How long after opening can I swim?A.
When opening in the spring, the turn-around time from Winterized to swim-ready can vary. A number of factors influence the start up time, including: surrounding vegetation, condition of the pool at closing, the fit and type of cover, time of year (the later in the spring that a pool is opened the greater change of an algae bloom from rising water temperatures) and the quality and type of filtration system. As a general rule of thumb a DE filter can clear up a pool within 1-2 days, a sand filter 7-14 days, and a cartridge system can vary widely based on the size and condition of the filter elements, and how often they are disassembled and cleaned. Cartridge filters are not an appropriate filter media for the Mid-Atlantic area and areas north of here, as they need to be manually cleaned multiple times during the start-up process. Further south, where pools are in operation year round a cartridge filter can be a sound choice.
Once the pool water is clear, debris removal will generally take 1-2 cleanings to have the pool looking clear, blue and free of debris. If you would like to purchase a la carte visits from us to do this work, it is best to do so at sign up in late winter or very early spring. Our calendar becomes quite full in May and while we will do our best to accomodate additional vists should you wish to purchase them, it may difficult. If you purchase a Spring Open 1 or 2 it is realistic to plan on doing significant work post-opening to get the pool swim-ready, to include chemical adjustments, significant vacuuming, backwashing and/or cleaning the filter manually.
It is reasonable to open your pool at least 2 weeks before you actually plan on using it, especially if you have a sand or cartridge filter. (Actually, if you have a cartridge filter, it may be best to plan on being quite frustrated, or writing a lot of checks)
How Much Does Pool Service Cost?A.
This mostly depends on the region of the country in which one lives, and by extension the length of the pool season. In the south rates are much lower on a per visit basis, yet the pool season is much longer. In this area I have heard of pool openings with some amount of vacuuming for just under $300, to other companies charging $420 for the same service. We feel strongly that low-budget pool service companies are to be avoided. Most experienced pool owners I have met have had at least one bad experience with one of the "cheaper" companies. By extension, there is no need to over-pay for services. We believe our pricing to be reasonable; however we are not striving to make price our most appealing feature. We strive to provide a higher class of service to the Washington Metro area by hiring a first class staff of adult year-round salaried employees, in order to minimize technician turnover, and build consistent customer relationships.
When should I open the pool?A.
Most clients open their pools during the first two weeks of May, in order to be ready for Memorial Day Weekend. Some open in early March, because they like to look at their pool and it puts them in a summer frame of mind!
How often do you come out and clean my pool?A.
It depends on the type of service you sign up for. We offer both weekly and bi-weekly visits. Deciding which is best for you depends on a number of factors, such as the proximity and type of vegetation, the size of the pool, and the age of the equipment (modern equipment often requires less attention). The amount of time an owner intends to invest in the pool also plays a significant role in deciding whether bi-weekly service would be appropriate over weekly service. During the non-visit weeks the pool will typically need to be balanced with appropriate chemicals, skimmer baskets emptied, filter back-washed, bottom vacuumed, etc.
Should I choose Presidential Weekly or Bi-Weekly service?A.
These questions may help you clarify which service is most appropriate for you:
- Are you comfortable maintaining the filter system, including priming the pump and back-washing the filter?
- Are you knowledgeable in water chemistry and willing to check and adjust the water every other week using chemicals such as chlorine, muriatic acid, sodium bicarbonate, and soda ash? Do you currently own these chemicals or are ready to purchase them for use every other week?
- Do you own, or are you ready to purchase the necessary equipment to maintain the pool such as a vacuum head, pole, hose , net and brush on a bi-weekly basis?
- Do you have the time and inclination to clean the pool every other week, empty the skimmer baskets, hair/lint strainer basket, maintain the Polaris or vacuum as necessary?
If you can answer yes to all of those questions then bi-weekly service may be a great way to augment your current efforts and lesson the amount of time spent maintaining the pool. If you answered “No” to any of those questions then Weekly Service is most appropriate for your lifestyle.
Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper if I service the pool myself?A.
While it will certainly be cheaper, it will not be easy. We have noticed over the years a pattern for new pool owners. Initially, having minimal knowledge of the pool filter system, water chemistry, or the processes involved with maintaining a clean, safe pool, many will outsource the service to a company such as ours. However, one of two things seem to eventually happen — the pool company does a great job and makes it looks easy, or the pool company does a poor job and the owners realize they could do better themselves. At that point they decide to give it a try themselves. Sometimes it works wonderfully; sometimes it does not go as planned. Even if it goes well, after awhile the owners eventually seem to come to the conclusion that they either have better things to do with their time, or that they do not have the time or motivation to keep after their pool as necessary, (evidenced by a green or dirty pool more often than not). While pool cleaning is not difficult, it is time consuming to perform the required tasks, and maintain all the appropriate chemicals on site, and to spend weekend or evening time cleaning as opposed to swimming or relaxing.
Our service technicians today are well-trained, certified professionals who are experts in water chemistry, hydraulics, filtration, plumbing, electricity and sanitization. An improperly maintained pool is not only an eyesore, it can also very easily be unhealthy, and a burdensome annoyance as yet another job that needs to be done! We are here to simply allow pool owners to enjoy their pools, rather than work on them.
When should I close the pool?A.
Our busiest time for closing pools runs from the last half of September through the first half of October. So long as the pool is closed by the first hard freeze, the timing can be set to fit your schedule.
I don’t like chlorine – can I get a salt pool?A.
What consumers call a salt pool is actually a pool with a chlorine generator. Salt is mixed into the water, and through an electro-chemical reaction with the salt the generator creates the purest form of chlorine available, chlorine gas. Salt pools are a more environmentally friendly option as they do not require the manufacturing of solid chlorine tablets. The cost of a chlorine generator is comparable to the cost of a 5 year chlorine supply; however a salt pool will be more difficult to maintain over that time period for both service professionals and homeowners alike, and therefore ....
*** Potomac Pool Service no longer recommends the sale or use of salt chlorine generators. After over a decade of installing, servicing, using and learning about salt chlorine generators we have come to the conclusion that they create more problems than they solve. You will notice that your pH level is consistently high from week to week. This is a direct result of the chlorine generator, and leads to numerous problems for the water chemistry that outweigh the problems the cell solves. A proper explanation exceeds the scope of this note, however we believe this to be an accurate synopsis worth reading for those who currently are in favor of salt chlorine generation: http://www.swimmingpoolsteve.com/pages/salt-safe.html
Does too much chlorine make a pool smell?A.
Actually, it's chloramines that smell — that is, chlorine that has been spent burning up contaminants. In other words, a pool that smells like chlorine probably does not have enough chlorine.
Will chlorine turn hair green?A.
Hair turns green due to a combination of two factors: copper and alkalinity. Copper gets into pool water from copper pipes and heater coils; it’s pulled there by aggressive, alkaline water. Green hair indicates that the water needs some work. Hair usually assumes its greenish shade after shampooing, however, because the alkalinity in most shampoos intensifies the problem. Shampooing with acidic “swimmers” shampoos, available from most pool and spa retailers, will reverse the process and release the copper.
Does Swimmer’s Ear come from swimming too much?A.
Swimmer's ear, also known as otitis externa, is caused by the bacteria pseudomonas aeruginosa, the most common pathogen found in pools and spas. Unsanitary pool water can be a hotbed for transmission of common bacterial infections, which show up within a few days of swimming. Symptoms of concern include an itchy skin rash, an earache, pink eye, diarrhea, stomach pain, a yeast infection or a cough. We keep a close eye on the water chemistry to prevent such occurrences.
Does a pool with an ozonator need any chemicals?A.
Ozonators do sanitize water, but the process alone is insufficient to oxidize solids within the water. In most cases, the simple act of climbing into the water releases enough contaminants to overwhelm the ozonator's efforts for hours. This leaves the pool unsanitized while in use. Maintain a chemical residual, however, and the spa stays clean even after guests drop in. Ozonators can reduce the need for chemicals in spas — and even in pools — but they cannot replace them.
Do enzymes kill germs?A.
Enzymes dissolve oils. Animal rescuers use them along the coast after an oil spill. Any product that claims to “sanitize” a pool or spa through use of enzymes, or states that no other chemicals are needed in conjunction with them, violates federal product terminology and undermines public health.