Fact #6. Is it ok to leave my solar bubble type cover rolled up in the sun when I’m not using it?

No. You should never leave a solar cover rolled up in the sun – even for a short period of time.

The nature of a bubble cover is to allow the suns rays to penetrate through the bubbles. When rolled up on roller or reel, these can build up heat internally through the multiple layers to the point of expanding the bubbles, over-heating the plastic and in extreme cases,  melting the layers together! The expansion of the bubbles on the flat side of the solar blanket is evidence the cover has been exposed to heat and the Sun when not on the pool. This can cause the cover to appear to shrink in size as the upward expansion of the bubbles, causes the cover to contract and measure less than before the bubbles were expanded.

The excess heat can cause a premature degradation of the plastic in sections across the blanket around the width of the rolled up blanket (around 300mm)  and 900mm apart which is commonly known as “Roller Burn”. This caused by not covering the blanket when it is rolled up on the Reel. The way to avoid this is to always cover the blanket when rolled up on the aluminium tube of the Roller Reel.

Again, you can confirm this by looking at the flat side of the bubbles and seeing if the layer is flat or slightly indented (normal) or raised a little, and this means the blanket has been exposed.

You cannot reverse this damage, but you can prolong the life of the pool cover by preventing any further exposure. Always use the ‘Overcover’ provided with your reel/roller to protect the solar blanket when stored.  If you do not have an overcover, you can purchase one from your poolshop, or you could make one using a reflective tarp.

ABGAL supply an overcover with all Hydrotools branded reels. It is a white, heat reflective poly tarp fabric with a cord at each end, designed to slip over the rolled up solar blanket pool cover.

My glass pool fence has exploded – how do I clean it up?

It’s one of the things you hope never happens to you. Maybe you were there and heard a loud bang – or perhaps, you didn’t know it happened until you looked at your pool and noticed a glass fence panel missing.

While it’s not common, it’s certainly not unusual for glass pool fences to suddenly shatter without warning. (Normally into a thousand pieces – all over the pool deck and sometimes inside your swimming pool!)

It happened to me just last week and this was the second pool fence panel to shatter in three years! On both occasions, we have been fortunate that no one was near the pool at the time, so all we’ve had to deal with was replacing panels and cleaning up the broken glass.

The first time, it just made a mess over my timber deck, but this time, a lot of glass fell into the pool. My pool has an Aqualux vinyl interior as they are so nice to the touch, and I must admit, I was a little worried falling glass may have cut through the surface.

I Googled “how to clean glass from your pool” and there were a few articles, but not many relating to an “exploding fence panel” so I thought I would share my experience to help others.

My immediate thought was to vacuum the broken pieces using the pool vac. I placed two skimmer socks inside the skimmer basket to trap any glass fragments and stop them flowing through to the filter. Then I connected the vacuum and proceeded to slowly move across the glass pieces.

This was my first mistake as although the fence shattered into small 10mmx10mm size pieces, many of them were clumped together and too big to fit through the vacuum head opening or suction hose.

So I changed tactics – this time opting for a handheld broom and long-handled dustpan.

This worked a treat!  Working very gently and slowly, I broomed pieces of glass into the pan, just a little at a time, so I could easily lift the dustpan out of the pool (without dropping any pieces) and empty the glass into a large bucket.

I repeated the process until I had swept up all the pieces that I could see. By the way, it is much easier to see glass in the pool in full sun as the glass reflects under the water.

After removing all the large pieces with the dustpan and broom, I vacuumed the entire floor area carefully to pick up smaller slithers.

Total clean up time took about 2 hours.

A week later, I am very happy to report that my pool fence company has replaced the panel, and my Aqualux pool finish was up to the challenge, and proved tough enough to withstand the glass and has no cuts or leaks!

Are you thinking of buying a robotic pool cleaner?

In the past, almost everyone used a suction cleaner or pool vaccuum, and we all became accustomed to swimming around the hose, and listening to that ‘tick tick tick’ sound whenever we were near the pool!vacuum hose

However, in the last few years, robotic cleaners have become quite affordable, so are gaining popularity with pool owners. But while it is true that a robotic cleaner can be used in any pool, not every robotic cleaner is suitable for every pool.

If you have an abrasive pool surface such as pebble, you’ll need a cleaner that is strong enough to scrub the surface clean, and durable enough to tolerate any wear against the cleaner skirting.

On the other hand, if you have a soft and flexible surface finish such as vinyl, you need to ensure a robotic cleaner has no sharp edges, and that the tracks and rollers are gentle enough to not cause wear on the pool finish. With all pool finishes, it is also important to ensure there is enough clearance on the underside of the robot to avoid rubbing and scraping against the surface.

So which is better to use? Robotic or suction? It really is a matter of opinion. Suction cleaners have been the norm for many years in Australia, and they generally do a pretty good job, for a very reasonable price. But all pools are different, and no cleaner is perfect (there is usually a corner or step, or some other spot in every pool where the suction cleaner always seems to miss!)

Plus you have to wrestle with the cleaner and hose when you want a quick swim as most pool owners just don’t bother to remove the vacuum from the pool. And when you do finally take the vacuum out, no one ever lays the hose out nice and straight, to minimise any effects of hose kinks on the cleaner’s performance. (Suction cleaners rely on the hose to help control the area they cover and the direction they take).

I’ve personally owned a number of suction cleaners over the years, and a couple of robots, so I thought I’d put together some of my thoughts, to help anyone who is tossing up between a suction cleaner and a robotic cleaner.

Robotic cleaners are designed to be put in the pool once or twice a week for up to 2 hours to roam around the pool in a random pattern and vacuum all the dirt and leaves from the floor and walls. The biggest issue I have with robots is the cleaning! That’s right – you need to clean the cleaner! They need to be cleaned every time they do a full pool clean.

I liked my suction cleaner’s handling of the dirt and leaves, it just sends it all to the pool filtration system. I found my sand filter much easier to clean than the cartridges of the robot – it was just a matter of switching off the pump, turning the valve, then running the pump until the waste water was clear, selecting rinse for a minute and then back to normal filtration. Quite easy really, and only takes about 7 minutes.

The robot takes about 7 minutes each time I clean it – and I have to do this at least every week – whereas I only backwash my sand filter every 4-6 weeks. However, I love the fact that my pool has NO cleaner in the water most of the time and no annoying “tick”, “tick” sound or the surface of the water rippled all the time.

And, when I go for a swim, I jump straight in and don’t have to remove the suction cleaner and store it alongside the pool edge. Now putting the robot in the pool and getting it back out requires a bit of strength, especially getting it out when as you have to wait for the water to drain out before lifting it otherwise it is quite heavy.

Now – the effect of the cleaners on your pool finish. The suction cleaners are often left in the pool all the time as some people choose to swim with them as it is easier. The problem is, for 8 or more hours a day in summer, the suction cleaner is rubbing over the pool surface. If you have an abrasive surface, this will wear the cleaner skirt and some other parts. If you have a soft surface such as PVC, the suction cleaner can rub and wear the surface over time, and if it doesn’t move evenly over all parts of the pool, you may see its common path in form of a wear track, usually around the wall to floor junction.

The concept of a robot being more compatible with all pool surfaces comes from the fact they are only used for a short period of time – BUT you need to make sure you have the correct tracks and rollers for your pool surface finish.

If your pool surface is quite abrasive, then the robot will have less wear on its tracks and rollers as it is only used for relative small amounts of time, but the wearing parts need to be compatible otherwise you will need to replace them quite quickly. If your pool has a soft finish, the robot makes sense as again it is only used for small amount of time, but you need to make sure the areas of contact with your pool finish are compatible so as not to create wear spots.

One of the considerations for your pool before you purchase a robot if you have a softer finish is to ensure the shape of the surface is free of sharp edges, and that there is enough clearance of the underside of the robot to avoid rubbing and scraping these edges, as the hard plastic of the robot body can cause abrasions.

If you ever suspect your robot has caused abrasion to your pool finish, just check the tracks and the underside of the unit – you will likely see some of the pool surface colour on it and maybe some worn plastic parts.robotic cleaner print rub off on tracks

So in my opinion, if you are on a budget or don’t mind swimming with the hose and cleaner, or removing it every time you swim, a suction cleaner will work for you.

If you want the clean look of a pool without a hose and cleaner 99% of the time and happy to rinse off the cartridges after every clean, then a robot will suit you.

Remember, no cleaner is perfect, but they sure beat having to set up the vacuum hose, handle and brush and cleaning the pool manually yourself!

 

My pool has black or grey staining on the interior surface, what is the cause?

There are three main causes of what appears to be staining or marks on a pool interior surface.

The first, and most common cause of staining or discolouration of a pool interior is algae. This will start in an area where water circulation is not good, like the deep end or comers of the pool.

Or, it could be caused by algae feeding off debris in an area from overhanging foliage or just a basic lack of enough chlorine to maintain the water balance.

By the addition of an algaecide or a super dose of chlorine, the algae will die and then it can be brushed off the pool surface and permanently removed. Some more stubborn types of algae like black spot, need to brushed before the addition of chemicals as their outer surface forms a protective barrier to chemicals.

By brushing and breaking the outer surface, it allows the chemicals to more easily kill the algae so it can be removed. Provided the correct chemical levels and good water circulation are maintained, it will be removed permanently.

The second type of staining is from metals in the pool water. These metals can be introduced by ionic sterilising systems or even from a water source (town water through an old copper pipe or bore water) that contains a higher than normal level of metals when filling or topping up the pool.

If increasing the acidity (lowering PH in the pool) removes the staining temporarily, then it indicates a problem with metals. If you re-adjust the PH and the stain re-appears, then this confirms it is caused by a high concentration of a metal in the pool water. Lowering the PH just puts the metal into solution, it doesn’t remove it from the water and that is why it will re-appear when the PH is balanced – it precipitates from solution and plates onto the pool interior surface.

To remove the metals, you need to dilute concentration by using a chelating agent or draining a substantial amount of the pool water and re-filling with fresh water (without metals).

The third, (and very rare cause of staining), can be microbial activity under the interior surface of the pool. If in this example the pool has a PVC liner, it is possible for ground water contamination under the liner to encourage microbial activity. These microbes feed off nutrients in the ground water (like seepage from a septic system or other grey water) and they secrete dyes that will stain the liner from the underneath and can flow through to the inside surface of the pool.

Once this dye staining has occurred, the stain can be lightened sometimes with the addition of high levels of chlorine introduced into the pool, but usually the staining is permanent and cannot be removed.

Correct chemical balance for a vinyl lined pool

Getting the water balance right in a vinyl lined pool is a little different to a pebble, tiled or other finished pool. Regardless of whether it is an above ground pool or an inground pool, the water in a vinyl finish pool all needs to be balanced and stabilised, and regularly checked for imbalances. The following levels ensure the best care for both your family and your pool, for a vinyl lined /Aqualux finished swimming pool. DO NOT use these levels on any other pool finish.

Recommended levels for a vinyl lined/Aqualux pool:

pH…………………….. 7.4 – 7.8

Total Alkalinity……  100 – 150ppm

Calcium Hardness..  200 – 400ppm

Free Chlorine……… 1 -3 ppm (non heated pool)

2 – 4 ppm (heated pool)

Stabiliser…………..  30 – 50 ppm

Saturation Index..  -0.1 to+0.4

Is there a special type of liner for an indoor pool?

 If you are renovating or installing a new PVC lined indoor pool, consider the type of PVC liner you are using.

Some people say all liners are the same, with the only difference being thickness, but that’s just not true. Most liners are made from a PVC film. This flexible, stretch fabric relies on the structure of the pool, and the weight of the water to maintain its shape. This works well in most situations, and with high quality options available, it’s an excellent surface finish for both above ground and inground swimming pools that are outdoor.

However, under certain environmental conditions (likely to be found in an indoor pool) the fabric of a standard PVC liner can sometimes start to ‘absorb’ water.

PH, total chlorine levels, ventilation and bathing load are all thought to be contributing factors. If the liner fabric begins to absorb water, it eventually expands the PVC, which then causes wrinkles to form in the pool. The wrinkles usually start on the floor of the pool, but can be all over the whole liner. If you look closely at a section of affected PVC, you can see the surface is weakened, and prone to forming tiny cracks that can develop into larger tears.

If this happens, there is no reversing of the process, and the life span of the liner is greatly reduced.

While many indoor pools are surfaced with standard PVC liners without any problems, there is always a risk of it occurring in the right (or wrong) conditions, and it is best to avoid the risk completely in indoor pools, by using a reinforced liner.

AquaForce is a specialist reinforced PVC fabric which is suitable for use in indoor pools. AquaForce features an internal reinforcing layer that keeps the fabric stable in indoor pools, and virtually eliminates the risk of wrinkling.

With a three layer design, AquaForce has a PVC base ply, a layer of reinforced polyester mesh, then topped with another ply of PVC. All three layers are homogeneously bonded together during the manufacturing process to be permanently fused. The mesh reinforcing layer stabilises the fabric and stops it from shrinking or expanding. 

Traditional PVC liners can be delivered to site fully welded in one piece, but AquaForce reinforced PVC liners are always fabricated on site, as they do not stretch or form to the pool shape.

The rolls of the AquaForce fabric are laid in the pool and overlapped to form seams that are welded on site. Edges are then sealed, to stop water absorption through the fabric itself. AquaForce liners can be fitted to any pool shape, as the liner is cut and shaped in the pool on site, allowing it to be fitted over steps and benches and down into deep ends of all style of pools.

 So if you are looking to install a PVC liner in an indoor pool, we recommend the use of a reinforced PVC such as AquaForce, to reduce the risk of wrinkling. AquaForce is also recommended for use on Commercial PoolsIndoor commercial pool, bunbury WA AquaForce liner.

Why did my solar pool cover turn my pool green?

Generally, if your pool turns green, it is because of algae. While algae is pretty much always present to some extent, it can become resistant to normal levels of chlorine, and if the conditions are right, it can take over, in a very short period of time.

Algae loves

1. Low chlorine levels;

2. Phosphates; and

3. Warm water.

If you already have low chlorine and phosphates present in your pool, then adding a solar pool cover (which warms the water) will most certainly help existing algae to thrive.

So while a solar cover won’t actually ‘turn your pool green’, it will warm your water by up to 8 degrees, so if the other conditions are right, adding a solar cover can easily accelerate algae growth, very rapidly.

You need to get the water balance in your pool right before putting the cover back on. Take a water sample down to your pool shop, explain what is happening and they will work out what you need, based on your pool water condition, and set you on the right path. If you wish to do it yourself, (and it is only just starting to turn green), the first step is an algae starver. This will remove the phosphate build up, (the algae food), and thus, the algae starves. Filter your pool for 12-24 hours, to remove all the algae spores from the water.

Its also a good idea to backwash or clean the filter afterwards, to ensure there are no algae spores trapped inside the filter. If there is algae spores left in the filter, you have a greater chance of the problem recurring.

If the algae is really severe (ie you can see it on the pool walls and floor), you really wont be able to avoid a trip to the pool shop. Superchlorination is required, and you will need professional advice with regard to quantities and concentrations of chemicals. Ensure your pool cover is completely removed when you superchlorinate, and do not put it back on the pool until chemical levels return to within the Australian Standard.

If you find your pool water is too warm, you may consider a non heating pool cover like KoolCover – it will insulate the water and stop evaporation, but being opaque, it doesn’t heat the water like a traditional solar blanket.