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Pool Maintenance Information

Sometimes there are better ways to do pool tasks.
The Pool and Spa Informational Website or

Suggestions, Considerations and Solutions.


Scroll down to browse through some archived SWIMMING POOL questions and answers.  Please click the Pool Problems Link, on top of every page, to access a complete listing of Pool Problem subjects, an alphabetized Website Table of Contents, Pool Equipment Information, About Alan Biographic Material and a Pool Glossary. Use the other links to access additional subject information. More information about some new and unique products, for pools and spas, can be found by visiting The Website Store. You'll never know what you'll find and that's always fun. Be better prepared and avoid costly problems!


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Stain and Discoloration Treatment options!!!

If there is a possibility that new water additions will contain sediments, dissolved metals or contaminants, you should consider using something to pre-filter the new water.  Test your source water for iron, copper and manganese, to determine, if dissolved metals present a potential problem.  It is better to avoid a problem, than to try and treat it, after the water has been added to the pool.  The products below can remove sediments, metals such as iron, copper and manganese and contaminates such as sulfur.  The MetalTrap Filter attaches to the garden hose and removes dissolved iron, copper and manganese.  The MetalTrap 1-Micron Filter removes ultra-fine contaminants, including sulfur.  The MetalTrap Dual-Cartridge Filter attaches to a garden hose and removes dissolved heavy metals and sediments.  One cartridge is washable and reusable and the other is replaceable.
MetalTrap Filters - 3 sizes 1-Micron Pre-Filter - 2 sizes Dual-Cartridge MetalTrap Filters
MetalTrap Fiters 1-Micron Pre-Filters. MetalTrap Dual-Cartridge Filter, for pool and spa use.
Product and Ordering Information Product and Ordering Information Product and Ordering Information
More Stain and Discoloration treatment options.
Even if there is no obvious staining, the presence of heavy metals will cause water discoloration and possible staining, after chlorine or bromine are added or the pH is raised.  Depending upon the severity of the problem, the products below can help you eliminate the problem.  The Stain Reversal Kit contains everything needed to remove the metal stains, eliminate the heavy metals and help prevent a recurrence, of the problem. The Stain Remover removes iron copper and manganese stains. Pool Refresh-Total Trap helps eliminate heavy metals and phosphates, by filtering or vacuuming them out of the pool water.
Stain Reversal Kit, for Pools and Spas Removes Metal Stains Removes Dissolved Metals & Phosphates
MetalTrap Stain Reversal Kit, for pools and spas MetalTrap Stain Remover Pool Refresh TotalTrap removes phosphates and metals.
Product and Ordering Information Product and Ordering Information Product and Ordering Information

If you have a pool or spa water testing need, we should have the product.
Scroll down to read through some Question & Answer information.

Keeping the pool and surroundings cleaner!!!
ColorQ 2X Tester is a 2nd generation model, that will simplfy and improve your water testing and is a key to better water quality.  The Circulator is a return jet replacement fitting, that improves filtration, eliminates dead zones that promote algae growth, improves sanitizer distribution, improves heat dispersion and helps everything work more effectively.  A Magnetic Water Conditioners help control calcium hardness and scale issues, in pools, spas and the whole house.
ColorQ All-Digital Water Testers The Pool Circulator Boosts Circulation Magnetic Water Conditioners  
ColorQ 2X Testers are Bluetooth and can be used with the FREE WaterLink Solutions HOME App. The Ciruclater replacement return jet fitting improves pool water circulation. Magnetic Water Conditioner, for calcium hardness and scale issue.s  
Product and Ordering Information Product and Ordering Information Product and Ordering Information  
More keeping the pool clean options.
A Salt Chlorine Generator works, within the filter cycle, and helps maintain proper sanitation, with reducing day to day maintenance.   An Automatic Filter Cartridge Cleaner will make cleaning easier and faster, as well as less messy.  Cleaning up around the pool can keep dead leaves from being blown into the pool.  MegaChlor Salt Chlorine Generators come in models with Automatic Chlorine Detection, so you'll never overchlorinate again.  Suitable to pools and spas and no installation is required.
Salt Chlorine Generators - 3 models Automatic Filter Cartridge Cleaners Salt Chlorine Generators - 4 models
Reliant Salt Chlorine Generators, for all types of pools, up to 40,000 gallons. Automatic Filter Cartridge Cleaners, for pools and spas. MegaChlor Salt Chlorine Generators, for Pools, Swim-Spa and Hot Tubs.
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If you have a pool or spa water testing need, we should have the product.
Scroll down to read through some Question & Answer information.

Optimizing the water chemistry!!!
Testing water is an integral part of pool and spa water management. Reliable and accurate results are important, in order to maintain proper water chemistry. The water balancing or chemistry affects every aspect of pool and spa management.  A ColorQ 2X is a 2nd generation, Bluetooth, Waterproof, all-digital tester, that can perform all of the common pool water tests, while eliminating the color-matching and guesswork. There is a model, for every pool testing need. The WaterLink SpinTouch Labs are the ultimate pool and spa testers, performing up to 10 different water test factors, in just 1 minute.  They were voted product of the year.  An Electronic PockeTester Kit tests for salt and TDS, as well as other test factors.  Simply Dip and Read.
ColorQ All-Digital Water Testers WaterLink SpinTouch Labs Electronic Salt PockeTesters
ColorQ 2X Testers are Bluetooth and can be used with the FREE WaterLink Solutions HOME App. WaterLink SPIN Touch Lab #1749 PockeTester Kit, for salt TDS and temperature.
Product and Ordering Information Product and Ordering Information Product and Ordering Information

If you have a pool or spa water testing need, we should have the product.
Scroll down to read through some Question & Answer information.

How to 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 the Pool Problems Page as a source of problem-solving information, broken down into various categories.  Scroll down the page and click on the linked keywords, catch phrases 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 Stain Treatments Store.

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▼     Helpful, Problem-Solving Information, in a question and answer format.     ▼

Vacation Maintenance?

Good 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. Thanks.

Lydia R., 7/9/2018
Relaiant salt chlorine generators, 3-models, for all types of pools, up to 40,000 gallons.

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. Adding a salt chlorine Generator is an effective way to automate chlorination, not only while on vacation, but all season long.  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, 7/9/2018


Making The Best Of A Bad Situation?

Iíve 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, 5/17/2018
The Circulator improves pool water circulation.

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. I hope that the information provided was helpful.

Sincerely.  Alan Schuster, 5/17/2018


Main Drain Area Needs Repair?

Around the 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. Thank you.

Ben B., 7/16/2017

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 helpful.

Sincerely.  Alan Schuster, 7/16/2017

Cracked Pool Skimmer?

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 give.
Boxer Adhesive vinyl repair products.
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 Boxer Adhesives #350 Skimmer Repair Kit. It should be exactly what you need and is simple to use. I hope that this information will be helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/19/2015

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

Relaiant salt chlorine generators, 3-models, for all types of pools, up to 40,000 gallons.
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 salt chlorine 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

Vacuuming: 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

The Circulator improves pool water circulation.
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 y
ou 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.  Replacing the existing return jet fittings, with The Circulator, will improve filtration and circulation and reduce the amount of debris, that settles to the pool floor.  I hope that I have been helpful. Have fun!

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/5/2014

Finding A Pool Leak?

What is the easiest way to find a pool leak in an inground pool?

Frank G. Fairlawn, NJ, 6/1/2014
Fix A Leak for pools and spas.

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. FIX 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

Discolored 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

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Pool Art Graphic Mosaic Mat. Stain Reversal Kit. Torque-Lock Concrete Crack Repair System. #1749 PockeTester Kit Magnetic water conditioner help solve scaling and hardness problems.
A Drop-In Pool Graphic Mosaic Mat, for a fresh new look Eliminate and Prevent stain and metals problems Repair Structural
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Digital Water Tester, for pools using a salt Chlorine Generator A Magnetic Water Conditioner can help reduce scale deposits
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How Long A Filter Cycle?

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
Relaiant salt chlorine generators, 3-models, for all types of pools, up to 40,000 gallons.
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 and ionizers. 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 electric bill.

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
The Circulator boosts pool circulaion. 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 The 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 be useful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/2/2012

Too Many Frogs?

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 will 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 Sad Fate?

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

Baffled About Ports?

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 skimmer). 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

Chlorine 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 appreciated.
Pool Art Graphic Mosaic Mat.
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

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 you.

Emily T., NJ, 7/28/2004
Boxer Adhesives pool and Vinyl Repair Products.

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 pool.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/28/2004

Vinyl Liner Maintenance?

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.

Don, 4/29/2009

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 waterline.  Enzyme 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 Pump 24/7?

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 The Circulator improves pool water circulation.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. If you really want to run 24/7, do it with a 2-speed or variable speed pump, as this type of pump will significantly reduce the power usage, even if you extend the running time.  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

Vacuuming Position?

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 helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 6/11/2004

Grounding 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 Return Flow?

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.
The Circulator boosts pool circulaion.
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

Safety Cover Cleaning?

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. 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 helpful.

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.

Sam, 4/23/2007

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
Liquid MetalTrap 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 Liquid 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

Surface Pitting?

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 - even underwater. 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

How Do You Vacuum?

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 much.

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 automatic 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

French Drain Problem?

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!

Lisa, 4/9/2015

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 turns out.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/9/2015

Cleaning The Liner?

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. Sunday.
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

Frequency 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. Thank you.

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#1749 PockeTester Kit 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

Overwhelmed By The Chemistry?

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 i
One of the ColorQ all-digital, pool and spa water analyzers.n 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

Drain, 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,
MetalTrap Stain Reversal Kit, for pools and spas. for a day or so, and adding a dose or two of a quality, phosphate-free metal treatment, such as Liquid 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

Water Replacement Frequency?

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 rep
Relaiant salt chlorine generators, 3-models, for all types of pools, up to 40,000 gallons.lacement 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. A switch to a salt chlorine generator will avoid the increases of cyanuric acid, that come with the use of stabilized chlorine.  It also avoids the use of cal hypo shock, which adds to the hardness problems.  All things considered, it will provide more control and better results.  I hope that this information will prove helpful.

Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/21/2006

Main Drain Concerns?

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

What's 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

Bird Droppings?

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

Necessary 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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