5 Common Ways to Fix: Air bubbles in Filter Pump Basket

What happens when I see air bubble in my pump basket?
How can I prevent air in pool filter?

This is a common question that many swimming pool owners ask and the answer can be a quick fix or a major problem.  Remember the problem lies from the pump forward. If you are taking in air you will be putting out air.

Here is a checklist that includes a few areas to check and why:

  1. The strainer o-ring gasket make sure it is not dried out cut or broken.  “Lube Tube” is a great product to lubricate dry o-rings.
  2. Check the drain plugs on the pump. Are they threaded all the way in? Do they have Teflon tape on them?
  3. Check the pump housing for any visible cracks.  Have someone shut the power off while you listen carefully down by the pump area for any air leaks when the pump shuts off.
  4. Check all clamps from the pump forward make sure they are tight.  Pay attention to the first fitting coming out of the front of the pump make sure it is not loose. If it is, remove and use Teflon tape and then thread it back in hand tight plus 1/4 of a turn with with a wrench.
  5. If you have a ball valve in the front or a 3 way valve, check the o-rings here as well.  Check the handle on both the ball valve and the 3 way valves as they loosen with age.

Remember the air is entering the system from the pump forward. Next post we will discuss the major problem area: i.e. a broken skimmer or main drain line.

Should I Use a Winter Chemical Closing Kit?

Should I Use a Winter Chemical Closing Kit?

Should I use one?

Yes. Use it with your in-ground swimming pool with a safety cover.

Winter Closing Kit for Pools with Covers

Winter Closing Kit for Pools with Covers

It will help you be able to see the bottom of the pool when you remove the cover in the spring. This will reduce your cleanup time.

The problem is not all safety cover kits are the same. Some are not worth the box they come in. What should I look for?

Winter Pool Closing Kit contents

Winter Pool Closing Kit contents

  1. Look for a floater inside the kit that has borate in it. Borate will help control algae growth, stabilize ph and reduce corrosion.

  2. A phosphate remover. This will reduce the level of phosphates in the water, which in turn reduces the source of food algae needs to grow.

  3. A quality algaecide to reduce the growth of algae.

  4. Finally, a stain and scale preventer, which will help control staining and the reduction of calcium deposits.

A helpful tip when you purchase a closing kit is to also purchase a case of 4 X 1 liquid shock because you never know when ice or snow does will prevent you from getting to the store. Just before Thanksgiving and in the early spring around Easter, add 2 gallons of liquid shock – 1 in the low end of the pool and 1 in the deep end. When you open the pool, you will notice a large reduction in algae growth, if any, and you will see the bottom of the pool – All thanks to the winter chemical closing kit.
Winter Closing Kit + Case of Shock

Winter Closing Kit + Case of Shock

How to Remove a Scum Line a.k.a. “Bath Tub Ring” from Pools and Spas

How do I remove the dreaded scum line or as some like to call it a ugly bath tub ring?

This is generally caused by the oils on our skin and the main cause is suntan lotion. Dirt and Debris then attaches to the oil on the surface of the pool water and viola it appears out of now where of the side of the pool and is seen right at the water line.

Some helpful ideas on how to remove it.  This line is fairly easy to remove on tile as the oil is less likely to stay bonded to the tile. However the same can not be said for vinyl liners. The oil grit and grime can really anchor itself in particularly if it has been there for a few years. When this problem arises we recommend using the two following products to A) remove the scum line from your pool and B) treat the water to prevent the scum lines from forming.

Featured Products for Removing Scum Lines

The product Wipe Out, made by King Technology is a great product to use for the removal this scum line. You can simply spray on the pool liner and wipe it away or spray Wipe Out on to a sponge or wet rag and wipe it away. If the scum line has been there fore a while it may take 2-3 applications, however the product does work and that ugly scum line will disappear. The product will work on fiberglass and Polymer stairs as well.

Wipe Out Concentrated Cleaner

Wipe Out Concentrated Cleaner

Spec Chem has a fantastic product called “Enzyme Weekly” which by adding about 2 ounces per week per 10,000 gallons will help prevent the scum line from developing.  As a result you can remove the scum line with “Wipe Out” and keep it away with “Enzyme Weekly.” Both these products work well together in keeping you swimming pool water and liner sparkling clean.

Enzyme Weekly Specialty Chemical

Enzyme Weekly Specialty Chemical

Gas Heater vs. Heat Pump for Swimming Pool?

Gas Heater vs. Heat Pump for Swimming Pool

Are you considering replacing or installing a heater for your pool? If so, these questions come up –

  • “Which is the better choice – a gas-fired heater or a heat pump?
  • Which is more efficient?
  • Which is a better deal for my wallet? Is one more effective than the other?
  • Why should I care?”

Well, if you are planning on making a purchase that will affect the length and quality of your swimming season as well as a chunk of your finances, you should care.

First let’s talk about some of the differences between the two. Both are designed to heat your pool but in very different ways. A gas heater uses either propane from a large tank in the yard, or natural gas which is piped in from the street. If you do not already have it piped in to your home, propane will be the way to go. Heat pumps use electricity alone and function like an air conditioner run in reverse. Further a good quality heat pump has an almost 100% efficiency rating, meaning ALL of the energy used is converted to heat and there is little or no energy loss. Compare this to a gas heater which is markedly different. Gas heaters, by their nature, produce heat very quickly but in the process lose a good portion of the energy and are much less efficient. It is for this reason that pool owners who have a gas heater only run the heater as needed, turning on a day or so before using the pool. Heat pumps on the other hand, are much slower to heat up a pool and because of this people will leave them on continuously to maintain desired pool temperature. To use an analogy, heat pumps are long distance runners, and gas heaters are sprinters.

Installation costs need to be considered on both types. Swapping out like for like is relatively low cost. However, it is on the new setups that installation costs need to be weighed out. With gas fired heaters (natural or propane) you will need gas piped in as well as electrical run to the heater, usually 110V. The electricity is for any electronic controls as well as a spark igniter (older units used a pilot light which wasted energy and risked going out). Heat pumps only need to have an electrical line, usually 220V. For this reason, the cost of installation on a heat pump is normally substantially less than a gas heater.

Because of the difference in the way these units operate, most people will benefit more from a heat pump long term than from a heater. The initial cost of a heat pump is anywhere from $800 to $1500 or more than the cost of a gas-fired heater. People who are scared away by the price tag need to consider that they should save the same amount in operating costs in the first season and continue saving cash as time goes on. Essentially the difference in price pays for itself in a very short amount of time.

If you do choose a heat pump, look carefully at the operating temperature range it is designed for and what part of the country you live in. Many heat pumps that stop working below 55°F may be fine for Florida but not much use in the northern parts of the US. At E-Z Test Pool Supplies, we carry the Aqua Comfort line because it will operate down to 40°F, making heat for the pool even on the chilly nights late or early in the season when you need it most! It is the only heat pump specifically designed for the northern pool seasons.

Check out our page on Heat Pumps here! Extend your Swimming Season!!

Let’s turn on the heat and keep swimming!

Product Spotlight: Filter Blaster cleaner for pool filters

Product Spotlight: Filter Blaster

“Filter Blaster” can be used to clean any and all filter and spa cartridges as well as DE filter grids and DE filter cartridges.  Here’s how to use it in 3 easy steps:

Filter Blaster cleaner spray for DE and Cartridge Filters

Filter Blaster cleaner spray for DE and Cartridge Filters

  1. Use a garden hose to spray off the heavy debris from your filter and spa cartridges or filter grids.
  2. Spray on “Filter Blaster” such that it covers the entire cartridge.  
  3. Allow it to sit for 15-30 minutes and simply use the garden hose again to wash or rinse off the product.  
You will notice the cartridge is much whiter and cleaner.  Many times in the middle of a season, we use this product on DE filters in lieu of an acid wash.  This way the pool is not down for 24 hours.  Filter Blaster is fast, effective and easy way to clean.  We certainly continue to recommend that all DE filters are acid washed once a year, but for a mid-season alternative, Filter Blaster does the job.

What Does it Mean when we Say, “I just shocked my pool”?

What Does it Mean when we Say, “I just shocked my pool”?

We use this terminology often in the swimming pool industry.  We are saying let’s use a large amount of chlorine at once to essentially cleanse or refresh the water.

There are many different ways to “shock” a pool.

We can use calcium hypochlorite or liquid shock (sodium hypochlorite 12.5%) There are others but for this discussion we will focus on these 2 products. One is a granular and the other is a liquid. A good rule of thumb is 1 gallon, or 1 pound of granular chlorine 65% calcium hypochlorite per 10,000 gallons of water does the trick.

Granular Shock for Swimming Pools

Granular Shock (Calcium Hypochlorite) recommended dosage is 1lb for every 10,000 gallons of water.

Liquid Shock for Swimming Pools

Liquid Shock (Sodium Hypochlorite 12.5%) recommended dosage is 1 gallon of shock for every 10,000 gallons of water.

For Example: A 20′ x 40′  in ground pool has about 28,500 gallons.  Therefore 3 gallons or 3 pounds will succeed in refreshing the pool water. The dull look will be replaced by sparkling clear water.  The final rule of thumb is to “shock” weekly during heat waves and biweekly in milder temperatures.

What is a “Good” Free Chlorine level? and Should I swim in a pool with “low” Chlorine?

What is a “Good” Free Chlorine level? and should I swim in a pool with “Low” Chlorine?

Free Chlorine is the most important number to monitor in your swimming pool water.  You want it between 1.0-3.0 ppm.  Free chlorine, keeps the water clean and safe from harmful bacteria.  Without a free chlorine level of 1.0-3.0 you are swimming in a cesspool.  Should you be swimming in a pool with a free chlorine reading of less than 1.0.

Answer: No especially if chlorine is your primary and only sanitizer. Test strips are an easy and Convenient to make sure your free chlorine is between 1.0-3.0

What are Phosphates in Swimming Pool Water?

Have an Algae Problem?

  • Your Pool is Balanced
  • You Shock Weekly
  • You Use Chlorine
  • You Still have Algae?

Let’s talk about Phosphates.

What are Phosphates?

Phosphates are food for algae. If you have had persistent trouble with algae- and it always seems to come back, you may have a phosphate problem in your pool. When excess phosphates are present in a swimming pool, the symptoms often include the following: Cloudy, Green Water and or Persistent Algae Blooms despite the use of chlorine and the presence of algaecides.

At E-Z Test Pool Supplies, Inc we like to see your phosphate level under 500 parts per billion.

We would certainly recommend the use of Starver X for a pool with greater than 1000 parts per billion phosphate, especially if the customer expresses similar problems noted in the prior paragraph.

If you consistently maintain your swimming pool water but still occasionally have an algae problem ask our staff about Phosphates during your next free water test!

We recommend this product Starver X to treat pools with high phosphate levels.

This natural proprietary blend of rare earth compounds and complex polymers is being called the most revolutionary specialty pool chemical ever!

This natural proprietary blend of rare earth compounds and complex polymers is being called the most revolutionary specialty pool chemical ever!

How to Use Test Strips to Test Pool Water Chemical Levels

How to Use Test Strips to Test Pool Water Chemical Levels:

  • Use dry hands to open the bottle and remove 1 test strip.
  • Hold the end of the strip and fully submerge into your pool for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Remove the strip and lightly shake off any extra water.
  • Compare the results on the test strip to the chart on the back of the bottle.

Lamotte Insta-TEST 3 pool test stripsTypes of Test Strips that we Offer:

The Insta-TEST test strip formula allows the user to receive the most accurate test strip results instantly. The formula is designed to allow for 30 month shelf life and are packaged in moisture proof Poptop bottle.

LaMotte Insta-Test® 3 test strips measure Free® Chlorine 0-10 ppm (Bromine 0-20 ppm), pH 6.8-8.4 and Total Alkalinity 0-180 ppm.

50 test strips per bottle

Insta3 Test Strip Chart

Insta3 Test Strip Chart

Lamotte Insta-TEST 5 Pool Test StripsLaMotte Insta-Test® 5 test strips measure

  • Free Chlorine 0 to 10 ppm
  • Bromine 0 to 20 ppm
  • Total Chlorine 0 to 10 ppm
  • Alkalinity 0 to 180 ppm
  • pH 6.8 to 8.4
  • Total Hardness 50 to 800 ppm with instant results.

50 test strips per bottle

lamotte-insta6LaMotte Insta-Test® 6 test strips measure

  • Free Chlorine 0-10 ppm
  • Total Chlorine 0-10 ppm
  • Bromine 0-20 ppm
  • pH 6.2-8.4
  • Alkalinity 0-240 ppm
  • Total Hardness 50-800 ppm
  • Cyanuric Acid 0-250 ppm

50 test strips per bottle

Insta-TEST Sodium Chloride (Salt) Test Strips

Measures from 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000, 3500, 4000, and 5000 ppm in 20 seconds. The Salt Strips are packaged with 10 strips per bottle.

Lamotte Pool Salt Test Strips