saltwater pool maintenance

5 Easy Ways To Do Salt Water Pool Maintenance

So you’ve decided to ditch the chlorine pool system in favor of a saltwater pool. Maybe you’re concerned about the negative health effects of chlorine overexposure, or you’ve discovered that the cost to maintain a pool with a saltwater system is on the lower side.

No matter your reasoning, you’ve made the switch, and now it’s time to adjust to your new saltwater pool system. 

The question is, how do you maintain it? You know the basics: The salt works to generate the chlorine needed to keep the pool clean, but it needs the help of a saltwater pool generator. What issues should you look out for, and how do you make sure everything is functioning as it should?

Read on for five easy ways to handle your saltwater pool maintenance.

1. Weekly Saltwater Pool Maintenance: Check Your Chlorine and pH Levels 

Use test strips or a drop test kit to make sure that your chlorine and pH levels are adequate. If they are too low or too high, your pool will not be able to combat germs the way that it is designed to. 

In a saltwater pool system, chlorine can fluctuate if the salt levels are off or if the cell is not functioning the right way. The pH levels can fluctuate due to several natural and uncontrollable factors, like temperature and carbon dioxide.

To lower chlorine levels, you can lower the output setting on your generator or shorten the length of time that you run your pool’s circulation system. To lower pH levels, gradually introduce a liquid hydrochloric or muriatic acid to the water.

To raise chlorine levels, raise the output setting on your generator. If this doesn’t do the trick, you may have to shock your pool with the super-chlorinator setting on your generator. Raise the pH levels by introducing alkali calcium carbonate to the water.

While testing your water for chlorine and pH levels should be a weekly chore, adjusting these levels shouldn’t have to happen often. If this is a reoccurring issue, you may want to contact professionals who offer pool chemical stabilization.

2. Weekly Saltwater Pool Maintenance: Check Your Stabilizer Level 

Pool stabilizer, or cyanuric acid, prevents UV rays from reducing the chlorine levels in your pool. Find a drop test kit that’s designed to read the stabilizer level and use it once a week. If your stabilizer level is low, your chlorine is being turned into gas and floating into the air, where it certainly can’t clean your pool water!

The amount of stabilizer you need depends on the amount of direct sunlight your pool gets. For a saltwater pool that gets a lot of sunlight, you should have levels of at least 70 ppm. For an indoor pool that doesn’t get much direct sunlight, about 30 ppm should be fine.

3. Monthly Saltwater Pool Maintenance: Manually Test for Salt Levels 

Most saltwater generators have a panel that displays a salt reading for your pool that you can check once a week or so when you’re testing for chlorine and pH levels. However, these devices may need to be recalibrated from time to time. Doing a separate test on your own and comparing it to your saltwater generator will give you a sense of how accurate it is.

The amount of salt your saltwater pool needs depends on the saltwater generator you have installed. Some test kits can read for salinity, or you can pick up a digital salt meter.

If you find that you need to add more salt, do so very gradually and check the levels throughout. If you oversalt your pool, the only way to fix it is to add freshwater, which is a much bigger hassle!

4. As-Needed Saltwater Pool Maintenance: Clean Your Filter, Pump, Skimmer, and Generator Cell

When it comes to saltwater pool maintenance, cleaning is key. If anything is blocking the flow of water in your pool, the generator can stop generating chlorine, making your pool unsafe to swim in.

On a regular basis, clear out your filter, pump, and skimmer of any debris. Check not only these areas but also the walls and floor of your pool for algae. Different types of algae thrive in freshwater, especially if it sits in direct sunlight and doesn’t circulate well. If your filter and pump aren’t working properly, algae blooms can appear, some of which are highly toxic to humans

The generator cell should be inspected every three months or so. Remove it from the generator and look inside for any debris or scale-like buildup. Use high water pressure and a plastic scraping tool to remove any scaliness. For tougher residue, you may have to use an acid wash as instructed by the generator’s manufacturer.

5. Yearly Saltwater Pool Maintenance: Winterize Your Generator

In the months that are too cold for swimming (a fleeting season in Texas), you will need to winterize your saltwater pool generator. Remove the flow switch and cell from the generator, make sure they’re clean, and store them inside.

If you know your winters are mild, you can skip this step. However, if you’re getting hit with a cold front and the temperatures are below freezing, run the pump continuously to prevent water from freezing in the piping. 

Depending on your pool and your local climate, this may be one of many steps you should take to fully winterize your pool.

Don’t Sweat It

Saltwater pool maintenance may seem complicated based on this breakdown, but the reality is that most of these steps won’t take more than a few minutes. Plus, you don’t have to store and handle a ton of chemicals!

Whether you’re convinced that it’s time to switch to saltwater, you’re ready to build a backyard pool for the first time, or you need some help balancing your chemical levels, we would love to help. For questions, requests, or quotes, contact us today!

pool construction company

Best Reasons To Hire A Pool Construction Company This Year

What better way to beat the Texas heat than with your own pool?

Having a pool in your backyard gives you the freedom to cool down in the privacy of your backyard. Of course, it creates the perfect setting for a summer full of epic pool parties too.

if you’re thinking about putting in a pool, you’ve probably asked yourself the classic question: to hire someone or to DIY?

While most homeowners think building their own pool would be cheaper, that isn’t always the case. There are plenty of benefits you can only get from hiring a pool construction company.

1. Get the Pool You Truly Want

Anyone can create their own paintings for their home if they want. They won’t end up with da Vinci-quality paintings, though.

The same applies to your pool.

If you try to build the pool yourself, you will be limited by your own abilities. You’ll have enough of a challenge trying to create a basic rectangle without any bells and whistles.

A professional pool builder, on the other hand, has enough skills to be creative. They can help you come up with a custom pool design that has everything you want and is practical for your property.

The same goes for materials. A pool construction company will have access to a wider range of materials than you do, giving you more options.

2. Enjoy Your Pool Sooner

When you make the decision to add a pool to your home, you want to skip ahead and enjoy that pool as soon as possible. That won’t happen if you try to build it yourself.

When you build your own pool, each step takes a long time because you need to learn how to do it at the same time. This could turn your project into a massive venture that takes months to complete.

A professional pool builder is far more efficient. They have all the experience and knowledge to complete the job swiftly.

In addition, building your pool is their full-time job. They can start the job and keep it moving until it’s finished.

If you try a DIY approach, you’re juggling the pool with your job, housework, family activities, and more.

3. Access to Top-Notch Equipment

Building a pool doesn’t just take knowledge. It takes equipment as well.

Pool construction companies are able to invest in specialized, powerful equipment. Think backhoe diggers, concrete mixers, and more. These types of tools let them get the job done quickly and with more precision than manual methods.

If you’re trying to build your own pool, you don’t have access to that equipment. Even if you’re able to rent or borrow it, you don’t know how to use it effectively. The result is a lower-quality pool that takes more time to build.

4. Protect Your Home’s Value

When you have an in-ground pool, that pool is part of your property. It will have a significant impact on your home’s value, and not always for the better.

The exact numbers will depend on your local real estate market at the time. However, you can feel safe in the assumption that a professionally-built pool will be better for your home value than a cheap DIY one.

In fact, a shoddy pool could make your home’s value decline. Future buyers would see it as a safety risk or an eyesore they need to remove, which would cost them money.

5. Staying Within the Law

As with any building project, there are city ordinances and building codes your pool needs to follow.

Homeowners who build their own pools don’t always take the time to research those requirements. They toil for months on building the pool and when they’re done, they find themselves with piles of legal fees.

A pool construction company can avoid those problems for you. We know the local city codes and the necessary permits for each job. We’ll build the pool within the regulations the first time so the city doesn’t knock down your door.

6. Putting Safety First

Pools are meant to be fun ways to enjoy your backyard. The fact remains that they have safety risks. Part of those risks depends on how you build the pool.

A professional pool builder has in-depth knowledge of installing pools with safety in mind. We can include safety features you never know about on your own, protecting your family in the long-term. 

The installation process itself is a safety risk as well. Any construction project is risky, especially if there is heavy machinery involved. No pool is worth putting your life at risk.

Pool construction companies, on the other hand, know how to do the job safely.

7. Long-Term Assurance

Picture this. You spend months building your own pool, struggling with one aspect after another. You finally get everything finished and the next day, when you go out to enjoy it, you discover a leak.

That scenario could make anyone’s heart drop. It’s more common than you think for homeowners who try to install their own pools.

It’s a different situation if you hire a pool construction company. Because of our extensive knowledge, problems are less likely to occur.

In the rare case that there is a problem with your pool, all it takes is a phone call. Reputable pool builders stand behind our work and if there is a problem, you can turn to us for help. 

Hiring the Right Pool Construction Company This Year

A great pool will make you the envy of your neighborhood, not to mention give you a cool place to relax at home. The results depend on the path you choose, though,

For the many reasons above, your best bet is to hire a professional pool construction company. Save your DIY skills for smaller-scale projects or projects that have less of an impact on your family’s safety.

If you’re ready to take the next step, call our pool builders today.

how to finance a pool

How to Finance a Pool: 6 Reliable Options

Perhaps you’re thinking about installing a pool but are a little intimidated by the price? If so, you should know that you won’t have to cover all of the costs up-front. There are a number of financing options that you can pursue which will allow you to pay for your pool in small installments over time. 

Interested in learning more about these financing options? Then read on. Here is how to finance a pool. 

Here’s How to Finance a Pool

There are quite a few ways to finance a pool, each of which has its benefits and its downsides. The most common methods of pool financing are as follows. 

1. Home Equity Loan

One of the most popular methods of financing a pool is to take out a home equity loan. This is a loan which leverages your equity in your home as collateral. As such, it necessitates that you’ve paid off a portion off your mortgage.  

Most home equity loans allow you to borrow up to 90% of your total equity. So, if you have equity of $80,000 in your home, you could borrow up to $72,000. 

A home equity loan is given as a lump sum of money. So, whatever the interest rate is when you take the loan out, it will remain for the duration of the loan. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how interest rates change over the years. 

At the present time, the average interest rate for a home equity loan is around 5.76%. 

2. Home Equity Line of Credit 

A home equity line of credit is similar to a home equity loan in that it too leverages your equity in your home as collateral. Where it differs is in the way that it allows you to use it. 

Whereas a home equity loan comes as one lump sum of money, a home equity line of credit works more like a credit card. This is to say that it allows you to loan out money as needed and only charges you interest on the money that you’ve withdrawn. 

The risk with home equity lines of credit is that they have variable interest rates. So, while your interest rate might start at 5.25%, it could increase up to 5.75% or 6% or an even greater figure before you’ve paid your debts. 

3. 401K

Another option is to draw money from your 401K retirement fund. This allows you to acquire a loan up to the amount which is in your account. It then uses the money in your account as collateral. 

Interest rates on 401K loans typically range between 5% and 8%, fairly respectable figures when compared to personal loans and credit cards. However, there is a massive negative associated with 401K loans: any amount which is loaned out is considered taxable income. So, while you’ll only be paying 5% to 8% interest on the loan, you’ll also be paying thousands of dollars worth of taxes on it as well. 

Another downside to 401K loans is that they must typically be repaid within 5 years. Failure to pay such loans within this time frame will result in an early withdrawal fee of 10%. 

In short, unless you plan on having substantial amounts of disposable income in the near future, a 401K loan is a financially risky way to finance a pool. 

4. Personal Loan 

If you don’t feel like putting up collateral in order to secure a loan, you could apply for a personal loan. Personal loans are given based on credit score, necessitating nothing in the way of collateral. 

However, depending on your credit score, this can be a costly way to do things. If your score is anything less than great, you’re going to be paying interest of at least 10%. As you can see, this is substantially higher than the interest rates associated with our previously-discussed financing options. 

If you’re thinking about going the personal loan route, you should first inquire about interest rates. If you can get a decent rate (~3.5% to 8%), there’s no reason not to go for it. 

5. Pool Company Payment Plan 

Depending on the company that you hire to install your pool, you might be able to take advantage of a pool company payment plan. Many companies will allow you to pay your pool off over time at a reasonably low interest rate, provided that you have good credit or a decent amount of collateral to use as leverage. 

In some cases, interest rates can be as low at 4.75%. This would be lower than the rates included with both home equity loans and home equity lines of credit. 

And the best thing about utilizing a pool company payment plan? You can cut out a good deal of the groundwork. There will be no need to shop around for financing options. 

6. Credit Card

Your last option is to charge your pool expenses to one or more credit cards. In the vast majority of cases, however, this is not a wise decision. 

Credit cards carry very high interest rates, usually falling somewhere between 15% and 26% APR. Therefore, anything financed on a credit card is going to rack up substantial amounts of interest. 

However, there is one type of credit card which could be beneficial: a 0% intro APR credit card. These credit cards charge 0% interest for the first year or so of their use. So, if you can pay off their full balances within that year or so, you won’t be charged any interest at all. 

Be warned, however, if you fail to pay off your cards before their intro period end, you could have seismic amounts of interest levied against you. This could, in short, bury you financially. 

So, again, in most cases, it’s a good idea to stay away from credit cards when financing a pool. There is much greater risk involved than there is reward. 

In Need of Pool Installation Services in Katy, Texas?

Now that you know how to finance a pool, you might be interested in installing a pool on your property. In need of pool installation services in Katy, Texas? If so, we here at Sahara Construction & Custom Pools are the people to see. 

We offer financing on all of our pools and can help you to pay for our services regardless of your budget. Sporting a team of highly skilled and experienced installation specialists, we’re well-equipped to give you the pool of your dreams. 

Contact us now for a free consultation! 

saltwater pool system

7 Advantages Of Getting A Saltwater Pool System

Texans can tell you that having a pool in the backyard is one of the best ways to beat that Texas heat. In a state where the average high is 96 degrees in July and 71 degrees all the way up until the late fall and early winter, beating the heat is crucial.

Most of us think of chlorinated water when we think of pools. That chlorine smell is sure to bring back memories of our childhood summers spent poolside! But what if we told you there was another way to keep your pool clean that wasn’t difficult and possibly even better for you? 

We’ve already talked about the differences between chlorine and saltwater pools. But we’re not done raving about saltwater pools!

Read on to find out 7 awesome advantages of revamping your pool with a saltwater pool system.

1. Low Annual Maintenance Cost

Saltwater pool systems can cost more to install than chlorine systems. Saltwater pool systems require saltwater chlorine generators. You also may have to replace certain features like lights and filters if your current ones are made from materials that don’t react well to salt. 

Pool financing can help soften the blow of this initial cost. Even more fortunate is how affordable saltwater pool systems are to maintain after installment!

Maintaining a saltwater pool system will cost about $100 per year, compared to the $300-$800 you may have to pay for chlorine pool maintenance. It won’t take long before the price of your saltwater pool evens out with the amount you would have spent to install and maintain a chlorine pool.

2. Minimal Maintenance Required

Because salt cells in a saltwater pool system produce chlorine as needed, you won’t have to do nearly as much work to keep your chlorine levels balanced. It is still recommended that you regularly check your saltwater pool’s chemical levels to make sure everything is running smoothly, but rarely will you run into any real issues.

For the most part, maintenance will consist of keeping your saltwater pool filter and pump clean and clear of salt build-up and debris. This doesn’t take long, nor does it require harsh chemicals. 

3. Less Contact with Unsafe Chemicals

To maintain a chlorine pool, you are required to store and handle a lot of chemicals.

Properly administered pool chemicals are safe for most swimmers to come into contact with. However, these chemicals must be handled with the right safety equipment and mixed properly to avoid any risk of injury and even explosion.

With a saltwater pool system, you will only need to store and handle salt. This is a much better alternative for inexperienced pool owners or families with small children and pets, as it lowers the risk of accidents.

4. Saltwater Pool Systems Are Better for Skin and Eyes

Chlorine neutralizes the bacteria in water to prevent the spreading of germs. However, it also has a habit of neutralizing some of our bodies’ natural resources that keep us from drying out! 

Mass quantities of chlorine can strip away the natural oils in our skin and hair that we need to stay naturally moisturized. It can also strip away the tear film in our eyes that keep our corneas free from irritants. Unfortunately, without that film, we are more exposed to pink eye and other eye infections.

While saltwater pool systems are still producing chlorine, they’re producing a lot less of it, which means our skin and eyes won’t be nearly as dried out and irritated after a long swim!

5. Saltwater Pools May Be Better for People with Asthma

When chlorine comes into contact with organic matter, it produces a gas that, in large quantities, can cause inflammation in your respiratory tract and sinuses. For most people, this inflammation won’t be too harmful. However, for people with asthma or strong allergies, this inflammation can be triggering.

This gas is more of a concern for large indoor pools, where it can become trapped and dense. Unless outdoor chlorine pools are highly over-chlorinated, they should be safe for swimmers with respiratory problems.

However, if you are a regular, active swimmer with respiratory problems, it might be in your best interest to switch to a saltwater pool system. The less you come into contact with this gas, the better off your lungs will be and the more you can enjoy your swim time!

6. Saltwater Pools Feel Better

Because humans are actually quite salty themselves, the salt level in water can actually change the way our skin interacts with it. 

When we submerge ourselves in water, we can absorb or lose water. In water without salt, our body will likely absorb water. In water with tons of salt (like ocean water), water is actually being drawn away from our body. 

As confusing as that may seem, the biggest takeaway for saltwater pool owners is that the water feels softer and better on the skin!

7. Saltwater Pools Are Better for Our Furry Friends

Plenty of pool owners have dogs that love to go for a dip. As we’ve mentioned, high levels of chlorine can be irritating for our eyes and skin. Our dogs are actually more sensitive to these problems than we are!

Not only is it harder to wash chlorine away from a dog’s skin because of their hair or fur but it’s also pretty difficult to explain to a dog that they should probably swim with their eyes closed. Saltwater is less harsh on their skin and less likely to cause damage to their eyes.

That being said, dogs should never be allowed to drink pool water, even if it’s treated with a saltwater pool system. Ingesting large quantities of chlorine or salt can have negative effects on their health. Make sure you always monitor the way your dogs are behaving around the pool!

Make the Change to a Saltwater Pool System

If you feel like you’d benefit from these saltwater pool system advantages, why not make the transition? 

Check out our service area to see if we can help you out. If you are, contact us today! We can’t wait to make your saltwater pool dreams come true!

pool automation

7 Tips for Setting up the Ultimate Pool Automation System

You just went on the best dinner date of your life. 

You’ve asked your date over for a drink after dinner, expecting to end up in the hot tub. But it will take a while to get home, and will they want to stick around if your water is cold?

With the ultimate pool automation system, you can start heating up your hot tub on the way home. Your connected landscape lights will set the mood as you take your date to the water.

No awkward waiting around for the mood to be right. Your date will be impressed, and you’ll be on your way to a fantastic jacuzzi date night.

Sounds pretty good right?

Pool automation systems let you operate and maintain your pool from a distance. The systems can be complicated, but don’t worry.

With these tips, you’ll be on your way to a fully automated pool that’s within your personal taste and budget.

How Does Pool Automation Work?

Pool owners without automation systems have to turn on each switch individually. This is a pain, considering systems such as the heater and pump may not be directly beside the pool.

With an automation system in place, you can control many features at once, from one place. The control panel doesn’t have to be anywhere near the pool – it can be wherever you are!

A control panel manages functions remotely using actuators and relays (usually the pump and heater), but can also control lights, spa systems, and water features.

While some automation systems are designed specifically for pools, others work for both spas (such as hot tubs) and pools.

If you’re not confident handling electrical work, you should hire a pro and stay a safe distance away as they work their magic.

What Does It Cost?

It sounds fancy, but pool automation isn’t as expensive as you may think. Most systems cost between $1,500 and $2,500.

The final cost depends on factors such as

  • The pool size and complexity
  • The presence of a spa
  • The brand and model of the automation system
  • Whether you will use a smartphone app or control panel

While the upfront cost may give you sticker shock, the right automation system will save you money spent on energy in the long run.

Tips for the Ultimate Pool Automation System

Looking to upgrade to a smart pool? We’ve put together 7 automation tips you should consider to help set up the ultimate pool automation system.

1. Save Now and Upgrade Later

Can you install a regular pool now and upgrade later? 

Absolutely! 

If you’re not convinced yet, save money on your initial purchase and hold off on automation until you’re ready. 

Unlike underwater lights and waterfalls, pool automation isn’t built into your pool or spa. It’s a feature that can be added on later.

Spend a little more money now on designing the pool you love, then worry about automation when your budget allows for it.

2. Do Your Homework

Think about what parts of your pool’s system you’d like to automate. 

Features such as bubblers, fountains, landscape lighting, automatic pool cleaners, chlorinators, and spa jets are just a few of the things that can be automated. Which of these features are most important to you? What exactly are you looking to achieve? 

Whether it’s efficiency, wow-factor, or improved ambiance, there are plenty of options.

With that being said, there are also plenty of price points and levels of products. So do your research! Don’t trust the first website you land on. Read reviews and find real users of the automation systems you’re considering. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll thank yourself later.

3. Go Big with Full Intelligent Automation

Intelligent automation is a smart way to go if you’re adding on automation to an existing pool. 

If you go this route, you don’t have to change your existing pool equipment to match a new system. Intelligent automation equipment features a sensor layer that converts your existing pool equipment into an entirely new, smart system. 

With an intelligent automation system, you’ll reduce your energy cost and chemical use. The smartest systems also manage the chemistry of your water, ensuring that you have the best quality water circulating through your pool or spa.

You’ll also get to monitor your pool via a smartphone app, but keep in mind that this requires a constant internet connection.

Because intelligent automation is an add-on to your existing system, it’s the cheapest option available to you. You can convert your pool to a smart pool for a few hundred dollars. 

The best part? This process is completed in as little as one hour! 

4. Test the Waters with Medium Automation

You don’t have to go all out with pool automation. Try a medium automation approach and enjoy high-quality water while still maintaining the pool yourself.

Medium automation is installed similarly to intelligent or full automation but doesn’t have a central control unit. Most medium automation systems contain a sensor-based chlorinator and acid feeder. 

5. Keep it Simple with Basic Automation

If you’re still not convinced you need all of these features, stick with basic automation. These systems only contain a time-clock and automatic chlorinator. 

In this scenario, you will manually trim pH and other pool chemicals. Traditionally, this is done once a week. 

6. Link Your Pump to Your Smartphone

One of the most impressive features a pool automation system offers is the ability to monitor your pool from anywhere with your smartphone.

Our smartphones are designed to make our lives easier, so why shouldn’t that extend to our pool maintenance?

Ensuring your system is running smoothly from your living room or the grocery store is convenience at the highest level. 

Depending on the system and program you use, there are several options at your fingertips with a pool automation system controlled by your smartphone.

Also, who wants to worry about what state their pool is in while they’re away on vacation? Don’t pay a neighbor to watch your pool. A connection between your mobile device and pump can prevent any unwelcome surprises when you return home. 

7. Work with a Professional You Trust

If you designed your pool with a pool builder, you would probably feel most comfortable having them service the upgrade.

However, if you inherited your pool through home purchase, you might have a closer relationship to your pool servicer, not the builder.

The most important thing is to go with a professional you trust for these types of installs. You should generally choose the provider you have the closest relationship with.

Design the Pool of Your Dreams

Your home is an important investment. If it features a pool, it should be one that you’re proud of.

Our mission is to leave you speechless with the quality and service we provide. We want to make the design and construction process as stress-free as possible for you and your family.

Ready to get started and design your pool automation system today? Request a free consultation and one of our team members will be in touch.

pool maintenance costs

How to Lower Pool Maintenance Costs: 9 Helpful Tips

The best parts of summer can also end up being the most expensive. Keeping your swimming pool maintained can rack up a massive bill.

Keeping up with your pool maintenance costs doesn’t have to be a disaster. There are smart ways to help reduce some of the worst of it. 

We here at Sahara Construction & Custom Pools want you to get the most out of your pool. Below we have compiled some of the best tips for keeping your maintenance costs low!

The 9 Tips to Controlling Your Pool Maintenance Costs

Your pool can have a lot of details that can wrong with it. There are so many different kinds of chemicals to care about. You need to worry about dirt and debris in your pool. Not to mention electrical costs for pumps and filters.

All of these little details have tricks that can tip the scales in your favor. Here are 9 tips you should look into for lowering your pool maintenance costs.

1. Keep Your Pool Vacuum Head Secured

With the chemicals, covers, and cleaners, there are a lot of accessories that you can forget. One of the biggest ones you need to keep an eye on is your pool vacuum attachments.

They can be expensive to replace and can be easy to damage in many ways. The best way to keep them alive and in good shape is to store them upside down, off the ground, and out of the sun.

2. Save Energy with a Solar Cover

For the cooler months, you might want to keep your pool nice and heated. The problem is running the heater for that long can be a huge expense.

Solar covers are a great tool. They attract and absorb heat from the sun to spread to your pool. They also cover the pool to keep heat from escaping it. They don’t need direct electricity, so you only need your heater for initial heating. 

3. Use Baking Soda as an Alkalinity Increaser Alternative

One of the many chemical worries of your own pool is keeping the alkaline levels suitable and high. The problem is that most alkaline increasers are expensive.

The trick here is baking soda. Baking soda can provide the same effect as some of the best alkaline increasers. 

The word of warning here is that baking soda is a bit more powdery than the usual alkaline increaser. As such, if you use too much, your pool can get clouded. You only need a little bit, so when in doubt, use less to be safe. 

4. Keep a Clean Cover on Your Pool

Anytime you cover your pool, you are trying to keep a lot of the other parts of nature out of your pool. The problem is, your cover may be detrimental to that idea if you aren’t careful.

You may pull back the cover after a few months and reveal and gross, swamp-like pool! How do you avoid this? There are some steps.

Make sure there is a space between your pool and the cover. It will be impossible to have a complete avoidance of bacteria, but if the pool isn’t touching your cover, it will help them not spread.

Next, keep clearing off your cover. Water and debris that sit on your cover will make it harder to remove come summer again. As well, the dirty water on top can drip into your pool and contaminate it.

5. Use a Variable-Speed Pool Pump

A water pump is vital for keeping a clean pool. A good pump will keep your water healthy and flowing, stopping algae buildup and other contaminates. In the heat of summer, you might need to run your pump for 10 to 12 hours a day. 

Because of this intense pumping regimen, you want a pump that has as much electrical efficiency as you can. Variable-speed pool pumps do well in keeping costs down by operating as needed. 

6. Buy Pool Chemicals in Bulk During Early Sales

Pool chemicals can get expensive. You will also need a lot of them. The cure for this problem is simple, buy early and buy in bulk. 

A lot of pool stores will have bulk sales at the beginning of spring for all those people eager to get a headstart on their poolside fun.

These sales can save you massive amounts of money on enough chemicals to last you the whole year, if not more. Take advantage of them when you can!

7. Keep Up With Pool Shocking

Shocking your pool is a vital part of keeping it healthy. It can be super effective, but don’t let the effectiveness of it make your vigilance falter. 

Missing a single week of shocking your pool, combined with frequent use with a bunch of sweaty bodies, and your pool can become a hazard in a week. Then you’ll have to triple your shocking routine while your filter works 24/7.

A simple and consistent shocking regimen will keep your pool neat and tidy. 

8. Run Pumps During Evening Electricity Hours

Here is a neat trick that doesn’t involve the pool in a direct manner. Most electrical company’s peak hours for energy use is 7 am to 7 pm. As such, to save a bit of money on electric bills, run your pool pump at night. 

Evening and night time can be a great time to run a lot of “set it and forget” systems. Systems like robotic pool cleaners. 

9. Use a Robotic Pool Cleaner

Cleaning your pool is a hassle. There are many robotic pool cleaners that can make the work seem like no effort at all. 

The initial investment of these robots can be expensive, ranging in the several hundred dollars. The upside is not only the time they can save you but also the extra money they can save by not needing to run your pump and filter as much.

Custom Pools For Your Swimming Needs

With these tips, you can keep your pool in great shape without the major cost. Keeping your pool maintenance costs down allows you to indulge your fantastic ideas for custom pools.

We here at Sahara Construction & Custom Pools are eager to help you get the pool of your dreams. Contact us today for more details!

types of inground pools

A Complete Guide to All the Types of Inground Pools

Are you thinking about installing an inground pool in your yard?

Installing an inground pool offers many benefits. Not only does it allow for more fun in the sun with friends and family, but an inground pool can also raise the value of your home

But, you’re probably wondering what type of inground pool you should install. There are a lot of types of inground pools out there, and each one comes with its own unique benefits and drawbacks. 

So, if you’re new to the world of inground pools, keep reading. 

This guide will cover everything you need to know about the different types of inground pools. 

1. Concrete Pools 

Concrete pools are without a doubt the most popular type of inground pools. 

The most important thing to note about concrete pools is that there are several different types available. These types are:

  • Gunite 
  • Shotcrete
  • Cast

Because each concrete type offers something different, let’s take a look at their benefits and drawbacks separately. 

Gunite

Often referred to as dry gun concrete, gunite pools are made from a dry mix. 

In terms of strength and water tightness, gunite is your top choice out of all the concrete options. Also, gunite allows for size customization. In fact, all concrete pools can be easily customized by size, which is perhaps why so many people love them.

Also, there’s a lot of design flexibility when it comes to gunite. It’s completely up to you in terms of what you choose for tiles, plaster, or paint. 

The biggest downside to gunite is that it’s extremely expensive to refinish. And, because concrete is extremely porous, chemical and filtration are required to prevent algae. 

Shotcrete 

Shotcrete is very similar to cast, except for that it contains less water in its mixture. 

In order to build a shotcrete pool, the builder sprays the mixture into place in layers. This helps result in a strong, watertight pool surface. 

Just like gunite, shotcrete is known for its versatility, strength, and watertight properties. 

Cast 

The final concrete option is cast. 

To build a cast concrete pool, builders first start with a form that’s either made from wood or steel. 

They then pour the mixture of concrete into the form. This allows for a smooth and soft waterproof surface. Due to its smooth surface, cast is also a popular choice for pool floors. 

Cast is also the most common concrete pool type, which means that most builders have plenty of experience with installing it. 

General Advantages and Disadvantages of Concrete Pools

Now that you know about the different concrete types, let’s look at some general advantages and disadvantages of concrete pools. 

Here are the biggest advantages:

  • Customization: Customization options are practically limitless when it comes to the size and shape of the pool
  • Durability: Concrete pools are extremely durable. You never have to worry about sharp objects damaging the interior of the pool like you would with other materials 

Then, here are the biggest disadvantages:

  • Require more hands-on maintenance
  • Need to use more chemicals to keep them clean and prevent algae formation
  • Incompatible with salt
  • Rough interior surface
  • Slow installation time

Even with these disadvantages, keep in mind that concrete pools are still one of the most popular options, so people clearly love them for a reason. 

2. Fiberglass 

Fiberglass pools are one-piece pools. In other words, they’re made in a factory from a mold and then shipped to your home. 

But, don’t think the delivery process is as easy as ordering something off of Amazon Prime. A truck will deliver the 2500-3500lb pool to your home. Then, a pool installer will need to come over with a forklift to take it off the truck and move it to the construction site. 

This is of course after they’ve done all the site planning and excavation. 

However, the installation process is actually extremely quick when compared to other types of inground pools, which is why people love this material so much. 

Here are some other advantages to fiberglass pools:

  • Due to the non-porous surface of the pool, fiberglass is incredibly easy to maintain
  • Because fiberglass pools have no liner, you never need to worry about puncturing the pool
  • Their shells generally require very little repair, which makes them extremely affordable
  • Compatible with salt systems
  • Fiberglass pools are considered extremely attractive and elegant looking
  • Low lifetime cost of ownership

There are, however, a few drawbacks to fiberglass pools. These include:

  • Not much room for size and shape customization
  • High initial costs
  • Difficult to color match when repairs are needed

3. Vinyl Pools 

Last but not least, we have vinyl inground pools. 

To build a vinyl pool the site must first be properly excavated. Then, a frame will be built that’s either made from wood, metal, or plastic. This will allow the installers to build the wall panels, install the liner, and pour a sand base. 

So, what is it that people love about vinyl pools? Here are the main advantages:

  • Low installation cost: Vinyl pools actually have the lowest installation cost of all three pool types
  • Unlimited options when it comes to pool size and shape
  • Experience very minimal algae growth

Here are the biggest drawbacks to a vinyl pool:

  • Replacing the liner gets costly, as it needs to be replaced frequently. On average, the liners last 8 to 12 years and cost a few thousand dollars to be replaced
  • Liner warranty isn’t always straightforward
  • The liner color will fade over time due to chemicals
  • Sharp objects can easily tear vinyl liners

Types of Inground Pools: Which Will You Choose? 

Now that you know about the different types of inground pools, it’s time to decide which one is right for you. 

If you’re stuck on what type of pool to choose, contact our team. We’ll help you choose the right pool for your needs. 

pool problems

How to Avoid the 10 Most Common Pool Problems

Owning your own swimming pool brings all the best parts of summer right to your backyard! It isn’t all sunshine and fun, though, as there are many pool problems you may face.

Pools are a big investment and between chemicals, filters, and construction, can develop some major issues. 

You are in luck, as even the most bizarre and invasive of problems have easy solutions. We here at Sahara Construction & Custom Pools want you to keep your pool running for a long time to come. Read on below to see how!

Avoiding the 10 Most Common Pool Problems

Swimming pools are a big investment of time and money. You need to be vigilant that your investment stays in top working shape. 

The list of worries is long, from contaminants to poor structure, but all of these problems have a solution. Here are 10 of the most common pool problems and what to do about them. 

1. Algae Everywhere

Despite all the chemicals, it is not impossible for all sorts of things to grow in your pool. The thought is gross, but it can be an easy fix. 

Algae shows itself by turning your pool green and is a signal that you haven’t kept up your pool maintenance. This problem, while common, only comes from neglect and weird circumstances.

Cleaning your pool on a regular basis can help to keep algae and other growths at bay. Shocking your pool can be a helpful strategy to hammer this idea home. 

2. Various Filter Problems

Filters are key components to keeping your swimming pool neat and tidy in the background. When they are working, they can break down contaminants and pull the worst dirt and grime from your water.

When they are dirty, that is a good sign they are working. Filters will get clogged and dirty. If your filters are not dirty, then your filters have done something wrong.

The easy fix for this, of course, is to clean your filters. This is as simple as rinsing out all the dirt and grime in it. Remember to check it often, as a clogged filter can ruin your pool’s cleanliness. 

3. Rough Surfaces

Cement pools will have a bit of a rough texture to them. This texture should not be enough to cause a lot of irritation or even bleeding by stepping and moving on it. If you often leave your pool with sore or even bloody, you have a real problem.

The problem could be one of two things. Your contractors may have made a mess and used an improper material or building technique. The other option is calcium build up.

To check the calcium build up, measure the pH level of your pool. You should be too around 7.2 to 7.6. 

4. Cloudy Water

The green of algae or the brown of dirt and grime are obvious and bad. Have you ever noticed your pool has an overall cloudy appearance? This could be a sign of a few problems in your pool.

This is often a combination of a few problems. Check your filter to see that it is not clogged. This could be a simple clogged filter not getting out excess chemicals and contaminants.

Next, check the pH levels of your pool. Too high and you may have various buildups. 

Last, you can check to see if the outside elements are spreading into your pool. Small little organisms and other debris could be small enough to notice, but big enough to cause problems. 

5. Rust Stains in Your Pool

When you find the tell-tale signs of rust stains, often in orange and brown stains on your poolside, that can be a sign of a major problem.

If you are getting rust in your pool, and there is not an obvious source like rusty metal beside the pool, then it can be damage to your tiles and foundation. 

Check for cracks in your pool. They may be letting water into a steel foundation and causing it to rust. 

6. Irritation From Your Pool Water

Irritation from swimming in your pool is not the experience you often want with a big investment like this. 

This is a common attachment to pH imbalance. Outside of the comfortable range of 7.2 or 7.6, the human body can get some serious damage done to it. Always check the pH balance of your pool on a consistent basis. 

7. Cracks in the Pool Structure

The rust problem above is a hazardous side effect of cracks in your pool’s foundation. This may not always be a sign that you see, but cracks are no less dangerous.

Even the tiniest cracks can compromise the structure of your pool. It may take a keen eye, but a once over every few weeks to check for cracks can save you a lot of money. Catching a small crack before it breaks into a big one can be huge. 

8. Calcium Build-Up

The rough surface issue is only the tip of the calcium problem iceberg. Calcium build ups come in two major forms: calcium carbonate or calcium silicate. Carbonate appears as white flakes, silicate shows up as grey scales.

Silicate is the more dangerous of the two. It takes longer to form and often comes from a leak in your foundation. With a long growing time, if you find calcium silicate, it has been there a while and you have a big problem.

Calcium carbonate is less dangerous and often due to a pH balance issue. You can remove both with calcium remover, pumice stone, and hard scrubbing. 

9. Spalling

Spalling refers to the chipping away of a few layers of plaster in your pool. This is often a simple issue in how contractors built your pool. The contractors may have over troweled certain areas of your pool during construction. 

You can sand these areas to flatten them out. If it is too extreme, you may need to have it troweled again, which can be a very involved process. 

10. Foundation Shifts

A pool is not an absolute fixture. If the structure gets compromised or the ground around it suffers major issues, you can find your pool facing upheaval and intense breaks. 

If it gets so far as having parts of the pool break or lift out of the ground, it may be too big of an issue to solve yourself. This is something you will have to keep a keen eye for and is an issue caused by your pool contractors.

Knowing what your insurance options for your pool are can save you huge expenses like this in the future. 

Sorting Out Problems To Resume Your Fun

Swimming pool problems can be a downer, but with this list, you know to be ready for them! Keeping up with a swimming pool is a big responsibility, but you have help.

When you are in need of some heavy-duty maintenance, we here at Sahara Construction & Custom Pools are eager to help. Contact us today for more information!

pool leak detection

A Guide to Pool Leak Detection for Homeowners (And What to Do If You Find One)

Did you know that the average in-ground pool can cost you anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000? That’s a big investment! You’ll want to ensure that it stays in peak condition for as long as you can.

A good practice is pool leak detection, since it is one of the leading causes of further structural damage.

Even with a great pool contractor installing it, pools can eventually break down and leak. You’ll want to spot these leaks fast so you can bring back the professional and fix these problems before they get out of hand.

The following are some things you should do to detect pool leaks at its earliest stage. Learn to do them and your pool will last longer.

Pool Leak Detection: The Bucket Method

This method needs a 5-gallon plastic bucket, a king-size black marker, and duct tape. First, you need to place the empty bucket in the water around the second step of your pool. Try to fill the bucket with water, matching the water level of your pool.

As soon as you finish doing that, mark the level inside the bucket using either the duct tape or the marker. Turn off the recirculating pump and any of the auto-refill device your pool has. Wait for around 24 hours and compare the pool’s water level to that in the bucket.

If the water on the pool and bucket water went down but are of even level, the water loss is because of evaporation. Otherwise, if the pool’s water level is lower than the bucket’s, it’s likely to have leaks. To check the leak sources, repeat the test for another 24 hours, but this time you need to turn on the pump.

With the new results, check if the pool’s water level is higher while the water is circulating under the pressure. If this is the case, the leak may come from somewhere in the plumbing of your pool.

Pool Leak Detection: The Ink Method

This method allows you to find the source of the leak. You’ll need goggles that won’t leak or fog up, a snorkel, and leak finder dyes. If you don’t have dyes available, you can always use food coloring, as long as it’s dark-colored or red.

Start this process by draining the pool. It’s a tricky process since it will drain all the way if the leak is at the bottom of your pool. But if you think it’s coming from the pool walls, this is the best way of determining the source of the leak.

As soon as the pool stops draining, you’ll know it’s located somewhere along the wall—the point where it stops. After that, check the ground and walls around the pool area for wet spots. It helps you know the specific area where the leak originates.

Do your best to narrow it down before you use the dye to locate the leak. As soon as you get a proper estimate, jump into the pool and find its exact location using the dye. You can do this by squirting the dye in the water, somewhere close to the wall.

The dye will move towards the source of the leak because of the current. Approach the areas without disturbing the water too much. Otherwise, the dye will run wild.

How to Patch a Pool Leak

Once you find where the leak comes from, you now have the means of fixing it. Your best bet is to call a pool contractor to do it for you. But that isn’t possible, you need to take the matter into your own hands.

If you have a concrete pool that develops cracks, you need to patch it with plaster. But this process can become complicated, especially if you have no prior experience. That’s why a good substitute is to use vinyl liners instead.

The good news is that you’ll have an easier time finding a leak the smaller your pool is. But once you find it, you shouldn’t always need to replace the liner. Get vinyl liner patch kits since these often work underwater.

Using the Vinyl Liner Repair Kit

These kits often come with big sheets of either clear or blue vinyl. Cut them out to the shape of a big circle, ensuring that it’s larger than the area of the leak. The reason for the shape is because of its lack of corners, making it easier to pull up when using the pool.

Use the glue that came with the kit to cover the entire backside of the patch. If you aren’t underwater, apply the patch over the leak area. Put pressure on it for two minutes to let it settle.

Otherwise, fold the patch in half to reduce the glue’s contact with the water. Go to the leak area and open it up, applying it in one swift motion. Apply pressure to the patch and hold it for about 5 minutes.

Hire Professionals

When in doubt, hire professionals. You never know when you’ll run into problems too big to handle.

Keep in mind that professionals not only have the training but the right equipment, too. This guarantees they get the job done and they do it right.

It’s also safer with them handling the maintenance job – patching a leak might not sound dangerous but it can be. A quick slip could lead to a cracked skull. In fact, falls are among the leading causes of accidental death!

Get Pool Repairs Today!

Pool leak detection is one of the most important maintenance tasks you should do for your swimming pool.

A leaking pool will cost you money in the long run because of the water seepage. It will end up compromising the structural integrity of your pool, resulting in higher maintenance costs.

These tips are things you can do even without the help of an expert. But if you want an accurate means of detecting leaks and fixing them, get reliable pool contractors. You can contact us today and we’ll help you out with pool installation and maintenance.

swimming facts

7 Benefits of Swimming That’ll Convince You to Install a Pool ASAP

Did you know that less than a quarter of adults in the US are getting enough exercise?

That’s right, only 23% of adults are getting all the physical activity they need, every week. And when you think about it, it makes perfect sense.

We’re busier than ever before, so it’s hard to make time to go to the gym. And, if you’re out of shape, going to a gym or jogging on the street can be exceedingly intimidating.

Fortunately, there’s a better way to get the exercise you need without having to leave the comfort of your home.

With a private swimming pool, you have all the tools you need to get into shape right in your backyard.

Still not convinced?

Here are seven fascinating swimming facts that will convince you to install a swimming pool right away.

1. Cut Back on Stress

Stress has become an epidemic. Between work, day-to-day life, and the endless stream of information that comes with living in the age of the internet, it’s a wonder anyone can sleep at night.

But swimming, even for just a few minutes each day, can help ease some of that extra pressure.

Studies show that swimming regularly can lower our stress levels and even help you sleep better at night. Swimming can also help ease depression and reduce anxiety.

There is only so much we can do about the stressors in our lives. Sometimes we have to accept that things are out of our hands.

But, by taking up swimming, you can at least lessen the impact of those stressors and give yourself, and your mind, a much-needed break.

2. Boost Your Energy Levels

An object in motion will stay in motion.

But an object at rest — you get the picture.

If you want to keep your energy levels up, you need to spend a little energy. Studies show that working out for 30 minutes three times a week can increase your metabolic rate and give you more stamina.

While swimming is a fantastic workout on its own, it also comes with a benefit no other exercise routine can give you.

Have you ever had to take an ice-cold shower first thing in the morning?

Nothing wakes us up like cold water, and research shows that working out in the morning can give us an edge for the rest of our day.

So, if you have a long day ahead of you, a quick morning swim can give you the energy you need to tackle everything that comes your way.

3. Go Easy on Your Joints

While working out is good for us, with other forms of exercise you’ll always have a massive force working against you: gravity.

If you have joint pain or are trying to get back in shape after an injury, you’ll want to focus on low-impact exercises.

When you’re in the water, your buoyant, so the water itself if holding all of your weight. This weightlessness leaves you free to workout without having to worry about having any added stress on your joints or bones.

As we get older, we need to pay more attention to our bone and joint health. Swimming is an excellent way to get the exercise we need to stay healthy, with none of the extra wear and tear that comes from activities like running.

4. Burn More Calories

Swimming isn’t just an aerobic workout — it’s also a strength training exercise.

Unlike running or cycling, when you swim, you use all of your muscles to push and pull yourself through the water, all while maintaining a steady pace.

Because it is also strength training, swimming is also one of the most effective ways to lose weight. When you train your muscles, your body continues to burn calories long after you finish your workout.

5. No Sweat!

One of the worst parts about working out is how uncomfortable it can be.

We’re not talking about sore muscles or fatigue — we’re talking about the heat and sweat that comes with getting in a good workout.

Some people enjoy working up a sweat. But for others getting all hot and sweaty can transform this act of relaxing self-care into a disgusting chore.

But, with swimming, you won’t ever have to worry about getting hot and sticky ever again.

You’re in the water, so your body may not even feel the need to start sweating. And if it does, any sweat will be instantly washed away.

Think about it most sports and exercises don’t refresh you like that as you do them.

6. Sanitation’s Sake

As you’re reading this, you may be thinking, “Swimming sounds fantastic, but why do I need a private pool? Why not just use a public one?”

In short; public pools are super disgusting.

When you take a dip in a public pool, it can be a little bit like swimming in a stranger’s toilet. While tear-inducing amounts of chlorine can help cut back on the germs your fellow swimmers leave behind, it can’t kill everything.

By having a pool, you can reap the benefits of swimming without having to worry about contracting something from a less hygienic swimmer.

7. It’s A Full-Body Workout

While running and cycling are both excellent forms of exercise, they only use a few muscle groups.

Swimming uses every part of your body.

As we said before, when you swim, you are using your legs to push yourself through the water, while you pull yourself forward with your arms.

And that combination of pushing and pulling makes swimming one of the purest full-body workouts you can do.

When you swim, you can rest assured that you’re exercising every part of your body equally. So, you won’t need to worry about spending any extra time trying to even things out through additional strength training.

Swimming Facts: Why You Should Hit the Water

We all want to be healthy. And the only way to do that is by exercising regularly.

Swimming is one of the most relaxing and efficient workouts there are. And, when you have a pool of your own, it’s something you can do without having to leave home.

If these swimming facts convinced you and you’re thinking about adding a pool to your property, we can help.

Contact us for more information about our available services, or to start building your dream pool today!