POOL & SPA MAINTENANCE

POOL & SPA MAINTENANCE

POOL & SPA MAINTENANCE

Maintaining a pool or spa need not be a chore.  Automatic chlorinators, chemical feeders and pre filter devices can all reduce the work required however even the most advanced pool requires a regular regime of checks and balances to keep the pool or spa in ideal condition.

DEBRIS REMOVAL: 

Leaves, twigs and seeds will accumulate on the pool surface and eventually end up in the skimmer basket, leaf canister or the lint pot of the filter pump.

These collection points should be cleaned out at least once a week or more often if the site conditions dictate.

Regular removal of this debris will allow the filter system to operate efficiently and minimize chemical demand.

Once these baskets are cleaned they can be rinsed and replaced.

VACUUMING & SCRUBBING: 

The interior surface of the pool or spa will accumulate dirt, oils and algae.  The floor, walls, steps and ledges should be scrubbed or vacuumed on a weekly basis.

The extent of this build up will vary depending on the interior finish. A plaster interior is relative porous and will require more attention than a tiled surface.

Vacuuming of the pool will pick up debris that has collected on the floor of the pool or spa. This work can be done manually with a vacumn hose and head or more commonly with a vacuum cleaner.

Vacuum cleaners can either be connected to the skimmer or be an independent robotic unit. Robotic cleaners are more expensive but they are much more effective at cleaning as they systematically map and clean the pool/spa interior.

FILTER CLEANING: 

As dirt accumulates within the filter it begins to clog and reduce the effectiveness of the filter  media or cartridge.

When a sand filter becomes clogged it needs to be backwashed. This is relatively easy to do and can be accomplished with a few turns of the multi port valve.

A cartridge filter needs to have the cartridge(s) removed from the unit and rinsed. This can be done with a garden hose or a specialized cleaning attachment.

The frequency with which the filter needs cleaning will depend on the size of the unit. An undersized filter may need cleaning as often as once a week.  Filter cleaning once a month is more common but larger filters and the use of pre filtration devices can reduce filter cleaning to as little as once a year.

The easiest way to check if a filter requires cleaning is observe the pressure valve at the top of the unit.   Generally a filter is ready for cleaning when the operating pressure has increased  10-15 psi above the normal/clean operating level.

CHECK WATER LEVEL:

Pools and spas require the water level topped up periodically. This water is lost through evaporation, splashing and people exiting the pool.

If the correct water level is not maintained the skimmer can run dry which will result in significant damage to the filter pump.

The water can be replenished with a garden hose however it is more convenient to have an auto filler which is plumbed into the water supply. These units are regulated by a sensor which automatically add water as required.

TEST WATER BALANCE: 

Automatic chlorinators and pH doses will only regulate the chlorine and pH levels of a pool.

Whilst they are important there are several other critical elements which require regular monitoring and adjustment.

Total alkalinity and calcium hardness are other key measures of water balance.  These levels can be checked manually with a water testing kit or the water can be tested by a computer at a pool shop.  The advantage of regular testing at a pool shop is that the computer maintains a track record of the test results which makes diagnosing issues much easier.

Most pool owners will take a sample of water to a pool shop at least once a month. During peak swimming season, when the chemical demand on the pool is the greatest, this off site testing should be done once a week.

Another important check with automatic dosing equipment is to ensure that there is an adequate supply of chlorine or acid within the dosing containers.  These chemicals are stored adjacent to the pool equipment and can be checked/refilled as required.

POOL & SPA EQUIPMENT

POOL & SPA EQUIPMENT

POOL & SPA EQUIPMENT: 

PUMPS: 

The filter pump is the heart of any pool.   The filter pump circulates the water through the filtration system and must be sized correctly to efficiently remove debris and eliminate harmful bacteria.

Pumps are also used for additional systems such as: in-floor cleaning, spa jets, solar heating and water features.

Pump selection is important and it is usually based upon a hydraulic design for each specific project.

 

SINGLE SPEED PUMPS: 

Single speed pumps have been in use for decades.  Although they are cheap to purchase they are relatively noisy and inefficient to run.

For this reason they are not a good option unless they are used on a system which only operates infrequently: spa jets, water features etc.

Pentair’s Whisperflo pumps are self priming and are compatible with all filters, cleaning systems and spa jets.  They feature an oversized strainer basket and volute and heavy duty construction for long life.

 

VARIABLE SPEED PUMPS: 

Variable speed pumps represent the cutting edge of pump technology.

They are quieter, run cooler and offer advanced features which allow the pool owner to dial the exact flow rate required.

Variable Speed pumps are up to 90% more efficient than single speed pumps which means they can pay for themselves within the first 12-18 months of operation.

The Pentair IntelliFlo pump has set the standard for energy efficiency, near silent operation and long service life.

It offers up to 8 programmable speeds and built in timer which is fully compatible with the Intellitouch Control System.

 

FILTRATION: 

Effective filtration requires the removal of insoluble matter such as dirt, debris and algae from the pool water.

The most common filtration systems use either sand or cartridge filters.

The filter area can vary, depending on the size of the unit, but generally the larger the filter the lower the maintenance required.

Sand filters trap debris, oils and dirt in the small openings between the media particles.  The media is usually sand or glass particles of varying size.

Once too much dirt has accumulated in the media bed the filter needs to be cleaned or backwashed to a sewer connection.

The availability of this sewer point is a critical consideration when selecting a sand filter for a filtration system.

The alternative to a sand filter is a cartridge filter.  Cartridge filters are more effective than sand filters at trapping small particles.

The water is cleaned by passing through a pleated synthetic fabric that traps the dirt and oils.

Cartridge filters can contain more than one filter which means the filters require cleaning less regularly.

One significant advantage of this filter is that when cleaning is required the cartridges can be removed from the filter tank and hand washed with a garden hose.

This avoids the need for a permanent sewer connection in the pool equipment area which can be a large additional expense.

 

PRE-FILTERS: 

Removing debris before it reaches the pool filter improves water circulation and minimizes filter maintenance and cleaning.

Leaf canisters are designed to capture floating debris that has been collected by the skimmers and main drain.

These canisters can be located in the pool equipment area or within the pool deck and are cleaned as part of the regular maintenance cycle.

Finer debris, which is heavier than water, needs to be collected via centrifugal filtration.

Waterco’s Multi Cyclone is designed to remove up to 80% of fine debris before it reaches the pool filter.

This sediment is collected in a separate chamber that can be purged as required.

The combination of a leaf canister and Multi Cyclone can minimize backwash frequency or cartridge cleaning to as little as once per year.

 

SANITATION:

Sanitation is required to ensure healthy conditions in pool and spa water.

An effective sanitation system will maintain water clarity and control the growth of harmful bacteria and germs.

The most popular methods for sanitation involve the addition of chlorine.

Chlorine can be added to the pool manually, via a floating chlorinator/erosion feeder or it can be dosed automatically via dispenser.

Erosion feeders and Automatic dispensers are effective but they are expensive to maintain due to the need to constantly buy chlorine tablets or liquid.

The alternative is a Salt Chlorinator which generates chlorine from the salt that is added to the pool water on start up.

Salt chlorinators are becoming more popular as they eliminate the need for the pool owner to buy, transport and store chlorine compounds.

With salt levels approximately one sixth of sea water the pool water feels clean, clear and luxuriously soft.

The Intellichlor Salt Chlorine Generator features full diagnostic capabilities, push button operation, automatic shut off and the ability to communicate with the Intellitouch Automation System.

 

CHEMICAL CONTROLLERS:

The addition of chlorine is only part of maintaining healthy pool water. To ensure the sanitizer is working effectively the pool’s pH (acidity of the water) needs to be maintained between 7.2-7.8.

As chlorine is added to the pool water the pH rises. Unless the pH is lowered, by adding acid, the chlorine will be ineffective which will lead to poor sanitation.

Manually testing and adding acid is labor intensive and can be avoided with the installation of a chemical controller.

Chemical controllers help keep the pH and chlorine levels of pool water in constant balance.

Pentair’s Intellichem minimizes the cost of purchasing chemicals with programmable chemical feed cycles and mix times.

The unit automatically tests and doses the pool water with liquid chlorine and acid as required.

Alternatively salt chlorinated pools can be maintained with an automatic pH controller (acid doser).

The IntellipH controller automatically dispenses muriatic acid to eliminate fluctuations in the pH level and is the perfect companion for the IntelliChlor salt chlorine generator.

 

HEATERS: 

Heaters are a vital component of any pool and spa system.  A good quality heating system can extend the swimming season dramatically and provide excellent value for the pool owner.

The most common systems used are natural gas, heat pumps and solar.

Like most pool equipment it is critical to ensure the heater is sized correctly to account for the size of the pool/spa.

Gas heaters are “on demand” and can raise the pool/spa’s temperature in a relatively short period.

Gas pressure and volume are an important consideration when installing gas heaters which can range in size form 125-400 megajoule.

Heat pumps are very efficient however they are less effective in colder climates and need to be supplemented with an auxiliary gas heater if quick heat up times are required.

Solar heating is very cost effective however it can generally only heat a pool in the warmest months of the year.

The Pentair Mastertemp gas heater is compact, super quiet and offers best in class energy efficiency.

Pool and spa temperatures can be pre-set and controlled via the digital display or a Intellitouch automation system.

 

LIGHTS: 

LED lights are energy efficient and use up to 89% less energy than incandescent and halogen fittings.

Pentair’s Intellibrite lights can be installed as white or color changing with multiple fixed colors and optional customized light shows.

Designed for steps/shallow areas Colorcascade LED light bubblers combine a color changing LED with the soothing sound of fountain like water movement.

 

WATER FEATURES:

Water features can range from a simple waterfall or geyser all the way to an elaborate vanishing edge pool.

Even the most basic waterfall or fountain will provide visual interest and soothing ambient noise for the entire pool and spa area.

The wind, climate, scale and budget must all be considered when designing water features.

When done well a water feature will add personality and tranquility to your poolside experience.

Pentair’s Magicfalls can provide a sheet, curtain or rainfall effect to any raised wall whilst the Wall Spring Decorative Accents provide architectural elegance in a range of styles ranging from Lions Heads, Sconces & Rosettes.

 

SPA JETS: 

Spa jets provide a hydro-therapy effect and are the perfect way to unwind after a long hard day.

Jets can be customized to provide different effects including single stream, multi massage and twin roto.

Waterways jets are designed, engineered and manufactured in the USA.

 

AUTOMATION: 

Pool & Spa automation allows the client to control pump speeds, heating, sanitization, water features, spa jets and lighting.

This can all be done at the touch of a button via an in-house control panel or even remotely via  a smart phone or tablet.

This alleviates the burden of manually turning valves and pushing buttons at the equipment area and ensures you spend more time enjoying your pool and less time operating it.

Pentair’s Intellitouch automation system can control all aspects of your pool and spa including seamless integration with the Intelliflo pump and chemical automation system.

POOL & SPA INTERIORS

POOL & SPA INTERIORS

POOL & SPA INTERIORS

All concrete/gunite  swimming pools & spas require the installation of an interior surface before the pool is filled with water.

Plaster is the most common choice.

These surfaces start off cheap but can get expensive once custom colors, pebble or glass beads are added to the mix.

The alternative to plaster is a fully tiled interior.

The installation of either ceramic tiles or glass mosaics can be significantly more expensive however it is becoming the best option for clients seeking a high end finish.

Outlined below is some further information of the different grades of interior finishes and their relative costs.

TILES: 

The most luxurious and durable of all interior surfaces,  tiles are the most expensive option for any pool and spa interior.

Whilst it is traditional to use a tile around the waterline of a pool or spa extending those tiles into the rest of the interior is becoming more and more popular.

Tiles offer limitless design possibilities, are easy to maintain and are much more comfortable than plaster or pebble interiors.

This is most important in spas, bench areas and steps where a plaster or pebble finish can feel rough or abrasive.

There are two types of tiles commonly used in pools and spas: ceramic and glass mosaics.

CERAMIC TILES: 

The most common choice, these tiles are reasonably cost effective and come in a wide variety of sizes and colors.

Made from clay and permanently hardened by heat they are finished with a extremely dense decorative glaze.

GLASS MOSAICS: 

Glass mosaics are uniquely beautiful and provide a stunning finish to any pool or spa interior.

Available in a range of solid, translucent or shimmering blends glass mosaics are the ultimate choice for any high end swimming pool or spa.

PLASTER: 

The most popular type of interior finish.  It is the least expensive and is available in a range of colors: white, blue, green etc.

Essentially it is made up of cement and crushed marble and whilst it is relatively cheap it can be prone to staining or cracking.

QUARTZ: 

A mixture of polymer-modified cement and quartz aggregates.

The addition of quartz lends the surface a reflective quality and a level of visual interest beyond that of a standard plaster finish.

PEBBLES & GLASS BEADS: 

Pebbles and glass beads  can be used to create a wide variety of textures within the pool interior

Small, smooth pebbles can provide a more natural look whilst glass beads lend a shimmer to the water that is not possible with standard plaster.

Although they are more expensive these finishes are considered more durable than either plaster or quartz.

INTERIOR FINISH COSTS:      

The final cost of a pool interior will vary depending on the overall area, the type of tile or plaster finish selected and the overall complexity of a job.

Upgrading to a quartz or pebble finish can add anything from $5,000 to $20,000 to the cost of an interior finish on a standard size pool.

The cost of upgrading to tiles can vary by a lot more but this depends on the grade of tile and whether glass mosaics or ceramic tiles are being installed.

Every project is different but as a rough guide fully tiling a pool can be at least 5 times more expensive than a plaster finish.

For this reason a lot clients elect to use tiles selectively i.e across steps or over the shallow wet deck area to limit the overall expense.

GARDEN LIGHTING

GARDEN LIGHTING

GARDEN LIGHTING

Our goal in all parts of the landscape installation is to install a product that is easy to maintain or adjust. We strategically place all lights with a focus on certain aspects of the landscape. If you desire to adjust the setting, it is very easy to do. Each light has a nut that can be loosened to adjust the light either up or down. To adjust the direction either left or right, simply twist the light to the desired location.

These lights are low voltage and are connected to wire that is buried beneath the ground. Therefore, you can’t pick up the light and move it to a new location without digging up the wiring. And, you will be limited in how far you can relocate the light based on the available wire.

The biggest maintenance concerns are the lights getting bumped or pulled out of the ground. Just insert the light stake back into the desired location and make sure that it works. Sometimes the connection underground gets broken so if the light does not work, dig back the ground and make sure that all wires are connected into the waterproof encasing.

Over time, light bulbs will burn out and need to be replaced. To get the glass cover off, unscrew the nut that holds and remove the glass lens. We can secure new light bulbs for you through our distributor.

The last item is the low voltage transformer. Each light is on a ZONE. We minimize the number of lights per zone so that we do not have line voltage drop. Most systems are equipped with a timer so that you can set the time for the lights to come on and off. As the season changes, you will want to adjust the start time.

WALLS & PAVING

WALLS & PAVING

WALLS & PAVING

Almost every outdoor project involves the construction of walls and paving. Platinum Landscape & Pools are recognized as industry leaders for our extensive experience and expertise in all aspects of wall and paving installation.

In 2012 the Hardscapes of North America Association recognized Platinum Landscapes & Pools with their Residential award for hardscape installation.  In 2014 we received an Honorable Mention in the same competition.

Walls and paving are the most expensive element of any outdoor project and we take great pride in our innovative approach and the quality of our craftmanship.

WALLS

Retaining walls are an integral part of any landscape design.  On steeper sites they are required to retain changes in elevation and create level areas for paving or planting.  They are also used extensively on relatively flat sites where they are incorporated into seat walls, and raised planter boxes.

Done well walls can be a real feature of your garden. Wall materials need to be selected carefully to compliment the overall house design and any existing features.

Whether they are made from boulders, natural stone, segmental block, pavers, architectural concrete, corten steel or even timber a retaining wall is an opportunity to transform any outdoor area.

The construction of retaining walls needs to be undertaken by a licensed landscape contractor.  Not all walls require engineering or a permit however they need to be built according to standard engineering principles.  A poorly constructed wall will end up being very expensive to repair or replace if it’s not built properly in the first place.

PAVING

Pavers are a great way to upgrade and accent your outdoor living spaces.  Pavers provide a durable all weather surface for pathways, pavilions, sitting areas and swimming pool surrounds.

There is a huge variety in textures and colors with pavers available in natural stone, brick, or concrete.

Regardless of the product the longevity of any paving installation will come down to the sub base preparation.

Depending on the site conditions pavers can either be laid on concrete or on a bed of compacted road base.

Drainage is another important consideration as excessive run off can damage the sub base and cause long term movement in adjacent areas.

WATER AND FIRE FEATURES

WATER AND FIRE FEATURES

WATER AND FIRE FEATURES

WATER FEATURES

Living around and enjoying your water feature(s) will become a cherished time for your family. The sound of the water and the beauty of it can have a transforming effect.

To help maintain the beauty of your water garden, there are several things you will need to do.

Our goal is to create an ecosystem that is largely maintenance free. We install, where possible, an auto fill valve that automatically monitors and adjusts the water level. Each system operates by recirulating water from the top to the bottom. This recirculation creates oxygen and does not allow for stagnation. With evaporation and splashing, small amounts of water are lost and the auto fill valve keeps the proper levels.

Throughout the year, as the weather changes, ponds tend to experience algae blooms.   This is a natural occurrence any time water and heat exist. Algae will be found in any natural pond and is part of the ecosystem. If the algae begins to get out of hand, it can be easily treated. Take a tablespoon of Clorox and put it in the water. This should begin to dissolve the algae. Several applications may be needed to bring it back in balance.

For those who have fish or plant material in the pond, you will want to use a fish/plant friendly product. Most of these products are granular and will be applied to the surface of the pond. You will find that certain products control different situations: EcoBlast is a good product for getting algae under control, SAB (String Algae Buster) is a good product to reduce the string algae growth and so on. You will want to take some time and get educated about your pond and what you can do to keep it clean and healthy.

The biggest variable is ensuring that you create and maintain a natural ecosystem. This means that the system needs to run 24/7 and that the conditions we have talked about are monitored. For those of you with a pondless system, many of these maintenance issues do not apply.

As debris enters the pond, it will float into the skimmer box or settle to the bottom. Where possible, especially in areas where there are many trees, try and keep the pond clean and the debris out. Twigs, paper, garbage and plastic bags, if not removed, will get stuck in the impeller on the pump and plug or block it. A weekly check is usually all that is needed (do it when you mow the lawn) to keep it clean.

We encourage children to be around the pond. If they are not supervised, children and animals tend to disrupt the rocks that we have placed in the pond and around the edges. Sometimes the liner is exposed and other times the characteristics of the waterfall change. These are easily fixed- simply put the rock back in place. Most of the rocks are set in without mortar to create a naturalistic look.

As winter rolls around, you can either keep the system running or shut it down. If you want to keep it running, no damage will result. You WILL need to use a hose to manually fill the pond because the Auto Fill Valve will not work since it is connected to the sprinkler system. You should check the level once a week. The combination of running water with snow and ice is often breathtaking. Should you choose to shut it down, simply disconnect the power and leave the pump in the pond.

In the spring, you can clean the pond or drain it, and then start it up again to enjoy another season.

FIRE FEATURES

Fire features are a fantastic focal point for any landscape area. They create visual interest and provide the perfect counterpoint to water features, ponds and swimming pools.

One of the most popular options for a fire features is the fire pit. Built as a raised structure form either brick or stone the fire pit provides a central point for a sitting or dining area.

Ideally the fire pit is connected to the natural gas supply. This means the size of the flames can be controlled via a Dante valve and there is no need for messy clean ups as required with a wood burning pit. The flame is created by a customized stainless steel burner which is covered over with glass or stone pebbles.

A fire feature is a less formal version of a fire pit. It can be incorporated into a garden or as part of a water feature. A fire feature can be built into a bowl, a garden area or from natural stone.  A fire feature is less of a gathering place and more of an interesting element of the overall design.