Getting your pool in balance post-Harvey

Cleaning and draining your pool (if necessary) is a big part of getting your pool back in shape after heavy rains. But just because your pool is glistening does not mean that its recovery from Hurricane Harvey is complete. For your pool to truly be in tip-top shape the water chemistry must be in balance.

In this article, we’re going to take that newly cleaned pool water and make sure it’s chemically in balance. If it isn’t, we’re going to show you the importance of that balance and how to achieve it.

Putting your pool water in balance

The pool in the picture above looks glistening and ready to go, but having clean, aqua pool water doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is up to snuff. There are three areas of water chemistry which are extremely important in the well-being of your pool — the amount of cynaric acid, the calcium content and the alkalinity.

It’s very important to continuously check these metrics and not simply stop and be satisfied once the water is a desirable color. If you don’t check them, especially when dealing with a rain and flooding event such as Harvey, you leave your pool susceptible to algae blooms and scaling.

We detailed these measurements in an article we did on IntelliChem. While the IntelliChem system will let you know what the measurements are, the cynaric acid and chlorine will have to be applied separately.

Of the three measurements, cynaric acid might be the most important. Cynaric acid acts as a stabilizer, protecting the chlorine from getting burned off by the sun and losing its potency. Cynaric acid operates in a similar way that sulfates do in wine or homogenization does with milk. It keeps the chlorine fresh so it can do its part to get your water in balance. Having 30-35 parts per million of cynaric acid will help chlorine do its thing and help with calcium and alkalinity.

If you simply shock the pool every so often or throw in chlorine tablets without paying attention to the cynaric acid output, you’re likely to get the dreaded algae and scaling. And that’s not a good time.

How calcium and alkalinity keep water in balance

Keeping tabs on calcium is extremely important, as too little calcium will cause the water to eat away at the plaster while too much calcium will cause scaling on walls and on the pool surface. You want to keep the calcium between 200 and 400 parts per million, with 250 being the sweet spot.

As far as alkalinity, keeping it under control is necessary to prevent corrosion of the metal equipment in the pool and staining of the plaster. The range for alkaline substances is 80 parts per million to 200 parts per million, with 120 being the ideal amount. You should also aim to have the pH in your pool between 7.2 and 7.8, with 7.5 the prime target. Chlorine, with cynaric acid as a lead blocker, can get these elements to where you need them to be. For best results, have your free chlorine at 3.0 parts per million. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions about these matters.


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!

Cleaning and draining your pool post-Harvey

Now that Hurricane Harvey’s rain has fallen, it comes time to assess the damage and clean up your pool. There are several factors to consider when cleaning or draining your pool, between your safety, particulates in the pool and rebalancing the chemistry of the water. We did a short “what to watch for” post last year during the torrential spring rains that Southeast Texas was getting. That’s a good reference while evaluating what you need to do.

The above picture shows one of our pools in the aftermath of Harvey. The owners were lucky not to have much in the way of flood damage, and their IntelliChem system did its job in helping keep the pool’s chemistry on point throughout the storm. We offer the IntelliChem system with all of our pools, and having one — and putting it to use — drastically reduces the need for draining your pool.

Cleaning and draining your pool: What to look for beforehand

Unfortunately, Harvey wasn’t as kind to all of our customers in Montgomery County and Southeast Texas. Some of them fell victim to the flooding that plagued (and still plagues) the region. That resulted in pictures such as the two below.

In the cleaning your pool article that was linked in the first paragraph, there were three things that needed to be monitored: safety from fallen items/animals that might have drifted in the pool area, particulates such as dirt/mulch and leaves, and water chemistry. Since Harvey was much more a rain event than a wind event in Montgomery County, falling debris from trees and houses weren’t as much of a concern. However, insects, reptiles and small mammals could have been washed into your pool area (depending on how much flooding you received) and the sheer amount of rain water will throw your chemistry off.

But a big X-factor in the Harvey clean-up will be keeping mindful of possible bacteria. The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals warns that animals and possible sewage in flood waters can cause spikes in E-Coli and other harmful bacteria. It advises using bacteria test strips on the water to get readings. If there is a bacteria issue, chlorine might not be effective, so use products such as Sea Klear PRS Stage 1 and 2 to break down the bacteria and trap it in your filters.

Draining your pool: Do’s and dont’s

We covered the process of this last year, which we paired with the other linked article in the first paragraph. Please feel free to read this, but we’ll also highlight a few things that might be relevant for this storm.

One of the main things you need to do is clean your filters constantly. The filters serve as an integral part of the cleaning process, as they trap the debris and separate it from the pool water. However, when you’re dealing with floods and rain water of this degree, the filters will get full, overwhelmed and not do their job fully if left unmonitored. Therefore, it’s important to clean and empty them yourself or call us to do it for you for a fee. Cleaning and emptying filters are available for a fee as part of our pool maintenance services.

Along with keeping the filters in tip-top working shape, you also need to brush your pool several times a day. Brushing the pool uproots debris that’s clinging the surface of your pool and releases it into the water. From there, the filters and vacuums can capture and separate it. Brushing the pool also is huge in preventing algae from forming down the road. It also allows the IntelliChem system to balance the water chemistry more effectively.

As far as dont’s, do not ever drain the pool completely. If you do that, the shell of the pool will “pop up” and “float” out of place, causing an extreme headache and even more labor. The saturation of the ground after a rain event like Harvey makes a dislodged shell even more of a concern, as the moisture and dirt below the surface push the shell out if there’s not enough volume inside the pool to push back against it. It’s a phenomenon we detail in this article.

Instead, drain the pool no more than halfway and refill the drained portion with clean water. From there, use vacuums and filtration to further clean the water, along with the IntelliChem system’s water chemistry capabilities. Sometimes one draining will do the trick; sometimes you’ll need more. Either way, never drain the pool more than halfway. This is another service we provide for a fee as part of our pool maintenance package.

Either way, your pool will once again look like this.

Give us a call for help in this area, and stay safe.


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!

Recent pictures of pools, Harvey relief information

Before showing off these pictures, we want to show our support for all of those who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. It’s been a tough week-plus for the Houston area and Southeast Texas and we’d like to give our best. We are available to help on any pool maintenance issues that storms and flooding have caused and encourage you to help in whatever way you can.

#houstonstrong #prayersforhouston #hurricaneharvey

A post shared by Ultimate Pools (@ultimate_pools) on

You can donate food or clothing to local shelters such as the one at College Park High School, donate to organizations such as the Red Cross either online or via text (text “HARVEY” to 909-99). Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt is also heading up a fundraiser which has received $10 million in donations.

While we look to recover, help and move forward, here are some pictures. These images, and more, can also be viewed in our galleries.

Pictures of pools

Pictures of decks

Pictures of features

Pictures of spas

And here’s a picture of a pool after we recently applied gunite.

Stay safe and dry, everyone.


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!

Hurricane Harvey and your pool

Southeast Texas is no stranger to hurricanes and tropical storms in the late summer and early fall. Unfortunately, we’re dealing with another one this week, as Tropical Storm Harvey is set to become Hurricane Harvey and make landfall sometime on Friday, most likely between Matagorda Bay and Corpus Christi.

If it strengthens as anticipated, Harvey will be the first Category 3 hurricane to hit the United States since 2005, which was the year of Katrina and Rita. Hopefully, Hurricane Harvey won’t have nearly the destructive impact those two storms had.

The landfall impact of Hurricane Harvey in Greater Houston and Montgomery County won’t be direct, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be an impact. Schools in Greater Houston are already taking precautions in the wake of the storm, as are businesses and government services.

Hurricane Harvey and swimming pools

There is a wide berth on the impact of hurricanes and tropical storms, but as a pool owner/prospective buyer, you’re here because you want to know how this storm could affect your pool. Well, you’re in luck, as we’ve produced literature in the past talking about the effects of rain on both the building of your pool (and corresponding elements such as decking) and how to clean your pool after a big storm or flooding. The latter is something we penned last year after a spring deluge. We also had a post highlighting the clean-up of a pool after a particular set of storms.

While everyone is well aware of the problems that come from hurricane landfall (remember Hurricane Ike in 2008?) as far as wind and lightning, many of the problems when it comes to pools has to do with the amount of rainfall.

While tropical storms don’t get the headlines of hurricanes, those are the type of storms that tend to have the most continuous damage in Southeast Texas. Hurricanes tend to make landfall hot and blow right through to inland areas, exiting relatively quickly. For example, Ike powered through Houston and motored into the Great Lakes region. Meanwhile, Southeast Texas residents can remember weaker tropical storm systems being caught along the coast, stagnating and dumping buckets of rain for days on end. Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 was the most notable example of that phenomenon, as the storm camped off the coast for two weeks feeding Metro Houston with rain. Unfortunately, some models expect Hurricane Harvey to have a similar effect.

What does that mean for pool owners? As detailed in our linked article above, the deluge of rain causes flooding, which can make your water quite dirty. That’s not all, though. Excess rain also throws off the chemical levels of your water (making it susceptible to algae growth, among other things), overwhelms your filtration system with particulates, and even introduces animals (dead or alive) to your pool. So if you see anything askew be sure to do this:

Then gives us a call and we’ll do our best to help you dry out and get your pool back in line.

Hurricane Harvey and pools in the building process

Now what should you look for if you’re in the process of getting a pool/deck built or looking to break ground? Our effects of rain series also details that. Excess moisture in soil causes a delay in the initial dig, as saturated soil is prone to collapse or erosion. If the initial dig has been made, the hole can’t be surfaced until it’s sufficiently dry. If done too early, tiles can pop off, walls can collapse and the pool can “float away” (read the recent link for more on what that means).

Excess moisture also does a number on decks and stone, so it’s important for the surface to be dry. Otherwise, the foundation for your new deck could be slippery and insecure and your tiles/stone could pop off. So bear with us if the storm and rain causes delays in the installation of your pool — a few days delay here will save you money and considerable headaches later. However, we’re available to walk you through the process of dealing with these storms, so don’t be afraid to contact us!

Stay dry, stay safe and read up on all the linked articles. Beats standing in the rain!


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

lightning strike 2

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!