Pool prep important step for clear water and lazy summer days

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MODESTO—The Central Valley summers are beckoning swimming pools from their wintertime hibernation.

Triple-digit days call for dips in cool, crystal blue waters, games of Marco Polo and weekend barbecues.

Swimming pools offer endless entertainment, and exercise. It brings health and happiness to your family and friends. To keep your pool healthy in return, proper maintenance and upkeep is required—especially during its busiest season.

Swimming is among the nation’s most popular pastimes. It’s the most common recreational activity for children ages 7-17, and the fourth most popular sport in the U.S., according to TheSpruce.com and the U.S. Census Bureau.

There are nearly 11 million swimming pools in America—California has the highest concentration with three million. In colder regions, some must “close” their pools for winter, and “open” them in summer. In the Central Valley, pools are always running, explained Lynn Panasci, business development manager at Premier Pools and Spas in Salida.

Energy efficiency is one of the main hot points when someone is buying a pool. “The pump and filter system is the heart of your pool and it does most of the cleaning and clarifying,” she said. “To maintain [water] properly, you must run your pool pump for six-eight hours a day, depending on the size of your pool.”

“Not too long ago, single speed pumps were used on all pools and that one speed was high,” said Panasci. “High speed may be needed to run certain features on your pool but typically you don’t need to have your pump on high to circulate the water.”

These days, the use of variable speed pumps are the norm. “Existing pool owners will experience a substantial decrease in their utility bill and the cost for getting a variable speed pump is recouped in the first couple years of ownership,” Panasci added.

Another energy saver; solar heating. With the Central Valley’s warm weather, solar heating is less expensive than running a gas pool heater. “It also gives you longer swim days and about a month of additional swimming in the spring and fall,” said Panasci.

Michelle Ayala, Turlock resident and pool owner, said that maintaining her pool and equipment—including adjusting the water pump’s speed—is a learning process.

The process is sometimes difficult, she said. However, she’s learned how to curb costs, and replace equipment herself, like her pump’s motor.

Diligent maintenance is important for a healthy pool, and for its users, Ayala explained. “You can’t have a pool without it.” It pays off, she added, as you’ve got your very own oasis, a gathering place, in your backyard.

Ayala keeps her Hayward pump on year-round, adjusting speed during the coolest hours—around midnight to 3 a.m.—to prevent pipes from freezing.

When the warmer weather approaches, Ayala prepares her pool for use by shocking it more frequently. During summertime, she balances chemicals by adding chlorine once per week (twice per month during the winter).

Alternatives to chlorine are popular among pool owners, explained Panasci. “Chlorine is always going to be needed to sanitize a pool but there are products available that allow customers to substantially decrease the amount of chlorine needed.”

Premier Pools and Spas uses products, like ozone sanitizers, which attack and destroy organic material. Another option is Ultra Violet (UV) sanitizer to eliminate bacteria, “The two of those together, with some supplemental chlorine, will get you your crystal clear, healthy pool water,” Panasci said.

Salt water pools are somewhat popular as they are perceived to be lower maintenance. However, Premier Pools and Spas does not usually install them. Panasci said, “Although the pool water feels nice on your skin, salt is a corrosive and can cause damage to your concrete decking and equipment,” she added. “We feel that other alternatives are a much better choice.”

Several of the company’s projects will be featured on the DIY Network’s “Pool Kings” this year, said Panasci. “One of the projects, developed by the Premier’s Sacramento office, includes an island bar, bridge and spa.”

Weekly or monthly professional pool maintenance can help keep pools clean. Some hire companies to come out once per week to check chemicals levels, clean the pool, and empty the pump and filter basket. “This service costs around $100 to $200 per month on average,” Panasci said.

Some maintain their own pools, which takes about 30 minutes per week, and cost $30 per month, she explained. “Check and balance chemicals with test strips, empty skimmer and pump baskets, verify pool sweep is running efficiently, brush walls and floors and skim surface,” Panasci added. “You can do it while soaking up the sun and enjoying your favorite libation.”

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