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!

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!

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!

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!