This is a touchy subject discussed among ourselves in the pool retail industry but also one that has affected not just the swimming pool industry but more and more mom and pop businesses in any retail situation in downtown USA.
I will not sit here and speak for everyone in my industry but use our own experience as one to ask you the consumer to consider your local pool store the next time you think about buying a pool heater and other swimming pool equipment online. I have to admit I am bias as I think you should support your local businesses in your community as they often will be supporters of the community by giving back to youth organizations, sponsor charity events and usually give back to the community regularly. By supporting local business owners you also are continuing the flow of currency in your community allowing others to benefit from a robust local economy resulting in an increased tax base versus having no local business in town and having to accept an increase in personal taxes to support the town budgets. Often times the economics of purchasing everything on line does not resonate or enter our minds but it is time as consumers we think before we buy.
I am not going to sugar coat the facts, a brick and mortar store has the added expenses of rent, mortgage, employees, insurance, taxes, licensing and the carrying of inventory that online sellers may not, hence the differences in pricing. Years ago when this phenomenon began, most retailers didn’t pay attention and perhaps naively thought online retailing was a fad and that changes didn’t need to be made to their own business. Now that everyone sees that online sales continue to grow, the issue for myself and others is how to combat competition with pricing that is well below what we as a dealer can get from our own distributors. I admit it is quite frustrating to have someone who says they can buy what you sell lower than what you can purchase it for yourself.
Answering this conundrum is not always obvious as manufacturers play what I call the MAP game in which anyone they sell their product to is not supposed to sell below the MAP price, however I can tell you online today there are retailers selling way below these prices and nothing is being done to curtail the unfair disadvantage to mom and pop retailers across the country. They are volumn driven, not necessarily service driven.
You the consumer may very well think that’s too bad for you but great for me because I am getting the product at the cheapest price out there. Yet there are a growing number of products being sold that is not OEM or original to the manufacturer but fakes or seconds and refurbished. You need to be savvy as to the quality you are getting for the price as well as be informed to know about warranties, service and return procedures. Some products when purchased on line may come with no warranty by the manufacturer if purchased on line. Let me give you a few examples that I have had in the last couple of years.
I had a customer who purchased a brand name heater on line from a popular discount site, the same kind we sell but we were higher priced (our price did however include installation and our one year warranty for labor). This customer received his heater, and then called the gas company to hook up the gas line and another company to plumb the heater into the filter system, he felt embarrassed to call us because he didn’t buy from us. From day one it didn’t work, he contacted the company he purchased the heater from and it took a week to get a call back. They diagnosed the problem on the phone, and told him to call a local company to remove the part and send it back to them so they could replace it. By the third week of trying to get someone to remove the defective part he called us to see what we could do for him. He was obviously embarrassed and called us as a last resort because he didn’t purchase the heater from us, he was a good customer however, so we were able to speak with our brand name representative and had the approval to change out the part for no cost to the pool owner with in two days using a part from our inventory. In another situation, a customer called us for a price on a new cell for his salt generator. He said he could purchase it on line much cheaper and I warned him to make sure he purchased the correct cell size and that is was an official OEM part or the manufacturer would not honor the warranty. He called me later in the day to order his cell from us as the one he saw online was not an OEM cell, and was for 9000gallon pool and not 40000 like he had. He thanked me for pointing out what to look for and thought he would rather pay more and go with someone who is “watching his back”.
There are many more situations I could convey but these two give a good example of what your local business has in the way of value to you the consumer. So part of my answer is that a community business has to offer something of value that gives you a reason to pay a little more for our service and product. For us we continue to offer a service of convenience, solid quality products and a service and construction crew with over twenty five years of pool experience. We honor the warranty of the products we sell. We carry the parts to what we sell so you are never waiting a week for something to be shipped. We offer the in store knowledge of pool water chemistry, and knowledgeable staff that can usually walk you through a problem without spending money for a service call.
All of the above are just part of what we need to do to compete. In addition, we have funded updates on increased technology, customer loyalty programs and the addition of inventory in the lower to mid price ranges so that we can appeal to all types of budgets. For many who think the big box stores, discount warehouses and catalogues have cheaper prices for chemicals and accessories, I challenge you to check the pricing at your local pool store. I am actually lower in pricing for most common pool chemicals than these giant retailers and you get the benefit of someone who knows what they are talking about and selling to you only what you need.
For most of our long time customers they see the value of shopping locally. I know it is tempting to opt for price only but perhaps you could benefit by checking out your local pool supply retailer. We have all had to make changes to compete but for most of us our service has always been one of constant value. I don’t know where the mom and pop stores will end up ten years from now, I do know that it is all our responsibility to respond and change with the market and for the consumer to understand why it is important to be there for your local markets and what role they play in their choices.
For our customers, we thank you for choosing our company as we are aware that you have choices, we look forward to moving ahead with more to offer you.
For more information see my book on Purchasing Swimming Pool Equipment and other swimming pool guides at http://amazon.com/author/propoolgirl or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our site for swimming pool info www.prospectpoolsllc.com
Yes, here we are again at what is usually a big 4th of July party at poolside. Time is running short to prepare your pool for a successful, safe party. It is time to look at your pool water and do some testing to make sure all your chemistry levels are where they should be and that your filter is running clean. I always try to advise that it takes a couple days to clear up a cloudy pool depending on type of filter etc so don’t wait till the last minute because on Sat or Sun whichever day your party is there is no magic pill that will clear it up in an hour.
A good party planner always thinks ahead so make sure you have a some games and toys for the kids. Go over who is going to be the designated supervisor of the pool while children are swimming and what the pool rules are such as no running, pushing, diving etc. this usually makes for a more pleasant day for all. Have your safety equipment in an available area not stuffed in the shed somewhere. Keep in mind adults after imbibing can be unruly in the pool area as well so a responsible adult (s) should keeping an eye on activities to prevent any unforeseen mishap.
Parties can be hectic for the hosts so as good guests prepare to keep an eye on your children and others and that kids aren’t running around areas where dangers can lurk; such as hot grills, open bars, mechanical machines etc. Never trust a child to swim alone even though they have flotation devices on these are a level of safety but should not be relied upon on their own always have adult supervision.
The weather here is supposed to be fantastic for your party so try to remember to have fun, take a breather and enjoy your company. If you take the proper precautions ahead of time a safe holiday can be had by all.
Please remember to take a moment to remember why we celebrate the holiday in the first place as we thank our service men and women who help protect this country of ours so we have the freedoms we so enjoy.
National Water Safety Month begins in May and is a joint effort of several organizations related to the aquatic industry and several states, including Connecticut, who recognizes May as an excellent time to highlight water safety as we venture outside and increase outdoor activities. This includes going swimming in our own pools, going to a beach, lake, or even a water park. I will begin by addressing swimming pool safety so that our expertise can be utilized as you begin to open your pools for the season. I would suggest that as a family you take a few minutes at the beginning of the swim season to go over the safety issues involved in all swimming venues, whether it is your backyard, a friends house or a public venue. Knowing certain rules and obeying the person in charge will not only make your day safe and fun but will keep the invites to future BBQ’s and other events coming as well. Below are some guidelines for parents to follow and also some for the family as a whole to do together to make the summer enjoyable and safe.
Adults: Always have constant adult supervision in the pool, spa or hot tub area. This means no distractions by cell phones, books, etc. Have a cordless phone by the pool so you do not leave children unattended in the water; remember your main attention is your child not a phone conversation.
When opening the pool check and make sure suction fittings, jets, grate covers, and drain covers are securely fastened and meet the ANSI/ASME standard. Do not allow swimming if a cover is loose, missing, or cracked this must be repaired first.
Check all diving boards, slides and platforms for cracks prior to use making sure installation is correct. Again any damaged items should not be installed for use.
Make sure heaters are properly ventilated and all electrical equipment is properly grounded and bonded as well as protected by GFCI circuits and up to code. If a cord is frayed replace it, (and no an extension cord is not up to code) and if you are unsure call a professional technician or electrician.
Install and inspect fences, self-closing and latching gates, and baby barrier fencing. Also check your fence, gate, and pool alarms and keep life rings, hooks and other rescue equipment near the pool. Inspect and make sure there are adequate and safe entry and exit ladders and handrails at both ends of the pool.
Check your water chemistry at least twice weekly.
1. Sanitized water keeps bacteria at bay and illness away and protects your family from germs. 2. Water clarity aids in identifying swimmers in distress.
Kids & Family:
Use the Buddy System; never swim alone even if you are a good swimmer and if you are not, get skilled by learning to swim at your local YMCA.
Learn CPR-The Red Cross has an excellent water safety program and CPR course, take the time to learn CPR. If you learned years ago take a refresher course.
Know your limits. Remember when your parents told you your lips are turning purple and you still did not want to get out of the water? Well, take a break, warm up a little. If you have been active for a long period of time slow down, remember to apply sunscreen and hydrate by drinking water. You still can become dehydrated even though you are in thousands of gallons of water and you can become hypothermic even if it is warm and sunny.
Swim in Safe areas. Face it; if you can’t swim you shouldn’t be jumping into the deep end of the pool. Nor should you be diving in areas that are shallow. Only dive in areas designated. DO NOT DRINK AND DIVE!
Many of these rules will apply to all bodies of water including Water parks, lakes and oceans, and the vessels used on them. Boats, Jet skis and other flotation devices that may give a false sense of security should also be closely examined on a regular basis. Taking a few minutes now can bring hours of fun in the sun for your friends and family.
For information on any safety products available for your pool or spa contact us at Prospect Pools LLC. 203-758-0524 visit us at www.prospectpoolsllc.com or read our blog at www.prospectpoolsllc.com/blog
Check out this kid friendly site for interactive games on safety at www.splashzoneusa.com
Perhaps the most overused chemicals in the now vast array of pool chemicals, clarifiers and flocculants are often thought to be the “wonder chems” that will turn your water crystal clear in an instant. Let’s take a closer look as to when a clarifier is called for and in what circumstances a flocculant should be used as both have specific applications for various situations. First and foremost before adding any chemicals to your pool test your water to make sure water is balanced and check your filter system making sure it is not in need of backwashing, the baskets are clean etc. If one or both of these are not in optimum order your water will be cloudy and should be corrected first.
Sometimes, however, chemically the water is balanced and everything seems perfect and your water appears clear but then you switch the pool light on and whoa! It looks like fog city in your pool. This is when a clarifier or flocculent may be applied. Flocculants and clarifiers are designed to enlarge the smaller particles of dirt and debris that your filter system can’t pick up. Filters are wonderful at straining out large particles but each media has its own limitations for ex. DE filters are said to pick up particles 2-4 microns in size with a Cartridge 15-20 microns and Sand coming in last at 25 microns and higher and as the filter gets dirtier with a higher pressure it becomes less efficient. If you can imagine the human hair is about the size of 17 microns, but particles as innocuous as dirt to those which can be more harmful to swimmers such as Crypto, E-Coli, and Giarda may be too small for your filter to pick up.
The desire of using flocculants and clarifiers is to make these unwanted particles larger. Chemically, dirt particles are negatively charged and repel each other, by adding clarifier or flocculant (polymers which are positively charged) the dirt and debris will attract to the polymer and form a larger structure. In the case of a clarifier these can now be picked or strained out by your filter system and your water becomes clear. You the pool owner can backwash these particles easily from the filter or wash off a cartridge. In the case of flocculant use there is a different application. I would urge users to follow the label instructions carefully and fully. As an example, the flocculant I carry in our store is designed to force particles to bind together and fall to the floor of the pool. The application is to add the flocculant and filter the pool for one hour then shut everything down allowing time for the suspended particles to go to the pool floor and vacuum the next day very slowly to waste. You may need to vacuum more than once with flocculant and if you can not vacuum to waste you may clog the filter where you will have to backwash or hose down the filter a couple times.
I myself, have never been a huge proponent of Flocculants, mostly because they tend to clog up your filter systems unless you are able to vacuum to waste and in my area wells are so prevalent which means to properly use the Flocculant you most likely will be adding water to the pool which can cause other chemistry problems such as staining and metals in the pool so I advise customers to stick with the Clarifiers. My preference and opinion only. As always folks, remember the more chemicals you add to your pool increases TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) which down the line can create problems with your water chemistry. My motto has always been to add what is needed no more, run your filter system the correct amount of hours and take the time to keep the area around the pool clear and clean which will help with debris falling into the pool. Keep it safe!!!! Don’t forget to write in your questions. www.prospectpoolsllc.com
Water balance is an important part of your pool maintenance to prevent damage to equipment and allow the chemical products to work efficiently. Your water should be tested regularly and adjusted to meet the proper required levels. Your water’s balance is constantly changing and everything from weather to oils, to dirt and cosmetics affect it. No matter which form of sanitization you use, you need to test your water 2-3 times a week, or any time you notice a change in water quality get your test kit out or bring it up to your local pool store.
If you test yourself and are using a liquid reagent test kit make sure you are taking a proper sample up to the fill line on the container. Add drops holding the dropper bottle vertically (straight up and down) as holding at an angle may distort the drop size and lead to inaccurate results, and always wash out the container after each test. If you are using the test strip method immerse strip and swirl 3 times in a one foot circle and then raise strip from water face up and keep level to avoid reactant on strip pads from running. Don’t shake off excess water. Compare your results starting with the end pad starting with the free chlorine and end with the total hardness pad, this allows for the correct reaction time for the different pads.
Recommended Levels are as follows: Min Ideal Max
Free Chlorine (ppm) 1.0 1.0-3.0 5.0
PH 7.2 7.4-7.6 7.8
Total Alkaline 60 80-120 180
Calcium Hardness 150 200-300 400
Cyanuric Acid 10 30-50 100
Gunite Pools maximum alkalinity should only be 120
It is key to know your pools volume in gallons prior to adding chemicals. When adding any chemical if unsure add in small increments it is better to add a little and retest than to add too much. It is also key to have proper expectations, if your pool looks like a swamp there is no chemical to make it clean and clear in an hour, you must be able to allow your water to filter and it may take 24-48 hours before you see results depending on the filter size and amount of time you run your filter. For example a sand filter usually takes longer than a DE filter because a DE filter can pick up particles 2-5 microns in size where a sand is 50-100 microns.
The most common areas to pay attention to in water chemistry to initially balance your pool water are Chlorination, Alkaline and PH. Low Alkalinity makes it hard to control the PH level, which can lead to corrosive water and may damage equipment especially heaters!! Both high and low alkalinity can cause cloudy water and make it difficult to balance the rest of your pool.
Low Chlorine levels can easily cause cloudiness as well, there are two types of chlorine free and total. I usually explain the free as what is available to work but is sitting on its laurels so to speak. Shocking the pool will usually get these to work fast and clear up the cloudiness should everything else show balanced. I always suggest using liquid chlorine shock over a powder, because there is no residue sitting on your liner, just walk around the pool perimeter and put the gallon in. This is in addition to what you are using as your regular chlorination program be it trichlor, dichlor (powder), salt, etc. Different kinds of chlorine can lower or raise your PH levels so try to test water regularly; for example super shock can raise PH levels while Trichlor can lower PH (tricky isn’t it) but put simply if your pool is cloudy check for Chlorine, PH and Alkaline levels first, bet you one or two are off and need rebalancing.
*Add chemicals according to the label and one at time, never mix together.
Here are some trouble shooting issues you may come across:
Can’t keep chlorine in pool- make sure water is balanced, add Stabilizer (Cyanuric Acid Level Low) this helps sunlight from drawing chlorine from pool
Pool has green particles on bottom or algae-there are several forms of algae, green, mustard, black and coral just to name a few with green the easiest to treat with an algaecide, black and mustard algae’s are somewhat resistant to chlorine so get an algaecide specific to the kind you have and with black you may never really get rid of it but you may be able to keep it faded with higher chlorine levels and treatments of a black algaecide.
Rusty reddish yellow stains- may be metals in your water. If you fill your pool with well water or had a ton of leaves deteriorate in the bottom of the pool over the winter you may have some metals in your water, use a metal remover. Iron- usually brownish red, Copper- blue green (can also be a sign of a bad heat exchanger), Manganese- pink red black or brownish black stain.
If you have done everything chemically to fix a water problem with minimal results then the issue may lie with your filtration system here are some helpful hints based on filter type:
Sand Filter-If you find that filter pressure is not building up check your sand, replace if more than three years old or the particles may be too small where the sand may need help picking them up.
DE Filter-Backwash if pressure is too high, you will notice as there will be no or little flow of water back into the pool so backwash and recharge with new earth.
Cartridge Filters-Take out the cartridge and clean it well. Especially if you had a bad algae bloom.
Above-Ground pools-The skimmer is the only way water is getting into the filter. If the top foot of water in your pool is clear but the rest is cloudy or milky you may have poor circulation, try pointing your return eyeball down to get water moving at a lower level. You can also attach your vacuum and put it at the bottom of the pool with vac head tilted on its side. You can at this time try a clarifier.
Vinyl in-ground-if you are cloudy only in the deeper end of the pool again circulation may be the issue and you should point your returns downward to get the water moving or try the vacuum head tilted on the side drawing the water up and circulating through the filter system. You can also try to get your returns to form a whirlpool effect to increase circulation.
LASTLY SOME CHEMICAL SAFETY TIPS!
1.Keep out children and pets reach
2.Never mix chemical together. Add separately and slowly. Never add water to chemicals, add chemicals to water.
3. Don’t smoke around chemicals
4. Store products in a cool, dry well ventilated area.
5. Don’t inhale fumes or let chemicals come into contact with eyes, nose or mouth.
In case of contact or swallowed, follow emergency advice on product label and call local poison control center and doctor.
6.Keep chemical containers closed when not in use.
7. Never tamper with labels or switch chemical out of its original container.
8. Use exact quantities specified, not more. Chemicals need to circulate for hours before retesting water.
9. Less is more don’t stock up on chemicals. Shelf life is important so dispose of according to hazardous waste disposal rules of your community.
10. If a spill occurs follow clean up instructions per label or call local emergency # keep spilled item isolated.
I hope this helps a little in your swimming pool endeavors. Try not to add too much chemical to your pool as this is not environmentally friendly and evenutally adds up to Total Dissolved Solids which I didn’t even cover here (TDS) just remember you are swimming in this pool.
If in doubt bring a sample to a pool store where they don’t push a bunch of chemical on you but sell you what you need.
Any questions please make a comment or email us from our website at www.prospectpoolsllc.com