SINCE 1958

San Rafael Ca, 94903
3769 Redwood Highway

Facts * Answers * Information

  • Health and Safety Information
    • Handling of Chemicals and Equipment
      • What is the best way to handle pool chemicals? How do I operate my pool equipment safely?

        One of the most important safety precautions we want our customers to be aware of is in regards to chemicals and equipment. We stress to our customers that they must read the label of every chemical and product they use. It is important to keep a proper balance of chemicals within your pool and/or spa to ensure swimmer safety. Many chemicals are hazardous materials and improper transportation, storage, or use can result in damage to structures or equipment and can cause severe personal injury.

    • Drowning and accident prevention
      • Several things we recommend to our customers in order to prevent drowning and accidents

        • Always have lifesaving equipment available in the event of an emergency such as a solid pole, a rope, or life ring that can provide immediate assistance to a person who is in danger.
        • Use a ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) on any electrical device that is used poolside to prevent serious injury. 
        • Keep all breakable objects out of the pool and/or spa area.
        • Never leave children unattended. We suggest that an adult monitor children in pools or spas at all times. Our recommendation is to have one individual assume primary responsibility for supervising the children while using the pool or spa.
        • Refrain from any alcohol and drug use while using a pool or spa.  Accidents from horseplay or careless diving while intoxicated may result in death, paralysis, or paraplegia. Drinking and drug use are also especially dangerous when soaking in the hot water of a spa. The high temperatures cause much quicker reactions, and it is possible that a person can fall asleep and drown.
        • Practice proper diving safety which includes never diving head first into shallow water or any pool not designed for safe diving.
        • Make sure to clear any standing water on pool covers because it is dangerous and can cause a child or animal to slip and drown. These types of accidents can be easily prevented by pumping out the excess water from the cover.
        • Even though there are now new standards for main drain design and adding extra suction outlets, it is still important to be aware that this is a potential hazard. Entrapment by the suction of main drains and other suction fixtures are another potential hazard. Never allow anyone to swim if a drain cover or other suction fitting is missing or broken and always monitor children while they are around the main drains.
        • Always wear sun screen! Excessive sun exposure can damage the skin. We recommend at least SPF 15.
        • When using a spa or hot tub, always check the water temperature before using it. We recommend the maximum temperature for hot tubs is 104 degrees Fahrenheit and the maximum temperature for small children is 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
        • Some people should also avoid soaking in hot water for extended periods of time because of possible harm to their health. Limitations for certain people may vary so we recommend that any elderly person, small child, pregnant woman, or people with certain health problems such as heart conditions, diabetes, or lower blood pressure.   We stress to our customers that they must read the label of every chemical and product they use. It is important to keep a proper balance of chemicals within your pool and/or spa to ensure swimmer safety. Many chemicals are hazardous materials and improper transportation, storage, or use can result in damage to structures or equipment and can cause severe personal injury.

    • Water and Energy Conservation
      • Important safety precautions

        It is important to us that our customers have the most cost efficient pool and spa experience which is why we suggest that our customers review these suggestions on how to save water, conserve heat, conserve electricity, and conserve chemicals so that they can save money.

      • To Conserve Heat

        • Cover your pool. – As stated previously, a cover for your pool or spa (solar blanket) will reduce water lost to evaporation as well as collect heat from the sun which will help you save money on your fuel bills. 
        • Swim at 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit – The ideal swimming temperature is 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Be advised that an increase of only 1 degree Fahrenheit increases the use of fuel by 10 percent which is why we stress maintaining your pool at a certain temperature and not changing it. The lower the temperature, the more cost savings you will experience.
        • Only heat when you use. – If you use your pool only on weekends or special occasions, don’t heat between uses. We recommend that the customer turns off their heater between uses and to turn it off if they go away on a trip but keep in mind that if you need to reheat your pool, always provide adequate time because it takes a while.
        • Maintain your heater. – We recommend that you also have an annual heater inspection so that you have the most energy-efficient appliances. You also want to have your pool site inspected to see if an active solar collector system would be a good investment for you.

      • To Save Water

        • Buy and use a cover. – A pool and/or spa cover is the best water conservation device because it prevents evaporation which will reduce water loss. Keep in mind that the amount of water a pool or spa loses to evaporation will vary depending on sun, shade, humidity, and temperature.
        • Repair any leaks. - Even small leaks can cause substantial water loss so it is important to fix any leaks that you may have.
        • Shelter the pool area. - You can conserve water and fuel by sheltering the pool or spa with windbreaks, shrubs, plantings, fences, or pool buildings. Doing this well help reduce evaporation. There are even drought-resistant trees that you can buy.
        • Clean your filter. – We recommend that the filter be cleaned at least once a year, not only to prevent the system from getting damaged, but also to conserve water.  If you don’t feel comfortable manually cleaning your filter, you can contact Herb’s to set up an appointment to have your filter cleaned.
        • Test and treat chemicals regularly. – By testing and treating your chemicals regularly, you will avoid the need to drain and refill from conditions caused by neglect and you will also keep the pool and/or spa cleaner.
        • Control filter cycles- Our recommended filtration time is 6-8 hours a day.
        • Reduce heater temperature. – We want our customers to be aware that warmer water does evaporate more quickly so we recommend keeping the heater at a low temperature in order to prevent water loss. 
        • Plug the overflow line when swimming. – If your pool is equipped with an overflow line, plug it. This will prevent water loss through the line when the pool is in use. Remember to remove the overflow plug when the pool is not in use.
        • Pay attention when filling your pool and/or spa. – Pay attention to the water level when filling because forgetting to shut off the water can waste water. We recommend automatic fill systems to help our customers avoid overfill problems.

      • To Conserve Electricity

        • Use a time clock – Timers are the best way to manage the daily operations of the pool mechanical equipment. 
        • Control filtration – We believe that the best time to run your filter system is usually between 6 A.M. and noon. Don’t run your filter system during peak hours of electrical usage unless there is a risk of freezing.
        • Conserve filtration time- Only run your filter for 6-8 hours a day.
        • Control use of automatic cleaner – As with filtration, establish a minimum cleaning time (2-4 hours daily) and expand this time during if needed. Some cleaners can run only when the filter system is in operation, make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions.
        • Clean strainer frequently – Check your strainer and skimmer baskets regularly and be sure to remove any foreign matter.

      • To Conserve Chemicals-

         Use sanitizer in the evening – Add chlorine or other sanitizer in the evening while the filter is operating. With reduced filtration time, it is particularly important to maintain an adequate sanitizer residual at all times.
        • Keep chemistry balanced – It is important to check your water chemistry regularly and keep it in balance. We suggest that our customers maintain pH between 7.4 And 7.6.
        • Stabilize outdoor pool water - Keep outdoor pool water stabilized (min 30 ppm) to reduce chlorine consumption due to sunlight exposure.
        • Use a solar blanket or other solid pool cover – A pool cover will reduce evaporation which will reduce the need for make-up water that will need balancing.

    • Safety Signage
      • Does my pool need signage?

        For our commercial account customers, there is required signage that is mandated by California state law, please contact a sales associate and we will be happy to go over those with you.  

  • Basic Calculations
    • Calculating surface area
      • Surface area for Rectangular Swimming Pool

        Area of a Rectangle or Square-
        Area = L x W

      • How do I calculate the surface area in my pool or spa?

        All of our pool and spa personnel know how to make certain calculations that will determine the correct amount of paint for a refinishing job, select the proper size heater or filter, and determine and measure the amount of chemicals to use for proper water treatment. For your convenience we want to provide you with the basic calculations but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask a sales associate or one of our pool technicians.

         Calculating surface area-
        A= Area  d= diameter
        L= Length r= radius (d/2)
        W= Width pi= 3.14
        D= Depth


    • Calculating Volume
      • How to calculate the volume of the water of your pool and spa?

        In order to calculate the volume of water in a pool or spa (capacity), you need to know that it is measured in gallons. In order to find that capacity, you need to know how many cubic feet of space exists in your pool or spa. You can get this by calculating (length X width X depth). Once you do this, you have to convert the cubic feet to gallons of water. One cubic foot of water contains 7.48 gallons.

    • Calculating chemical additions
      • How do I calculate the amount of chemicals my pool or spa need?

        When adding chemicals, we want to stress the importance of reading the labels. The amount of chemical you use depends on the capacity of the pool or spa. You must determine how much chemical must be added to maintain the correct concentration level for water treatment. Manufacturers usually supply charts in parts per million (PPM) which will show how much of their chemical will yield a certain concentration in different volumes of water. If you have any further questions, please contact us for additional questions or concerns you may have.

  • Pool and Spa Construction
    • Concrete Construction
      • What is the foundation used underneath plaster?

        Concrete (Gunite) is a popular construction material for pools because it is strong, permanent and provides flexibility. We usually use sprayed cement mixtures to construct new pools. There are also alternate ways to construct pools. We usually use plaster to finish pools. If you are looking to put in a new pool, please contact Herb’s and request our construction department to go over what material would best suit you for your new pool.

    • Vinyl Lined Pools
      • What is a vinyl pool?

          Vinyl lined pools are often called packaged pools because they are prefabricated and are delivered with everything, including the support system, in a pack Vinyl-lined pools come in a range of shapes, with liners of various colors and patterns. Rectangles and simple curved shapes are most popular, but special shapes can be made at somewhat higher cost.

          The vinyl-lined pool is a large flexible container supported on the sides by walls made of aluminum, steel, plastic, masonry block, fiberglass or wood. Some sidewall structures are self-supporting, which makes them ideal for aboveground and on-ground installations.
           The top of the liner is secured by a special coping that provides a finished look to the pool edge and serves as a border for the deck. The bottom of the liner rests on a bed of sand, vermiculite, or cement. The liner’s lifetime is mainly determined by its environment and care. It can be damaged both by ultraviolet light from the sun and by water chemistry.

    • Above ground pools
      • What is an above ground pool

          If you are looking to get a pool put in without any excavation, an aboveground pool may be what you are looking for. Aboveground pools require no excavation and are easily assembled and dismantled. They may be circular, oval or rectangular. Aboveground pools sit directly on level ground, with walls that usually support an equal depth of water throughout, usually 3 or 4 feet. Construction materials consist of self-supporting walls of galvanized steel or aluminum with an interior vinyl liner. The bottom of the liner sits upon a shallow bed of sand. The outer panels of the walls are often colored and decorated.

    • Spas
      • Is it possible to add a spa into my pool?

        Spas can be built as part of a pool or as a stand-alone unit. Spas can be built with concrete and are built in the same way that concrete pools are. Please see our construction link to see what spa may be suit you. A typical spa shell olds between 300 and 1500 gallons of water.

    • Renovations
      • Can I renovate my older pool/spa to look like new?

        If you have an old pool that needs fixing up, Herb’s is your company. We can do a full remodel which includes stripping, re-plastering, and installing new waterline tile. We can go as far as changing your dimensions, adding a tanning shelf and a sheer dissent. Check out our construction link to see pictures or for any additional questions you may have.   

  • Hot Tubs
    • What is a SPA or Hot Tub
      • What defines a Hot Tub?

          A hot tub/spa is defined by the APSP Hot Tub Council as “a warm water reservoir with hydro massage jets that is manufactured from prefabricated materials at a factory.” There are self-contained spas, and non-self-contained spas. There are many differences between self-contained spas and non-self-contained spas. Please see our construction link or contact Herb’s to help decide what one best suit your needs.
         A spa can come in many different forms including acrylic, co-extruded thermoplastic, and wood hot tubs. Acrylic is the most popular material for spas because it is highly resistant to sun and chemical deterioration. Herbs will be happy to go over the different types of material with you.

    • Acrylic hot tubs/spas
    • Co-extruded Thermoplastic spas
    • Wood hot tubs
  • Electrical System
    • Basic terms/components of electrical circuits
      • We want our customers to be aware of each of the following electrical components so that they can run their pool/spas as safe and efficient as possible.

        • Electricity: These terms cover the behavior of electic charge, electric current, electric field, and electromagnetism. Electic circuits may use high voltage (120 or 240 volts) or low voltage (like 12 or 15 volts). Electricity usually refers to electrical power transmitted through wires(conductors). Live voltage is a term for electrical power sent to homes and businesses through power lines on telephone poles or underground.
        •  Panel board (Panel): The terms panel board and panel are used to refer to parts of the funeral household electrical service, of which the pool/spa electrical system is often on circuit.
        • The main service panel of the house is an electrical panel that receives power from the power lines of the utility company and supplies power to the equipment of the house
        • An equipment panel or equipment electrical sub-panel is an electrical panel to which all the pool/spa equipment is wired through circuit breakers. It receives power from and is grounded back through the main service panel.
        • A controller panel is the enclosed power case of a control system. It receives electrical power from the equipment sub-panel and supplies power to the equipment itself. It is usually mounted near the equipment it controls
        • A remote control panel is a user-operated panel (of push buttons or dials) of a remote-control device that transmits signals to a controller.
        • Circuit Protection Devices: Circuit protection devices include circuit breakers, fuses and GFCIs (ground-fault  urrent interrupters). They are used to protect people, as well as circuits and devices, from a condition called overloading. Overloading occurs when too much current is forced through a conductor unable to withstand it. The wire overheats and destroys itself. Overloading can be caused by excessive load or a short circuit. Overloading can cause damage to equipment, and even fire.
        •  Common circuit protection devices are installed in the main service panel, which supplies power to a dwelling. They are also put on equipment sub-panels established for swimming pool and/or spa equipment.
        • A circuit breaker is a device that opens (shuts off) a circuit automatically when there is too much current, to protect equipment from damage. It can be reset by hand and used again. Don’t reset a circuit breaker without finding the cause of the overload and fixing it. Also, be aware that circuit breakers can wear out. Use the on/off switch to turn equipment on and off, not the circuit breaker.
        • A fuse is also a device that opens a circuit automatically when there is too much current, to protect the equipment from damage. A fuse cannot normally be reset. A blown fuse has to be replaced.
        • Ground-fault circuit-interrupters are safety devices wired across a circuit to protect people against shock from ground fault electric current.
        • Ground Wire- Ground wires are added to an electrical device to protect people. If the electric circuitry of a piece of equipment falls, ground wires provide a path to earth ground current leakage from any electrical component. The ground wiring is not necessarily visible if equipment is grounded internally. Most ground wires are enclosed in conduit or may even be incorporated in the conduit. 
        • Bonding is a safety method of joining together all grounded equipment through one master wire, the bond wire. Bonding provides a second layer of protection against shock for people and animals. Pools and spas must be bonded by connecting all metal equipment to one visible bonding wire.

    • Safety information for pool/spa electrical systems
      • How do I make sure my pool and spa electrical system is up to code?

        NEC regulations ( If you are not careful with the wiring of your equipment in your pool or spa, it can result in severe electrical shock. To view the regulations set forth by the National Electric Code please refer to their website at . These regulations put forth are there to minimize the risk of electrical shock, fire, and safety hazards around pools, spas, and hot tubs. NEC regulations are adopted by many states and local jurisdictions so we recommend that our customer review their website. 

    • NEC regulations
    • Underwater lighting
      • Safety

          There are specific safety precautions when it comes to underwater lighting. In some cases, the light bulb is actually in contact with water which is why our customers need to take specific safety precautions so that no electric shock hazards results. We install underwater light fixtures according to the correct safety procedures to prevent electrical shock. Please contact Herb’s to install or fix one of your underwater light fixtures. We do not recommend trying this on your own.

      • Maintenance of Underwater Lights

          The maintenance of underwater lights falls into two general categories: emergency maintenance (because of bulb failure) and seasonal maintenance. Emergency repairs are made during the season when the pool or spa is in use. Seasonal repairs are made when the pool or spa is being opened or closed. Swimming pool underwater lights are commonly 500 watts. For spa lighting, 100 watts is more common. Parts of an underwater light installation include the housing, reflector shell or body, electric cord, cord seal, and socket.

  • Circulation and piping
    • Basic Information about pool circulation
      • How does my pool circulate the water?

        The pool and spa circulation system contains all the necessary equipment to remove dirt, debris, and other materials from the surface of the water as well as the materials in the suspension. The pump acts as the heart of the system and keeps the water in constant motion through the pipes and support equipment where it is filtered, heated, and chemically treated. Various valves, gauges and meters direct and control and register the flow of water through the system.
        In one part of the typical circulation system, water is drawn from the pool or spa through the suction outlets, skimmers, and suction piping to the pump. Water travels through the pump to the filtration systems for the removal of dirt, debris, and other impurities.
         On the other side of the pump, water is driven through the filter and returns to the pool or spa. It is on the pressure side that many pools and most spas incorporate a heating system to control the water temperature, and disinfecting equipment to sanitize the water. Disinfecting equipment to chemically treat the water is installed, in most cases, after the water has been filtered and heated, so as not to damage equipment by direct contact with the sanitizer.

    • Turnover, flow rate, velocity
      • Suggested Water Flow

        Turnover is the amount of time it takes to circulate once a volume of water equal to the pool, spa, or hot tub capacity. The recommended maximum turn overtime for a residential in ground pool is 12 hours. Once the turnover and the total capacity have been determined, a minimum flow rate can be calculated. Flow rate, expressed in gallons per minute or gpm is calculated by dividing the capacity in gallons by the turnover time in minutes:
         Flow rate= capacity / (turnover in hours x 60 minutes)

    • Suction side components
      • How does my pool circulate?

        In a typical system that has a pressure filter, water leaves the pool or spa and travels through suction piping that leads to the pump. The main types of suction outlets leading water out of the pool or spa are the main drains at the deepest point and the surface skimmers or overflow gutters around the perimeter. There may also be wall outlets that provide an extra drain to reduce the danger of suction entrapment.

    • Suction entrapment, VGB law
      • What is suction entrapment?

        Suction entrapment is where a bather is trapped by the suction created by rapid water flow and turbulence around a drain or other suction fitting. This is a serious potential hazard and is a particular danger for children, who are too small to break away. Water flow should never exceed the recommended maximum velocities through the circulation system, because high velocities can contribute to suction entrapment. Pay close attention to children playing around the drains or suctions fittings. If someone happens to get stuck, shut off the equipment immediately.

    • Main Drains
      • What is a main drain?

        The main drains remove particles from the pool or spa that are heavier than water, such as sand, silt, etc. The position of the main drains also partly determines the pattern of water flow, since water entering through multiple inlets at the perimeter is drawn toward the main drains. You must be able to regulate the flow from the main drains in order to use most types of automatic and manual drains in order to use most type of automatic and manual vacuum systems.
         To avoid suction entrapment, all damaged and missing main drain covers should be replaced, and recalled main drain covers upgraded to new anti-entrapment designs. It is important to understand that a pool or spa not be used if the covers for the main drains are broken or not properly fastened.

    • Skimmers & gutters
      • What is the opening on the side of my pool? What is its purpose?

        Water is moved from the surface of the pool or spa through skimmers or overflow gutters. Removing surface water is important, because it contains most of the contaminants. Saturated debris falls to the bottom.
         Inside most skimmers, at the point where the skimmer meets the pool or spa wall, is a buoyant gate or door called a weir. Water from the pool or spa is drawn over the weir, allowing only a thin sheet of surface water into the skimmer body at a time. In some skimmer designs, instead of the weir being attached to the skimmer body, it floats on the water in the skimmer body above the skimmer basket. If the weir floats, breaks, or becomes detached, the skimmer will not work as intended.
         Once water passes the weir, it is pulled into the skimmer basket, which lies below. The water is strained through the basket, which lies below and the larger debris that might clog that suction piping system.

    • Vacuum outlets
      • How can I vacuum my pool using suction?

        Many pool shave a separate suction pipe from the pool that serves as a vacuum outlet. This pipeline is directly connected to the suction side prior to the pump. During the manual vacuuming procedure, a hose, extending to a vacuum head, is inserted into this port for the purposes of cleaning the floor, walls and stairs of the pool. Many automatic vacuum systems operating on suction can use this port. Some use the skimmer pipeline as access to the suction side of the system.

    • Piping and fittings
      • What is my pool plumbed with?

        Most residential pools and hot tubs are plumbed with PVC pipe. PVC is strong as well as heat and chemical resistant. The piping is available in a variety of sizes and qualities. The most common sizes used for residential pools and spas are 1 ½ inch and 2 inch. PVC pipe can be hard or flexible. For most pool piping, it is important to use Schedule 40 or a stronger grade. Lesser grades may not withstand the pressure of the filter system.

  • Circulation system components
    • Pumps
      • The pump is the heart of the circulation system and creates water flow.

         The typical pump is a centrifugal pump. Water is drawn into the pump to the eye of an impeller. The water is then thrown from the outer perimeter of the whirling impeller by centrifugal force—the force that drives liquid away from the spinning blade. The water is driven out into the volute and into the piping system.
         Proper operation of a centrifugal pump depends on an airtight environment. As the spinning impeller evacuates the water from the pump housing into the discharge system, atmospheric pressure forces water through the outlet pipelines and into the strainer replacing the water discharged by the pump. It is important to understand that if air enters the system through a worn seal, gasket or ill fitted pipeline, the pumps performance could be affected dramatically.
         The typical pump also has a strainer or hair/lint pot through which the water passes first. The strainer basket collects large debris (leaves, insects, hair, etc.), which would otherwise block the impeller or impede the flow of water. To ensure proper operation, the strainer basket must be cleaned at regular intervals to allow proper flow through the pump.

    • Filters
      • What does my filter do?

          The filter removes fine suspended particles from the water through a screening process. As the water passes through the filtering material, known as the medium, fine particles are collected in it. With these fine particles removed from the water, chemical disinfectants work more effectively.
         The most common media used in filters are sand, diatomaceous earth and fabric cartridges. Regular cleaning or backwashing of a filter is necessary to remove the collected dirt particles that would eventually clog the filter.

    • Separation tank
      • A separation tank is used for collecting used diatomaceous earth.

          With this piece of equipment, backwash water containing the DE (diatomaceous earth) and the dirt collected by the media is filtered through a bag filter contained within the separation tank. The clean water from the tank is then either piped directly back to the return piping or to waste. This system allows the collection of the used DE and reduces wastewater. Since the separation tank is pressurized, it must incorporate a method for relieving the pressure within the tank to allow the user to open the tank to clean the filter bag after each use.

    • Heaters
      • Why a heater?

          One of the most important additions to maximize the use of a swimming pool is a heater. All spas and hot tubs have heaters. There are six types of heating systems used in pools and spas. Most commonly used are the first four types
        • Gas/propane/oil heaters
        • Electric immersion element heaters
        • Heat pumps
        • Solar heaters
        • In-floor radiant heaters
        • Geothermal heaters
        The selection of a particular heater depends upon the size required plus purchase price, installation, and average annual fuel costs. When installing a heater on an existing system, it may be necessary to add an extra pump to the installation to overcome the additional resistance created by the new equipment.

    • Chemical Feeders
      • What is a Chemical Feeders?

          Chemical feeders are another optional piece of equipment in the circulation system. Most chemical feeders are normally piped into the system on the pressure side of the pump, after the heater, to automatically introduce chemicals into the water.  It is important to never switch sanitizers in an existing chemical feeder.
         Chemicals added through feeders include chlorine, bromine or other disinfecting agents, or soda ash and acid for pH adjustment. It is also common in residential pools and spas for some chemicals to be added manually.


    • Return Inlets
      • What is a Return Inlet?

          Filtered water flowing back to the swimming pool or spa through the return piping enters the pool or spa through return inlets. Sometimes referred to as return fittings or discharge outlets, these fittings are installed in many different configurations. The location and size of return inlets are critical for uniform water and chemical distribution throughout the pool or spa. The location and type of the fittings will differ based on location and type of the fitting will differ based on the size and shape of the swimming pool.
         Return inlets are commonly installed within the walls of the pool or spa, but, in many cases, they are also installed within the floor. Return inlets installed within the walls are normally directional and adjustable, allowing adjustment of the flow (gpm) from each individual fitting.
         When used in spas and hot tubs, return inlets may be used both to return filtered water to the pool, and to introduce air into the water through the use of jet fittings, venturi tubes, and/or forced air from a blower.

    • Valves
      • Why so many valves?

          Valves are installed throughout the circulation system to control and direct the flow of water and chemicals. A valve is any device that regulates flow. It can be used to completely stop the flow of water, regulate a limited flow or be opened to allow maximum flow.
         Diverter valves may be located within the skimmer body to control the amount of water passing from both the main drain and the skimmer into the main suction piping to the pump.
         Suction can also be controlled by the use of a three port valve, which controls the flow of water from main drain and the skimmer going to the suction to pump. The valve can be adjusted to any point from full main drain to full skimmer.
         Filters use valves as backwashing devices—to reverse the flow of water through the system in order to force DE from the grids, or to drive out the dirt collected in the sand filter.
         A variety of multiport valves have been devised, primarily to reduce the need to open and close valves by hand when backwashing filters. These multiport valves fall in two categories: slide valves and rotary valves. It is extremely important that the pump must be OFF when changing the valve setting from one function to another to avoid damage to the valve.

    • Pressure gauges
      • Where are the Pressure gauges on my pool equipment?

          Used on pressure filters, pressure gauges indicate the pressure (pounds per square inch) within the pressure side of the circulation system. They are normally supplied by the filter manufacturer as part of the filter package. The gauge is typically installed on top of the filter body. The clean operating pressure of the filtration system should be used as a benchmark. As the filter collects dirt and debris, the pressure gauge reading will increase, to the point where it is necessary to backwash or clean the filter.

  • Filtration Systems
    • Basic information on filtration systems
      • What is a filter?

         Filtration is the process of removing insoluble matter, such as dirt, debris, and algae, which is suspended in the water. Filters remove dirt through a screening process. Dirt particles are separated from the liquid because they are too large to pass through the small openings in the filtering material or media. Pool and spa filters are classified into three main media commonly used.
        • Sand
        • Diatomaceous earth
        • Fiber cartridge
        In addition, filter systems are classified as either pressure or vacuum. In a pressure system, the water is delivered to the filter after reaching the pump. In a vacuum system, the water is filtered before reaching the pump. Therefore, the filter is located on the suction side of the pump. Because vacuum filters are generally larger in size and have a slower filter rate, they are usually found in public and semi-public pools, not residential ones. Another type of vacuum filter is the skim filter found in many hot tubs. Small cartridge filters are located inside the skimmer body, in a niche in the hot tub.
         Filters are measured by their size and filter rate. The filter area is the total surface area of filter media through which water can flow. The filter rate is the rate at which water will pass through one square foot or filter area. Filter rate is measured in gallons per minute per square foot. The filter rate and filter area of a specific filter determine the design flow rate of water it allows to pass through it.

    • Air relief valves
      • What are Air Relief Valves?

          An important safety device on pressure filters is the air-relief valve. The air-relief valve releases pressure, which builds up in the filter tank. Air will accumulate in the top of the filter during the filter cycle and needs to be released before opening the filter. The air-relief system can be automatic or manual (preferable both).
         The air relief valve should be opened periodically for proper operation, and to prevent harm to people or equipment. It may also be easier to prime the pump with the air-relief valve open, allowing air to be quickly released from the system. Always turn off the pump AND open the air-relief valve open, allowing air to be quickly released from the system.  Always turn off the pump AND open the air-relief valve before loosening the clamps on any pressure tank.

    • Sand Filter
      • What is a Sand Filter?

          Filtering water through a layer of fine sand is one of the oldest forms of filtration. Dirt particles in the water are trapped and held in the very small opening between the grains of sand. In addition, gelatinous substances and oils cling to the fine grains of the sand. This process of coagulation enhances the filtering efficiency of sand in capturing very small dirt particles.
         The water enters the filter near the top of the filter tank. It is then dispersed evenly throughout the filter tank by the diffuser or baffle. Some manufacturers call the baffle a splash plate.
         The water is pushed, under pressure, toward the bottom of the filter. As water travels from the diffuser toward the bottom of the filter it is forces through the sand filter media, where the dirt is trapped.
         Using the right sand for a sand filter is critical. The smaller the sand size, the more efficient the filter will be (Able to trap smaller particles). But the filter will also clog more rapidly, and the length of the filter cycle (length of time between backwashing) will decrease. The filter manufacturer will provide specifications for the sand to be used in a particular filter.
         When filling a sand filter with sand, it is important to leave enough freeboard space (between the level top of the sand bed and the lower opening in the diffuser or baffle) usually 8-12 inches. Before the sand is inserted into the tank, add water to the tank until it is above the laterals or under drain. Taking this precaution will reduce the impact of the sand on these sections and will protect them from cracking.
         Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for operating a sand filter.

    • Cleaning a sand filter
      • How do I clean my sand filter?

        As dirt accumulates in the sand bed the resistance to flow increases which causes a reduction in water flow to the pool or spa. When the flow is too low for proper circulation, it is necessary to clean, or backwash, the filter. You can tell when to backwash a sand filter by reading its pressure gauge, and noting the difference between these readings and when the filter was clean. Generally, when the press reaches 8-10 psi over the clean filter reading, the filter should be backwashed. We suggest our customers use the manufacturer’s recommendations on when to backwash a particular filter. It is not advisable to backwash before reaching the recommended pressure increase because high rate sand filters actually work better as they get dirtier. If the filter is backwashed frequently, without regard to pressure increase, it may be unable to trap these particles, and the water will not clear.
         Water entering the filter tank is diverted by valves to the bottom of the tank, causing a reverse flow upward through the sand bed and out to waste. The flow of water during backwash must be sufficient to lift and churn the sand so that the grains of sand rub against each other and scour the dirt from their surfaces.

    • Diatomaceous Earth
      • What is Diatomaceous Earth used for?

        Diatomaceous earth is the most commonly used kind of disposable filter media. Unlike sand filters, in which the filter media is cleaned and reused, the DE filter cake is discarded along with the dirt at the end of the filter cycle.
         Diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of microscopic hard-shelled algae. DE filter cakes are made up of diatom fossils piled one on another to form a fine screen. The openings in the screen allow the flow of water, but block even the smallest particles of debris. CAUTION- DE powder is a health hazard if inhaled. You must use a pollen mask to protect your lungs. Synthetic products, such as perlite, are now available to use DE filters. Be aware that the amount of synthetic product to use can differ greatly from natural DE—follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. DE filters come in several different designs and DE must be added to the filter. In order to figure out how much DE you need to add to your filter, please contact a sales associate at Herb’s Pool Service with any questions you may have. It is important that you add the correct amount of DE or you could ruin the filter.

    • Cartridge
      • What is a cartridge filter and how is it used?

        Cartridge filters are commonly used in residential pools, spas and hot tubs. Water is pumped through the filter and passes through the cartridge. Dirt particles in the water are trapped in the cartridge fabric. Cartridge filters for smaller pools and spas are sometimes attached to the skimmer. Such filters are typically located just below the skimmer basket, and the suction from the pump pulls the water from the skimmer body through the filter cartridge.

    • Sizing
      • How do I know if my filter is the proper size for my pool?

        The proper size filter for a particular pool or spa depends on the desired flow rate. All filters have a filter area measured in square feet. Every filter also has a filter rate. This is the rate at which water can be filtered through one square foot of the filter medium. Filter rates are given in gallons per minute per square foot. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s specifications for the filter rate of a particular filter. 

    • Troubleshooting filters
      • What are the most common causes of filter problems?

        • Feeding chemicals too quickly. Slugs of chlorine powder, alum, coagulating materials or soda ash may be fed through the skimmer or pump faster than they can be dissolved or distributed over the bed of the filter. This will immediately clog the filter surface, increasing the pressure and reducing the flow. This will eventually cause cementing, binding, or channeling of the filter bed
        • Clogging or damaging under drains.
        • Damaging and dislodged distributor or in let baffle plate.
        • Inadequate backwashing.

        If the pressure gauge shows readings higher than normal, the filter effluent piping or pool return fitting may be blocked.
         If you have questions about one of these filters, please contact Herb’s and we can help troubleshoot with you about any problems you may have.

  • Heaters
    • Heater types
      • What are my options for a new heater?

        The heater is an important addition to any swimming pool. Not all pool and spa heaters are alike. Most have unique features; not only in the way they operate, but also in the way they must be installed, serviced and maintained. Therefore, it is very important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

         Heater types- Most pools and spas use one of four heater types:
        • Gas/propane
        • Electric (immersion element heaters)
        • Heat pump
        • Solar heater
        Some use two or more heaters. For example, a natural gas heater may be used to supplement the output of a solar heater or heat pump. Most hot tubs use electric immersion element heaters.

    • Heat pumps
      • What is a heat pump?

        A heat pump is not an electric heater. Inside the heat pump refrigerant is used to capture heat from the surrounding air and transfer it to the water. Electricity is used only to transfer heat, not create it. The fan circulates air through an outer evaporator coil that acts as a heat collector. Liquid refrigerant in the air coil absorbs heat from this air, and is changed to a heated gas.
         Heat pumps cannot heat water quickly. For weekend pool use, it is actually more economical to maintain the water temperature at or near the desired temperature. During the cooler weather, water temperature can drop at least 5 degrees overnight. Thus it is recommended that pools be kept at desired temperature when using a heat pump.
         If the pool will not be in use for a month or more, the heat pump should be turned off or down a few degrees. Even if the heat pump is shut down for only a few days during these cool spells the heater will have to heat the water, the concrete walls, and the bottom of the pool at startup. After a prolonged shutdown it may take several days for the heat pump to bring the water back to the desired temperature.

    • Solar heating
      • Should I invest in a solar system for my pool?

        We want our customers to be aware that a solar heating system is a long range way of reducing fuel costs, not a quick solution. Although sunshine is free, harnessing it requires a high initial investment, which could take several years to recoup. The choice of a solar heating system should only be made after considering climate, the pool/spa environment, fuel costs, possible tax credits, and other factors.
         Solar heaters reduce but do not eliminate energy use. They use pumps and other mechanical components. In practice, they are used to supplement other heating methods in all but the hottest months.

  • Basic Water Chemistry
    • There are some basic rules for handling chemicals that we would like our customers to follow.
      • There are some basic rules for handling chemicals that we would like our customers to follow.

        1. Store chemicals properly in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area- Heat or small amounts of water reacting with a chemical can cause fumes and/or a fire. Proper ventilation of a storage area is important to reduce any buildup of fumes. It is best to store pool/spa chemicals in an area dedicated solely to the chemicals.  Many pool/spa chemicals are corrosive to metal and should not be stored in the same room with metal equipment. Keep pool/spa chemicals away from other chemicals and equipment. Mixing of chemicals may start a chemical reaction, resulting in fire, release of toxic gases, or explosion. Store chemicals away from children. Always keep chemical containers closed when not in use. Replace caps and lids on the proper containers. Do not stack chemical containers on top of each other.
        2. Follow Label directions carefully- When using chemicals, read the label and follow the directions precisely. Always measure the chemical accurately. Use the exact quantities specified. Beware of torn or faded labels. If you don’t know exactly what the chemical is, how old it is or you can’t read the instructions for proper use, don’t use the chemical. If you have any questions please contact a Herb’s sales associate for further questions.
        3. Add chemicals to plenty of pool/spa water. - Chemicals should be applied directly to the pool or spa water through a suitable feeder, or distributed across the surface of the water according to manufacturer’s directions.
        4. Avoid mixing or contaminating chemicals. – Do not mix any chemicals together, either accidentally or intentionally, unless the instructions on the container direct you to do so. Mixing or contamination may cause chemical reaction, resulting in fire, release of toxic fumes, and or/ explosion. Use clean scoops—a different scoop for each chemical—and do not combine materials from old and new containers. Do not place a wet scoop in a chemical container.
        5. Dispose of wastes and spills safely. – Immediately clean up and properly dispose of and chemical spills

    • Sanitizer levels
    • pH
      • What is pH? Why do I need to keep pH in balance?

        pH- It is important to maintain the proper pH to ensure that sanitizers are effective. When the pH rises above   pH is a measure of how acidic or basic the water is; the initials stand for  “potential hydrogen.” The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. Seven is neutral, less than 7 is acidic, and above 7 is basic, or alkaline. For most chlorine-based sanitizers to be effective at killing bacteria and algae, the water’s pH should be maintained ideally between 7.4-7.6, but no less than 7.2 and no more than 7.8
         In addition to the health benefit, if the pH falls outside these ranges, water balance and swimmer comfort could be affected.
         pH also contributes to the water balance. The pH is a measure of the active acidity in pool or spa water. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. Seven is neutral, less than 7 is acidic and above 7 is basic (alkaline) The range of acceptable pH levels in a pool or spa is from 7.2 to 7.8 but the idal range is 7.4 to 7.6. If the pH level is too high or low, it can cause corrosion, skin and eye irritant of swimmer, cloudy water, an ditchy skin.

    • Water clarity
      • What are the benefits to water clarity?

        Water clarity is related to swimmer health in two ways. First, good water clarity helps others identify bathers in distress and helps bather avoid collisions. Second, water that is cloudy or turbid suggest the presence of bacteria and/or algae or nutrients that promote the growth of microorganisms in the water.
         The deepest part of the pool and/or main drain should be visible and sharply defined. Turbit water may suggest that the sanitizer level is too low, the filtration/circulation system may require attention, maintenance practices may be inadequate, or the water is not properly balanced.

    • Temperature
      • What is a good temperature to keep my pool at?

        In general, the ideal temperature range for swimming pool is 78-82 degrees Farenheight, though temperatures may be warmer depending on the type of pool and user. Spa temperatures should not exceed 104 degrees due to potential adverse health effects, excessive fuel requirement, increased evaporation, bather discomfort, increased scaling potential, and increased sanitizer use.
         The temperature of the pool or spa water is a factor in water balance. At high temperatures, calcium becomes less water soluble. Therefore, calcium carbonate forms more easily at high temperatures. In a spa, the temperature should not exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In a pool, the ideal range for water temperature is 78082 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it is hard to control water temperature, particularly in summer, you may have to adjust other water balance factors to compensate for higher water temperature.

    • Calcium Hardness
      • What is calcium hardness?

        Calcium hardness is a measure of the calcium ion concentration in pool and spa water, expressed as calcium carbonate.
         Pool and spas need a certain amount of calcium. If the level of calcium is too low (soft water), the water will be corrosive and will dissolve calcium and other minerals from plaster pool surfaces and metal equipment. If the calcium level is too high, it can cause cloudy water and deposit calcium carbonate scale on pool surface and recirculation equipment, particularly heat exchanging surfaces, as mentioned earlier.
         The calcium hardness should be maintained between 150-1000 ppm in pools, ideally 200-4—ppm. In spas, the range should be between 100-800 ppm, ideally 150-250 ppm.
         We want our customers to make sure they have the proper calcium levels so that they can prevent corrosive water conditions and to prevent super saturation.

    • Total dissolved solids
      • What is total dissolved solids?

        Total dissolved solids is a measure of the total concentration of solids dissolved in the water, expressed in ppm. Total dissolved solids include everything dissolved in the original fill water, any make-up water and rainwater, and everything added through chemical treatment. As water evaporates, the solids remain behind and become more concentrated. Excessively high TDS levels may lead to murky water and corrosion or scaling of fixtures. If you need to operate a pool at higher TDS levels, a change in the water balance formula will be required.

    • Oxidation
      • What is oxidation?

        Oxidation supports sanitation. Oxidizing chemicals, which are sold as shock treatment products, are used to purge pool and spa water of bather wastes and other contaminants, thereby reducing the sanitizer demand and helping to ensure that active sanitizer residuals are available at all times to combat pathogenic organisms. Regular oxidation is recommended to prevent the build-up of contaminants, maximize sanitizer efficiency, minimize combined chlorine and improve water clarity. Ozone systems can also be installed for supplementary oxidation to a portion of the water that is circulated through the filtration system.

    • Shocking & Superchlorination
      • What is shocking my pool water?

        Shocking is a term used to describe adding a large concentration of an oxidizing chemical in an effort to drive a chemical reaction. Most chemical reactions take place under conditions of extreme pH, temperature, pressure, or concentration. We recommend a regular preventive shocking rather than a corrective approach so that there is never a problem. Doing this will produce consistently better water quality and reduces the frequency of poor water quality incidents. Please contact Herb’s so that we can advise you of the type of product to use for your oxidation.

  • Hot water chemistry
  • Water testing
    • Water testing
      • Why is it important I test my water?

        There are many problems that can result if our customers don’t regularly test their pool water. Not sanitizing enough can cause the water to become hazy and tinted with color. Slimy film develops on sides and bottom, staining surfaces. Algae can grow and harbor bacteria that cause eye, ear or throat infections. Adding too much sanitizer may cause irritation for swimmers, bleaching of hair, bathing suits, etc. When the pH is too low, it can also be irritating to swimmers and can also corrode surface finishes, plaster and equipment. When the pH is too high, cloudy water, scale, sanitizer takes longer to kill bacteria, irritating to swimmers. All of these problems can be prevented by regular accurate water testing and chemical adjustment. We want to stress that before performing any test, read the test kit instructions CAREFULLY.
         Some tips to doing water tests are
        • Collect water samples from several areas for more accurate water testing because the water sample must represent the entire body of water.
        • Rinse the test tube with test water. Never use a test tube over again without rinsing out. Rinse the tue three times with the water sample to be tested, and then fill to the desired line. The water sample should be tested promptly after being collected.
        • Measure carefully. Carefully measure the sample of water to be tested. Water in a tube will form a meniscus that is higher around the edges and lower in the center. The tube should be filled so that the bottom of the mescus is sitting upon the line.
        • Hold vertical, cap, and don’t use fingers. When using reagents, hold the reagent bottle vertically when dispensing drops. Add the required amount and immediately recap the bottle. Never interchange the caps of reagent containers. When the reagents are in tablet form, avoid handling tablets with fingers. If tables are nt sealed individually, shake one table into the container cap and add the tablet to the test tube. 
        • Test sanitizer residual, pH, TA, calcium hardness, and cyanuric acid. First test the sanitizer to make sure the level is not too high to affect other tests. Then test pH, TA, calcium hardness, and cyanuric acid levels.
        • Test kits are designed to be read in daylight.
        • Watch the record of test results
        • Don’t use the same test tube for both chlorine and pH tests.
        • Store the test equipment properly. Make sure test reagents are stored away from children and animals. Don’t store test equipment in high heat. Store in a cool, dry place indoors if there is a possibility of freezing. Keep reagents away from all treatment chemicals. Don’t expose test reagents and color comparators to direct sunlight, freezing, or high temperatures for long periods of time.

    • Testing for sanitizer
      • What are sanitizers and what are they used for?

        The most important thing for public and personal health, is sanitation. Chemicals called sanitizers are added to pool and spa water to protect swimmers and bathers against disease and infection. The key to good sanitation is making sure that a measurable active sanitizer residual is maintained at all times. This active residual is maintained at all times. This active residual goes to work killing bacteria and algae when the bacteria or algae are introduced into the pool water and provides the protection bathers require for a safe and enjoyable swimming experience.
         These sanitizer levels should be regularly monitored via an appropriate test kit. Various chemical options are available to deliver the sanitizer residual level into the water. Chlorine is the most widely used sanitizer for swimming pools and spas. When a chlorine sanitizer is added to pool or spa water, free available chlorine is formed. The work of sanitation is done by FAC, Bromine, or biguanide, and by supplementary sanitizers such as mineral systems and ozone.
         To maintain proper sanitation, the FAC should be continuously maintained between 1.0 and 4.0 parts per million. The combined chlorine level should not exceed .2 ppm and ideally should be 0.0 ppm. The combined chlorine is the difference between the measured total available chlorine and the free available chlorine.
         In the presence of excess bather waste, chlorine can combine with nitrogen containing organic matter to form combined chlorine compounds known as chloramines. The formation of chloramines is undesirable for several reasons: free chlorine is consumed in the process, chloramines are much less effective sanitizers than free chlorine, and chloramines can produce irritation.
         When a bromine sanitizer is used in swimming pool/spa water, hypobromous acid is formed. To maintain an acceptable water quality, the total bromine level should be continuously maintained at a minimum of 1.0 ppm for pools, 2.0 ppm for spas. For public pools, the acceptable range is 1.0 ppm-8.0 ppm. For public spas it is 2.0-8.0 ppm. The most common forms of bromine used in public and residential pools are
        • Bromine Tablets
        • Two-step bromine system
        When a biguanide sanitizer is used in pool or spa water, the ideal level should be continuously maintained between 30 and 50 ppm. The EPA has also registered at least one system for pools and spas that uses silver as a sanitizer.
        , chlorine sanitizers are less effective in killing bacteria and algae. 

      • How do I test how much sanitizer is in my pool water?

        The two most widely used reagents for determining levels of sanitizer in pool and spa water are diethyl-p-phenylene diamine (DPD) and orthotolidine (OTO). OTO is not the preferred reagent, but is still in use. The DPD test reagents are used to measure chlorine or bromine levels. DPD tests measure both free available chlorine, (Stabilized and unstabilized) and total chlorine. The free available chlorine level reflects the difference between the free chlorine and the total chlorine readings tells you the level of combined chlorine. For chlorine-disinfected pools/spas, DPD testing is recommended over OTO testing, because you can measure the differences between the free chlorine and total chlorine levels. OTO tests only total chlorine. A bromine residual can be measured with either OTO or DPD test reagents.

    • Testing for pH
      • How do I test for the pH level in my pool water?

        The pH level is a measure of acidity or basicity of water. Some test kits may include acid and/or base demand reagents, and tables to determine how much acid or base must be added to adjust the pH to the proper level. The pH indicator is an organic dye that exhibits a color determined by the degree of acidity of the water test sample. Test strops specifically for pH readings in a chlorine pool are available. The pH pad is compared to a color chart.

        A chlorine or bromine concentration higher than 10 ppm may discolor pH test strips or the dye in the water test sample. High levels of chlorine can convert phenol red into another pH indicator, chlorophenol red. This new indicator is a dark purple at pH 6.6 and a pool operator may  think that the purple color indicates that the pH is too high and add acid to the pool when it is not needed. Electronic pH meters are also available, please ask a Herb’s sales associate to help you decide what option is best suitable for you

    • Testing for Total Alkalinity
      • Why is it important to test for total alkalinity?

        TA(total alkalinity) should be tested on every service call, to make sure the desired range is maintained. It may require more than one treatment to reach the ideal range of 80-120 ppm. TA does not change suddenly, like pH. TA rises gradually when you add baking soda, refill the pool or spa with water having high TA, or add basic sanitizers such as sodium hypochlorite. TA falls slowly when you add acid, or refill the pool or spa with low TA water, or an acidic sanitizer like chlorine gas or trichlor.

    • Testing for Calcium hardness
      • Why test for calcium hardness?

        Calcium hardness increases with the use of sanitizers containing calcium, and usually changes slowly as the water evaporates. It may change more rapidly when source water is added, depending on the amount of calcium in the source water.  Calcium hardness can be reduced by water loss from backwashing, bather splash, and runoff, and also from leaks in the structure and piping. The amount of change due to these causes depends on how much more calcium hardness in introduced from the source water. The calcium hardness range should be maintained between 150-1000 ppm in pool, ideally 200-400 ppm. Maintaining the proper calcium hardness is more difficult in spas than in pools, because, in hotter water, calcium is less soluble and tends to precipitate out as scale on surfaces and equipment.  We suggest you test for calcium hardness levels monthly.

    • Testing for Cyanuric acid
      • What is cyanuric acid? Why do I use it in my pool?

        Cyanuric acid stabilizes chlorine product from being deactivated by the ultraviolet rays of the sun. The recommended level of cyanuric acid is 30-50 ppm, with a maximum of 100 ppm. Below 25 ppm, its chlorine-extending property is reduced, and levels above 50 ppm do not increase its effectiveness.

    • Testing for Metals (copper, iron)
      • How do I test for metals in my water?

        Test kits for determining levels of copper and iron in water are readily available. Tests usually require adding two reagents to a water sample. The presence of a metal is indicated by a change in color in the sample. Since various manufacturers of tests kits use different reagents for this test, the color reaction could be blue, pink, yellow orange or some other color. Refer to the directions provided with your test kit. Large amounts of metals in the water may necessitate laboratory procedures to obtain accurate readings.

    • Testing for salt
      • How do I test for salt?

        Since some chlorine generators depend on maintain the proper salt concentration, it too should be monitored. Chlorine generators use sodium chloride salt. The concentration of sodium chloride is tested by using a test strop, a salt meter, or by titration.
         The test strips have a range of 0-6,000 ppm. Dip the strip into the water and remove it; then wait for 30 seconds for the color to develop. Match this color to a concentration on the test strip color chart.

    • Testing for Nitrate and phosphate
      • What are Nitrates and Phosphates?

        Since these are nutrients for algae and can produce a high chlorine demand, they are occasionally monitored, particularly in rural areas.
         There are several methods for testing nitrate and phosphate levels. In testing nitrate, the nitrate is reduced to nitrite. This step is important and you should follow the directions precisely.

         Phosphate testing also involves a reduction step, but this is not as critical as with nitrate. Phosphate can be a problem at very low concentrations. The amount of color produced at these concentrations is very low, so you usually have to compare the colors looking down the length of the test cell, rather than across the cell as with most tests.

    • Test kits
    • Test strips
      • What do test strips test for and where can I get them?

        Test strips are available for most of the tests we have gone over. Please go into one of our Herb’s locations to pick some up and talk to a technician about which test strips you will need.

    • Trouble shooting
      • How do I trouble shoot my water chemistry?

        Frequent testing is one of the most important steps in maintaining spa water. Most health departments require water tests for pH and sanitizer levels every hour or at least twice a day for public spas. Check local regulations. Use a test kit recommended by health departments for testing spa water. Testing procedures are for the most part the same as for a pool
         There are some problems that you may encounter when testing spa water with a high sanitizer residual, high pH, or both. Remember to add neutralizers to prevent interference from chlorine/bromine.
         Water with a high sanitizer concentration may be difficult to test accurately. Test may yield inaccurate results because of bleaching or other interference.
         DPD test results will bleach or fade at sanitizer levels above 10 ppm chlorine or bromine, causing a false reading. If so, dilute the sample with an equal amount of
         Non-chlorine shocks containing monopersulfate can interfere with DPD nos. 3 and 4. These shocks may be used to oxidize organics and to reactivate bromide salts. The oxidizing agent interferes when measuring total chlorine, giving a false combined residual, even though chloramines or bromamines any not be present. Most test kit manufacturers have developed new reagent sto compensate for this interference.
         Wide range test kits are useful if the spa water pH goes outside the range of 6.8 to 8.2 False pH readings can be caused by interference of the test sample by chlorine or bromine if the spa has very high levels of sanitizer. Be sure you use a chlorine neutralizer solution or an indicator that includes an anti-bleaching material.
         Bromine-disinfected spa water itself may turn yellow or green (sometimes with a strong odor) if the pH is low. This can happen whether metals are present or not. Stop adding pH decreaser immediately. Test and adjust TA. Then test and adjust pH. Normal color will return when the pH is above 7.2. If metals are present, tadd stain controller before balancing.
         Remember that a chlorine/bromine neutralizer may be needed to prevent false readings from bleaching.

  • Ancillary Pool & Spa Products
    • Basic information
      • How to prevent algae bloom?

        Most of our auxiliary products for pools and spas are used together with a sanitizer to help prevent or correct undesirable conditions, such as algae blooms or cloudy water. As with all pool and spa products, carefully follow all label directions. Be sure to maintain an appropriate concentration of the compatible, EPA-registered sanitizer.
         Spa products can differ from pool products in formula, concentration and dosage. Typically, the amount of a product required for a stand-alone spa is very small as compared to a pool. Improperly used products will affect water chemistry and sanitizer efficacy, and may damage surfaces and equipment.

    • Algae treatment
      • What are the types of algae found in my pool/spa? How do I prevent algae?

        Algae can be a problem in outdoor pools and spas. Although there are several species, algae are commonly known by color; green, black, and yellow (mustard). Green algae are the most common, while black and mustard algae are usually the most difficult to kill.
         Prevention is by far the best way to control algae. Maintaining an appropriate sanitizer residual, burshing pool and spa surfaces frequently, and cleaning skimmer surfaces regularly, will help discourage alge growth. Algaecides which are better known as algae killer are usually used on a regular basis to help prevent the growth of algae.
         Dirty filters can provide nutrients necessary for algae growth and may even protect algae from an algicide, so chemically cleaning the filter is recommended. When algae do appear, treat with a suitable product such as chlorine, but follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
         Some algaecides will kill grass if backwashed onto the law. Always check the label for directions, and dispose of backwash water according to local regulations.
         Chlorine is the most commonly used oxidizing treatment for algae. Liquid or granular chlorine shock products are used to achieve concentrations of at least 10 ppm in order to kill algae that are either free-floating or attached to surfaces. Resistant algae may require levels of 20-30- ppm.
         Brush the clinging algae with a wire brush and vacuum to remove dead algae. Several treatments and brushings may be necessary for heavier growths. Algae growing on plaster surfaces can be difficult to remove. In these cases, use a pumice stone to dislodge embedded algae.

    • Clarifiers
      • What is a clarifier and what does it do?

        Clarifiers help suspended particles to combine into larger ones, so that the filter can remove them, or so they can settle to the bottom to be vacuumed up.

    • Defoamers
      • Why would I need a defoamer?

        In spas, excess foaming can be caused by high bather loads, high organic residue, aeration from the jets, high pH, and high temperature. In these cases, defoamers can be used to reduce or eliminate the foam. Defoamers are products that help break up and dissipate the foam but be careful not to overuse this because it may cause a scum line to form at the waterline and in the skimmer. If foam problems continue after treatment with defoamers, review the basics of water care.

    • Filter Cleaners
      • Why do I need to clean my filter?

        Routine filter cleaning will extend the life and efficiency of the filter. Greases and oils accumulate in filters and normally require an alkaline degreaser product. Residential spa filters normally need cleaning every six weeks although commercial spas require more frequent cleaning. If scale is a problem, use an acidic descaler after using the degreaser. New one-step products with low pH are also available to remove grease surfactants.
         Some operators suggest that the filter should be periodically sanitized after cleaning. Follow the filter manufacturer’s instructions.

    • Stain & scale control
      • What are stain and scale controllers?

        Stain and scale controllers are sequestering agents. They hold metal ions in solution, so they do not precipitate to form stains and deposits on walls and floors. A sequestering agent will not remove old stains or scale.
         Where fill water has a high metal content or high calcium hardness, sequestering agents are often used weekly or monthly as part of routine maintenance program. As is the case with all pool and spa products, follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully.
         In spas, stain and scale controllers are important because higher temperatures may lead to higher pH. High pH can lead to greater problems with scaling and staining.
         Many stain and scale controllers are formulated with phosphonates, which can lead to a buildup of phosphates in the pool or spa that can promote algae growth and cause cloudy water.

    • Enzymes
      • Why are emzymes good for my pool or spa?

        Numbers of enzyme solutions are available for use in pools and spas. Enzymes are reported to be effective at preventing and eliminating scum lines, degrading oils and lotions and cleaning filters. Tehse products do not sanitize water or kill microorganisms. Therefore, an EPA-registered sanitizer must be used in pools or spas treated with enzymes.

    • Fragrances
      • Are there spa fragrances?

        Fragrances can be used to enhance the experience of soak in a spa. They can be applied directly to the spa in a liquid or granular form and are usually packaged in bottles or pillow bags.

    • Surface cleaners
      • Can I use household products in my pool or spa?

        Use only products made for use in pools or spas. Most household cleaners are not compatible with the chemicals used in pools and spas. They may cause foaming, bather irritation or damage to equipment. Surface cleaners may be needed in a spa more frequently than in a pool to remove scum lines. As with all pool and spa chemicals, follow product directions carefully. Never use abrasives on tile or plastic surfaces, unless recommended.

  • Maintenance
    • Daily pool maintenance
      • How do I maintain my pool on a daily basis?

        Regular thorough cleaning will help to maintain efficient operation and lengthen the life of the pool. We want to stress that our customer maintain their pools by cleaning it. Some other suggestions are
        1. Check the water level. Start adding water as necessary. Anticipate backwash waste, leakage, evaporation, etc.
        2. Collect debris on surface and bottom. Splash water on the tile, and pick up leaves and other debris. Using a leaf skimmer or leaf rake, remove debris, first from the surface and then from the bottom. It is much easier to remove debris from the surface than to dredge the bottom.
        3. Check equipment connections for leaks.
        4. Test the sanitizer and pH levels.
        5. Add sanitizer and adjust pH if they are not in acceptable ranges. When adding chemicals, follow the manufacturer’s directions to prevent damage or staining of the pool surface. Equipment should circulate during, and for the next 3-4 hours after adding chemicals. Brush pool between the addition of any dry chemicals. Always follow chemical label instructions for application method.

    • Weekly pool maintenance
      • What steps do I take to clean my pool on a weekly basis?

        1. Check and correct water level.
        2. Collect debris on surface and bottom.
        3. Clean tile. In a vinyl-lined or fiberglass construction, us non-abrasive cleaners. There are special tile cleaners that can be applied with a brush. Never use steel wool. The iron particles can stain the finish and scratch the tile. You also want to make sure to remove light scale deposits from the tile.
        4. Brush walls and bottom uniformly.
        5. Check and clean all skimmers and pump strainer baskets. Before vacuuming or backwashing, make sure all debris is removed from the skimmer baskets and hair/lint strainer baskets. This ensures maximum suction. Do this again after vacuuming.
        6. Check the pressure gauge on the filter to see if the filter needs backwashing or cartridge cleaning. If you are following regular maintenance procedures, the filter should run for a week or more before backwashing or cartridge cleaning is required.
        7. Vacuum the walls and floor. Vacuum at least once a week, more often if wind and rain have brought in a large amount of debris.
        8. Test the sanitizer, pH, and total alkalinity levels.
        9. Make corrections (as needed) to the total alkalinity, and then adjust the pH, and finally the sanitizer, Pre-dilute chemicals before adding.

    • Monthly pool maintenance
      • What do I need to do every month for my pool?

        Same as Daily and Weekly Maintenance, plus…
        1. Clean the coping and decking. Sweep or brush the deck and coping away from the pool. Be careful when disposing of wastewater so that decks and lawn are not damaged. Check federal and local regulations on disposal of all waste fluids.
        2. Test for calcium hardness level, and adjust if needed.
        3. Test for cyanuric acid level, and adjust if needed.
        4. Add a sequestering agent (also called chelating agent, or stain and scale controller). Wait one hour.
        5. If the filter is not a DE filter, you may want to add a clarifying agent to help filter out organic matter. Shock treats the pool immediately afterward, to oxidize accumulated organic material and waste that tie up the sanitizer. One hour after shock treatment, add an algaecide.

    • Periodic pool maintenance
      • Is there any periodic maintenance needed?

        We also recommend that as well as maintaining the cleanliness of the pool and spa, to also maintain the support system of the pool and spa which includes the filter, pump, pump motor and heater. It is important to thoroughly check this equipment as part of your regular cleaning procedure. We suggest to backwash and service the filter, add chemicals as needed and clean pool accessories.

    • Spa maintenance
      • How do I care for my spa?

        For spas, water care is the central part of routine maintenance. The following stepes in routine water care for spas may be used when manufacturer’s instructions are not available.
        • Maintain physical equipment
        • Maintain proper water balance temperature.
        • Sanitize continuously
        • Shock frequently.
        • Drain periodically
        Successful water maintenance depends on frequent, consistent, and accurate water testing.

    • Cleaning equipment
      • How do I clean my pool equipment?

        There are many things that you can buy to clean your equipment such as leaf skimmers, brushes and extension pools and brushes. We recommend that you talk to a Herb’s associate or have one of our technicians come out and clean your pool.

    • Automatic cleaners
      • What are the advantages of automatic pool cleaners?

        We have several automatic cleaner options. Automatic pool cleaning equipment has become increasingly popular. Some advantages to automatic cleaning equipment is that it is continuous and available at all times, it saves labor cots over time. Contact a sales associate to see what automatic cleaner best suits you.

    • Robotic cleaners
      • What is a Robotic cleaner?

        Robotic cleaners are available for aboveground, onground and inground pools of all sizes. No piping or system considerations are required of the builder, except to install a GFCI outlet as close to the pool as codes allow.
         Robotic pool cleaners are not connected to the pool’s circulation system. They are self-contained scrubbers, vacuums and filters, all in one unit, that clean the pool surfaces.
         Once lowered into the pool and turned on, the unit cleans the floors and walls in a programmed course, influenced by the flow of the returns and the shape of the pool. The unit brushes the surface to loosen dirt and debris. It then vacuums up the debris and filters it out of the water before discharging the filtered water back into the pool or spa. By using its own filter system, it allows the pool filter to function for a longer period of time between cleanings, reducing the need to discharge water to waste. Many robotic units can be controlled by a remote control unit, for example, to spot-clean specific areas when the whole pool doesn’t need cleaning.

    • Start up of new pool/plaster
      • What steps do I take to start up my pool or newly plastered pool/spa?

        General Startup Procedures
        1. Calculate pool or spa water capacity
        2. Test the source water.
        3. Use sequestering agent only if manufacturer recommends
        4. Start equipment and brush pool.
        5. Establish a sanitizer residual.
        6. Recheck the water balance. For outdoor pools, add stabilizer.
        7. Begin normal sanitizing
        8. Clean filter and check circulation equipment.
        9. Clean filter and check circulation equipment.

        Start-up of Freshly Plastered Pools/Spas-
        Plaster dust is the calcium hydroxide in new plaster reacting with the water’s carbonate alkalinity, and precipating out as calcium carbonate. This dust is so fine that it can pass right through most sand filters and some cartridge filters. If left in the water, it will attach to surfaces and form scale.
         A new plaster finish will start to hydrate immediately after mixing, with most of the hydration taking place in the 28 days. This is when a finish is most susceptible to damage and discoloration. Proper startup is mandatory, including timely brushing and constant monitoring and adjusting of the water. If the total alkalinity or calcium hardness is too low, the water will take calcium out of the plaster. If the total alkalinity or calcium hardness is too high, the water will deposit scale on the new plaster finish. Always add a chemical to water, never water to the chemical.
         After filling the pool always make sure to test the pH the day after.

    • Off-season servicing (mild climate)
      • How do I maintain my pool or spa in the off season?

        In mild climates during the off-season, the pool or spa should be maintained at all normal levels. These include maintaining the water level, continuing regular sanitizing schedules, and retaining proper pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness levels. The circulation of unheated water through the entire system will generally keep the equipment reasonable free of problems, even during occasional freezing periods. Some pools will be covered to prevent debris. Uncovered pools and spas must be kept free of debris, such as leaves and other materials. Dirt, oil scum and airborne debris the tile line. Twice a month cleaning is recommended for optimum care; at least once a month is the minimum. The pH must be regulated to prevent calcification or etching. Airborne debris from smog and other sources as well as acid rain have definite effect on pH. Repairs, replacement of equipment and heavier maintenance tasks should be scheduled for the off-season when the pool or spa is inactive. However, if freezing weather is possible schedule repairs or replacement prior to that period. A sudden temperature decrease could demand use of equipment not in service.
         Generally heaters will not be used during the off season. Service gas or oil units as needed, to ensure that the full water flow will circulate during any freezing period. During the off-season, the main circulation pump/filter should remain running. Other equipment can be dismantled, drained, removed and or/stored. All equipment should be serviced according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Set the filter system for two-hour circulation a day under normal circumstances. If a freeze is predicted, set it on 24 hour circulation.
         The schedule for adding sanitizer and oxidizer to uncovered pools or spas can be decreased according to the temperature drops. The correct pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness must be maintained to prevent scaling or etching.
         Even if you use a pool cover in the off season, the pool must still be maintained almost as it is during active use. Covers keep out dirt, leaves, and other debris. It also helps to conserve chemicals. There

    • Winterizing in severe climate
      • Why should I winterize my pool?

        In climates where freezing temperatures are normal, a pool or spa should be completely winterized by cleaning, treating water and protecting the pool and equipment from weather related problems. We suggest cleaning (vacuuming thoroughly), testing the water, balancing the pH, calcium hardness, and total alkalinity. Chemically treating the water and lowering the water level.

  • Covers
    • Spa Covers
      • Why should I have a cover on my spa?

        A cover can significantly decrease heat loss from a spa. Spas lose heat more rapidly than pools because of the greater difference between the water and air temperatures. Spa covers come in several varieties. Most are made of a marine grade vinyl over lightweight rigid foam insulating material. They are custom-made to the spa’s dimensions and are available in a variety of qualities and colors and styles. To meet the ASTM standard for safety covers, they must lock in place.
         Since spa covers remain on the spa over 80 percent of the time, customers should consider the value of a high-quality cover both for appearance and longevity. Customers should know that they can prolong the life of the cover by keeping it clean. They should also learn to remove the cover correctly, not straining its tie-down straps. The bottom of the cover should also be protected.
         Due to the high temperatures and chemical content of spa water, spa covers can deteriorate more rapidly than pool covers. We advise your customers to wait one hour to re-cover their spas after adding chlorine. Foam covers absorb moisture because of the penetrating ability of hot, wet air; and eventually, the cover will need to be replaced.
         One way to prolong the life of a rigid foam-insulating cover is to use a floating cover beneath it. These can be the translucent bubble-type solar blanket or a flexible foam insulator cover.
         The rigid cover’s outer surface may be treated with carefully chosen cover cleaners or protectants. Cleaners with alcohol, silicone or petroleum distillates can have negative effects on the cover’s vinyl. Some natural ingredients such as neat’s foot oil carnauba wax, beeswax and saddle soap will not strip the vinyl of these natural protective waxes.

    • Solar blankets
      • What is a solar blanket?

        Solar blankets for pools and spas are usually made of lightweight bubble-type plastic material, which floats on the water surface. The bubbles retain air and form an effective insulating layer above the hot water, retaining heat. In mild weather, these covers are often used to extend the swimming season or to retain heat when temperatures fall considerably at night. These covers will also reduce evaporation which will help with water loss. Solar blankets for pools can be fitted with automatic rollers or reels for easy removal. We want our customers to be aware that poor water balance will quickly deteriorate a solar blanket which is why we recommend checking your chemical balance regularly.

    • Automatic and manual safety covers
      • Why should I invest in a automatic pool cover?

         Automatic and manual safety covers- There are many benefits to an automatic cover.

        1. Safety-
        • Cover is secured into tracks at the sides of the pool.
        • Cover can support the weight of several people at once.
        • Cover meets or exceeds ASTM Safety Standards.
        2. Savings-
        • Water—Cover seals off the pool and eliminates evaporation when the pool is not in use.
        • Heat— Covers can reduce heating costs by approximately 60% if your pool is heated. For non-heated pools, covers can keep the heat gain from daytime sealed into the pool at night. Cover increases pool water temperature approximately 10 degrees when the sun is shining on the surface of the cover.
        • Chemical Usage—cover reduces chemical usage by sealing off the pool; eliminates chemical usage when the pool is not in use.
        • Electrical Usage—cover keeps dirt out and heat in. The pump and filter need to operate only a few hours each day.
        3. Convenience –
        • The removal and covering of the pool are so simple; people are more likely to cover the pool when not in use.
        • The pool season can be greatly extended without owners incurring additional expense by keeping the pool heated longer and for less money.
        • Dirt, leaves, sand, and debris fall on the top of the cover, not into the pool water.
        • In some cases, the cover can be used as a winter cover as it will support the weight of snow and ice, as long as the water level in the pool remains up during the winter.
        • The cover will keep the pool clean throughout the off-season.

        It is important to be aware that debris and water can collect on top of solid fabric covers. Pumps must be used to remove the standing water and make the pool/spa area safer. Make sure there are no holes in the cover when pumping, or you could be removing pool water.
         When removing a pool cover at the end of the winter, be careful not to harm grass and plants. Water on cover can be very acidic at that time.