In the Swim of the Season

by Eileen Glanton Loftus | Jul 27, 2014
In the Swim of the Season …From the pages of House & Home…

Essential pool tips for your current or future pool

When the mercury rises and the sun beats down on the Delaware Valley, there’s no greater relief than a dip in a pool. If you’ve taken the plunge and had a pool installed at your home, staying on top of water quality and general maintenance can help your family get the most out of the swimming season.

All about the chemistry
Local professionals say that once a pool is installed, it’s not difficult to maintain it. Water quality is governed by chlorine —which kills any contaminants in the pool—and pH—which indicates how basic or acidic the water is. Once you find the right balance for chlorine and pH in your pool, regular maintenance becomes quite simple. Your pool installer can help you determine the volume of the water, or you can plug in the dimensions to an online calculator. The volume will help determine the best levels for chlorine and pH.

“The better you’re maintaining your water quality, the more comfortable it will be for everyone using your pool,” says Michael Ciarrochi of Armond Aquatech Pools in Bridgeport, Pa.

In previous decades, pool owners often “shocked” the water by dumping in large doses of chlorine. Some pool care professionals still recommend that clients do it once a week. Ciarrochi says it’s usually not necessary.

“As long as you’ve been keeping up with your levels, you shouldn’t have to shock the pool,” Ciarrochi says. “Shock it too often and the finish of the pool will wear out before it should.” He recommends shocking the pool after a period of heavy use, such as a big pool party or a storm that deposits a lot of debris.

The end of the season
As the summer winds down, your pool’s chemical needs will change a bit. Falling leaves and acorns will drag more dirt into the pool, so you may need to adjust your chlorine. Keep testing the water on a regular basis in order to track changes. But you may not need to throw in the towel on swimming just yet. Local pool professionals say that among the most popular add-ons to existing pools are heat pumps.

With a heat pump, families in the area can easily extend the swim season into October, and some diehard swimmers wait until November to close the pool, says Mike McCool, general manager at Swim-Mor Pools, with three locations in South Jersey.

“Heat pumps are pretty inexpensive to run, and they can keep your pool at a very comfortable 82 to 84 degrees right into the fall,” McCool says. Most homeowners opt to run their pool’s heat pump for a few hours per day.

When it’s truly time to close up, you’ll need to determine whether you are able to complete the task, or if you’ll hire a professional. Most local pool companies offer opening and closing services. A typical roster of closing duties includes:
? Checking and adjusting the chemicals in the water.
? Removing and cleaning ladders and handrails, and storing away from pool chemicals to avoid corrosion.
? Cleaning the pool walls with a pool brush.
? Shocking the water (now is the time to do it) and adding a chemical to control algae.
? Cleaning all filters.
? Draining some water – recommendations vary depending on the type of pool.
? Covering the pool.

Pool professionals say that taking the time to properly close the pool can help extend its longevity and should make it easier to reopen the pool come spring.

Working with your township
Let’s say you haven’t yet taken the plunge, and are considering building a pool in the future. You’ll need to be aware of any rules and regulations your town may have about pool construction. Dominic Dicesare, general manager of Blue Haven Pools & Spas in Colmar, Pa., says his staff works with township officials and handles much of the paperwork needed to comply with local regulations. Some installers may ask the homeowner to handle the legwork.

Regulations may include rules for draining the pool (to prevent flooding of a neighbor’s yard, or unleashing pool chemicals into a public water supply), and rules about “setback”—how far a pool must sit back from the property line.

“Sometimes, you see your nice, big yard, and you think you have plenty of room for a pool, but by the time you meet all the requirements, you find that your yard shrinks real fast,” Dicesare says.

Also, homeowners’ associations may have their own strict guidelines, Dicesare says. Check with your association as you’re brainstorming ideas in order to make sure that your vision of a pool doesn’t violate their guidelines.

The next round of choices
One of the most basic choices a homeowner will make when installing a pool is whether to have it built from concrete or vinyl, which is much less expensive but also less durable. The choice isn’t as clear-cut as it used to be, says Rich Cording Sr., owner of CLC Landscape Design in Ringwood, N.J.

“If you’re concerned with structural stability, then concrete is the way to go, but if you have a very stable yard, vinyl can be a great option,” he says. Cording noted that one Bergen County client saved $15,000 by choosing a vinyl pool, which he then poured into water features and landscaping around the pool.

Pool professionals say it’s best to anticipate any water features you may want before the pool is built, since some of the most popular accessories are built into the pool during construction. Ciarrochi says many families with young children opt for ledges, where a parent can relax while watching the kids. Cording says “zero-entry” pools, where swimmers can walk gradually into the water, are also increasingly popular. “Dive rocks” now rival diving boards in popularity.

Another choice you’ll have to make is whether to choose a company that specializes solely in pools, or a landscape architect like Cording’s firm. He says working with a landscape architect can help a homeowner account for factors like the angle of sunlight and the homeowner’s preferences for decorative features like stone walls and grottos.

No matter what type of pool company you choose, do your homework.

“Make sure you research the company you are considering with the Better Business Bureau,” says Theodora Sergiou, vice president at Nicholas Pools in Toms River, N.J. She recommends that clients make sure a pool provider is licensed and insured. Sergiou says that it takes between two and eight weeks to secure permits for pool construction, depending on the town. The time of year and the weather during the construction process can also affect the length of the project.

“You should give yourself at least six months to complete the project,” she says. “If you want to swim in the summer, contracting in the fall is the best way to ensure that the pool will be completed in time.”


Armond Aquatech Pools
Bridgeport, Pa.
(610) 279-3800

Blue Haven Pools & Spas
Colmar, Pa.
(215) 996-0900

CLC Landscape Design
Ringwood, N.J.
(973) 839-6026

Nicholas Pools
Toms River, N.J.
(732) 505-0404

Swim-Mor Pools and Spas
Mt. Ephraim, N.J.
(856) 456-3332

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 15, Issue 1 (July, 2014).
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Author: Eileen Glanton Loftus



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