What Do I Do If My Swimming Pool Isn’t Heating?

All of our years of taking care for the backyard (and the occasional front yard) swimming pool and spas of Salt Lake City and all the surrounding Utah areas have taught us a thing or two. Some of our hard-earned knowledge can be found below:

Q. What do I do if my swimming pool isn’t heating?

A. The first thing to check is that the pump is running and is fully primed (meaning water is moving through it). If water is not flowing through the system, the heater won’t turn on.

The second thing to check is your heater’s pilot light, if your heater has a pilot light. To make sure it is lit by take off the front panel of the heater, get down on the floor, and look in the center of the heater where you should see a small, blue flame. If it’s not lit, follow the instructions on the inside of the door to light the pilot light.

The third thing to check is the contents of the traps and baskets. If the traps and baskets are full they can clog the system and prevent enough water flowing through the system.

If none of the above works, you’ll want to make sure filter pressure isn’t reading too high. Filter pressure should not go up more than 10 lbs. from when the clean filters were installed. If the gage reads 10 lbs above it’s “clean pressure” then you need to backwash or clean the filter(s). If none of the above work, call a swimming pool professional- like us- as there could be any number of other issues preventing your pool heater from working.

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Swimming Pool Chemicals: Getting to Know Chlorine

In our last post about pool chemicals we talked about how chlorine is the most common pool disinfectant. It’s also a common household product (read: bleach, although it’s more diluted than what you would be adding to your Utah swimming pool). So what should you know about chlorine?

Chlorine is typically prepared in liquid, powder or tablet form (though some professionals use gaseous chlorine), and it can be added to the water anywhere in the cycle. Chlorine comes in different strengths, and all chlorines are definitely not created equal. Pool experts generally recommend adding it just after the filtering process, and specifically after the heater here in Utah (since for the most part, all pools in Utah tend to have heaters, specifically up here along the colder part of the Salt Lake Valley). You don’t want to be flowing highly chlorinated water through the pool equipment, especially your heater. One way some pool owners add chlorine to their pools is through the skimmer boxes, which isn’t very safe because the chlorine tends to be too concentrated in those areas.

One problem with hypochlorous acid is that it’s not particularly stable. It can degrade when exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun, which of course all pools are subject to, and chlorine may combine with other chemicals to form new compounds. Pool chlorine tablets often include a stabilizing agent, such as cyanuric acid, that reacts with the chlorine to form a more stable compound that does not degrade as easily when exposed to ultraviolet light. You should be testing your pool, at least at the beginning of the summer, to make sure your cyanuric acid level is the right level (less than 100 parts per million and greater than 30 parts per a million according to the Health Department).

Even with a stabilizing agent, hypochlorous acid may combine with other chemicals, forming compounds that are not very effective sanitizers. For example, hypochlorous acid may combine with ammonia, found in urine, among other things, to produce various chloramines. Not only are chloramines poor sanitizers, but they can actually irritate the skin and eyes and have an unpleasant odor. The distinctive smell and eye irritation associated with swimming pools are actually due to chloramines, not ordinary hypochlorous acid — a strong smell usually means there is too little free chlorine (hypochlorous acid), rather than too much. To get rid of chloramines, you have to shock treat the pool, which is to say, to add an unusually strong dose of chemicals to clear out organic matter and unhelpful chemical compounds.

Chlorine also affects the overall pH balance of the pool, and also is effected by the overall pH balance of the pool. As overall pH rises, chlorine is slowed down and is slower to kill bacteria.  And as pH lowers beyond 7.5, the chlorine effectiveness speeds up killing bacteria faster, but also becoming unstable where it is “spent” more quickly.

And that, my friends, is how chlorine works in your swimming pool.

*Thanks to HowStuffWorks “Pool Chemicals” for help in writing this article.

How do you Repair Cracks in In-ground Gunnite Pools in Utah?

Good question, and we’re glad you asked. There are a couple of options.

First of all cracks in in-ground gunnite pools don’t always leak and consequently you don’t always have to fix them. If you see a hairline crack it might not necessarily mean you have to fix them because they might not be leaking or leaking enough to matter.

If you do suspect the crack is leaking try one of these options:

1. Inject dye next to the crack and watch and see if the dye gets sucked into the crack.

2. A dye-free option is to clean the swimming pool, and then within a day or two check out the crack and see if dirt or debris to begin building up in the crack.

If you determine the crack is leaking you probably want to put an end to it. You have two options:

1. Calcium Ball: This is a DIY measure. A calcium ball is a mixture of cement and calcium mixed with enough water that you can form it to a ball. You’ll take the calcium ball and either reach under the water or get in the pool and rub it into the crack. This works because calcium makes cement set or “go off” very quickly. This often works and works well, but it’s likely you’ll eventually have another crack. It’s worth a try but not necessarily a long term solution. (This option is if you have a traditional white plaster pool)

2. The best way to fix a crack is to drain a pool, exposing the crack, and hire a professional (like us) who will take a diamond blade saw and cut the crack open two inches wide and two inches deep the length of the crack. We will then fill the bottom of the crack with an industrial grade caulking product and patch in the plaster 1-2 days later, after the caulking has cured. Doing that is a much more permanent way to fix the crack, although there are no guarantees because pools may still be settling.

There you have it! If you’re having problems with cracks in your pool, give us a call at 801-208-9527 to fix your Utah pool.

Different Types of Swimming Pools

A boy in a children's swimming pool.

Image via Wikipedia

Believe it or not there are several types of swimming pools out there. Let’s take a minute (thanks Wikipedia!) and check out the different types of swimming pools.

Private Pools

Private pools are usually smaller than public pools, on average 12 × 24 ft (3.7 × 7.3 m) to 20 × 40 ft (6.1 × 12 m) whereas public pools usually start at 80 ft (24 m). Home pools can be permanently built-in, or be assembled above ground and disassembled after summer. Privately owned outdoor pools in backyards or gardens started to proliferate in the 1950s in regions with warm summer climates, particularly in the United States, Utah being one of those areas.

An Above-Ground Pool

Construction methods for private pools vary greatly. The main types of in-ground pools are concrete, vinyl liner, and one-piecefiberglass. Above-ground pools (also called “on-ground pools”) are cheaper to assemble and also cheaper in quality.

Public Pools

Public pools are often found as part of a larger leisure center or recreational complex. These centers often have more than one pool, such as an indoor heated pool, an outdoor (chlorinated or saltwater) which may be heated or unheated pool, a shallower children’s pool, and a paddling pool for toddlers andinfants. There may also be a sauna and one or more hot tubs or spa pools (“jacuzzis”).

Public pools may occasionally belong to a hotel or holiday resort, as an amenity for the recreation of their guests. If a pool is in a separate building, the building may be called a “natatorium”. The building sometimes also has facilities for related activities, such as a diving tank. Larger pools sometimes have a diving board affixed at one edge above the water.

Many public swimming pools are rectangles 25 m or 50 m long, but may be any size and shape desired. There are also elaborate pools with artificial waterfalls, fountains, splash pads, wave machines, varying depths of water, bridges, and island bars.

Wading or paddling pools are shallow bodies of water intended for use by small children, usually in parks. Concrete wading pools come in many shapes, traditionally rectangle, square or circle. Some are filled and drained daily due to lack of a filter system. Staff chlorinate the water to ensure health and safety standards.

Competition Pools

The Fédération Internationale de la Natation (FINA, International Swimming Federation) sets standards for competition pools: 25 or 50 m (82 or 164 ft) long and at least 1.35 m (4.4 ft) deep. Competition pools are generally indoors and heated to enable their use all year round, and to more easily comply with the regulations regarding temperature, lighting, and automatic officiating equipment.

An Olympic sized swimming pool (first used at the 1924 Olympics) is a pool that meets FINA’s additional standards for the Olympic Games and for world championship events. It must be 50 m (160 ft) in length by 25 m (82 ft) wide, divided into eight lanes of 2.5 m (8.2 ft) each plus two areas of 2.5 m (8.2 ft) at each side of the pool. The water must be kept at 25–28 °C (77–82 °F) and the lighting level at greater than 1500 lux. Depth must be at least 2 m (6.6 ft), and there are also regulations for color of lane rope, positioning ofbackstroke flags (5 meters from each wall), and so on. Pools claimed to be “Olympic pools” do not always meet these regulations, as FINA cannot police use of the term. Touchpads are mounted on both walls for long course meets and each end for short course.

Exercise Pools

In the last two decades, a new style of pool has gained popularity. These consist of a small vessel (usually about 2.5 m x 5 m) in which the swimmer swims in place, either against the push of an artificially generated water current or against the pull of restraining devices. These pools have several names, such as swim spasswimming machines, or swim systems. They are all examples of different modes of resistance swimming.

Hot Tubs and Spa Pools

Hot tubs and spa pools are common heated pools used for relaxation and sometimes for therapy. Commercial spas are common in the swimming pool area or sauna area of a health club or fitness centre, in men’s clubs, women’s clubs, motels and exclusive five star hotel suites. Spa clubs may have very large pools, some segmented into increasing temperatures. In Japan, men’s clubs with many spas of different size and temperature are common. Commercial spas are generally made of concrete, with a mosaic tiledinterior. More recently with the innovation of the Pre-Form Composite method where Mosaic tiles are bonded to the shell this enables Commercial SPA’s to be completely factory manufactured to specification and delivered in one piece. Hot tubs are typically made somewhat like a wine barrel with straight sides, from wood such as Californian redwood held in place by metal hoops. Immersion of the head is not recommended in spas or hot tubs due to a potential risk of underwater entrapment from the pump suction forces. However, commercial installations in many countries must comply with various safety standards which reduce this risk considerably.

Ocean Pools

In the early 20th century, especially in Australia, ocean pools were built, typically on headlands by enclosing part of the rock shelf, with water circulated through the pools by flooding from tidal tanks or by regular flooding over the side of the pools at high tide. This continued a pre-European tradition of bathing in rockpools, or bogey holes with many of the current sites being expanded from sites used by Australian Aborigines. Bathing in these pools provided security against both rough surf and against sharks. There were often separate pools for women and men, or the pool was open to the sexes at different times with a break for bathers to come without fear of observation by the other sex. These were the fore-runners of modern ‘Olympic’ pools. A variation was the later development of sea- or harbour-side pools that circulated sea water using pumps. A pool of this type was the training ground for Australian Olympian Dawn Fraser.

Infinity Pools

An infinity edge pool (also named negative edge or vanishing edge pool) is a swimming pool which produces a visual effect of water extending to the horizon, vanishing, or extending to “infinity”. Often, the water appears to fall into an ocean, lake, bay, or other similar body of water. The illusion is most effective whenever there is a significant change in elevation, though having a natural body of water on the horizon is not a limiting factor.[citation needed]

Natural Pools and Ponds

Natural pools were developed in central and western Europe in the early and mid 1980s by designers and landscape architects with environmental concerns. They have recently been growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional swimming pools.NSPs are constructed bodies of water in which no chemicals or devices that disinfect or sterilize water are used, and all the cleaning of the pool is achieved purely with the motion of the water through biological filters and plants rooted hydroponically in the system. In essence, NSPs seek to recreate swimming holes and swimmable lakes, the environment where people feel safe swimming in a non-polluted, healthy, and ecologically balanced body of water.

Water in NSPs has many desirable characteristics. For example, red eyes, dried-out skin and hair, and bleached bathing suits associated with overly chlorinated water are naturally absent in NSPs. NSPs, by requiring a water garden to be a part of the system, offer different aesthetic options and can support amphibious wild life such as snails, frogs, and salamanders.

There you have it: the different types of swimming pools. Although for your Utah backyard we’re going to have to recommend sticking with the traditional in ground pools, exercise pools, infinity pools and/or hot tubs.

How To Choose Winterizing Chemicals For Your Swimming Pool

Oprah may have her favorite things, and we have ours, specifically for winterizing your swimming pool and/or spa. Some of our favorites? We’re so glad you asked….

  • BioGuard Silk Winter Floater WP:  The Silk Winter Floater WP’s unique design keeps two 1/2 lb. chlorinating silk sticks well below the winter cover line to provide long-lasting, continuous chlorination during the winter months. For white plaster pools only.
  • GLB Algimycin Winter Algeacide (aka Wintertrine): For a simplified approach to seasonal algae protection, GLB Pool & Spa® offers this non-foaming, non-metallic winter algaecide to ensure a hassle-free opening in the spring.
  • BioGuard Winter Shock II: Winter Shock II is our popular, lithium-based winter shock treatment ideally suited for vinyl and above-ground pools. Packaged in convenient 1 lb. bags it dissolves quickly, won’t cloud water, and oxidizes organic wastes.
  • RV Antifreeze: Just make sure to use “RV” anitfreeze, not the other stuff which is highly toxic.

These are a few of our favorite things, err, we mean pool chemicals we use for preparing your Salt Lake City swimming pool for the bitter Utah winter. Contact us for prices and scheduling at 801-208-9527.

Lifeguard Pools and Spas: What We Do!

swimming pool

Image by freefotouk via Flickr

So know you know where we do our swimming pool and spa deeds, find out what we do:

What kind of stuff do we specialize in? Lifeguard Pools and Spas will travel to your part of the Utah neighborhood for:

  • Swimming Pool and Hot Tub Service and Maintenance: Let’s be honest, balancing chemicals in this Utah climate is not rocket science, but it can be confusing and it does take time away from enjoying your pool and spa. Keep your water safe and clean by letting a professional take care of it.
  • Swimming Pool and Hot Tub Repairs and Remodels: A cold swimming pool due to a broken pool heater is no fun, neither is a cloudy pool because your filter is old and worn out. Or maybe your swimming pool looks like it was built around the time Esther Williams was popular. Either way, Lifeguard Pools and Spas is your Utah swimming pool company.
  • Winterizing: When the Utah weather starts to turn cold, give us a call to schedule your winterization early.
  • Spring Openings: It’s the time of year we all wait for: time to shed the winter layers and get back into the pool. Book your Spring Opening early to enjoy your Memorial Day party in style.

Contact us at 801-208-9527 to find out more about available swimming pool and spa services and scheduling options.

Lifeguard Pools and Spas: The Best Swimming Pool Company in Utah

Yah we said it, we think we’re the best Swimming Pool Company in Utah.  Why? Well, lot’s of reasons. We’d love to tell you about some of them.

Reasons We’re the Best Swimming Pool Company in Utah:

  • We service all areas of the Wasatch Front from Ogden to Spanish Fork and everything in between, and we don’t charge you extra for coming to your corner of the Utah neighborhood.
  • We specialize in swimming pool and spa service, repair, and remodeling for swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs in Utah. We know this crazy Utah weather and the effects on your swimming pool and hot tub equipment so no matter if you live in Salt Lake City, Alpine, or Orem, we’re got you covered (well, we’ve got your pool covered, that is).
  • Our business is based on the principal that every swimming pool and spa owner should get the best service, all the time, without having to pay an extravagant price. It may seem unusual, but we think a highly customized level of swimming pool and spa service shouldn’t be so hard to come by.
  • Lifeguard Pools and Spas provides the highest level of customer service by arriving on time, thoroughly completing the agreed upon work in a timely manner, and charging a fair price. It seems we’re just old fashioned that way.

Intrigued? Then give us a call to find out more: 801-208-9527.

Still curious about what areas of Utah we service: Check out the handy list below:

  • Salt Lake City,
  • Murray
  • Holladay
  • South Jordan
  • Midvale
  • Sandy
  • Riverton
  • Highland
  • Alpine
  • Orem
  • Provo
  • Farmington
  • Bountiful

Can I Remodel my Swimming Pool or Spa in Winter?

Many people mistakenly believe that the only time of year they can remodel their pool is in the warm summer months. The problem with that is that in Utah, that only leaves a few months, which happen to be the months you’d probably like to be swimming and sunbathing and such. That’s why it makes sense to schedule and being your swimming pool and/or hot tub remodel in the colder months. Give us a call to find out more about your remodeling options.