Over the years Ashley’s Pool Service has installed and serviced many pool vacuum types for customers. In a previous blog post we’ve outlined and detailed the different pool vacuums available and the benefits and pool environments in which each one excels at operating. These vacuums can range from cheap ($90) to expensive ($500+) vacuums and each one has it’s pros and cons.
XtremePowerUS Pool Vacuum
One thing we’ve noticed is that just because a vacuum is more expensive doesn’t mean it will last longer or perform better. About 3 years ago Ashley’s Pool Service started recommending to customers the $90 XtremePowerUS Automatic Suction Vacuum. This product is recommended to customers that wanted a pool vacuum but didn’t have the budget to spend hundreds of dollars on the more popular name brand ones. In comparison, you could buy three of these vacuums over the cost of many other name brand vacuums. Since then, she’s installed this vacuum in 10+ pools for a wide variety of pool types and environments and has found that this vacuum, while being substantially cheaper than others, performs very well. Our recommendation is that only customers with in-ground concrete pool surfaces should use this vacuum. It may cause damage to vinyl pool liners.
I want to reiterate, that this is not the best vacuum on the market. There are many other vacuums that have better cleaning features, patterns, and are more stylish or quieter. But I’ve found that for the price this vacuum can be the perfect cleaning tool for pools that just need that little extra cleaning during the week.
Ashley recommends this vacuum for mostly any in-ground concrete pool. Many of her customers are quite surprised by the performance and reliability this cheaper alternative pool vacuum gives them, especially when considering the price. Below we outline the pros and cons we’ve noticed for the multiple years and 10+ vacuums we’ve installed of the XtremePower vacuum.
- Cheap reasonable price so it can meet many budget ranges
- One single moving part, which results in less internal mechanics to break
- Comes with the required pool hoses to attach the vacuum to an existing skimmer or vacuum port
- Works well to clean pollen or dirt from screened in pools
- Works very well in environments that often give other vacuums a difficult time. Small leafy debris and acorns can cause robotic or diaphragm vacuums to become clogged or stuck. This vacuum has a larger opening without the delicate suction or moving parts of other cleaning vacuums.
- The rear of the vacuum chamber can become clogged with decaying leaves. Clearing the leaves out is easy with something long and thin.
- Pools with a vinyl liner may be prone to damage
- Like many vacuums, the hole on the bottom is about an inch in diameter. So large debris may not be picked up.
- Like many non-robotic vacuums the vacuum randomly ‘crawls’ along the surface in an undefined pattern.
If you’re interested, the vacuum can be purchased from Amazon for around $90.
The good majority of all pools, in one way or another, use chlorine to prevent the buildup of algae and other contaminates. Chlorine can be added in the form of a liquid, dry powder, or tabs (salt – sodium chloride – is another method to generate this chemical using a salt system. That will be explained in a later post). A lot of people ask me when’s the best time to use each type, and well that’s largely dependent on the pool, environment conditions, other chemical levels, and personal preference. I find that in the hot summer months using all three forms provide the best results when I am only servicing the pool one time per week. The liquid chlorine gives the sudden boost to get the levels balanced, then the dry and tabs help provide the stabilizer and longer term chemicals to keep the levels from dropping before my next visit. For pools more susceptible to issues, I will generally leave a jug of liquid chlorine for my customers to add in the event of a hard rain or problem.
The best way to check the levels of your pool chlorine is by using a chlorine test. You can quickly do this at home by using the AquaCheck 7 Test Strips. I personally use these every day to check the chlorine levels of my customer’s pools because I believe they are accurate and user friendly. In addition, they show seven of the important chemical levels, including hardness, pH, and cyanuric acid, that impact pool cleanliness and health.
This post assumes familiarity with stabilizer (cyanuric acid). Refer to the post on stabilizer here for more information.
This form of chlorine is what most people are familiar with. It comes in those 2.5 gallon yellow or orange jugs and is very obviously a bleaching agent. These are normally ~12% chlorine by volume with the rest of the volume being water and are about at 13 on the PH scale (that’s the top of the chart). Continue reading
Pool stabilizer, also known as cyanuric acid or conditioner, is my best friend in the hot Florida summer months. The level has to be monitored just as much as chlorine, and if left unchecked it can end up causing one of the worst problems a pool owner can face.
Cyanuric acid can be found in many chemicals added to a swimming pool. It’s most notably found in dry granular and concentrated pucks of chlorine. Though it can also be added by itself as raw cyanuric acid/stabilizer. By adding in dry chlorine or tabs you are usually adding stabilizer along with them. This is a very good thing in the majority of cases, unless it’s the only form of chlorine you are adding and your cyanuric acid level is high.
What’s its role:
Cyanuric acid performs one crucial role: It helps stabilize and protect the existing free chlorine in the pool water from being burned up naturally by the sun’s intense ultraviolet rays. Continue reading
Pressure Driven Vacuums
The biggest part of buying any pool vacuum is choosing the best one for your pool’s specific needs. Many people who have existing vacuums may not realize that there are different vacuum types available. One of the most popular vacuums is the Polaris. They have a pump, which pushes water out of the back of the vacuum and into a chamber, both propelling and pushing debris into a collective bag or net. These are typically the most expensive, requiring a separate pump to be added or used. These are best for pools with large debris: acorns, twigs, and leaves are the main debris that this vacuum is best at picking up. The bag that the Polaris has does not hold on to dirt in many cases, and many people find themselves disappointed if there is dirt still in their pool. There is normally one speed for the Polaris as well, so there is little control on how fast he speeds through the pool.
Substantial amounts of leaves and debris can wreak havoc on your pump and circulation
system. If your pool isn’t screened in and has large quantities of leaves or debris like pine needles that will constantly fall into your pool, your circulation system could end up running at a diminished capacity, or worse clogged, when your vacuum picks up too much of it.
A leaf canister is a simple part added on to your vacuum hose to pick up debris that are collected from the bottom of your pool. They can range from $30-50 and can be easily bought off amazon. The most popular leaf canister is the Hayward W560 Leaf Canister. If you have a vacuum, you know that debris is collected as the vacuum runs throughout the day. Where are those leaves and debris going? Best case, they end up in a small collection basket in your motor assembly, and this fills up fast. When this basket gets full, it could end up slowing your pool circulation and putting unnecessary strain on your motor. The motor basket is small, and is meant for collecting small, stray debris. These fill up easily and water cannot pass. A leaf canister allows leaves to collect in a safe chamber, which allows water to pass by. They can be emptied easily and are effective for collection. We can place a leaf canister in for your pool, and you can take that strain off your filter and allow your vacuum to collect more of those pesky leafs.
Have a question or want a leaf canister installed? Contact us and we answer your questions. Or check out getting a leaf canister yourself at amazon.com.
Some pools can have a pretty bad time with getting debris stuck in the pool skimmer and basket. Leaves and dead animals can not only clog the skimmer system, but add bacteria into your pool. The skimmer basket should be cleaned out at the minimum once a week, some pools even require it more often than that. If your pool has heavy and large amounts of leaves in the surrounding area, you should consider checking up on your skimmer basket every few days. Or at the very least taking off the lid and checking up on it. Your pool service should always clean out your skimmer basket, but in between visits the debris can build up fast. Here’s how you should go about cleaning out your skimmer:
- With the pool still running, remove the skimmer lid.
- Check how high the debris build up in the skimmer is. If the debris is close to or past the top of the skimmer basket, manually remove it with your hands until the debris is at a minimum of a few inches below the top of the removable basket. This is done to ensure when we remove the basket no leaves spill out over the basket and get sucked into the circulation system.
- If you know how to, turn off your pool circulation system. If not, just be very careful with the next following steps.
- Remove the skimmer basket and empty it. It is important to not have any loose debris sucked into the skimmer line, as it can create a clog or build up in your system.
- If needed, hose any of the debris stuck within the plastic mesh of the basket, and then replace it back into the skimmer.
- Replace the lid to your skimmer, and if your turned off your circulation system, turn it back on.
Now look how more efficiently your pools skimmer will be pulling in water and removing newly added pool debris.
Not sure if you’re doing it right? Contact us and we can easily let you know.
When talking about a D.E. filter, there are a couple of terms you should be familiar with First, D.E. stands for Diatomaceous Earth. This is actually a white powder with the consistency of flour. Attached to your filter is valve with a lever. This is used to change where we want the flow of water to go. When backwashing, I use this lever and point it from filter to backwash. What this does is “backwashes” or dumps all of the D.E. powder out of your system. The D.E. powder has been working hard, collecting dirt and particles. When we remove the water and D.E. powder mixture, it might be gray to black depending on how much dirt the filter has collected. The process for this takes a few minutes. When done, I take fresh powder and add it back into the filter.
Some times the filter can get backed up and clog. About once every year we need to breakdown the entire filter system. To begin I must release and pressure, and remove the band for around the middle of the filter. Inside the filter is a element which can be compared to a cartridge filter, this holds the D.E. powder. This element needs to be physically removed and cleaned thoroughly. When the element is replaced and the filter put back together, we can add fresh D.E. powder to the filter.
Both kinds of cleaning should only be done if you are comfortable with the system. Many things must be done in order, and properly, or the system may break in several places or cause harmful damage to the person. We do both these methods for D.E. filters. If you think your D.E. filter needs to be broken down contact us, we would love to help!
Communication of something small can be a big help
I have a personal belief that phone calls from a pool customer can be a great thing, it especially helps when we perform your pool service. Timely communication between the pool owner and the service technician about problems ensures the problem is understood and can be treated quickly. Remember that this is your pool and becoming more familiar and knowledgeable is something I’d love to help you with. If you think that something is wrong with your pool, always communicate it to me no matter how little you might think it is. Being there for a short period once a week may not be enough to notice some problems. When you swim do your eyes burn? Is there a funny smell in your pool? Do you see something I don’t?
Many people don’t report these things for many reasons. By reaching out for knowledge you can learn if the problem is normal, can be fixed, or even alert me to an issue that I can fix before it becomes a problem. Many people are busy, but Email is a great way to reach me on your own time. Email me your questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org or if it’s an emergency call me as soon as possible. My job is to make sure you are swimming safely and happily, lets work together to make sure this always happens. Small problems can easily turn into large problems, and the smaller the problem generally the easier and cheaper it is to remedy.
Keeping a blue and clean pool is the most important part of owning a swimming pool. As I’ve mentioned in another blog post, debris can be a major factor in poor circulation, second being your pool filter. There are several kinds of filters, but today we will be covering the cartridge pool filter. There are many different sizes of cartridges but each one has the same basic function. You can compare them to a vacuum bag in your normal vacuum cleaner. They collect dirt and algae that build up in your pool. Like a vacuum bag, they fill up and need to be changed or cleaned. I personally average the lifespan of a standard cartridge filter to be approximately around a year. Many can last shorter or longer than this, but here are a few ways you can tell it’s time to replace your cartridge:
- Circulation of your pool is becoming significantly slower.
- After servicing or vacuuming, the same dirt or debris are returning to the pool.
- The pool vacuum is slow or does not pick up items.
- The cleanliness of the pool does not last a full week.
When I replace a cartridge pool filter there is a significant increase in cleanliness and movement in the pool. Keeping a clean cartridge is one of the best things you can do for your pool. We replace all kinds of cartridge filters, and are always happy to answer any questions.