Q: My pool seems to be losing water, what should I do?
A: Pools in the Austin area can lose about a quarter inch of water a day to evaporation. There are several inspections you can make if you think your water loss is excessive:

  • Check for leaks at the pool equipment pad. A normal equipment pad is completely dry all the time.
  • Inspect the interior of the pool or spa for cracks. Pools and spas in Central Texas have a tendency to shift due to soil conditions which can lead to fractures in the vessels.
  • Check the backwash line for water loss. Sometimes the valve seat inside the backwash valve can become loose which will cause water to exit the system through the backwash line.

Pool leaks can cause problems under the pool or spa that lead to further leakage. Call us for leak hunting if the water loss is excessive to prevent further damage to the pool and pool area.

Q: My pool light doesn’t work.
A: There are several possible reasons the pool or spa light doesn’t work.

  • The bulb is burnt out and the bulb and lens gasket should be replaced.
  • The ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protecting the light circuit has tripped and needs to be reset.
  • The light is activated with a timer or a photocell that has failed.
  • The light circuit at the breaker panel has tripped and needs to be reset.

Q: How often should my D.E. filter be manually cleaned?
A: While periodic backwashing takes care of most of the debris inside a D.E. filter, only ‘breaking down’ the filter and manually cleaning it will get rid of all the debris. Filter manufacturers recommend that a filter be manually cleaned twice a year (spring and fall are best). To prevent mishap the filter should be cleaned by a professional, however, anyone who is mechanically handy can take on the task of opening the filter, cleaning the grids, inspecting the grid assembly, and reassembling the filter. Call us for specific instructions or if you find you need parts during the inspection.

Q: When should I backwash my filter?
A: The industry standard for backwashing is when the filter gauge shows a pressure that is ten pounds higher.

Q. How do I get to your store?
A: We are located in north Austin about a mile south of the Braker Lane & Lamar intersection. McPhaul street runs next to Chuy’s restaurant and we are on the north side of McPhaul about the middle of the block. Call and we’ll give exact instructions from your location.

Q: My pool pump hums but it won’t start.
A: Please note that electrical repairs can be hazardous or fatal if done improperly – always refer electrical repairs to a professional. There are several reasons a pump won’t ‘spin’, they are:

  • The starting capacitor has failed.
  • The start switch has failed or is fouled.
  • A damaged pump seal has allowed water into the motor which has caused the bearings to fail.
  • The stator or armature windings have burnt out
  • The pump impeller is bound and can’t spin.

Q: The pressure gauge on the filter is high.
A: There are several reasons a filter gauge pressure can be excessive. The filter needs backwashing, the return line valves (the pipes that push water back to the pool) are shut or partially closed, the filter needs to have new media installed (D.E. manual breakdown, new filter sand, or a new cartridge element).

Q: The pressure gauge on the filter is abnormally low.
A: A low pressure on the filter gauge usually indicates that water is not being allowed to get to the pool pump. The usual suspects are that the skimmer baskets and the pump strainer basket are clogged with debris (and should be cleaned), there could be a leak at the suction side of the pump, the pool water level is too low and the skimmer is sucking air, the skimmer weir (the little door in the mount of the skimmer) is stuck in the up position and must be freed, or the pump lid o-ring is missing or seated incorrectly (may just need lubrication).

Q: The pool equipment is leaking.
A: Almost any pool equipment leak involves the replacement of defective parts with new. As pool equipment ages it develops stress fractures in the plastic and the metal because of the pressures involved and the equipment vibration. Some equipment leaks are very minor but all leaks should be repaired as soon as possible in order to prevent further damage. We recommend that you note the location of the leak, the model name of the device that is leaking, and call us with this information for service.

Q: Why is water constantly running out my backwash line?
A: The backwash valve is under pressure from the pump, and so if a failure occurs in the backwash valve, water will tend to ‘squirt out’. The two main reasons for this problem are that the valve gaskets have unseated or are missing, or the gaskets and o-rings need lubrication.

Q: Why does my circulation system lose prime when it’s turned off?
A: There is a leak somewhere in the above ground plumbing. An intact circulation system is like putting a straw into a glass of water. Placing a finger over the end of the straw, and pulling the straw out of the glass. Note that the water stays in the straw. If there is a hole in the straw or if your finger isn’t sealing the straw well, the ‘water column’ will drip or fall out of the straw. The system of pipes and equipment associated with the pool or spa is like a big straw. If there is a leak somewhere in the circulation system, the entire system will slowly (or quickly, depending on the size of the ‘hole’) leak down to the water level of the pool. Once the piping system is empty it takes a lot of time to purge the air from the system and pick up a prime on the pump again. Leaks can stem from loose gaskets or orings, leaky valve stems, a leaking pump seal, a broken pipe, poorly sealed threaded fittings… quite a few places, actually. The loss of prime should be fixed in order to prevent damage to the pump (pumps are not meant to run dry for any period of time).

Q: My pool pump is very noisy, is this bad?
A: There are several reasons a pump can be noisy and each poses a different repair aspect. When air is introduced into a pump it is called cavitation. Sometimes air is introduced because of a poor hydraulic design in the plumbing. Most of the time, air is introduced due to a leak in the pipes that lead into the suction side of the pump. All pumps have two ‘ball bearing’ assemblies, one at the front of the motor and one at the back. The most common bearing failure is due to a leaking seal which allows water to enter the motor through the front bearing. Bearing failures usually start as a ‘whine’ and quickly develop into a loud grinding noise, or an all out ‘screaming’ sound. As a motor repair or replacement is fairly technical, we recommend you call us for a service appointment to determine and fix the source of the noise.

Q: Why isn’t my heater coming on?
A: All pool heaters have a series of safety switches inside that monitor if it’s okay for the heater to turn on. There is a pressure switch that senses if there is water coursing through the heater (heater MUST only engage if there is water flowing through the system). There are switches that sense if the heater is ‘too hot’ that will keep a heater from turning on. Sometimes the thermostat needs to be adjusted ‘higher’ to create a ‘demand for heat’. A dirty filter can prevent adequate water pressure from reaching the heater which will keep the heater from firing. The heater’s gas valve may be in the ‘off’ position. Please note that we provide instruction on lighting ‘standing pilot’ heaters in the event the pilot light has blown out in the heater. There are quite a few reasons that a heater may not fire, and if the problem involves mechanical repairs, we recommend that the unit be serviced by one of our trained mechanics.

Q: How often should my pool water chemistry be tested?
A: We recommend that a commercial pool be tested every hour and that the water chemistry be adjusted as needed. Further, that the water test results be logged on a sheet in order to provide the pool operator with a comprehensive record of the pool’s chemical characteristics. Residential customers should test the water and make adjustments NO LESS than once a week (the more often, the better). The sanitizer in a swimming pool makes it safe for the swimmers, the pH and other chemical balances keep the pool system in good shape.

Q: My pool is cloudy, how do I fix it?
A: Pool water clarity is dependent on two things: the effectiveness of the filter and the chemical balance in the pool. The pool’s filter provides 85% of the water clarity and the chemicals used to treat a pool add the other 15%. Chemicals or filters alone cannot keep a pool clear. If the filter media is old it may need replacing. If the pool ‘balance’ is wrong it needs fixing. The problem usually associated with a cloudy pool is a filter media filter. A D.E. filter may need a manual cleaning, a sand filter may need backwashing or replacement of the sand, a cartridge filter usually always requires replacement of the cartridges. If the pool water chemistry is okay, it’s time to perform maintenance on the filter.

Q: Why is my pool running high pressure?

A: This is likely caused by one of two problems: 1.)The return (pressure) valve could be turned off or broken, or 2.) There could be a clog in the line or valve.

The problem of high filter pressure is usually a dirty filter. The pressure should drop after backwashing the filter. If the pressure is still running high after backwashing, you may need to take your filter apart and clean it. If it is a sand filter you may need to change the sand. Cartridge or Modular Media filters can be hosed off and soaked in cartridge filter cleaners. Always make sure the filter gauge is working properly, that the equipment is turned off and the pressure is released before taking the filter apart.

Q: Why is my pool running low pressure?
A: This is likely caused by one of two problems: 1.) The suction lines could be clogged, or 2.) The valves could be set in the “off” position.

The problem of low pressure is usually a clogged pump basket (the basket connected to the pool pump) or skimmer baskets full of leaves. Clogged baskets restrict the flow of water into the filter, which causes low pressure. A clogged impeller (blade inside the pump) can also cause low pressure. This should not happen if your pump basket is kept free of debris and in good condition.

Q: What is a freeze guard?
A: A freeze guard is a temperature sensor that overrides the pool timer. Most freeze guards are set at a temperature of 38 degrees. If the pool timer is off and a cold front moves in, the freeze guard will override the timer and turn on the pool pump. Once the pool is circulating (moving water at proper pressure) it will usually prevent the water from freezing. A freeze guard is not a heater.

Q: My plunger type backwash valve is hard to move up and down. What should I do?
A: A plunger type backwash valve needs to be lubricated at least twice a year, or when it first starts to show resistance when you move it. The plunger valve needs to be lubed with a lubricant made only for pool applications, such as Magic Lube. Do not use an oil based lubricant. The power must be off and the shaft section of the backwash valve removed, to lube the `o’rings or wafers. A multiport type valve can also be hard to turn. These types of valves can be a bit more complicated to deal with. There could be a bad spider gasket, or top assembly with a bad spring. If a multiport type valve is not seating properly you could be draining water down the waste (sewer) line, or possibly do damage to the filter.

Q: Can I put a larger pump on my pool equipment to move more water?
A: Pumps should be sized to the pool plumbing, filter and size of pool. Newer pumps are much more efficient than pumps (old brass type pumps) that were installed just 8-10 years ago. Because of the more efficient pumps, plumbing is usually too small in size to let a larger horsepower pump prime up and operate at its full potential. In most cases it actually moves less water than the older, smaller horsepower pumps. If the plumbing and number of jets will allow the use of a larger horsepower pump, you need to make sure that the filter is large enough to handle the extra force/pressure that the pump will create.

Q: Can I change light bulbs and / or fixtures without draining the (gunite) pool?
Pool lights and electrical problems should be taken care of by a trained technician. Changing bulbs and fixtures in a gunite pool can be done without draining the pool.

Q: Why are my tiles falling off?
A: Tiles can fall off for several reasons, and obviously a bad tile installation could cause this problem. The most common problem though is due to cantilever type decks, or decks with no expansion joint between the deck and coping. If a deck should move/shift due to ground movement it puts pressure on the tile, which in turn causes the tile to pop off. Even in cases where coping is installed you can have tile problems if there is not a true expansion joint between the deck and coping.

Q: Why is my pool cloudy?
A: A pool can be cloudy for several reasons. Bad water chemistry or a dirty filter are the first things to look for. When testing the water always perform a complete chemical check using a reliable test kit with good reagents. Keeping the filter clean and backwashing (washing cartridges if you have a cartridge filter) on a regular basis is the best way to keep the filter in good condition. Diatomaceous Earth or D.E. filters (on residential pools) need to be taken apart and cleaned on a yearly basis. Sand filters (on a residential pool) need to have the sanded changed out approximately every 5 years.

Once a pool is cloudy, you need to clean or backwash the filter daily and keep the chemicals in balance until the pool clears up. There are clarifiers that can be used to clear the water faster. Clarifiers can cause the solid matter to settle out onto the floor of the pool. If this happens you may need to use a portable pump to vacuum out the settlement. With a portable pump you will not have any settlement going through your own equipment.

Q: When should I replaster?
A: Replastering can be a choice of cosmetics as well as one of need. If the plaster is discolored or stained, you may want to replaster to brighten up the pool. You may just want to try a different color, or texture of the surface to give the pool/spa a different look. There are many new types of plaster surfaces to choose from today. Pebble type surfaces, colored plasters, diamond sanded surfaces, etc. There are also additives to make the white plaster whiter and longer lasting. It may become one of need when the pool/spa has reached a point where the surface is rough and abrasive to the touch, when the gunite is showing or when there are leaks around the fittings. Rough plaster can also cause premature wearing of pool cleaners and gives algae a more suitable surface to grow on. If you don’t mind the roughness or discoloration, then it is simply a cosmetic decision.

Q: Can I paint my pool?
A: There are occasions when painting a pool is a choice that is made, instead of replastering. We do not know of any pool builders that build a pool and then choose to paint the surface instead of plastering it. Plaster, in most cases, is the best choice of surface for a pool. If a pool is painted, you must keep the chemicals in perfect balance. Once a painted pool gets too acidic the paint will start to break down and chalk. Once this happens the pH is very hard to control and the chalking can clog the filter. If painting is the option you choose, there are several types of pool paint available, such as water base, rubber base and epoxy. If you have a painted pool and wish to have it plastered you will need to have it sandblasted before replastering can be done.