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Pool Chemicals That Let You Breathe Easy

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Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable if you could easily pronounce all the ingredients of the maintenance chemicals going in your pool? Better yet, what if you knew they were all non-toxic, non-irritating, and environmentally friendly? Natural Chemistry provides you with these luxuries, along with Eagle Pool & Spa’s efficiency stamp of approval – this stuff really works!

Natural Chemistry products utilize enzymes’ ability to bind to and separate molecules, causing the break down of organic material in water. While this process is not exclusive to Natural Chemistry products, the use of a broad-spectrum enzyme is. Enzymes used by other companies only break down fats and oils – the most common residuals left in water from sunscreen, sweat and beauty products. The broad-spectrum enzyme is powerful enough to break down organic waste that naturally develops in water, preventing the major cause of filter overload before it even starts.

This process works independently of your usual sanitizer, allowing chemicals such as chlorine or bromine to work most efficiently. Using our our good friend, the F.R.O.G. system? No problem! Going the traditional route with regular old chlorine tabs? Natural Chemistry is compatible with any form of sanitation. 

 

Now not everyone likes to take the proactive approach, and that’s okay! If you’d rather clean afterwards than prevent messes before they start, bless your lazy heart. But let me ask you this – have you ever had the issue of being unable to gain a chlorine level? And I don’t just mean in the dead heat of summer, with people in and out all day using up the chlorine. I’m talking about when a heavy dose of shock still reads absolutely nil on the test strip. This issue is likely the result of built up dirt and sludge in the plumbing of the (in-ground) pool. The chlorine is used up on this gunk before it even has a chance to benefit the water in your pool. Natural Chemistry’s Purge chemical will clean all the areas that you can’t, leaving your pump and filter system in a much healthier and efficient state. 

 

A wide array of Natural Chemistry products can be found at our Eagleville and Pottstown locations, and our knowledgeable retail staff is ready to inform you of the purpose and application of each and every one. The season is upon us, see you soon with that start-up water test!

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I’ll have the F.R.O.G. – Hold the Salt, Please…

Doesn’t it always seem that when the next new device or gadget comes along, everyone just NEEDS to have it? Conversely, how many of us know that person that sticks with what they have, regardless of how much that very same item has developed? When it comes to water sanitation, the FROG system has improved on the old standard while avoiding changes that compromise the health of your pool. Before getting into the details about the benefits of the pool FROG, let’s quickly go over certain aspects of some other common methods.

Chlorine/Bromine
Adding more sanitizer is not the only solution to all problems with your water. Maintaining proper water chemistry (alkalinity and pH) is vital for maintenance. If the pool gets away from you a little bit and some haziness starts to appear, your water chemistry should also be the first thing you check. Many times a pH adjustment is all that is required to get back to being crystal clear. The only time super chlorination (2 lbs./10k. gal.) is recommended is after you have checked your chemistry and visible cloudiness or green algae remains. Otherwise a level of 1-3 ppm of chlorine or 3-5 ppm bromine is plenty to keep pool water in check.
Salt Water Systems
There has been a somewhat recent increase in the popularity of salt water pools. These systems are marketed as an alternative to the traditional use of chlorine, but such is not the case. Salt generators require you add hundreds of pounds of salt to your pool, but this alone does not keep the water clean. The salt water chlorine generator strips salt (NaCl) of it’s sodium molecule, leaving good old fashioned chlorine behind to help sanitize the pool. The catch? An average of about 3500 ppm of salt in your pool is sure to do some corrosion damage to your pump, filter and deck. Also the generator needs to be disassembled and cleaned at least once a year to maintain efficiency.
Want something convenient AND efficient?
Allow us to introduce you to the FROG, system. An EPA approved mineral sanitation system, the pool FROG adds silver chloride to the water for added protection against bacteria and improved pH stability. The presence of silver chloride will allow for a 50% reduction of chlorine levels – about equal or even less than drinking water.
For the Pool – Installation is quick and painless. The FROG will fit in-line alongside all of your other equipment, with very little extra assembly and no electric whatsoever. The silver chloride mineral pack fits snugly around the inside perimeter of the FROG and lasts one entire pool season. The pre-filled Torpedo Pac will evenly distribute the low-level chlorine, and needs to be replaced every 1-3 weeks depending on weather and usage.
For the Spa – FROG has a couple different options for the spa. The floating system contains both the bromine and mineral cartridges, which last about 2 weeks and 4 months, respectively. The two cartridges float around the surface of the water, and can be removed for the duration of your hot tub session. When the bromine is empty the floater will fall on its side, so knowing when to change it out will be very simple! FROG also makes a mineral distributor that remains in the filter compartment, allowing you to independently apply your low level of bromine in however way you choose.
All of these products are available at our Eagleville and Pottstown stores, and are also set up on our display pools for reference. The FROG system is simple, effective, and will provide a long, healthy life for your pool equipment. Don’t be fooled by flash in the pan sanitation systems, let your pool get friendly with the FROG.
Until next time, have yourself a happy backyard vacation!

New Season – New Liner?

Tree roots, family pets, major storms – what do all of these things have in common? They all have a strong ability to do some damage to your pool liner. While a liner replacement may seem like a daunting task, there are just a few pieces on information to be aware of before taking this step toward pool-improvement. 

 
You Should Know…
 
– …the difference between overlap and beaded liners before making your purchase. Overlap liners can be seen on the outside wall of the pool. Beaded liners fit in a track with matching “J” hooks called a bead. If you currently have an overlap liner, we here at Eagle would suggest the installation of a bead track and liner during the labor process. It makes for a stronger hold, easier repair, and no unsightly overlap. 
 
– Online buyers beware – the Mil, or thickness, of your liner is of great importance. Many online retailers will simply leave the mil out of the equation because it is LOWER than they would like to reveal to customers. There is a tremendous amount of water pressure compressing on the liner. Any flaws in a low-mil liner from installation or usage can lead to another replacement in as quick as 6-12 months . And as you may know, the labor and installation can be just as much, if not more, than the liner itself. 
 
– Warranties only cover seam separation. In other words, a liner is only considered defective if it is pulling apart at a connection point. Furthermore, you will rarely have an easy time contacting someone from an online distributor about a possible defect. They will almost always find a way around it. Choose us as your retailer and have the opportunity to see and touch your liner options with friendly, expert advice every step of the way. 
 
 
 
Eagle Pool and Spa does not carry liners under 20 mil and we guarantee our installations will exceed your expectations. Bring a sample of your water to either Eagle location regularly to be tested in order to maintain balanced water chemistry. Improper pH levels, poor water hardness and excessive use of sanitizers will deteriorate liners faster than expected. 
 
Stick with us and rest assured your pool will continue being the mini-vacation you always wanted. 

Breaking Down Your Pool Experience – Turn Chemistry and Mechanics into a Simple Routine

Today’s Edition: Filter Systems

            A common mistake to make when talking about pools is not knowing the difference between the pump and the filter. The pump’s job is to circulate the water when the pool is not in use, and to create a constant flow of water pushing through the filter. It is the smaller, louder, motor-looking part that usually sits low to the ground, and has a strainer with a clear lid on it. The filter’s job is to sift your water through the filter media and remove obvious dirt and debris before being sent back into the pool through the return. It is the larger, round tank that is connected to the pump. The two parts together are known as the filter system.

A misconception about the filter system is that it will do all of the work necessary to keep your pool clean – this is not true!  It is a reciprocal relationship; if you take care of your filter system, only then will it continue to work efficiently.

But Eagle Pool and Spa – Home Relaxation Specialists, how ever do I maintain such a complex and burdensome system??

Never fear! Like most forms of general upkeep, there are just a few main things to be aware of to uphold your end of the bargain with your filter system – filter media, filter pressure, and water chemistry. Let’s begin with the most common types of filter media.

The type of media used to clean the water is what defines a filter. There is not a whole lot to be said about cartridge filters. They are large, cylinder shaped filters made mostly of thick, pleated paper that will catch the dirt passing through it. While they are the simplest design of filter, they also provide the least effective filtration. Cartridge filters should mostly be reserved for smaller bodies of water – above ground pools with a largest dimension of 18 feet or less. Diatomaceous Earth or, more commonly, D.E. ($19.95/25lbs.) filters have an assembly of hard fins wrapped in cloth inside the filter tank. These fins require a few pounds of D.E. be applied to them through the skimmer to provide high-grade filtration. Sand filters are very much what they sound like, a tank full of fine grain sand that will hold on to dirt as water passes through it. While the filters themselves are easiest to operate, sand does not filter as finely as D.E. does. Finally, the crème de la crème, micromatic media. Micromatic media is a much thicker, porous version of standard pool sand that filters as finely as D.E., but is compatible with the simple functionality of the sand filter.

Filter pressure is directly related to filter media in that the pressure rises when the media is full of the captured debris. Filter pressure of about 20 psi or over weakens the output of the return – the pressurized stream that circulates your water. Circulation is the first step in filtration, making high filter pressure an issue of importance.

“Well then, pool care professionals, how is it that I get my filter pressure down to allow for optimum performance??” 

The different methods of lowering filter pressure depend on the type of filter you have. For cartridge filters, take the cartridge out and soak it in a solution of ONE part muriatic (hydrochloric) acid to FIVE parts water for 12 hours. If you have access to a pressure washer, those can also be effective simply with some warm water.

D.E. filters, depending on how old they are, will either have a bump handle or backwash option which removes used, clogged, unwanted D.E. from the filter grids. The pressure should go down after executing those options, but it is of utmost importance to replace the D.E. you removed with new D.E. in the amount suggested on your filter tank. Should the pressure NOT go down, you will need to remove your grid assembly and soak them in the same acid solution previously recommended for cartridge filters. It’s a good idea to do this about once a year anyway.

Sand filters will have a multi-port valve on top of the filter tank with options labeled backwash and rinse. In this case, backwashing for one to two minutes will sift the cleaner media on the bottom of the tank upward, and rinsing for about a minute or less will re-compact the media to its proper filtering position. With traditional pool sand ($9.95/50lbs.), you will be able to do this for one to two years before reaching a saturation point, micromatic media ($32.95/50lbs.) will last at least five years before needing replacement.

Now as far as making sure that your filter system and plumbing equipment stay in working order for as long as possible, water chemistry plays a huge role in maintaining a pool that works well and looks good enough to swim in. Alkalinity and pH are chemical measurements which, if left to their own devices, can negatively affect the condition of your pool products. Water with pH and alkalinity below 7.0 and 80, respectively, will eat away at the pump and filter equipment and will require replacement within a matter of months. The liner will pucker and wear out twice as fast, and swimmers will experience irritation to their skin, ears and eyes. Water with pH above 7.8 will allow for the greater possibility of staining and residue, sometimes irreversibly. When combined with even just the recommended amount of regular sanitation chemicals like chlorine, bromine, the F.R.O.G. system or Pristine Blue, the possibility of ill effects is magnified. THE SIMPLE, 4-PART TEST STRIPS ARE YOUR FRIEND – USE THEM GENEROUSLY.
For those of you looking for the bottom line – I like your style. Just replace your filter media as needed, do not allow your filter pressure to rise above 20 psi, and keep your water chemistry in check to enjoy the luxury of reliable pool equipment for years to come. Please feel free to comment with any specific questions not covered in these posts. Or, better yet, call the store and let our knowledgeable retail staff assist you in any way possible.
Keep your fingers crossed for warm weather, and thanks for reading!

Hot Tub Ventures for Freezing Temperatures

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If care and maintenance are the only things keeping you from enjoying a snowy mini-vacation in your hot tub, allow us to provide you with the play by play. You can just worry about the refreshments.

If your tub is already filled, but you’re unsure about what might be lurking in the water, the longest you can expect a total adjustment to take is a couple days. Let’s start with the basics – water chemistry, oxidization, and sanitation.

Water Chemistry

The general term water chemistry, in this case, refers to the levels of pH and alkalinity of your hot tub water. pH is a widely known measurement which tells us how acidic (low pH) or basic (high pH) water is.  If your tub is freshly filled, water comes out of your tap at a fairly decent standard  – around 7.3. The recommended pH range for pool and spa water is between 7.2 and 7.6, because within this range sanitation chemicals work to their full potential, and water feels best on your skin. Acidic water will leave you feeling itchy and prickly, while basic water will feel thick and residual after your hot tub session. Almost any test strip or kit will have a way to test alkalinity, pH’s lesser known relative. Alkalinity should be kept at a level of at least 80 parts per million (PPM), to stabilize the pH within its recommended range. A low alkalinity leaves the pH vulnerable to the environment, allowing for too much fluctuation and, in turn, poor water chemistry.

Oxidization
For those of you familiar with the concept of shock, the terms “shock” and “oxidizer” can be used interchangeably. The most common form of hot tub shock is potassium peroxymonosulfate at a concentration of about 32%. Our shock goes by the trade name “Energize” which will be used for the remainder of this section. Energize briefly exposes the water to a higher level of oxygen, neutralizing any residuals in the water left behind from bathing suits, skin and hair products. Left untreated, soaps, lotions and detergents can do a number on your water quality and appearance. The recommended dose of Energize is one tablespoon per person, per use. If the water looks anything besides crystal clear, Energize can be used in larger amounts at least twice a day to eliminate the issue. Energize only lasts in the water for about 15 minutes, and will not show up on most home testing kits. It will, however help with most any problem you are having with your water.
Sanitation
Plant growth in water is just as natural as in soil, but in a contained, heated environment the process can be sped up exponentially. Sanitizers such as chlorine or bromine will create an unsafe growing environment for plants that is not harmful to humans in monitored amounts. The most common form of sanitizer is chlorine, which should be kept at a level between one and three PPM. Bromine should remain a little higher at somewhere between three and five PPM. The difference between these two options are negligible as far as performance – bromine is simply an alternative for those who have an aversion or allergy to chlorine. Application can be a large dose once a week or in smaller doses about three times a week. A large dose of chlorine would be about an ounce and a small dose is around a teaspoon. For bromine, a small dose would measure 2 liquid ounces, a larger one around 6 oz. Keep in mind, this is subjective because all bodies of water will react to the chemicals a little differently. Check the label on your container of sanitizer for dosage amount for your size hot tub. Do NOT use the hot tub within 4 hours of applying sanitizer since contact with undissolved chemical can be irritating to the skin. Sanitizers should be constantly present within the recommended ranges. Test your water regularly to see how long your water will retain its level of sanitizer.
Keep track of these three main areas of concern and your water will never, yes, NEVER give you any unsuspected issues.
Please return to our blog for more information on new products, maintenance strategies and all things pool and spa!