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!

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!