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Is Your Swimming Pool a Death Trap?

Critical Advice for Keeping Kids Safe at the Pool

[media-credit name=”Squaio | MorgueFile” align=”alignleft” width=”504″]swimming pool cleaning care[/media-credit]

Nothing beats a splash in a swimming pool on a hot summer day. This kind of cool, wet fun, along with the joy of entertaining family and friends and getting a healthy workout, has skyrocketed the popularity of pools. According to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals, 18 million American homes now enjoy the luxury of a swimming pool.

But swimming pools can also be hazardous, especially for children. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children aged one to four in the U.S. than any other cause except birth defects—and most drowning accidents happen in home swimming pools, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Kids aged one to three are at greatest risk, but older kids are in danger, too. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for kids younger than 15. And for every child who dies, ten end up in the ER for nonfatal submersion injuries such as brain damage.

If you own a pool, it is very important to proactively ensure the safety of kids.

Swimming Safety

The most important measure is to supervise with vigilance. Be sure a responsible adult closely watches any kids playing in or around the pool. This adult should never be talking on the phone, texting, playing video games, reading or doing anything that distracts or diverts his or her attention. When watching a pre-school or younger child, this supervising adult should be close enough to reach the child within a second or two.

In addition, it pays to give your children formal swimming lessons, though the ability to swim should never take the place of supervision. And, as a parent, it never hurts for you to learn CPR. You can contact your local fire department or hospital for information about classes.

Making the Pool Area Safe

Keeping kids away from the pool when a supervisor isn’t present is critically important. Here are seven measures that can help prevent most home swimming pool accidents.

childproofing swimming pool

[/media-credit] Where toddlers are near, a swimming pool must block access. Here, a child safety fence surrounds the pool area.

Be sure the pool and spa area is completely fenced. Before building a pool fence, check local building codes for requirements. In most cases, the fence must be at least 4 feet high (5 or 6 feet is better and may be required), and it should be located at least 3 feet away from the pool to allow for safe passage inside the fence. It should not have horizontal footholds or grips that allow kids to climb it. Vertical slats should be separated by spaces no greater than 4 inches. Please note: Standard chain-link fences are not secure because they are too easy to climb. If you opt for removable mesh pool fencing, check that it meets ASTM standards for safety.

 

gate latches for fencing

[/media-credit] For safety, gate latches should automatically latch when the gate closes.

Make sure the gate can’t be opened by a child. Any gate to the pool area should have self-closing spring hinges and a self-locking latch that is well out of reach—ideally, 60 inches from the ground. The latch should be designed specifically for pool security.

 

Be sure kids can’t scale the fence. Remove ladders, chairs, tables or anything else that kids can climb to get over the fence. Trim tree limbs if necessary.

 

Protect all access to the pool. Look for ways kids might get from the house to the pool—doors, windows, doggy-doors and the like. A door that leads to the pool area should be equipped with a childproof lock and an automatic door closer that has a release mechanism located at least 60 inches above the floor. Remove or lock an aboveground pool’s ladder or steps when it’s not in use.

 

swimming pool cover

[/media-credit] Retractable swimming pool cover can support an adult when closed.

Consider a child-safe pool cover or pool alarm. The pool cover must cover the pool entirely and be fastened to the pool deck so that a child can’t get under it—it should never be left partially covering the pool. Always pump standing water off of the cover’s surface. Protect a hot tub or spa with a locking safety cover. If you buy a pool alarm, be sure it meets ASTM pool alarm standards.

 

Keep the pool deck safe. Keep wheeled toys and electrical appliances away from the pool and avoid leaving pool toys in or around the pool. Be sure swimmers are very careful on or near diving boards and pool slides, and never allow diving in the shallow end or through inner tubes or pool toys.

 

Be sure the drains are safe. When the pump is running, a pool or spa can have very strong suction that may pull kids down to the drain and trap them. Check the drain of a spa, hot tub or swimming pool for possible suction entrapment hazard. Every pool or spa should have at least two drains separated by a minimum of 3 feet, and each drain cover should have an anti-entrapment grate. Check for an expiration date on the cover—if it’s time to replace it, do so. Never allow people to use a pool that has a missing, broken or improperly installed drain cover.

 

This article, written by Don Vandervort, first appeared at USNews.com.

 

Save Water & Energy with a Solar Pool Cover

Reduce water evaporation and save energy by installing a bubble-wrap style solar pool blanket. This type of cover costs less than $125 and can be installed in an hour.

solar swimming pool blanket

[/media-credit] Solar blanket as tiny bubbles that provide insulation for retaining heat.

If you have a swimming pool, you may be painfully aware of how much water it can lose through evaporation, particularly in summer months. Over the period of a year, thousands of gallons of water can evaporate from a swimming pool. Considering the scarcity and expense of clean water, this is a terrible and unnecessary waste.

To curb this water waste, you can install a pool cover. Not only will a pool cover dramatically reduce evaporation, but it will also minimize loss of pool chemicals and cut down on energy bills by helping to warm and retain heat in the pool water.[GARD align=”left”]

On the downside, oxygen is a necessary part of maintaining the chemical balance of water, so your battle against algae may increase. And pool chemicals can be hard on the cover. It’s often recommended that you remove the cover for a couple of days following water treatment to allow the pool to “breathe,” and to minimize the corrosive action of chemicals. If algae tends to run rampant, you can try peeling back the cover so that it only covers half of the pool, alternating to the other end of the pool.

As discussed in the article, Swimming Pool Covers & Cleaners, several types are available. Here we look at a bubble-wrap-style solar pool blanket, the least expensive type. This cover is intended to keep the water and heat in the pool. Please note that this type of cover does NOT make the pool safer for children or pets, and always should be entirely removed before using the pool.

unroll pool cover on swimming pool

[/media-credit] The first step is to unroll the cover across the pool’s surface, bubble side down.

Where to Buy the Cover

You can buy a swimming pool solar blanket online from vendors such as Amazon, and have it delivered within a few days. Expect to pay about $115 for an 18-by-36-foot rectangle of 12-mil thick pool cover. A thicker 16-mil cover will cost about $150. The cover may carry a 7-year warranty, but don’t expect it to last that long. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, pool chemicals, and basic wear-and-tear are likely to shorten its life to 3 or 4 years.

cut pool cover to fit pool

[/media-credit] Slice through the cover along the tile at the waterline, using a sharp utility knife.

 

How to Install the Cover

To install this type of cover:
1Unfold the cover bubble-side down next to the pool. With a helper, drag it across the surface of the pool so that it completely covers the pool. If you have a rectangular pool, position the cover from one corner, aligning it with one long wall and an end wall so that you only have to cut the two opposite sides.

For an irregularly shaped pool, just be sure the cover reaches all the edges when it is pressed down tightly where the water meets the perimeter liner tile.

fitting a swimming pool cover

[/media-credit] As you cut the cover, continually check the perimeter for a tight fit.

2Use a long-handled pool brush to flatten the cover against the water, pressing out any large folds or air bubbles. When fully installed, the blanket should float flat on the water, barely touching the tile around the perimeter. Following is how to cut it so that it does that.

3Kneeling on the coping, use a very sharp utility knife—and scissors if necessary—to cut the blanket where the water meets the tile. To ensure accuracy, press the cover flat against the tile until you can see the waterline along the tile beneath it. (This is a bit easier to do with thin-mil covers.) If it’s hard to see the waterline through the cover, you can try turning on the pool light and working late in the day. With the utility knife, cut the cover exactly along the water line.

4Occasionally check the opposite side of the pool to make sure the cover isn’t shifting position while you work. Remove the excess scraps.

5When the pool cover is not in use and during the off-season, it is recommended that you fold it up and store it in a protected place to minimize damage and UV degradation.

 

Chlorine & Other Swimming Pool Water Treatments

Water—and especially heated water—is a breeding ground for algae and other micro-organisms that carry disease. For this reason, sanitizing your pool water on a regular basis is essential to pool maintenance.

Chlorine Treatments for Pools

The traditional method of sanitization is the use of chlorine, which not only eliminates bacteria but is also able to break down organic debris through oxidation.

Chlorine comes in liquid form, though this is not commonly used for home pools; granular form, which is dissolved before being added to pool water; and tablet form, which is placed in a floating feeder that slowly dissolves and then releases the chlorine into the pool. The chlorine, in reaction with the pool water, produces hypochlorous acid, or what is called “free chlorine,” which is actually what sanitizes the water. But, free chlorine degrades rapidly in sunlight, so cyanuric acid, which stabilizes the compound, is added with the chlorine.[GARD align=”left”]

After treating your pool water with chlorine, you will have to check its level regularly to see if you need to add more. Test kits are readily available at pool-supply stores. (A kit that also measures pH and calcium levels, plus alkalinity, is recommended.) Your free chlorine level should be 1–2 parts per million (ppm). The amount of chlorine you may need to add depends greatly on your pool use; expect to add chlorine daily during the heavy-use summer months.

Always follow label directions to the letter, and never mix more than one type of brand. Chlorine compounds can be corrosive, to your pool and to you. As you will have to handle the chemical by hand, make sure to wear proper protection on your hands and face.

If you are using the granular form, mix it by adding it to water and not the other way around to ensure it does not splash on you. Pour the solution into the pool in several different places, as close to the surface as you can. The tablet form is simply added to the feeder.

Chlorine Shock Treatment for Pools

A chlorinated pool typically contains two types of chlorine. Free available chlorine (FAC) has maintained its pure chemical composition and is standing at the ready to clean up contaminants. Combined available chlorine (CAC), also called chloramine, has already done its work and now is impure because it has combined with ammonias and other contaminants in the water. (These contaminants, for the most part, come from urine, sweat, and saliva.)

When a pool smells like it has too much chlorine and the water burns your eyes, you are actually smelling the contaminated CAC rather than the pure FAC. We often think that the odor and irritation are the result of too much chlorine, but they actually indicate that there is not enough FAC in the water.

The solution is to “shock” the water by adding a large dose of chlorine, a process called super-chlorinization. This megadose breaks down the CAC and re-establishes a healthy level of FAC.

Optimally, you should administer a chlorine shock at night, after people have finished swimming, so the water can have time to recover. At the very least, give it an hour or so before allowing people into the pool, and make sure the pump and filter are operating. Purchase an amount of shocker suitable for your size pool. One form is a powder that you scatter over the water at various locations in the pool. Use a free-chlorine test kit to make sure you have achieved free chlorinization. If the treatment did not work sufficiently, repeat it.

If a pool is heavily used, you may need to shock it on a weekly basis. Otherwise, administer a shock when the pool smells bad or when a test kit reveals the need. If you want to lessen your maintenance time by partially automating the task, consider installing a salt chlorine generator (see Swimming Pool Sanitization: Salt Chlorine Generators).

Bromine Treatment for Pools

Bromine, which is commonly available in tablets the same way chlorine is, has some advantages over chlorine. While chlorine combines with contaminants to produce combined available chlorine, which is foul smelling and irritating to eyes and skin, bromine produces bromamines, which are odorless and non-irritating.

With bromine, you do not need to apply periodic shock treatments as you do with chlorine. And bromine works quickly, so swimmers can jump in the pool soon after treatment.

However, there are some drawbacks. Bromine breaks down in sunlight, so pure bromine is not very effective for outdoor pools that are shaded. For that reason, many bromine tablets contain a significant amount of chlorine to help stabilize them. And bromine is more expensive than chlorine.

For these reasons, bromine is more commonly used for indoor pools and spas than for outdoor pools.

Salt Chlorine Generators

A salt chlorine generator extracts chlorine from sodium chloride, more commonly known as simple table salt. This eliminates your need to handle potentially dangerous chemicals. A salt chlorine generator also automates some maintenance tasks so you have less work to do.

A salt chlorine generator is an inline device installed in the pipe just after the filter. It runs electrical current through salted water, which causes a chemical reaction that basically turns salt into chlorine.[GARD align=”left”]

One type of generator requires you to add salt directly to the pool water. It may seem like a lot of salt when you pour it in, but actually the level is so low that you would not be able to taste it were you to sample the pool water.

Another generator works much like the slow release of salt by a water softener. The generator continually releases a small amount of chlorine into the water to maintain a safe and effective level. The result is less combined available chlorine, which causes a nasty odor and irritates skin and eyes.

Even with certain salt chlorine generators, you will need to apply a chlorine shock treatment (see Swimming Pool Sanitization: Chlorine Shock Treatment) every once in a while. For this reason, some generators have the capacity to provide the shock. Instead of applying chlorine to the pool yourself, you just push a button or turn a dial and the generator shocks the water.

Solar Metal Pool Water Ionization Treatments

With this system, a very low-voltage electrical current is used to inject tiny amounts of metal—in most cases copper, but sometimes silver or synthetic compounds—into the water. The ions in the metal destroy bacteria and algae. It is common for a unit to use solar power to administer the current and so it may be called a “solar ionization” device.

Older ionization devices released a dangerous amount of copper into the water, but newer models release amounts so small that they are considered safe for even drinking. Some older pools were plumbed with copper pipe, which released trace amounts of copper into the water. This actually killed the algae but unfortunately also turned blonde hair a light shade of green. A modern metal ionization unit will not produce the green-hair effect.

An ionization unit is typically run for four to eight hours, and the ions remain in the water, killing bacteria, for a week or longer. This is far less operating time than a salt chlorine generator (see above), which is kept running virtually all the time.

Metal ionization is a supplemental sanitizing method since it cannot neutralize contaminants such as dirt particles, skin oil, and oils from sunscreen. It typically cuts down on the need for chlorine by as much as 80 percent, but you will still need to apply chlorine and occasionally administer chlorine shock treatment (see Swimming Pool Sanitization: Chlorine Shock Treatment”).

Find a Pre-Screened Local Swimming Pool Water Maintenance Pro

Chlorine & Other Swimming Pool Water Treatments

Water—and especially heated water—is a breeding ground for algae and other micro-organisms that carry disease. For this reason, sanitizing your pool water on a regular basis is essential to pool maintenance.

Chlorine Treatments for Pools

The traditional method of sanitization is the use of chlorine, which not only eliminates bacteria but is also able to break down organic debris through oxidation.

Chlorine comes in liquid form, though this is not commonly used for home pools; granular form, which is dissolved before being added to pool water; and tablet form, which is placed in a floating feeder that slowly dissolves and then releases the chlorine into the pool. The chlorine, in reaction with the pool water, produces hypochlorous acid, or what is called “free chlorine,” which is actually what sanitizes the water. But, free chlorine degrades rapidly in sunlight, so cyanuric acid, which stabilizes the compound, is added with the chlorine.[GARD align=”left”]

After treating your pool water with chlorine, you will have to check its level regularly to see if you need to add more. Test kits are readily available at pool-supply stores. (A kit that also measures pH and calcium levels, plus alkalinity, is recommended.) Your free chlorine level should be 1–2 parts per million (ppm). The amount of chlorine you may need to add depends greatly on your pool use; expect to add chlorine daily during the heavy-use summer months.

Always follow label directions to the letter, and never mix more than one type of brand. Chlorine compounds can be corrosive, to your pool and to you. As you will have to handle the chemical by hand, make sure to wear proper protection on your hands and face.

If you are using the granular form, mix it by adding it to water and not the other way around to ensure it does not splash on you. Pour the solution into the pool in several different places, as close to the surface as you can. The tablet form is simply added to the feeder.

Chlorine Shock Treatment for Pools

A chlorinated pool typically contains two types of chlorine. Free available chlorine (FAC) has maintained its pure chemical composition and is standing at the ready to clean up contaminants. Combined available chlorine (CAC), also called chloramine, has already done its work and now is impure because it has combined with ammonias and other contaminants in the water. (These contaminants, for the most part, come from urine, sweat, and saliva.)

When a pool smells like it has too much chlorine and the water burns your eyes, you are actually smelling the contaminated CAC rather than the pure FAC. We often think that the odor and irritation are the result of too much chlorine, but they actually indicate that there is not enough FAC in the water.

The solution is to “shock” the water by adding a large dose of chlorine, a process called super-chlorinization. This megadose breaks down the CAC and re-establishes a healthy level of FAC.

Optimally, you should administer a chlorine shock at night, after people have finished swimming, so the water can have time to recover. At the very least, give it an hour or so before allowing people into the pool, and make sure the pump and filter are operating. Purchase an amount of shocker suitable for your size pool. One form is a powder that you scatter over the water at various locations in the pool. Use a free-chlorine test kit to make sure you have achieved free chlorinization. If the treatment did not work sufficiently, repeat it.

If a pool is heavily used, you may need to shock it on a weekly basis. Otherwise, administer a shock when the pool smells bad or when a test kit reveals the need. If you want to lessen your maintenance time by partially automating the task, consider installing a salt chlorine generator (see Swimming Pool Sanitization: Salt Chlorine Generators).

Bromine Treatment for Pools

Bromine, which is commonly available in tablets the same way chlorine is, has some advantages over chlorine. While chlorine combines with contaminants to produce combined available chlorine, which is foul smelling and irritating to eyes and skin, bromine produces bromamines, which are odorless and non-irritating.

With bromine, you do not need to apply periodic shock treatments as you do with chlorine. And bromine works quickly, so swimmers can jump in the pool soon after treatment.

However, there are some drawbacks. Bromine breaks down in sunlight, so pure bromine is not very effective for outdoor pools that are shaded. For that reason, many bromine tablets contain a significant amount of chlorine to help stabilize them. And bromine is more expensive than chlorine.

For these reasons, bromine is more commonly used for indoor pools and spas than for outdoor pools.

Salt Chlorine Generators

A salt chlorine generator extracts chlorine from sodium chloride, more commonly known as simple table salt. This eliminates your need to handle potentially dangerous chemicals. A salt chlorine generator also automates some maintenance tasks so you have less work to do.

A salt chlorine generator is an inline device installed in the pipe just after the filter. It runs electrical current through salted water, which causes a chemical reaction that basically turns salt into chlorine.[GARD align=”left”]

One type of generator requires you to add salt directly to the pool water. It may seem like a lot of salt when you pour it in, but actually the level is so low that you would not be able to taste it were you to sample the pool water.

Another generator works much like the slow release of salt by a water softener. The generator continually releases a small amount of chlorine into the water to maintain a safe and effective level. The result is less combined available chlorine, which causes a nasty odor and irritates skin and eyes.

Even with certain salt chlorine generators, you will need to apply a chlorine shock treatment (see Swimming Pool Sanitization: Chlorine Shock Treatment) every once in a while. For this reason, some generators have the capacity to provide the shock. Instead of applying chlorine to the pool yourself, you just push a button or turn a dial and the generator shocks the water.

Solar Metal Pool Water Ionization Treatments

With this system, a very low-voltage electrical current is used to inject tiny amounts of metal—in most cases copper, but sometimes silver or synthetic compounds—into the water. The ions in the metal destroy bacteria and algae. It is common for a unit to use solar power to administer the current and so it may be called a “solar ionization” device.

Older ionization devices released a dangerous amount of copper into the water, but newer models release amounts so small that they are considered safe for even drinking. Some older pools were plumbed with copper pipe, which released trace amounts of copper into the water. This actually killed the algae but unfortunately also turned blonde hair a light shade of green. A modern metal ionization unit will not produce the green-hair effect.

An ionization unit is typically run for four to eight hours, and the ions remain in the water, killing bacteria, for a week or longer. This is far less operating time than a salt chlorine generator (see above), which is kept running virtually all the time.

Metal ionization is a supplemental sanitizing method since it cannot neutralize contaminants such as dirt particles, skin oil, and oils from sunscreen. It typically cuts down on the need for chlorine by as much as 80 percent, but you will still need to apply chlorine and occasionally administer chlorine shock treatment (see Swimming Pool Sanitization: Chlorine Shock Treatment”).

Find a Pre-Screened Local Swimming Pool Water Maintenance Pro

Swimming Pool Water Treatment

Water—and especially heated water—is a breeding ground for algae and other micro-organisms that carry disease. For this reason, sanitizing your pool water on a regular basis is essential to pool maintenance.

[media-credit name=”© Mikael Damkier | Dreamstime.com” align=”alignright” width=”216″][/media-credit]

Chlorine Treatments for Pools

The traditional method of sanitization is the use of pool chlorine, which not only eliminates bacteria but is also able to break down organic debris through oxidation.

Chlorine comes in liquid form, though this is not commonly used for home pools; [easyazon_link identifier=”B00OM8E7NC” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]granular pool chlorine[/easyazon_link], which is dissolved before being added to pool water; and [easyazon_link identifier=”B002WKO7LY” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]tablet pool chlorine[/easyazon_link], which is placed in a [easyazon_link identifier=”B00FUTTG6K” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]floating pool chlorine feeder[/easyazon_link] that slowly dissolves and then releases the chlorine into the pool. The chlorine, in reaction with the pool water, produces hypochlorous acid, or what is called “free chlorine,” which is actually what sanitizes the water. But, free chlorine degrades rapidly in sunlight, so cyanuric acid, which stabilizes the compound, is added with the chlorine.

After treating your pool water with chlorine, you will have to check its level regularly to see if you need to add more. [easyazon_link identifier=”B004BGF7TI” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]Pool water test kits[/easyazon_link] are readily available online or at pool-supply stores. (A kit that also measures pH and calcium levels, plus alkalinity, is recommended.) Your free chlorine level should be 1 to 2 parts per million (ppm). The amount of chlorine you may need to add depends greatly on your pool use; expect to add chlorine daily during the heavy-use summer months.

Always follow label directions to the letter, and never mix more than one type of brand. Chlorine compounds can be corrosive, to your pool and to you. As you will have to handle the chemical by hand, make sure to wear proper protection on your hands and face.

If you are using the granular form, mix it by adding it to water and not the other way around to ensure it does not splash on you. Pour the solution into the pool in several different places, as close to the surface as you can. The tablet form is simply added to the feeder.

Chlorine Shock Treatment for Pools

A chlorinated pool typically contains two types of chlorine. Free available chlorine (FAC) has maintained its pure chemical composition and is standing at the ready to clean up contaminants. Combined available chlorine (CAC), also called chloramine, has already done its work and now is impure because it has combined with ammonias and other contaminants in the water. (These contaminants, for the most part, come from urine, sweat, and saliva.)

When a pool smells like it has too much chlorine and the water burns your eyes, you are actually smelling the contaminated CAC rather than the pure FAC. We often think that the odor and irritation are the result of too much chlorine, but they actually indicate that there is not enough FAC in the water.

The solution is to “shock” the water by adding a large dose of chlorine, a process called super-chlorinization. This megadose breaks down the CAC and re-establishes a healthy level of FAC.

Optimally, you should administer a chlorine shock at night, after people have finished swimming, so the water can have time to recover. At the very least, give it an hour or so before allowing people into the pool, and make sure the pump and filter are operating. Purchase an amount of [easyazon_link identifier=”B00PZZG1Z8″ locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]pool chlorine shocker[/easyazon_link] suitable for your size pool. One form is a powder that you scatter over the water at various locations in the pool. Use a [easyazon_link identifier=”B0026DURIO” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]free-chlorine test kit[/easyazon_link] to make sure you have achieved free chlorinization. If the treatment did not work sufficiently, repeat it.

If a pool is heavily used, you may need to shock it on a weekly basis. Otherwise, administer a shock when the pool smells bad or when a test kit reveals the need. If you want to lessen your maintenance time by partially automating the task, consider installing a salt chlorine generator (see Swimming Pool Sanitization: Salt Chlorine Generators).

Bromine Treatment for Pools

Bromine, which is commonly available as [easyazon_link identifier=”B002WKM3FG” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]pool water bromine tablets[/easyazon_link] the same way chlorine is, has some advantages over chlorine. While chlorine combines with contaminants to produce combined available chlorine, which is foul smelling and irritating to eyes and skin, bromine produces bromamines, which are odorless and non-irritating.

With bromine, you do not need to apply periodic shock treatments as you do with chlorine. And bromine works quickly, so swimmers can jump in the pool soon after treatment.

However, there are some drawbacks. Bromine breaks down in sunlight, so pure bromine is not very effective for outdoor pools that are shaded. For that reason, many bromine tablets contain a significant amount of chlorine to help stabilize them. And bromine is more expensive than chlorine.

For these reasons, bromine is more commonly used for indoor pools and spas than for outdoor pools.

Salt Chlorine Generators

A [easyazon_link identifier=”B001DSLLH4″ locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]salt chlorine generator[/easyazon_link] extracts chlorine from sodium chloride, more commonly known as simple table salt. This eliminates your need to handle potentially dangerous chemicals. A salt chlorine generator also automates some maintenance tasks so you have less work to do.

A salt chlorine generator is an inline device installed in the pipe just after the filter. It runs electrical current through salted water, which causes a chemical reaction that basically turns salt into chlorine.

One type of generator requires you to add salt directly to the pool water. It may seem like a lot of salt when you pour it in, but actually the level is so low that you would not be able to taste it were you to sample the pool water.

Another generator works much like the slow release of salt by a water softener. The generator continually releases a small amount of chlorine into the water to maintain a safe and effective level. The result is less combined available chlorine, which causes a nasty odor and irritates skin and eyes.

Even with certain salt chlorine generators, you will need to apply a chlorine shock treatment every once in a while. For this reason, some generators have the capacity to provide the shock. Instead of applying chlorine to the pool yourself, you just push a button or turn a dial and the generator shocks the water.

Solar Metal Pool Water Ionization Treatments

With a [easyazon_link identifier=”B0014JB9Z6″ locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]solar ionization metal pool water system[/easyazon_link], a very low-voltage electrical current is used to inject tiny amounts of metal—in most cases copper, but sometimes silver or synthetic compounds—into the water. The ions in the metal destroy bacteria and algae. It is common for a unit to use solar power to administer the current and so it may be called a “solar ionization” device.

Older ionization devices released a dangerous amount of copper into the water, but newer models release amounts so small that they are considered safe for even drinking. Some older pools were plumbed with copper pipe, which released trace amounts of copper into the water. This actually killed the algae but unfortunately also turned blonde hair a light shade of green. A modern metal ionization unit will not produce the green-hair effect.

An ionization unit is typically run for four to eight hours, and the ions remain in the water, killing bacteria, for a week or longer. This is far less operating time than a salt chlorine generator (see above), which is kept running virtually all the time.

Metal ionization is a supplemental sanitizing method since it cannot neutralize contaminants such as dirt particles, skin oil, and oils from sunscreen. It typically cuts down on the need for chlorine by as much as 80 percent, but you will still need to apply chlorine and occasionally administer chlorine shock treatment.

Find a Pre-Screened Local Swimming Pool Water Maintenance Pro


How to Clean a Spa or Hot Tub

Because of their exceedingly high water temperatures as well as the heavy use they get, spas tend to require frequent maintenance to keep them clean. The best tools for keeping a spa clean are basically the same as those used to clean swimming pools—just on a smaller scale.

Helpful Spa Cleaning Tools

As in a pool, a long-handled leaf skimmer net is necessary for removing large pieces of floating debris.

A spa vacuum can be powered in several ways. If your spa is not connected to the circulation system of an in-ground pool, a good solution is a vacuum that’s powered by a jet of water from a garden hose.

A more streamlined alternative to a vacuum, a spa wand also collects debris through suction. It may be powered either by pumping or turning the handle or by a rechargeable battery.

A bucket and a soft sponge are two low-tech tools that area very helpful when cleaning interior spa walls.

Skimming, Straining and Vacuuming

Since a spa is so small, even a minimal amount of debris can lower the efficiency of the circulation system. Bring out the skimmer each time you use your spa, and either vacuum or use a spa wand twice a week to remove debris that has settled to the bottom.

Debris-free baskets are essential to the proper operation of the circulation system. Clean the skimmers twice a week by removing leaves and anything else obstructing the water flow. With in-ground spas, the strainer baskets are hidden in the surrounding deck; for portable spas, the baskets are near the pump.

Cleaning the Inner Surface

Because total dissolved solids build up quickly, spa water needs to be drained fairly often. Emptying the spa provides an opportunity for cleaning the inner surfaces. Brush the spa interior to eliminate calcium scales and any algae buildup. A plaster-lined concrete spa can withstand stiff brushing, but fiberglass and acrylic spas are more delicate.

To clean tile, don’t use anything very abrasive or stiff that could scratch the tile or damage the grout. A pumice stone works well, removing scale like a giant eraser. A putty knife is also great for scraping off especially heavy scale. Another alternative is to dissolve the scale with a 50/50 mix of water and muriatic acid. (Muriatic acid is extremely corrosive, and its vapors can be toxic if inhaled, so be sure to protect your eyes and hands and work in a well-ventilated area when making the mixture.) Apply the solution with a nylon brush and scrub. Rinse well when you’re finished.

Find a Pre-Screened Local Hot Tub Servicing or Repair Pro

 

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