Q: We get a great deal of calls at www.pcpools.com where customers have been told using a standard size winter safety cover on a non-standard size swimming pool is okay. What are your thoughts about this practice?
A: Attempting to put a stock safety cover on a custom shaped or sized pool brings several factors into play. The safety cover overlap may not be sufficient in certain areas to maintain the standards, and in other areas, an improperly sized safety cover may overlap too much into grassy areas or flower beds where it cannot be properly anchored.
This practice has been going for some time and especially for consumers with a tight budget. While they may save money up front buying a standard safety cover for a custom type swimming pool is not a good practice. For example if a customer had 16′ x 32′ kidney shaped swimming pool and purchased a standard rectangle safety cover. At first, when installed properly, the safety cover would look great. As soon as the weather of fall and winter sets in the deterioration of the safety cover has already begun. Here’s what happens. The safety cover strapping of an Arctic Armor safety cover is made with a very dense polymer, called strap wear guards, these wear guards are sewn directly into the the bottom of each cover strap to protect the strapping that comes in contact with the pool deck. Without the wear guards lining up properly in relationship to the pool size and surrounding decking, as in our pool’s example, the cover will fail within 3 years. The normal buffeting of the safety cover that occurs on a non-wear guarded cover strap will snap the strap right in half and the safety cover has failed. Continuing along with our pool example, the customer will assume the safety cover comes with a 12 or 15 year warranty so they call the cover manufacturer to inquire about there warranty. They send the safety cover back to the manufacturer for inspection. The factory then lays the failed cover out on the factory floor. Low and behold they see the outline of a kidney shaped swimming pool on standard rectangle safety cover. The safety covers warranty is null and void. Unfortunately, it’s like when an elephant sits on your fence!
Recent advancements in pool heating technology allow pool owners to choose from a vast array of options that vary based on effectiveness, space limitations, and cost. Such technological improvements have produced improved solar pool covers and solar panels that after the initial purchase, do not create any additional operating costs. Conversely, gas and propane pool heaters are still the best way to heat one’s pool quickly and effectively.
A solar pool cover lays on the surface of a swimming pool and attracts and absorbs sunlight. This method produces natural heat that makes the pool water more enjoyable. Similarly, solar panels are devices that do not come into direct contact with the pool’s surface. Instead, the panels are hooked up with PVC tubing that allows the pool water to flow directly through the device. Solar heating panels should be elevated for maximum sun exposure so that the water that flows through them can be heated before being pumped back into the pool. One disadvantage of solar materials is that they tend to take up lots of room. This is especially true with the solar panels, which can often measure up to twenty feet in length. One solution to that limitation is mounting the panels on a rooftop, although that makes the tubing process more complex. Despite the spatial concerns, solar heat is the most cost-effective method to heating your swimming pool.
As previously mentioned, gas and propane pool heaters are the best and quickest way to generate pool heat. There are multiple BTU levels available depending on the given water capacity of your swimming pool. For instance, a large pool measuring 20’ by 40’ would benefit from a high-powered 400,000 BTU pool heater. In contrast, a round 24’ above ground pool typically will not need more than 100,000 BTU. Another advantage to choosing a gas or propane pool heater is the limited amount of space one takes up. Most heaters will require between four and six square feet, with additional space being needed for piping in certain pool setups. This is much less space than any solar panel would require. The only disadvantage to using a gas or propane heater is the significantly higher cost in comparison to solar products. Prices for gas or propane pool heaters often exceed $1,000, and pool owners should also take monthly gas or propane refill costs. The monthly costs will vary depending on frequency of pool heater use, climate, and the BTU output.
When choosing how to heat an in ground or above ground swimming pool, many factors contribute to a final decision. If a pool is in an urban setting that does not get much sun exposure, a solar system is not the best choice. In contrast, rural areas that get eight to ten hours of uninterrupted sunlight are prime candidates for such a solar pool heating system.
PcPools’ first tip for opening your pool is…DON’T WAIT! Many swimming pool owners procrastinate to avoid the work that goes into the pool opening process. Understandable, yes, but by the time you are motivated enough to open the pool, frequently you and your family have already missed part of the swimming season. Depending on how short the summer swimming season is where you live, that could be a big mistake!
Once you’ve committed yourself to beginning the pool opening process – go ahead and pat yourself on the back – it is likely best to begin with a floc treatment. This will make it much easier for you to remove any existing contaminants from your pool water. Simply add the flocculant, turn on your pool pump for a few hours allowing it to circulate, shut it off so the debris can fall to the bottom, and then vacuum up the coagulated debris.
At this point in the process, you will need to evaluate if it is necessary to add water to your pool, as well as your chlorine demand. Once you’ve shocked the pool and satisfied the chlorine demand, the next step will be to add the Algaecide. Beyond that, make sure you monitor your filter pressure and chlorine levels extra closely for at least the first few days after opening.
Spring is the time of year for new beginnings. After a long winter, chances are your house may be in need of a little refreshment, as well. These tips will help you jump-start your spring cleaning and get your home ready for warmer weather
For a clear view and fresh air, start by cleaning up your windows. Check the screens for any tears and replace those that are damaged. Screens should be cleaned annually to remove buildup of dust and dirt. Use a soft brush and mild soap and water mixture to scrub both sides of your screens, then allow to air dry. Before reinstalling your windows screens, take the opportunity to clean up your window glass and frames.
Decks, Porches and Patios
To maximize your enjoyment of outdoor spaces, make sure they are prepped for warm-weather use. Check the stability of any wood, stone or cement structures and make sure there are no cracks or crumbles. Some surfaces may require sanding or pressure washing to remove splinters, mildew and other discolorations. Reapply paint, stains and sealers as needed. Freshen up your outdoor spaces with colorful plants and outdoor furniture.
Sprinklers and Spigots
Test all sprinklers and outdoor spigots to be sure water is flowing correctly and no damage has occurred during winter freezes. Repair or replace any pipes and sprinkler heads that are faulty in order to prevent further damage.
Before going for a swim in your pool, test the water’s chemistry. Make sure that chemical levels are not too high or too low, and adjust as necessary. Have your filters and equipment tested to ensure that the system is working properly.
With these basic updates out of the way, you can enjoy your hoe and the warmer weather with no worries.
Nothing can ruin the holiday spirit faster than becoming a victim of crime. Unfortunately, the holiday season is a time of opportunity for thieves to burglarize your home for cash, credit cards and gifts. As we make plans to spend time with families and friends this season, please remember some important crime prevention steps for a safer season:
Prevent theft from your vehicle:
Always lock your car, and park in a well-lit and well-traveled area.
Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle, ready to unlock the door.
When storing items purchased at the stores, place them out of sight. The best place is in your locked trunk. And, of course, do not leave your purse, wallet, or cell phone in plain view.
Financial card and online shopping considerations:
If you go to an automatic teller machine for cash, check for people around and make sure it is well-lit and in a safe location.
Carry only the credit cards you need, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to verify your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
Home security and safety tips:
Don’t display wrapped boxes under a lighted tree in the front window for thieves to see as they drive past your home.
Don’t pile up empty gift boxes from your new computers, flat panel televisions, DVD players and other electronics in front of your home on garbage day. Thieves will appreciate knowing that you have expensive gifts inside your home for them to steal. Instead, break boxes down and conceal the advertising when setting them out for recycling.
Do NOT post your activities (gifts or plans to be away from home) on social media pages.
Report any suspicious activity to the police or local community watch groups.