Pool Service FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions from Pool Owners:

How can I tell if my pool is leaking?

Depending on the pools normal evaporation. It is about 1" to 2-1/2" per week. When the days are warm and the nights cool evaporation is at its highest. Using the ordinary plastic bucket you can perform this simple test to determine if your pool is leaking.

  1. Bring pool water to normal level. (middle of skimmer)
  2. Place bucket on 1st or 2nd step of pool.
  3. Fill bucket with pool water to same level as pool.
  4. Mark water level on inside of bucket.
  5. Shut off pump and mark pool water level on outside of bucket.
  6. Resume normal pump operation.
  7. After 24 to 48 hours, compare the 2 water levels.
    • If the pool water (outside mark) goes down more than inside water level, there is probably a leak.
    • In case of rain repeat the test. (Be sure if your pool is equipped with an auto fill to shut off water supply.)
    • Test is invalid after 48 hours.
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How do I determine how many gallons of water are in my pool?

First, determine the average depth of your pool by taking the depth of the deepest end of your pool and adding the depth of the shallowest end (in feet). Divide this number by 2. This number is the average depth. Continue below based on the shape of your pool.

  • Square or Rectangular
    Total Gallons = length x width x Average Depth x 7.5 (in feet)
  • Circular
    Total Gallons = diameter x diameter x Average Depth x 5.9 (in feet)
  • Oval
    Total Gallons = Long Diameter (in feet) x Short Diameter (in feet) x Average Depth x 5.9 (in feet)
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How long should my filter run each day?

Your pool filter is the most important component in keeping your swimming pool clean. Ideally, a filter should run all the time for maximum circulation and debris removal. A minimum of 8 hours a day in summer and 4 to 6 hours per day in the winter is highly recommended.

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When should I run my pool filter?

To retard chlorine evaporation, maximize water clarity and prevent algae your pool filter should run during the hottest part of the day.

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How often does my pool filter need to be cleaned?

This is dependent upon several factors. (the size of your pool, size of your pool filter, the type of pool filter you have, bather and contaminant loads most manufactures recommend a minimum of twice a year complete filter tear down and cleaning.

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How do I select a filter, and what are the pros and cons?

There are several types of filters and each is outlined below with a short description. For more information on what might be right for your application please give us a call. Bacteria and algae particle size are measured in microns. The smaller the micron the finer it is to detect with the human eye.

  • Sand - This is the least common filter and it's very easy to use, however frequent backwashing, which is necessary to clean the sand in the filter, uses a lot of chlorinated water, which essentially wastes the chlorine and water. (SAND FILTERS CAN PICK UP 50 TO 100 MICRONS, THE LEAST EFFICIENT)
  • D.E. - (Diatomaceous Earth) This is the only filter we recommend and provides the best water quality, however, it is the most difficult filter to use and requires a lot of attention. (D.E. FILTERS CAN FILTER UP TO 2 MICRONS, THE MOST EFFICIENT)
  • Cartridge - This is the most user-friendly filter and provides water clarity similar to that of a D.E. filter, however the replacement cartridges for the filter are expensive, wear out, and can tear easily. (CARTRIDGE FILTERS CAN FILTER UP TO 30-50 MICRONS, DECENT BUT MOST ALGAE WILL PASS THROUGH A CARTRIDGE FILTER)
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What is cyanuric acid?

Cyanuric acid also referred to as "conditioner" or "stabilizer" is added to swimming pools and spas to slow down the decomposition of chlorine from the sun's ultraviolet rays (UV). With the correct cyanuric acid levels, it can save up to 80% of normal chlorine consumption during peak sunny months. The level should not exceed 100 PPM. Ideal range is 50-80 PPM.

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Why does my pool/spa need to be chlorinated?

Pools should be disinfected continuously by a chemical which imparts a residual effect. Chlorine is a type of "disinfectant", also called a "sanitizer". Disinfects or sanitizers destroy living microorganisms and bacteria, preventing the transmission of disease. There are several types of disinfectants, such as chlorine, bromine, salt chlorination, ozone, and UV light. Pools need a disinfectant with a measurable residual.

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Do you service salt pools?

Yes we do. More and more of our customers are switching to salt chlorination. Interested in switching? Give us a call!

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Is a salt-chlorinated system better than the traditional hand-chlorinated system?

Salt chlorinators do have many advantages over the traditional hand chlorinated system.

The salt chlorinator sanitizes pool water by converting the salt in the water to a chlorine gas, sanitizing your water and then changing back to salt. Adding fresh water to the pool does cause the salt levels to drop therefore salt pools do require salt to be added, usually two to three times per year.

Also, the salt in the water works as a natural water softener, creating a much more comfortable environment to swim in comparison to the harshness of a hand-chlorinated pool.

When it comes to pools, the most important thing is that your family is kept safe from bacteria and algae. Chlorine does not have a long life and therefore even if you test the water for chlorine prior to swimming and find the level is correct, after an hour or so that chlorine could have completely dissipated, leaving the water open for dangerous bacteria. Because a salt chlorinator will continue to sanitize your pool while the pool is in use, the chlorine in the water is constantly being replaced with "new chlorine", keeping the water sanitized at all times and keeping your family safe.

Salt cells do require manual periodic cleaning and maintenance. Also your swimming pools pH will tent to run very high and require large doses of muriatic acid.

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How often should I change the water in my pool?

When your TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) are in excess of 2,000 PPM. Approximately every 3 to 5 years.

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What is TDS?

The sum total of all the dissolved material in the water is called "total dissolved solids" or TDS. Sources of TDS in the water include disinfectants, balance chemicals, calcium hardness, source water, bather waste, algaecides, total alkalinity, wind-blown dust and dirt, phosphates, nitrates, and sulfates.

TDS buildup is inevitable. Every time you add chemicals to the water, the TDS increases. Even adding makeup water to the pool increases TDS. When water evaporates, only the pure water leaves the pool and all material that was dissolved in the water remains behind. This builds up over time, increasing the TDS.

The ideal range of TDS is from 1000 to 2000 PPM, and the maximum level is 2500 PPM to 3000 PPM. There is no way to reduce TDS chemically. You must drain or partially drain the pool and replace with fresh water.

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Should I change my own water?

Only if you have a submersible pump and are familiar with adding start up chemicals (Cyanuric Acid, Stain Out, Chlorine, Acid). Draining a pool using the pool filtering pump usually will not work once the water level drops below the skimmer and is a lot of strain on your filter grids. We do offer a draining service with balancing of chemicals once refilled.

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What are phosphates?

Phosphate is the major cause of algae in swimming pools. Phosphate and nutrients are required by all living organisms, including algae to survive and flourish. Phosphate is introduced to pool water from a variety of sources including rain, runoff from lawns and gardens, fertilizers, bird seed, plant material, pool fill water such as bores, dust, suntan oil and leaves. With time all of these sources will cause a buildup and increase the concentration of phosphate in the water and progressive algae growth. There are lanthanum based compounds /phosphate removers available to reduce the level of phosphate in your swimming pool water below 100ppm or as close to a zero reading as possible.

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How often do I need an acid wash?

Typically every 5 to 7 years a pool should be drained and acid washed to remove discoloring caused by chemicals. An acid wash is, put simply, purposeful stripping of a tiny layer of plaster, exposing fresh plaster beneath.

An acid wash will generally remove superficial stains, fine scale deposits, and various colored deposits from the plaster. The process strips off (dissolves) a very thin layer of plaster, and will therefore generally restore 75 to 85% of the plaster's brightness. An acid wash will not remove heavy deposits or stains that have penetrated through many layers of plaster.

As a rule, acid washing a pool should be done only by a licensed professional.

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My hair turns green when I swim, is this caused by the chlorine?

No. Exposure to metals dissolved in the water, particularly copper, iron, and manganese causes your hair to turn green. When metals attach to the hair shaft and are oxidized by the chlorine, they can leave behind a green residue. To remove the metals from your hair use a swimmer's shampoo which contains the chelating chemical ethylenediamine tetra-acetic acid (EDTA).

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Is it ok for my dog to swim in the pool, or drink the pool water?

Dogs love to swim in the swimming pools. However, chlorinated water is not good for dogs. The chlorine can remove the natural oils from the dog's body and cause dry, itchy skin. Also, too high of a sanitizer level can irritate the dog's esophagus if they drink the pool water.

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How do I keep ducks out of my pool?

Ducks will avoid your pool if the majority of the water is somehow obscured or if the pool seems to be in use.

Try these first:

Fill up as much of the open water surface as possible when the pool is not in use. Throw two large multicolored beach balls in the pool. Add two or more large alligator floats. A few safety pool ropes stretched tightly across the pool will also give the illusion the water is full, and the ducks will should find another place to stay.

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Is it safe to swim with my pool/ spa light on?

We do not recommend swimming with your pool lights on unless you have a GFI (GFCI- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) and check it monthly by pressing the "test" then reset button. If the button does not depress when pushing "test" then "reset" your GFI might be bad and is not safe to swim.

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Why should I use a pool service?

You should use a pool service for these reasons:

  • Convenience: Many of us simply cannot afford the time it takes to maintain a pool on a regular schedule. We do the work and take the time to inspect the pool and the equipment for proper operation. If small parts are needed, they are obtained and installed on the next service date, saving you an inconvenient trip to the pool store. No need to lug home gallons of acid and chlorine and find a place to store them safely when not in use.
  • Competence: We are experts, because we maintain pools for a living. Knowing what it takes to obtain the proper water chemistry is what we do daily. We know what to do if we spot an algae bloom. As with most things, consistency is critically important and that is why we come on the same day every week. We notice changes in the water balance and adjust accordingly.
  • Cost Effective: It will cost you a little more for us to maintain your pool, but probably not that much. You will probably spend an average of $30.00 to $40.00 per month for the necessary chemicals, including chlorine tablets, muriatic acid, shock treatments and chemical test kits. For only a few dollars a week more, we will come to your house and do it all for you.
  • What is your time worth?: Let’s do the math, If you spend an estimated 1 hour per week x 4 weeks per month cleaning your own pool and let’s say you earn $20 per hour at your job $20 x4= $80 plus you are spending $30 to $40 per month on chemicals (and time to pick up chemicals). It's costing you $120 per month at best to clean your own pool.
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Do you add water each week?

Generally no.

  1. It is an insurance liability for us to add water.
  2. When water is being added it makes it difficult to see the bottom of the pool while we are vacuuming.
  3. Time. Our pool technicians are at your home for only 30 minutes. In 30 minutes at 7 gpm (gallons per minute) we would only be able add about an inch of water or 210 gallons, not a significant difference.
  4. If the pool service technician forgets to shut the water off you're probably not going to be happy with us! We want happy customers.
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If I have a pool service do I still need an automatic vacuum?

No you do not need one. But we do recommend it! An automatic vacuum can assist in keeping you pool cleaned in between visits. After all, out of 10,080 minutes in a week we are only at your home for 30 of those.

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If I have a pool service do I still need to empty my baskets?

Yes! We highly recommend assisting us in emptying your skimmer and pump baskets especially during the fall/ windy season. If your baskets are overflowing the leaves will impair the water circulation and your pump will run dry.

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Is it ok to drain my pool for the winter?

NO! A pool should not be drained for more than a couple of days. Without water your plaster will crack and in very rare instances where water tables are high pools have actually risen or popped out of the ground.

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When it rains will the water cause my pool to flood the yard?

No more than if you have only grass or cement in your back yard. Most backyards are equipped with a drainage system so there is nothing to worry about. Once the pool water level crests it is the same as having a cement yard. If you are still concerned you can backwash your filter for a few minutes to get the desired water level. Be sure to add fresh D.E. as soon as you are done or the filter will need to be cleaned again.

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How long does it take to heat my pool?

This would depend to a great degree (pardon the pun) on the size of the pool and the BTU rating of the heater. However, I have an 18' X 36' pool (about 25,000 Imperial gallons) and my gas heater raises the temperature at a rate of about 1/2 degree per hour.

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How long does it take to heat my spa with a gas heater?

An average sized spa 580 gallons with a gas pool heater should take approximately 45 minutes to get from 55* to 104* If it is taking substantially longer your heater is too small or it needs service.

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How long does it take to heat my spa with an electric heater?

If you have an electric heater then you have a portable spa/ hot tub and it must be covered when heating it. If you do not have a cover, get one right away. Portable spas are made to be heated and stay heated. Electric heat elements heat water very slowly at approximately 4 to 5 degrees per hour. It takes approximately 6 to 8 hours typically to get to 104* which is why it must stay covered to retain the heat.

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Typical Project Budget:
$70,000 to $300,000

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McGee Pool & Patio, Inc., Swimming Pool Contractors, Dealers, Design, McKinney, TX