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!

Ultimate Pools now has YouTube videos!

We’re always looking to expand the ways we can reach our customers, which is why we’re now dabbling in YouTube. Here are the first two YouTube videos in Ultimate Pools history. The first one below takes a look at water features, most notably the sheer descents.

This one shows off the swim jets that not only put fresh water in your pool, but also feel pretty cool to have brushing against your legs.

I hope you enjoy these YouTube videos — we’d love to put up more! Here are links to their YouTube pages — video 1 and video 2.


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!

Meet Renee Fawcett-Dunbar

Not only does Ultimate Pools look for the best in new customers, but we also look for the best in new employees. With that said, we’re confident we hit a home run in hiring Renee Fawcett-Dunbar.

Renee has been with us since June 19 as our Client Services Coordinator. Chances are that when you call our office, she’ll be the person you talk to. It’s something that comes natural for her and a big reason why we’re happy to have her on the team.

“I love it,” Renee said. “The great thing about this company is that it’s almost like a new company even though they’ve been around for a long time. Bryan and Deb [Stuart] want to change things up and move forward while keeping the same great service they’ve provided. I’m happy to be a part of the team and am willing to do whatever it takes. I’ll work on the computer, hang flyers, whatever it takes to move the company forward.”

With all due credit to the Hair Club for Men, Fawcett-Dunbar was a client before joining the team. Ultimate Pools designed her pool and she was an instant fit with Bryan and Deb. She had just retired after a 33-year teaching career, most recently as the RTI (Response to Intervention) Coordinator at Francis Elementary School in the Aldine Independent School District. Her work in that capacity, especially on computers, made her a perfect fit for Ultimate Pools.

“I had worked retail at the mall to make extra money in the past and am always looking for something interesting to do,” Fawcett-Dunbar said. “I got to know Bryan and Deb from working with them on our pool, got to know them very well and got to be friends with them. They needed some help, and with my experience with computers, I thought I could help.

“I love it. I always am looking to challenge myself and learn new things, and this job gives me that opportunity. It’s different from anything I’ve ever done and I really like the vibe of it.”

Renee is using her previous teaching job to help her serve Ultimate Pools’ customers. She’s well-versed in computers and data entry and, more importantly, in dealing with the public. Her main job as Francis Elementary’s RTI Coordinator was serving as a go-between for kids in kindergarten through fourth grade that were between regular classes and special education.

That experience also led for frequent interactions with parents in situations where clear communication was necessary. Those communication skills and ability to relate are invaluable assets that we covet at Ultimate Pools.

“A lot of my job as a teacher was data entry, campus technology, progress reports, report cards, and I try to use the knowledge I gained from that in this job,” Renee said. “And I enjoy working with the public and that was a big part of what I did before as a teacher.

“It reminds me of having conferences with parents. A big part of that is making them feel comfortable with me and feel comfortable with the situation. Bryan and Deb do a great job of communicating with the customers and that’s something that I want to do.”

While Fawcett-Dunbar has been a great public liaison since becoming our Client Services Coordinator, she wants to branch out from there and get familiar with the design portion of the business.

“I want to work with Bryan and learn everything about pools,” she said. “I want to learn about pool design, look to do some pools with Bryan. I feel like part of the gang here and will do whatever is necessary.”

Say hi to Renee when dropping by our office or while giving us a call. You can also contact her via email.


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!