Dive In

Get your pool in tiptop shape for swim season.

Spring into action now and get your pool in shape to avoid frustrating downtime in peak usage months. Here are some tips for making sure your pool is ready for prime time.

One of the big trends right now is con-verting to saltwater. Although it can be great for the body and save money (salt is less expensive than chlorine), Scott Cohen of Green Scene Landscaping and Pools says he generally prefers ozonator or traditional chlorine-dependent systems. 

“I have come across many pools where the concrete, coping, stone and brick work have been severely damaged from continuous exposure to saltwater. In waterfalls, in areas where bathers enter and exit the pool regularly, or any portion of the hardscape that gets wet and then dry, the saltwater leaves behind minerals in the hardscape materials. Over time those minerals grow (remember Moon Rocks?) and can damage or prematurely dissolve the hardscape around a pool.”

Another drawback can be increased maintenance. With saltwater, the salt cell generator needs to be cleaned every couple of months; it must be calcium-free. And that can mean extra changes on your bill. Some pool service companies charge as much as $65 per generator cleaning.

 Scott recommends consulting with a licensed pool contractor or certified pool service technician to discuss water purification options and the pros and cons. 

“New technology is becoming available to pool owners to reduce chlorine and improve the swimming experience. I was teaching design seminars last month at the International Pool and Spa show and met vendors that are now promoting the use of sphagnum moss to reduce chemical use.” 

For homeowners who are bored of their general pool vibe or area, Scott says there are easy ways to add interest and currency. ”Add a Baja shelf, basically a larger second step into the pool that is big enough to put lounge chairs on. I also love the combination of fire and water and often add these elements to my pool remodel designs.”  

Aron Miyata, owner of Lifestyle Land-scape, believes a pool area can be updated by “mixing different types of grass around it and incorporating colorful succulents and different pottery” to make it look more modern/contemporary. He adds, “I love incorporating candles and lanterns too.” 

Adding a fire pit or pizza oven is another idea, Aron says. “I’m doing a lot of these for clients right now. These are easy ways to add interest to an outdoor living space.”

 

To-Do List

Clean the main filter

Do yearly water-conditioning treatment to stabilize chlorine (keep levels at 80-100)

Check filter for major leaks and cracks and replace if necessary 

Check pool for cracks, loss of water, leaks around valves and high phosphate levels which cause algae growth

Check heater (bottom, furnace, burner tray) for rust to prevent flames

 

Do Your Part

Even if you have a pool service company, make it easier and more efficient for them by:

Cleaning the skimmer at least once a week
Cutting back brush to prevent debris from falling in
Keeping equipment area clean and free of landscape debris, which prevents insect nesting and webbing, causing maintenance breakdowns

 

Go Green

Switch pool and Jacuzzi lights to LED energy-efficient bulbs. Although they can cost up to $500, they can last up to six times longer.

Consider updating your filtration system. Modern pumps are more energy-efficient, and some offer variable speeds so you can run your system at a lower speed and use half the power.

Convert to solar power for heat.

Get a bubble pack-style pool cover. 

They cost less than $200 and can help keep your pool not only warm but clean.

Use the same vendor for pump, filter and heaters to take advantage of ex-tended warranties.

Keep water temperature in the mid-80s. You can increase water temperature to low 90s (ideal for swimming) within a few hours, and it takes less energy than occasionally switching on for a dip.