Pool School 118 Heaters

Aegean30YearsEmbossedToday we are going to talk about swimming pool heaters. We will discuss the different types of heaters and how to size a heater to a pool. So everyone take your seats we have a lot to go over.

Heating your pool seems simple, you put a heater on your system and you get hot water. But then the questions come up, what kind of heater do I get, gas, electric, or solar? What size heater do I need? All important questions and all the answers will be different for everyone. So let’s start with the types of heater and their advantages and disadvantages.


Hayward H Series Gas Heater

Gas heaters come in two different styles; natural gas, and propane. If you have natural gas available that is the best option because propane heaters are considerably more expensive than natural gas to operate. Gas heat’s advantage is that it will heat your pool quickly. When I say quickly that is relative to the other types of pool heaters available. Depending on the size of your pool and the size of heater you have a gas heater can heat your pool in several hours. Another advantage a gas heater has is that it will heat the pool all year long and this is important if you have an indoor pool you plan on using all year. Gas heaters can be placed indoors or outdoors, however since they involve fire they have to be properly vented both indoors and outdoors. Also because of the fire and explosive nature of the fuel and carbon monoxide they produce gas heaters require multiple building permits in order to be safely installed to code. So to review good side of gas heaters: They heat the pool quickly, they heat the pool all year long, and they can be placed indoors. On the down side: They are expensive to operate when compared to other types of heaters, gas heaters require three permits in order to be installed according to the building code.


Aqua Comfort Heat Pump

Heat pumps are very energy efficient and cost considerably less to operate than a gas heater, however they take longer to heat the water than gas heaters. When heating a pool with a heat pump you should allow at least 12 hours or more to heat the pool to the desired temperature depending on the starting temperature. With a heat pump the colder the water is the longer it will take to heat the pool. Heat pumps however do not require a building permit like gas heaters. Heat pumps cannot be placed inside a building; they can only be placed outside, but heat pumps don’t emit CO2 into the environment. Heat pumps can only convert heat from the air from a certain outdoor ambient air temperature, with Aqua Comfort Heat Pumps Aegean Pools sells, the heat pump can convert down to 40° ambient air temperature. Aqua Comfort also offers a line of heat pumps that will not only heat your pool but if your pool water gets very hot during the summer they can cool your pool water! To review the good side of heat pumps: They are considerably less expensive to operate than a gas heater and much easier on the environment than a gas heater. Aqua Comfort heat pumps will heat down to 40° ambient air temperature. If you select the heat/cool model you can not only heat your pool with the heat pump you can also cool the water, gas heaters cannot do that. Heat pumps do not require a building permit to install like a gas heater. On the down side: They take longer to heat the pool water than a gas heater and will not heat the pool all year round. They also cannot be put inside a building.


Solar Blanket

Solar heat comes in several versions; solar blankets, solar panels, solar pods. Regardless of the type of heating system you decide to employ it is recommended that you use a solar blanket. Solar blankets look like bubble wrap packing material but the plastic is much thicker, eight to twelve mils thick depending on the model you choose, and usually tinted a deep blue color. Solar blankets have two functions; first they collect radiant heat from the sun and transfer that heat to the pool water. This will reduce your dependence on any other type of heating system you may be using reducing the cost to operate that system. Second, they trap heat in the pool by stopping evaporation. When you see steam coming off the surface of your pool what you are seeing is the heat escaping from the water. The solar blanket blocks that process. If you want to try and heat your pool without spending thousands of dollars a solar blanket is your best option. If you decide to employ a solar blanket you will also want to invest in a solar reel. While solar blankets are not heavy they are bulky and un-wieldy to handle. If you don’t have a reel for the blanket you will end up dragging this hulking mass across the deck. When that happens you will puncture holes in the air bubbles of the blanket, when that happens you destroy the heating capability of the blanket and make it much more difficult to handle. The solar reel will stop you from dragging the blanket across the deck extending the life of the blanket. In addition it will make moving the blanket around simpler and less messy. If you use a solar blanket you don’t want to leave the blanket on the pool to the point the temperature goes over 95°, keep in mind the hotter the water is the faster algae and bacteria will grow. Also, the solar blanket creates a shaded environment which algae love and helps enhance its growth. So when you get up to temperature take the blanket off the pool and store it out of the sun. The good side of solar blankets: The initial investment is substantially less expensive than conventional heaters. There is no cost to operate because it uses heat from the sun. It keeps the heat in the pool as well; no other heating system does that. On the down side: Solar blankets can be un-wieldy to handle without a solar reel. If you don’t get at least six hours of sun on your pool the blanket may not warm the pool up to your desired temperature. If you leave the blanket on too long it can promote algae growth.

SmartPoolIGSolarHeatSolar panels/pods come in all kind of styles roof mount, rack mount, and ground mount. In ground pools usually use panels and above ground pools usually use pods. If you are going to go with roof mount solar you should consider having it professionally installed to protect your roof from leaking. However there are do it yourself solar kits if you feel comfortable working in that environment.   For this type of solar heater to be effective you have to have correct exposure to the sun on your roof and sufficient length of exposure, otherwise your pool will not warm significantly. The great thing about solar heat is that it does not cost anything to operate. Another nice feature is when the pool water gets hot during the summer you can run the water through the panels at night and it will lower the water temperature several degrees. Now granted the heat/cool heat pump will lower your water temperature far lower than the solar panels will but, you will get some temperature reduction from the panels being used at night.   Most solar panels are flat and go on the roof of a structure. Above ground pool solar pods are usually modular, compact, fit in a very small area and are easy to connect to the filter system. The good side of solar panels/pods: The only cost you have is the equipment once you have made the investment the panels begin paying you back, the longer you have them the more the cost of operation goes down. Solar panels on the roof of a structure will drop the water temperature several degrees if you run them at night. The down side of solar panels: Professionally installed panels can cost thousands of dollars. Solar panels are definitely not an attractive feature on the roof. Solar panels will not work if you do not get sufficient exposure to the sun. Solar panels will not heat the pool year round, you will still need a gas heater if you want to warm you pool water all year.

One of the most important things you must know when you are trying to determine what size of a heater or solar system will be right for your pool is your pool’s surface area. Surface area is important to determine heat loss. The heating system you are considering has to be able to overcome that heat loss. Time for some geometry:

Here are the examples for all three pool types:

For a kidney shaped pool that was 36’ long 16’ wide at the shallow end and 18’ wide at the deep end the formula would look like this:


Surface Area= (16 + 18) x 36 x .45   the answer would be 550.8 square feet.

For a round pool that is 24’ round the formula would look like this:

Surface Area= 12 x 12 s 3.14 the answer would be 452.16 square feet.

For a rectangular pool that is 20 x 40 the formula would look like this:

Surface Area= 20 x 40 the answer would be 800 square feet.

So if we are going to determine what size gas heater we would need for this pool we will need a chart from the heater manufacture showing the maximum square footage that the heater will handle like the one below:


So in our 16/18 x 36 kidney pool we would need to install at least a H200 model heater. If you want to go larger it is not a problem, it will just heat the pool more quickly. However, if you go too small your heater will struggle to maintain the desired temperature and you will wear it out faster and spend lots of money on fuel to heat the pool. So determine what size heater you need for you pool them go up at least one size for efficiency sake.

To size an Aqua Comfort heat pump consider that bigger is always better to achieve quick heating. The largest heat pump is a 175k btu unit. The most popular is a 155k btu unit, this unit will usually handle pools up to 800 square feet.

To size a solar blanket you will buy it based on the size of your pool. In our kidney shaped pool example you would want a cover size 18 x 36. When you lay the blanket on top of the pool water you will leave it on the water for a day or two to allow the vinyl to shrink slightly in the sun, then you will trim it with scissors to the shape of your pool.

For solar panels/pods you should consult with the specific manufacture for sizing requirements.

This is a pretty comprehensive review of swimming pool heaters, however there are usually questions and as we are not in an actual classroom you cannot raise your hand to ask a questions, if you do have a question please feel free to contact me or visit our retail store to have your question answered by one of our pool experts.

We have one more class this year so don’t be late you won’t want to miss a minute of class.

Pool School 117 Metals in Pool Water

KeetrolpluscropImageJpegAlright class settle down, when you read this say “Here,” so I can count your present. Thank you. Now in this class we are going to talk about metals in pool water. Metal in pool water can work both for you and against you, it all depends on the metal and how your treat your pool water. Let’s start with metals that can help you. Way back in roman times “They” (whoever “They” are) discovered that copper had properties that kept algae away. Over thousands of years since “They” have improved on the application of copper to the pool water to fight algae. (See Pool School 116 Alga and Algaecides in our Word Press Blog) But, copper is a double edged sword, one side helps you the other side hurts you. Any metal in the pool water can potentially cause staining on the surface of the pool, fittings as well, and anything in the pool when the staining occurs. When you are using copper in the pool you have to be careful about treating the pool water, it is vitally important that you maintain proper water balance. In particularly pH is extremely important, if you let the pH go to low and then attempt to bring the pH up again too quickly it will cause a chemical shock to the pool that will cause the copper to come out of solution and stain the entire pool and everything in it. So make it a rule that if your pH level drops below 7.0 bring a water sample to Aegean Pools Testing Lab to get a prescription to adjust your water chemistry to avoid a bad reaction.

If you use an ionizer in your pool you are adding copper and/or silver or zinc to the pool water on a routine basis. (See Pool School 102 Alternative Sanitizers in our World Press Blog) We just talked about copper in the water, so we don’t need to rehash that topic, but we did not discuss silver or zinc. I am not aware of any issues with zinc in the pool water and potential staining; however the same is not true of silver. Silver can leave a black stain on the surface of the pool if it were to come out of solution, so the same rules that apply to copper when treating the pool water apply to silver.

If you are using a Frog® mineral system then staining is not an issue as the minerals stay in the cartridge and are not dissolved into the pool water. This is a great system for reducing chlorine usage regardless of the type of chlorine you use; chlorine tablets or salt generator it does not matter.

Now on to the topic of bad metals; any metal we have not talked about so far are all bad. Thanks for coming to class have a great day! Just kidding; the most common problem metal for us in the Coastal Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina area is iron. In the well water in this area iron is a common occurring problem. The best way to avoid problems with iron is to not put them in the pool. The best way to start, if you have well water, have it tested for iron before you put your well water in the pool. If you have iron present in your well water you will want to run it through a filter like the X10 water filter available at Aegean Pools retail store. This filter will significantly reduce the amount of iron and other metals in your source water. The X10 will treat up to 8,000 gallons of water before it will need to be replaced. This is a great way to prevent iron staining issues with well water, but what many people don’t realize is that there are trace amounts of metals in all city water. As you add city water to your pool over time you will build up these trace levels and if you have a salt generator the salt conversion process and the chlorine in the pool will cause the iron to come out of solution and stain the pool stairs a rusty brown color. If you use the X10 on all your fill water it will take substantially longer for this staining process to occur. If you already have a stair staining issue the Jack’s Magic The Step Stuff or On Guard Step Magic will remove the stains from the stairs. If you have iron in the pool water and it has not yet stained the pool surface you will need to add a stain control chemical. Which chemical to use will depend on the type of sanitizer you use; for chlorine tablets you can use On Guard Keetrol, for salt generator pools you will want to use Novatrol to prevent the iron from staining the pools surface and to help remove the mineral through the filter system.

The thing to keep in mind about staining is that the stain is on the surface of the pool and it can be removed chemically without draining the pool. Brian our lead water lab technician is a trained stain removal expert. He has been trained by Jack’s Magic a leader in the swimming pool industry in stain removal and prevention. There are many circumstances that can fool you into thinking you have a stain when you don’t have a stain and putting stain treatment chemicals in your pool will not solve your problem. If you have staining issues bring a sample of your pool water and a picture of your stain to our water test lab for a professional analysis.

So to review, if you have metals in your pool water you need professional assistance in treating them before you add ANY chemicals to your pool water. If you have metals in your pool water for any reason you have to be VERY careful in how you maintain and treat your water chemistry or you may end up with major staining issues in your pool.

Thank you for coming today, now class is dismissed so you can go out and enjoy your pool!

Pool School 116 Algae

Algae MonsterFront

Don’t Let The Algae Monster Get You!

Let’s start with a basic understanding of algae, because in order to win the algae battle we have to know what we are up against. There are three key points I want you to keep in mind during this class; first, alga (one single cell of algae) is a microscopic organism. You cannot see it without the aid of a microscope. Second, you always have algae in your pool, ALWAYS.  Third, algaecide by itself cannot cure an algae bloom.

So now we have the basic understanding I will get into more specifics. Please don’t take offense to the fact you always have algae in your pool water, it is just a fact of nature. Algae are everywhere and when your pool is exposed to the environment it will end up with algae. Which leads to the inevitable question; how do I get rid of all the algae in my pool? The simple answer is you don’t.   What you do with the pool chemicals, and filtration system, is you keep the growth under control so you cannot see it with your eye. Remember the first key point is alga is microscopic so you will not actually see it until it is way out of control. Algae found in pools is not harmful to humans, there are some forms of algae that people actually eat for protein. However, algae are unsightly (no one likes to look at a green pool) and when you dry off after having swum in an algae infested pool you will not like the feeling on your skin. In addition when the algae die they give off a horrible order that smells like three day old dead fish.

What is a pool owner to do to win the algae war? Your first line of defense is proper water chemistry and routine chemical testing and treatment. When I say routine I mean weekly checks and treatment if necessary. Your second line of defense is your filtration system, weekly you want to check your equipment to make sure it is working properly and the filter does not need backwashing. Your third line of defense is weekly cleaning the pool; this includes vacuuming the floors and/or brushing the walls of the pool. Your forth line of defense is an Algaecide. If you follow these simple rules in most cases you will successfully beat the algae, however circumstances may override your diligence and you may lose the battle, but you will not lose the war!

Now that we are engaging the enemy we need to know the enemy a little better. There are literally thousands of types of alga. In pools we are usually dealing with five basic forms; green algae, yellow algae (also referred to as mustard algae), pink algae, brown algae, and black algae. Each one of these enemy combatants has it’s own special characteristics and what we want to take as a weapon into battle will depend on this information. Let’s review the different types of algae:

First up is enemy number one green algae; the first thing we need to know is green algae prefers shaded sunlight. This helps us know where to look, because green alga likes to hide from you so that you will not find it until it is too late. Places you will want to look will be; the shaded side of the pool, underneath the ladder treads on your ladder in the deep end of the pool, and the most forgotten site, behind the underwater light. Your first wave in battling green algae is to brush it off of whatever surface it is clinging to. It is easier to kill the algae when it is in the body of the pool water because the chemicals cannot efficiently reach the algae when it is attached to something. Then you would vacuum the pool followed by a shock treatment along with either Banish® by Bio Guard or 90 Day Algae Preventer and Remover by SeaKlear.

Second up is the most difficult algae to get rid of, yellow or mustard algae; this alga requires a decontamination process to rid yourself of this enemy. Mustard alga will cling to stuff that ends up in the pool and subsequently introduce itself back into the pool later or into another pool. Classic case; I had a customer who managed an apartment complex. She came to my test lab and slammed her bottle down on the counter and said she just wanted to know one thing, “Can you get mustard algae from a test kit?” The answer is yes. To that she said that is what I thought. It seems the health department, three days before, had visited her pool for a routine surprise inspection. After the inspector tested the water the inspector made the comment of how nice her pool looked, the inspector said that every pool they had been to that day had mustard algae. I don’t think I need to say more. So to successfully get rid of mustard algae you will need to follow these steps; first, brush and vacuum the pool. Second, shock the pool (assuming you are using chlorine to sanitize your pool, if you are using something else consult with Aegean Pools before proceeding) using one pound of shock for every 10,000 gallons of pool water. If you have an odd number of gallons rounding up is a good idea. You will need to make sure your pH level is correct and possibly add additional pH adjusters, it is best to have the water professionally analyzed at Aegean Pools before proceeding. Third, add either Banish® by Bio Guard or 90 Day Algae Preventer and Remover by SeaKlear. Fourth, let the pool circulate overnight then the next day take anything that was in the pool while the mustard algae was in the pool and put it back in the pool for 20 minutes. By anything I mean anything; floats, toys, games, bathing suites, friends and neighbor’s bathing suites, your family’s bathing suites, pets, maintenance equipment, testing equipment, automatic pool cleaner, anything you can think of that had been in the pool. Fifth, take a buck of water from the pool and clean any deck furniture you may have sat in and clean it with the pool water. Sixth, take another bucket of pool water and clean the pool deck with the water from the pool. This should kill any residual of mustard algae and reduce the chances of getting it back again. However, once you have had muster algae you are always susceptible to getting it again, it can hide like a sleeper agent.

Third up on our least wanted list is a pink alga. This is actually a combination of both a bacteria and algae. As usual you will want to brush, vacuum and shock the pool then apply Back-Up® by Bio Guard.

Fourth up Brown alga; this algae usually is introduced from a salt water environment like a creek, the ocean and so on. The best treatment for this alga is the same as mustard algae (see second up on our list above).


Fifth and last on our list is black alga; this algae is a very stubborn algae, it actually secretes a waxy substance that protects it from harmful chemicals in the pool water. This alga loves little nooks and crannies and is more often found on concrete pools. To treat this algae we take the same first steps; brush, vacuum and shock. Then apply Algae All 60® by Bio Guard or Algaecide 60 from Pool Season. One more step in the removal process and that is brushing. When you brush the algae on a concrete pool that has a masonry surface you will want to use a stainless steel bristle brush, in a concrete pool that is painted, a fiberglass pool, or a vinyl liner pool you will want to us a plastic bristle brush so you don’t damage the surface of the pool. When you brush the locations where the algae is located you will only remove a small amount of the algae, the dead layer that the algaecide has help permeate. You will need to continue to brush the pool until you can no longer see the black algae, however you are not done brushing, remember algae is microscopic and you will brush it until you can’t see it any more but it is still there and if you stop brushing it will make a comeback in a few days. So you will continue to brush it for at least three days after you lose sight of the spots.

Rather than trying to combat algae after it has invaded your pool, let’s look at ways of preventing a full fledged war on algae. When it comes to preventing algae the king of this process is BorX by N. Jonas. BorX renders algae incapable of processing carbon dioxide, algae being a plant life exchanges carbon dioxide. So by blocking that process it suffocates algae. It does such a good job that it will substantially reduce the amount of sanitizer you use. If you want the Cadillac of algae prevention this is the King.

These three algaecides are good preventers you will use on a routine basis; Back-Up®, Algae All 60®, Algaecide 60, Banish®, or 90 Day Algae Preventer and Remover. Banish® and 90 Day Algae Preventer and Remover are also excellent killers.

One topic I am going to pass on is phosphates; if you have been in school and not skipping class (and you know who you are) you would have already learned about phosphates in Pool School 107. If you have not been to this class then you can review it on our Word Press blog.


One other thing I would like to cover today is an alternative use for Back-Up® Algaecide. This unique product helps prevent algae by making the water wetter. I know that sounds weird, but that is the best way to describe what it does. That process can help you eliminate spiders that float on the pool water and help keep ducks out of your pool. When spiders float on the pool surface they do so by creating an air pocket under them. Back-Up® takes the air pocket away and they end up sinking in the water like an ocean liner with a gaping hole in its hull. Ducks on the other hand will not sink, that would be messy, but duck feathers are covered in oil and they are designed to keep the water from coming into contact with their skin. Back-Up® making the water wetter allows the water to permeate the feathers and the water makes contact with their skin, the ducks will be doing a touch and go in your pool. They will learn that your pool water is weird and not to their liking and off they will go in search of a more friendly body of water.

So your battle plans have been drawn for you, time to suit up do some re-con then to battle! Good luck and don’t forget your best ally in your war against algae Aegean Pools Test Lab, our lab technicians are highly trained algae ninjas. Algae hates our test lab! Class dismissed until next time…don’t be late for class!