Hot weather means more algae blooms

Algae blooms are not a unique subject matter to readers of this website. During last spring’s heavy rains we wrote about how excess moisture and materials can cause algae to bloom. While that remains true, excess moisture isn’t the only thing that can prompt algae blooms. Hot weather like we’ve seen recently can be a catalyst, too.

Despite the weather being dry (and very hot) we’ve gotten reports of algae accumulating in the pools of customers. So why is this happening?

How heat causes algae blooms

pool spa rocks woodlands

So why is the algae blooming in this heat? If you’re looking for something to blame, just look straight up in the sky. Be sure to put on sunglasses though, as the sun is the primary culprit in the recent algae blooms. The strength of the sun, and the heat that it generates, eats up the chlorine in the pool. With the amount of chlorine lessened, dirt and phosphates can morph into algae and turn pool water murky and give it green, yellow, even dark colors. The hotter the air and the stronger the sun, the more likely that this event will happen.

So how can you minimize the effects of the sun and heat on algae blooms? The best way to do this is to pump up the amount of cynaric acid in your water. Cynaric acid serves as a stabilizer that protects disinfectants such as chlorine and allows them to do their work in keeping your pool clean and swim ready. Cynaric acid pretty much keeps everything in tip-top shape, serving the same purpose that sulfites do in wine and allowing chlorine to do to water what pasteurization does to milk.

Like anything else, too much cynaric acid can be harmful and skew the readings when it comes to the water’s calcium content and alkalinity. But if you find the right balance, you’ll keep algae blooms at bay. Monitor your chlorine levels on your IntelliChem or ScreenLogic and when they get low, increase the cynaric acid before adding more chlorine. A little water chemistry can keep the algae at bay and your pool looking beautiful.


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!

Flood aftermath: Getting back to normal

In our previous post we detailed the affects of a flood on your pool and the steps that can be taken to get your pool back to swimming shape. We recently received a story from a customer who put the advice in that post into practice to get their pool ready to go. Join us on a trip into the Cochran’s Crossing section of The Woodlands, where we’ll see a skillful flood recovery.

After the rain

backyard flood

The recent deluge of rains led to a lot of scenes like the above scene in The Woodlands and throughout Greater Houston, as the heavy rain stressed local creeks and rivers and also oversaturated already wet soil, bringing groundwater to the surface. Therefore, places that aren’t exactly “riverfront property” got a temporary riverfront view.

As the weather stabilized, the flooding receded and things started to look a little more normal. However, the dissipation of the flooding also provides the first real glimpse of the damage that was done. As you can see below, the excess water took its toll on this pool, overwhelming it with outside water, dirt and debris.

pool during flood

After the flood: The cleaning process

It took just under five days for that murky, muddy pool to turn into the glistening, beautiful marvel below:

clean pool after flood

So what was done? It was a multi-faceted process which involved drain and refilling the pool twice along with vacuuming the pool and cleaning out the filters several times. As explained in the last article, the pool wasn’t drained completely, as a completely drained pool could cause the shell of the pool to “float”. Instead, it was drained halfway to remove much of the murky water, then refilled with clean water. Once the clean water was added, the pool was vacuumed to remove remaining debris, with periodic filter cleanings taking place during the vacuuming process.

Because of the amount of flood water and particulates that made it into the pool, the pool was drained and refilled a second time. From there, the vacuuming and filter cleaning was effective in getting the pool back to being swimmable. As for the rest of the yard? That’s looking pretty good, too.

post flood yard


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!

Cleaning your pool after flooding and heavy rains

spa black

It’s springtime in Southeast Texas, which means rain — lots of it. This past week saw the area deluged by storms, causing flooding and destruction all over the Houston area. Along with the flooding of highways, yards and houses, the recent weather has caused area pools to be filled with rainwater and debris, both floating and wind-blown.

When we redesigned this website a year ago, we did a series on the effects of rain when it comes to building your pool. This rainstorm has prompted us to pen this writeup on how to clean and get your pool back in swim mode after heavy storms and flooding.

Three variables in cleaning your pool after flooding or a storm

pool black

The rain had let up a bit but seems to have come back with a vengeance. It will stop eventually at some point. When it does, it’ll be time to look in your backyard to see how the pool is holding up. While your pool might not look quite like the picture above, odds are that there are a lot of displaced items in it. Whether it’s animals that have decided to take residence in your pool, dirt or leaves that were blown in, or simply an overflow of displaced rain or groundwater, your pool isn’t exactly swimmable right now.

It’s not a simple as taking a skimmer and scooping out the foreign debris, though. Here are the three things you have to be cognizant of while getting your pool back in shape.

Safety

Before starting the process of cleaning your pool, it’s important to take the appropriate safety measures. When it comes to flooding, that means making sure any animals or debris such as broken glass or branches are identified and removed safely and completely.

We know what you’re thinking — what kind of animals could possibly be in my pool? Well, the recent flooding saw a baby tiger get loose in Conroe. While we don’t expect any big cats to make an appearance in your backyard, don’t be surprised if snakes, bugs or small mammals — alive or dead — get blown or washed into your pool from the flooding. Spiders can also make an appearance, especially in dark places such as filters and skimmers. That includes poisonous spiders such as the brown recluse, so wear gloves and be careful when sticking your hands inside the filters or skimmers.

As for other animals, the amount of caution depends on the animal. Many bugs and smaller snakes can be removed with minimal risk, but if you get a larger snake, a poisonous snake such as a copperhead, or a sizable dead mammal, you’ll want to have an animal removal service do the trick.

As far as glass and other debris, the advice is the same as with the spiders — be careful and don’t haphazardly stick your hands into hard-to-see dark areas. Have a flashlight handy and be safe.

Particulates

Once you’ve gotten all potentially hazardous material out of the pool, it’s time to deal with the other annoyances that have blown or washed into the pool. Heavy storms and flooding can introduce all sorts of particulates to the equation, items such as leaves, dirt, mud, sand, and mulch. These elements will overpower your robotic cleaner and clog up your filters, so you have to be careful.

While you’ll be able to grab some of the bigger chunks of debris, others will have to be removed by vacuuming and filtering. To best do this, turn off your pool and let the particulates settle on the surface of your pool before starting the vacuum process. To vacuum your pool, attach the vacuum tube to the filter pump, screw on the vacuum head and turn on the pool, allowing your pump to suck debris from the surface to the filter.

Odds are that you’ll have to do this process a few times, as the filter can only handle so much material before being clogged. Turn off the vacuum, clean the filter, and repeat the above process until the vast majority of the particulates are gone. At that point, your robotic cleaner should work effectively.

In extreme cases of heavy particulates, draining the pool partially is an option. Doing this, then scrubbing the surface, will help prevent algae blooms after a flood. If you decide to drain the pool, do not drain more than half of it and certainly do not drain all of it. If you do the latter, your pool will be dislodged from the ground (which is filled with groundwater that will push the shell of your pool up) and start to float. If this happens, you’ll have to completely rip out your pool and re-do it. And you don’t want that.

Another way to combat algae, or even the staining of your plaster from material such as mulch, is to scrub your pool once a day during the storm. Scrubbing your pool breaks up the material and can save you money down the road, as the chemicals in mulch combined with standard white plaster can cause discoloration and, eventually, the replastering or acid-washing of the surface.

Chemical rebalance

Once you have the debris and particulates removed, it’s time to get your water back in balance. Introducing heavy rain and groundwater will alter the pH and chlorine balance. If you have an IntelliChem then you can set the system to your preferred specs and have the system do its work. We noticed that pools with IntelliChem did a good job of keeping the pool’s water chemistry afloat (pun intended) during the most recent storms.

If you don’t have an IntelliChem, then you’ll need to add chlorine to your pool during the storm to keep the water close to balance. With the excess rain, ground and flood water that’s present, you’ll want to go a little heavier on chlorine than you normally would. Pouring the chlorine while you are brushing the pool is a good way to be efficient with your maintenance time.


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!

Scaling: What causes it and how to prevent it

While it’s annoying, scaling is something that will happen in your pool from time to time. Whether it’s the rocks, the plaster or the tile on the surface, scaling can leave a white calcium mark or residue that can detract from the aesthetics of the pool. While scaling on plaster, tile or bricks isn’t harmful to the foundation of your pool, it does leave it looking less attractive.

How does scaling occur? How do you deal with it once it happens? And better yet, how do you prevent it from happening in the first place? We’ll answer these questions one by one in this article.

wall with scaling

Scaling, as you can see in the picture above, typically shows up as a white film or mark on the surface and is visible once a wet surface is dried. It varies in degree and severity and can range from anywhere to a slight disturbance to a huge hassle that causes plenty of headaches and consternation.

Causes of scaling

There are two main causes of scaling, one which occurs naturally with an imbalance of moisture and one that occurs when the water chemistry of pool isn’t diligently maintained.

  • Efflorescence: Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce it, it’s a tough one. It’s also tough to get out of concrete, as efflorescence is a crystalline deposit that comes from salt gravitating to the surface of concrete or masonry to create a white, film-like coating. Efflorescence scale can be caused simply by a gradual moisture imbalance in a section of your pool.”The moisture causes the salts to emerge through the gunite and rise to the surface,” said Scott Gordon, the Branch Manager of Sales at Master Tile. “These salts need somewhere to go, and efflorescence is the result of that. You’ll see it happen on bricks of a house if a sprinkler keeps hitting them at a certain point.”
  • Water chemistry imbalance: Having the wrong pH and alkalinity is another main cause of scaling in pools, as it leaves more of a calcium deposit on your plaster and tile than a salt-based one. Having the water slightly out of whack allows there to be too much calcium in the pool, which latches on to the pool surface and leaves a white scale residue. Too little alkaline can have a similar effect, leaving the unsightly white film.

Preventing/Dealing with Scaling

The best way to deal with scaling is not to allow it to happen in the first place. Gordon believes that taking the initiative with water chemistry is essential in preventing scale from occurring in the first place.

“It’s up to the homeowner to keep their pH levels where they need to be,” he said. “If you don’t pay attention or neglect it, your pH will go too low and too high and scaling will occur, and once it occurs, it’s very difficult to remove. You can try to scrub it out, but it usually comes back right after. Having the correct water chemistry is key.”

You can use smart maintenance systems such as IntelliChem and ScreenLogic to keep your water chemistry on point. As detailed in the writeup on IntelliChem that we did in July, the IntelliChem system not only helps you keep your chlorine, alkalinity, cynaric acid and calcium where they should be, but they can also tell you whether your pool water is ideal, normal, corrosive or scaling. If your water is the latter, than that’s when that tricky white film starts to appear.

It’s also good to scrub the surface of your pool regularly. That will help break up any calcium or salt deposits that make it to surface before they start leaving their mark on that surface. See point No. 1 in this article — scrubbing works with scaling as well as algae.

As far as correcting current scaling, the best way to go is to make sure your water chemistry is where it needs to be. There are other possible solutions that can be considered such as scrubbing out the white film or using chemical and glass beads to blast it out, but that scale will return if the water chemistry isn’t what it should be. If you want to keep your pool looking good, learning water chemistry and implementing it is absolutely necessary.


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!

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, EasyTouch, and EasyTouch 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!


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!