Thursday, August 29, 2013

Are Swimming Pool Forums Good?

When you do a Google search for any pool problem or swimming pool related issue, chances are you will find a post listed from a swimming pool forum in the search tag line. Either that or you will be directed to my YouTube channel ;) So you may wonder if the post is accurate since it is from a swimming pool forum and not the manufacturer or a pool company.

Here are the most popular forums that you will run into when you search for a pool solution:

And there are a few smaller forums also on the web.

So the question is can you trust the advice given out on these various forums? From hitting several of these over the years I have found that for the most part the advice is accurate. Maybe not 100% of the time but pretty close. Each of these forums has moderators that verify posts and there are many long time members that are qualified to answer or clarify a specific post or topics. The moderators will also post answers and clarifications so there are no glaring errors usually.

The BBB Method of Swimming Pool Care:

"CarlD" a longtime moderator of coined this term. It describes an unorthodox method developed in 1997 where you maintain your swimming pool with household products - Bleach, Borax and Baking Soda.

You would sanitize your swimming pool with regular household bleach. You would raise your pH with Borax and raise your Alkalinity with Baking Soda. You will still need Muriatic Acid to lower the pH.

No chlorine tablets, no chlorine shocks like Cal-Hypo, and no granular chlorine (Dichlor). Just plain old bleach. to read the full article on the BBB see this link:

Most of these forums follow the BBB method in varying degrees. will only allow posts that follow the BBB method so they are the most rigid (committed so to speak). But you will find some of the forums more liberal in that regard.

So the bottom line is that these forums are a great resource for the homeowner who wants to maintain his pool on his own. You don't need years of experience to become an expert, just follow and join one of these forums and you will have a sparkling blue pool all Summer long.

Here are the links to the above listed forums:

Oh, and you can also visit my YouTube Channel too and I will answer your questions the best I can.
Swimming Pool Tips, Reviews & How To- Mrdgvb1

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Top 10 Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2013: Number Ten

Zodiac T3
This is Zodiac's newest bouncing type cleaner the T3. It is rumored to be the cleaner to replace the G3. If you own a T5 I feel for you. That cleaner is poorly made and should not have been even marketed. It gave Zodiac a black eye along with their X7. But the T3 is going to redeem Zodiac. It is actually a very good cleaner. It has the new small diaphragm that the T5 & X7 have, which is the only good part in those cleaners. The new diaphragm picks up debris very well. The T3 is a very small cleaner. Very compact. It only has a handful of parts which is a good thing. It is also surprisingly heavy and well balanced but moves around the pool at a very fast pace. The only drawback is the locking style hoses which makes it impossible to hook up a regular vacuum head and spot vacuum the pool. But the T3 is a huge improvement over the T5 &  X7 and the price point is very good.

Top 10 Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2013: Number Nine

Zodiac Wahoo
Here is another cleaner you may not have seen anywhere before. It is made by Zodiac and is primarily marketed for the owners of  above ground pools.  Many pool guys will use it in a regular inground pool and I an guilty of that. If you do decide to use it in a regular inground pool be aware of some limitations. The back spur weight is just hard plastic so if it gets hung up in the step area it can rub and wear right through in a matter of weeks. That part is like $50 or 1/3 the price of the cleaner. So be careful. Usually a free form pool will have steps at an angle and this will be bad for the Wahoo. A square pool with steps all the way across is fine in most cases. If you have an above ground pool then go for this cleaner. It is priced around $150 and the parts are surprisingly very long lasting. The footpad, bottom disk and diaphragm will last you a good two to three years. There is no generic footpad for this cleaner and that part is about $60 so after three years you might just want to buy a whole new Wahoo and keep the old one for spare parts. It only comes with 30 ft of hoses (10 hoses) but it comes with the parts needed for a skimmer hook up. It doesn't come with any weights which you will only need if you put it in an inground pool and it gets hung up on your pool light fixture. That is not common but can happen as the bottom disk is flat and if your pool light sticks out it can get caught. Adding one or two hose weights to the front will cure this. A good choice here.

Top 10 Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2013: Number Eight

Hayward Navigator, Pool vac
Okay, If you own one of these hold onto the rock you are about to throw at me. True you are changing parts in this like some made scientist every year or so. And true there are a lot of parts in this cleaner. But they actually work very good when everything is working. It wouldn't be my first choice so that is why it has landed at number eight. If you bought one or inherited one from the house you just bought, don't worry - you can get many good years out of it. The first two years are actually good years - like the first two years of most marriages ;). But yes, have the schematics handy after that. It does pick up dirt, dust and algae dust very well and can handle some fair size debris too. It is technically a very good cleaner with one major drawback: It is a parts hog. Out off all the cleaners on the market, this one uses the most parts. But the parts are easy to change (relatively) and if you decide to keep your Navigator/Pool Vac you can become an expert at keeping it running. Okay now you can throw your rocks at me ;0

Top 10 Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2013: Number Seven

Polaris 360
Here is the Polaris 360, it is a Pressure Side Cleaner but does not require a booster pump. It runs off your existing return lines as long as they are 1.5" threaded return lines and not stub return lines. You can connect it to a stub pipe type return line but it wouldn't be cost effective as the adapters are expensive. So if you have 1.5" threaded return lines you are good to go. You would connect it to the most central return line and then add a restictor jet insert (comes with the cleaner) in one or two of the other return lines. I find that you will often need a 1.5" threaded plug in some cases (not included) to completely close of a return line. You will also need to have sufficient return pressure so a good 1-2 hp pump is a must.So with that said this cleaner is great if your pool has a lot of large debris all of the time. It will work almost as well as the booster pump version. The drawbacks are: since you are restricting and using the return jets, the surface isn't being skimmed very well. Also, it is based on the Polaris 380 so instead of the 280's drive shaft it has two belts that make the cleaner move. These belts wear out more often and need to be changed. In the plus column is the fact that it will leave your pool bottom spotless and is made to be long lasting and durable. A good choice if your pool is set up for this type of cleaner.

Top 10 Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2013: Number Six

Zodiac G2
Zodiac makes many of these diaphragm bouncing cleaners and they also have a habit of discontinuing their cleaners and launching newer versions. The G4 is one that they discontinued  and I heard rumors that the G3 is soon to be history. But the G2 according to the Zodiac rep is in their 2014 catalog still and that is good because the G2 (orginally the Pacer) is the best of the bouncing cleaners that Zodiac makes. It is lightweight, the parts are durable and all are replaceable which means that this cleaner is long lasting. It also works great right when you drop it in with no real adjustments needed. It picks up any large debris as long as it is pliable. The only part you will be replacing often and the only actual moving part is the diaphragm. The good news is that there are many good generic parts for this cleaner, including the diaphragm which sells for $30 for the factory part but ca be had for $10 generic. I think that is one reason Zodiac keeps changing their cleaners since they lose money if you go generic. Regardless, I hope they keep making the G2 because for the low price you are getting a very good cleaner. The one drawback is it could get caught in a corner if your pool is designed just so - but for most pools it is not an issue. Good cleaner.

Top 10 Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2013: Number Five

Solar Powered Surface Cleaner
You might not have heard about the Solar Breeze if you browse most pool sites in search of your next pool cleaner. It is catching on in the pool industry. Don't overlook this cleaner as it is a great alternative to having hoses and cords in your pool all day. The Solar Breeze is a solar powered robotic surface cleaner that is a self contained unit. What you see in the picture is the complete cleaner. It will keep the top of your pool looking so crystal clear that you will be amazed. It will also get most of the debris and dirt before it falls to the pool bottom only requiring you to spot vacuum every once in a while. But the way it leaves the surface needs to be seen to believe. It is intelligent so it is designed not to get stuck in your pool and reverses also at programmed intervals. It has a battery that is charged by the Sun so it runs almost constantly in your pool, even a few hours after the Sun goes down. The debris tray is about twice the capacity of your skimmer basket. My wife like it because she doesn't like seeing hoses in the swimming pool and it is light enough for anyone to remove from the pool. If you have a bottom cleaning robot you know that lifting it out of the pool can give you a hernia - no joke. I would suggest going to their website or see my review on my YouTube Channel to learn more about this innovative cleaner. A great choice.

Top 10 Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2013: Number Four

Kreepy Classic
The Kreepy Krauly Classic has been around pretty much forever. If you are a pool guy or in the industry you remember the old white model with parts that were screwed on like some Frankenstein Monster. But it worked and the current version works great also. It picks up large size debris - I think it picks up the largest debris compared to all the other suction cleaners. But it has a couple of drawbacks over the Poolvergnuegen: It is a pretty loud cleaner and the parts wear out more. It also takes a bit of patience to get it adjusted just right for your pool. But this cleaner cleans like crazy. It goes up the walls and covers the entire pool. That is why Pentair has sold over 3 million of these cleaners.It also goes on sale quite a bit at the larger chain pool store so the price point is usually pretty good.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Top 10 Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2013: Number Three

"The Pool Cleaner"
In third place is a suction side cleaner, the Poolvergnuegen "The Pool Cleaner" 2 Wheel version (white & blue) and the 2 Wheel "Limited Edition" that comes in grey and black.You can hook this cleaner up to any pool with a skimmer or side port. It is by far the most durable suction side cleaner. I have about 12 of these on my route and I gotta tell you I have total confidence when I sell one of these. They are near the top price bracket for a suction side cleaner but worth every penny. The design is flawless as this cleaner never gets stuck in a corner or on the step area. It turns itself in the pool every 10-12 feet so it will cover the entire pool in one run cycle (4-6 hours) while the pool is on. It picks up large debris also like large oak tree acorns as well as dirt and dust. The only part that needs changing in the first two years are the rubber tires. If you change them when they get down to the wear mark you will not have any issues with this cleaner. Maybe every two years the tires will wear down. The gears are very long lasting in these cleaners. I have three that I
"Limited Edition"
Put in about 5 years ago and I have not needed to change any of the
internal gears as of yet. They are all running just fine. I like the two
wheel version over the four because there are basically less parts
to worry about in the long run and I feel the two wheel version is
a more balanced unit. If you have a large pool with the
skimmer or side port located far from the opposite pool end
you may want the four wheel version as it has more hoses and is
designed for larger pools. But a large pool with a skimmer or
side port in the middle is fine for the two wheel version. This is the best suction side cleaner in my opinion.

Top 10 Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2013: Number Two

In close second is the Pentair Kreepy Krualy Legend cleaner. This updated model fixes many of the issues that plagued the older Letro Legend model. It runs of of the identical drive shaft as the Polaris 280. It is also a Pressure Side Cleaner that requires a 3/4 hp booster pump with a dedicated return line plumbed in to your pool. I like it because this new design makes the Legend much more durable, it is faster in your pool than the Polaris 280 and the four wheels gives it better coverage of the pool. The debris bag is also larger than the Polaris 280. If you look at the schematics it looks like a clone of the Polaris 280 but with some improvements. Like the Polaris 280 you will just be changing parts and the unit will in all accounts never need to be repurchased. It may move up to number one once it is tested over the next few years. The Polaris 280 still has a longer track record. A good buy for sure.

Top 10 Automatic Pool Cleaners of 2013: Number One

The best cleaner for 2013 is still the Polaris 280. It is a Pressure Side cleaner as it runs off the return line vs. running off of the pool suction line. It is a 30 year old design that is still the best. The only drawback is that you would need to have your pool constructed or remodeled to include a dedicated return line connected to a separate 3/4 hp booster pump. If you don't have that set-up then you cannot install a Polaris 280. It is a simple design with a drive shaft that spins the wheels. It picks up large debris and dirt and is very durable and long lasting. It only needs to run two hours a day to clean the entire pool. You will just change parts over the years it is in the pool and pretty much will never need to purchase the complete unit again. I have several of these still running on my route, two are the Polaris 180 models which pre-date the 280 model. Great cleaner.

Nexa Pure Salt System

Here is a look at a small market salt system. They have actually been producing their salt systems just as long as Pentair and Hayward if not longer. But it's hard to compete with the marketing might of the big companies. This is an excellent system that comes with at least a two year warranty and a company that has been in business for over 30 years. You probably never heard of them or their salt system.

The good thing about the smaller companies is that they spend more time on quality control since usually the only product they manufacturer is their salt systems. So you will get a quality product since they are focused on one product only. I am not against getting a Pentair or Hayward salt system but don't overlook the little guys in the industry when you are deciding which way to go.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Salt Water Systems: Which is the Best?

When it comes to salt water systems there are a lot to choose from. You have the three major brands, Pentair, Hayward and Jandy - plus a lot of smaller lesser known companies. So who in fact makes the best salt water pool system?

 That is debatable but from my experience the number one system right now is the Pentaier Intellichlor IC40
Pentair IC40
(rated for 40,000 gallons. What makes it the best is the reliability of the system and the way it is designed. The cell itself is composed of pretty much all the electronics and sensors so when the cell goes bad after a few years and you replace it with a new one - you are getting practically a complete new system every time. It is very reliable also and I haven't seen many errors with the system. It will also tell you when the cell life is getting near the end. So this is number one in my book. I have about 10 or more of these on my route. The only drawback is that unless it is connected to an automated Pentair control panel there is no way to know the salt level without measuring it with test strips or a salt meter. Other than that it is flawless.

 The next major brand and in second place would be the Hayward Aqua Rite system.
Aqau Rite by Hayward
 The cell is very reliable and it comes with a power center that is easy to read and will also display the salinity level in the water.  in that the control box that comes with the unit will display the salt level in the pool. So that is one advantage of the Hayward over the Pentair system. The main drawback with the Hayward cell is that when it gets just a little calcium build-up it will give you a false salinity reading - sometimes off by 1000 ppm. But the Hayward cell is very long lasting -sometimes well past five years. I still prefer the Pentair Intellichlor over the Hayward cell but the Hayward cell is not bad. The Pentair is just a little better. Like comparing a Lexus with a BMW.

Jandy AqauPure
 Jandy Aqua Pure not to be confused with the Hayward Aqua Rite is the worst of the major three. The control center is very complicated (two circuit boards) and the system is wracked with error codes. If you own one of these chances are you know what I am talking about. I have three on my route and all three are off-line due to error codes. A very bad choice in my book. Jandy makes good cleaners, heaters, filters and pumps but they really did a poor job on their salt system. I think they just raised their warranty to three years which you will diffidently need if you have one of these. The only reason you should have the Aqua pure is if you purchased a house that has one installed already. Would not sell this unit to any of my customers.

Then you have the smaller companies who are the ones that originally started the salt pool movement.
Nexa Pure by Americansps
They have been brushed aside by the big three who have a much larger marketing budget. The small companies are good and they deserve a look. I recently installed a Nexa Pure system by AmericanSPS and it is a very good system with a nice clear cell and an easy to read control panel. It is unknown basically because they can't advertise like Pentair or Hayward. Other small companies are Ecomatic (not very good), Solaxx and Autopiolot - both of these I haven't tested as of yet. I mention the Ecomatic here and I will emphasize that out of the small companies it is the largest but not a good system at all. The cell life on the Ecomatic system is pathetic - maybe you will get two or three years out of it.

 So if you are thinking of going with a salt pool there are a lot of systems out there to chose from. I will make it easy by ranking them for you: Best:
1. Pentair Intellichlor (excellent)
2. Hayward Aqau Rite (very good)
3. AmericanSPS Nexa Pure (very good)
4. Zodiac LM-3 (tested and is good)

1. Jandy Aqua Pure
2. Ecomatic


To learn more on each of these see the videos posted on my YouTube Channel under my Salt Pool Playlist.