Diving Deep Into Pool Myths: Part 2

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Pool myths. We’ve all heard them: “Make sure you wait 30 minutes after eating before you go swimming”; “That chlorine smell means the water’s really clean.” We’ve already busted these myths in a previous article, so we thought we’d bust a whole new set of popular pool myths.

Myth #1: Pools cost too much.

While pools with tons of add-ons and high-tech features can be pricey, the typical above-ground pool only costs around $6,000. While that isn’t exactly chump change, it’s still far off from the typical estimate the average person would guess a pool costs. So the next time you think it’s out of your reach, remember there are plenty of affordable pool options out there for people interested in them.  And whatever the pool costs, it makes sense to protect your investment by properly maintaining it with the best products from the #1 pool chemical manufacturer.

Myth #2: Swimmers get red eyes from the chlorine in pools.

Chlorine causes a swimmer’s eyes to turn red, right? It makes so much sense! The truth behind a swimmer’s red eyes is that chlorine reacts with everything in the pool that it’s trying to destroy, and these chlorine reactions turn into chemical irritants that turn your eyes red. You may have thought that red eyes mean a clean pool, but they actually can indicate something closer to the opposite. Eye irritation is actually a product of too little chlorine in the pool, which creates chloramines, and that’s what makes your eyes red. Excess chloramines is also what creates that chlorine chemical smell that so many people take as evidence of a “clean” pool. Eye irritation can also be a product of an imbalanced pool. Our eyes and skin are comfortable in a pH around 7.5, so if a pool isn’t balanced, it’s likely to cause irritation.

Myth #3: Saltwater pools are chlorine free and don’t require any maintenance.

Despite what you may think, saltwater pools aren’t chlorine free. In fact, salt’s purpose in pools is to provide a reservoir of chloride anions that are converted to active chlorine by the generator cell. This is the same chlorine that comes from any other chlorine-based pool sanitizer. However, in order for the water to be comfortable for swimmers, and to protect the pool and plumbing, saltwater pools must be balanced just like any other pool. While salt has its function, problems like cloudy water, scaling, or algae blooms require more than just chlorine.

Myth #4: Household bleach works just as well as swimming pool sanitizers.

Household bleach is often only a few percent available chlorine. Also, depending on the product, it may not even be labeled for use in pools. Household bleach can also have a very high pH, which can make the water uncomfortable for swimmers and can lead to an imbalance in the water. That imbalance can cause cloudy water and scale formation.

Myth #5: A clarifier in the pool is all you need.

Clarifiers help remove suspended contaminants and keep pool water clear, but clear water is not clean water. Clarifiers are not sanitizers. They do not kill bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens. Furthermore, excess use of clarifiers can promote cloudy water and make it very difficult to clear. Like all pool products, they should be used for the right application and in the proper amount.

10 ways to decorate your pool for off-season parties

Three white water lilies or lotus flowers floating on tranquil turquoise blue water with ripples and sparkling reflections of sunlight in a conceptual image of a spa, beauty in nature or wellness

It’s not too difficult to convince people to come over for a pool party in the summertime. It’s pool season, people are looking to cool off, and your backyard is the perfect place to do it. But sadly, for some of us pool season can’t last forever. So the conclusion seems clear: Let’s just stop throwing backyard bashes in the off-season…NOT.

If you have a pool in your backyard and still want to throw a party, there are simple ways to transform your backyard into party central.

1. Floating flowers It seems almost too easy, but floating flowers in your pool can really add an awesome aesthetic touch to any party you want to throw. The pool may be closed for swimming, but it’s still open for decoration.

2. Floating fountains Though less popular than pool floats, these incredible devices can turn a backyard pool into a beautiful party centerpiece. While they aren’t exactly cheap, there are plenty of pool owners out there who have found them to be well worth the cost.

3. Underwater light shows Lighting a backyard for a late-night party can sometimes be tricky, especially if you have a pool. Pools take up a lot of space and aren’t exactly easy to cast light across. But with underwater light show products, you can turn your dark pool into a party fixture. Whether you’re looking for festive, multicolored illumination or just simple white light projections, there are plenty of products out there to fit your needs.

4. Pool floats You’ve seen some of them before. Giant swans, enormous beach balls…the list goes on and on. Though these pool floats serve as great toys for in-season swimming, they can also create a fun, festive atmosphere in your backyard for parties.

5. Floating candles If you’re throwing a late-night shindig and want to achieve that zen vibe you’re always seeing in home improvement magazines, then give some floating candles a shot. Available in a ton of different shapes and sizes, these candles are a booming trend in pool decoration and are sure to put your pool’s appearance over the top.

6. Patio heaters They may not be the cutting edge in aesthetics, but these are essential if you’re throwing a backyard party in cold weather.

7. Light columns They’re called “topiaries” and they’re a growing trend. These stacks of light go around your pool to brighten up whatever event you’re trying to host. Match them with floating candles or even a pool fountain and you’ll have one snazzy backyard festivity on your hands.

8. Perimeter pool lighting We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: lighting your pool and yard for parties is key. Whether you want to use multicolored holiday lights or something a little less attention grabbing, having lights around your pool’s edge can be the difference between a good look and a great one.

9. Good food…

10. …and drinks There’s not much of a party without these things. Placing bar stations and food platters around your backyard can create a welcoming atmosphere for your guests and ensure that your bash will go off without a hitch.

Backyard shindigs are always fun, but consider these ideas the next time you’re hosting one. Guests always appreciate aesthetic flair, and employing even one or two of the ideas we’ve listed can really help get a party started.

2016 Spa Trends

Hot Tub With Jets And Lights

 

If you haven’t looked at hot tubs lately, you may notice something different about them. Sure, they’re still warm and bubbly. But their sizes, shapes, colors and materials have changed. And of course technological features have been added, too.

With that, we give you this year’s newest spa trends.

Design Elements

Hot tubs are incorporating more design features. Drawing inspiration from furniture and appliances, designers are using new materials on the exterior, like natural wood or recycled materials, seeking to make spas the centerpiece of a backyard or deck.

Swim Spas

Hot tubs are known primarily for relaxation, but that’s changing with swim spas growing in popularity. While larger in size, they can still be installed above or below ground, without requiring the permits of a full-sized pool. And, using the resistance of water jets, they offer the big benefit of hydrotherapy, which is easier on the body’s joints.

Energy Efficiency

The same technology that helps furnaces and appliances use less energy is being put to use in spas as well. With covers or lids that provide more insulation today than in the past and with features like built-in self-diagnostic topside controls that monitor and adjust temperature levels, spas are now better at preventing heat loss and unnecessary energy use.

LED Lighting

Lights can transform pools at night and hot tubs are no different. Energy efficient LED lights are now available in many models, allowing you to set the mood for parties, make it fun for the kids, or illuminate features like water jets or drink holders. 

Technology

Electronics and the Internet continue to influence nearly every aspect of modern life, and hot tubs are no exception. Some new models employ mobile apps so owners can control them remotely. Users can even receive maintenance updates and notifications to assist in the upkeep of their spas.

How to Close an Above-ground Pool

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If your pool season is winding down, remember that properly closing your aboveground pool is essential to maintaining it. By following the proper steps, you can help protect the pool surfaces and equipment during the winter, saving yourself time and money when you open the pool back up in the spring.

Whether you start once the kids have gone back to school or wait a little longer, the choice is up to you. Just be sure you leave time to treat the water, and inspect and prepare the equipment before temperatures dip below freezing.

There are three basic stages in closing an aboveground pool:

1. Treating the pool water

If your pool season is ending, you should still continue to treat your water before freezing temperatures arrive. This will help protect the pool against corrosion and scale buildup. Test your pool water using an hth® Test Kit. The test readings will show you the appropriate level of winterizing products to add to the water.

To maintain a healthy balance, periodically check the sanitizer level and pH, and, depending on the results, you may need to adjust the chemical levels as necessary to correct any imbalance before closing the pool. Your pool water should be maintained within the following ranges:

7.2 to 7.6 pH range
60 to 120 ppm alkalinity range
200 ppm or above calcium hardness range

2. Closing down

Filter treatment:

All filters should be chemically cleaned as part of the closing procedure. Sand and DE filters require operation of the pump as part of the cleaning and backwashing procedure. Follow the directions on the hth® Filter Cleaner label to clean the filter. Then follow the filter manufacturer’s directions as well as the additional instructions below for each filter type to drain and prepare the filter for closing.

Once the sand filter is cleaned and backwashed, turn off the pump, remove the filter drain plug and allow all the water to drain from the filter. If the pump and filter are connected with flexible hoses we recommend you disconnect the hoses, drain and store them out of the weather.

For a DE filter, follow the manufacturer’s directions for backwashing off the media. Then remove the grids or fingers, and properly clean, rinse, dry and store them according to the manufacturer’s directions. Remove all drain plugs or open all valves as instructed to allow water to drain from the housing.

If you have a cartridge filter, once the circulation system is shut down remove the cartridge, chemically clean it and inspect it for tears or broken bands that might need replacement. Drain the housing as appropriate. It’s also important to ensure not only that the cartridge is completely dry, but that it’s stored in a dry location. Cartridge filters need to dry. This greatly extends the life of the cartridge and improves its effectiveness.

For all three types of filters be sure to store all drain plugs, baskets and other small items in one place so that they don’t get lost.

As with in-ground pools, lower the water level below the skimmer and any inlets. If the inlet is merely the return line set over the wall, then simply remove it. But closing doesn’t end there: Keep in mind that taking proper care of the equipment will help extend the overall life of the pool.

Skimmer treatment:

It’s important to prepare the skimmer in these types of pools because if they freeze, they will be irreparably damaged. The process for doing so may vary depending on your pool type:

      • Remove the return hose from the skimmer.
      • If your pool has a through-the-wall skimmer, drain it and detach the suction line in the bottom.
      • In some pools, the skimmer is located inside the pool, in which case you can simply remove it.
      • Next, drain the pump housing, hair and lint strainer basket and filter as appropriate.
      • We recommend that all equipment be either stored or covered to keep it dry and protect it from extreme weather.

3. Covering your pool

Finally, you may wish to cover the pool to protect against debris entering the pool while it sits unused. Make sure the cover you use is resistant to water, pool chemicals and the weather in your region. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which typically include the following three steps to keep the cover secure throughout the winter:

Tie down. Aboveground covers are available with grommet edges that allow for a secure tie-down. Be sure to tightly anchor the edges of the cover to prevent wind from getting under it. This will save you cleanup time when you reopen.

Secure. Next, secure the cover to prevent the wind from pulling it off the pool. Most pool owners place an inflated vinyl pillow under the cover that creates a loose tent and fill the sag around the pillow with water.

Inspect. Lastly, inspect any ladders, automatic cleaners or ancillary equipment in case anything needs repair and store it all in a dry area where it will be protected from freezing temperatures.

Following the necessary steps in closing an aboveground pool takes a bit of work, but doing so can help keep the pool components running efficiently so all you have to do is enjoy your swim next spring.
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Underwater Brilliance with Seth Casteel

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This spring hth® was lucky enough to have renowned underwater photographer Seth Casteel shoot our new online marketing campaign. Seth is the creator of the best-selling book Underwater Dogs. He followed that up with Underwater Puppies and Underwater Babies.

Here are a few of the images Seth took for hth®.


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Watching Seth work was fascinating, and it got us thinking: This is something other pool owners should try. We hope Seth’s story inspires you this summer.

Q&A with Seth:

Q: Where did you learn photography?

I am self-taught.

Q: How did Underwater Dogs come about?

I was photographing a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Buster back in 2010 in his backyard in California. The photo shoot was meant to be “on land,” but Buster decided he would rather be in the pool.

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Seth Casteel at the hth® shoot.

As I watched him dive in over and over again chasing his favorite mini tennis ball, I thought, “What does he look like under there!!” I left, bought a little point-and-shoot underwater camera, zipped back and jumped in. The resulting photos were the beginning of the series of underwater dogs.

Q: Is it true that you spent the last $ on your credit card to buy an underwater camera housing?

The point-and-shoot camera was a good start, but I needed improved gear to fully pursue this project, so I spent the last available credit I had on my credit card to buy an underwater housing designed for surf photographers. My friends told me, “Why are you doing that! You should photograph weddings!” I said, “I am not a wedding photographer. I am a dog photographer.” Months later, to my surprise, the series of images I created with the housing became a viral sensation on the Internet, resulting in a book deal with Little, Brown and Company, opportunities with National Geographic and The New York Times, international art exhibitions and the launch of OnePictureSaves.com.


Underwater photography tips for beginners.

  • Practice your dive skills first. The longer you can stay under, the better results you’ll have.
  • Shoot close to your subject. Underwater, you’re not as close as you think.
  • Try shooting upward. Having the subject above you adds drama.
  • Use the flash, and work on balancing it with the ambient light to make your shots more dramatic.
  • Fire away. Take advantage of the instant gratification of digital photography and shoot lots of pictures. Practice, experiment and have fun.

Seth’s always doing something new. You can follow him here:

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Best Pool Exercises

Pool Exercise

 

There are so many good reasons to own a pool, but one that’s often overlooked is this: exercise.

Aqua-fitness has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years, moving beyond the old water aerobics class at the Y. A new breed of exercises makes full use of water resistance to give you a great cardio workout, burn calories and keep cool, without putting stress on your joints. And best of all, you don’t need to own an Olympic-size pool to enjoy the benefits of exercise in the water.

Before you jump in:

You may want water shoes for better traction.

Work out in waist- or chest-high water.

In deeper water, use a pool noodle to help with flotation.

Always hydrate. Even though you’re in the water, you’re still losing fluids.

Start with a two-minute warmup of gentle swimming or treading water.

See your doctor before starting this or any exercise program.

A few exercises to try in your pool:

Water walk or jog: Great for a single-depth pool. Start with forward and backward walking in chest- or waist-high water. Walk about 10-20 steps forward, then walk backward. Increase speed to make it more difficult.

One-leg balance: Stand on one leg while raising the other knee to hip level. Place a pool noodle under the raised leg, so the noodle forms a U, with your foot in the center of the U. Hold as long as you can up to 30 seconds and switch legs. Try one to two sets of five on each leg.

Power pop-up: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Lower into a squat, keeping knees behind toes. Then jump, raising arms overhead and lifting feet off pool floor. Land softly in squat position, knees bent. Continue for one minute.

Lateral raises: Stand in shoulder-deep water with arms hanging straight down against your sides. Slowly extend both arms straight out to the sides all the way up to the water level. Pause briefly and repeat.

Sidestepping: Face the pool wall. Take sideways steps, with your body and toes facing the wall. Take 10-20 steps in one direction, then return. Repeat twice in each direction.

Pool planks: Hold the noodle in front of you. Lean forward into a plank position. The noodle will be submerged under the water, and your elbows should be straight downward toward the pool floor. Your feet should still be on the pool floor. Hold as long as comfortable, 15-60 seconds depending on your core strength. Repeat three to five times.

Deep-water bicycle: In deeper water, loop one or two noodles around the back of your body and rest your arms on top of the noodle(s) for support in the water. Move your legs as if you are riding a bicycle. Continue for three to five minutes.

Water Roman chair: In deep water, float either on a tube or two kickboards (resting under your arms). Place your feet together and bend your knees up to at least waist level, pause briefly and return. Repeat eight to 10 times.

Sources:

Move Forward PT: Ten Exercises To Do in a Pool
Swimmingpool.com: Water Aerobics

Vacation Pool Prep

Filthy backyard swimming pool and patio

Vacations should be times of relaxation, and what could be less relaxing than having to worry about your pool back home?

Is it clean? Is the pH in range? Is the filter functioning properly?

You shouldn’t have to think about questions like these while you’re trying to enjoy yourself, so here are six steps you can take in order to help keep your pool nice and clean while you kick back and enjoy your vacation.

Skim your pool

Step 1:

Before leaving, skim out all debris from your pool. Things like decaying leaves may seem innocent enough, but they’re acidic and can lower the alkalinity of your pool. Why is that a problem? Low alkalinity can cause your pool to turn green!

Empty skimmer

Step 2:

Empty all your skimmer baskets. Your skimmer baskets may have to collect debris for the next 5-7 days without being emptied, so make sure to get whatever you can out of them before taking off on your excursion.

Clean filter

Step 3:

Clean your filter. No matter what sort of filter you have, you should always make sure to thoroughly clean it before leaving for multiple days. Your filter is responsible for keeping your pool’s water clear, which makes its cleanliness essential for clear pool water. If you have a cartridge filter, get it as clean as possible before heading out, and if you own a sand filter, backwash it if need be.

Set timer

Step 4:

Set your pool’s timer. We hope your pool already has a timer for the pump and filter, but if it doesn’t, consider getting one. Keeping your pool’s water circulating while you’re gone will be vital to keeping the water clean. Ideally, you set your timer to run around 8-12 hours a day.

Test and balance

Step 5:

Test and balance your water. If you’ll be away for more than three days or so, make sure you adjust accordingly and add the necessary chemical amounts that will help ensure your pool doesn’t turn that swampy green color.

Find a friend

Step 6:

Find a friend to watch your pool. This final step is optional if you’re only going to be gone for a week or so, but it can never hurt to have someone close by who can watch after your pool, empty the skimmer baskets, check filter pressures, and test your water.

Well, that’s it. Those are the six steps to help maintain your pool’s cleanliness while you’re on vacation. With all this information, you now have the ability to go on vacation without any worries about your pool. So go forth and enjoy yourself while your pool stays pristine!

Diving into 2016’s pool trends

Colorful  spa in Santorini island.

Vanishing Edge Pool

Trend #1: Vanishing Edges
One of the more expensive, but beautiful, pool trends floating around lately is the vanishing edge. By bringing down one side of a pool to water level and building in a basin to catch whatever water spills over, this unique pool architecture is great for areas with a view.

Glass Tiles

Trend #2: Glass Tiles
Instead of using just basic white tile, add some multicolor glass to your pool to provide a bit of aesthetic flair. The sun’s light will reflect off the glass and turn the water into a dazzling light show.

Tanning Ledges

Trend #3: Tanning Ledges
Looking for the cool, relaxing enjoyment of a pool without the swimming? Tanning ledges allow you exactly that. Comprising only 12 inches of water or less, these mini pools provide a great area for tanning, while providing kids and pets a haven from the greater depths of the pool.

Fire Bowls

Trend #4: Fire Bowls
Fire bowls give your pool that vacation feel with the convenience of being at home. Often coming with remotes that power them on and off, these products are a great finishing touch for any pool – but make sure to plan ahead if you’re looking to feature them in your design. They take plenty of planning and thought to install properly.

LED Pool Light

Trend #5: LED Lights
Enjoy any visual effect you want with the creative use of LED lighting. Whether that’s multicolor beams gleaming through the water, or more conservative lighting that points out the architecture of the pool, LED lights are more versatile than ever nowadays.

Photo sources:
1. Vanishing edge
2. Glass tile
3. Tanning ledge
4. Fire bowl
5. LED lights