Thursday, November 21, 2019

Should I Upgrade to a Salt Water Pool?

I will be honest with you here and state that the true benefit of a saltwater system is the fact that it adds chlorine to the pool without you having to do anything. This means no more trips to the pool store for shock or liquid chlorine. It is a great time saver for sure. But for me, that is the one and only benefit. A Salt System just makes things much more convenient for you and for your pool service company.

You really don't save any money when you convert to a salt pool. In fact, it cost a lot more than using Chlorine or Bleach in your pool. Factor in the cost of the unit plus install, say $1,000 and then a new salt cell every 3-5 years at $500 and the salt to start $150 and you’re looking at over $1,600 for the first 5 years. So, you would have to spend over $320 a year on chlorine to match that number. Typically, you are not spending over $100 a season for your chlorine.

I am pretty honest in this Podcast and relate the only true benefit of a salt water system, the fact that it adds chlorine to the pool without you having to do anything. This means no more trips to the pool store for shock or liquid chlorine. It is a great time saver for sure. But for me, that is the one and only benefit.

With that said, a salt water system is a preference. And if you can absorb the cost of the system and don't mind the extra overall cost of a salt pool, then it is the way to go. I mean who wants to add tablets and liquid chlorine or shock every week to their pool? With a Salt Water Generator connected to your pool equipment, you can basically set it and forget it. Of course there is some maintenance required like cleaning the salt cell, making sure the salt level is good and setting the output to the correct setting to chlorinate your pool, but for the most part it is much easier than trying to maintain a steady chlorine reading during the season by manually adding chlorine to the pool.

But in the long run, as stated above there is no way it can beat the overall cost of maintaining your pool with chlorine. So if the salesperson tries to convince you that a Salt Water Pool is cheaper to operate he is misinformed. Basically upgrading is a personal choice and one you should make according to your overall pool care budget. Everything depends on how much more you are willing to spend on not worrying about adding chlorine each week to your pool. I personally have a Salt Water Pool and I am so used to the convenience of it that I wouldn’t be able to go back to a manual chlorine pool. So once you convert you probably will not go back either.

There are many very good Salt Systems to choose from in today's market. And many with installation will be under $1,000 so it is getting more and more affordable. I would suggest looking into the Jandt TruClear and the Pentair iChlor Salt Water Systems to start with. Both are great compact systems loaded with the latest technology. Both are rated for about 30,000 gallons so even if you have a very large pool these systems will work fine for you. There are also some off-brand salt systems that start around the $500 range so shop around for the best system depending on your budget.  

Monday, November 18, 2019

Riptide Vacuum System Stainless Steel Steering Knuckle

Riptide is always innovating, and their latest upgrade is their new Stainless Steel Steering Knuckle. Not only is it very compact and easy to use, but the build quality is exceptional, and this is a fine addition for Riptide Vacuum System. The clips are also Stainless Steel so no more broken V-Clips for us Riptide users with the new SS Steering Knuckle.

You can email or call the folks over at Riptide to order the SS Steering Knuckle. It sells for around $80 and you can reach Riptide at:

It is not an accessory that comes with the Riptide but is sold as an aftermarket part. The Riptide is a first-rate vacuum system and below are some more details about the Riptide Vacuum System.

The Riptide Vacuum System is an essential tool if you service pools that get destroyed by the winds, or if work in an area where the pools get a lot of large debris all season long. For the homeowner or service tech who doesn't want or need the SL cart, you can now order the Riptide Vacuum Head with just a Battery Box, the Riptide XP.

Riptide has recently revamped the power switch and plugs on the SL Cart and the XP Battery Box. To say that the power switch and plug have been upgraded would be an understatement. The new design has been tested thousands of times making it the most reliable plug in the industry. I doubt if the switch or plug will wear out for years, it is that good. You can rest assured that whenever you plug the vacuum in it will turn on and it will never get pulled out when vacuuming a pool.

The Riptide SL is a great vacuum system and the manufacturer is always looking for ways to make it better. The Riptide now comes standard with the Steering Knuckle. This makes the Riptide Vacuum much more maneuverable in a pool and it will allow you to easily turn and pivot the vacuum head while pushing it along the bottom or on the step area of a pool.  The Steering Knuckle takes the Riptide to the next level.

The SL Cart can hold up to a class 27 100 Ah battery which gives you about 6-8 hours of vacuuming time with the Riptide. I prefer a 55 Ah or a 35 Ah battery to make the cart a bit lighter. You will get less vacuuming time but the battery is easy to charge each day so it is not a major drawback to use a smaller battery.

The cart also features large rugged rubber wheels that are ideal for rough yards and step areas. This is a very lightweight cart and even with the battery in the bottom, the wheels make it effortless to pull the cart over any terrain. It is also very well balanced and even pulling it up hills it is very steady. The handle on top is adjustable, so you can turn it at an angle for different heights, making it even easier to pull.  

I think a vacuum system is essential if you are servicing a full pool route. It will save you so much time in your pool route that it will pay for itself in just a year or two in time savings. With more time you can service more pools and a vacuum system like the Riptide will allow you to service pools that other companies would pass on. Those accounts with a lot of leaves each week on the bottom are no problem for the Riptide. I think purchasing equipment that will save you time and make your job easier is well worth the investment.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

My Pressure Side Swimming Pool Cleaner Isn't Moving

Pressure Side Pool Cleaners are often very reliable but there are some things that can happen to stop them from operating in your swimming pool. There are two types of these cleaners, some that work off of a separate dedicated booster pump (cleaner pump) and others that connect directly to the pools return line. I will cover some of the troubleshooting that I perform on my route when I find one of these not moving in a pool.

Let me start with the booster pump versions. The first thing you need to know about these Pressure Side Cleaners is that in order to work properly both the main pump and the booster pump must be set to come on at the same time. If the booster pump is not set to come on with the main pump, there will not be enough water going to the cleaner. The booster pump actually takes water from the main pump and uses that to inject a strong flow of water into the dedicated cleaner line. I always check this first to make sure both pumps are set to come on together.

Next, you will want to check the Quick Disconnect in the pool wall that is connected directly to the dedicated return line for the Pressure Side Cleaner. There is a small screen in here or in the newer models there is a screen inline attached to the hose. If this screen gets clogged with debris that has bypassed the filter, the cleaner will stop working. Even a very small amount of debris will stop a cleaner from moving.  So remove and check the screen for any debris.

The Quick Disconnect on all of these cleaners also acts as a regulator valve for return flow. So if the valve is open and some of the return water is being diverted away from the cleaner this will cause it to stop moving also. Check to make sure the valve is not letting too much water bypass the cleaner by closing off the valve. A crack may also form somewhere on the Quick Disconnect allowing some of the dedicated return water to flow out and reducing the amount going to the cleaner. The bottom line, the Pressure Side Cleaner needs a large amount of water flow to get it moving in the pool.

For a Return Side Cleaner like the Polaris 360, the cleaner is connected directly into one of the pool’s return lines. In this case, a very dirty filter or a clogged pump basket can affect the flow of water to the cleaner. Another factor is the number of open return lines in the pool. You may need to cap off one or two other return lines or add restricted eyeball fittings to reduce the flow from these other return lines and direct the flow to the line where the cleaner is connected. It also has a Quick Disconnect like the Pressure Side Cleaners so also check that for debris and cracks.

After checking all of the above and ruling out the timer, equipment, and Quick Disconnect you will need to examine the cleaner itself for possible wear. The Polaris and Pentair cleaners have either a drive shaft, belt or chain that moves the cleaner along. If these are worn out in any way the cleaner will also stop moving. The wheels of these cleaners also have bearings much like a skateboard. Once the bearings wear out the wheels will spin poorly, and the cleaner may even stop moving. There are also other issues that may arise that will stop the cleaner.

If at any time you are unable to get your cleaner moving again, you can always pool it out of the pool and take it into your local pool store. They should be able to figure out what is wrong with the cleaner and get it working for you again.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Vacuuming a Swimming Pool with a Portable Filtration System

An essential part of any pool service is cleaning up a green pool, a pool that has been destroyed by a windstorm and a pool that is full of fine dirt and sand. A Portable Filtration System will enable you to clean up a pool without using the customer’s filtration system. In situations where the pool equipment is either a cartridge filter or a D.E. filter without a Multi-Port Valve with a “Waste” Mode; or the equipment is not running properly, vacuuming a pool up with a Portable Filtration System can be ideal.

One issue is that all of the dead algae or a large amount of dirt will overload the filtration system. This means you will need to take the filter apart multiple times during the clean-up process making it very slow and frustrating. With a system like the Advantage PORTAVAC, your life just got a whole lot easier. It is a very versatile Portable Filtration System that can be used to vacuum a pool to waste, recirculate a pool where the equipment is not running or you can simply vacuum everything into built-in 150 sq ft Cartridge Filter and return clean water back into the pool. One of the best features of the Advantage PORTAVAC is that you can use your existing T.Dula Hitch to transport it to the service account in place of your service cart. So no lifting is needed and it will “hitch” right onto the back of your service truck. Of course, if you don’t currently have an a T.Dula cart you can purchase the Hitch along with the PORTAVAC.

I can’t stress enough the convenience of not having to lift the PORTVAC into the back of your truck. Simply unhitch it, roll it back to the pool, put the vacuum and hose into the pool and plug it in. It is that simple. Within minutes you can vacuum the entire pool and leave with a clean pool without using the customer’s pump and filter. Along with clean-ups the PORTAVAC is also ideal for Commercial Pools on your route.

If you are servicing pools a Portable Filtration The system is a must-have along with your Vacuum System. The Vacuum System is great for pools with heavy leaf debris while the Potable Filtration System is great for dead algae and dirt. They are both very different systems and both are ideal for your service business.

Here is more about the PORTVAC from Advantage Manufacturing:

“The Advantage Manufacturing Portable Vacuum System helps protect the Main Filter in your pool from excessive dirt and debris building up and also keeps your pool looking and feeling cleaner. Includes a powerful 1.5 HP full rated In-Ground pool pump and a 150 square foot cartridge filter. This system is ideal for pools, fountains, ponds, or any other water features that might incur a large amount of debris. Basically, all of the unclean and dirty water goes into the portable vacuum's filter cartridge and clean water is returned directly back into the source. This system may also be used as an auxiliary pump filtration system when the existing pump-filter is non-operational. This product is perfect for winterizing and draining pools and spas.

1.5 HP self-priming pump with oversized trap
150 Sq. Ft. cartridge filter
35' of 12 gauge insulated cord
Heavy-duty tubed tires
Rugged 0.090 wall steel
Powder-coated finish
On/Off switch with GFI

Thursday, November 7, 2019

When Should I Change my Pool Filter Grids, Cartridges or Sand? Some Key Factors to Look For

One thing that is often overlooked when your pool has a water quality issue is the filtration system. Whether it is cloudy pool water, algae forming every week or a combination of both, we often treat the symptom of it and not the cause. The pool’s filtration system is an essential part of the equation and the age of the filter elements – grids, cartridges, and sand is sometimes the deciding factor.

When to change your filter grids. Cartridges or sand can seem like a lot of guesswork. There is no set-in-stone time frame for each so you will have to do a little detective work to find the correct time. Obviously, if your D.E. Filter is spitting out D.E. through the return lines it is time to inspect and probably change the girds. Even a tiny hole in the grids can shoot back a large amount of dirt, D.E., and debris. Typically D.E. filter grids are good for 4-5 years, although if your filter gets very dirty and is under constant high pressure (high PSI on the gauge), then changing them after 2-3 years would not be a bad idea.

Cartridge filters are a bit tougher to diagnose and you can’t always rely on the filter pressure (PSI). Since the larger 4 cartridge type filters have such a large filtration area the PSI tends to stay at the clean range for months at a time. If you clean your 4 cartridge type filter and the PSI is sitting at 20 PSI, don’t be surprised 5 months later even with very dirty cartridges that the gauge is still reading 20 PSI. For the single cartridge filters or single bullet filters, as we call them, the PSI will rise about 10 PSI indicating when the cartridge is dirty.

Typically a 4 cartridge filter will go about 3 years before you need to replace the cartridges. The only exception to this rule is the Sta-Rite System 3 Cartridge filter where the large and small cartridge can go 5 years or more between replacement. The single-cartridge filter should be replaced every year and sometimes sooner depending if it is on a very large heavy use pool. The way I gauge a cartridge filter and when it needs new cartridges is by the flow and water quality of the pool in question. If the flow is poor after cleaning the cartridge(s) it is probably time to change them.  Again, usage and the size of the pool are a factor and use the pool’s return flow and water quality as your indicator – cloudy water or algae, not holding chlorine are some common signs.

For a Sand filter knowing when to change the sand can be even more difficult. Typically you are using the water quality as your gauge and also the age of the filter and sand. Of course, if you purchased a house with an existing sand filter you may not know either so that is not always a helpful indicator. If you backwash your sand filter and notice the PSI on the pressure gauge jumps up by 10 PSI after a few days, this may indicate the sand is no longer working. It could also be the water quality itself causing the PSI to rise rapidly so you can also do a test using Floc.

If the pool water is very cloudy adding a Floc agent is a good way to clear I up and test to see if you need new sand. You would add the Floc agent and run the filter on recirculate for 1 hour. Then turn the pool pump off for 24 to 48 hours. The Floc agent will drop everything down to the bottom of the pool and you can then vacuum to waste. If the pool water stays clear for a few days and the chlorine is holding steady, then your sand is probably still good. When the water quality turns bad in a sand filter it can affect the filtration dramatically. That is why the Floc test is a good way to check to see if the sand is good or bad. If you Floc the pool and then the water clouds up quickly again the filter is probably not filtering effectively and will need a sand change.

One major way to assess if the filter elements need to be changed is  by the water quality and the return flow of the pool. If you notice the pool is not holding chlorine and the water is cloudy I would suggest inspecting and replacing the filter elements to see if that corrects the problem.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Pleatco Advanced ULTRA 7 months later

I always like to test products in the field in real-world situations. When I installed this Pleatco Advanced ULTRA cartridge in this filter 7 months ago the PSI on the gauge was approaching 40. After installing the ULTRA to pressure dropped to 8 PSI and stayed there for over 7 months! Pretty incredible.

Since the cartridge has only one small band at the bottom, cleaning it couldn’t be easier. You can get in between the pleats and really give the cartridge a deep cleaning. The dirt also comes right off the cartridge like nothing. No need for special cleaners or soaking the cartridge. The combination of ease of cleaning and the amazing durability of the ULTRA makes it a top replacement cartridge.
Pleatco is working hard at getting the ULTRA into more retail locations. Talk to your local pool service professional or local retail pool store to order this amazing cartridge.

Here is what Pleatco has to say about the Advanced ULTRA cartridges:
“Over the past 5 years, Pleatco Advanced Technology has become the new standard in pool & spa filtration.

We stand behind the honest fact that all our filter cartridges featuring Pleatco Advanced Point Bonded Filtration Fabrics & Free Flow Core Technology hold more dirt, are easier to maintain, provide greater flow, save energy and last longer... and we have the research and results to prove it.

Our mantra is ‘constant improvement’ and we have continued to develop new products that leverage and enhance our 100% unique and exclusive technology.”
The Pleatco Advanced ULTRA features three of their innovative technologies all in one filter.

Point Bonded Filtration Fabric
Pleatco 4oz Point Bonded Filtration Fabric contains more fibers per unit area offering far greater volume dirt holding capacity than other filtration fabrics. With reduced pore size distribution, the fabric provides impressive turbidity reduction via unique cross filtration flow, easily and efficiently capturing dirt particles to achieve a deeper level of cleanliness and clarity than ever before. Due to uniformly placed weld spots, our unique Pleatco Point bonded fabrics are strong and robust and return to a high state of original performance after cleaning, meaning greater usability, longer cleaning cycles, and less service time.

Free Flow Core Technology
Pleatco Advanced Filter Cartridges are constructed with precision-engineered Free Flow Cores. Our cores allow for the even flow of water through the entire cartridge which increases filtration, uses all the Pleatco Advanced Point Bonded Filtration Fabric, and makes it easier for the pump to move water through the entire cartridge. Pleatco’s Free Flow Cores are designed to be efficient, robust and save energy, money and the environment.

Pure Pleat Technology:
Pure Pleat Depth – Optimal use of the fabric surface area
Pure Pleat Stability – Ultra-strong pleats that are evenly spaced for unprecedented filtration efficiency
Pure Pleat Performance – Reliability and longer filter cleaning cycle times
Pure Cleanability – Super easy to clean and a time saver

By combining all of these features into the Advanced ULTRA cartridge, you can see why you are getting the best possible cartridge filter on the market today.

To learn more visit Pleatco:

" has been helping pool owners find the right pool parts since 2001. With over 50,000 pool parts in stock, order online today and have your parts delivered right to your door."

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Help! My Suction Side Cleaner Isn't moving!

Finding your suction side automatic pool cleaner sitting on the pool bottom dead and not moving is a common issue for pool owners and service techs. There are some common issues in the equipment area that can cause this and some issues with the cleaner itself or a combination of both.

Here are a few things at the equipment that I check first when I find a cleaner not moving in the pool:

1. Make sure filter is clean- if it is a D.E. Filter Clean the filter or Backwash it. For a Sand Filter Backwash, it to make sure it is clean. For a Cartridge Filter open it up and clean the cartridges.
2. Make sure filter is operating correctly – no broken grids or really old cartridges. If PSI on the gauge is over 25-30 cleaner may not operate. Optimal filter PSI is around 20 or less.

3. Make sure the pump is working correctly. If there is air getting into the pump the cleaner may not move. This is called a vacuum leak or suction leak. Air will prevent the pump from pulling water the extra 30 ft through the cleaner hose. You can typically check for an air leak by disconnecting the cleaner. If the pump primes up fine but loses it’s prime once you reconnect the cleaner I would suspect an air leak. The likely location is the threaded fitting on top of the pump and the threaded fitting going into the pump. I would also check the pump lid o-ring.

4. Make sure the cleaner has proper suction. If it is connected at the pool skimmer with the OEM regulator valve that came with your cleaner – refer to the manual for proper adjustment. For example, if it is a Hayward AquaNaut the regulator that comes with it has a dial on it. Simply close the dial to increase the cleaner's suction and then open the dial to increase the skimmer suction. If the cleaner is connected at the side port/vacuum port make sure that you adjust the valve so that enough suction is going to the cleaner.

5. Check the pump basket. If the pump basket is clogged with debris this will sometimes slow the cleaner down and make it stop completely. Clean the pump basket out.

6. If you have a Variable Speed (VS) pump, make sure that your pump is set at a high enough speed, known as RPM. Typically most cleaners will need at least 2600 RPM to operate properly. Sometimes more and sometimes less. I usually start at 3100 RPM and then dial it down from there.

Here is what to check on the cleaner itself:

1. Check for any debris clogging the mouth of the cleaner. I find it best to do this with the cleaner running. Carefully pull it to the side of the pool and with the cleaner head still underwater, turn it so that you can see the cleaner opening. Check for any rocks, piles of leaves and even a rodent stuck in the mouth.

2. If it is a bouncing type cleaner, typically it has a rubber diaphragm (Zodiac Cleaners). Check the diaphragm for any tears or cuts. Replacing it is easy and will likely get those types of cleaners moving again.

3. If you have an MX cleaner – Zodiac MX8 or MX6 and any variation of those two, typically it is the tracks that are worn out. It could also be the Directional Device.

4. If it is a Hayward Navigator or Hayward Pool Vac it is more than likely a worn-out A-Frame and Turbine. You would just purchase the A-Frame kit and replace that to get the Navigator or Pool Vac moving again.

5. Sometimes a hose section gets debris clogged inside of it. To check for this, with the pool running, pull off the first hose section from the cleaner and remove the cleaner head. Keeping the hose underwater, pull off each section one by one until you find the hose section clogged with debris. The reason you want the pool on is that you will not feel any suction until you reach the clogged hose and remove it. Then you will feel the pool suction through the hoses again. Just be sure to keep the hoses underwater so that the pump will not suck air.

6. If there is a canister sometimes is can get completely full of debris and become impacted. In that case, simply empty the canister.

These are some of the main reasons an automatic suction side cleaner will stop moving.

" has been helping pool owners find the right pool parts since 2001. With over 50,000 pool parts in stock, order online today and have your parts delivered right to your door."