Salt Water Systems: Why do I want a salt water swimming pool?

Growth of Salt Water Pools

Prior to the advent of pool chlorinators, it was necessary to keep swimming pools safe and functional by adding, handling and storing harsh chlorination chemicals. Today, salt water pool systems offer a simpler and safer alternative for pool maintenance without the negative effects of traditional chlorine chemicals.

The market for "salt water pools" (or pools equipped with a salt chlorine generator system or automatic sanitizer system) is growing exponentially. It is estimated that over 50% of all new in-ground pool installations are now equipped with this technology. In addition, a significant number of existing pools are converted to these salt-water-systems each year. The primary drivers behind this growth include better feeling, less irritating pool water - combined with simpler and safer maintenance.

Increasingly popular in the backyards of average Americans, saltwater pools use less chlorine and are more eco-friendly, but they can be hard to keep clean if not cared for properly.

Aqua-Rite-Chlorine-Generator.jpg

The primary factor in their popularity is their limited use of chlorine. Unlike traditional pools, which require chlorine to be poured into the water manually or released from a tablet, a saltwater pool has a generator that uses electrolysis to release chlorine gas from salt in the water. Salt is added to the pool water to achieve a saturation of approximately 3,200 parts per million, roughly the amount of salt found in a teardrop. In contrast, ocean water has a salt content of 35,000 ppm.

 

How does a salt water pool get chlorine then?

When pool salt (NaCl) is dissolved in a salt water pool water, the salt chlorine generator system, or automatic sanitizer system electrolyzes the salt and transforms the chloride (Cl) portion of the salt into chlorine. This chlorine dissolves in the water to perform the same functions as conventional liquid chlorine used in pool maintenance. However, unlike traditional liquid chlorine used in pool maintenance, salt chlorinator systems generate "free" chlorine as water passes through the electrolytic cell which destroys chloramines responsible for "chlorine odor", red/irritated eyes, bleached/green hair and damaged bathing suits.

A saltwater pool is a closed system and generates the chlorine sanitizer from the salt, there’s no need for transporting, storing and adding chlorine to the pool.
— Ben

Many swimmers think saltwater pools are more comfortable to swim in because of the lower amounts of chlorine in the water. The harsh smell of chlorine found in traditional pools is virtually nonexistent, a plus for people with asthma and others who are sensitive to the fumes.

It is very similar to what a water softener does to the water in a home.

Because many Americans are adopting greener lifestyles, saltwater pools are appealing as a more eco-friendly option.

“The public’s awareness of the environment is a big factor,” Ms. Pires says. “The main complaint we hear is that the small amount of salt in the water can cause corrosion or leave residue on certain types of stone or other finishes.”

Saltwater pools certainly have their advantages, however a saltwater generator can erode the surface area of the pool in addition to harming the underwater lights and pool equipment.

We have found that sometimes owners of saltwater pools have a “set it and forget it” mentality, which can expose them and their pool guests to harmful bacteria.

There are three main concerns with saltwater generators. First is algae control. If the owners of a saltwater pool do not maintain appropriate chlorine levels, algae can bloom.

The saltwater chlorinator cannot create enough chlorine in a short period of time, and algae will grow exponentially.

Second, is that the level of cyanuric acid, which keeps chlorine from being burned off by the sun, is often too low in a saltwater pool.

It is often necessary to add higher levels of cyanuric acid during hot months, which can be damaging to plaster on pools and cause skin irritations.

Third, people who own saltwater pools should prepare for a high electric bill. For a saltwater generator to create enough chlorine to keep a pool filled with swimmers clean, it may be necessary to run the generator from 18 to 24 hours a day. This however is often offset with lower chemical chlorine costs.

These 3 negatives however are often a function of human error, not problems inherent with the system. Like anything pool related it must be maintained and monitored closely. A salt water pool like a chlorine pool must maintain proper water balance and filtration. It does not do away with this necessary work. In fact it often needs to be watched even more closely. However most customers really do prefer the feel of a salt swimming pool. The lack if chlorine smell is another positive. We also like the idea not keeping chlorine tabs or liquid around the house where kids and pets could get into it.

If you would like to have a salt water system installed on your pool or you need help with your current system contact Classic Pools today!

Swimming Pool Repair: Skimmer Leaking

This is unfortunately a common issue. Sometimes when a pool is built using fill dirt the dirt will shift over time and cause the skimmer to "shift" this will create a crack somewhere and require a replacement. We are happy to say that we are one of the few swimming pool repair companies in the area that will tackle this job. Here is a recent one we just did for a customer in Milton, GA. 

Pool Service Area Highlight: Polo Fields, Cumming, GA

One of the original housing developments in Forsyth County

One of the original housing developments in Forsyth County

Polo Fields pools are some of the oldest now in the Forsyth County area. We have been servicing this community for nearly 20 years and some of the pools here are 25 years old! This has long been a community that likes to take care of things. Its always nice to see when new home owners move in and remodel some of these older swimming pools. Classic Pools has been servicing and repairing these pools for years and we personally know most of them. This gives us a big advantage if you want to repair or remodel one of these great pools.

The centerpiece of Polo is the championship golf course, but Polo is much more than just great golf. Through its social programming and non-golf amenities, Polo has developed into a highly-regarded and sought-after retreat with recreation, relaxation and interaction for every member of the family. So whether it’s a round of golf, a tennis match, a dip in the pool, a great meal or dancing in the Ballroom, Polo offers countless opportunities to live the good life.

We have added another service truck to this area. So we currently have some service route openings available. These will fill up fast since they are end of week slots. Contact us today!

Classic Pool Service Currently Offers the Following:

  • Weekly service
  • Pool openings
  • Pool closings
  • Acid washing
  • Filter service
  • Contracted rate service plans
  • Monthly rate service plans
  • iAqualink installs, repairs & programming
  • Jandy pumps and filters
  • Pentair pumps and filters
  • Hayward pumps and filters
  • Salt systems
  • Heater repair and installs
  • Vinyl liners
  • LED lighting and light repairs 
  • Polaris installs and repairs
  • Goldline Prologic
  • Pentair Intellitouch
  • And MUCH more!

Since 1988, Polo Golf & Country Club in Cumming has offered great amenities. From a challenging round of golf with friends, to unwinding in the club, When no one else was building on this type of scale in Forsyth some developers took the jump and designed a massive subdivision in South Forsyth. 

Early on there were actual Polo games held here, we can remember the traffic backing up for miles to GA400 as people would pour in on a Saturday morning to watch the events.

Today it is set in a beautiful wooded area of Northern Atlanta, Polo Golf & Country Club offers a scenic 18-hole golf course designed by award-winning architect Joe Lee. With tee options ranging from 5,100 to 6,800 yards, this championship golf course features water hazards on most of its holes and offers large greens that are fast and full of subtle breaks.

polo pools

While the championship Polo games are not held here anymore, it has turned into a community with great diversity. We are happy to service a large portion of the swimming pools in this community. We are also the largest swimming pool repair company in this area. 

Many other swimming pool service companies call us to do the repair work for their customers. We are happy to provide this support and love to keep the old Polo Fields swimming pools going!

Pool Service Area Highlight: Dawsonville, GA

We thought we would start our new blog series on our different service areas in North Georgia with our own backyard, Dawsonville. We have long been based on the GA 400 corridor and today our current offices are located in Dawsonville. 

Swimming pools are a newer feature compared to surrounding areas like Gainesville or Cumming. But ever since the development of communities like Chestatee Golf Club and Crystal Falls we have seen more swimming pool installations than ever before. 

Crystal Falls Golf and Lake Community

Crystal Falls Golf and Lake Community

Today most know Dawsonville for the shopping. The North Georgia Premium Outlets are a regular hotspot for anyone in the North Georgia area. People love the shopping here and there are good deals to be found. Of course we recommend coming midweek to avoid the crowds and find better deals. Most of the outlets tend to have the best deals on Mondays or Tuesdays. 

North Georgia Premium Outlet

North Georgia Premium Outlet

History

Dawsonville was founded in 1857 as seat of the newly formed Dawson County. It was incorporated as a town in 1859 and as a city in 1952. The community is named for Senator William Crosby Dawson.

Auto racing

The city's community is known in auto racing circles for its long tradition of involvement in the sport; many racing skills originally developed as a consequence of moonshine activity in the area. Dawsonville celebrates this every October with the yearly "Mountain Moonshine Festival".

Dawsonville is the home of retired NASCAR driver Bill Elliott, who won the Winston Cup championship in 1988 and was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015, and his son Chase Elliott, who currently races in the Sprint Cup Series. Bill Elliott's nickname is "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville". The city hall has a racing theme as well. But most are just racing to work down 400 these days. 

Now Dawsonville is also home to the Atlanta Motorsports Park also known as AMP. We not only take care of many members swimming pools. We also like to spend a little time on the track when we can.

Racing themed City Hall in Dawsonville

Racing themed City Hall in Dawsonville

To help relieve that stress of the daily race commute we are proud to offer the best swimming pool service in the area. As one of the first dedicated swimming pool service companies in the area we are proud to continue to serve Dawsonville today.

Who can you trust? 5 Things to look for in a service company.

trust pool

1. Ask friends who they recommend

Today this is easier than ever. With social networking the huge advantage is that your can very quickly ask many people who they use. We mainly use Google+ and Twitter for our recommendations.


2. Are they insured and licensed?

This may seem like a no brainer but many guys today will run a swimming pool route for example with nothing but a pole in the back of their truck. He might be a nice guy but if something goes wrong and his chemical balance isn't just right and he bleaches your pool liner. You will be stuck with the bill. 

3. Are they locally and nationally certified?

Use someone who can be verified by a third party organization. We are a member of GAPP and IPSSA. We are also certified and licensed by NSPF. 

4. Do they show up when they say they will?

We want to pick someone we can rely on. While things come up for everyone no matter how hard they try to be reliable. Ask: Is it the norm or the exception that they are there when they said they would be?

5. Do other professionals recommend them?

We get calls all the time from customers that tells us someone else in the industry recommended they talk to us. We are flattered and love this. But it is really one of the best signs that a company is trust worthy. Why? Because whoever recommended you just put their reputation on the line. They wouldn't do this unless they were sure you could be trusted. 


Swimming Exercise Tips: Swim to a new you this year.

A pool might not be the first place you think of going when you're looking to shape up and slim down—but perhaps it should be. No other workoutburns calories, boosts metabolism, and firms every muscle in your body (without putting stress on your joints) better than a swimming workout.

Look no further than superstar Natalie Coughlin to observe how water can whittle a sexy, sculpted silhouette. And you don't have to be an Olympic gold medalist to get the perfect body. When researchers at Indiana University compared recreational fitness swimmers with non-swimmers, they found that swimmers of all ages had more lean muscle and trimmer waists and hips.

And while swimming may not offer the lace-up-your-shoes-and-go convenience of running, all you need are three key items—swimsuit, cap, and goggles—and you're set to hit the water. So go ahead: Make a splash with one of the best workouts for women!

Why Water Works
The body-shaping benefits of swimming workouts are the result of a perfect storm of calorie burn and muscle recruitment. An easy swim burns around 500 calories an hour, while a vigorous effort can torch almost 700. And because water is nearly 800 times denser than air, each kick, push, and pull is like a mini resistance workout for your entire body—especially your core, hips, arms, shoulders, and glutes. So in addition to blasting calories as you swim, you build lean muscle, which ignites your metabolism so that you burn more calories once you've showered and dried off.

The irony is that while swimming makes you lean and mean, it's also kind to your body. Water basically neutralizes gravity, so you become virtually weightless when immersed, giving your joints a much-needed vacation. "You can swim almost every day without risking injury," says Joel Stager, Ph.D., director of the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming at Indiana University at Bloomington, who has studied the effects of swimming for years. "You can't say the same for running or strength training."

And that makes swimming something you can do for your entire life—a major bonus because it can literally help you stay younger: "Our research shows that habitual swimmers are biologically up to 20 years younger than their actual age," Stager says. The data, which were presented at an American College of Sports Medicine Conference, revealed that a swimmer's blood pressure, cholesterol levels, cardiovascular performance, central nervous system, and cognitive functioning are all comparable to someone far younger.

The Starting Block
Most newbies hit the pool with high expectations. They jump into the water all gung-ho and plan to swim for a solid half hour. "Four minutes later, they're inevitably hanging onto the edge, feeling completely defeated," says Joel Shinofield, head swim coach at Washington and Lee University in Virginia.

That's because training in water requires your cardiovascular system and muscles to work differently than they do on land. Your lungs have to adjust to a new way of breathing (you can't suck in air anytime you want like with dry-land workouts, and unlike any other form of exercise, swimming requires every muscle in your body to work as a team to keep you moving and staying afloat.

"The key to an effective swim routine is splitting it into shorter segments, mixing in a variety of work and rest intervals, and using different strokes, drills, and intensities," says Shinofield. "It's not only more interesting but also a better workout." Don't worry that you're wasting time by taking rest breaks. "Swimming isn't like walking, during which your heart rate drops quickly. It stays raised for at least 30 seconds after a few laps," he says.

Try this starter workout: Swim four lengths of the pool at an easy effort (catch your breath at the wall between lengths if you need to). Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat five to 10 times. Try that two or three times a week for the first two weeks. If you haven't swam for a while, use a kickboard for the first four lengths, suggests Robert Pearson, head swim coach at Macalester College in Minnesota. It will help you get used to swimming without having to coordinate your arms and legs. Once you master this workout, try "Get a Plan" on the back of the tear-out cards.

Different Strokes
Freestyle is a fan favorite because it's easy to learn and it burns major calories. But it pays to mix things up. "Using various strokes balances your muscles and helps beat boredom," says Shinofield. Two to try are backstroke improves your posture by working your back and shoulder muscles) and breaststroke (it uses the hip and inner-thigh muscles, which are often missed in other workouts). Get the most from each stroke by following this advice from Shinofield:

Backstroke
Eyes up. Look straight up at the sky or ceiling—not at your toes, which causes your hips to sink—so your head is in line with your spine. Make a Y. Reach back with each arm at a 45-degree angle to your body; it places less stress on your shoulders and makes your stroke stronger.

Breaststroke
Sweep through. Reach your arms overhead, palms together. Rotating your palms outward, pull down until your hands are nearly level with your chin. Bring your hands inward by your chest, then reach again. Whip it. Bend your knees and bring your heels toward your butt. Turn your toes outward and kick your legs back and together (like a frog) as you extend your arms forward.

When should I open my pool?

Many times we get asked this question. The quick answer is around April 1st. But then immediately the next question is why? Followed by... That seems early. Well here are 5 reasons why you should open your swimming pool earlier than you might think this year. 

1. It looks better. 

Sure this may seem silly but looking at you clear clean pool is better than looking at that ugly cover. We have many customers that keep their pool open year round for this very reason. Who wants to have that great BBQ on grill on the patio when the back yard is dominated by a covered pool. When having friends and family over for that grill out in the backyard with spring in full bloom how much better with that beautiful swimming pool!

2. Can you predict the weather? 

The weather man has a hard time doing it and we don't fare any better. Often times in the southeast we can have temps that will allow swimming long before May arrives and waiting that long shortens the swimming season unnecessarily. How many of us remember as kids jumping in the pool the first sunny day we could? Sure the water was cold but we didn't care! Often times by early April the pool water can be up to a temperature that you can swim in even without a heater.

3. Algae.

Wow do we hate this stuff. Most swimming pool covers allow sunlight to filter through. This with warmer water temperatures breeds algae. In fact opening the pool before algae blooms could save you $100s on chemicals. Personally, I would rather open the pool earlier to find a cleaner pool than wait just a month longer and face a pool full of algae. 

4. Pollen.

In Georgia, pollen is a serious force to recon with. By March it can already be covering cars and affecting our allergies. But pollen doesn't just affect us it also can mess with your pool when the water is not circulating. A closed pool will allow the pollen to build up in mass, even with a pool cover, resulting is a dirtier pool that takes more time and money to correct. But a pool that is running will be able to keep-up with the high pollen counts and with simple filter maintenance not be an issue. Keeping the pool from looking like it has a sinus infection, you know, a yellow and green lagoon. 

5. Money.

We often have customers that don't want to open the pool early because they don't want to pay for an extra month of service. But with new filter tech, multi speed pumps and salt systems. The chemical and electrical costs to run the pool an extra month is really just that much. If you run the pump minimally and have a salt system you will on average only see about a $50 operational cost for the month. When you compare that with the chemical costs to open a pool that has turned green or yellow which can run into the $100s then doesn't it make more financial sense to open it earlier?

Well there are 5 reasons to open the pool earlier this year. We hope that everyone has a great summer with their swimming pool. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions below!

How To: Prevent Pool Leaks: Frozen Pipes

With cold temps comes the threat of frozen pipes. So we thought it might be good to go over some ways to prevent pool leaks that come from freezing pipes. Because it is warm enough for algae to grow we are going to talk about a pool that is open and operational. Not a pool that has been winterized. 

 

1. Don't think it won't happen to you.

Often times we might think 'well it has all been fine the past'. And then one day it happens. You have a leak! This is because pools age. Equipment and pipes have a lifespan and depending on the age of your pool it may be more susceptible to damage. This is especially true with seals. Most seals have a rubber portion to them and that rubber will get brittle when cold. After so many years the rubber will not 'cycle' through the temperatures as well as it did in the past causing leaks, most commonly at the pump and motor. 

2. Watch the weather.

Now that we got number one out of the way we can take action. We are prepared that it could happen to us. So this brings us to the 2nd step. Watch the weather. Here is where a smartphone can be your friend setup alerts for when the temperature is expected to drop below a certain temperature. Be alert to the fact that it may drop below that temperature. 

3. Keep all your valves open.

When water freezes it expands this is what causes all the problems. By keeping valves open you can prevent a lot of headaches as this allows the water to move and shift. When valves are closed for example a skimmer valve or a valve going to a water return like a fountain or waterfall. You are asking for damage. While these positions may not be optimal for cleaning or water flow, it can save you a ton of money in repairs. 

4. Leave the pump on.

We can not stress this enough moving water doesn't like to freeze. If you keep water moving through the pump AND filter you will be OK! Now this is where we get thrifty sometimes. We think well its not going to be that cold maybe only 34 that night. So we think to save some money on electricity we will turn everything off, after all no one will be using the swimming pool anyway. WRONG. First, they may be 'predicting' 34 but what happens if it hits 30? Second, your temp may vary in your specific local. Third, elevated pipes are susceptible to freezing at warmer temps. So play it safe and when temps are 40 or below keep everything running. This will save you a lot more money in the long run and give you some piece of mind, which is priceless. 

5. Get a freeze guard.

Here is where spending a little money up-front can save you a ton of cash in the long run. These will automatically turn on your pool pump when outside temperatures reach a designated temp. Set this much higher than you might think especially if it is near anything that could cause it to read a higher temp than the real air temperature might be. Again 40 degrees is a good safe baseline setting. A basic unit installed will start at only about $175. But there are many options available including units for multi speed pumps. There are also fully automated pool controls that have this feature built in like an Aqualink system that has this feature built in. These are far more control than just turning the system on. However, make sure if you already have a system like this that the freeze guard setting is 1) On and 2) Set to 40. Often times while this feature exists the swimming pool builder forgets to set it correctly if at all. 

6. Winterize the pool

As cold weather approaches, you will want to start thinking about just closing and winterizing the swimming pool. The main purpose in winterizing your swimming pool is to protect it from damage due to freezing water. Another reason to close the pool correctly is to keep it as clean as possible for the next season. Closing your swimming pool properly can save you a lot of work when it comes time to open the swimming pool for the spring. We sell and install quality covers for any swimming pool design.

Ben installing a new swimming pool safety cover.

Ben installing a new swimming pool safety cover.

It's Only Natural: The Pursuit for a Chemical-free Swimming Pool

Saltwater systems came into vogue a few years ago, and copper-and-silver ionization and ozone-gas systems are becoming increasingly popular.

And then there are the ‘biologically active’ natural swimming ponds:

Chemical Free Swimming Pool

Natural swimming ponds take many shapes. Some look like traditional pools with poured concrete foundations, hard edges and straight lines. Others take forms that more closely mimic nature, with gently sloping and planted edges.

Natural swimming ponds are relatively new to the U.S., but more than 20,000 have been built globally, according to a spokesman for BioNova Natural Pools, a German company with North American headquarters in New Jersey and three natural swimming pools built or under construction on the East Coast. Next year BioNova will install what will be the first public natural swimming pool in the country at Webber Park in Minneapolis.

These types of pools are biologically active. That means unlike chemically treated pools, which are sterile, natural swimming pools contain plants and beneficial microorganisms that outcompete algae and harmful bacteria for nutrients, leaving water safe for swimming. In these natural pools, water is circulated with pumps to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.

Although installation costs are slightly higher for a natural swimming pond compared with a traditional pool, the level of maintenance is roughly the same. Both types of pool require vacuuming and hand skimmers to pick off surface debris. Instead of the need for a pool professional to visit every week to add chemicals, natural swimming ponds require weeding and replanting.

"One of the reasons why chlorine is the most popular swimming pool disinfectant is that it provides a long-lasting residual in the water," said Mary Ostrowski, director of chlorine issues for the American Chemistry Council in Washington, D.C. In response to rising consumer interest, Ostrowski said, the group is working with an advisory council to provide information to consumers about various ways of keeping pools clean.

The number of systems in use continues to grow. Nature2 from Zodiac Pool Systems in Vista, Calif., dissolves traces of silver and copper into the water to disinfect it and prevent algae. The system, approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, allows pools to operate using just 0.5 part per million of chlorine, compared with the recommended 1 to 4 ppm for conventional pools. Wailani Natural Purewater Systems in Thousand Oaks also uses copper and silver ionizers, as well as an ozone gas generator that virtually eliminates the need for chlorine.

Typically in places like North Georgia these pools are very hard to maintain. Georgia is a prime climate for algae growth. In general we would not recommend having a pool like this to swim in unless you don't mind some slimy algae, there is no current system available that would eliminate algae growth in the North Georgia climate. Not to mention these pools could not be covered in the fall and with all the leaves in our area this would also contribute to very high phosphate levels which promotes algae growth as well. 

If you have any other questions feel free to contact us. 

Top 5 Ways to a Cleaner Pool

1. Filtration. If you have a sand filter, when was the last time you backwashed the filter? Often times this is a issue that people don't understand. A filter should be backwashed and also rinsed. Doing this once a week is recommended. If the pressure doesn't go down after doing this its time to replace the sand. (Cartridge filters need to be removed and cleaned or replaced regularly.)

2. Check your flow... Make sure that the water is moving. There should be no air in the basket in front of the pump. If there is then this is a sign that there may be a leak. If the pump has air then it is not catching a full prime and is not putting enough pressure through the filter. This will lead to a dirty pool.

3. Debris in the bottom? A pool will never get clear if there is debris in the bottom. Leaves for example will actually "tea" a pool causing it to have a cloudy or iced tea tint to it. Tea is for drinking not swimming. 

4. Shocking. Yes it may be shocking but even salt pools need to be shocked and it is better to do this with chemicals than to use the 'super chlorinate' or 'shock' settings on the system. If its not a salt pool shocking can be done the old fashioned way. Make sure to shock at least once a month in the summer. If it is used a lot then twice a month. 

5. Balance. True PH and Alkalinity balance is critical. Pool stores will sell you a lot of others chemicals you may or may not need but getting the basics in balance is key. Make sure that PH, Alkalinity, Chlorine (or Salt PPM), Calcium, and Phosphates are all in check at ALL times. 

Contact us today if you need help with any of these items!