Although “modern” swimming pools (ignoring ancient versions like the Roman baths) have been around since the mid-19th century, there are still many myths and misconceptions floating around about them. Today, we will help to dispel a few of the more common ones.
Solar Covers Heat Up Your Pool Water
Our first pool myth is also probably the most universally believed one; which is that solar covers are used to heat up your pool water. In actual fact, a solar cover is simply an insulating blanket. This means that they’re designed to trap and keep heat in the pool rather than heat up the water themselves.
While this may seem like we’re splitting hairs, the truth is that this misconception has led the majority of pool owners to use their solar covers incorrectly. That is, most pool owners keep their solar covers on their pool during the day. This is a mistake because solar covers, like all insulation, are designed to slow the transfer of heat. Keeping your solar cover on during a hot sunny day, therefore, doesn’t allow that heat from the sun to fully penetrate into the pool water and warm it up.
To get the most out of your solar cover you’ll want to remove it on hot sunny days and keep it on the pool during cooler, cloudier days. This will maximize the amount of heat that the water gains on warmer days and minimize the amount of heat lost on cooler days.
If The Water Is Clear There’s No Need To Add Anything To The Water
Another basic misconception that many pool owners have is that clear water means well balanced water. While this is true in most cases, you’ll still want to regular test your water; even if it is crystal clear. This is because one of the symptoms of very low alkalinity and very high chlorine is crystal clear water.
To ensure that the clear water in your pool is from good water balance and not a symptom of water balance issues, we recommend testing your water using a home test kit at least once per week.
Home Test Kits Are All You Need
Speaking of home test kits, some pool owners believe that the simple home test kits are all that you need to maintain good quality water. This is simply not true.
The standard red / yellow drop test kits are only designed to test the chlorine and pH levels of your pool water. In order to prevent potentially serious (and costly) water quality issues from happening, you also need to keep a close eye on your pool water’s alkalinity and calcium hardness levels while also checking for the presence of common metals like copper and iron.
For this reason, we recommend that you bring in a water sample to your local pool store for professional testing around once per month, as well as just after opening and just before closing. To get the most accurate results possible, take this sample away from the return jets and from water this is around elbow depth.
Pool Pumps Should Be Run Overnight To Save On Energy Costs
Energy prices are only going up. For this reason, many pool owners have begun to look for ways of reducing their pool’s energy costs. One of the most common ways they do this is by running their pool pumps overnight when energy rates are at their lowest.
While running your pump at night will reduce your energy bill, it will also likely do more harm than good. This is because pool pumps do more than simply move water through the pool filter. They also move water through the chlorinator (or the chlorine pucks in your skimmer basket); evenly distributing chlorine through the water to prevent bacteria and algae growth.
The two biggest things that increase your pool’s demand for chlorine are heat and sunlight. By not running your pump during the day, you’re starving the pool water of chlorine at the time when it needs it the most. This leads to issues with cloudy water and even algae growth that can cost $100’s to fix and shut down your pool for several days.
A better way to reduce your pools energy costs is to switch to a variable speed pool pump. These pumps are able to change their flow rates on command by changing the speed of their impeller. The slower the impeller is spinning, the less power the pump will consume. In fact, variable speed pumps consume up to 90% less than single speed pool pumps; saving the average pool owner anywhere from $300-$500 per year!
Backwashing Should Be Done Weekly, Bi-Weekly, Etc.
One of the least understood aspects of owning a pool is how often you should backwash the sand filter. “Backwashing” reverses the flow of water through the filter; removing all of the dirt and debris trapped by the filter and flushing it out of the system through the “backwash hose”.
While almost all pool owners are familiar with process of backwashing a pool filter, few of them know how often they should do it. Some backwash weekly, others monthly, others only when the water turns cloudy. These are all incorrect, however.
The only way to truly know when it’s time to backwash is to monitor the pressure gauge on your pool filter. Check the gauge immediately after backwashing the pool and note its PSI. When the pressure increases by 8-10 PSI, it’s time to backwash. Following this method will mean less backwashing, less chemical usage and better filtration. This is because slightly dirty sand filters actually filter finer than clean ones.
Note: Sand filter pressure gauges are notorious for breaking. To see if yours still works, turn off your pump. If the pressure gauge reads anything other than 0 PSI, it’s broken and needs to be replaced.
Salt Water Pools Are Chemical-Free
Many pool owners are under the impression that salt water pools are a completely chemical-free alternative to traditional chlorine pools. The simple truth is that salt water pools are chlorine pools, but the chlorine is created from salt by a special piece of equipment rather than being added manually in the form of chlorine pucks or sticks.
With the exception of chlorine pucks or sticks, salt water pools require all the same balancing and maintenance chemicals that traditional chlorine pools do. The salt in the water does, however, make the water feel “softer” on your skin. This is likely where this myth got started.
While there are many more myths and misconceptions about pools out there, these 6 are by far the most common, and in some cases the ones that cause the most damage. If you still have questions about swimming pools, or pool ownership; contact one of our pool experts!