Tag Archives: Pool Chemicals

Preventing Mosquitoes Around Your Home and Pool

No Mosquitos

Late summer and early fall are the prime time of year for mosquito breeding. With West Nile Virus being carried by these insects, it is very important to safe guard your home and family. All mosquitoes need water to pass through their life stages. Did you know that your swimming pool can turn into a breeding ground for mosquitoes? It is very important to keep your pool chemicals at their proper levels even when the pool is covered. Proper chlorination prevents stagnation that cause draw mosquitoes in. Mosquitoes will develop in any puddle that lasts more than four days. Even water that pools on top of your winter cover can provide the right conditions. Using an automatic cover pumps to keep pooling water off your cover is a great way to prevent this. Below are more tips on protecting your family against mosquitoes and West Nile Virus during the early fall months.

  • Remove tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, discarded tires,  or similar water-holding containers and areas that may have accumulated on your property.
  • Drill holes in the bottom and elevate recycling containers, garbage bins, etc. that are left out of doors to prevent pooling water.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and do not allow water to stagnate in bird baths, ornamental ponds, or other water features around your home.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters. Gutters are easily overlooked but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
  • Repair leaky pipes and septic systems or outside faucets. Do not let air conditioner run off water collect in shady areas.

Preparing Your Above Ground Pool for Winter

Above Ground Winter Pool Cover

The end of swimming season is near, and it’s time to begin preparing for winterizing the above ground swimming pool.  Here is a handy guide for preparing your pool for the winter season:

Step 1
Before closing your pool, make sure the water is chemically balanced. Adjust the chemical levels if necessary. Chemically balanced water protects the pool from corrosion or scale buildup that can occur while the pool is not in use. Your chemical levels should be as follows:

  • pH: 7.2 – 7.6
  • Alkalinity: 80 – 120 parts per million
  • Calcium Hardness: 175 – 250 parts per million
  • Chlorine: 1 – 3 parts per million

Step 2
Remove all deck equipment, including ladders, stairs, etc.

Step 3
Brush down the sides and floor of your pool and then vacuum.  This step prevents staining, which can occur if any dirt or debris is left to sit in the pool.

Step 4
Add winterizing chemicals by broadcasting them into the deep end of the pool.  These chemicals help protect water quality during the off season months.

Step 5
Clean the filter, skimmer, and pump basket. Remove all unused chlorine product from the chlorinator. Cartridge filter elements and D.E. grids should be cleaned and stored. If you have a sand filter, backwash it.

Step 6
Some people insert a skimmer guard into the skimmer and plug the return line. Others lower the water in the pool below the returns (where the water jets into the pool) and the skimmer. Either method is fine — the choice made is based on personal preference. NEVER COMPLETELY DRAIN A POOL! This can cause your above ground pool to collapse.

Step 7
If your pool is plumbed with detachable, flexible hoses, remove them and store for the winter. Remove all drain plugs from the pump, filter tank, and any other pool equipment. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific equipment. Place all drain plugs in the pump basket for storage.

If your pool is hard plumbed, use an air compressor or shop vac (attached to the blower side of the vac) to blow water out of the system by forcing air down the skimmer and through the plumbing.

Step 8
If you are using an air pillow, inflate it by using a shop vac. Tie the air pillow at two places and position it in the center of the pool. Tie strings to the pool wall so the pillow will not move during installation of the pool cover. Air pillows are commonly used, but not absolutely necessary. They are a good idea in colder climates in case the water freezes and expands. The water will freeze inwards on the pillow instead of outwards which can potentially damage the pool wall. Pillows are NOT used to create a dome-like effect to keep rain off of the cover.  Rain water will always settle around the pillow.

Step 9
Place an above ground pool winter cover over the pool surface, black side down.  Some homeowners who have children or pets prefer to cover the pool with a safety cover over the winter.

If covering your pool with a winter cover, place the cover over the pool, then thread the cable through the loops or grommets. Use the winch provided with the cover to tighten the cable.

If your above ground pool has a deck, place wall bags end to end around the edge of the pool. Fill the bags 3/4 full with water.  Do not over-fill because the bags could burst when the water inside freezes.  Never use bricks, concrete blocks, etc. to secure the cover because they can damage your pool cover or your pool.

Step 10
Place a cover pump in the center of your pool cover to drain excess water accumulation.  Too much water on top of the cover can cause the cover to rip, or it can pull the cover and wall bags into the pool.  Either way, you’re in for a messy cleanup effort.

Planning now for winterizing will help make the process go faster and easier once the time to winterize has arrived.  Until then, though, enjoy the remaining days of summer warmth in the refreshing comfort of your above ground pool.

Get the Skinny on Pool Algae

Algae makes swimming pool water green

Green Algae in Pool Water

Did you know that there are 21,000 known species of algae?  Luckily, pool owners usually have to contend with only a tiny fraction of these.  Algae are microscopic aquatic plant life that are introduced by rain or wind and grow in colonies that produce nuisance masses.  While algae do not cause disease, they can harbor bacteria, create a high chlorine demand, and pose a dangerous slipping hazard.

The most common types of algae that can grow in swimming pools are black algae, blue-green algae, green algae, and mustard algae (which can be yellow or brown).  Prevention is the key to controlling algae.  Preventing algae growth in swimming pools is as easy as maintaining proper sanitizer levels and proper filtration, brushing pool surfaces,  and using super-chlorination.

To rid a pool of algae once it has become established, the use of a high-quality algaecide is recommended.  The best choice is an algaecide that will not only kill existing algae, but prevent them from forming again.

Ideal Chemical Levels for Your Pool

Proper Chemical Balance in Pools

Maintaining chemical balance in your swimming pool’s water is essential for keeping algae and bacteria at bay as well as ensuring that the water is safe and comfortable for swimmers.  Here’s a quick reference guide that gives you the ideal chemical levels and recommendations for how to raise or lower the levels if they are out of balance:


  • Ideal level = 2.0
  • To raise chlorine levels = Shock the pool
  • To lower chlorine levels = Turn the chlorinator down


  • Ideal level = 7.4 (Summer), 7.8 (Winter)
  • To raise pH = Add soda ash
  • To lower pH = Add muriatic acid (diluted) into the pool with the pump running to ensure that the acid spreads throughout the water as quickly as possible.

Total Alkalinity

  • Ideal level = 80-100 ppm
  • To raise total alkalinity = Add baking soda
  • To lower total alkalinity = Add muriatic acid to the deepest part of pool while the pump is off.  Allow this to sit for at least 20 minutes, then turn the pump back on.

Calcium Hardness

  • Ideal level = 250-500 ppm
  • To increase calcium hardness = Add calcium chloride
  • To decrease calcium hardness = Drain pool and refill


  • Ideal level = 20-50 ppm
  • To raise stabilizer levels = Add cyanuric acid
  • To lower stabilizer levels = Drain pool and refill

Considering Bromine: A Chlorine Alternative for Pools and Spas

Bromine Tablets for Pools and Spas

It’s no secret that chlorine can be harsh on skin and irritate eyes.  Plus, the strong smell of chlorine is more than a little unpleasant to many swimmers.  For these reasons, bromine tablets are a desirable alternative for sanitizing pools and spas. 

Because bromine doesn’t have a harsh chemical odor, like chlorine, it is often used in indoor pools where chlorine odor can be overpowering.  Bromine is also preferred in spas and hot tubs because it is more stable in high temperature water than chlorine, making it a more effective spa sanitizer.

Using bromine in standard outdoor swimming pools is something to consider, too.  Bromine continues to kill bacteria even after the pool’s weekly shock treatment, unlike chlorine.  Because of this, the volume of bromine required to clean a pool is much less than the volume of chlorine required.  Using less chemical means that it needs to be purchased less often.

The downside is that bromine generally costs more than chlorine.  For many pool and spa owners, though, the advantages make it worth the extra expense.