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!

How to remove leaves from your swimming pool

pool with leaves 2

As we roll into the middle and later stages of autumn, leaves start to change color. Then the leaves fall off trees completely. When you are living in Southeast Texas (especially in a community such as The Woodlands that is centered around trees), this process is a rite of fall. But while the cascade of red, orange and yellow leaves can be quite beautiful, they can also be quite a pain to clean up. And we’re not simply talking about raking the yard.

Leaves can also be a nuisance to your swimming pool if you allow them to accumulate and float around on the water. Not only can they leave dirt and debris in the water, but they can also get stuck in your filters and manifold, sabotaging their effectiveness in filtering other debris that gets caught in your pool. Leaving leaves in the pool also diminishes the effectiveness of your pool cleaner. Breaking up leaves is difficult for pool cleaners, as parts of them can get stuck in the cleaner — similar to a vacuum’s effectiveness being diminished after it sucks a large object. This will result in a mobile pool cleaner that is compromised or completely ineffective.

And all of this doesn’t take into account what happens when the leaves absorb moisture and sink the surface of the pool. Not only can unattended leaves cause ugly stains at the sides or the bottom of your pool, but the deposits from the leaves can also make it easier for algae to bloom. And, as we’ve written before, that can be quite the problem in itself. And having a once-a-week maintenance visit isn’t enough to keep the leaves at bay.

Steps to take care of leaves

So how can you minimize the impact of fallen leaves on your swimming pool. Here are three things you can do.

  • Drag the leaves out of your pool with a rake: If you don’t have a pool rake with a net attached to pick up leaves, purchase one immediately. Dragging the surface and bottom of the pool right after leaves fall off the trees only takes a few minutes and can save you loads of work and stress down the road. If you rake the pool and pick up the big stuff early, it makes it easier for your cleaner and your filters to take care of the rest.
  • Scrub the sides and the bottom of your pool: Even if you have been able to clean all of the big leaves out of your pool, scrubbing your pool is a necessary pre-emptive step toward preventing against stains and future algae growth. Taking a pool brush and doing a solid, hard scrub of the sides and the bottom of your pool will go a long way in preventing stains. Stains are a lot easier to manage before they show up, so scrub your pool.
  • Clean your filters: Even if there aren’t leaves stuck in the filter, it’s good to get whatever gunk is in there out of the system periodically. Doing this at least once a season is necessary to keep your pool filtration on point. The best way to do this is with a mixture of 80 percent water and 20 percent muratic acid. A little muratic acid goes a long way in not only breaking up solid particles, but can also cut away at the film that results from debris. Weakening those elements allow them to be filtered out better or sucked up by your mobile cleaner.

Fall leaves are pretty, but that beauty doesn’t have to cause frustration down the road. A little maintenance with leaves now allows you to enjoy more football and apple cider later.


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!