Swimming Pools: Plan Now for Next Summer

swimming pools

If you want to dive into your own, private swimming pool next Memorial Day, you’ll want to start planning and building a swimming pool now as it can take anywhere from three weeks and three months to install.

Getting Started

This much you know: In Arizona, it’s hot enough during the summer to want to dive into a nice, refreshing swimming pool. However, planning and building a private swimming pool or for that matter, a spa isn’t something you should do on a whim. Pool building is a major addition to your property and lifestyle. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Is my backyard suited to a pool?
  • What’s my swimming pool budget?
  • Am I prepared for the upkeep a pool requires?
  • What is my reason for wanting a pool (e.g., recreation/relaxation, exercise/therapy, entertaining, or a combination of all three)?

Types of Swimming Pools

Swimming pool types fall in one of two categories; fiberglass or concrete.

Concrete: If you have your heart set on a beach entry, then you probably want a custom-built, concrete pool. This material is the most popular option among Arizona homeowners because of its reputation for durability and longevity (50+ years!). It typically takes between three weeks and three months to install a concrete pool.

Fiberglass: These pools are factory-molded and set into pre-excavated holes by a crane. As a result, the size and shape of these pools are considerably more limited. Fiberglass pools feature a smooth finish that’s both durable and stain-resistant. It typically takes between one and two months to install this type of pool.

Other things to consider are local availability of materials and regional zoning regulations.

Styles of Swimming Pools

The following are just a few styles available:

  • Spas
  • Lap pools
  • Modern pools
  • Natural pools
  • Tropical pools
  • Traditional pools
  • Mediterranean pools
  • Infinity or vanishing edge pools

Many of these styles can be custom-built indoors or out. There is also a wide variety of optional features that are designed to suit all members of the family, including sun shades, waterfalls, lazy rivers, changing-color LED lights, rock slides, fire woks, and more. Contact Platinum Pools & Spas for a free consultation and our monthly specials.

Cozy Up Your Backyard for Fall

cozy up your backyard

As we head into fall, a kaleidoscope of colors can be found right outside. Pumpkin flavored coffee, scones, and pies are readily available at your local bakery while Halloween candy and decorations fill the stores. Now is also the perfect time to cozy up your backyard with pool redesign or any one of the following features.

Add Warmth

As the days become shorter, and the temperatures dip lower, it’s time to bring some warmth back into your backyard. Fireplaces, fire pits or fire woks tend to be quite popular because of their ability to be the center point of a fun evening, with friends and family. Most can be set up for natural gas, propane, or wood burning.

Outdoor Kitchens

An outdoor kitchen is another great way to make a statement in any backyard landscaping or pool project. Typically, an outdoor kitchen includes a grill or some other cooking element, counter and storage space, and possibly a sink and mini fridge. You will need to hire a licensed contractor for elements that require plumbing, gas or electricity.

Spas

Built-in spas offer a relaxing element to your swimming pool, and can be used year ‘round, thus maximizing your return on investment. The benefits to these spas don’t just end there! A custom spa provides countless benefits including health, relaxation, family time, and romance. The design options for in-ground spas are as varied as the options for a custom swimming pool.

LED Lights

A beautiful backyard landscape without an outdoor lighting system is like a pool without water. Technological advancements in lighting systems like LEDs can truly transform an area at night. Depending on the model you choose, LEDs can create light shows, either below the water or anywhere they are professionally installed. LEDs are also more energy-efficient than standard outdoor lighting systems.

Be Sun Smart

sun smart

The days are longer and lighter, and that can only mean one thing: it’s time to play outside! Whether you’re headed to the pool (even if it’s in your own backyard), the mountains or a nearby waterpark, make sure you take the time to protect your skin.

Painful burning, skin cancer, and premature aging are all the result of unprotected moments under the sun. To protect yourself from the sun’s damaging rays, consider these tips. Adjust them based on your individual needs, lifestyle, and susceptibilities.

Stay hydrated

You’ve heard the message a thousand times, but there’s good reason – staying hydrated is essential for our overall health. During the summer, it is especially important to stay hydrated before, during and after spending time outdoors. Most individual adults should aim for 64 fluid ounces of water a day. For someone who exercises or works outdoors, this amount should be greater. Most experts agree: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink – by this time you’re already dehydrated. Drink every 15-20 minutes.

Limit sun exposure

Stay indoors when the sun is at its most intense, usually between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). You are at greater risk of skin damage during this period. If you must be outside during these hours, hang out in a shady spot, or create your own shade using an umbrella. Take precautions even when in the shade.

Apply sunscreen every day

Consumer Reports recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 40 that contains chemical active ingredients such as avobenzone rather than “natural” or mineral active ingredients such as zinc oxide. Only sunscreen with broad-spectrum coverage can shield your skin from UVA and UVB rays, both of which contribute to skin damage. For CR recommended sunscreens, click here.

Liberally apply sunscreen to any exposed skin, including the delicate skin around eyes, face and neck 30 minutes (the amount of time it takes for it to start working) prior to going outdoors. Keep in mind that most products only last for two hours. Make sure to reapply every 1 to 1 ½ hours if you’re going to be out in the sun longer. Always follow manufacturer recommendations.

Don’t forget to accessorize

A wide-brimmed hat can protect the delicate skin around your face, ears and neck, while sunglass protect your eyes and prevent cataracts. Wear sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection. Make sure to still apply sunscreen even when accessorizing.

Don’t let cloudy days fool you

By now, you know the importance of applying sunscreen on sunny days, but did you know that 80% of all UVA rays can penetrate cloud cover? With their longer wavelengths, UVA rays can pass through clouds and glass, penetrating the dermal layers of your skin and affecting the epidermal layers where wrinkles are formed.

Planning a Summer Pool Party

summer pool party

With temperatures rising throughout Arizona, one activity most people can’t live without is slipping into their swimsuits, and taking a dip in the cool blue waters of a swimming pool.

The only thing that beats diving in on a hot day is a summer pool party. There’s nothing like inviting some friends over, eating some amazing food, and lounging poolside. We have some great suggestions for invitations, decorations, food, games and of course, music.

Invites

Looking for a way to really wow your friends and family? Write your summer pool party details on an inflatable float or beach ball using a sharpie. You can choose any color sharpie you’d like. Be sure not to smudge the ink. For detailed instructions, click here.

Menu

No summer pool party would be complete without everyone’s summer favorites: burgers and hot dogs hot off the grill. Sandwiches, sliders, and chicken and pineapple kabobs are all low-maintenance options. Also, a refreshing snack, sliced watermelon. Don’t forget desert; perhaps a mixed berry cobbler or classic strawberry shortcake? Be sure to have lots of bottled water available to help your guests stay hydrated.

Activities

For fun activities that are family friendly, set up a few lawn games, such as Twister, Tic Tac Toe Frisbee and Jumbo Jenga. A quick Pinterest search will yield many other fun games. Additionally, a pool party can never have too many pool floats or pool noodles for guests to float around on, especially if there are children in attendance.

Decorations

If you’re hosting the party by the pool, be sure to set up a shady area or two for guests who prefer to relax in the shade. Add color to your pool by throwing in some balloons. With a little imagination, you can also create mini beach ball garland using paint, nylon string and Styrofoam balls. Get the tutorial here.

Songs for Summer

  • Firework by Katy Perry
  • School’s Out by Alice Cooper
  • Summer in the City by the Lovin’ Spoonful

How To: Cool Your Pool During the Summer

cool

During the summer months, Arizona’s extended run of triple-digit temperatures can heat a swimming pool to uncomfortable temperatures, making it feel like you’re stepping into a bathtub. If your pool has a depth of 6 feet or less, or receives a good amount of sunlight throughout the day, then you’ll likely benefit from adopting one of the following techniques for keeping your water temperature cool, crisp and refreshing.

Water Features

Water features are a fantastic way to add beauty to your pool while keeping the water cool. It’s a known fact that moving water stays cooler than stagnant water. Adding a simple fountain is one idea. You can also consider installing a sheer waterfall, spillway or pool slide to help accelerate the cooling process and keep the water clean.

Pool Coolers

Pool coolers are the perfect answer to uncomfortably warm swimming pools. An affordable, easy to install and energy-efficient solution, pool coolers are powered by an electric fan cooling system. The water circulates through the system, as airflow instantly removes the heat, and pumps the water back into the pool.

Shade Sails

Blocking your pool from the sun is one of the most effective ways to keep the water cool, but as most Arizonians know, shade is hard to come by in the Valley of the Sun. Shade sails are an increasingly popular option that can be placed in a variety of unique angles, giving the pool a very edgy, modern look.

Pergolas

A picture of comfort and style, pergolas can provide ambient shade with just the right amount of filtered light over the pool, provided they are correctly installed. Pergolas can be constructed using a number of high-quality materials including wood, stone, and rock. Aside from providing shade, they also help to add value to your home. Win-win!

Spring Maintenance Tasks for Your Pool

spring maintenance tasks

The weather is slowly but surely heating up, which means it’s almost time for one of the most relaxing activities in the world – lounging poolside with a glass of ice cold lemonade (if you aren’t already). By performing these few spring maintenance tasks, you can ensure that your experience will be sheer perfection.

Check Water Level: If you haven’t already, spring is a good time to check your pool’s water level, which should be in the middle of your skimmer opening or halfway up the waterline tile at all times. If it’s too low, the pump can suck-in air, lose prime and stop pumping. Add water accordingly using a garden hose. You could save a lot of time and money by investing in an automatic water leveler.

Check Filter Pressure: Every pool filter has a pressure gauge located near the top of the tank. The gauge, with its round face and 0 to 60 numbers, indicates system pressure in pounds per square inch (psi). Ideally, you should’ve recorded the normal operating pressure of your filter at installation, so you have a benchmark for all future readings.

Normal pressure signifies good pool circulation. This is the sweet spot, where you can sit back in that lounge chair, relaxing on a warm summer’s day. If the pressure gets too high, you will need to backwash the filter and clean the cartridge, or hire a professional pool cleaner to do this for you.

Check Pool Cleaner: An automatic pool cleaner can save a lot of manual cleaning of dirt and debris, but they do require regular attention, like all parts of your swimming pool do. Cleaners built with their own cartridge filter systems require frequent cleaning: just open the cleaner, remove and rinse with a hose. Pool cleaners can also stop moving/pulsating, get stuck behind a pool’s safety equipment, or their hoses coiled-up; requiring attention. If there seems to be a problem, have it professionally looked at.

Skim the Pool: Want a clean pool? Skim the surface of your pool water daily! Skimming helps to keep algae, stains, and cloudy water from occurring. To begin, you will need a skimmer net attached to a telescopic pole, making it easier to reach the pool’s bottom. You can choose between a flat skimmer or a bag skimmer – just make sure it’s durable. You won’t believe how many times we’ve seen a cheap skimmer break.

Opening Your Pool

opening your pool

As the days get a little warmer and a little longer, it easy for our thoughts to turn to shedding those extra layers, and spending long afternoons lounging poolside. Opening your pool for the summer season, however, requires more effort than just filling it up and jumping in. In business in Arizona for more than 25 years, Platinum Pools and Spas knows the importance of opening your pool for the season correctly. If a pool is properly opened, you can be assured proper operation and chemistry levels.

Get your summer season off to the right start in six easy steps.

Step 1: Check Supplies

While many swimming pool chemicals stay good for years if stored correctly, some pool-maintenance supplies like test strips and reagents expire more quickly, depending on the brand. Old supplies can give inaccurate results. If your supplies are expired, it may be better to discard them and replace them with new when you reopen your pool.

Step 2: Remove Leaves and Debris

Before removing the cover, remove leaves, dirt and general debris from the pool cover and surrounding deck or patio. For maximum cleanliness, with minimal effort, we recommend using a leaf blower. Any standing water should be removed as well. This will prevent dirt and debris from working its way into the pool.

Step 3: Uncover the Pool

Once you remove the cover, you will want to take the time to properly clean, fold and store it. Spending a few minutes now will save you money on the cost of a new cover. If you have the space, spread out the cover, spraying it off with the highest pressure your hose allows. Let dry. Then fold and store. The cooler the storage, the better.

Step 3: Check the Water Level

If you have an automatic water leveler, you can skip this step. For the pump to function properly, the water needs to be in the middle of the skimmer opening or halfway up the waterline tile. Add water accordingly. While waiting for the pool to fill, check and test all equipment including handrails, diving boards and slides for loose bolts.

Step 4: Check the Water Chemistry

It is important to test the water early. After a mandatory 24-hour run time, check the water’s pH level, total alkalinity, hardness of water due to calcium, and so forth. You can do this using test strips or take a sample of your pool water to your nearest pool supply store. Safe and proper levels should be:

  • Total Alkalinity – 80 to 120 ppm
  • pH Level – 7.4 to 7.6
  • Free Available Chlorine – 2.0 to 4.0 ppm
  • Calcium Hardness – 200 to 400 ppm
  • Stabilizer (Cyanuric Acid) – 30 to 50 ppm

*PPM – part per million

Step 5: Brush and Vacuum the Pool

Thoroughly brushing your pool’s walls is one of the most effective ways to keep your pool clean. Vacuum weekly to keep the water squeaky clean, increase the efficiency of the pool’s circulation system, and reduce the amount of chemicals you’ll need to add to it. Cleaning out strainer baskets at least once a week also helps to keep the pool clean.

Step 6: Clean Outdoor Furniture

Whether it looks like it needs it or not, you should make a point of cleaning your outdoor patio furniture regularly to prevent it from becoming weathered and faded by the elements, therefore making it last longer. Just fill up a bucket, get a sponge, and go to work. Let dry. Replace any furnishings that are unstable, torn or rotted.

Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy!

Backyard Improvement Projects in the New Year

 

backyard improvement

Despite our best intentions, only a tiny percentage of us follow through when it comes to making New Year’s resolutions, such as losing weight, eating healthier foods, becoming financially secure, making more time for self-care. In fact, according to Statistic Brain, only 9.2% of people are successful at achieving their New Year’s goals.

How about adding a New Year’s resolution that provides numerous benefits including increased property values? Now – while it is still cold outside – is the perfect time of year to start planning backyard improvement projects for you and your family to enjoy during the upcoming spring and summer seasons.

Backyard Improvement Ideas

Swimming Pool: Nothing else can transform your backyard quite like an inground swimming pool. Whether you envision a tranquil lagoon or exotic oasis, building a swimming pool gives you the most opportunities to customize, therefore ensuring your creativity is expressed. Adding pool and landscape lighting can extend the time you get to spend with your loved ones outdoors well into the night.

Patio Decking: One of the biggest trends in outdoor design today is a custom pool deck. You can create a beautiful, albeit simple space for lounging using any number of popular material options including travertine, stone, pavers, cement, and composite. These materials are available in a wide variety of textures, designs, and colors. Best of all, these materials are designed with your safety in mind, as they are slip resistant.

Outdoor Fire Pits: Imagine sitting outside surrounded by your friends and family on a cool Arizona winter night, gazing up at the stars, embraced by the warmth of a crackling fire. Now imagine enjoying this picturesque evening in the comfort of your own backyard. A fire pit is one of the most common fire features homeowners choose to incorporate in their backyard improvement projects.

Built-in Spas: Built-in spas offer a relaxing element to your swimming pool, and can be used year ‘round, thus maximizing your return on investment. The benefits to these spas, however, don’t end there! A custom spa provides countless benefits including health, relaxation, family time, and romance. The design options for in-ground spas are as varied as the options for a custom swimming pool.

Winterize Your Pool

winterize your pool

A swimming pool is a great backyard feature that will add years of enjoyment to your home. It provides many benefits, one of the most important being an increase in property value, especially in the Phoenix metropolitan area. A swimming pool can provide families with the opportunity for exercise, rest and relaxation, and a place for socializing, all amplified by the convenience of stepping into your own backyard oasis. However, even in Arizona, there comes a time when you should take some steps to winterize your pool.

Use these tips to winterize your pool.

#1. Clean Out the Pool

The first step is clean out any leaves, insects, dirt and debris. Use your pool vacuum – or just fish them out with a net. It is also recommended that you brush and vacuum the sides, not just the bottom, of your pool in order to remove scum lines.

#2. Balance Water Chemistry

This protects the pool from corrosion or scale buildup. You will want to do this at least a week prior to actually closing the pool. Using a water test kit, adjust the water to the recommended levels of pH, total alkalinity, calcium (hardness), and chlorination.

Proper levels are as follows:

  • pH: 7.2-7.6
  • Alkalinity: 180-220 ppm
  • Chlorine levels: 1-3 ppm

#3. Add a Winterization Kit

Thinking of adding a winterization chemical kit? Do it now. These kits put high levels of chlorine and algaecide in the water to prepare it for the cold months ahead. Ask your pool builder or retailer about these kits today!

#4. Remove Pool Accessories

You will also want to remove any and all pool accessories. This includes ladders, wall fittings, hand rails, automatic pool cleaners, and diving boards to ensure your pool’s cover snugly fits therefor keeping out debris and insects.

#5. Cover Your Pool

Finish winterizing your pool by covering your pool with solid cover that keeps out debris. When shopping for a pool cover, look for one that will provide a tight fit, so that no debris or bugs can get in between the gaps.

#6. Prefer to Use Your Pool Year-Round?

If you would prefer to keep using your pool in the winter, you have a few options, including geothermal heating. Geothermal heating works by collecting heat from the ground, which remains a constant 70˚F, concentrating it and applying it to your pool’s water. This ensures a consistently warm temperature year-round.

Experience Total Control with Pool Automation

pool automation

How would you like to put your pool on cruise control? With an automated control system, you can automate maintenance functions like sanitization, heating and filtration, and control ambient features such as lighting and water features using only your smartphone or tablet. An automated control system can also save you money – often reducing energy costs by as much as 70 percent. *

Whether you include pool automation in the construction of a new pool or the remodel of your existing pool, you’ll make it easier than even before to spend more time with your friends and family, enjoying the many benefits of pool ownership. Pool owners considering pool automation have a number of different automated control systems available to them. Here are a few simple ways to get started with pool automation:

OnCommand®

OnCommand® is an affordable automated control system that can be installed on existing pools. It lets you control your pool’s pump, filter, heater, lighting and more, as well as set schedules for totally hands-off operation. OnCommand® can also be connected to an optional floating wireless remote for the ultimate in poolside convenience (sold separately).

Total Control with E-Command® 4

The technology and programming flexibility afforded by the E-Command® 4 ensures equipment runs at peak performance for minimum energy usage and cost. You can set schedules for your pool’s equipment or control them manually from a wireless remote (sold separately). With a built-in subpanel, this system is the easiest, most cost-effective way to incorporate time-saving automation when building a new pool.

Manage Your Pool and Spa’s Chemistry

Homeowners barely have to lift a finger to ensure a clean, chemically balanced pool ready for use at any time, with the Total Pool Chemistry® management system. With the ability to integrate Sense and Dispense, the Total Pool Chemistry® management system continuously monitors chlorine and pH levels, and automatically adjusts the water chemistry as needed. It doesn’t get any more convenient than that!

Add-Ons That Make Maintenance Effortless

System add-ons such as Hayward’s AquaConnect Interface give you the ultimate in streamlined control and monitoring. Compatible with Hayward’s line of automated control systems, this interface gives you the freedom to access, control and monitor your system from a smartphone, tablet or computer – anywhere and anytime. Just think how amazing it would be to have total control at your fingertips.

Are you ready to simplify your life with pool automation? Contact Platinum Pools & Spas today for more information on all of our available automated control systems and receive a FREE Hayward ColorLogic® LED Pool Light with any new or remodeled pool. *

*Free ColorLogic® LED Pool Light with the purchase of a new or remodeled pool project over $10,000 and if purchased by 10/31/16. Does not include homebuilder pool programs and/or previous discounts or offers.