the pool’s plumbing. We can determine what wires and valves need to be altered during the excavation process and plan accordingly, getting that taken care of before the plumbing is installed.

That’s not something most companies can do. Instead of taking inventory during the process, they dig first, install plumbing and the pool, then figure out what to do with the irrigation systems later. That involves contacting an irrigation company, which often has to re-do its original system from scratch to fit with the pool. That costs money and time, as the system could be down for a couple of months after excavation, installation of the pool and re-installation of the irrigation system.

Meanwhile, our ability to adjust irrigation systems concurrently reduce down time to about a week after excavation for front and side sprinklers.


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!

It’s our 25th anniversary!

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On November 4, 1991, Bryan and Deborah Stuart set into motion what is now Ultimate Pools today. We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the start of A Total Coverage. A Total Coverage is the outdoor improvement wing of What’s Next Inc. and Ultimate Pools.

The silver anniversary

The start of A Total Coverage was a humble one, as the Stuarts and their children hand-delivered fliers to get the word out about A Total Coverage’s sprinkler and irrigation systems. The business expanded into products and services such as landscaping, lighting, fencing and outdoor kitchens, and we were incorporated into What’s Next Inc. in March 1993. From there, the business has expanded into pool building, which is the foundation of what we do now.

But this isn’t a history lesson and, don’t worry, there won’t be an anniversary test. If you want one of those, check out the history page and read up. Instead, we’re thankful that we’ve been able to last for 25 years as a small family business and we are gracious that you have allowed us to be part of your community. We enjoy working in Montgomery County, Harris County, Greater Houston and Southeast Texas more than you know.

So, once again, thank you for being part of our silver anniversary as a company. We are proud of the 25 years that we’ve been in business and can’t wait for several more!


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!

Lightning: Its effects and ways to protect against it

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A well-placed lightning strike can cause considerable damage to anything it strikes. One bolt can produce up to a billion volts of electricity, so anything that gets struck tends to suffer significant damage, like the tree above. Needless to say, lightning damage can be a factor for your pool as well — but not necessarily in the way you might think.

After dealing recently with the effects of flooding, we’re turning our attention to lightning. One strike, whether it hits the pool equipment directly or causes an electrical surge that trickles down to the lighting, wiring, or the modem of the internet router inside the house, can cause quite a bit of chaos with your pool’s features. In this article we’ll go over what kind of damage a bolt can cause and steps that can be taken to try to head off damage if lightning does strike.

Effects of lightning

Very rarely does the bolt of lightning actually hit the pool or pool equipment. Instead, the surge of electricity is typically going to hit at the tallest point of the yard. Most likely, that will be a tree, a metal pole, or the roof of the house. From there, the bolt makes the journey down to the surface, where it can hit the water or get into the modem connection or lighting wiring. After that, this is what tends to happen:

  • The modem could get knocked offline: If your pool is connected to the internet via ScreenLogic, the electrical surge can either knock out the power to your house, which will turn the internet connection off, or blow out the communication wires between your modem and the pool. The first can be fixed when the power comes on, the second would necessitate a rewiring of the ScreenLogic so you can control your pool’s functions remotely.
  • The underground lighting wires could be compromised: The surge from the lightning can travel all the way from the strike point down into the underground wiring, either damaging the lights or shorting them entirely. If its the former, it might take days or months until you realize that there is a problem. This is especially true with copper wiring.

As far as the actual pool and spa, you won’t need to be worried about physical damage unless there’s a direct hit. That hit could come from the lightning bolt itself or from falling debris such as tree branches. Lightning could also inflict damage on any sort of irrigation system you have installed too. If that happens, we can repair for a fee through A Total Coverage.

Solutions/Preventative Measures

While you obviously can’t prevent your house from being struck by lightning, there are measures that can be taken to minimize the damage from the bolt. One option is to purchase a surge protector device for your pool’s computer system. The surge protector is designed to take all of the brunt from the lightning strike and protect the system for damage. It basically acts in the same way as an insurance deductible. It will need to be replaced with each strike, but if there’s any damage to the computer system the surge protector’s warranty will cover it.

The other option is to have your homeowner’s insurance cover the damage costs and the cost of having an electrician fix any faulty lighting or wiring. While you wouldn’t have to keep buying surge protectors, the deductible on your homeowner’s insurance could be quite large (5-10 percent of your insurance value). Either way, those options are worth looking into so you have a plan of attack if a lightning bolt compromises your pool or irrigation systems.


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!