August 2016

  • Landscape Pond Pump Troubleshooting

    Your landscape pond is the focal point of your backyard. It provides beauty and serves as a place to relax. But, it does require regular routine maintenance to keep it working properly. If you love your backyard pond, you’ll do what it takes to keep it looking great.

    In fact, one of the largest factors which contribute to pump failure is due to irregular maintenance. Without regular care, like any other machine, it will begin to fail and eventually stop working or barely function. Fortunately, just like the most common sprinkler system problems, there are ways to troubleshoot a pond pump.

    Landscape Pond Pump Troubleshooting

    A few weeks ago, we looked into how to troubleshoot a pool pump. And, this is much the same thing. That means you don’t have to be a professional pool installer, a licensed contractor, an electrician or an experienced plumber. But you will have to get a little dirty and the process will require quite a bit of patience. Some problems are readily identifiable, while others are more subtle and difficult to decipher.

    Replacing a pond pump can prove to be expensive, so it’s always worth considering an extensive check to see if you can service or repair your faulty pump. One of the biggest factors in pump failure is irregular maintenance. But you can check for several different specific problems if your pond pump isn’t working effectively. —Do It

    The pond pump is literally the heart of the water feature. It’s what supplies water to the pond, providing a relaxing, smooth rush of water over the rocks. Fish likewise depend on the pond pump to keep them supplied with fresh, oxygenated water and to assist in filtering bacteria out. The good news is, most pond pumps last for many years. But, sooner or later, a pond pump will fail and you’ll have to replace it. Even relatively new pond pumps fail or stop working properly. Whatever the case, you need to know how to do a little landscape pond pump troubleshooting:

    • Check the water supply. If the pond pump is no longer supplying water, there’s definitely a reason and it’s best to start with the simplest explanation. Check the water supply to the pond pump to ensure it’s on and supplying water. It might be that simple and easy to get the pump working again.
    • Check the power supply. Next, check the power supply to the pond pump. Although this is might seem all-too-obvious, it’s worth taking a moment to ensure the power is on to the pond pump. If a breaker is tripped into the neutral position, there’s a reason why. You can attempt to reset the breaker to see if it trips again. If it does, call in a professional for help.
    • Remove the pond pump. If there is power and water being supplied to the pond pump, but it doesn’t work, then remove it from the water. Turn off the power and water supplies first, then gently lift the pond pump out of the water. But do not take it out of the water by pulling on the power line. This puts undue strain on the electrical wires and connection. If you have difficulty removing the pump by hand, tie a rope around it to help lift it out of the water.
    • Clear the pump’s tubing. A common cause for a pond pump not working is clogged tubing. After you’ve taken the pond pump out of the water, remove the hose clamp with a screwdriver. Then, you can visually check to see if there’s any blockage. If the tubing is clogged, simply used compressed air or a garden hose to unclog it. Inspect the tubing for wear and tear. If it’s worn, just replace it with new tubing for better performance. Replace the hose clamp, as well, tighten it appropriately to reattach it to the pond pump.
    • Unblock the filters and impellers. Two other components which cause a pond pump to fail are blocked filters and impellers. These can be clogged quite easily but are simple to fix. Remove the filter and wash it thoroughly with a garden hose. Replace the filter if necessary. Also, check the impeller, a component which pulls water into the pump. If it’s in good condition, just coax it to turn gently. Wash it with a garden hose or replace the impeller if it’s damaged.

    If it’s time to update your landscaping, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are a full-service, professional landscape design company and serve all of Sarasota, including near Bayfront Drive, around Rolling Green Golf Club, along Longboat Club Road, and elsewhere.

  • When should I Add Pool Shock?

    We’ve just looked at basic saltwater pool maintenance. Now, it’s that time of year again. Here in beautiful, sunny Sarasota, swimming season is definitely upon us, with temperatures reaching into the mid 80’s and the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay warming nicely. We can round up some good eats and icy cold beverages, head out to the white sands and watch the sunset over the horizon. For those who have a swimming pool right in their backyard, it’s time to break out the grilling utensils and get the pool ready for family and guests.

    This might be the year you install or upgrade an outdoor kitchen, complete with plenty of landing and working space, as well as all the conveniences of appliances and storage space. It’s also time to get the pool ready for a cool and relaxing retreat. There’s nothing like taking a dip and floating about on those warm, balmy days that we all know so well here in on the west coast of Florida. Getting your pool ready for use includes checking the equipment, including the pump and heater, even if you’re not going to be using it for the next several months.

    Your pool has likely been dormant for many months and you’ve wrestled with those pesky leaves and all that pollen that’s fallen recently. What’s more, there’s more organic and chemical waste that’s been permeating in your swimming pool water, from pet waste, rainfall, and pesticides, as well as herbicides. Bugs, twigs, leaves, and all kinds of stuff falls or runs into your pool and even if you’ve been diligent in skimming the water, there’s still a lot more stuff at the bottom you don’t necessarily see.

    What is Pool Shock?

    As the nearby quote explains, pool shock is composed chiefly of powdered chlorine or granular chlorine. The chemicals are key to maintaining a healthy and safe pool environment, particularly the quality of the water. These chemicals are used to combat the many contaminants found in swimming pools, which include such things as bacteria, algae, and other microscopic contaminants. These all have an adverse impact on swimmers’ health, as being exposed to these can cause illness.

    Pool shock treatments are essential when opening your pool in the spring, along with pool maintenance during the swimming season. Also known as granular chlorine or powdered chlorine, pool shock can be used to kill algae, remove bacteria and other micro-contaminants, and is also used when chlorine is low and needs a quick boost. —In the

    In addition to chemical treatments, you can also use non-chemical treatments to keep your water free of contaminants. Either choice will make the “free chlorine” level rise and the water will appear more clear. The reason to shock, or super chlorinate, a pool is to break-up what’s known as the chloramine molecule, that’s the stuff which causes red eyes and gives pools a strong chlorine smell. Though this is usually necessary when you first open your pool in the spring, it’s not something you have to continue doing on a weekly basis, though there are homeowners who do just that.

    Times When You should Shock a Pool

    A pool should be shocked or super chlorinated when you first begin using it as the weather warms the water temperature. Just a few weeks of daytime highs reaching into the mid to upper 80’s will bring the water temperature up substantially. The ideal swimming pool water temperature is 84 degrees to 86 degrees, though here in Sarasota, pool water does reach higher temps. That might be enough to kill off some things, but it’s not nearly enough to do the job.

    What’s confusing is the formula that’s used to know when it’s time to shock your pool. The best times to super chlorinate are when algae blooms begin to appear, the level of free chlorine falls to zero, the combined chlorine level rises to or above 0.5, or you’re opening your pool for its first use of the year. The goal is to reach what’s called the “breakpoint chlorination” level, or, when the parts per million of chlorine reaches 10 times the amount of chloramines in the water.

    To shock your pool with the right amount of chemicals, you first need to calculate its size, if you don’t remember its size. This can be done by multiplying the length, times the width, times the average depth, and then times 7.5. The results of the L x W x Average Depth x 7.5 will determine how much shock is necessary to get the levels right. Most manufacturer also provide you with on the package instructions, which include pouring the chemicals into a bucket and then adding pool water, stirring it until well blended, then pouring the mixture into your pool. You should distribute the shock evenly across the surface so it reaches all the water.

    When do do shock your pool, do not mix the shock with any other chemicals, always use the whole bag, and don’t spread it down wind.

  • Two Ways to Remove a Tree Stump Without a Grinder

    A stump is a surprisingly stubborn object. It can take months or years to see the decay begin to set-in, and, that’s just the beginning of a very long decomposition process. It will take a lot more time for a stump to fall apart and for the root system to no longer hold it firmly in-place. Because of the problems stumps present: tripping hazards, lawn mower obstacles. And, being unsightly, you’ll want to deal with it right away instead of letting nature take it’s very slow course.

    The answer for some people is to rent a stump grinder. These big, powerful machines seem to be a quick ticket to ridding the ground of a stump. However, looks can be fooling, because it requires a lot of experience and labor to use a stump grinder. It won’t magically disintegrate the stump in one fell swoop, it takes a whole bunch of effort and is a dangerous machine to use for those without experience. The good news is, there are two ways to remove a tree stump without a grinder.

    Two Ways to Remove a Tree Stump without a Grinder

    Before you get too excited, you should check with your local waste pickup and disposal service to ensure the stump will be hauled away. If that’s not an option, you can burn out the middle, fill it with potting soil, and plant flowers. Another use it to make it into an anchor for something, like a table and umbrella set, or, if it’s still tall enough, you can turn into a fixed table top. Yet another option is to cover it with rocks, creating an ad-lib rock garden.

    Cutting down a tree is a fairly easy way to rid yourself of an obstructive, dead or otherwise unwanted tree, but you must still contend with the stump long after removing the log. Although stumps eventually decay naturally, you can easily trip over stumps or run over them while mowing, causing extensive damage to you lawn mower. Garden centers sell stump removal products–chemicals intended to decay the stump for easier removal–but you can use a less harmful method to get rid of the tree stump. —San Francisco Chronicle

    However, if you really want to be rid of a stump, you can also call-in a professional service to dig it up in its entirety and haul it away. Of course, this will be a very costly option because it’s labor intensive, no matter the method of manual removal. Speaking of manual removal, that’s one of the ways to remove a tree stump without a grinder.

    Manual No Grinder Stump Removal

    For small and medium size stumps, these can be removed manually without too much effort. It’s worth cautioning, though, this is still dangerous work, by its very nature. To get rid of a small or medium size stump, do the following:

    1. Dig with a mattock. Using a large mattock, dig around the stump to expose the roots and tap-root. You won’t necessarily see the entire root-ball, but, you will expose much of what’s left in the ground.
    2. Shovel loose dirt out-of-the-way. Shovel the loose dirt away (which will likely be quite plentiful). You’ll need a clear area in which to work in order to get the entire stump and root-ball out of the ground.
    3. Chop through the tree roots. Use a mattock or ax to chop through the tree roots to begin to loosen them from the stump and out of the ground.
    4. Break through the tap-root. Now, use an ax to get through the root-ball to the tap-root. This will take real effort but for smaller stumps, will loosen enough that you can begin to pull it out partly or entirely.
    5. Work the stump and roots out. Cut through the tap-root with an ax for medium size stumps. Once it is compromised, you’ll be able to extract the whole thing out of the ground.

    Backfill the hole after removing the stump and tamp it down at least two to three times to ensure it is firm enough to prevent caving-in.

    Chemical No Grinder Stump Removal

    Another way to remove a stump without a grinder is to use a tarp and mulch to speed up the natural decaying process. While this won’t allow you to remove the stump immediately, it’s a safe and easy option for getting rid of it.

    1. Drill holes into the stump. To start, drill several holes, as deep as possible, into the stump.
    2. Fill the holes with water and fertilizer. Fill the holes with water, then with high nitrogen fertilizer.
    3. Soak the surrounding ground. Saturate the ground immediately surrounding the stump.
    4. Cover the stump with a plastic tarp. Place a plastic tarp over the stump and cinch it into place with rope.
    5. Spread mulch over the tarp. Cover the tarp with mulch to trap the moisture and prevent it from being an eyesore.

    Now, you’ll just have to wait. Occasionally, you can repeat steps 2 through 5 to help keep the process going and lessen the time needed.