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!

Ultimate Pools is teaming up with Atlantic Water Gardens

We’re always looking to evolve at Ultimate Pools and work with products that will add to your swimming pool and backyard experience. That is why we’re teaming up with Atlantic Water Gardens to bring you products such as colorfalls, wall spouts, spillways and lighting to make your water features even more luxurious.

These products will be on display in our demo pool at our Magnolia office, but we’re sure you want to know what these products are. Well, you’re in luck, as we’ll delve into the products below with the help of Kyle Weemhoff, the Western Regional Sales manager at Atlantic Water Gardens. So lay back, get comfortable and enjoy this article about advanced water features.

What is Atlantic Water Gardens?

Before getting into their products, I’m sure you want to know a little bit about the company itself. Atlantic Water Gardens is based in Mantua, Ohio, and was founded in 1988. The company wasn’t affiliated with swimming pools originally, devoting the majority of its resources toward artificial ponds and waterfalls. But it underwent a bit of a shift 6-7 years ago, according to Weemhoff.

“We decided to get into the hardscape industry, which involves pools,” Weemhoff said. “We wanted to work with water and walls, bring some new designs, then we introduced our colorfalls and wall spouts.

“One of our slogans is ‘Illuminate Your Evenings,’ and swimming pools are a great way to do that. We are looking forward to working with more pool companies and contractors and getting more into that market.”

Along with the colorfalls, sheer descents, wall spouts and LED lights that we’ll discuss, Atlantic Water Gardens also designs fountains from basalt and rock columns and colored vases to help add some flavor to backyard areas.

Colorful products

Now that we got the intro out of the way, here are some of the main Atlantic Water Gardens features that will be available through Ultimate Pools. These can be combined to create eye-catching spillways like the one below:

LED lighting: This is the foundation for what the company does, as the lighting is what gives the backyard flavor. Whether you’re looking to illuminate your deck and outdoor patio areas or looking to add some flavor to your water features, these lights will do the trick. They are available in 48 colors, giving you an array of options based on the type of vibe you want to project.

But the most attractive aspect of their LED lighting is the simple do-it-yourself installation of it. The Atlantic Water Gardens lighting is basically a “plug-and-play” installation which is fairly painless for the customer.

“It’s extremely simple for the homeowner,” Weemhoff said. “You don’t need to have any lighting experience to put it together. Just put the cords into splitters which are connected to transformers and you’re good to go.”

The LED lights can also be hooked up to automated pool systems such as ScreenLogic so they can be controlled remotely.

Colorfalls and wall spouts: Now that you have the LED lights, you can make beautiful scenes with them. One of the best way to do that is with a colorfall. The LED lights, with their 48 colors, can allow your sheer descents to stand out in the crowd, as you can use several combinations of lights to create the perfect scene.

“You can combine multiple sizes of light to illuminate your sheer,” Weemhoff said. “You can use five 36-inch lights to illuminate a 15-foot sheer or whatever you want to do. With all the colors we have, the options are endless.”

The lights change the water colors by pushing water out through the light, allowing the water to retain that light as it exits the descent and falls down. It turns what looks like a regular sheer descent during the day into an exciting night-time display.

All linked and embedded pictures are courtesy of Atlantic Water Gardens.


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!

Home kitchens are a nice touch alongside your pool

While swimming pools are the bread and butter of Ultimate Pools, they are just the start of the services that us and our partners can provide. We’ve recently gotten into home kitchens, complete with the help of Jeff Thayer from Well Done Building Projects. An outdoor home kitchen, complete with a grill, sink, seating area and entertainment, makes your pool a great place for a “Staycation.” Therefore, Thayer has joined us to talk about the elements and the essence of home kitchens.

The last decade has seen a huge rise in the popularity of these kitchens, as homeowners are increasingly looking to add value to their home instead of buying a new one. While swimming pools are part of this process, a home kitchen increases property value and home enjoyment that much more.

“It started right around the time of the recession,” Thayer said. “Instead of spending 200 (thousand) on a new home, why not spend 30, 40, 50 to make your current home a better home? The last few years have seen people investing in their home and updating their home.”

According to Thayer, new homes are starting to adjust to the home kitchen trend. Many houses that are being built come with provisions for outdoor kitchens and similar additions, making the job easier. That job can be done either with a detached kitchen with a gazebo roof or with a kitchen that is attached to the house. Pool houses are also a popular request. When paired with a swimming pool, it creates an outdoor paradise that homeowners don’t want to leave.

Thayer works with our customers to draw up the ideal plans and with decorators to provide the best look.

home-kitchen-main

Elements of home kitchens

Gazebo roof and detached walls: Just because the home kitchen is outdoors doesn’t mean it’s completely open to the elements. Gazebo roofs protect your kitchen, porch, and seating area from the elements, be it hot sun or rain and wind. The detached walls also provide a bit of a separation from the main house. The roofs have a stained cedar column foundation with wood colors that match the house.

As for the walls, those are variable to the customer’s needs. Some want their kitchen completely enclosed; others want it completely open. The usual design is for 2-3 detached walls — made of cinder block or brick — with some open space.

Grill: You can’t have an outdoor kitchen without having anything to cook on, so let’s start with a grill. According to Thayer, the default grill is 36 inches, but larger sizes are available for an increased fee. Larger grills can go five to six feet long. Most customers request a sideburner, which is good for boiling crawfish or making sides to go along with the main course.

Most grills come with affixed storage areas for utensils and sinks for after-dinner cleaning. Some homeowners also request an area for a mini-refrigerator or freezer. All of these elements are typically stainless steel, making them resistant to elements and easy to clean. The stainless steel grill is built into a greater kitchen area that is made primarily of cinder, brick or cultured stone. These stones are picked to match the house so the kitchen and home are an external match.

Porch: One of the fundamental elements of home kitchens are a porch. These porches are constructed with a variety of veneer stones, tile or travertine and provide a surface for your seating area. Having a nice walking area, and an area for tables and seating, is essential.

Seating areas/perks

Whether you want a classic kitchen table or a living-room environment, seating areas are important. These areas, also known outdoor living areas, create a home outside the home that’s visible from your house. That provides an attractive area for you to relax and unwind in.

These areas are also where homeowners can get creative with their home kitchens. Here are some popular perks.

Televisions: Roughly 50 percent of customers want a television outside in their home kitchen, so the kitchens are designed it to incorporate such a thing.

“We go through the TV companies on stuff like that, because it’s an entirely separate industry,” he said. “We’ll work with DirecTV or the cable companies when it comes to that.”

Either way, home kitchens can turn into home entertainment centers. You can watch the game, grab a beer from the outdoor fridge and ice from an icemaker. It’s not a bad way to live.

Fire pits and fireplaces: These add to the vacation feel that is essential to a home kitchen. You can sit around a fire pit and cook s’mores or cuddle around the fire as if you’re at a ski lodge. Fireplaces can be built into the benchwalls of the outdoor pavilion to create a classy ambience.

Light fixtures: Wiring lights around your home kitchen not only allows you the ability to work outside at night, but also allows you to change the vibe. If you’re looking for romance or to party, light up your outdoor pavilion in style.

* Linked and embedded photos courtesy of Jeff Thayer and Amanda Oldham at Well Done Building Projects


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!

Adjustable actuators help regulate your water flow

There are few things more calming than sitting back in your pool and watching water trickle peacefully from your waterfall into the pool below. But sometimes that trickle isn’t going to quite fit the mood. That’s where getting adjustable actuators comes into play.

remastered pool waterfall rocks

Adjustable actuators are a multi-faceted tool

An adjustable actuator allows the user to control their water flow experience through a valve that can be adjusted via smart systems. The actuator we use is the IntelliValve from Pentair. The IntelliValve fits on any equipment pad and is compatible with smart systems such as IntelliFlo. But what is the difference between an adjustable actuator and a regular actuator?

A typical valve actuator has two main modes: On and off. Either you have the water on a previously determined setting or turn it off completely with very little variation. You can make a 180-degree change, a 90-degree change, or none at all. It’s a standard valve with very little variation between modes. Adjustable actuators give the use more power over the amount of water that is being used and allows you to alter the type of flow. Unleash the flow to 100 percent of its capability or dial it down to 25 or 40 percent at your discretion. There are a lot more possibilities with an adjustable actuator.

An adjustable actuator allows you to distribute water flow to multiple places. If you want your waterfall to flow at 80 percent capacity, then direct the remaining 20 percent into the pool. And getting multiple adjustable actuators to pair with your water features provides even more options. Program your weeping wall to 30 percent, have your bubblers gushing at 80 percent and your waterfall going at 55 percent. The possibilities are endless, with each actuator contributing to your pool’s vibe.

The smart capability of the actuator allows it to work in concert with lighting, as well. Pair attractive lighting to balancing your water features to make your pool a fun place to unwind after work.


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!

Water features will accentuate your Ultimate Pools pool

As you can see from the pictures on this website, an Ultimate Pools pool is more than a body of water to swim in. Our pools are not only meant to be a lush backyard oasis, but also eye-catching conversation starters. A great way to get your neighbors and friends talking is by adding some water features to your pool.

While waterfalls are the feature most identified with swimming pools, there are many other ways to go in that department. Below is a breakdown of some of the most popular water features available with Ultimate Pools pools. Even if you don’t want water features right away, be sure to plan for them during the installation process. As detailed in this article, it’s less expensive to get the necessary drainage at the beginning than down the road.

waterfall feature 2

The main types of water features

Waterfalls: Waterfalls are the most common water feature that we deal with and are often a default addition to any new swimming pool. Think about it: What’s more relaxing than watching a steady stream of water cascade down from a set of rocks? We set up the waterfall construction by building a pad while we’re in the process of shooting gunite that juts out away from the pool. That pad allows us to build dramatic rock features for the water to flow over.

While moss rock is the traditional base for a waterfall, they can also be constructed with granite, patio stone, and other rocks for a fee.

Weeping walls: A weeping wall is a bit different than a waterfall, as the water trickles out of the rocks and down into the pool. Therefore, you don’t need to have a pad built in upon installation.

The type of rocks used for weeping walls vary. We usually use moss rock because it’s the most abundant and affordable rock, but we’ve installed weeping walls with all sorts of rock. We’ve had customers use granite pieces and even have had customers specially order rock from North Dakota. If you’re willing to track it down and pay for it, it’ll be installed!

Sheer descents: Instead of the weeping or unevenly falling water, a sheer descent triggers a solid, thin sheet of water. The sheer descent mechanism is a plastic molded piece that is built into a wall or stone that will create the single, unbroken sheer of water. Sheer descents can be paired with colored lights to add a glitzy vibe.

Other great options

Sconces: A sconce is a statue or a heading that sends out one small stream of water. Check out the lions in this picture of an older pool we built. People use a variety of decorative sconces like this interesting elephant one. We work with Pentair to supply sconces, which can be adhered to the wall and are weather-resistant, and other water features.

Mini-jets: If you want to shoot single streams of water without a decorative sconce, then get some mini-jets. You can set up the jets, which are also known as pea shooters, from the side of the pool or the deck to add a bit of flair.

Luminaires: Luminaires mix light with water streams, as LED lights combine with the stream to provide a color explosion. You can affix luminaires to pea shooters along the deck or to underwater streams to add pizzazz. Mix the light with water and air to provide a colorful, geyser effect in your swimming pool.


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!