Winter is Coming – How to Chemically Protect Your Pool

Winter is Coming – How to Chemically Protect Your Pool

Winter is Coming! No we don’t meant the Game of Thrones coming battles that looms on the horizon. Instead we mean that temperatures are going to drop and your pool chemistry is going to do some funky things. The hardest part about water chemistry is that it changes throughout the year! We are working with real elements that change composition and behavior due to outside factors, such as temperature. What this means for you is that you need to adjust your pool care treatment to adjust for colder temperatures.

If you’ve followed Matt’s Water Pool Service for some time, you’ve likely seen our article on the Langelier Saturation Index. In that article we speak about the critical topic of “water balance” and how varying factors can impact the chemical requirements of your swimming pool. For sake of time, we are going to build off of that conversation and assume you’ve read up on all that the Langelier Saturation Index has to offer.

But first a quick recap…

Based on our understanding of the LSI Index – water is known as “The Universal Solvent.” It will find a state of balance no matter what environment it is in. The troubling factor is that water interacts with its environment (a.k.a. your pool surface). It will take or deposit elements it needs in order to maintain it’s state of balance. What does this mean for your pool plaster and pool equipment? It means that you need to be conscious of water’s changing behavior from fluctuations in temperature.

Here you can glimpse the power of the Orenda Technology App. This amazing software allows us to measure the LSI index for your pool water. As you can see from the image, by booster the pH & Calcium of the pool water, we are able to restore the balance to this swimming pool. It's simple in theory and highly effective at saving you money.
Here you can glimpse the power of the Orenda Technology App. This amazing software allows us to measure the LSI index for your pool water. As you can see from the image, by booster the pH & Calcium of the pool water, we are able to restore the balance to this swimming pool. It’s simple in theory and highly effective at saving you money.

Water Becomes Aggressive at Cold Temperatures

The LSI is impacted by several key factors: Temperature, pH, Alkalinity, Calcium & Total Dissolved Solids (TDS – or salt). All of these factors play a critical role in the LSI Index (a.k.a. your water balance). Luckily, all but one of these factors can easily be controlled by Chemical alterations, which you can purchase directly from Matt’s Water eShop! All of these factors can be altered – except for Temperature.

Temperature is an interesting element because it impacts your water and causes your water balance to require constant alternations. It’s the only factor that can’t be controlled by another element – meaning it’s the most powerful and one that you shouldn’t neglect.

According to the LSI Index, the colder the water – the more corrosive it becomes. Left unchecked water can become highly aggressive and begin to remove elements from your pool surface to maintain it’s state of balance. As you may already know, the only element present in pool plaster that water is able to remove is: Calcium. Calcium is a natural mineral present in nearly everything. It’s able to be dissolved by water and absorbed (hence removed) from a surface to satisfy corrosive water conditions.

This wretched interaction can continue to take place all winter long and wreak havoc on your pool plaster and pool equipment. It will continue until the LSI reaches a state of balance and your water is satisfied.

Often times it’s not until the Spring that home owners turn on their pool heater (while going for a swim) only to realize that their heater won’t fire. They also notice that their pool plaster is rougher. Ironically as temperatures begin to heat up, they notice “scale” beginning to form on their pool surface.

Rather than allow this to happen to our clients, we believe it’s time to provide some insight and education to prevent this natural disaster from occurring in your backyard!

One of our favorite parts of the job is working with home owners to provide insight into caring for their swimming pools – the right way! Here you can see Matt and Cathey discussing the chemistry of this swimming pool after some water testing.

Prevent Corrosive Water Conditions – Use The LSI Index!

The first step in treating your swimming pool and preparing for winter always involves testing your current water chemistry. Before any alterations can effectively be determined, we first have to have a starting point to gauge what changes need to be made to your water chemistry.

Luckily Matt’s Water Pool Services offers water testing for our clients and we can even provide you with a consultation in your backyard! There’s nothing better than evaluating your swimming pool in person and obtaining advice from professionals who care for swimming pools all year long!

Once we’ve obtained a water test for your swimming pool we can accurately gauge what changes need to be made to your water chemistry.

Because water temperature does not change over night, our changes throughout the Fall will be subtle and accurate. We take weekly steps to maintain our water balance throughout the constant rises and dips in temperature. This ensures that we don’t go too far to one side or another of the LSI Index and cause scaling or etching on your pool surface.

Left unchecked all winter – your swimming pool can turn into a chemistry nightmare. Trust the experts when we say – it’s easier and cheaper to keep your swimming pool well maintained. Don’t neglect your pool and try to save on cost by not treating it until the Spring. This can cost your more than you expect and take longer than you think to fix it.

What Chemical Changes Can We Make?

So what are they key chemicals that we use to balance our LSI and prevent natural disasters in our swimming pools?

Changes in PH – Control Small Fluctuations in LSI

Again, we always start with the LSI Index. If the changes that we need to make are minor and require little adjustment, a small rise in our pH can shield your water against a small drop in temperature. Of course you need to make sure you don’t surpass a healthy pH

Ideally you want your pH to be between 7.2 – 7.6

Changes in Alkalinity – Keep Your pH in Line

Additionally, if our pH shows too move much and doesn’t seem to maintain a consistent number from week to week – we then look at Alkalinity. Alkalinity acts as a buffer to protect our pH from constant fluctuations. Raising the Alkalinity can also act as a buffer against decreases in the LSI due to cooler water conditions.

Ideally you want your Alkalinity to be between 80 – 120 ppm

Changes in Calcium – Control Large Changes in LSI

Lastly, raising our Calcium content in our water can shield greatly against changes in water temperature. The ironic aspect of calcium alterations is that we are adding the mineral that water craves directly into our swimming pool. Because cooler temperatures suck calcium out of our plaster – we can attack the problem head on by adding calcium directly to our water!

What’s the flip side of calcium alternations? Once added to the water, calcium cannot be easily removed (aside from draining your swimming pool).

Ideally you want your Calcium to range between 200-400 ppm (but this number must be determined by the LSI)

So What’s The Solution?

With so much variation in the behavior of water from temperature changes, what is the lasting solution to protect your pool surface and equipment? The short answer – there is no easy answer. Each swimming pool is a different eco-system with varying degrees of minerals, metals, phosphates, calcium and TDS. These differing minerals and fluctuations temperatures require our teams to test each and every swimming pool that we interact with.

The solution, therefore, is that we recommend professional care for your swimming pool! Many clients balk at this topic, but we ask the franc question:

If your swimming pool is the most expensive aspect of your home – why would neglect it and allow the pool surface to be ruined from lack of professional maintenance?

The truth of the matter is – many home owners don’t want to care for their swimming pools. They believe that water chemistry is confusing and difficult. Ironically, your swimming pool is a costly investment and resurfacing your swimming pool can easily cost your around $10K.

With such a high price tag, doesn’t it make more sense to have your pool regularly maintained by a professional service company than risking a ruined surface? We certainly think so and are here to help any client that calls on us for assistance!

The Changing of the Seasons: Summer to Fall – What to Expect

The Changing of the Seasons: Summer to Fall – What to Expect

It’s hard to believe, but trust us: Winter is Coming! Your iPhone Weather App currently shows Texas heat in the high 90’s with the heat index in the 100s. The air is humid, wind is little to none and we’re officially halfway through Summer. However, school is about to start which means a few more months of heat but that will soon give way to chilly weather, cloudy skies and changing seasons.

At Matt’s Water Pool Services, we believe it’s imperative that our clients understand the impact of Fall and Winter on their swimming pools. We often see a dichotomy of pool owners investing in our cleaning services during the Summer and then shutting down their service because of changing seasons.

In our eyes, this is a mistake (not just for business) but also for the health of their swimming pools. With each changing season, there are major differences to be aware of when maintaining your swimming pool. Neglecting a season or two for the sake of “saving money” is only going to lead to a higher cost of pool maintenance come Spring & Summer. Here’s why…

By using Matt’s Water Services all year round, your swimming pool can stay looking crystal clear all year round! Here you can see Matt performing a weekly brushing and cleaning of this Above Ground Swimming Pool. Looking good Matt!

Differences in Water Behavior from Summer to Fall

Right now we’re all playing the same game: keep chlorine in the pool, backwash the filter, treat the pool with algaecides and enjoy your backyard while the heat is still here! It’s the good old days of Summer and everyone is outdoors and enjoying cookouts on weekends or sitting pool side for a Saturday morning breakfast. Let’s be honest – most people enjoy their pool the most during the Summer season and treating the water chemistry is pretty straight forward.

Fast forward a few months to Fall and what are the key differences that we see? Well, for starters, the onset of Fall means just that – falling leaves. Did you know that there are over 250+ species of trees that are native to Texas? Every backyard that we care for is sewn and laced with a variety of tree species – all of which behave differently.

Each type of tree drops a difference size of leave: some of which are easy to remove while others get into drains and filters. Other trees drop acorns, nuts, pine cones or other types of seeds. Left alone, seeds become debris with Organic minerals that can decompose inside of your swimming pool and stain your pool plaster.

Neglecting your swimming pool during Fall can lead to a whole host of issues, including but not limited to:

  • Filtration problems due to drain & skimmer blockages
  • Burned out motors & pump breakages – due to debris entering pumps
  • Stinky & malfunctioning heaters due to dust accumulation & nesting critters
  • Stains on pool plaster from presence of leaves and nuts
  • Corroded heat exchanges (in heater) & plaster etching due to cooler water temps and lack of Calcium in water (see LSI Index below)

Long story short, maintaining your swimming pool primarily means removing debris and balancing pool chemistry. It’s not always easy and yes, it’s a pain. Leaves do NOT fall all at once and often you’ll need to be in your backyard every weekend removing leaves from the pool, skimmer baskets, pump baskets and filter. It’s time consuming and if you have other things you’d like to be doing – that’s what we’re here for!

Removing leaves is a full time job come Fall. Leaves will continuously drop for anywhere between 4-8 weeks (depending on the severity of the weather). In all cases, it’s crucial to regularly empty your skimmer & pump basket. This will save your circulation system and prevent issues related to clogged filtration lines. Save yourself the headache and let us handle this headache for you!

Understanding the LSI Index is Critical to Pool Health

Secondly, changing temperatures can lead to more aggressive water. Water requires a state of balance between the water and the pool surface (pool plaster or liner). If one of these two entities becomes unbalanced, both entities will transfer minerals on a molecular scale. Left alone long enough, you’ll start to notice some serious side effects including: Etching or Calcium Scale. The two problems are polar opposites of each other and both are based on the same principle – based on the LSI Index.

Water chemistry is easier to maintain during warmer months and that’s because the warm water temperatures can be a substitute for poor water chemistry. When water cools down, the cushion of warmer temps goes away and you begin to see what is truly wrong with your water chemistry.

In many cases, pool owners do not have enough Calcium (a mineral) in their pool water and left unchecked this can lead to heat exchanger corrosion and plaster etching. Ultimately, lacking in Calcium leads to water pulling minerals away from the pool plaster or heater at a molecular level to satisfy its craving for minerals – this becomes more exaggerated when water cools down.

There is a true science to understanding water at this level and there are actual measurements that we can perform to measure your pool chemistry. In all cases, we recommend that you consult with us or allow us to check your water chemistry before adding additional calcium to your pool. It’s always recommended to allow us to dosage the water for you to avoid overdosing your water with calcium.

Not keeping your water properly balanced during cold weather can lead to corrosive water conditions due to chilly water and its lack for minerals.

What’s The Cost of Pool Service versus No Service

Long story short, it’s always nice to go from the hot days of Summer to the chilly months of Fall. It’s an enjoyable time frame that many of us Texans relish, but don’t get too comfy and neglect your swimming pool. This sounds a bit cliche but remember one important thing: next to your home, your swimming pool is the second most expensive asset that your own!

Owning a swimming pool is something that many people dream of and oftentimes once they have one, they don’t want to maintain it. Unfortunately, a pool is a lot like a kid. If you don’t give it the proper amount of TLC, it can become unbalanced and unhealthy – costing you additional money down the road. We are advocates of year round service and have plenty of options to help you maintain your pools while easing the strain on your pocket book.

We provide both weekly and bi-weekly cleaning services. Depending on the types of trees, number of trees, amount of rainfall, water drainage and many other factors – we can recommend the best service to keep your pool healthy all Fall and Winter long!

Neglecting your swimming pool can cause severe stains to your plaster. Here you can see Matt acid washing this swimming pool before a round of rigorous brushing. Expensive services like these are the result of a swimming pool gone wrong during the winter off-season. Avoid costly repairs such as this by allowing us to keep your water happy and healthy all winter long!

How to Have a Faster Spring Startup and Longer Swim Season

Lastly, by allowing Matt’s Water Services treat and maintain your swimming pool all Fall and Winter long – you’ll be able to swim earlier and with less headache come Spring. Many home owners wait until mid-Spring to ask us to begin cleaning out their swimming pool, but fail to realize that the entire town around them is making the same request.

That being said, if we maintain your pool all Fall and Winter (either weekly or bi-weekly) we can keep your pool in swimmable condition – allowing you to enjoy your backyard with no waiting period! Choosing this option will ultimately save you the most money by avoiding costly repairs or chemical treatments. You’ll also have a beautiful backyard to enjoy all winter long. Having a stunning backyard and one that you can enjoy all year round is important to you, isn’t it?

The Next Chemical to Add to your Pool: Borates

The Next Chemical to Add to your Pool: Borates

Why we use it and why you should as well:

Swimming pools are an investment: an investment in your home, your home life, and your time spent with family. So why not offer your swimming pool the best there is to offer? Boron, an element found on the periodic table, is the basis for borates, as it can be found throughout the wild. Borates act as a buffering agent in the water, which is why it is ideal for swimming pools. Borates interact with the PH, or acidity, of your water, and help keep it under control. All of the chemicals inside of a pool are key for a healthy swimming pool, and they must be kept in balance to ensure each chemical is pulling its own weight. So why do we use borates? Because it allows us to better ensure the success of your pool’s water health. And this is why you should use it too. With just a little bit of work up front, borates ensure the longevity of your pool’s water health as well as the water’s health.

The features and benefits of using borates:

  1. Borates help stabilize PH.
    • When your pool has high PH, or your water is more basic than neutral, several problems arise. The first issue is that high PH does not allow your chlorine to work properly or effectively.
      1. When your chlorine stops acting as a sanitizer, this can cause algae growth. This is because it is no longer killing the organisms in your water and therefore allows for algae to flourish.
      2. Secondly, this can cause your water to to become cloudy and milky. Again, without proper sanitization, your water has no defense against microorganisms.
      3. High PH also affects us humans as well. Whenever we jump into a pool with high PH, we can experience some or all of the following: burning eyes and noses, as well as dry and itchy scalps and skin. None of this is pleasant to experience and is definitely not inviting for your next pool party.
  2. Borates can help control algae growth.
    • Borates are not an algaecide, meaning they do not kill algae. But, they are an algaestat, meaning they can be used to help prevent the growth of algae.
      1. When your PH is under control, and in acceptable ranges, meaning your water is neutral, it allows the chlorine to go to work hunting down and killing the microorganisms and algae. It allows the chlorine to do its jobs and act as a sanitizer.
  3. Borates save you money on chemicals.
    • Keeping your PH in check, as previously mentioned, allows your chlorine to go out and act like the sanitizer we all know it can be. This means that less is more when it comes to your sanitizer.
      1. By keeping your PH in check, your chlorine does not have to work so hard fighting the PH to get to the algae and other microorganisms. Which means you can actually use less chlorine, have the same level of cleanliness as before, and save money on your chemicals.
      2. When your PH becomes too high, even as much as 7.8-8.0 as opposed to 7.4-7.6, your chlorine can lose its effectiveness by up to 80%.
  4. Borates save you money of equipment and repairs.
    • High PH leads to calcium scaling. Calcium scaling is the buildup of calcium deposits. This is not only unsightly, but also bad for your equipment and plaster as it can cause deterioration and degradation, costing you potentially thousands of dollars to replace equipment and re-plaster your pool.
      1. One of the biggest pieces of equipment that gets hit with calcium scaling is the salt cell. This expensive piece of equipment can get calcium scaling caked on it, costing you hundreds of dollars potentially in repairs.
  5. Borates make your water clear and sparkling.
    • Borates in the water not only help with your chemicals, but also help with the overall experience of the water in regards to your experience.
      1. When all of your chemicals are in balance, your swimming pool water is like a dream. Borates help with that. By keeping your PH in check, chlorine is allowed to work hard and not become so wrapped up in the PH. This allows your pool so stay crystal clear for so much longer.
      2. Borates also softens hard water, making your experience much more pleasurable.

Why borates help you love your pool:

 Borates are our newest addition to our line of services here at Matt’s Water Pool Services. This chemical is helping us achieve our goal of “Teaching You How To Love Your Pool”, and we are proud of what it can do for you. Borates are amazing for both new and old plaster, as well as vinyl liner pools, can save you money over time, and will help you and us maintain peak service and quality pool water health year round. Please feel free to reach out to us via our website, phone, or come visit us at our retail store in downtown Corsicana. We would love to help you with your pool and would love for your to join us on our adventure as we further explore better ways to provide you with quality service.