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Swimming in Scottsdale is an activity highly appreciated year round, however many properties don’t have pools and even fewer have heated pools. Some chose to forgo a pool due to its prohibitive cost and maintenance needs. For us a pool is a necessity as we enjoy our daily swim.

Looking at the maintenance for the pool, on a day-to-day basis the main things to be aware off are the pool pump, the pool heater, the pool cover and the robotic vacuum cleaner. In most situations you won’t have to bother with the pump or heater since they are preset and fully automatic. However the pool cover and the vacuum cleaner you have to deal with on a daily basis for the days you want to use the pool.

Pool service company

Before we jump into exploring these pool items, rest assured that the weekly pool service company takes care of things like setting the timer for the pool pump, setting the heater temperature (depending on your selection when you signed up for the rental), measuring the pH and adding any chemicals. The pool service company typically arrives every Wednesday around 7am, however times and day can vary depending on Holidays or other circumstances. The pool service company has the key to the pool room and will help themselves to the pool area, there is nothing you need to do. It may make sense to let everyone in the household know that the pool service will turn up early in the morning to avoid confusion.

Pool pump

The pool pump needs to run for 6-10 hours per day to keep the pool water clean and clear. The time is adjusted depending on the time of year and temperature. It runs shorter in the winter and longer in the summer. Typically the pump starts sometime after midnight and runs into the morning hours. It is perfectly okay to use the pool while the pump is running. In fact, if the heater is on it is extra nice to pass in front of one of the three nozzles that shoot hot water into the pool.

The pump helps the water circulate and also pushes floating debris towards the skim outlet that is located at the eastern short end of the pool. If there has been strong wind or rain you are encouraged to lift the lid to the skimmer and empty out any debris that have been caught in the strainer. The pool service also does this during their weekly visits. The other device the pool pump drives is the robotic vacuum cleaner. More about that later.

Pool heater

The pool heater can either be off or set to a predetermined temperature. Since the pool service company is setting the temperature, and the fact they arrive on Wednesday mornings. If you would like to make adjustments to the temperature you need to give us heads up on Monday of the same week.

The pool heater needs the pool pump to run, which means that water is only heated by the heater during the night/morning when the pump is running.

If the pool heating is started from a cool pool it may take 2 days before the water reaches its set temperature. Also note that since the pump and heater are not on during the middle of the day and the afternoon, to retain heat for the evening swim it is highly recommended to keep the pool cover on.

Pool cover

WARNING: Never swim under the pool cover. It is dangerous and trying to reach air by pushing up from underneath is impossible. Pushing up from underneath will only raise the water with the cover and no air will be available, with drowning as a real and present risk. Make sure to fully remove the cover before anyone jumps in.

The pool cover is a blue solar cover that collects and transmit solar heat to the water during the day and insulates and retains heat during the night. The cover is of the “bubble wrap” type that floats on top of the pool and is wound up on a reel to give access to the pool.

The reel is positioned across the pool at its widest point and is attached to the cover with nylon straps.

The pool cover has the added benefit of diminishing evaporation and reducing the amount of chemicals needed to keep the pool clean and clear.

Removing pool cover

It is significantly easier for two individuals to operate the reel together and to keep the cover stretched across the reel bar.

  1. Flip up the triangular shaped corner by the steps (the irregular area at the east end of the pool that juts out from the main length of the pool) and fold it in on top of the pool cover. This is necessary to allow the cover to float smoothly towards the reel as it is being wound up.
  2. Gently turn the crank on either or both sides to wind up the nylon straps and eventually the solar cover. If you are by the house-side, wind in a clockwise direction. If you are on the desert garden side, wind in a counter-clockwise direction.
  3. While the cover is being wound up, stop occasionally to stretch the cover on the reel bar. Keeping it straight will help with putting it back on the pool.
  4. When the cover is fully wound up it is suggested that the reel with the cover is moved to the end of the pool, out of the way for swimmers.
  5. Place the white plastic cover on the blue pool cover, and secure the white cover.
    IMPORTANT: Never leave the blue solar cover uncovered when it is off the pool!
    The solar cover is built to absorb heat and to transfer it to the water. When there is no water to keep the cover cool, it will still absorb heat and quickly overheat and get ruined. Don’t let that happen by always keeping the white cover cover on. (that was not a misspelling)

Replacing the pool cover

It is easiest if two people work together to replace the pool cover.

  1. Remove the white cover for the blue solar cover. Fold it away and keep it from blowing away.
  2. If the reel is not yet placed across the pool, move the reel with the rolled up blue cover so that it sits about 5 feet from the west end of the pool, across the long straight area of the pool. Place it so that the ends of the pool cover sits inside the pool walls.
  3. Gently unwind 2-3 feet of the cover. Make sure to position the flap so that it floats towards the larger pool area, otherwise the cover will float in the wrong direction.
  4. Continue to gently unwind the cover, while assisting it to float across the pool.
    If two people are working together, it helps with one unwinding while the other person gently pulls the cover out across the pool.
  5. When the cover is 80% out it is time to make sure that the remaining cover is positioned over the smaller area of the pool. Most likely you will have to help the cover by lifting the last flap over the reel and help it float towards the west end of the pool.
  6. Completely unwind the reel so that the blue straps are loose. Walk around the pool and adjust it to lay flat.
  7. Fold out the upturned flap by the steps and push the little flap in over the skimmer hole.

The robotic vacuum cleaner

The vacuum cleaner is a nifty device that works its way around the pool automatically, removing debris that isn’t caught by the surface skimmer. The vacuum cleaner is connected to an outlet about a foot below the surface, just by the thermometer.

The vacuum cleaner should be removed before swimming and replaced before the pool is closed for the night. While the pool pump can run without the vacuum cleaner, the pool will quickly become dirty with debris and the vacuum cleaner should be used daily.

To remove the vacuum cleaner

  1. Gently wiggle and pull the vacuum hose from its attachment in the pool wall. There are no clips and the hose is just attached by friction. If the pool pump is running there will be some vacuum and it may require a little bit more effort to remove the hose.
  2. Gently pull the hose up and place it in a circle on the deck. Finally raise the vacuum head.
  3. Move the hose and head to a place where it is out of the way during the day.

To mount the vacuum cleaner

The vacuum cleaner works most effectively if there is no air trapped in the hose.

  1. Move the vacuum hose and head from its storage position to a place on the deck close to the thermometer.
  2. Gently drop the vacuum head into the pool, feeding the hose after it.
  3. Keep feeding the hose into the water, making sure to push the hose down in such a way that air escapes out the top. This step is important to making sure the hose will operate effectively.
  4. When the whole hose has been fed into the water, lean down and identify the lid to the vacuum outlet. The outlet is about 12 inches below the surface close to the thermometer.
  5. Open the lid and place the hose end into the hole. Push it gently in place.
    Note, if the pool pump is running it will require a strong hand to open the lid covering the outlet since the full force of the pump is holding the lid closed through vacuum. The lid may require two hands to open. Do not use a tool to pry the lid open. If you are unable to open the lid, wait until the pool motor has stopped.

Pool Questions and Answers

Question: There is white “salty” deposits on top of the pool cover. What is it? Should it be avoided?

Answer: The white deposits left after water evaporates are formed by calcium in the water. It is completely harmless and is just an indication of the “hard” water quality in the area. While the calcification is harmless to humans, it is unsightly and can ruin machinery. This is one reason why never to use tap water in the tea kettle, the coffee percolator or the steam iron. The calcification can also be seen on the tiles along the waterline. While we have the calcium deposits removed multiple times a year they come back quickly.

Question: I just removed the pool cover and there is a lot of debris in the water. What should I do?

Answer: You can use the pool tools to manually remove debris, or you can wait for the pool motor and vacuum cleaner to run a full cycle. It is normal for debris to collect during the day and the pool is typically cleanest in the morning.

Question: I found a small bug/animal dead in the pool. Is it safe to use the pool? What should I do?

Answer: Remove the unwanted item with one of the pool tools and dispose of it. The pool is chemically treated to keep it safe and healthy even with debris or occasional small dead animals. While finding a small dead animal in the pool can be disconcerting and even disgusting, the chemicals take care of removing anything harmful. If you have any questions about something you find in the pool, call the Homeowner to discuss it.

Question: The pool service was just here. They left the pool pump running. Is it safe to use the pool?

Answer: The day of the pool service the pool motor will run until 12 noon to circulate the chemicals. It is suggested that the pool is not used for 2 hours after treatment to let the chemicals disperse properly.

Question: Do I “have” to put the pool cover back on?

Answer: The pool cover helps keep dirt out of the pool and it significantly helps retain and add heat to the pool. Normally, you don’t “have” to put the pool cover on but you will likely enjoy the pool more if you use the pool cover. However if you are renting during times when temperatures drop below 40 degrees the pool cover needs to be used for the temperature to be held at its set temperature.

Question: The thermometer says the water is 4 degrees cooler than the set temperature, what is wrong?

Answer: The heater runs during the pool motor’s active cycle during the night/morning. If the day is cold and the pool cover is not used the temperature may drop during the day and the evening. To keep the temperature (and raise it further) use the pool cover. If this does not help, please call the home owner to rule out a malfunctioning heater.
We have also noted that the thermometer indicates about 1/2 degree less than the actual temperature.