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!

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!

Cleaning your pool filters: Why it’s important to do

Ultimate Pools offers many cutting-edge products, such as IntelliChem and Dolphin cleaners, that help keep your pool clean and swimmable at all times. That being said, it’s important for pool owners to clean their filters on a regular basis, as clean pool filters provide a base that keeps your pool water fresh and ready to go at all times. If your pool filter is dirty or compromised, water flow is compromised and your IntelliChem/Dolphin Cleaners aren’t as effective in doing their jobs.

How do you know when it’s time to get your pool filters cleaned? Here are some common indicators:

pool with waterfall steps

  • When the spillway of your spa is producing a weak stream of water: When a pool filter is clean, the pumps in your spa will send out a steady stream of water in pool mode which eventually gets circulated throughout your spa and pool. When a filter is dirty, that water stream is reduced greatly, even to the point of dribbling out. That lessens the circulation of water throughout your pool.
  • Your suction cleaner isn’t moving as fast: Your suction cleaners (such as the Pentair Racer) use the energy that comes from water being pumped into your pool to run. If you notice that your cleaner is going slower or even sputtering along, then there’s a good chance that your filter is dirty and depriving your cleaner of the necessary water energy. As a side note, robotic cleaners such as the Dolphin cleaner do not rely on suction and still work effectively when your pool is in this state.
  • If your pool isn’t chlorinating properly: Whether you use a smart system such as IntelliChem to refresh your chlorine levels or prefer to use chlorine disks, a dirty pool filter will hamper the efficiency of getting the appropriate level of chlorine in the water. If you notice that your readings are off, or that the chlorine disks aren’t as effective, the filter might need to be cleaned.

Cleaning filters and water pumps

There are other ways to figure out when it’s time to clean your pool filters. One of them is checking to see if there’s any change of pressure in your conventional water pump. This will only work if a) you have a conventional pump instead of a variable pump like the IntelliFlo® VF pump and b) if you took a reading of your water pressure upon installation of the pump.

Part b is very important because it gives you a base pressure to base future observations off of. If there is an increase of over 10 PSI from installation, then your pool filter is dirty and likely clogged, but there is no way to know this if you don’t take an initial reading. However, once the filter is cleaned you can reset the pressure gauge as a reference for future readings. If you have the IntelliFlo VF pump, reset your sensor for the same effect.

How often should you get your filters cleaned?

Getting your filters clean increases the life of your pool and also decreases the frequency and cost of replacing your filters. While your pool filter will never be fully back to 100 percent pristine after you get it cleaned — body oils and suntan lotion, among other things, prevent a 100 percent cleaning — treating pool filter cleaning as a regular process such as changing oil in your car will save you money and aggravation in the long run.

So how often should you get your filters cleaned? At Ultimate Pools, we recommend getting it done twice a year. There are two ideal times to do this — in the spring after the pollen has fallen (which usually proceeds the hot weather ideal for swimming) and once your pool season ends (typically late fall). You can get the most bang for your buck by having them cleaned at these times.

As far as cleanings, it is possible for you to do them yourself, but to do that, you have to get the exact model of your filter and research how to specifically clean that model. That can be inconvenient and difficult, so let us do it for you. We offer cleaning of your pool filters on a by-appointment basis. Give us a call or email us to set this up!


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!

IntelliFlo® VF pumps are a convenient money saver

pool rocks river

One of the most overlooked, yet important, aspects to a swimming pool is the water pump. Being able to pump new, fresh water into a pool keeps your pool crystal clear and healthy to swim in. But the process of pumping water can be a costly one, both in terms of electricity costs and in terms of needing to get the pump replaced down the road.

Pentair has come up with a solution with its IntelliFlo® VF pump, a variable flow pump which allows homeowners to control the speed and pressure of the water flow in their pool through their smartphone or computer, allowing them to set and change the settings of the water flow. This is in contrast to the standard variable speed pumps, which have to be set and run manually by the user. That means the user has to be able to figure out the speed and flow through the water pump by themselves.

But the ease of managing the IntelliFlo® is just one of the perks of this new technology, which Ultimate Pools will install for a fee on a new pool or retrofit to an old pool. The IntelliFlo® variable flow pump is a product that helps the homeowner in three other areas.

1. Saving on electricity costs: The efficient flow of the variable flow pump and the ease you can control that flow through your devices takes a considerable chunk out of your electricty bill. Instead of being subject to one or two flow speeds in a pump and having to run the pump several times in a day, you can simply turn on an IntelliFlo® pump once a day and adjust from a high number of speed and flow levels.

This savings this causes adds up quickly. Instead of spending $3.47 a day in electricity costs to run a pump in your pool, it costs roughly 50 cents a day to use the variable flow pump, a savings of nearly three dollars a day! That adds up to $1,084 of electricity savings a year, which almost covers the cost of installing the IntelliFlo®. By year two, that cost is paid off, and by year 5 (which is the standard life of a standard pump) you have enough to take a family vacation.

As far as longevity goes, that’s another reason why we’re high on variable flow pumps.

2. They’ll last for a decade, and then some: Like we said before, a typical water pump lasts around five years before it needs to be replaced. Pentair’s IntelliFlo® variable speed pumps have lasted over 15 years in tests, which means that your newly installed IntelliFlo® variable flow pump will likely be the only water pump you’ll ever need for your pool. That peace of mind, coupled with the money saved on electricity, is a nice thing to have in your back pocket.

3. The pump can regulate itself: With the smart technology of the IntelliFlo® variable pump, a pump can tell when it needs to speed up or, more importantly, ramp down its output. One of the main problems with standard water pumps and variable speed water pumps is that they can break in high pressure situations. They are reliant on you to be able to tell when there’s high pressure in the pump to turn it down and if you don’t identify that, you can subject your pump to breaking or getting excess wear that causes further damage down the road.

The IntelliFlo® variable pump can sense when there’s too much pressure based on set settings and take the necessarily steps to preserve itself. It can also tell when its filters need to be cleaned and notify of that. The IntelliFlo® takes logs of these occurrences and keeps records of the up times and down times of the pump for future use.


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!