A Winter pool cover is probably among the last things on your mind during this recent hot weather, but now is actually the best time to make arrangements before the autumn rush sets in. Merlin Industries, our quality full line Safety Cover manufacturer offers incentives for purchasing prior to fall which we are happy to pass along to you as savings, but what is really the right choice of winter covers for your pool? This article will hopefully provide you with some helpful information in choosing the right style of cover to protect both your family and your pool.
Traditional TARP-TYPE pool covers secured with water bags or weights are by far the most common style of cover used in our service area and were and are designed to simply help protect your pool water from contamination over winter. This style of cover has several advantages, among them comparatively low initial cost and the potential for greatest water quality at spring pool opening. If properly installed and properly maintained over winter and nothing happens to puncture or tear the cover or blow it into the pool, this style of cover seals the pool the best and generally gives the best water clarity at spring pool opening. This water clarity depends on a lot of “ifs”, however and the desired spring opening result is dependent on constant adjustment or replacement of water bags, pumping off rain water and removing heavy wet and decomposing leaves as they accumulate, and the ability of whoever opens the pool in spring to not dump the soupy green contents into the pool when removing the cover. These covers should be spread out somewhere and scrubbed after removal in the spring which can be a lawn-killing problematic chore and they simply look ugly on the pool during the off season. Weather, wind, UV rays and constant wear and tear are the norm and average useful life span of a tarp style pool cover in real years is about 3-5 seasons of use. Water bags leak, deteriorate, freeze, receive pet or animal damage on a constant basis and need to be replaced. Many of the alternative weights commonly used to replace water bags (patio blocks, bricks, lumber, and the like) can cause irreparable damage to both the cover and your pool should they happen to get blown or dragged into the pool inadvertently. If all this is not discouraging enough, the biggest concern with this style of pool cover is safety. Should someone or something, be it adult, child or pet, fall into a tarp covered pool over the winter, the cover is not capable of supporting this weight - you still sink into the pool but rather than being able to swim or struggle safely out of the water, the cover wraps tightly around your body, restricting movement as you sink and can result in entrapment and death by suffocation or drowning. To help minimize the chance of disaster, if you choose this style of cover for your pool, please start the winter with a cover that is in good shape and not seriously deteriorated and make every effort to keep the cover free of standing water, use a cover that sufficiently overlaps the decking of the pool, keep it secured properly with ample water bags, and keep children, adults and pets out of the pool area during the time the pool is covered by closing and locking all doors and gates leading to the pool area.
SAFETY WINTER POOL COVERS were invented to provide just what the name says - a safe pool area during the off season. For any pool cover to be classified as a “SAFETY” COVER, it must meet some specific requirements such as being anchored rigidly to the retractable anchors in the pool decking or specialized track or coping for at least the majority of the pool perimeter and must be constructed and installed to support the weight of a person or persons who may inadvertently step onto or fall onto the cover without allowing them to sink into the cover and become entrapped. There are a wide range of choices available for installation as “SAFETY POOL COVERS” but the first thing to remember is that with all the available choices, SAFETY is first and the other reasons for covering a pool - keeping debris out of the pool, water quality at pool opening, etc. actually come second. How distant a second these other factors come depends on the style and construction of safety cover you select.
“AUTOMATIC” SAFETY COVERS are available for almost any swimming pool, but are actually not designed to stand up well as a WINTER cover in our climate, but rather as a means of keeping a pool spotlessly clean, warm, ready at a moments notice, and prevent any chance of a child entering the pool during the swimming season. Automatic covers are generally motor operated and glide in a special track to cover the pool at the turn of a key when not in use and open at the turn of a key when ready to use. They do their intended job well, but are expensive to purchase and have installed initially, can be subject to frequent and rather expensive upkeep, adjustment and service, and are not really designed to be a winter pool cover and withstand the occasional heavy snow loads our Maryland winters give us. They are designed as an “in-season” safety cover and not a WINTER SAFETY COVER. If you have or are considering an automatic safety cover for your pool, you will still need a separate winter cover to properly protect your pool and your family during the winter months.
WINTER SAFETY COVERS are always made of some sort of heavy duty, rip resistant material, are generally form fit to your pool configuration, and are secured with straps and/or springs to anchors attached to the pool decking for the majority of the perimeter of the pool. Properly designed, manufactured and installed, these covers eliminate any possibility of entrapment by person or animal while the pool is covered. Additional benefits of safety covers include longevity, ease of reduced cover maintenance and attractiveness. All have a much longer useful and more maintenance free life span than even the finest of tarp covers and because they are form fit and can be color coordinated, they can greatly enhance the appearance of the pool area during the off season.
MESH WINTER SAFETY COVERS were the first style of safety cover available for swimming pools. Generally the least expensive of options in safety cover, they are made of a relatively light weight open weave mesh material and secured to retractable deck anchors with stainless steel springs that should stretch the cover as tight as a drum over the top of the pool. Our Merlin “DURA-MESH” and the tougher “ADVANCED GRADE MESH” covers fall into this category of winter safety cover. Leaves and debris that would normally accumulate on the cover either dry up and blow off on their own accord or are easily removed by standing on one side of the pool and blowing off the top of the cover with a lawn leaf blower. Rain water passes through the cover into the pool, and while there is no pumping required from the top of the pool cover, it may be necessary to periodically pump accumulated water from under the cover while there is a danger of hard freeze to help prevent damage to or overflow of the pool. Once the danger of a hard freeze has passed in spring, it is acceptable to allow mother nature to fill your pool for you which can result in substantial savings in terms of wear and tear on your well or wallet for water bill or water delivery in spring. Once initially installed, a mesh safety cover is rather easy to put on and take off and many of our customers also use them to secure the pool temporarily during the summer months when on vacation. The cover acts as a screen over the pool, keeping out unwanted debris and preventing unauthorized use of the pool when no one is home. The biggest disadvantage to any mesh safety cover is and always has been the fact that these covers allow the pool to “breathe” and chemicals to dissipate, allow dust and small debris through into the pool, and most notably, allow sunlight penetration during the off season. Given the right set of circumstances, the biggest disappointment for owners of this style of safety cover is ugly green water when the pool is opened in spring and extra work spent on getting the pool cleared up and in shape for swimming after opening. These disadvantages can be minimized rather easily with periodic treatment of the pool water under the cover over winter with chemicals to limit algae growth and earlier start up of the pool in spring before the water has a chance to warm up significantly. Even given this rather large disadvantage, the safety aspects of this style of cover make it a far better choice for any pool over the traditional tarp style cover. Simply stated, you cannot put a price tag on the safety of your children, pets, family or friends. These covers are tough and the average useful life span generally corresponds to the manufacturer warranty of either 15 years for DURA-MESH or 20 years for the heavy duty ADVANCED GRADE MESH.
SOLID SAFETY COVERS were designed specifically to address the “Achilles heel” of the older style mesh covers by providing a solid, light blocking barrier over the pool. Since algae is a green plant and needs sunlight to grow, a solid safety cover provides most of the benefits of a mesh cover with the added benefit of greater water quality and clarity on pool opening with less attention over winter. A solid safety cover can be designed as a completely solid barrier, but then has the possibility of accumulating leaves and rain water over winter. We generally recommend that if a solid safety cover is selected for any pool, it be designed with a central filter drain panel that allows rain water to be filtered and pass through into the pool below. As with a mesh cover, the pool level still needs to be monitored and adjusted periodically under the cover while there is a danger of hard freeze. Solid safety covers also have some disadvantages, however. They are a bit more expensive to purchase than a mesh safety cover. By nature they are much heavier in physical weight than a mesh cover and much more difficult to put on in the fall and remove in the spring. Because of their extra weight, they also take a heavier beating under harsh winter snow conditions and therefore have a somewhat shorter average expected life span of about 10 years or so, again corresponding roughly to manufacturer warranty. Our Merlin SOLID SAFETY COVERS are available in standard colors of either forest green or blue, but are also available in a wide range of “kaleidoscope’ colors to match almost any outside décor.
Our Merlin SMARTMESH SAFETY COVERS are currently the top of the safety cover line and manufactured to be the best combination of true safety barrier, long expected life span (15 year manufacturer warranty), and spring water quality. Constructed of a patented mesh material that is tightly woven, these covers have a tremendous 40% weight advantage over solid safety covers. The SMARTMESH material is woven so tightly that it blocks nearly 100% of sunlight virtually eliminating chance of algae growth under the cover over winter and are capable of filtering out debris as fine as 40 microns. Rain water passes through this cover into the pool below, but that is nearly all that gets through. Having a SMARTMESH SAFETY COVER installed on your pool is the closest thing to putting a child proof, debris proof filter over your pool for the winter.
Pricing of safety covers varies greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer and pool company to pool company and if you are shopping, it is important to know you are getting a true “apples to apples” comparison. Cheaper is not always better. If you are going to make an investment for a safety winter cover for your pool, you want to make sure you are purchasing a cover that best suits your preference as well as your pool and will actually perform its function without question under the occasional extremes our Maryland winters can deliver. Factors that influence the cost of a safety winter cover for your pool include the style of cover or material used in its construction, the shape, construction and configuration of your pool and pool decking, how far the cover overlaps the edge of the pool (which has a relationship as to how much debris can blow under the edges of the cover into the pool over the winter) and “web spacing” which determines how many reinforcement straps and attachment springs are built into the cover and thus how well the cover is supported over your pool and how well it will perform under extreme load conditions. As a rule, Blue Waters Inc. will always recommend a wider than standard overlap over the edge of your pool, as we have found this to be a great advantage in terms of the success of the cover actually keeping debris out of the pool over the winter. “Standard” overlap is considered 12” or so over the pool edge. Where possible, Blue Waters always recommends increasing this overlap to 15”-18” to help keep debris from blowing under the cover edges. The relatively small additional expense in up front cover cost is well worth it in terms of margin of safety and ease of spring cleanup over the years of ownership. “Standard” web spacing refers to the minimum web space requirement for classification as a safety cover and with most manufacturers is 5’ (can vary from 4’ - 6’) web spacing. Again, as a rule, Blue Waters Inc. recommends purchasing a cover with a much smaller 3’ (can vary from 2’-4’) web spacing. While this does indeed have an effect on the up front cost of the cover, this narrower web spacing allows the cover to be stretched more tightly over the pool with less compression of the springs, allowing the cover to “give” more under extreme load conditions, resulting in greater margin of safety and greatly increased life span of the cover and attachment springs. These recommendations for overlap and web spacing are not just “sales hype”. In my 48 years of experience servicing swimming pools, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of all types of safety cover installations. Experience is the best teacher and experience has certainly taught me that these extra details pay off handsomely over your years of safety cover ownership.
Your final total cost of purchase of any safety winter cover may also include measuring fees (which we perform for you at no additional charge), shipping charges from the manufacturer (while never a surprise from us, can be excessive in other cases because of the large size and weight of the shipping container) and cost (and quality) of the initial installation of the cover on your pool. Quality measurement and installation of the cover is crucial to meeting manufacturer warranty specifications and key to final appearance and performance of the cover and is always dependent on the skill and capability of the installer. The initial installation of the cover includes assembly of the cover and springs once it arrives, proper orientation of the cover on your pool, proper placement, drilling and attachment of the deck anchors, and proper tensioning of the cover over your pool for best “drum-tight” fit and cover support. Initial installation is a one time expense only. Once initially and properly installed, the cover should be rather easily secured over the pool for off season use and rather easily removed again in the spring with little additional adjustment or service expense again for the life of the cover.
As always, you can trust Blue Waters for a recommendation of quality winter safety cover options that are best for you and your swimming pool backed up with a solid manufacturer warranty and professional installation by our trained staff. When is the best time to buy a safety cover for your pool? The answer is NOW while they are on pre-fall sale. Give us a call for your no-obligation free estimate TODAY!
"I think my pool is leaking" is a very common call for us and apparently a looming question on many pool owners' minds. If you suspect there is undue water loss from your pool, NOW is the best time to find out for sure. Even a small leak in any pool, if undetected or ignored, over time has the potential to cause major settlement and structural damage to any pool and can drain your budget as well as your pool.
Finding and repairing a leak or leaks in any pool involves a bit of detective work and is best performed NOW while the pool is still open, clean, running, reasonably warm, and actively leaking. You do not want to wait until the pool is closed and covered and the weather is cold to find that your pool is draining slowly under the pool cover.
ALL pools lose water while they are open, even if they are not leaking. Evaporation accounts for a great deal of water loss on a daily basis, as does splash out, backwashing of filters, and the like. How can we tell if our pool is only loosing water due to evaporation or if other factors are at play? I wish I could tell you exactly how much water your pool would lose to evaporation, but evaporation loss is dependent on a number of variables such as water temperature, air temperature, surface area of the pool, sunny or shady location, windy or protected location, relative humidity and more.
Fortunately, there is a simple test YOU can perform to tell for sure whether your pool is losing water due to normal conditions only or if you truly do have a leak in the pool. Referred to as the "bucket test", this is the first step we ask anyone to perform prior to beginning any diagnosis for leaks in the pool. The bucket test tells conclusively if any pool is leaking or not and if so, gives us the information to be able to tell pretty exactly how much water is leaving the pool due to leakage and is important information to have in hand if we come to check your pool.
To properly perform the bucket test, you will need
If you utilize a solar blanket on your pool, it should be removed and left off during this test. The bucket should be filled with pool water and then needs to be placed or suspended in the pool so the water in the bucket is surrounded by the pool water and thus should stay the same temperature as the pool. The bucket can be placed on the pool steps or love seat (putting a brick in the bottom helps keep it from floating off the steps), lashed to a ladder, hung from a diving board or tied off in a corner of the pool.
If the distance from tape to water is the same in both pool and bucket, you DO NOT have a leak in your pool and the water loss is due to normal evaporation. If the distance from tape to water level is greater in the pool than in the bucket, subtract the bucket measurement from the pool measurement and the difference is how much water is actually leaking from the pool. If the distance from the tape to water level is greater in the bucket than in the pool, something probably went wrong (bucket and pool were not the same temperature, the bucket leaks, etc.) and you should try the test again or call for advice.
If you determine through this simple test that your pool is indeed losing more water than simply from evaporation, give us a call NOW while the weather is still warm and the pool is open. Armed with the results of this test, we can begin the process of finding and eliminating leaks from equipment, piping, and pool shell sources and help prevent further damage to your pool.
“Which filter choice is right for me and my pool?” is a common question often asked of me to which there is really no definitive answer. The 3 leading choices available for pools today are DE (or Diatomaceous Earth), Cartridge, and Sand filters. There is no “perfect” filter choice for any pool - all have their strong points and all also have drawbacks. It is my hope that this general discussion of filter types listing advantages and disadvantages will help you make the right choice for your individual situation.
The operative terms in pool filtration are “EFFICIENCY” and “CAPACITY”. Efficiency refers to how small a particle of dirt, measured in microns, a filter is capable of trapping and is the most important term in determining water clarity. To help put this into perspective, particles start to become visible to the naked eye in the 35 to 100 micron range. Examples of particles in this range include some pollens (30-50 microns), human hair (50-70 microns or so in diameter), beach sand (around 100 microns in size). It is important that any pool filter be more efficient than this, as most bacteria, single cell algae and the like are much smaller than 35 microns. The more efficient a filter is, the clearer it can make your pool water. Capacity refers to how much dirt afilter can hold before it needs service, backwashing or cleaning. Capacity is typically measured in “square feet of surface area” for pool filters. The greater the capacity of a filter, the longer it can run between cleanings. The filter pressure gauge is used with all filters to determine when it is time to clean the filter. It is always important to know the “clean” pressure of your filter system. As the filter catches dirt, it becomes harder for water to flow through the filter and the pressure on the gauge begins to rise.
DE or Diatomaceous Earth filters have long been touted as the “best” type of filter for a swimming pool. Diatomaceous Earth is a fine white powder, somewhat similar to sand but much smaller in size, that is used in all DE filters to catch the dirt from your pool water. They are “best” in terms of efficiency by far compared to the other choices of filtration available for your pool. Regardless of manufacturer or design, all DE filters have an efficiency rating of 3-5 microns which is truly microscopic in size. A typical DE pool filter has some sort of fabric covered hollow elements inside. The fabric is woven tightly enough so that water can pass through to the inside, but Diatomaceous Earth cannot. DE is fed through the pool skimmer while the pump is running and flows into the filter, coating the fabric element evenly with a layer of DE. Water flows through the DE, through the fabric, and is collected clean inside the elements and returned to the swimming pool. Diatomaceous earth filters for residential pools are cleaned by backwashing. Backwashing involves moving a valve or valves to reverse flow through the filter. Water is sent backwards to the inside of the elements, flushing out the dirt the filter has caught and also the used DE coating, and sending them out of the system to waste. Once cleaned, valves are changed to restore flow in the proper direction, and a new coating of DE is fed through the skimmer into the filter, “re-charging” it with the proper amount of DE. While DE filters are truly the best in terms of efficiency, they can be a little unforgiving at times to operate. Simply put, nothing much gets through a properly functioning DE filter and they can clog quite rapidly under dirty water conditions. As such, they require more frequent monitoring and regular backwashing and recharging with DE to keep them running at peak efficiency. A Pentair FNS PLUS DE filter is the right choice for anyone who wants the clearest possible water and is prepared to spend some regular time on simple filter maintenance.
Advantages of owning a Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filter:
* Most efficient of all filter types available for pools (can catch the smallest particles of debris down to 3 microns). This is true of all DE filters regardless of style due to the fact that it is the DE that catches the dirt from the pool.
* Relatively large surface area compared to some other types of filters.
* Modern style of grid filters we sell are easy to take apart, service and clean.
*Modern style of grid filters we sell come with a multiport 6- position control valve for service flexibility.
Disadvantages of owning a Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Filter:
*Need to learn proper backwashing technique and backwash regularly to keep filter running at peak efficiency.
*Because filter is so efficient, it can be unforgiving if you are not keeping up with the other aspects of pool care, particularly water sanitization.
*Need to buy, use, store DE and dispose of spent DE after backwashing.
Cartridge filters have been available for many years but are making a resurgence in popularity due to favorable changes in engineering and design. A typical swimming pool cartridge filter uses a set of pleated cartridges to catch the dirt from your pool water. While not as efficient as a DE filter, cartridge filters do pretty well and catch particles in the 8-30 micron range. This small sacrifice in efficiency is made up for in greatly increased capacity. Cartridge filters typically have a capacity about 9 times larger than a DE filter with a similar tank size. This translates into a tremendous savings in time spent on pool maintenance. With all other factors being equal, a cartridge filter is cleaned once for about every 9 times a DE filter would require maintenance. While not particularly recommended, it is possible for a properly sized cartridge filter to run an entire swimming season without much attention or cleaning. Cartridge filters can also save water and chemicals in your pool, as there is no backwashing out of any pool water to clean a cartridge filter. When the filter gets dirty (as indicated by pressure rise on the gauge), the cartridges are removed from the filter, hosed off with a garden hose, and replaced in the tank again when clean. The old adage “time is money” applies to cartridge filtration, however. Since we are relying on the large capacity of this style of filter to save us time on regular maintenance, there can be a higher cost of ownership of a cartridge filter. The elements typically have a useful life span of 2-5 years, depending on conditions and care, before they need to be replaced. A Pentair CLEAN AND CLEAR PLUS cartridge filter is the best choice for someone who doesn’t mind spending a little more money to save a lot of time on in season pool maintenance.
Advantages of owning a Cartridge Filter:
*Great time save! Super large surface area (capacity) relative to filter tank size gives longest filter cycle before filter requires cleaning. Can be sized to run the whole season with minimal cleaning or attention.
*Still reasonably efficient (6-8 micron capability)
*Great water savings. Filter requires no backwashing so water and chemicals stay in the pool.
*Modern style of cartridge filter we sell are easy to take apart and clean.
Disadvantages of owning a Cartridge Filter:
*When it is time to clean the filter, it must be physically disassembled and the cartridges rinsed off with a hose.
*Higher cost of ownership than other filter types. Because we are using this filter to save our time, there is a cost in replacing the filter elements every 3-5 years on average. (time vs. money)
Sand filters have been around as long as swimming pools have. With a typical modern sand filter, pool water is forced through a bed of sand, which catches the dirt, and then returned to the swimming pool. Sand filters are cleaned by backwashing which reverses flow through the sand bed and flushes captured dirt out of the sand and to waste. The sand stays in the filter and is reused over and over again. Sand filters score lowest in both efficiency (25-80 microns particle size) and capacity (the capacity of a sand filter is typically the surface area of the top of the sand bed), but are still in use today because they are simple and low cost to understand and operate. Because of their relatively small capacity compared to other choices of filter, sand filters require frequent backwashing and waste the most water and pool chemicals in the process. Sand filters can help keep a clean pool clean and presentable, but due to their low efficiency and small capacity, can rather quickly show their limitations under extreme circumstances. For those who prefer the time tested simplicity of sand, Pentair TRITON II sand filters are among the finest available.
Now that you know the basics, if you still have any questions regarding the proper choice and recommended size of filter for your pool, please give me a call or email. It is our job to make sure your pool is as easy and trouble free as possible to care for.
Here is some information to help you in your thinking and planning process.
There are so many choices on the market today that selecting the one that is right for you can be a bit confusing. What type of heater is best for your pool? What size heater do you need? Often, we only hear the "good stuff" from manufacturers and sales info, but are left to wonder about or find out the hard way some of the "not so good stuff". Typically in our area, we see GAS FIRED POOL HEATERS, POOL HEAT PUMPS, AND SOLAR POOL HEATING SYSTEMS. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages that we try to address briefly in this blog post.
The first thing you need to know is that it CAN be quite expensive to heat any swimming pool, particularly if you are counting on your heater to extend the season by a number of weeks early in the spring and later into the fall. It is usually more practical to use a heater to enhance your normal swimming season by giving you more swimmable days. How many times have you gone out on a cloudy day in the summer and wished the pool was just 5 degrees or so warmer so it would be more comfortable to get in? This is the true value of a pool heater in our Maryland climate - owning a pool heater can give you the maximum number of swimmable days in our short swimming season and used in this way can be relatively inexpensive to run. How inexpensive or expensive it is to heat your pool depends on quite a few factors that include size of the pool in surface area, capacity of the pool in gallons, environmental conditions at your particular pool location (windy, woodsy, sunny, etc), temperature differential between air and pool (how cold is it outside vs. how warm do we want the pool?), and whether we are using the pool heater for maintenance heating (heating the pool and then maintaining a constant temperature throughout the season) or demand heating (heating the pool intermittently only as needed and when desired). Most manufacturer heater sizing charts are based on “average” environmental conditions and usually include one chart for maintenance heating based on pool surface area and one chart for demand heating based on pool capacity in gallons. It is important to remember that all pools (and spas and any body of water) loose 90% or better of their heat through evaporative cooling through the surface area of the pool. Utilizing a SOLAR BLANKET with any pool heater cuts evaporative heat loss to a minimum and is the single best thing you can do to minimize energy costs with any type of heating system. Solar blankets typically are cut to fit and float on the top of the pool water.
SIZE MATTERS!! Regarding HEATER SIZING, you should always check the manufacturer charts to make sure you are never buying a heater that is simply too small to effectively heat your pool. If you select a heater that is marginal or too small for your size pool, chances are you are just throwing you money away as it can never heat your pool the way you want. BIGGER IS USUALLY BETTER!! Gas heaters and electric Heat Pumps are usually rated in bTU sizes. By way of example, assume we have two identical pools right next to each other in exactly the same environmental conditions and want to heat both pools from 60 degrees to 85 degrees. Pool #1 is heated by a gas fired 250,000 bTU heater and pool #2 is heated by a gas fired 400,000 bTU heater. In a “textbook” situation, by the time both both pools reach 85 degrees both will have used EXACTLY THE SAME AMOUNT OF GAS to do the job. Pool #2 with the larger size heater will have simply done the job in about half the amount of time. In practical (not “textbook”) application, since pools loose a great amount of heat through the surface area and this loss is constant based on time, the larger capacity heater can actually use LESS GAS over time because there is less heat loss during the shorter heat up time!
GAS FIRED POOL HEATERS, while more expensive in terms of energy cost than other alternatives, are usually the best overall choice for heating any pool in our service area. They seem to give the best balanced combination of comparatively low initial cost, quick heat up time, fuel consumption and cost, and ongoing service and maintenance. Blue Waters has technicians that are capable of repairing just about any problem you may have with your gas fired pool heater. They are available for either propane (LPG) and natural gas use, depending on what is available in your area and also available with either electronic ignition or standing pilot (millivolt) versions. While the millivolt heaters cost a little less up front, electronic ignition is usually more trouble-free over your years of ownership. If you have a pool and spa combo and/or you want to be sure, no matter what the conditions that your pool is heated when you need it, then beyond a shadow of a doubt an electronic ignition gas fired heater is the best choice for you. For the reasons above, it is usually best to choose the largest size heater available for your pool. Just remember to check with your local gas supplier to make sure they can supply the gas to feed your heater.
SWIMMING POOL HEAT PUMPS definitely win in the category of efficiency of fuel cost over gas fired pool heaters. When you read this in manufacturer information, it is not a lie. Be careful to look at the big picture, though. Heat pumps by nature heat whatever they are heating (pool or house) very slowly - usually by only a fraction of a degree per hour. For this reason, they are better thought of for “maintenance” heating rather than “demand” heating. The colder it is outside, the less heat is available to “pump” into your pool and the heat pump becomes less effective. At air temperatures too much below 50 degrees, most swimming pool heat pumps become unable to add any significant heat to your pool. They are also more costly to purchase up front (often twice the cost of a gas fired pool heater) and because they utilize a mix of technologies (they are similar to an air conditioner working in reverse to add heat to a pool) it is often difficult to know who to call to solve your heat pump service problem. Control and water chemistry and flow issues can usually be handled by Blue Waters Inc.,your pool service company, but the refrigeration aspects usually require an HVAC technician. You are a good canditate for a heat pump if you simply want the lowest energy cost to run your heater, religiously use a solar blanket or have a relatively small pool in terms of surface area, are never in any particular hurry to get the pool up to temperature, and don’t really ever have the need to extend your season too far in either direction and/or for any reason cannot get any kind of gas supply on your property. If you are considering a heat pump for your pool, remember again that BIGGER IS USUALLY BETTER. Blue Waters will be happy to recommend a quality heat pump that can best meet your needs.
WHY NOT BOTH? Adding one of each to your pool gives you the best of all worlds. The powerful, fast heating gas fired heater can be used to handle the extreme circumstances of overcoming cold air temperatures, extended seasons or needed quick “demand” heating and the much more econimical heat pump can be used to take over the “maintenance” heating to keep the pool warm at the lowest energy cost.
SOLAR HEATING SYSTEMS can be quite tempting with their promise of “free” energy to heat your pool. Usually composed of large, dark colored panels that your pool water flows through to be heated by the sun, solar heating systems need a rather large area that is exposed to constant sunshine to do their job. The larger the surface area of the solar panels, the more heat they are capable of adding to the pool. They are typically mounted on the sunny side of the roof of your home and require re-piping of the pool to divert water through the solar panels to be heated when the sun is shining. While this is a great concept, remember that solar heaters only work when it is warm and sunny outside - typically the times you need to heat your pool the least. If it is cloudy or cool outside, a solar system has the potential to work in reverse, acting like a large “radiator” that can increase the surface area heat loss of the pool if pool water is flowing through it during a non-desirable period such as a cool day or night. If you have a suitable location to mount a solar heating system, they are best used to simply keep the cost of energy used by gas heaters or heat pumps lower, but can be rather disappointing in our climate as a stand-alone heating system.
I know you, like me are thankful each spring when we are finally be able to see our back yards and pools again. The extended extreme cold has made proper winter care of all pools a challenge. That fact, coupled with the chance for “frost heave”, can increase the potential for some surprise pool problems. It is always a good idea to take a periodic look at your pool, both on top of and under the cover. Make sure the water level is where it should be, the cover is still intact and free of debris, the decking and equipment have not lifted due to frost, the liner and or tile line have no visible problems, and the water is still clear underneath. Checking out your pool early can help prevent or minimize surprises at pool opening and can allow more time to come up with the proper spring plan to prepare your pool for the season. Blue Waters is available year round to help with your pool.
Did you have a checklist of items you wanted to get fixed or enhanced for the upcoming season? NOW is the best time to purchase the items you need on sale or contact us for an estimate and get on our calendar early for any needed repairs to make sure your pool is ready to go when you are!
Did you ever wish your pool could somehow become clean and well maintained automatically so all you had to do is scoop the occasional bug from the surface and just swim? Our Premier Service Plan can make this wish come true!! It is said that, “Time is Money!” When you consider what your precious time is worth, perhaps it’s time to take the plunge and dive into an enjoyable pool season. This plan truly allows you to vacation in your own back yard! Check out our Premier and other 2016 plans.