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Swimming Pool Heater Basics, Needs and Types, Part 1

There are few things worse than stepping into an ice-cold swimming pool you weren’t expecting, and you might be surprised how often this can happen even when the weather outside is beautiful and warm. Outdoor air temperature does not always match up with the water temperature in a given pool, and this is why many pool owners, even in warmer states like Utah, choose to add a heating element to their swimming pool.

At Packman’s Pools, we’re happy to discuss pool heaters and numerous other components during our custom pool construction consultations and design sessions. Does your swimming pool need a heater, or might other basic water-heating alternatives suffice? If you do decide on a heater, which of the three primary types should you choose? This two-part blog will cover each of these topics to help you understand everything you need to know about swimming pool heaters.

swimming pool heater basics types

Does My Pool Need a Heater?

Here are some very basic questions to ask yourself that will help dictate whether you should install a pool heater in your new pool:

  • Is my preferred swimming temperature relatively high?
  • Will children, older adults or anyone with temperature sensitivity be using the pool?
  • Is the pool indoors or often closed-in?
  • Do I enjoy an extended swim season that includes late winter or early fall months?
  • Do I have room for a pool heater in the budget?

If you answered in the affirmative to at least one of these questions plus the final one, you should at least consider heating possibilities. Even if you’re unsure about the answers but want to learn more, you should investigate further.

Pool Heater Alternatives

Now, some pool owners find they can adequately heat their water without spending on a pool heater. Some basic DIY methods here include:

  • Ensuring optimal, prolonged sunlight on the pool
  • Using a solar cover rather than other types
  • Keeping the pool shielded from wind
  • Placing solar rings over the top of the pool to help absorb warmth
  • Using heating mats and water circulation (most valuable in smaller pools)

Solar Pool Heater

If you do choose to go with a pool heater, the most environmentally-friendly option available is solar-powered. While these options are on the pricy side to install, they make up for this cost by providing tremendous value and low-cost operations for years and even decades, generally lasting 15-20 years with proper maintenance. They also tend to come with solar tax credits, which benefit you even further financially.

Now, solar pool heaters may be a bit more laborious in terms of installation in addition to their higher up-front cost. They are also dependent on the sun, so there can be days or periods where they aren’t as efficient. Generally speaking, though, their benefits tend to far outweigh their drawbacks.

For more on swimming pool heaters, or to learn about any of our custom swimming pool design or construction services, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.

Basics on Automatic Pool Chlorinator Equipment, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the basics on automatic pool chlorinators. This equipment, which automatically dispenses chlorine in appropriate amounts to the pool and saves many pool owners time, comes in several different formats and styles depending in your pool and its sanitation needs.

At Packman’s Pools, our custom swimming pool builders are happy to discuss automatic pool chlorinators and your various options here during our swimming pool design and construction consultations. In today’s part two of our series, we’ll go over some different types of automatic chlorinators you’ll be able to choose from, plus a few other basic designations and considerations for whether or not you want to install this device in your new pool.

basics automatic pool chlorinator

Inline Vs. Offline Chlorinator

When shopping for an automatic pool chlorinator, you will generally find two options: Inline and offline. These two items function in similar ways and also have similar price ranges, but they are also different in a few minor ways, mainly the way they are installed. Here are basics on each format and installation:

  • Inline: Inline chlorinators, as the name suggests, are installed directly into the piping that connects to the pump and filter system in you pool. Water moves directly from the pool filter into the chlorinator, then returns to the pool.
  • Offline: Offline chlorinators, on the other hand, are installed on the side of the system and connected to the pool using a tube.

There are also certain modern pool chlorinators designed to adapt to either installation format.

Chlorinator Vs. Feeder

We know that terms can get a bit confusing within the pool world if you aren’t an expert, so here’s a quick clarification on two that are often mixed up:

  • Pool chlorinator: Item specifically made for chlorine
  • Pool chemical feeder: A feeder type that works with either chlorine or bromine, and often with differently-sized tablets or sticks

Pros and Cons of Automatic Chlorinators

After all the information we’ve gone over here, you might be wondering whether you should or shouldn’t install an automatic pool chlorinator. These are automatic items that work even when you aren’t home, with convenience serving as one of their top benefits – they also come with varying settings that allow you high levels of control, and they work in every pool type you might be considering.

On the flip side, some do find that the added convenience here is not worth the additional cost. Automatic pool chlorinators are definitely more expensive than simply adding your own chlorine manually, and they also require some basic maintenance and upkeep over the years. If you’ve never had a problem pouring your own chlorine in the past and you’re tight up against a pool budget already, you might skip the automatic chlorinator.

For more on automatic pool chlorinators, or to learn about any of our new swimming pool construction services, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.

Basics on Automatic Pool Chlorinator Equipment, Part 1

As most who have owned or even spent significant time in a swimming pool are well aware, chlorine is the most common chemical used for basic pool sanitation and cleanliness. And while those in previous generations often had to pour their own chlorine in what could be a labor-intensive process for many pools, modern technology has brought us several assists here – and the most popular of these is known as the automatic pool chlorinator.

At Packman’s Pools, we’re happy to explain any part of our swimming pool planning and design processes to clients, including those who desire an automatic pool chlorinator as part of pool construction. This two-part blog will dig into everything you need to know about these items, from what they do and how they work to the types available and some important considerations as you determine whether or not to install one.

automatic pool chlorinator equipment

Automatic Pool Chlorinator Basics

As the name implies, an automatic pool chlorinator is an item that’s put in place to automatically dispense chlorine throughout a swimming pool. This comes in place of pouring your own chlorine, an imprecise and often labor-intensive process.

It’s important to note that there’s a difference between an automatic pool chlorinator and a chlorine generator. The former, which we’re discussing in this series, simply dispenses chlorine, while the latter actually creates it.

How They Work

In the majority of cases, an automatic pool chlorinator will plug directly into your pool’s pump and filter system. When water moves through this system and is returning to the pool, it will be infused with the proper amounts of chlorine by this piece of equipment. All you have to do is ensure you purchase the proper chlorinator type for your pool, which tends to depend on whether the pool is in-ground or above-ground.

Chlorine Type Options

Starting with the very simplest option, here are the types of automatic pool chlorinators you’ll be able to choose from:

  • Floating chlorinators: Simple plastic items that can hold roughly three pounds of chlorine tablets, the floating chlorinator is loaded up and then placed in the pool, where water passes through it and dissolves the tablets over time. These are cheap and easy to replace, though they are not precise and require regular manual change-outs.
  • Tablet chlorinators: Options that use a plastic canister to hold tablets, with connections to the pool’s plumbing. These come with a control knob that allows you to change how much chlorine is being put out.
  • Salt chlorinators: As we noted earlier, certain products in this realm cross over into chlorine generation, and the salt chlorinator is a good example. Through salt cells, this piece of equipment actually creates its own gentle form of chlorine, automating the entire process. As you might imagine, these full-service items come at a bit higher cost.
  • Automation: There are still other systems that have actual sensors in place, allowing them to automatically adjust their own chlorine output levels based on the water’s needs.

For more on the kinds of automatic pool chlorinators available today, or to learn about any of our swimming pool or custom spa construction services, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.

Risks Involved with DIY Swimming Pool Construction

At Packman’s Pools, we’re proud to serve as your full-service custom pool and spa construction experts. From basic pool construction, including design phases, all the way to installation on your property, we’re here to ensure you and your family get the perfect new swimming pool construction from our contractors.

And while we’re huge fans of handy, DIY homeowners who often try to handle certain home improvement projects on their own to save time and money, we cannot recommend this practice for the installation of a new swimming pool. There are several potential pitfalls even extremely handy homeowners – or essentially, anyone without specific training in pool design and construction – might fall into, from safety issues to problems with long-term pool design and many others. Let’s look at some of the specific reasons why we strongly recommend leaving pool design and construction to professionals.

risks swimming pool construction

Timing, Schedules and Delays

For starters, it’s important to realize that even experienced, professional pool builders deal with delays due to weather, contractor scheduling or other factors. And if this is an issue for pros who spend all their time building pools, imagine the hassle it might create for you if you have an entirely separate full-time job to attend to.

It’s important to note that even if you’re handling the bulk of the job on a DIY basis, you’ll be working with various specialists or sub-contractors. You have to plan around each of their schedules, plus any weather or other delays that arise.

Warranty Concerns

For many installing a new pool, warranties are a vital consideration. There are several potentially important varieties, including overall pool warranties, equipment warranties from manufacturers, and labor warranties offered by contractors.

When you attempt a DIY build, though, most or all of these warranties go out the window. In many cases where something goes wrong, you will be entirely on the hook for the damage.

Things Can Go Wrong

Speaking of things going wrong, there’s a long list of possible items here. There are numerous installation mistakes you might make without the proper training, from improper plumbing setup to the wrong thickness of concrete applications. Many homeowners often struggle with bonding the pool in the correct ways, as well. All of these concerns can lead to major structural problems with the pool, often costing you far more in the long run than you would have paid for a simple professional installation.

Mess and Clean-Up

Finally, understand that pool construction projects come with a major amount of materials and potential mess. When you perform a DIY installation, it’s on you to perform the proper clean-up here, a process that often takes weeks or months for non-professionals. Your yard will likely be in total disarray for this entire time period, and could even see permanent damage if you aren’t careful.

For more on why we strongly recommend against DIY pool installation, or to learn about any of our new pool or spa construction services, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.

Chlorine, Bromine and Other Swimming Pool Sanitation Options, Part 3

In parts one and two of this multi-part blog series, we went over some of the differences between chlorine and bromine as pool sanitation options. While these aren’t the only two chemical options for purifying and sanitizing your pool, they are the two most common and the two easiest to find.

At Packman’s Pools, we’re here to provide everything from custom pool or hot tub construction to tips on proper pool usage and sanitation, including the chemicals you utilize. In today’s final installation of our series, we’ll go over some of the pros and cons of bromine and chlorine within several areas you have to consider when it comes to sanitation, including which is generally best for your hot tub.

chlorine bromine swimming pool sanitation

Cost Factors

One major factor for many pool owners when deciding which sanitizing chemical to use is the costs associated with it. Generally speaking, bromine is the more expensive chemical than chlorine – the gap here is small in most cases, but it can add up over time.

For outdoor pools, which require sanitation more often, bromine costs can get high and many such pool owners opt for chlorine instead. For indoor pools, however, the costs are often close enough together that other factors dictate your final choice.

Which is Easier?

When it comes to actually adding the chemical to the water on a regular basis, chlorine has more available methods for doing so. It can be added using tablets, granules, gas, liquid or even salt formats. Bromine, on the other hand, is usually just found in solid tablets, granules or sticks.

On top of this, those looking for pure chlorine in gas form can find it for pool sanitation. Pure elemental bromine, on the other hand, is not available.

Oxidation

If oxidation is a primary need for you as part of the sanitation process, your best choice is generally chlorine. It has much better oxidation powers, breaking down contaminants in the water directly.

Hot Tub Use

Finally, what if you’re looking for sanitation in your hot tub instead of your swimming pool? The differences between chlorine and bromine are extremely significant in this area.

Namely, bromine is the better chemical when it comes to performance at the kind of high temperatures often found in hot tubs. It’s also better in higher pH levels, which are generally found in hot tubs compared to pools. For this reason, unless there are significant factors pointing in the other direction, bromine should be your sanitation chemical of choice for your hot tub or spa.

For more on the sanitation chemicals to use in your pool or hot tub, or to learn about any of our custom pool building services, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.

Chlorine, Bromine and Other Swimming Pool Sanitation Options, Part 2

In part one of this multi-part blog series, we went over some of the basic differences between chlorine, bromine and other pool sanitation products that are commonly used. These products are vital for treating the pool’s water and keeping it safe and healthy to swim in, ensuring no buildups of mold, harmful chemicals or any other contaminants occur.

At Packman’s Pools, our custom pool contractors are here to help with any and all treatment questions related to your custom pool construction. In today’s part two and eventually part three of this series, we’ll go over a few of the major areas pool owners and users think about when it comes to their chemical sanitation options and how they affect you, plus which choice is right for your pool based on these factors.

chlorine bromine swimming pool sanitation

Skin Interaction

Chlorine and bromine are both known as halogens, belonging to the same chemical family. They both perform many of the same tasks in your pool, including disinfecting, oxidizing and removing algae risks. At the same time, there are several differences between them.

One such area is regarding how each chemical tends to affect the skin. Both may lead to rashes or irritation in susceptible individuals, but generally speaking, bromine is known to be a bit better for the skin – though it can also lead to Bromine Itch. In both cases, maintaining proper chemical levels is vital for preventing skin irritation or resulting reactions.

Eye Irritation Risks

Bromine is also known to be lighter on the eyes, though this will vary based on the individual in question. It will also depend on how well the pool is maintained – unless you have a specific chemical allergy to chlorine or bromine, it’s unlikely you will experience any eye irritation as long as the chemical levels are kept properly and the pool is in good shape.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

If you have both indoor and outdoor pool options to think about, chlorine is usually the way to go – it functions perfectly well in both situations. Bromine, on the other hand, is sensitive to sunlight and therefore less effective for outdoor pools. To be specific, up to half of a pool’s bromine content can be destroyed in just an hour or two by direct sunlight exposure.

Smell

When it comes to odor, chlorine is known as the stronger substance here. Some people find chlorine unpleasant as a smell, in which case you should look at bromine as long as it meets your other needs. If chlorine doesn’t bother you or other swimmers in the home, you can generally move past this concern.

For more on chlorine and bromine as pool sanitation options, or to learn about any of our new swimming pool or spa options, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.

Chlorine, Bromine and Other Swimming Pool Sanitation Options, Part 1

When it comes to swimming pool sanitation, the most well-known chemical out there is certainly chlorine. But it’s not actually the only option out there for pool sanitation, and you actually have several other potential options depending on your needs.

At Packman’s Pools, we offer a wide rang of custom swimming pool construction services, assisting you with everything from pool design to material selection and much more, including assistance with your sanitation needs. The most common alternative to chlorine is a chemical called bromine – this two-part blog will go over some basics on each of these chemicals, some of the other options available, and how you can go about making your selection here.

chlorine bromine swimming pool sanitation

Chlorine

Technically speaking, pool chlorine is actually known as hypochlorous acid, a highly common substance used to sanitize indoor and outdoor pools and other water areas. Chlorine is so popular because it maintains a residual in the water – this means it keeps water sanitized over a long period instead of just temporarily. It also has oxidizing properties, which means it destroys contaminants and even acts as an algicide to stop algae from forming.

In its natural state, chlorine is a gas. However, it can be converted into several other formats for pool use, such as tablets, granules, liquid or even salt (using a salt chlorine generator). Each of these methods releases the acid into the water to kill and inactivate various possible pathogens or contaminants.

Bromine

Bromine, on the other hand, is also a sanitizer and algicide that’s used for spas and swimming pools. Its natural state is as a reddish-brown liquid, but like chlorine it can be converted to tablets, granules, sticks and even liquid sanitation products in many cases.

When you see the term bromine used for pool sanitation, it’s technically not pure bromine. Rather, the name is used to describe the release of hypobromous acid into the water, either through a two-part system activated by an oxidizer (more common for smaller pools or spas) or using dissolvable tablets or granules.

Other Sanitation Options

Now, while chlorine and bromine are the two most popular forms of pool sanitation generally found today, they are not the only such options. Others may include items like ionizers, hydrogen peroxide, biofilter systems and several more, some of which can be used in coordination with chlorine or bromine for optimal sanitation. If you’re wondering about what one of these other types of sanitizers might do for you, feel free to speak to our pros about their benefits and drawbacks based on your needs.

For more on chlorine, bromine or other pool sanitation options, or to learn about any of our custom pool design or construction services, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.

Keeping Your Pool Free of Germs and Parasites, Part 1

There are many who generally avoid public swimming pools, and one of the top reasons here is based on parasites and bacteria that can be found in such locations. A combination of high body counts and limited maintenance can lead to such concerns in some cases, and this is one of several reasons why many who want to swim regularly invest in their own new swimming pool.

At Packman’s Pools, our pool builders are here to remind you that while these kinds of parasites or bacteria are certainly less common in your own custom pool, they’re still possible if you don’t follow a few basic procedures in terms of keeping the water clean and sanitary. In this two-part blog, we’ll detail a few important areas that take very little effort or time, and that are well worth it to keep you and other swimmers safe and healthy at all times. Today’s entry will focus on the chemicals found in your pool and how they help with pool sanitation.

pool free germs parasites

pH Levels

pH levels: The pH level of a body of water speaks to how acidic or alkaline the water is. The lower the number, the higher the acid content; the higher the number, the higher the alkaline content. Too high a number will cause you to be swimming in bleach, while too low a number will leave too much acid in the water for swimmers to be safe. Rather, the ideal number sits between 7.2 and 7.8 here.

Chlorine

Too much direct chlorine can be risky to swimmers, meaning this chemical is generally mixed with other elements to get a proper solution that kills germs and bacteria without impacting other areas like the color of the pool or skin and eye irritation. On the flip side, you have to ensure chlorine levels aren’t too low, otherwise they won’t kill the germs. The proper levels here range between 2.0 and 3.0 ppm (parts per million).

Alkalinity

Within a given pool, alkalinity is a measure of the carbonates, bicarbonates and hydroxides present in the water. When the levels here are too high, or above 120 ppm or so, it will be difficult or even impossible to properly adjust your pH levels. When the levels get below 80 ppm, on the other hand, the pH levels will change so quickly and often on their own that you also won’t be able to maintain them properly.

Cyanuric Acid

Abbreviated CYA, cyanuric acid is in place for one purpose: To stop chlorine from being absorbed by the sun and being rendered useless. Keep its levels between 20 and 50 ppm at all times – too far below this level means too little chlorine, while too far above messes with pH again.

Calcium Hardness

Finally, calcium hardness is a term that speaks to how soft or hard the water is – how much calcium is present. When there’s under 200 ppm present, water is considered soft and may absorb calcium off pool walls or other sources, not a desirable outcome. When the number is above 400 ppm, the water will be hard and cloudy.

For more on how to keep your pool free of germs and parasites, or to learn about any of our custom swimming pool design or construction services, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.

Why Fiberglass is a Top Swimming Pool Material Choice

There are several factors that you’ll be considering if you’re thinking about installing a new pool in your home, and one near the top of any list is which primary material to use. There are several options out there, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks depending on your needs, budget and other factors.

At Packman’s Pools, our primary pool materials offered for our custom swimming pool construction are gunite and fiberglass. These double as the two most common types in Utah, both highly durable and easy to work with. Fiberglass, in particular, holds several specific long-term benefits – here’s why you might consider installing a fiberglass pool.

fiberglass swimming pool material

Fast Installation

Of all the common materials used for pools around the country, fiberglass is likely the single simplest and fastest to install. Most fiberglass pool shells can be installed safely and properly within just a single day, installing in a way that make them secure and not prone to any weather risks. This is compared to several other products that might take multiple days depending on the size of the pool – and which might be altered in between installation periods by high winds or other elements, a risk you do not face whatsoever with fiberglass materials.

Limited Maintenance

In addition to easy installation, fiberglass pools also come with some of the easiest care methods out there. This is particularly valuable for a place like Utah where the temperatures get very high during the summer – it takes more maintenance than usual to maintain the pool plus prevent algae growth, which is more common at higher temperatures.

Fiberglass is the best material you can find for preventing algae and other growths. It’s a gelcoat surface that’s smooth and nonporous, meaning there’s no where for algae or other contaminants to build up and collect. This means your fiberglass pool will require fewer chemicals to keep them clean and safe, a factor that will be reflected in your wallet long-term.

Long Lifespan, Low Costs

Due to the above and some other factors, fiberglass pools have some of the longest lifespans out there. Fiberglass pool structures are known to last for up to 50 years, and their surfaces last at least 20 to 30 with limited maintenance. When you combine this with virtually nonexistent upkeep costs, you’re getting a pool that will pay off on its initial investment several times over during its lifespan. Certain cost analyses have found that maintaining a fiberglass pool costs barely more than a third of what it costs to maintain a similarly-sized vinyl pool, amounts that equate to thousands of dollars every year – money that stays in your pocket while you enjoy a high-quality pool experience.

For more on why fiberglass pools are a great choice for you, or to learn about any of our swimming pool construction services, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.

Basics and Benefits of Tanning Ledges in Custom Pools, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the basics regarding tanning ledges in pools. A customization area that’s becoming more and more common in recent years, the tanning ledge offers both comfort and aesthetics to many different pool types and designs.

At Packman’s Pools, we offer a wide variety of custom pool construction options, including tanning ledges when desired. What are some of the common materials used for tanning ledges, and how can you customize these options to fit your needs? We’ll go over this plus some installation tips in today’s blog.

tanning ledges custom pools

Tanning Ledge Material Options

There are two primary choices you have when installing a tanning ledge: Choosing a pool model that has one built-in, or installing one beside the main pool shell itself. Regardless of which choice you make, ledges are generally available in three common materials:

  • Concrete: Concrete is a top option due to its ease in customization – it can be built to virtually any shape or size, and placed anywhere within your pool design. One minor downside with concrete is that the surface isn’t quite as smooth as others, meaning kids who want to run and play on the surface might be out of luck.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl liners are extremely affordable and smoother than concrete surfaces. They are also more sensitive to wear and tear, however, and they require proper sealing to prevent leaks.
  • Fiberglass: For the best combination of smoothness and safety, fiberglass is the way to go. It’s completely safe, and also helps leave plenty of swim space open. Fiberglass ledges are not quite as customizable, however, a consideration you should remember.

Customization Features

While customizing the shape and size of your tanning ledge often relates to which material you use and the shape of your pool overall, there are a few other features you can also consider. Many people include lights with their tanning ledges, for instance, and others choose bubblers that shoot streams of water above the pool’s surface – creating a fountain-like effect. Some even combine these two services, placing a built-in light within the bubbler that offers great aesthetics and a fun area for kids to play around in.

Tanning Ledge Installation

You should always discuss the building and construction of a tanning ledge before installation. Within this area, another distinct benefit of fiberglass is the time it takes to install – it only takes a couple hours, this compared to day-long projects for most vinyl or concrete ledges. Speak to our pros in advance about tips and safety areas for the installation of such a ledge in a previous pool model.

For more on tanning ledges, or to learn about any of our custom pools or hot tub options, speak to the staff at Packman’s Pools today.