Pool Safety

Owning a swimming pool is one of the most enjoyable investments you will ever make. Unlike going on vacations, where you could spend endless amounts of money for nothing more than pictures and a few memories, a swimming pool provides endless summer retreats for you, your family, and friends.

Many people who own a pool find that having their friends and family over on the weekends not only helps create memories that cannot be outdone, but the excitement and piece of mind that you can do it all over again at will any weekend.

As we ramp up for the summer season I cannot stress enough the importance of Pool Safety.

Take a few minutes to understand the risks and prepare yourself for that "what if" scenario that I hope you never face . Owning your own pool should be an enjoyable experience. Making sure that you and your family know how to practice and entrust others, while ensuring the proper measures are taken to be safe. You should be aware of the worst possible scenarios that could happen.

The biggest mistake all pool owners make is they assume everyone who stops by for a pool party can swim. Take a moment and ask them this simple question: “Do you and/or your family members know how to swim?”

You may be alarmed to find out that not everyone you know are swimmers as some never really had someone teach them or the time to learn. By asking this question as a pool owner it will open your eyes to keep a watch on the pool and the activities taking place during your family get together or barbecue.

Granted we understand that you are not a lifeguard and do not need to sit there with a whistle in one hand with a set of binoculars in the other standing on guard from your patio ready to reenact a scene you watched on TV. Rather take the moment to show your guests where they can find the appropriate safety equipment that you should have available around your pool. While informing them of your pool rules. At least one family or friend who you know is a good swimmer should stand watch or alternate during the day while kids and adults are in the pool.

I recommend everyone take a moments to review the links below and refresh your knowledge on pool safety. Reading through the below links and others out there on the web for Pool Safety will only take a few minutes of your time.



Water Chemistry Guide
PH Increaser Hardness Increaser Alkalinity Increaser Algaecide Cholrine Stabilizer

Water Balancing a Chlorine Pool

Water chemistry is the most important part of owning and maintaining a pool. Proper water balance not only ensures that your pool water is clean and safe to swim in, the right balance of chemicals also extends the life of your pool and pool equipment. There are some basic chemicals that every pool owner should be familiar with and test for on a regular basis. It is recommended to test your pool water at least once a week using either test strips or a liquid test for the following chemical levels.

Free Chlorine

Free chlorine is the sanitizer that keeps your pool clean and germ free. If you allow your Free Chlorine level to fall too low you run the risk of algae growth. A good balance level of free chlorine is between 2 and 5 parts per million (ppm). Free chlorine can either leave your pool by being broken down by the sun or dissolving organic material in the pool. Chlorine needs to be added to the pool daily, either by using a daily quick dissolving chlorine tablet or powder directly into the pool, or a slow dissolving tablet in a chlorinator about once a week. Be sure to check your Free Chlorine level frequently to keep your pool clean and germ free.

Combined Chlorine

Combined Chlorine is the level of chlorine that is in the process of breaking down material in your pool. An ideal level of Combined Chlorine is between 0 and .5 ppm. If your Combined Chlorine level is higher than a .5 ppm reading then it is necessary to shock your pool. Proper control of Free Chlorine will limit the amount of Combined Chlorine in the pool.


The PH level in your pool tells you how acidic or basic the pool water is. The higher the PH the more basic it is and the lower the PH the more acidic it is. A good PH range is from 7.2 to 7.8 while 7.5 to 7.8 is ideal. PH levels that are too low can cause eye irritation (often mistaken for poor chlorine levels) and even damage to pool filters and equipment. PH that is too high can cause scaling of the pool. Also, your other pool chemicals work best in a PH balanced pool. PH increase is used to raise your PH and PH decrease is used to lower PH levels.

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Total Alkalinity

Total Alkalinity acts as a stabilizer for your PH level. Unbalanced Total Alkalinity can cause your pool's PH level to bounce around out of control. A good Total Alkalinity range is from 80 ppm to 120 ppm. Total Alkalinity Increaser is the best way to raise your Total Alkalinity level. Alkalinity is best adjusted in small steps since this chemical can also raise your PH slightly. Adding a few lbs at a time and retesting after a few hours will help prevent you from raising your PH out of range.

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Chlorine Stabilizer

Chlorine Stabilizer, also referred to as cyanuric acid acts as a sunscreen for your Free Chlorine. The higher your Stabilizer level, the slower your Free Chlorine breaks down from the sun. An ideal range of Chlorine Stabilizer is between 30 and 50 ppm. As you go higher than 50 ppm cyanuric acid will start to diminish the sanitizing properties of your chlorine. It is best to add this chemical slowly through the skimmer and allow 2 to 3 days before retesting since this chemical dissolves slowly. Retesting and adding more too fast can result in a high Stabilizer level. There is no easy way to decrease this reading other than diluting the water with new water.

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Calcium Hardness

Calcium Hardness controls how hard or soft your water is. Depending on the surface of your pool (vinyl, concrete, plaster, gunite, etc.) ideal ranges can fluctuate. Water lacking in calcium can start to absorb the calcium in the walls of concrete and plaster pools. Water with low or high calcium levels can also damage your filter and other pool equipment. Vinyl pools require a Hardness level between 100 and 150 ppm, while a plaster or concrete pool should see a Hardness level between 250 and 350.

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Why Should I Shock My Pool?

One of the biggest questions that comes up whenever talking about pool water chemistry is "Should I shock my pool, and if so, how much and how often?" The simple answer to this question is undoubtedly "YES". The process of shocking your pool is defined as "temporarily raising your free chlorine level to 10 ppm or higher to remove hard to kill bacteria and algae." This process can be done with two different forms of chlorine: Sodium Hypochlorite (also known as Liquid Shock) or Calcium Hypochlorite (also known as Powder Shock). One pound of powder shock is equal to one gallon of liquid shock. Both of these amounts treat up to 10,000 gallons of water. Shocking the pool should be a weekly event along with your water balancing and using your stabilized chlorine tablets. It is also important to shock your pool after it has rained or when a lot of people have used the pool. Once you shock your pool it is not recommended for anyone to swim in your pool for at least 2-3 hours. It is important when adding any chemical especially shock that you have your filter system running to help circulate the water.

How To Treat Your Pool For Algae

Every pool owner at one time or another will have to deal with the dreaded A-word: "Algae".

Algae is a small waterborne organism that grows in your pool when your chlorine levels are too low or your water is not filtered properly. For many pool owners the presence of algae can cause stress and anxiety, because of the cost of chemicals and the amount of time needed to treat and clear up the algae bloom. Removing algae from your pool is a process and there is no miracle chemical that will clear your pool in a few hours. Be sure to follow each step and not cheat, you are only hurting yourself and your pool if you do.

Step 1. Check And Clean Your Filter

The very first step when trying to clean up a green, algae infected pool, is making sure your filtration equipment is functioning properly and is clean. No matter what type of filter you own, the key to cleaning up algae is to run your filter for as long as possible. 24 hours a day is ideal if you have algae present.

If you are experiencing algae after taking the cover off the pool at the start of the season chances are you had algae when you closed. Below is a list of steps to follow for each of the 3 major types of pool filters:

  • Sand Filter

    Be sure to change your filter sand. It is common to hear filter sand does not need to be changed for 3 to 4 seasons. This is not true. Understand your filter is only running for 3 to 4 months out of the year. During this time the sand is constantly wet and waterlogged. The other 8 to 9 months the sand is sitting in storage wet, with no activity causing bacteria and mold to grow. When sand filter owners bring us their water to be tested, the most common statement we hear is: "I opened my pool and it was beautiful, and then it just changed on me." This is because the mold and bacteria in the filter has now been introduced into the pool water, causing an algae bloom.

  • Cartridge Filter

    Be sure to clean your cartridge thoroughly and soak it overnight in either a PH Decrease mixture or other non-invasive filter cleaner. The most effective method is to use PH Decrease in a 5:1 mixture with water (1lb of PH Decrease for 5 gallons of water). The average cartridge filter will last 3 to 5 seasons so a simple soak overnight in any of the solutions above will help open the pores of the filter. This way you will be ready to go for the season with a clean efficient filter.

  • Diatomaceous Earth Filter (aka DE)

    De filter owners will want to flush out their filters and start with new DE. Prior to hooking up the filter inspect all o-rings to make sure they are not dried out or cracked. You will also want to inspect the fingers or grids, depending on what model DE filter you have, to check for tears or holes in the fabric. This will prevent your filter from pushing DE powder back into the pool water.

Once again, no matter what style filter you own, please make sure that your water is circulating properly. Constant filtration and circulation is the key to killing off an algae bloom.

Step 2. Brush And Vacuum Your Pool Wall and Floor

After you have cleaned your filter and have it hooked up to the pool, the next step is to thoroughly vacuum your pool floor and remove any leaves and other debris from the bottom of the pool. Once you have removed all of the debris from the bottom of the pool, you want to thoroughly brush the walls and floor of the pool with a brush designed for your pool. The reason this is important is you want to cause the algae to become suspended in the pool water. When algae is floating in the water, as opposed to sticking to the liner, your filter has a better chance of removing the particles.

Step 3. Balance Your Water

Many pool owners start to see their pool water turn green or green splotches on the liner and will immediately start going crazy adding chlorine shock to clear up the algae. This should NEVER be your first option. In order for your chlorine shock to work well your balancing chemical levels have to be proper. This is especially true with your PH and Total Alkalinity levels. PH should always be between 7.2 and 7.8 and Total Alkalinity should be between 80 and 120 ppm. For more information on balancing your water be sure to check out our water chemistry and balancing guide. The presence of algae in the pool can cause these levels to become askew, so it is very important to test your water often. If you are unsure about testing your water or would like a professional opinion please feel free to bring a sample of your pool water into any At Home Recreation location for a free state of the art computerized water evaluation. Lastly, remember as we stated above, your filter should be running the entire time you are adding chemicals and 24/7 when there is a presence of algae. We cannot stress enough how important filtration is when killing algae.

Step 4. Add An Algaecide Or Algae Sequestering Agent

Once you have finished brushing your pool and the water looks like a green cloud, you can add either an algaecide or algae sequestering agent. The most common chemical is algaecide, usually in a liquid form, the most powerful of which is 60% strength non foaming. A treatment of this algaecide is 4 to 6 oz per 10,000 gallons of water circulating with the filter for 6 to 8 hours. Another option that we have found works really well is an algae sequestering agent like Yellow Out or Green to Clean. These chemicals work in conjunction with powder shock to clear up the pool as quickly as possible. These chemicals are easy to use, as long as you follow the instructions on the packaging for optimum performance.

Step 5. Shock The Pool

Whether you are using an algaecide or sequestering agent, your next step is going to be to shock the pool. Again, remember that your filter should be circulating at all times during each step. The timing for this step will depend on which chemical you chose in step 4. If you choose algaecide, you are going to want to shock the pool 4 to 5 hours after adding the algaecide with either liquid or powder shock. If you choose the sequestering agent then you want to shock the pool within 15 minutes per the instructions with powder shock only. Your typical shock treatment equals 1 gallon or 1lb of shock for every 10,000 gallons of water. For the purposes of killing algae however, we suggest doubling that amount. Make sure you run your filter for at least 12 hours after shocking the pool.

Step. 6 Vacuum The Pool

After shocking the pool and running the filter for 12 hours you are going to want to vacuum the pool, usually the next day. You should already see a difference in your pool water. The water should either be cloudy blue or lighter green than before. When you vacuum the pool you want to make sure you are vacuuming to waste. If you have a cartridge filter and are unsure how to do this, you just have to hook up a backwash hose to the drain port on the tank. The water will then divert out the drain instead of back into the pool. By vacuuming to waste you are making sure all of the dead algae is being flushed out of the pool and not being recirculated back in.

Step 7. Re-shock The Pool And Backwash

After vacuuming it is always a good idea to re-shock the pool with a normal (1 gal/lb per 10,000 gallons of water) dose of shock. This gives the water one last kick to get rid of the algae that might remain. You also are going to want to backwash the filter or clean the cartridge depending on what filter you own. If you still see some traces of algae you are going to want to repeat steps 2 through 6 again.

As long as you follow these steps you will see your pool clear fairly quickly. If you have any questions about anything you have read here please contact us at info@athomerecreation.com.

How to Winterize an Above Ground Pool

For many people, winterizing an above ground pool can seem like a daunting task. In reality, winterizing is probably one of the easiest tasks that you must perform on your pool yearly. A properly winterized pool will not only ensure you have an easy opening in the spring, but will also help protect and prolong the life of your pool. Following the steps below will help you close your pool correctly and avoid damage in case of a bad winter.

Step 1

Vacuum and remove all debris from your pool. Remember, the cleaner the pool is when you close, the cleaner it will be when you open.

Step 2

Balance your PH to between 7.2 and 7.6. Having a balanced PH level when adding your winterizing chemicals allows those chemicals to work to their fullest potential.

Step 3

Add your winterizing chemicals per the manufacturer's instructions. Be sure to circulate the chemicals for at least 2 hours after adding them.

Step 4

Install your skimmer and return plugs as per the manufacturer's instructions. Note: If you are using the Aquador brand plug for the first time, you must lower your water level 2 inches below the skimmer to install the new face plate. Once the new face plate is installed and the lid attached you may raise your water level back up to 2 inches below the bottom of the skimmer. The stainless steel plate does not require your water to be lowered.

Step 5

Disconnect your filter hoses from your skimmer and return fittings. Clean the skimmer and be sure it is free from obstructions that may cause water accumulation over the winter.

Step 6

Drain and clean your pool filter. If you have a DE or Cartridge filter you can soak your cartridge or fingers in a mixture of 1lb PH decrease to 5 gallons of water. This will give your elements what is called an acid bath and will dissolve any small particles that general cleaning may not remove.

Step 7

Inflate your Ice Equalization Pillow. Most people use either a shop vac or air compressor to do this. Do not inflate to capacity! Only inflate 2/3 full. You should be able to press your hand into the pillow about half way down. Once inflated, secure the pillow to the center of the pool using a nylon (not cotton) rope. Leave some slack to allow the pillow to move slightly if it needs to.

Step 8

Look over the top of the pool for any sharp or protruding surfaces that may damage your cover. If you find any, cover them with cardboard or styrofoam to prevent puncturing your cover.

Step 9

Install your winter cover per the manufacturer's instructions. At least 2 people are recommended to complete this task. If you are using the cable and winch method (most common method) make sure your cable is around the top of your skimmer, not underneath. Also, be sure the cable is through the grommets properly. The cable should be outside the cover between the grommets that are farthest apart and inside the cover where they are closest together.

Step 10

Over the course of the winter, it is ideal to leave a barrier of 1 to 2 inches of water on top of the cover to prevent wind from blowing the cover up. Any water accumulation more than this should be removed using a winter cover drainer or pump.

If you follow all of the above steps your pool will be properly closed for the winter. Please note that the above steps are the only proper way to close your pool. Many shortcuts that other people use such as gallon jugs, bungee cords, etc are not recommended and may void both the cover and pool's warranty.

How to Backwash Your Sand Filter
Sand Filter
  1. Turn pump off
  2. Turn multiport valve to backwash position
  3. Open backwash gate valve (if any)
  4. Turn pump on and run it for at least one minute or until water clears
  5. Turn pump off
  6. Turn multiport valve to rinse position
  7. Turn pump on and run it for at least 30 seconds or until water clears
  8. Turn pump off
  9. Turn multiport to backwash position
  10. Turn pump on and run it for at least one minute
  11. Turn pump off
  12. Turn multiport to rinse position
  13. Turn pump on and run it for at least 30 seconds
  14. Turn pump off
  15. Turn multiport valve to filter position
  16. Close backwash gate valve and turn pump on
How to Backwash Your D.E. (Diatomaceous Earth) Filter
D.E. Filter
  1. Turn pump off
  2. Bump handle slowly 10 times
  3. Open backwash valve
  4. Turn pump on and run it for at least one minute
  5. Turn pump off
  6. Bump handle slowly 10 times
  7. Turn pump on and run it for at least one minute
  8. Turn pump off
  9. Close backwash valve tightly
  10. Turn pump on
  11. Add D.E. to the skimmer closest to the pump slowly as to not clog it
How to Open Your Pool
  1. Remove cover and air pillow from pool - dry thoroughly and store until the fall
  2. Remove winter chlorine dispenser
  3. Clean the dirt ring around pool liner with the use of tile and vinyl cleaner
  4. If the pool was not covered, remove leaves from the bottom with a pole leaf rake
  5. Set up filter. Refill with new media. Remember to remove all plugs, plates and/or gizmos from the wall skimmer(s). When adding new sand always be sure to backwash first. This will prevent dust-like particles from enters the pool water
  6. Check pH level and correct to 7.2 to 7.6 range
  7. If you had any problems with minerals last season, brown or green discolored water, be sure to use a mineral remover
  8. Add one pound of Chlorine Shock per 10,000 gallons of pool water. This will help establish a chlorine residual. Do not use quick acting shock for pool openings
  9. For pools without Algae, add 2 ounces copper algaecide per 5,000 gallons of pool water as this will retard the growth of algae. Every two weeks add one ounce per 5,000 gallons as a maintenance dose
  10. For pools with Algae problems, add 16-24 ounces of 30% non-foaming algaecide per 10,000 gallons of pool water
  11. Run filter for 4 -12 hours. Add removal chemical
  12. Run filter 12-24 hours until water clears, then backwash the filter
  13. Wait 24 hours and then add 1 pound of chlorine stabilzer per 7,000 gallons of pool water. This will reduce chlorine usage during the season. For new water use 2 pounds per 7,000 gallons of water
  14. Do not backwash for at least 48 hours after adding conditioner
  15. After one week bring in a sample (1 pint) of your pool water to At Home Recreation for a free analysis