perform routine pool maintenance tasks? Swimming pools
require routine care and periodic maintenance,
apart from the balancing of the water chemistry
and the establishment of a proper sanitizer
level. In order to preserve or restore the
aesthetics of the pool and maintain good
operating conditions, seasonal practices should
be followed. Some products, are available, that
can help with the chores and are worthy of
consideration. If problems arise, refer to
Problems Page as a source of problem-solving
information, broken down into various
categories. Scroll down the page and click on the linked
or images, in the archived answers below, to access additional information, on that topic or product.
Do you know what's in
your water? If you're having problems, with stains
and discoloration, due to the presence of metals, you should
be testing for iron and copper, to better understand the
extent and cause of the problem. This helps select the
best treatment option. Understanding the nature of
the problem, should be step one. For information
about our full selection of testing options, visit our
Test Equipment Store.
For information about treatment options, visit our
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Problem-Solving Information, in a question and
morning. I will be going on a 17 day vacation and I need
help/advice on how to maintain a pool while on vacation.
I've read that I need to super shock, more than I use (I use
2 pounds, my pool size is roughly in the 16,000 gallons) and
to get a floating chlorinator and to cover my pool. What are
your tips on this? Where should my levels be before I leave?
Any advice and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
Lydia R., 7/9/2017
Raising the free chlorine to 5 PPM and the pH to 7.8 would
be a good thing. The chlorine floater will help, as well. I
would also consider adding a
pool mineralizer, to aid in algae control. Unless
you have an auto-filler, you
have to be mindful of the pool water level, in order to
avoid burning out the pump. Either consider adding one or
have a neighbor look in on the pool. The pump should
be set on a timer. The covering might help with the
water level and chlorine level, but unless it is a safety
cover, it might involve some risks. I hope that the
information provided was helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/9/2017
Making The Best Of A
read a lot on your website but still decided to email. I
bought a home with a pre-existing 18 x 36 rectangular pool
set up for chlorine sanitization. The pool is located 5 feet
from the back of the house on one side and 4 feet from the
covered carport on another side. Yes, if you trip out the
back door, you could land in the pool. Not great planning!
This creates a lot of shade, just about all the time in one
corner of the pool, and thus I always have an algae problem.
Another issue is the pool does not have a main drain; it has
one skimmer and 2 jets. Thatís it for this huge pool. We are
in south Georgia and go through a vinyl liner every 7 years
(I run the pool year round not covered). Iím on my second
suction cleaner, but itís not working well anymore. I have a
lot of issues and would love to fill it in but the kids
enjoy it during the hot summers. What do you suggest on the
algae battle, circulation, and vacuum cleaner issue? Iíve
spent so much on this thing, that I really donít want to
spend a lot. However, I will do what I need to in
order to make the future more enjoyable with this pool.
Thank you so much.
Linda M., Georgia, 5/17/2015
Not a well planned pool. I have two suggestions to deal with
the poor circulation, which allows algae to grow in dead
zones, and the pool cleaning
and skimming action. By adding The
Pool Circulator, to each return, you will create
spiraling return flows, which will better distribute the
sanitizing chemicals and help eliminate the dead zones and
algae. It is simple to install, as it just replaces
the standard pool return jet.
now, you have to choose between skimming and vacuuming. Not
the best of situations. By adding a
Pool Skimmer, with
its hookup for
suction-side vacuums, you will be able to
skim and vacuum, at the same time. This should help keep the
pool cleaner. If the budget allow, a
robotic pool cleaner
would be a better option. It operates independently of
the pool filter, so you don't have to choose between
vacuuming and skimming. It will also improve
I hope that the information provided was helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/17/2015
Main Drain Area
bottom drain, there is some flaking exposing the Gunite
below the plaster pool surface. What product could used to
repair the area? The repair area is around the edge of the
pvc drain and extends out about 5 inches, in one spot.
Otherwise, it's about 1/2 inch around the edge of the drain.
Boxer Adhesives has just what you need: an
underwater epoxy. It can be applied underwater, so you
won't have to drain the pool. It cures to a white finish.
It comes as a Part A and Part B. You simply fix equal
parts of each and apply. You use only what's needed
and save the rest, for other uses. It really is just
the right product. I hope that this information is
► Cracked Pool
I noticed a crack on the bottom of my
pool skimmer right near the back hole when I went to close
the pool last winter. I really donít notice any water loss
yet, but I am just opening the pool. I have a fiberglass
pool that is 12 years old. Thanks for any help you might
Donna L., Charleston, SC, 4/19/2015
Cracks in the skimmer can tend to get bigger and short of
replacing the entire assembly, you might try the
#350 Skimmer Repair Kit. It should be
exactly what you need and is simple to use. I hope that this information will be
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/19/2015
Cleaning A Solar Cover?
best way to remove dirt, pollen and dead insects, from my
solar cover? Thanks.
M., Penfield, NY 6/12/2017
If you can lie the cover out on a flat surface, a
Sweeper Broom will do the rest. It simply attaches to
a garden hose and creates jets of
It not only will clean the cover, it can be used to clean
the pool deck, patios, walkways, chemical spills, garage
floors and more. It uses a fraction of the water and
saves lots of time and effort, as compared to just using a
hose. I hope that this will be helpful.
Sincerely, Alan Schuster,
Chlorinating And Cleaning Effectively?
We have a new inground vinyl pool, 18' X
36' and are considering buying an automatic pool vacuum and
a salt chlorine generator. Do
they really do an effective cleaning and sanitizing job? Any
suggestions? Thank you.
Tom F. Florida, 9/21/2014
Automatic Pool Vacuums are really great products. Not only
can they do an effective vacuuming of the bottom, these
products improve the water clarity and because they improve
the circulation, across the bottom, make algae growth less
likely. They all worked, but without a
doubt the Robotic Pool Cleaner
worked the best. It cleaned all the surfaces: bottom,
walls, steps and the waterline area. Every pool I have
ever owned was equipped with a
generator, going back to when they first became
available, in the U.S. Good luck and
enjoy the pool.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 9/21/2014
Is There A Trick?
Every time I hook up the vacuum it
seems to take forever for the suction to build up. Am I
missing something? Thank you.
Greg R., Scottsdale, AZ, 10/5/2014
There's no trick to vacuuming, just some work. It might
simply be a case of your not purging the air from the vacuum
hose line. If you don't do this, the filter will fill up
with air, lose efficiency and not move a lot of water, until
the proper flow rate returns. Next time you vacuum do this!
Place the vacuum hose across the pool surface from the
skimmer closest to the pump and stretching to a return jet
on the opposite side of the pool. Reach underwater and place
the end of the vacuum hose in front on the return, allowing
water to flow through the hose. As soon as water comes out
of the other end, attach to the vacuum head and insert the
other end to the skimmer intake. Make sure all other
skimmers and the main drain are closed, in order to maximize
suction. The rest is up to you. Have you considered an
Robotic Pool Cleaner?
It is an easier and better way to a cleaner pool. I hope that I
have been helpful. Have fun!
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/5/2014
What is the easiest way to find a
pool leak in an inground pool?
Frank G. Fairlawn, NJ, 6/1/2014
There are products designed specifically for leak detection
and companies the specialize in pool leak detection. Depending upon the daily
amount of water being lost and location of
the leak, it may be possible to add a leak sealant and make
an easy repair.
A LEAK can create a long-lasting seal in walls, floors or
the filtration system and has been in use for over 30 years.
However, a leak can be so hard to find or massive enough
(more than 2-inches a day), where do-it-yourself techniques
may not be enough. Good luck and I hope that the
information will prove helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/1/2014
► Deck With A
We have only
opened a house with an inground pool, for a few months, so I
am still getting acquainted. The deck is made of some
patterned masonry finish, that has been sealed.
Periodically, I get stains from Hibiscus leaves and buds,
which come off with some effort. Does pool water
splashout have anything to do with this? I can hose it
off, but that takes a bit on time and effort. Any
Kenny K., Boca
Raton, FL, 5/24/2012
The pool water has little of
nothing to do with this. It is the nature of the
Hibiscus. A Water Sweeper Broom Spray
Cleaner will help
you sweep the deck clean, in about a third of the time,
using far less water. It is effortless to use and
simple attaches to a garden hose and is used like a broom on
wheels. It can be used on decks, patios, walkways,
chemical spills, pool covers, garage floors and more.
The cleaner the deck and the surrounding, the less debris
will find its way into the pool. I am sure that this
will solve the problem.
Ladder And Rail?
I have a 2-year old gunite pool and my
ladder and rail seem to get discolored. I thought stainless
steel was supposed to be OK. I am diligent about the pool
chemistry and use liquid chlorine and acid. I can clean the
equipment, but it returns within weeks. Any solutions.
Vincent L., 4/12/2012
Stainless steel ladders and rails used to be made in the
U.S.A. Today, I believe that most are made in Asia and what
passes for stainless steel, may not be the same, as in the
past. My guess is that your ladder and rail are made from
lower grade stainless and, are evidently, subject to the
effects of the water chemistry. I am not sure there is
anything you can do. When and if, you are ready to replace
them, consider a ladder and rail made of composite
materials. They are maintenance-free and corrosion
resistant. As a bonus, they are cool to the touch and even
come in a choice of colors. In most cases, it is a direct
replacement, with easy installation. I hope that the
information will be helpful and informative.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/12/2012
► How Long A
I have just had my second vinyl liner
installed in our in-ground lap pool. The lap pool is 40 feet
long X 8 feet wide X 4 feet deep. My circulating pump is a
3/4 horse power, and it circulates the water very well. I
have an automatic pool cleaner that runs whenever the
circulating pump runs. I live in Hawaii and use the pool
year round. The summer temperatures range from 90(day) to
80(night), and the winter temperatures range from 85(day) to
70(night). My question is how long should I run my
circulating pump on a daily basis? Thanks Alan.
Steve V., Hawaii, 6/7/2011
It seems that your pump is big enough for the pool. For best
results, you want to run the pump at least long enough to
turn the water over 2-3 times. I guess that if you run the
filter for 6-8 hours a day, it would be more than enough,
given the size of the pool and the circumstances. However,
this is not an etched in stone matter and is influenced by
other factors. The bottom line is you want good water
quality. If 6 hours produces that result - great! You didn't
mention how the pool is sanitized. Some sanitizers are
linked to the filter cycle: built in chlorinators or
brominators, salt chlorinators,
ozonators, ionizers and
Dual-Ion Purifiers-Mineralizers. Changing the filter cycle will
impact on the sanitizer level and must be accounted for, by
adjusting the feed rate of the sanitizer. I hope that I have
been helpful. Aloha.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/8/2011
► Is It
Necessary To Run 24/7?
Is it absolutely necessary to run the
pump 24/7? i.e.- Can you run it 12(Hours) on/12 off?,
and./or are there any energy efficient pumps? Hammered by my
James J., 10/2/2012
Absolutely not! 24/7 is extravagant, unless you own the
utility. You want the water to turn over 2-3 times, if
possible and you want good results. Running the filter 6-12
hours a day - more during peak season and less during the
cooler periods -- works for most people. I would try 8
hours and see how it works out. Occasionally, if the water
clouds or algae is a problem, at that time you might want to
run it 24/7. While some pumps might be more efficient than
others, it is probably more a function of hours of operation
that will impact the electric bill. If you add
Pool Circulator, you will make the most of the filtration time,
by greatly boosting circulation and eliminating dead spots.
It can be used in just about every pool, one in each return,
and I am sure that this will make a difference in the cost
of maintaining the pool. I hope that this information will
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/2/2012
Is there an easy way to keep floating
toys and stuff from blocking the skimmer. Thanks for the
Janice, NJ, 8/1/2005
Keeping the skimmer free not only maintains good water flow,
but it helps keep the pool clean. There is a simple way to
avoid toys and objects from getting sucked into the skimmer
or locking the weir in place. Skimmer guards are easy to
install and solve the problem. I hope the information proves
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/14/2005
► Too Many
I am not sure if they are frogs or
toads, but I find them dead in the skimmer of my inground
pool. Any suggestions.
Lana J,, Ft. Meyers, FL, 8/12/2013
You could try putting some moth balls into the beds, around
the pool, so long as there are no pet or small kids that
might pick them up. The
odor could repel the frogs. Otherwise, installing some type
of escape ramp
give them a way out of the pool. It will also help prevent
chipmunks, squirrels, possums, pets, etc, from being trapped
in the pool. When the pool is in use, just flip it out of
the water. It is simple and effective. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 8/13/2013
► A Rabbit's
Yesterday, we retrieved a dead rabbit
from our pool filter box. What can we do to ensure the water
is safe again for swimming? Thanks.
Kylie H., 1/5/2010
I realize this is an unpleasant experience. Obviously,
removal and disposal of the remain is the first task. I
suggest that you raise
the free chlorine level to 5-10 PPM. If the following
morning, there is still at least 1-3 PPM of free chlorine,
it would be safe to assume that all traces of the animal and
decomposition products have been destroyed. Depending on the
degree of decomposition, addition chlorine might be
required, so test the water a few hours after the initial
dosing. During this period run the filter 24/7. Clean the
skimmer basket with some laundry bleach. This done, you
should be good to go. Animal drowning can be avoided, by
installing some type of escape ramp. I hope that this information helps to put the
experience behind you.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 1/6/2010
I am a new home owner with a pool, in
ground vinyl liner. I am totally confused about ports. What
position should they normally be in, when the pool is on and
what should be on/off when vacuuming? Should the water level
go down when I vacuum? I have experimented. I wish I could
find a diagram! If you can help, it would be great.
Baffled in Boston, 6/7/2008
You probably have what is called a multiport valve. It has
several positions. For your inground vinyl pool, you should
select the filter position. If you have a main drain, there
should be additional valves near the filter or multiport.
This enables you to use either the main drains, the skimmers
or both. Normally both are used for daily operations. To use
the vacuum, close off the main drain and the skimmer
furthest away (there should be a moveable plate inside the
water level should not change during vacuuming, unless you
are vacuuming to waste and that is not the common vacuuming
practice. The backwash multiport position is used for
cleaning the filter. The recirculate position is for
bypassing the filter. I hope that this information solves
your dilemma. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/7/2008
Bleached A Spot?
I am not exactly sure how it happened,
but a 3" trichlor chlorine tablet ended up in the middle of
the shallow end of the pool. It was there for at least
several hours and bleached the color out, in the immediate
area. The liner is fairly new and I hate to look at this
eyesore. Can it be re-colored? Any suggestions would be
Howard B., Wilmington, NC, 3/23/2010
So far as I know, there is no way to color it over and it
would never be a match. What you can do is use an underwater
Premium Graphic Mosaic Pool Mat and position it over the
bleached area. These products can be used underwater, so
draining will be unnecessary. There are lots of choices, in
terms of size and depiction. It would be an easy and
attractive solution. It will even help strengthen the
affected area, in case any damage was done. I hope the
suggestion is helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/23/2010
We have a 24 round above ground pool.
I would always let my kids in the pool with the pump
running. (They like the water flow when they swim.) My
husband said I should not let them in with the pump running
in case there is an electrical malfunction. He said they
might get electrocuted. Other people have their pump
running, and what about a hot tub? Is he right about the
possibility? Also, I have a mineral purifier and only Poly
Algaecides can be used in the pool with it. Is my Algaecide
a Poly? Alkyl (c14 c16 c12)Dimethyl benzyl Ammonium
chloride. Thank you so much.
The Wife, 6/26/2009
Pumps are normally run the pool or spa is being used. All
electrical equipment must manufactured to code be protected
with a GFI (Ground Fault Interrupter), to guard against
electrical shocks. As long a you pool was properly installed
according to codes, there is no reason that the pool cannot
be used in the normal manner. The algaecide product that you
are referring to is known as a "Quat." This product is of
limited effectiveness and causes some foaming of the water.
A polymer algaecide can be used with
Dual-Ion Mineralizer, is much more effective and will not cause
foaming. But it is more expensive. The chemical name is long
and repeats the phrase "dimethyliminio." I hope that the
website was helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/27/2009
► Vinyl Tear?
I have a small above round pool with
an inflated to ring. There are outlets for the filter on the
side of the pool. A leak has developed where the hose
attaches to the side. I know that the pool is inexpensive,
but I would like to make a repair. Is it possible. Thank
Emily T., NJ, 7/28/2004
You can probably solve the problem with an adhesive patch.
Boxer Adhesives makes an adhesive patch that can be used
underwater and is safe to use with your type of pool. They
offer a complete line of repair items. You should not use solvent based
products to repair thin walled vinyl pools, such as yours,
as this is very likely to cause damage to the vinyl. I hope
that this product will help you get some more use of your
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/28/2004
► Vacuuming A
I have only of those inexpensive pools with a liner
suspended from a pole. The vacuum I use is just about
useless. It works with a garden hose and only seems to move
the dirt around. It will catch a leaf, but not the small
stuff. Is there an easy, inexpensive solution? Thank you.
Belinda T, 3/3/2008
The best vacuums are either have self contained filters or
use the pool's filter. In your case, you have neither. That
garden hose vacuum uses water flow to suck in debris, but it
is not effective and could be a waste of water. There are
hand-held vacuums, that are battery-powered, hoseless and fully
portable. Reasonably and affordably priced and is
perfect for all types of small pools, kiddie pools and even
spas. It will make for a much cleaner pool. Enjoy the
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/30/2004
► Vinyl Liner
Alan, I have an above ground pool (28
ft diameter, 4 ft walls, approx. 5' deep in center). The
liner is about 10 years old and has several problems, so we
are going to replace it. I was wondering if you could
suggest things that would reduce the problems we have seen?
I was told that a standard liner (not expandable would work
for this pool? Question #1. The pool had a solid blue liner
and when we bought the house. It had a dark discoloration
around the water line (plus or minus 3 inches). Some one
told us that it was sun tan oil, etc. It would not clean off
no matter what we did. We thought about replacing with a
tile border patterned liner, but really think that the solid
blue is most economical and did not want to see the "stain"
on our new liner. Will regular cleaning prevent it? What
suggestions do you have? Question #2. The liner is degrading
above the water line. Small holes are appearing in several
places. We patched large areas last year, but it appears
that the Sun is degrading the liner. Is there a way to
minimize this or do the new liners have better UV
protection, etc.? Do the more expensive 25 mil liners (or
colored liners) last significantly longer? Question #3. We
also saw (last year) some small indentations an inch wide
and several inches long under the pool liner. Almost like
the sand had washed out. Question #4. The skimmer is looking
old and brittle. Is it a good idea to replace it too, when
we replace the liner or do they last and function more than
10 years normally? Question #5. When we replace the liner do
we remove it completely? Someone once suggested cutting it
into strips and leaving it as a pad. Thanks for your help.
So many questions. #1. Deposits of sun tan products,
cosmetic residues, body oils, air pollutants and other
miscellaneous things can accumulate at the water line.
Sometimes these materials react with the plasticizers in the
vinyl and over a long period a problem can start. There are
vinyl liner replacement borders,
which are self-adhesive and can be used to create a new
cleaning products are useful in controlling these buildups.
#2. The problem could be UV related. Today's liners are
better. Heavier gauge liner will last longer and are more
resistant to holes and tears. #3. Sounds like erosion. Heavy
rainfall or poor drainage could have caused this to occur.
You might give thought to improving the drainage, if
possible. #4. The skimmer should be replaced now. A new
skimmer might require a different size cutout. #5. I've
heard of pads, but their use is not widespread and may not
be any better than the standard pool base. Liner strips
could interfere with drainage. I would verify that a
standard liner will work, by discussing this further, with a
local dealer/installer. I hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/29/2009
► Running The
I have an 18,000 gallon pool and would
like to run the filter motor only 12 hours a day. I was told
at a pool supply store that this would damage the motor,
because it is the off and on that wears out the motor. I
have had 2 motor replacements in 12 years, and have
sometimes run it continuously and sometimes not. What is
your advice? What a great website!
Marci C., 5/25/2007
What is it with these dealers? 24/7 is unnecessary, assuming
the pump is close to the right size! It is a waste of money
and only the utility will benefit. Even if the pump might
last longer, the electrical savings will pay for a whole
gaggle of pumps, over the years. Have you noticed how energy
costs have risen? Start with 8 hours a day. Add more hours
during hot weather and peak bather usage. Less at the dead
points of the season. 6-12 hours daily should cover it all,
in most properly equipped pools. Isn't owning a pool
expensive enough? Ask the dealer to show you any
manufacturer's recommendation for running it 24/7. Adding
THE POOL CIRCULATOR will get you better circulation in less time.
When you have algae or clarity problems, that is the time
for 24/7. I know this letter will help you save money and I
hope it was helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/26/2007
We have a 32 ' long oval above ground
pool (4 feet deep). We have been told varying ways to vacuum
our pool. Should we vacuum with it on "filter" or "backwash"
or "waste". We have been having a problem with green algae
and we thought we had it licked, but when we vacuumed it
last, we had it on filter and we're afraid it just put it
all back into the pool. The water gets a little greener
every day. My husband was told the shock the pool once a
month, but I don't think this is aggressive enough. We use
an algaecide recommended by our pool dealer, but it keeps
coming back. How do we suck it up once and for all? Thanks.
Cindy R., 6/11/2004
It is most common to vacuum in the filter position. The only
time you would vacuum to waste is if there was something in
the pool that you absolutely did not want to get into the
filter. Algae does not fall into this category. Vacuuming to
waste will waste water and accomplish little or nothing in
your case. Given the circumstances of visible green algae,
shocking once a month is not good advice. You must shock
repeatedly, until you are able to maintain a 1-3 PPM level
of Free Chlorine, after an overnight period. Afterwards,
begin normal chlorination and shock after the Free Chlorine
level zeroes out, there are signs of algae, there are signs
of a loss of water quality, after periods of heavy bather
usage and after heavy rainfall. The filter will help remove
dead algae, especially, if you add a dose of a
Clarifier, but you will not be able to control the algae
without proper Free Chlorine levels. I hope that I have been
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/11/2004
Line Needs Repair?
I recently discovered that my pool
ladder and hand rail are no longer grounded. It would be a
major job to install or repair the grounding line, as the
pool is completely surrounded by decking. Is there an
alternative to this unappealing solution? Thanks for any
help, you can offer.
Henry T., Orlando, Florida, 2/2/2009
It will probably be less expensive and certainly less
destructive, if you replace the ladder and rail with one
made of composite materials. Because it not made of metal,
grounding is not required. As a bonus, it will be cooler to
the touch, unaffected by corrosive chemicals. You will solve
the problem and end up with a better looking pool. I hope
that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/2/2009
► Setting The
Iím new to pool maintenance and have a
5000 gal above ground pool. My question is on the water
return into the pool; should there be a ďbreakageĒ of the
water surface or should the return be aimed to stay below
the surface without breakage? I have heard from friends that
by breaking the surface it increases the ďagitationĒ of the
water and helps with pool maintenance. Thanks in advance.
Thomas, W., Florida, 3/23/2009
You want the return flow to gently disturb the surface, so
it can help move floating debris to the skimmer. Poor
circulation can make algae growth more likely. You might
consider adding THE POOL CIRCULATOR: the easy to install device
will eliminate the dead spots that can promote algae growth.
I hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/23/2009
► Device To
Remove Excess Water?
We live in Ohio and have an inground
14 X 28 vinyl pool. My concern is when we have a heavy rain,
the pool fills up very quickly. If we are at home during the
storm we can pump it out. So far when we have been away, we
have been lucky. But someday that may change. I would like
to install an overflow pipe that would allow the excess
water to drain out at the maximum level. Numerous times, I
have contacted the company that installed the pool, but I
have almost given up on trying any more. When we were in
North Carolina, I asked a pool company how they avoided
pools over flowing. They use on overflow pipe in the
fiberglass pools they install. Do you have any suggestion
for information where I can I check into something like
Mike M., Shelby, Ohio, 1/29/2007
You could have a leveling device installed in the skimmer.
It will help remove excess water, during periods of heavy
rainfall. When water reaches a certain point, it will flow
out of the skimmer. I really don't have first hand
experience with this type of product, but there may be
several types, in use. Some might be best installed with a
new pool, as retrofitting might be difficult or expensive. I
hope that this information is helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 1/29/2007
I have been through chlorine purgatory
trying to rid my pool of a constant low chlorine problem. I
have switched companies that test and the new company
advised me how on how to treat my pool problems and they are
suggesting that I have Mustard algae, which I would agree
with after reading your advice column. Can't keep the
chlorine up regardless of what I do and every time I shock
the pool it turns to white foam on the surface and the next
day the water is clear but there is a brown silt on the
bottom of the pool that looks like dirt or sand but when
brushed floats away like a cloud. When it is vacuumed it
goes away but is back on the bottom the next day in smaller
amounts. I am treating it with a copper algaecide and I am
wondering how to clean the bottom of my automatic cover to
make sure it is not on the cover also. Or is this step even
necessary? I am brushing the sides rigorously and vacuuming
and washing filters almost daily while keeping up the
Chlorine to 5+. Am I doing it right and is this the way to
rid the problem. Thank you.
Jack M. 6/18/2008
You seem to be on the right track and adding a copper
algaecide could help make the difference. Cleaning the
automatic cover might be helpful. You can raise the water
level and make sure the free chlorine level is elevated and
let the chlorine reach the underside. There is a product
that can be used for this purpose, as well of lots of other
uses, as well The Water Broom will use pressurized water
streams to clean the cover and wash the debris out.
Unfortunately, it will end up in the pool. I would suggest
having the free chlorine at 10 PPM, before this is done and
be prepared to add more chlorine, if required. This sort of
thing, might need to be done yearly, when the pool is
opened. Poor circulation can make algae growth more likely.
You might consider adding THE
POOL CIRCULATOR. The easy to
install device will eliminate the dead spots that can
promote algae growth. I hope that this information proves
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/18/2008
► A Pool In
Need Of Help?
Hi, Alan, my wife and I bought our
first home and it came with a pool. I'm not sure of the
dimensions but I do know it has a shallow end of 3ft and a
deep end of 8ft. I also know it is 30ft wide and is
rectangular. It has an built in spa attached to it also. It
has been a headache trying to get this thing going. We have
a D.E. Filter and a heater. Upon the pool inspection, the
inspector went to light the pilot on the heater and a small
burst of flames broke out. He stated the heater should be
replaced. It is very costly and I wanted to know if there is
a way to heat the spa without replacing the heater. Also,
there is a small crack at the bottom of the filter grid
holder in my filter tank. Can the filter still operate in
this condition? I cleaned the filter and it took forever to
figure out how they go back in there, but I finally got it!
Now I can't get the lid back on. I thought I put it back on
correctly but when I turned the pump on the lid blew off.
Immediately, I ran to turn the filter off and my wife got a
big laugh. Also, this one pool company suggested that I get
the pool acid washed. Is this really necessary? From reading
some of your articles on the web site, it seems that the
right chemicals could prevent this. Thanks.
So many questions - so little time! You need a heater to
have a heated spa. There are different types of heaters that
might be suitable, but without a heater it would not be a
"spa." I am not a filter expert, but if there is a crack in
the grid holder it may be a problem. If the water is
passing through the crack, instead of the filter media, it
is decreasing your filter efficiency. I would replace the
part. So far as putting the filter back together, I suggest
that you pay a local pool professional (that handles that
particular brand) and ask for some instructions. It is
normal for masonry pools to be periodically acid-washed.
This will help brighten and renew the surfaces and help
remove stains. There is no way for me to tell if your pool
is in serious need of an acid wash or it is something that
would just improve the look of the pool. Are you satisfied
with the appearance of the pool? The periodic addition of a
quality. phosphate-free. mineral treatment, such as
MetalTrap can help reduce the possibility of stains due to
trace metals. Adding a dose prior to adding makeup water is
a good idea. Another thing to consider is to call in a
service company to help get things started on a proper
footing. It would be an educational experience for you. I
hope that I have been helpful. You'll enjoy the pool, when
the mercury rises!
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/23/2007
I purchased a home with a pool that
was built in 1976. Over the years it has developed around 12
areas where the surface has deteriorated. What is the best
way to repair these areas and what should I use. Algae keeps
on hiding in these areas and causing a problem. Thank you.
Mark B., Angleton, Texas, 5/28/2005
Surface defects, pitting and cracks can be easily repaired -
Boxer adhesives offers an underwater epoxy
kit that allows permanent repairs to be made easily, to
surfaces that are above or below the water surface. Draining
is not necessary! The epoxy material is white in appearance
and can be painted or plaster over at any time. I hope that
this information proves helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/28/2005
I have a question that I hope you can
answer. When I run my pole vacuum, some of the debris is
being sent back into the pool thru the jets. Does that mean
that the filter has a hole in it, or can it be something
else. I'm pretty new to pool maintenance, so hopefully you
can give me a few ideas for the problem. Thanks.
Debris should not be entering the pool. It probably means
that something is damaged or not assembled properly. If you
have a sand filter, it is probably channeled. In short, you
are recirculating the water and not filtering. Make sure
that multiport valve is set on filter. Ever consider a
robotic pool cleaner? It does it all and has its own
built-in micro-filter. If everything seems to be in the
proper place, you might ask a local dealer to run through
the vacuuming procedure. Enjoy the season.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/30/2013
► How Do You
I have a 24' above ground pool. I am a
pool novice. How do you vacuum? What do you attach
vacuum/hoses to? How long should vacuum run? Thank you very
Michael K., 5/6/2006
Here goes! Leave the filter in the filter cycle. If you have
more than one skimmer, close off the one furthest away from
the pool pump. If there is a main drain, close it off.
Stretch the vacuum hose across the surface, from the skimmer
intake to a return on the opposite side. Make sure that the
end, near the skimmer is above the surface and will be able
to plug into the opening at the bottom of the skimmer. The
end near the return will attach to the vacuum head on the
end of a pole. Before attaching the vacuum head, place the
end in front of the return, so that water is forced through
the hose. As soon as you see water coming out of the other
end of the hose near the skimmer, attach the hose to the
vacuum head and submerge. Plug the other end into the bottom
of the skimmer. The purpose of this is to purge air from the
vacuum hose, so that the pump does not lose prime. At this
point the vacuum is running. It may take a few minutes for
the water flow to build up, due to entrapped air. There may
be an air bleed valve on your filter, which can be opened to
help remove air from the lines and filter. Use the vacuum
end in such a way as to completely slowly traverse the
bottom. This will remove the visible dirt and the
hard-to-see silt. Obvious debris can be touched up. The
debris probably will probably accumulate in the strainer in
your pump. You will have to empty this and clean it out
accordingly, depending upon the amount of debris being
removed. It is easier to do that it is to explain. By the
way, there are such things as
robotic pool cleaners. Good
luck and enjoy the pool. Glad to be of help.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/6/2006
► Oily Film?
I've found it virtually impossible to
keep the exposed portion of my inground pool vinyl liner
clean. I've tried products from pool stores specifically
designed for this purpose, dish soap, liquid household
cleaners, brushes and rags. However, I've had no luck. If I
rub my finger along the exposed portion, the somewhat greasy
residue comes off onto my finger. Someone suggested using
apple cider vinegar. Do you have any suggestions?
Len S., Hillsdale NJ, 6/5/2007
Be careful. Sooner or later you might try something that
could damage the liner! Probably the oily residue is from
suntan preparations, cosmetic residue or body oils. It is
not from one of the pool chemicals. I suggest that you try
adding an enzyme
treatment product to the pool water. Used on a
regular basis these products will help to decompose organic
oily films and residues. There are also oil-absorbent
products that can placed in the skimmer. These bags or
packets can help remove oily films, as the water passes
through or over them. Everything else should remain the
same. I hope that I have been helpful. I doubt that the
vinegar can be used to any great effect. Enjoy the season.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/5/2007
We had a vinyl inground pool installed
last spring. We had it closed by our pool company in
October. One month later the liner was floating in the
entire pool! They came out and drained water out from under
the liner thru our French drain that was installed during
installation. I was sent a bill for 300.00. Four months
later, in March, it has happened again. The company has told
me they do not understand why this is happening and don't
know what to tell me. We have 30,000.00 of work out back and
can't even open our pool for the second season. How can this
problem be rectified, if any. How has all this water under
the liner compromised the integrity of my pool? I have
scheduled a meeting with a lawyer and have taken some pics
too. Should our French drain line be installed to a separate
pump, so it can be operated in the winter? HELP!
I am a chemist, not a pool builder. So, please, do not take
anything that I say on this topic as the final word. The
liner floated up because the water table was higher than the
pool water level. There are probably several ways to help
solve the problem, but I am no expert on this matter. I
think that a float switch, controlling a separate pump, for
the French drain, would help avoid a repeat. All that water
under the liner may have cause the hopper to reshape itself.
This could result in liner wrinkles. If a separate pump
could be controlled by a float switch, it might allow for
year round avoidance of the problem. It is possible that
recent heavy rains or a rise in the water table have
contributed to the problem. There are dealers that
specialize in building in high water table situations.
Perhaps, you can discuss options with them. Hopefully, they
will be objective. Good luck and please let me know how it
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/9/2005
Hi Alan, we live in Minnesota and have
a above ground pool. This year we decided to drain the
water, and put fresh water in it. The question is: what do I
use to clean the liner? I thought maybe diluted liquid
bleach. Am I right or wrong? We are doing this today.
Nameless, MN, 4/26/2008
WRONG! Completely draining the pool might result in the
vinyl liner shrinking. Even diluted bleach could be hundreds
of times more concentrated than the concentrations used in a
pool. The result could be bleaching of the liner. I never
recommend draining a vinyl pool, unless it is a splasher
type or there is absolutely no choice and your case is not
in that category. Shocking the pool and the use of a soft
brush will usually do the trick. Mineral stains might
require additional treatment. Refer to the archives for
Pool Staining Problems. I hope that the
nothing serious happened to the pool. Enjoy the season.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/27/2008
Of Draining A Pool?
My mother lives in Lake Havasu City
Arizona. She had a pool installed approximately 4 years ago.
She has been told by pool cleaner that she needs to
completely drain her pool periodically. On your website I do
not see this. I would think that she may only need to have
the metal treatment. She has been told by another person
that they have not drained their pool in 30 years. Can you
advise me which is correct. Her pool is clean and beautiful.
Deborah L. Lake Havasu City, AZ, 4/30/2009
Draining a pool periodically helps to eliminate the buildup
of unwanted chemicals and lowers the total dissolved solids.
Draining a pool involves the risk of collapse, popping up or
floating the liner, depending upon the type of pool and the
circumstances, A better solution is to replace 20% of the
water every year. In some cases, this is done to lower the
stabilizer level, to backwash the filter or to lower the
level for winterizing. In other words, some water is being
replaced, as part of normal pool operations. Partial
replacement may not be absolutely necessary, in all cases,
but it is the safest course of action. TDS is another way.
When the TDS rises 1000 PPM above the starting point,
exclusive of any salt added, it might be time to start
partial replacement. The same could be true, if there are
sanitizer effectiveness, clarity or scaling issues. To test
the TDS, a TDS PockeTester will be required. I hope that this
information is helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/1/2009
► Draining An
I need instructions on how to drain an
in ground pool. ASAP! Thanks!
I'm glad that you took the time to write. There is no way
that I can tell you how to drain the pool. You provided no
details. Depending upon the type of pool, gunite or vinyl,
the procedures could be quite different. I suggest that you
direct the question to the builder or someone very familiar
with your type of pool. Remember this! Vinyl liners can
shrink and walls are held in place by the water as well as
the construction. A pool should be emptied only as a last
resort. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/10/2004
I recently purchased a home in
Woodland, CA with a inground pool. The vinyl liner was
replaced by the previous owner in 1999. My concern is
cleaning and water chemistry but I am totally overwhelmed by
the number of products on the market. Can you narrow down
the list of essentials I should keep on hand for proper
maintenance of a vinyl lined pool. Thank you.
Colleen T., Woodland Hills, CA, 4/23/2010
You need to maintain a proper chemical balance, as well as
adequate levels of pool sanitizer. I suggest that you bring
in a water sample for a water analysis into a local pool
professional. The tests are usually complimentary and will
help determine what is needed to balance the water chemistry
and to address any problems that are found. You must decide
on a sanitizer. If you choose chlorine, the most popular, I
suggest that you use a
salt chlorine generator. Thereafter,
you should require a pH decreasing chemical or acid,
algaecide and an occasional shock treatment. Other chemicals might be required
based on the water analysis. A
reliable water tester is a must. The
all-digital ColorQ water analyzer should help you get things
right. I hope that I have been helpful. Enjoy the pool.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/23/2010
Clean Or Acid Wash?
Hi Alan, I have a play pool ~7500
gallons. I use it regularly (daily) during the summer (I
live in Gilbert, AZ. It's about 5 years old and the water
has never been changed. The old owners used to let their dog
in it constantly, they were here about 2 years. The plaster
has a little discoloration. Sometimes during the summer, it
tastes salty. I make sure to test it weekly at a minimum and
keep it balanced as best as possible. Just wondering if I
need to have it acid washed professionally? OR. If I could
just drain it, rinse it down well with something you
recommend, and then refill it? OR. Is there anything else
you may recommend. Thanks much!
Rob, Gilbert, AZ, 2/17/2009
The stain might be something that could be removed either by
a shock treatment or by lowering the pH into the acid
ranges, for a day or so, and adding a dose or two of a
quality, phosphate-free metal treatment, such as
METALTRAP. Some metals stains may require the addition of
METALTRAP Stain Remover. The stain could be either algal or
mineral and there is no way for me to be more specific. Your
pool might need to be drained and/or have its water
partially replaced depending upon the water chemistry. I
suggest you have a sample of pool water and tap water tested
for: pH, TA, cyanuric acid, calcium hardness and Total
Dissolved Solids. The results should help you decide. If the
calcium, stabilizer or TDS are too high, water replacement
might be advisable. If the water is going to be replaced, it
might be worthwhile having the pool acid washed, as it will
get a bright new look. The salty taste might be related to
the pH, as it is not at all likely that it could be due to
the actual salt content. The dogs may have made
"contributions," but I doubt that this caused continuing
problems. Having the water tested, is where to start. If
unsure, get back to me with the test results.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/17/2009
I have a 20,000 gallon in ground pool
located in Palm Springs California. Iíve gotten conflicting
reports as to whether or not to drain the pool and replace
the water. The pool is about 4 years old and has the
original water in it. My question is: Does an in ground pool
need to have its water changed periodically and if so when
should it be done? Thanks.
Bill B., Palm Springs, CA 12/21/2006
There is no definitive answer for this question, as it does
depend on the nature of the local water. In the northern
areas, water replacement is not common because of the
winterizing process. In your case, water should be replaced,
if the calcium hardness, TDS or cyanuric acid results have
risen to a point, where a reduction is required. I suggest
that you have the pool and tap water tested and make a
decision based on the test results. Chemicals are constantly
adding to the dissolved salt level and evaporation will
concentrate them even further. Eventually, pools in southern
areas can benefit from a partial or complete change of the
water. If you are using a stabilized chlorine, a cyanuric
acid level over 150 PPM is reason enough to replace water.
Problems with scaling, clarity and a reduction in sanitizer
effectiveness can result from a TDS that has built up over
the years. I hope that this information will prove helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/21/2006
► Main Drain
I recently took the plastic main drain
cover off of my inground pool. There is a plug that has tape
on the threads, but apparently was never screwed into the
hole on the bottom. This is dirt and small rocks inside the
pipe where the plug should have gone. What should I do? Is
it something major to be concerned about? Thanks in advance.
Dr. H. E., 1/31/2004
It was probably a careless error not screwing the fitting
into place. The pebbles and dirt probably entered through
the cover while the filter was off - otherwise I think it
would have entered the intake pipe. A few small pebbles are
not enough to block a 1-1/2" or 2" pipe and will end up in
the pump strainer basket. If you haven't already done so,
vacuum the debris out. I hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/1/2004
Involved In Acid Washing?
I've been told that my pool needs to
be acid washed. What's involved and is it something that I
can do myself? Thanks.
Jack L., Scottsdale, AZ, 3/23/2005
Acid washing requires the complete draining of the pool.
Muriatic acid is applied to the walls and brushed to
dissolve the surface layer. It is a messy and unpleasant
experience, that you might want to leave to a professional.
Products are available that can make the acid washing chore
easier and less unpleasant. These products cause the
muriatic acid solution to thicken and that allows for less
acid being used and easier application. Pool dealers, in
your area, should carry such a product. Good luck and make
sure that you wear rubber gloves and eye protection.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/23/2005
I didn't see anything about bird
droppings in your questions list. Sorry if I missed it and
this is a repeat question. I'm a first time inground pool
owner. I've been getting a lot of bird droppings in my pool
over the last few weeks. I know this is a common problem.
I've got my chlorine and pH and total alkalinity levels in
the good range. After the bird droppings are removed, is
there any health risk to swimming in the pool, getting pool
water in eyes or mouth, etc? Is there anything else I should
do to clean the pool of any unsanitary contaminants? Would a
pool clarifier or other additive help?
Robert K., 5/15/2007
It has been asked. Keeping the free chlorine level at 1-3
PPM helps to sanitize the water and decompose the organic
wastes contributed by our feathered friends. Test the water
daily, if the problem persists, as this will deplete free
chlorine and may require higher rates of addition. If the
amount is gross, boost the free chlorine to 3 PPM and keep
it there for at least 30 minutes, before using the pool. If
it continues, shock once a week. Sunday evening is the best
time, in most cases. Get yourself a life-like owl and move
it from place to place around the pool. It might scare them
away. Home improvement stores usually carry something, on
this order. I hope this information helps.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/15/2007
I can see mites or something that look
like mites living at the water line, how can you control
this problem, they live mainly around the pool filter and
from the water line to the border. Thanks.
Maria R., Houston TX, 5/11/2004
Adding insecticide is not an option! Try this. Add an
initial dose of a "quat" algaecide. The ingredient should be
dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride or something very similar.
The product will not kill the mites. However, it will act as
a wetting agent and make it more difficult for the mites to
remain on the surface of the water. Hopefully, they will
drown. Good luck and I hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/12/2004
To Seal Decking?
What does the salt do to the grout on
the decking of the pool? I heard that it needs to be sealed
to prevent erosion. Is that correct and are there any other
corrosive problems that I need to know about? Thanks.
Marcus L., 3/21/2007
If you want the decking and grout to maintain its appearance
for as long as possible, it should be sealed. Not all grouts
are the same and some decking may be more resistant, but
sealing should help protect the materials from the effects
of all types of pool chemicals. If possible, check with the
contractor. I hope that I have been of assistance.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/21/2007
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