Category Archives: Blog

pool automation

Skin Cancer Awareness

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and Probity Pools offers up tips to keeping your sun safe from harmful sun rays. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, and it is estimated that one person dies from melanoma every hour.

Certain skin types are at greater risk for developing skin cancer. That is why prevention and monthly self-examinations are so important.

The Skin Cancer Foundation has recommended using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher as one part of a preventative regimen. However, sunscreen is not enough.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the following tips to reduce risk of skin cancer:

•Seek the shade between 10 AM and 4PM
•Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds
•Cover up with clothing, a wide brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
•Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher.
•Apply 1 ounce of sunscreen every 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming in a swimming pool or excessive sweating.
•Keep newborns out of the sun.
•Examine your skin head-to-toe every month
•See a physician every year for a professional skin exam

When individuals conduct a self-exam of their skin, they should make sure to know their ABCDEs.

•Asymmetry: one half of mole doesn’t match the other
•Border: irregularity
•Color: that is not uniform
•Diameter: greater than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser)
•Evolving: size, shape or color

A mistake many homeowners make is that they think their pool enclosure will help shield them from the sun, not so much. It may make you feel cooler while enjoying your backyard swimming pool, however, the sun’s rays still can burn you. Apply that sunscreen liberally if you are lounging in your pool inside your pool enclosure.

Florida residents should take heed of these tips to help prevent the risk of skin cancer while they are outside and swimming in their backyard cholorine or salt water pool, swimming in lakes or enjoying the beach. The proper precautions can offer Floridians an opportunity to beat skin cancer and continue to enjoy the great outdoor weather Florida has to offer!

child swimming in pool

Water Safety In May

Probity Pools, a Longwood, Florida pool service company, celebrates water safety month!

The CDC reports that from 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually, and about one in five people who died from drowning are children ages 14 and younger. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages 1-4 than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects).1 Among those children ages 1-14, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes. Water safety, and pool safety are very important to Probity Pools and we want to make sure Florida residents who own a swimming pool or go swimming, know the risk factors for drowning and how to prevent drowning from occurring.

Our team here at Probity Pools takes top pool maintenance, pool service and water safety very seriously and we want to do our part to help prevent death and injury from pool-related drowning incidents by sharing important water safety tips to Florida residents.

Risk factors for drowning are:

Lack of swimming ability
Lack of barriers (pool fencing)
Lack of close supervision
Alcohol use
Inadequate safety devices that are easily accessible (i.e. life preserver, U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket)

There are several things that people can do to reduce the risk of drowning and prevent drowning accidents.

Formal swimming lessons can help protect young kids from drowning. However, even with swimming lessons, barriers and supervision are still important.

If consumers have an inground swimming pool or spa at home, make sure to install four-sided fencing. The fence should be four feet high (at least) with a self-latching gate. According to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, a four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning by 83% compared to three-sided property-line fencing.

Designate a responsible adult to watch all children playing in or around water. When supervising preschool children, the adult should provide “touch supervision” and be close enough to reach the child/ren at all times. It is also important that swimmers have a swim buddy and never swim alone. As alcohol use impairs judgement and motor skills, it is very important that adults do not mix alcohol and swimming, whether supervising children or swimming themselves. Often times a child’s birthday party can put children at risk. Parents typically are socializing and not watching their children in and around the pool deck. Designate a life guard, the party host may have to hire a life guard (college or high school student who can swim would suffice) to supervise the pool area.

Another drowning prevention tip is to learn CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). In the time it takes paramedics to arrive, CPR skills can help save a life.

A mistake some inground pool owners or users make, is that they let their child/ren use “water wings,” “noodles,” or inner-tubes instead of a typical life jacket. These items are considered toys and are not designed to keep young children safe. Instead, swimmers should use a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.

One last consideration when talking about pool safety is talking about dirty pools. It is important for homeowners that have salt water swimming pools or inground pools to make sure they are getting the best pool maintenance or pool cleaning service available in the metro Orlando, Florida area. If a pool is dirty, then it can be a risk factor if someone is unable to see young children that are swimming due from algae being in the water.

A mistake some inground pool owners or users make, is that they let their child/ren use “water wings,” “noodles,” or inner-tubes instead of a typical life jacket. These items are considered toys and are not designed to keep young children safe. Instead, swimmers should use a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.

One last consideration when talking about pool safety is talking about dirty pools. It is important for homeowners that have salt water swimming pools or inground pools to make sure they are getting the best pool maintenance or pool cleaning service available in the metro Orlando, Florida area. If a pool is dirty, then it can be a risk factor if someone is unable to see young children that are swimming due from algae being in the water.

Our pool maintenance team at Probity Pools hopes Central Floridians enjoy their backyard oasis this summer while keeping safety in mind!

solar-pool-heater-systems-solar-panels-on-the-roof

Solar Heating in Your Pool

The arrival of Earth Day is an annual reminder to think about energy efficiency, but it really should be a topic to consider all year round.

One very effective and relatively easy way to recoup significant energy savings is to heat your swimming pool with a solar panel system – particularly if you compare the installation and operations costs (for solar, much of that is the former, then the system becomes self-sustaining over time; with propane, you’ll have less initial expense but an ongoing operation cost). Depending upon how much sun the panels get, you could have enough heat to raise pool water temperature by as much as 15-30 degrees.

Imagine a garden hose lying in the sun. When you turn the water on, the first blast is typically warm, if not actually hot, since heat has been accumulating in the plastic tubing. That’s the basic theory of solar heating, with a few other moving parts.

How Does Solar Heating Work?

It’s a simple proposition: Water is circulated from the pool into a solar collector (more on this next), where it is exposed to the sun’s energy. Once the water in the collector becomes warmer than the pool water, a valve releases it back into circulation in the pool, and this cycle continues as long as the water in the panels is warmer than the water in the pool.
solar-heating-system

Types of Solar Collectors

There are different kinds of solar collectors, and the type you’ll need depends mostly on two things: the specific use(s) for the system and the climate in your area.

For instance, if you’ll only be using your pool seasonally, an unglazed collector system is a likely choice. Unglazed collectors don’t include a glass covering (glazing); instead, they are constructed of heavy-duty rubber or plastic treated with an ultraviolet (UV) light inhibitor to extend the life of the panels. This is a simple design with inexpensive parts, so it’s less expensive than its glazed cousin.Solar heating panels near a poolMeanwhile, glazed collector systems are generally more complex – involving copper tubing on an aluminum plate with an iron-tempered glass covering – and are therefore more expensive. However, glazed collector systems typically capture solar heat more efficiently than unglazed systems, so they make more sense for colder weather areas where you hope to extend your pool season.solar heating panels on a roof poolsideFor additional information about solar swimming pool heaters, visit the Department of Energy website.

Swimming pool drain

Pool Drain Entrapment: Don’t Get Sucked In

When you step on a pool drain cover, you probably notice the tingle on your foot from the suction but otherwise may not give them much thought. Put yourself into a child’s mind, though, and that ‘little tickle’ can seem a fun new way to play in the pool that could result in real harm.

In fact, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, suction entrapment in a pool drain was responsible for sending 39 Americans, mostly children, to the emergency room from 2008 to 2012. Their injuries ranged from bruising to fractured toes to rectal and intestinal prolapse caused by drain suction. Two young girls, a 6-year-old and a 14-year-old, died.

Typical entrapments include:

  • Body entrapment (a section of the torso becomes entrapped).
  • Limb entrapment (an arm or leg is stuck in an open drain pipe).
  • Hair entrapment or entanglement (hair is pulled in and wrapped around the grate of the drain cover). Often this is unintentional, but there have also been reported cases of children playing a “hold your breath the longest” game, leaning forward in the water and allowing their hair to be sucked into a drain.
  • Mechanical entrapment (jewelry or part of the bather’s clothing gets caught in the drain or the grate).
  • Evisceration (the victim’s buttocks come into contact with the pool suction outlet and he or she is disemboweled; this is very rare).

To protect against the possibility of a drain entrapment in your pool or spa, check your current pool drain cover.

Older models feature wider gaps and are often flat to the surface, allowing more suction. New models typically feature large, round covers with smaller holes that reduce suction. If you’re not sure what type of drain cover your pool has, it’s best to have it inspected by a pool service professional, who can also check that missing or broken drain covers are replaced.

How to avoid drain entrapment

You should also be aware of what to do if a drain entrapment occurs:

  • Turn off your pool or spa pump immediately.
  • Fight your instinct to pull the person directly up and away from the powerful suction of the drain or grate. Just as the best way to escape an ocean rip current is by not fighting its direct flow, it’s best to wedge your fingers or a small object between the victim and the drain, then peel or roll them to the side, away from the drain.
  • Keep a mobile phone close by to call for help and begin life-saving basics if needed.

Drain entrapments are rare, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. For more information about the government’s response to pool drain safety through the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, click here.

Pool with no algae bloom

How to Stop Algae in Your Pool

We all want sparkling blue pool water, but when Florida heat kicks in suddenly (not uncommon, even in early spring), you may find yourself facing an unexpected algae bloom.

That’s because algae spores are present in soil and in the air, and they can quickly become a major source of misery when they land in your pool (usually through wind, rain, or even contaminated swimsuits or toys) and find the right conditions to bloom. These conditions usually include warm temps, out of balance water, extended sunlight, and the presence of nitrates and/or carbon dioxide.

Besides the obvious unsightliness of a green pool, there are related safety concerns around an algae bloom as well.

• It consumes chlorine in the water that should be working on other contaminants.
• It may encourage the growth of pathogens like E-coli bacteria.
• It can clog up the pores of your pool filter, reducing filtration which will add to the problem.
• Should anyone end up in the water, it can make rescue attempts difficult, since depth perception will be severely reduced underwater.

So, What Can I Do to Prevent Algae Growth in My Pool?

1) Check and balance pool water.

Pay particular attention to pH, as a high pH reading plus low chlorine (or other sanitizer) sets the stage for algae growth.

2) Keep your pool clean.

Even if your pool seems clean, don’t forget to brush the tiles, because dirt and germs harboring there can easily set off an algae bloom.

3) Keep things circulating.

Run your pool pump 6-8 hours in the cooler months and 8-10 hours in the warmer months, and monitor your filter system and clean it if necessary. Adjust valves for optimum circulation, and turn on automatic cleaners to help stir things up.

4) Deal with defects sooner rather than later.

If you have an older pool, consider resurfacing or at least sanding and smoothing rough areas of plaster where organic material and other debris can lodge.

But What If My Pool is Already Green (or Black, or Yellow)?

There are over 20,000 different kinds of algae, but for convenience sake, they are usually referred to by their color: green, black, and yellow (you may also have heard of pink algae; however, it is actually a bacteria).

Algae bloom in a swimming pool

If you have to have an algae bloom in your pool water, hope that it’s green – the easiest to prevent and kill. For a complete primer on each of the different kinds of algae and how to treat them, click here.

If you aren’t willing or able to commit to regular pool maintenance yourself, it’s best to call in a pool professional who can monitor your pool and address problems such as algae before they get out of hand.

Realtor sign

Can A Swimming Pool Make or Break A Real Estate Sale?

The answer is an unequivocal…maybe.

If you’re in the market, you may think a swimming pool is the greatest thing ever; but some new real estate buyers, especially those with young children, view a pool as too much of a safety concern. Others feel that the time and cost of regular pool maintenance may be more than they want to take on.

Demographics factor in, too. Higher-end home hunters often want a pool, especially if many of their neighbors have one. Someone shopping for a starter home may be willing to use the neighborhood or community pool instead of investing in a build themselves.

affluent real estate area with pools
What about geography? A pool in Florida or California – the states with the most tropical climes and, not coincidentally, the largest number of swimming pools in the US – will typically be a more worthwhile real estate  investment than, say, a pool in Upper Michigan or Maine. real estate signEven so, with over 8.5M pools in America, chances are at least one of the properties you’re looking at will have one.

So, how should this affect your real estate search? The National Association of Realtors reports that an in-ground pool typically adds 8 percent to a home’s market value (potentially as high as 11 percent in the southwest). That means while you may pay more for a pool home, you’ll likely also be able to sell it for a higher price.

Read on for some tips to take advantage of your pool as a showcase (when you’re selling) and as an option (when you’re buying).

Keep your pool clean for a real estate showing

TIPS FOR STAGING YOUR POOL

  • Try to show your home in good weather. There’s nothing quite so compelling as sparkling pool water on a warm day! At the very least, include an attractive image of the pool for the listing.
  • Make sure the pool is clean, and that the pool area is largely uncluttered. Tidy up toys, and hide broken or worn-down ones. Also, stow your pool cleaning supplies so that the idea of maintenance is not top of mind for a prospect.
  • Trim and prune landscaping around your pool; sweep the pool deck (if unscreened) or the top of your screen enclosure.
  • Your pool area should be isolated from the rest of your outdoor space and your home for safety’s sake. If it is not, it will be less attractive to some buyers.
  • Prepare a Pool Information Sheet for you and/or your realtor to distribute. This may include items such as: the date of construction, the original contractor, the size of the swimming pool, your average chemical and electrical costs per month, and your average upkeep routine. Take photos of the pool equipment and note installation dates and repair information.

TIPS FOR INSPECTING A POOL

  • Get a first impression of thInspect your real estate including the poole pool – does it appear well-maintained? Ask whether the homeowner or a pool professional has been servicing the pool, and how old it is.
  • Check out all pool surfaces and as
    k about marred finishes, cracks, stains, mineral deposits, and any other defect you notice.
  • If the pool does not have a security fence, you should install one; prepare for that additional cost.
  • Particularly on a small lot, ask yourself whether the pool allows as much additional yard space as you would like.
  • Keep in mind that a pool on property may mean that extra insurance is required, and it can affect property taxes. Make sure you understand the particulars before you sign on the dotted line.

 

dadithinkthepoolisleaking

Leak in Your Swimming Pool?

If you sense that your pool is losing water, there may be a leak involved.

But before you call in a professional, consider that a quarter inch of water evaporation is a reasonable expectation in Central Florida during the dry season (October – May). Also, regular pool use might result in higher water loss than that; and pool use by kids and pets may result in even more.

If you still think a leak may be the problem, there’s a simple way to find out, and all you need is a bucket, a marker and a ruler.

Note: If you have a pool heater, you’ll need to turn it off while taking measurements with the bucket test outlined below.

Bucket test for a swimming pool leak

  • Fill bucket to about 1” from the top and set on the top step of your pool.
  • Turn off the pool system and let the water settle for a few minutes.
  • Mark the current water level in the bucket on the inside of the bucket
  • Mark the current water level in the pool on the outside of the bucket
  • Run your pool normally for 3 days
    • Remember to keep pets away from the pool, as they may view the test bucket as a personal drink dish.
    • Consider that the bucket will experience the same elements that the pool does, including temperature, wind, and rain, so there’s no need to adjust anything if, for instance, it does rain (the pool and the bucket will rise the same amount).
    • Lastly, do not perform a filter backwash during this test, as that can affect results.
  • Repeat Steps 2-4 above.
  • Use a ruler to compare how much water the bucket lost vs how much water the pool lost. If the difference is more than 1 inch, there is a good chance you have a pool leak.

If it turns out you don’t have a leak, but you still have concerns about water loss, see tips in a previous blog post on the topic, here.

gty_pollen_car_window_jc_150408_12x5_1600

Pollen in the Pool: It’s That Time of Year

Around this time each year, pool home owners and pool technicians alike find themselves cursing the pollen gods that turn pool tiles – and almost any other outdoor surface – into sticky yellow messes.

It’s a really frustrating scenario. Our pool technicians use nets specifically designed to capture pollen. While we can get some of it, a lot of it gets stirred up and settles back on the pool tiles within an hour or so of our visit, putting a yellow ring around a perfectly clean pool.

There are a few things you can do to help the pollen situation.

1) Make sure that the skimmer is fully functional by keeping an optimal level of pool water, which is about an inch from the top of the skimmer.

2) Purchase a skimmer sock, or just attach a fine mesh such as cheesecloth or pantyhose to your skimmer to better trap the pollen. Note: You can order a skimmer sock online for about $5.00 plus tax and shipping. Or if you’re a Probity Pools customer, we can bring one out and install it on our next weekly visit for about $13.00; just click this link to send us a request.

3) Run your filtration system a little longer than you might normally, and clean the filter between technician visits if the pollen is particularly heavy.

4) If you own a pool cover, now may be a good time to use it, and remove it when the pollen count eases again.

The best advice may be to simply wait out these irritating few weeks. They happen every year, but thankfully, they don’t last long.

techs

Take Five with A Pool Technician

According to Pleatco’s CEO Howard Smith, “Being a professional pool technician is more than a job…it’s a passion…Homeowners trust their service professional to keep their ‘backyard oasis’ safe. The relationship is much deeper than that of the mailman or a local handyman…Pool techs are the unsung heroes of the neighborhood.”

pool technician graphicWe’re especially proud of the way our employees represent Probity Pools, and we’re happy to sing their praises through an occasional series we call Take Five with A Tech.

First up is pool technician Phil Aurelus, who’s originally from Brooklyn, NY (“Coney Island, to be exact”). Phil has been an integral part of Probity Pools since 2011.

What do you enjoy most about being a pool technician?
The autonomy I have in the field. It feels good to be trusted to do my job each day without a lot of supervision.Pool technician Phil Aurelius

What’s the best part of your day?
Truthfully, the end – because after I complete my route, I go right into coaching and training basketball, which is my passion. My schedule with Probity leaves room for me to do that too.

What’s the most memorable thing that’s ever happened to you in the course of work?
I was in a car accident [outside of work] shortly after I started with Probity, and I was surprised when Kevin called me, asking if I was all right, if I’d need an advance, if there was anything he could do. To know that I got into some trouble, and he was the first phone call, that was pretty special.

When you’re not cleaning pools, what are you typically doing?
Usually, something basketball-related: Coaching, training, I don’t get to play often enough anymore. Or video-editing; I have a YouTube channel and I post training videos there.

If you could do or be anything in the world, what would that be?
I used to say a pro basketball player, but that’s a lot of work (laughs). Guess I’m getting old. I’d be a college basketball coach.

goldfish in a swimming pool

3 reasons for cloudy pool water

The most difficult part of pool care is often staying on top of it. But even the most dedicated of pool maintainers has probably had at least one incidence of hazy or cloudy pool water, if not a full-out green pool.

cloudy pool water
“Pools don’t forgive. Ever. They don’t demand much, but they absolutely will not forgive you if you don’t do what they do demand. Taking care of a swimming pool is sort of like taking care of a really, really easy pet – say, a goldfish. It’s not hard, but you can’t let it slide either. Ignore your goldfish, and it dies. Ignore your pool – and it comes to life! So, be consistent or be green. – Ben Powell

So why does this happen? There are actually many possible reasons (in fact, here’s a list of one hundred possible culprits to check out if you’re so inclined).

In general, though, cloudy or hazy water is a product of one or more of these things: your pool environment, your pool filter, or your pool chemistry. Read on to learn how you can correct the situation depending upon the cause, and remember that it’s best NOT to swim in cloudy or hazy water (you run the risk of infection, and it’s also a safety issue if visibility is obscured).

Pool Environment

Even with a screen enclosure, any or all of the following can potentially affect your pool water: birds, animals, trees, bushes, flowers, people, the weather (sunshine, rain, wind) and fertilizers. Algae spores constantly enter the pool from sources like these and over time – sometimes very little time – can have negative effects.

BEST DEFENSE: Continuous, consistent cleaning!

Don’t allow organic material like leaves or other debris to deteriorate in your swimming pool, and be sure skimmer baskets are emptied regularly.Get in the habit of brushing your pool tiles and walls, and vacuuming the pool bottom.

Pool Filter

Your pool filter is the literal lifeblood of your pool. If it’s not working properly, or if it’s not run consistently enough to keep pool water from stagnating, odds are you will begin to notice cloudy or hazy pool water.

BEST DEFENSE: Proper, timely maintenance!

Keep your filter clean and backwash regularly, and replace the filter when it shows signs of wear. As well, work with your pool’s design for maximum filtration – for instance, set return fittings downward to move pool water under the surface rather than at the surface, check that pool skimmers and drains are drawing water, and correct the pool water level if needed.

Pool Chemicals

Unbalanced pool chemicals can cause your water to be cloudy.Frequent causes are: high pH, high alkalinity, low chlorine or other sanitizers, and high calcium hardness.

BEST DEFENSE: Regular monitoring and adjustment!

First, make sure you have fresh reagents in your test kit so you know your readings will be accurate. A common chemical issue of cloudy or hazy water is alkalinity – keeping this balanced makes your pool water more stable against pH fluctuations and allows better chlorine performance. If high calcium is the problem, it may be a good idea to partially drain the pool and refill it occasionally.

If your pool water is hazy or cloudy and you can’t seem to get it corrected on your own, call Probity Pools (407) 333-0148. We’re ready to take on whatever your residential swimming pool demands!