<span>December 2016</span>

  • Ways to Heat a Pool

    Though winter is still here in Sarasota, there’s going to be days when it’s too warm, not to be tempted by the lure of your pool. While the gulf temperature is still chilly, the abundance of outdoor recreation remains. And, you call still squeeze in some pool time, if the water is heated.

    Many homeowners are concerned about the cost of installation, use, and maintenance. But like most improvements, it’s one that comes will a return on investment. When it comes time to sell, potential buyers will be impressed by your heated pool. This will place your property at the top of their lists.

    There are different options for heating a pool. Which you choose really depends on your preferences. 

    Covering a Pool for Winter

    Even if your pool is under a bird cage, you would be wise to cover your pool when the weather finally turns too chilly to swim. There are several reasons you ought to cover your pool in the winter, and chief among them is evaporation. Yes, yes, remember that from way back in school? The natural process of water transforming from a liquid form into a gas by way of vapor, which is initiated through the rays of the sun. Though it might not be as warm during the day, the water will slowly evaporate.

    Proper installation and maintenance of your gas pool heater can optimize its efficiency. It’s best to have a qualified pool professional install the heater and even perform complicated maintenance or repair tasks. Read your owner’s manual for a maintenance schedule and/or recommendations. You’ll probably need to tune up your pool heater annually. Also, scaling in the burner or heat exchanger may decrease efficiency over a period of time. —U.S. Department of Energy

    Another big reason to cover your pool is to save yourself the time and effort of having to balance the pH levels. This, not to mention the fact that a cover will act as a leaf and debris shield, giving you a break from having to skim the water to remove stuff floating around. Among the top reasons to cover your pool is to help heat it and save money on the heating system. Covering it when it’s not in use will cut down on the amount of energy it takes to maintain the water temperature, which of course, means spending less to heat your pool.

    Ways to Heat a Pool

    There are more than a few options for heating a pool, and those below are among the most popular. There are other options, such as solar rings, free-floating heating devices which cover about 70 percent to 80 percent of the water surface and heat the water as much or more than 8 degrees Fahrenheit. Other systems are less obtrusive, which include the following:

    • Solar panels. Solar panels are generally affixed to the roof of your home and use a system that cycles the water to and from your pool, using the power of the sun to heat the water running through them. These generally are the least expensive to operate and do quite a bit to significantly up the temperature of the water, extending the use of your pool late into the year.
    • Solar blankets. Generally, these are used in conjunction with an independent heating system, but can be used alone, though they are not as effective when used without a heater. These blankets are designed to assist a pool’s heat system, reducing operating costs by up-to 70 percent and also prevent as much as 85 percent to 95 percent of evaporation from occurring.
    • Heat pumps. These are the most ideal for pool owners who like to enjoy a swim no matter the outside temperature, and perfect for athletes as well. Heat pumps are a great alternative to solar panels, especially when there’s not enough space to accommodate heating panels. These keep the temperature of the water constant, between 80 degrees and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Gas heaters. Powered by natural gas or propane, gas heaters are for short periods. Like when you want to host a pool party. It heats the water quickly, then turn off the system when finished. These are also a good choice for people who own vacation or second homes. These also work for spas as the primary heating source or backup heating source.

    Yet another option is to have a sun dome installed over your pool. These structures will not only keep the water warmer, they also repel debris. That means less chemical balancing will be required.

  • Lawn Sprinkler System Troubleshooting Guide

    With summer in full-effect, there’s no time for an unworking sprinkler system. Lawn irrigation is key to keeping the grass healthy and helping to make the landscape look its best. So, when the sprinklers don’t function, it could easily hurt your lawn.

    Brown spots might develop and spread across from one side to another, leaving an unsightly presence. So, you need to take action right away to get that irrigation system up and running again.

    Don’t worry, with just a few common tools, a bit of trial and effort, and some keys observations, you can troubleshoot and fix your lawn sprinkler system. And, you’ll probably discover one or two unknown problems along the way. The best part of this is, you don’t need to be an experienced technician, just some strategic elbow grease ought to be enough.


    Common Sprinkler System Problems

    Over the course of our mild Sarasota “winter,” there’s little to no need to water your lawn. The temperatures are typically mild and grass is dormant as precipitation levels fall greatly. As the spring months roll around, you lawn might need a little assistance and that’s where your irrigation system will come-in handy. It’s best to spread fertilizer when it will do the most good, which is just before the break of dawn.

    An automatic lawn irrigation system is the best way to keep your lawn looking fresh and green. Correctly designed and programmed, it’ll deliver the right amount of water to your yard— no more moving the sprinkler! But like any other system, it occasionally breaks down or requires maintenance. The good news is you can handle 90 percent of the repairs yourself, even without in-depth knowledge of the system. We’ll show you how to identify and fix the most common problems. —The Family Handyman

    By broadcasting healthy grass nutrients and providing ample water, you’ll get the benefits of fresh morning dew and the emergence of sunlight. Using this methodology will allow the nutrients to flow down into the soil and into the root system, providing all your grass needs to take hold and grow green. Of course, you’ll rely on your lawn irrigation system to provide your grass with the water it needs to grow a beautiful yard. If you turn it on for the first time in months, you might experience one of the following common problems: broken sprinkler head(s), main and lateral line leak(s), and/or, control panel problems.

    Lawn Sprinkler System Troubleshooting Guide

    Just like anything else involving materials and mechanics, a sprinkler system can exhibit a glitch here-and-there. The good news is, as the nearby quote explains, the majority of any problems are simple to address. If you have a few basic tools, a little DIY can-do will be enough to get your yard irrigation system back on-track, just in time for spring. Here’s how to troubleshoot a sprinkler system:

    • Titled or sunken sprinkler heads. When heads are tilted or sunken, water distribution will be unequal, even causing grass to effectively “drown.” You can fix this simply by digging around a titled or sunken sprinkler head, right the angle or pulling it up, then, carefully replace soil around it, followed by the sod.
    • Blocked sprinkler heads. Over time, obstacles might grow and block a sprinkler head, preventing it from delivering water as it should. This is a very easy fix because all you have to do is remove what’s in-the-way.
    • Clogged nozzle. Much like an obstacle, a clogged nozzle will prevent a sprinkler head from spraying water onto your grass. Turn the system off and twist the nozzle gently off the spray head. Remove the filter from the system and clean out using water. Replace the filter and nozzle, then, turn the system back on to finish.
    • Main or lateral line leaks. This is where the figure, 9 out of 10 problems can be fixed DIY style, comes into play. For main and lateral line leaks, if you’re comfortable with shutting off the system, digging up the leaking line portion, and coupling a replacement line, then do so. However, if you’re not confident in such necessary skills, it’s best to call a professional.
    • Control panel problems. When you first restart your irrigation system, it might have lost its programming schedule due to power outages or just a glitch. Regardless of the problem, consult the owner’s manual to try to pinpoint and correct the problem. You can also reset the system back to the factor settings to start over, if necessary. Should the control panel not perform properly, check the manufacturer’s warranty.