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Pools and Stuff

  • How to Replace an In-Ground Pool Liner

    photo by Nathan Bittinger via Flickr

    Over time, your in-ground pool liner will wear out and you'll need to replace it. When that day comes, we heartily recommend finding a qualified professional to do it for you. However, if you are determined to save money by doing it yourself, and you don't mind the hard work, it can be done yourself.

    Before proceeding, contact your pool supplier and get the template for the liner measurements. The contractor who built your pool should have them. Once the measurements are in hand, you can start!

    • Select a liner color and pattern. 
    • When your new liner arrives, drain your pool. Do not drain in advance unless you are certain dry weather is forecasted and you have a mortar-bottom pool. If you have a sand or vermiculite-bottom pool, wait until the last minute to drain.
    • Remove all accessories (ladders, slides, etc.). Remove all hardware (return gaskets, skimmer gasket, face plates, etc.)
    • Carefully inspect the walls of the pools for rust or damage. Where needed, grind and use galvanized steel to repair/limit rust.
    • Carefully inspect the pool floor for cracks or damage. If you find damage, contact a contractor or pool repairman about repairs before you proceed.
    • If all looks good, wash and sweep your pool from top to bottom. Vacuum the pool floor of any collected water.
    • Hang the liner according the manufacturer's instructions. You'll likely need an assistant or two.
    • Position a shop vac through the skimmer behind the liner. Turn on the vac and position the liner as the air is removed from behind it. Make sure the liner is wrinkle-free and smooth against the pool wall. If wrinkles form, shut off the vac and start again.
    • Begin adding water to the pool while the vac is running. When there is 12" of water in the pool, use a sharp razor to cut out the main drains.
    • Continue to fill the pool until there is 18" of water in the shallow end. Shut off the vac and remove.
    • Fill the pool up to the returns. Re-install return gaskets, skimmer gasket, and face plates. Use a sharp razor to cut away liner where necessary.
    • Fill the pool to the halfway point on the skimmer mouth. Start up your pool system.
    • Add your chemicals. Your pool is ready!

    TIPS

    • A very dark liner/pattern can heat a pool up to 7 degrees more than a light color/pattern.
    • Do not wear shoes or boots when walking on the new liner.

    WARNINGS

    • Always wear appropriate safety gear.
    • Be careful when using the shop vac and filling the pool--water and electricity are a fatal combination!
    • Take care not to make unnecessary cuts in the liner.

    Do you have an above-ground pool? We have a guide for installing above-ground pool liners here.

  • How to Replace an Above-Ground Pool Liner

    replacing an above ground pool liner Our Bermuda above ground pool is pretty great.

    The lifespan of your pool depends on the condition of its liner. This is why it's important to inspect the liner every year. Eventually, you will need to replace it. Don't be daunted! It's really not so bad.

    Our overall advice: hire a professional to replace the liner. It will cost you a little, but if you shop around you'll find that the cost isn't so bad. Just make sure you get someone who has the licenses and qualifications to perform the job. Always look for reviews and recommendations!

    But if you really, really want to do it yourself ... it's not so bad. Set aside a big block of time, get together the materials, enlist someone to help you, and follow our guide:

    Replacing an Above-Ground Pool Liner

    Before proceeding, measure and then re-measure the pool, then order the new liner. Try to avoid buying cheaper liners--the short-term savings may be attractive, but they may end up costing you more down the road. The thicker the liner the more durable it tends to be. Also consider investing in a liner guard to protect the liner from punctures or tears.

    • Drain all the water from the pool.
    • Remove all hung ladders and any other equipment that obstructs the liner area. Also remove all face plates, gaskets, lights, and etc. from the interior of the pool. Use this opportunity to inspect this hardware for cracks or wear that may indicate it needs replacement.
    • Remove hardware on the top end of the pool: seat clamps, ledges, top plates, the top rail, and etc.
    • Now for the fun stuff: remove the old liner. You may need to use a razor knife to cut the liner into smaller pieces.
    • Inspect the pool base and cove. Repair any unevenness or wash outs with masonry sand.
    • Remove duct tape from the wall bolt seam and re-tape it with fresh tape.
    • Sweep the inside of the pool thoroughly to ensure there are no pebbles or debris. Check for any sharp edges that might tear the new liner and either remove, file down, or tape over them.
    • Unroll the new liner in a clear, sunny area. The warmth helps the liner stretch during installation. Be sure to follow any instructions that came with the liner.
    • Seal the skimmer area with cardboard using duct tape on the outside of the pool wall. Also seal the water return and lighting holes with duct tape on the outside of the pool wall. Then insert 2 feet of a shop vacuum hose through the cardboard that covering the skimmer area. Duct tape it on until well sealed. Reinspect all the duct tape seals--they need to be really good seals!
    • Re-inspect the pool bottom and remove all debris--even the tiniest pebble can cause damage to your new liner!
    • Clip two wooden clothes pins to each upright.
    • Get some help with this next part to ensure you don't damage the new liner: Fold the new liner in half and place it in the pool. Unfold it carefully--you should be able to do this from outside the pool.
    • Pull the liner up over the wall about 6 inches and attach to the pool wall with the clothes pins. Now you want to evenly and carefully pull the liner further over the wall, removing and reclipping the pins as needed, until about 15 inches of the liner folds over the pool wall.
    • With a light touch, brush and tap the liner toward the walls. Inspect and adjust the liner as needed. Double check that the bottom seam is even all around the perimeter of the pool.
    • Attach a shop vac to the hose you previously attached to the cardboard in the skimmer area. Turn it on. It will suck the air out of the liner area. You want to release the liner as evenly as possible as it tightens by releasing and re-attaching the clothes pins as needed. Continue to gently brush and tap the liner toward the wall around the entire pool to remove wrinkles. Proceed in this fashion until the liner is seated and even with no wrinkles. If there are persistent wrinkles, shut off the vacuum and start over by reclipping the liner to the wall. Don't cheat!
    • Once the liner is set and wrinkle-free, begin filling the pool with water WITHOUT shutting off the vacuum. Fill until there is about 1 foot of water in the pool. Now you can shut off the vac.
    • Re-install all face plates and gaskets. Use your fingers to find the holes they used to go into and use a sharp awl to carefully puncture that area. With a sharp razor knife, carefully cut out the liner from the skimmer and light areas and remove all of your duct tape seals.
    • Finish filling the pool with water. Hook up the filtration system and pool accessories. Add your pool chemicals and you're done!

    PRO TIPS:

    It is super important that there be no wrinkles because wrinkles trap debris, make vacuuming the pool difficult, and they will eventually cause tears in the lining, greatly diminishing the lifespan of the liner and the pool itself.

    To clean the liner, you don't need to empty the pool. In fact, doing so can cause the liner to shrink or crack.

    WARNINGS:

    This guide is for above ground overlap vinyl liners without deep ends. If your pool has a variation in depth, please seek a professional's help in replacing your liner.

    Above Ground Pool Installation Videos


    Have an in-ground pool? Check out our guide on in-ground pool liners here.

  • How to Determine Swimming Pool Volume

    The most important thing to know about your pool is how many gallons it holds. Don't guess! Having the right number is crucial to knowing how much it's going to cost you to fill the pool, what size pump/filter/chemical feeder/heater you need, and the amount of chemicals needed to maintain pool hygiene. Calculate this number incorrectly and it could cost you a pretty penny in equipment repairs/replacements, and could be a real health hazard if you incorrectly add chemicals.

    Pool Volume Calculators

    There are lots of calculators available to help you determine how many gallons your pool holds. Pick one that you like best:

    Pentair Pool Volume Calculator -- Allows for four different pool shapes: rectangular, oblong, circular, and triangular. You will need to know the pool depth at the shallowest end and the deepest end, and the length/width or radius (depending on pool shape).

    Pool1 Pool Gallon Calculator -- Has one calculator for above-ground pools, one for in-ground rectangular pools, and one for in-ground oval pools. For above-ground pools, you will need to know the pool's depth, width, and length. For the in-ground pools, you'll need to know the shallow and deep end depths, the length, and the width.

    Kurtz Water Volume Calculator -- Has two calculators: one for square/rectangular pools and one for round pools. For square/rectangular pools, you will need to know the pool's length, width, and shallow/deep depths. For round pools, you will need to know the deep/shallow depths and the diameter.

    WikiHow Volume in Gallons -- This is not a calculator, but rather walks you through the math you need to do to determine the number of gallons in your pool. For folks who like to do their own math!

    What Other Info Does a Pool Owner Need to Know?

    Glad you asked! Owning a pool requires a fair amount of knowledge in order to maintain it properly and safely. Here's a pretty good list of the things you should know to keep things in good working order (note: it's a PDF).

  • Protecting Your Pool From Wildlife

    It's coming--the time for getting back into the pool is just around the corner! But humans aren't the only ones that end up in the water when the pool covers come off. Wildlife often end up in the pool as well. From ducks to alligators to the neighbor's dog, your pool can easily become a local watering hole for critters in your area. Unless your dream is to discover a new species of frog, you probably want to keep animals out of the pool.

    The Dangers of Animals in Swimming Pools

    The primary reason why wildlife and pools are a bad combo is simply because the animals could drown. Squirrels and possums are famous for falling into the water and perishing when they can't escape. Not only is this a sad loss of life, the organic matter introduced into the chlorinated water can produce a toxic gas, introduce nasty bacteria into the water, and pollute the pool's filtration system.

    And if the animal doesn't perish, then you have a really angry possum in the water. Not really great for swimming with the kids.

    Also remember that if these animals can get into the pool, there's a very good chance small children can get in as well. A pool secured from wildlife is safer for children, too.

    Keep Wildlife Out of Your Pool

    Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep critters out. In general, it's easier to keep them out of above-ground pools, but you'll still want to take measures to secure the pool.

    Build a Fence -- In many places, there are regulations requiring pools to be fenced and gated, but even if you aren't required to have them they are a good idea. They'll keep bigger animals and kids from falling in.

    Have an Access Ladder/Gate -- For above-ground pools, install a ladder with a lockable gate to prevent little furry things from using the steps to access the pool. We carry an attractive one here.

    keep wildlife out of pools

     

    Invest in an Escape Ramp -- Sometimes all these wayward critters need is a little help out of the pool. Providing an escape ramp could be a lifesaver. There are lots of models available out there, and they are quite affordable. We like this one, perfect for smaller animals like lizards and squirrels:

    swimming pool escape ramp

     

    And Now Some Cute Animal Videos

    We certainly don't recommend having animals in your pool, but sometimes it can be funny to watch wildlife enjoy the luxury of a dip in the pool. Here are some cute videos of animals enjoying human swimming pools. Enjoy!

  • Win a $300 Gift Card!

    promotionbanner

    How to Enter

    It's easy to enter! Simply go to our Poolssandstuff.ca Facebook page. There are four ways to enter, four chances to win! Be sure to read the complete rules, as some restrictions apply. What will you do with a $300 gift card?

    Enter THREE Other Amazing Giveaways!

    While you're on Facebook, check out the contests sponsored by our sister sites. We're giving away lots of great prizes:

  • Win an Elegance Hot Tub!

    Our sister site Spasandstuff.com is giving away an Elegance Inflatable Portable Hot Tub to one lucky winner!

    There are 4 ways to enter, 4 ways to win:

    1. Click on the Contest button on the top of the Facebook page
    2. “Like” the Promotion post pinned to the top of the Timeline
    3. Leave a comment on the post or on the Facebook page telling us why you want to win
    4. Send us a private message (through Facebook or email) with your name and email address

    Contest runs through May 20! Some restrictions apply. Please read Contest page for Official Rules.

  • Shop Now on Facebook!

    Poolsandstuff.com now has a Shop Now feature on our Facebook page! Click on it to view great pools and pool products. You can Like products, create a Wishlist, and Share your favorites on your timeline, a friend's timeline, on a page you manage, or in a private message. Use this new Facebook feature to coordinate purchases with friends and family, or to show everyone where they can go to get you the perfect gift.

    View the new Facebook Shop Now feature by visiting our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/PoolsAndStuff

  • 8 Reasons a Private Pool is Better Than a Public Pool

    Maybe you're trying to decide whether or not to build a pool in the backyard. Or, maybe you're trying to decide between renting a house with a pool or renting an apartment with a shared pool. Whatever the reason, you might want to know why a private pool is better than a public pool.

    1. Public Pools are Gross

    Private Pool is Better Than a Public Pool

    This is the first reason why private pools are better because it is the biggest reason and contributes heavily to some of the following reasons. To put it bluntly, public pools are disgusting: according the the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the average swimmer deposits 0.14 grams of fecal matter in pool water, usually within minutes of first entering. Multiply that by how many people are going through your local community pool and, well, that's a lot of poop.

    It doesn't just stop there. One in five Americans admit to peeing while in a swimming pool. How many people were at the public pool last time you were there? Yeah. That's a lot of pee.

    Another gross number: about 35% of swimmers don't shower before getting in the pool. This means that they dive right in and within minutes contaminate the water with fecal matter, dead skin, loose hair, lotion, sweat ... you get the picture. The gross, disgusting picture.

    In a private pool, you know exactly who and what is in the water. You can insist on clean bodies only in the pool, and by limiting the number of people diving in you control the grossness they contribute to the water.

    2. Public Pools Will Get You Sick

    All that poop and dead skin in the water inevitably leads to bacteria. Yes, chlorine is there to kill off germs and sanitize the water, but there's only so much it can do. Every time you mix organic contaminants into the water, they consume chlorine, leaving less chlorine to battle off the stuff deposited by the next swimmer. Get enough swimmers, like in a public setting, and there's not enough chlorine to get it all before you accidentally swallow it.

    Next thing you know, you've got a recreational water illness (RWI). The CDC states that there has been an increase in RWIs in the past two decades. The most common is diarrhea, followed by gastrointestinal complaints, skin problems, ear infections, respiratory problems, eye infections,
    and neurological problems.

    With your own private pool, you control the cleanliness and therefore considerably decrease your chances of becoming ill from bacteria.

    3. You Can't Control the Chlorine

    Chlorine is good in that it disinfects, but it's bad because ... well, chlorine is just really bad for you. It was first used as a weapon during World War I, and it continues to contribute to a host of health issues, such as eczema, respiratory illnesses, and even certain cancers. Once you mix organic matter with chlorine, you get some potentially toxic chlorine by-products that have been linked to lung and skin irritation, liver and bladder cancer, allergies, and asthma.

    In a private pool, you can carefully monitor and control the chlorine levels for maximum safety and hygiene. Or, you can opt for a chlorine-free system rarely seen in public pools, such as ultra filtration, ozone, or salt water.

    4. Indoor Pools May Cause Lung Problems

    Private Pool Better Than a Public Pool photo by Dave Dugdale via Flickr

    Studies have been done that indicate that frequent swimming in indoor pools contributes to upper and lower respiratory problems such as lung congestion, sneezing, asthma, lung irritation, and other breathing difficulties. The problem is chloramine, the toxic by-product of chlorine and organic matter. The more chlorine and the more organic matter involved, the more chloramine you have. You can see the problem this can create in a public setting. Chloramines settle just above the water's surface where swimmers primarily breathe. Continued exposure affects bronchial health. There is evidence to suggest that symptoms can be worse for younger swimmers, to the point that many experts discourage parents from taking infants and toddlers to indoor swimming pools.

    Among private pool owners, only the most posh tend to have their own indoor pools, so this issue tends to be isolated to indoor community pools and school pools.

    5. There are Other People at Public Pools

    By calling them "public" pools we're pretty much accepting that other people will be using them. All sorts of people. We would never advocate an anti-social attitude toward your fellow human, but let's face it: other people can be trying at times. Using a public pool means sharing your swim time with people who may not be as clean and well behaved as you might like. With your own private pool, you have more privacy and more control over the company you swim with.

    6. Public Pools are Inconvenient

    First off, they have operating hours. Feel like a night time swim? Good luck finding an open public pool. Having a pool party at Christmas? Not a chance if you plan on using a public pool. A private pool lets you swim at any time, on any day. Do a few laps before dinner. Use the pool area for 12 hours straight or for just 15 minutes. And if you have a heated pool, you can swim most or all of the year during times when public pools shut down.

    Public pools often also have fees for their use. This might dissuade you from using them for just a quick swim, which means you lose out on the benefits of regular swimming.

    You also have to actually leave the house to use a public pool. With your own pool, it's just out the door. This means you'll probably use it more, and that means you'll be healthier from all that aerobic exercise in poop-free water.

    7. You Can Be the Host With the Most With a Private Pool

    Private Pool in Better Than a Public Pool photo by 1950sUnlimited via Flickr

    Some public pools have space available for parties, some don't. If they do, you still have to contend with other pool users, your guests may have to pay entrance fees to the pool, you'll have to make do with the facilities available, and you may have limitations on decorations, activities, and refreshments that are permitted.

    Instead, picture yourself hosting a party beside your private pool. Only your guests are present. You can decorate any way you like, serve what you like. You can plan activities in and around the pool without worrying about any facility policies or other swimmers getting in the way. Even better: you can party into the night without worry the pool will close down and kick you and your guests out.

    8. You Know Where Your Kids Are

    Got kids old enough to go to the pool on their own? With a private pool, you can keep an eye on your teen and her friends as they swim safely at your home. You know exactly where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing. Better yet, you don't have to drive a van full of kids back and forth to the public swimming hole--you can just kick them out the back door.

    Many public pools are terrific places--they can be a great place to get to know your neighbors, they provide a place for people to exercise and play, and they can be an oasis in the summer for people who don't have access to a pool of their own. However, if you have the means or opportunity, it's definitely worth it to choose the private pool every time.

     

  • January Swimming Pool News Roundup

    It might be the middle of winter, but there's plenty going on with swimming pools right. We've collected some recent swimming pool news for your enjoyment.

    Cow Rescued From Oregon Swimming Pool

    McMinnville cow rescue

    In McMinnville, Oregon, a cow wandered through an open gate and right into a family's swimming pool. The pool owner herded the animal into the shallow end so it wouldn't drown, and even tried to create a ramp to help it escape. However, it was finally with the assistance of local firefighters that the cow was pulled to safety. The cow was exhausted, but uninjured.

    And on the topic of critters in swimimng pools:

    Why Do Animals Fall into Pools?

    National Geographic recently pondered this question on their website, with YouTube clips of animals ranging from bears to moose to baby deer splashing around family swimming pools. Perhaps the animals get spooked and fall in? Perhaps the reflective water attracts them? Maybe they are trying to cool off? Or, just maybe, wildlife aren't so different from us and also enjoy playing in a big pool of water.

    Children Evacuated From Public Pool Because of Prosthetic Leg

    Children visiting a swimming pool in Kent, England, were evacuated when a man's leg was spotted in a changing room cubicle in a room being used by the children to change their clothes. Mistaken for a real leg, the children were quickly removed from the room and the pool facility was locked down while staff approached the suspected pedophile. It was then discovered to belong to a 60-year-old man who had removed it prior to swimming.

    Nine Crocodiles Discovered at a Public Pool

    Nine baby crocodiles found in pool

    Swimmers at a public pool in Queensland, Australia, were somewhat surprised to discover six baby freshwater crocodiles swimming laps beside them. Three more were discovered under tables nearby. What ensued was apparently a Benny Hill-like effort to capture all the little crocs, which was successful with no one injured. Sadly, one of the babies didn't make it, but the remainder were picked up by a local wildlife ranger for release back into the wild.

    Speaking of unwelcome things in the water ...

    High School Swim Teams Sickened by Pool Parasite

    Several members of swim teams in Durham and Orange counties in North Carolina tested positive for Cryptosporidiosis, also known as Crypto. Crypto is a water-borne illness with symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. The parasite can survive several days even in properly chlorinated pools. For this reason, it is highly advised that individuals experiencing any kind of diarrhea upset avoid using swimming pools.

    Have swimming pool news happening in your area? Send us your stories at info@poolsandstuff.com and we'll share them in our next roundup!

     

  • The Health Benefits of Swimming

    US_Marines_butterfly_stroke

    We hope that everyone reading this resolved to swim more in 2014! Swimming is both fun and a very good exercise. Swimming is a unique exercise because it allows you to work your body without the harsh impacts to your skeletal system that you find in running or jogging. The human body becomes very light in water: in waist-deep water, your body bears only 50% of its weight. In chest-deep water, your body bears only 25-35% of its weight. In neck-deep water, you bear merely 10% of your own weight. Since the water supports the rest, your body is free to move without stress on joints or bones, making for a more gentle workout.

    So you know the pool is a great place to exercise, but what exactly is that exercise doing for your body? The health benefits of swimming are almost too many for one article, but we're going to do it anyway:

    Provides Relief From Arthritic Pain

    Water's amazing supportive ability means that the pool is the perfect place to workout if you're overweight or suffer from arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation recommends that those who suffer from arthritis should stretch muscles, strengthen muscles, and perform aerobic workouts. Swimming combines all three into one activity.

    Builds Muscle Strength and Tone

    Water is about 12 times as dense as air, so every movement in water becomes a resistance exercise. Resistance exercises are known to be the best way to develop muscle strength and tone. In one study, men who participated in an 8-week swimming program saw a 23.8% increase in their triceps (the muscle at the back of the arm).

    Improves Bone Strength

    The resistance exercise provided by swimming also helps improve bone strength. The benefits of swimming on bone strength are especially notable in post-menopausal women who are highly susceptible to osteoporosis.

    Encourages Muscle Flexibility

    The broad range of motions that are possible and involved in swimming encourage joints and ligaments to become and remain loose and flexible. Additionally, swimming strokes lengthen the body, stretching muscles repeatedly from head to toe, developing elasticity in muscle tissue.

    Improves Heart Strength and Efficiency

    Aerobic exercise, also known as "cardio", is known to strengthen the heart. It helps make the heart larger and also improves pumping efficiency. This results in increased blood flow throughout the body. In one study, sedentary men and women participated in swim training for 12 weeks and at the end saw their maximal oxygen consumption improve 10% and the amount of blood pumped with each heartbeat improved by as much as 18%.

    Can Lower and Control Weight

    As a general rule, for every 10 minutes of swimming, the average person burns 60 calories doing the breast stroke, 80 calories doing the backstroke, 100 calories swimming freestyle, and 150 calories doing the butterfly stroke. And because of the low-impact nature of exercising in water, it's easy to workout for longer periods of time.

    Relieves Asthma Symptoms

    Swimming is done, by necessity, in a moist environment, which helps alleviate exercise-induced asthma symptoms. For regular asthma sufferers, swimming can actually improve the condition overall. In one study, children who completed a 6-week swimming program saw improvements in the severity of their asthma symptoms, snoring, mouth-breathing, and experienced reduced hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Even more impressive, these health benefits were still apparent a year after the program ended.

    Swimming regularly can increase lung volume and teach proper breathing techniques, both beneficial to asthma sufferers.

     Lengthens Life Expectancy

    It's true! Swimming regularly can lengthen the span of your years. In a huge study of over 40,000 men aged 20-90 over the course of 32 years, those that swam had a 50% lower death rate than runners, walkers, or sedentary men. It's believed that the results would be similar for women. And because swimming is such a great exercise for older people, regular swimmers experience good health for longer than those who don't swim.

    With a list of health benefits like this, who wouldn't want to go swimming? Make it your New Year's resolution and have a safe, healthy 2014. Happy swimming!

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