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Small Yard? Get a Hot Tub Instead of a Pool

strong_headerI freely admit that I am a “hot tub person”. Yes, I do like swimming pools, and I would be happy to have a small one in my back yard. I would like a pool as a water feature, to sit next to and enjoy a tasty beverage while gazing at the sparkling water. In reality, I can’t afford to have an inground pool and I find above ground pools to be an obstruction. I know, many people will say that they need a pool for the kids, and that’s good too. But, there are many reasons why you might forego the pool for a hot tub. And, kids love hot tubs too!

You can use a hot tub every day of the year.

But wait! It’s too hot in the summer to get in a hot tub, isn’t it?

Who says a hot tub has to be “hot”? In the summer you can turn your tub’s temperature down to about 84° and it is cool and refreshing without being chilling as a pool can be.  A lot of people spend a ton of money trying to heat their pools so they can actually enjoy them without the pain of getting acclimated to the cold temperature.  A hot tub can be comfortably cool without the extra expense of heating equipment and gas to heat with.

It is especially refreshing to get into your cool hot tub after a sweaty lawn mowing session, or to slip into a cool tub on one of those muggy summer nights and just relax and stargaze.

A hot tub doesn’t take up so much space in  your yard.

A typical hot tub is about 7′ square.  It is just a small space compared to the big bite that even a small 12X24 inground pool will take out of your yard.  And an inground pool needs to be fenced, so there is even more of your yard used up for the pool area.

In the off-season, a pool is covered and makes for a large part of your yard that is un-useable for most of the year.

The small footprint of a hot tub leaves you ample room for a fire pit, barbecue area, patio furniture, gazebo, etc.  All of which are useable for much longer than just pool season.

A hot tub doesn’t block your view.

Have you ever seen one of those 24′ above ground pools in someone’s yard?  They stand a little over 4′ tall (without a deck) and block the view of the rest of the yard.  In this part of the country, you can probably use your pool for about three months out of the year.  The other nine months, it is an ugly thing with a bag over it!  (I know,  The kids want a pool.)

A hot tub costs less to operate than a pool. (Or a puppy.)

beagle_puppy_pictureYes, really!  When you consider that a typical pool in the northeast is open for four months, and the typical cost of electricity for running a pool pump the minimum 12 hours per day (pool industry experts recommend running the filtration system 24-7) is about $75 per month.  Chemical costs to sanitize the pool are about $200 or more per season.  Spring pool openings and Fall pool closings add more to the cost with expensive winterizing chemicals and covers.  People who don’t want to or can’t open and close their own pools will pay $250 or $300 (or more) for someone else to open and close.  If something happens to cause your pool water to go wonky, then you might spend additional hundreds of dollars for chemicals to fix the water situation.

A hot tub will cost you about $50 per month for electricity.  In the winter.  In the summer, you may not even notice any extra on your bill.  It is the heater that costs the most to operate, and that depends on how cold it is outside, how much the cover is off of it, and how hot you like to keep your tub.  In the summer, with the tub cool, the pump only runs a couple of times per day (depending on settings) to do filtration for about 20 minutes each time, and whenever you get in it to kick the jets on.

You will use a slightly higher concentration of sanitizer for a hot tub due to the warmer water and higher people-to-water ratio than a pool.  Still, you are only sanitizing 300 to 400 gallons of water, usually rather than the 10,000 or more in a pool.  You will use chemicals by the tablespoonful rather than by the pound.  The pool is also exposed to the elements, meaning acid rain gets in there along with leaves, dust, twigs, bugs, bird droppings, etc.  The hot tub is covered when you are not in it, so it minimizes the elemental influence.  As a result, it costs less for chemicals for a hot tub than it would for a pool.

If your hot tub water gets really bad, you can just change it!

Yes, sometimes a hot tub can get so icky (usually from neglecting the hot tub maintenance) that it would take a lot of chemicals to  fix the water.  Why bother?  You can much more easily just drain the hot tub and refill it with fresh, clean water and start over.  You certainly wouldn’t drain and refill a 10,000+ gallon pool unless it was a last resort.

Your hot tub will be especially wonderful on those crisp winter nights.

0000790_dsa54l-hot-tub-5-6-seatsEven though you may have some lovely spot out in the garden for your hot tub, you will want to keep it close to the house.  If you have to shovel a path out to the garden in order to use your tub you will end up not using it much.  Winter is some of the best time to be in the hot tub.  You get into it before you have time to get cold and then you are sitting in nice hot water up to your neck while breathing that icy cold, clear winter air.  Gently falling snow will add to the wonderfulness of your hot tub.  Be sure to have a place to stow your towels while you are in the tub so they are not covered in a pile of snow when you get out!

When you get out of your hot tub, you will be so toasty warm that you won’t even feel the cold and you’ll have plenty of time to wrap up, add some chemicals and close the cover before you go inside.

What would your pool be doing in the winter?  Oh, yes, covered over and frozen.

Soothe your aches and pains in your hot tub.

0000788_dsa54l-hot-tub-5-6-seats It is amazing how you can spend half a day shoveling snow and get all stiffened up.  Just spend 20 minutes soaking in your hot tub and you are like brand new again!  Afternoon of leaf-raking or gutter-cleaning?  Get renewed in your hot tub!

Sure, a lot of people say they exercise in their pool but exercising in warm water is especially recommended for people with arthritis or fibromyalgia.  Even a small tub has enough room for stretching and exercising your arms and legs.  Warm water and hydro-massage increases your circulation and eases pain.

There are many reasons why a hot tub may be the better choice for you.

10626719_875953545807641_4604190124063621845_nGive it some thought, bring a bathing suit, and try out one of our tubs at the store.  Compare tubs, feel the different kinds of jets, get the information you need to help you decide.

 

Why we don’t build gunite pools

(See for yourself!)

Here's what to expect from gunite!We have been in business for over 35 years and have learned along the way what are the best options for our area. Here are some reasons why not to get a gunite pool.

  • Gunite, Marcite and Concrete are all basically different names for the same end result. It has a very rough surface and must be plastered to make it smooth.
  • The pool must be re-plastered every 3 to 7 years in a price range of $3000 to $8000
  • The plaster is porous and prone to stains and discoloration and as it ages it gets very rough and causes scrapes on swimmers’ toes, knees and elbows. Painting can help.
  • That porous surface also hides algae and means more chemicals to treat it and more electricity for circulating the chemicals.
  • The surface of a gunite pool will affect the water chemistry of the pool and require more chemicals to keep the water balanced (and avoid damaging the surface)
  • Painting the pool will help protect the plaster. Pool paint costs $60 to $120 per gallon. Usually four or five gallons.  Expect to repaint the pool every 3 to 5 years.
  • Repairing and repainting the gunite pool requires acid washing the pool with at least a 50/50 concentration of acid to water, sprayed on and brushed while wearing protective clothing.
  • To repaint the pool you must acid wash the entire surface and wait a week to ten days for it to dry. Then after painting, you must allow the paint to dry another week to ten days before putting any water in it.
  • Use good paint because if it fails, the only remedy is to remove it by sandblasting
  • After painting the pool so many times the paint has built up to a point where you really need to have it all removed by sandblasting down to the bare concrete and start again
  • There is rubberized pool paint and epoxy pool paint. You need to know which you have before repainting because you need to put the same type of paint on or it will not stick
  • Suction automatic cleaners can pull off the skim coat of plaster
  • Plaster repairs are expensive!
  • The initial coat of plaster bonds pretty well because both surfaces are new, but if surfaces are not carefully and properly prepared for re-plastering, it will pop off and have to be redone
  • It is not impossible to re-plaster your own pool, but after you look up the directions you may change your mind about taking on all that work yourself
  • Re-painting the pool yourself is a little more manageable, but you can expect to have your pool tied up for three weeks or more while you do it

Did we mention a gunite pool is EXPENSIVE?

Here’s why we DO install vinyl liner inground pools!typhoon_pool_slide_red

  • A vinyl liner inground pool is much less expensive to purchase and install
  • The vinyl liner is smooth to the touch – no scraped toes and knees!
  • The non-porous vinyl liner is not so prone to stains as is gunite
  • A vinyl liner inground pool takes about one week to install.  A gunite one takes six to eight weeks.
  • A vinyl liner will typically last about 10 years or more before it needs to be replaced
  • It is much less expensive to replace a vinyl liner than to re-plaster a gunite pool
  • A vinyl liner does not have pores to trap algae and does not affect the water balance of your pool the way a gunite pool will
  • Vinyl liners are available in a wide range of colors and designs to suit every decor. Gunite can be tiled to pretty it up, which also makes it even more expensive and difficult to repair
  • A vinyl liner can be replaced in one day. Repainting a gunite pool will have your pool down for two to three weeks.

If you really want to acid wash and paint your pool, here’s how:

(They are recommending epoxy paint, but if your pool was painted with rubberized pool paint rather than epoxy, it is important that you re-paint with rubberized paint.)
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Salt Water Pool Chlorination

Is it a salt water pool, or is it a chlorine pool?

We have lost count of how many times a customer has said:

  • “I don’t use chlorine, I have a salt water pool.”
  • “We don’t use any chemicals, we have a salt pool.”
  • “My [insert familial relation here] is allergic to chlorine so we use salt instead.”

While salt chlorine generators are becoming more popular, the misconceptions abound.

Yes, Virginia, your salt water pool does indeed contain chlorine.

Salt Water ChlorinationYou have produced it from salt with the help of your salt chlorine generator.  The short version of the story is that you put salt in your pool water and as it travels through the salt cell it is converted to chlorine which sanitizes your pool.  As the chlorine is used up, it reverts back to salt, in effect recycling your salt.

The level of chlorine produced by the generator is low and constant so you avoid the spikes and total lack of chlorine that typically happens when you have to manage the chlorine on your own.  Usually you dump in a bunch of chlorine and then your level is high.  It tapers off until you notice there is no more chlorine (and maybe algae forming on the walls) so you dump some more chlorine in and have another spike in the chlorine level.  A salt chlorine generator will manage the chlorine level for you and keep up with the sanitizing so that the yo-yo chlorine level is avoided.

You really do need to add some chemicals to your salt water pool.

A salt chlorine generator is a wonderful thing, and it will make your water feel soft and inviting.  It’s not magic.  You still need to balance your water and monitor it for proper alkalinity, pH, hardness and stabilizer levels.  You also need to check to be sure your salt generator is producing chlorine and make sure your salt level is adequate.  The chlorine generator is taking care of the chlorine, you need to give it some help.

It is highly unlikely that anyone you know is genuinely allergic to chlorine.

Some people have more sensitive skin which reacts to poor water chemistry.  Skin and eye irritation is most often the result of unbalanced pool water. The water should be tested for Total Chlorine, Free Chlorine, Alkalinity, pH, Hardness, and Cyanuric Acid (stabilizer).  If the water is not in the proper ranges then the water is not going to feel comfortable, and sensitive skin is more likely to react.

The good news is that a salt chlorine generator will make your pool water feel better and save you time.

People who come to visit commonly remark on how soft and smooth the water feels in a salt water pool.  The chlorine level will be low and constant so the chloramines (that stinky, used-up chlorine) will be controlled.  As the water passes through the salt cell, it is super-chlorinated right in the cell and is returned to the pool clean and fresh. You can spend more time enjoying your pool and less time messing around with chlorine.

The benefits to a salt water chlorine generator are many:

  • You don’t have to buy chlorine
  • You don’t have to store or transport chlorine
  • You kids and pets won’t get into the chlorine
  • You won’t get bleached spots on your clothes and in your car from handling chlorine
  • Your chlorine level will stay constant so the water will stay sanitized and be much less likely to get cloudy or grow algae
  • The low level of chlorine won’t bleach your bathing suits
  • You don’t have to daily test the chlorine level or add a weekly shock
  • This form of chlorine is very natural, and does not have the normal byproducts you will find with other types of chlorine – itchy skin, red eyes, strong odor, etc.

 

Pool smells like chlorine? Add more chlorine!

Really?  More chlorine to smell less like chlorine?goggles

Good quality chlorine does not have much of an odor.  That chlorine smell that you associate with chlorine happens when chlorine combines with organic junk, oils, sweat, urine, etc.  A clean pool will smell clean. When you scoop up some pool water in your hands and smell it, it should smell like fresh, clean water.

A well maintained chlorine pool should not smell like chlorine.

You may have gone to a hotel and as you enter the pool area, you are hit with a strong odor you recognize as chlorine.  They have a lot of chlorine in that pool, right?  Wrong!  If you can smell the “chlorine odor” it means there is not enough good, available chlorine to keep the water safe.  That odor you associate with chlorine is actually coming from chloramines, which is used up chlorine.

So why does my tap water smell like chlorine and it’s okay to drink it?

The water provided by your city or town is sanitized with a deliberately created chloramine because of the special conditions needed for sanitizing water in the plumbing.  It is not the same as sanitizing your pool water. When you are smelling chlorine in your tap water, you are smelling chloramines.

A pool with a good level of chlorine will smell like fresh, clean water.

05Chlorine tests will usually show free chlorine and total chlorine.  Think of Total Chlorine as all of the chlorine in your pool, good and bad.  The Free Chlorine is the good chlorine that is free and available to do sanitizing.  The difference between the Total Chlorine and the Free Chlorine is the Combined Chlorine.  Combined Chlorine is the bad chlorine, used up, called Chloramines.  It is combined with organic junk and is responsible for that stinky, “chlorine smell” that burns your eyes and irritates your skin.  A strong smell of chloramines is an indication that you need to shock the pool.

Get rid of the stinky, “chlorine smell” by adding a Shock.

You can oxidize the chloramine waste and eliminate that stinky odor by shocking with chlorine (which will also boost your chlorine level) or by oxidizing with a non-chlorine shock such as monopersulfate (which will eliminate the chloramines without increasing the chlorine level).

A shock is generally added to a pool once a week.  Heavy use and hot weather may require more frequent shocking.

Those water parks that have hundreds of people splashing in the water in the hot sun are creating a high demand on the chlorine sanitizer. It is really hard to keep up with the sanitizer required for the volume of people who show up.  If you can smell a strong chemical smell, it probably is in need of additional sanitizer.  Should you go in?  Well, hundreds of people do, and we have been known to swim in lakes with fish, snapping turtles and water snakes, but we also like to bring a bottle of test strips to the water park to check the sanitizer level.

Isn’t all that chlorine going to turn my hair green?

No.  Chlorine can damage and dry out hair which makes it more susceptible to absorbing metals, which is usually responsible for that greenish tinge known as “Swimmer’s Hair”.  It is most noticeable on light-colored hair, and bleached hair is also damaged hair.

Swimmer’s hair can be the result of such factors as acidic water (low pH), iron or manganese in the water, and electrolysis from water moving through recirculation pipes at excessive velocities. It is seldom caused by the water treatment chemicals in a properly maintained pool.

It is always a good idea to wet hair with tap water before entering any pool or spa to minimize the absorption of chemicals by your hair. It is also important to rinse hair after swimming. Health and beauty experts recommend using a leave-in conditioner on chemically treated hair before entering a pool or spa.

There are commercial products available should hair discoloration occur. Below is a list of some of these products.

  • Alared (manufactured by Redken)
  • Baby shampoo
  • Shampoo containing chelating agent EDTA (ethylenediamene tetracetic acid)

Discoloration can also be removed by washing the hair in a mild vinegar solution followed with a mild baking soda solution to neutralize the vinegar, or rinse hair with warm water containing dissolved aspirin.

 

The Worlds Best Clarifier is now Clear & Perfect

worlds best clarifier in a new labelWE KNOW HOW MUCH YOU LOVE THE WORLDS BEST CLARIFIER FOR YOUR POOLS

Someone decided that Natural Chemistry couldn’t call their pool clarifier “World Best”.  Apparently there is no way to verify the “worlds best” claim.  So, the great stuff you have come to depend on is in a new looking bottle.  It says “Clear and Perfect Clarifier“.  So far, it is okay to call it “perfect”.

And we have it in stock!

New Elite Series Hot Tubs by Strong Spas

Strong Spas’ Elite SeriesStrong Spas Elite Series Hot Tubs

perfectly blends classic construction and contemporary style with necessary luxury and personal choice unlike any other.

Strong Spas Elite Series Spas with UltraTec Cabinet

It’s in our nature to provide you with personal options and an experience that you will want to come back to again and again.

The Elite hot tub series has been designed with all the necessary luxury features you would expect from a Strong Spa but also indulges your spirit with enough choices to allow you to make it your own.

Heighten your level of comfort with such options as our increased performance jet packages, air blower system, and even a hybrid UV/Ozone combination sanitization system. If your preference is to combine your hydrotherapy experience with music, the Elite Series offers several choices of Marine-grade stereo systems which stand up to water, sun and the harshest environments and have the high-power sound performance to provide clean, clear sound within the outdoor water environment.

QUALITY ASSURANCE & OUR MAINTENANCE-FREE DIFFERENCEelite_strip

Every Strong Spa is required to pass through more than 100 quality-assurance checkpoints, which is a rigorous quality control inspection and includes a minimum 4-hour water test.

The UltraTec™ cabinet exterior is made of a UV-protected molded resin, which is extremely durable and impact resistant, keeping your spa’s contemporary wood-look beautiful for years to come and requires no maintenance.

ENERGY-EFFICIENCY & INTERNAL ACCESSIBILITY

Every Strong™ Acrylic Elite spa features our exclusive TRIBRID™ Synergy Heating System.  The stainless steel, tru all-season heater enhanced with our ThermoCELL friction heat source… 2 heat sources running at the cost of one. Plus, heat generated by the pumps in the internal cabinet air space is recycled and utilized by your Strong Elite Spa, which saves energy, and therefore, saves you money.

Our ULTRA-TEC™ cabinet is insulated using polyurethane custom-molded foam. The foam is fitted tightly to the spa’s frame which provides for heat retention, yet is easily removed for access to internal components.

MANUFACTURING & ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY

Our Strong Elite spas are manufactured in the USA using American-made components, including partially recycled materials.  The spa shell is constructed using our exclusive StrongBond® rigidizing system on our ABS-backed acrylic shell instead of fiberglass. StrongBond eliminates Styrene, a hazardous air pollutant, keeping the manufacturing process environmentally-responsible. The finished product is an extremely durable, impact resistant beautiful spa.

Sun Dome Pool Enclosure

Above Ground Pool Sun Domes

The Sun Dome Enclosure for Above Ground PoolsProduct Details Our Sun Dome enclosure for your above ground pool will lengthen your swimming season and keep your pool cleaner from harmful air-borne debris and pollutants. The above ground domes come in two shapes either rounds or ovals. Our Sun Domes will fit most round or oval above ground pools The Sun Dome also helps prevent water evaporation and is easy to assemble. For an above ground pool it would take 2 people about 2 or 3 hours to put up. Once it is assembled it is very easy to take down and put up again

 

Inground Pool Sun Domes

Sun Dome Pool Enclosure for Inground PoolsProduct Details Our Sun Dome enclosure for your in-ground pool is rectangular in shape and comes in different dimensions. The in-ground domes also require a lumber base that is not provided

 

 

 

 All Sun Domes Include:

Sun Dome Enclosure on Inground PoolTailor Made Vinyl and Aluminum Enclosure The Fabrico Sun Dome is a heavy 12-gauge vinyl pool enclosure that is supported by a series of aluminum tubes. The crystal clear cover is heat-sealed to fit the tubes based on pool specifications, to provide a tailored fit for every pool size.

Sturdy Double-Zipper Doors and Windows Each pool enclosure has one door opening with two heavy duty two-sided nylon zippers as well as one or more fiberglass screened window flaps/openings for flow-thru ventilation. Both doors and windows come with vinyl tabs to hold flaps in place.

Solid and Secure Enclosure Framework

The bottom edge of the enclosure is 24-gauge – or double thickness – and has a series of grommets. Neoprene shock cords are then attached to the grommets and hooked onto the base of the dome. This system ensures that the vinyl enclosure is held securely over the pool framework – making the Sun Dome an extra strong framework.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SUN DOMES

What are the benefits of having a Sun Dome on my pool?

Warming and heating is one of the key benefits – it warms the air (40 degrees) and water with solar heat up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

It also protects your pool from leaves, bugs, debris and early spring or late summer breezes.

Moreover, because your pool is protected, you cut down on the use of chemicals and expensive cleaning costs.

Is there a Sun Dome to fit my pool?

We can fit almost any round or oval above-ground pool. Sun Domes for in-ground pools are rectangle in shape. Please check out our Sun Dome Product Page to help you find the right Sun Dome for your pool.

What is the Sun Dome made of?

The cover material is 12-mil double polished clear vinyl.

The frame is 1″ diameter polished aluminum tubes.

Neoprene shock chords attach to grommets to secure the enclosure over your pool.

Is there a Warranty?

Your Sun Dome is covered for One year for defects in material or workmanship.

The average life of the Sun Dome Vinyl is 3 – 5 years depending on the environment it is exposed to and how well it is cared for.

Can I install a Sun Dome myself?

Most of our customers do install the Sun Dome easily at home. Generally, it takes 2 – 3 hours, assuming you have a power drill, measuring tape and duct tape.

In-ground pool domes however require more installation – generally for this product you should assume it would take two men, 8 hours.

What about winter weather conditions?

The Sun Domes will usually take winds up to 40-45 mph, however, it is not made to withstand heavy sustained winds, and more important, the weight of snow.

In heavy snowfall areas, it is necessary to remove the dome before the first snowfall, on a sunny day.

How do I clean my Sun Dome?

We suggest cleaning the Sun Dome with mild soap and water – dish or car wash soap work best. Test a small patch first to ensure the product you select works properly.

Please note: do not use any oil-based products, as it will damage the vinyl.

There are no cleaning requirements, however if there is lots of debris on your Sun Dome we suggest you clean it before storing.

What if my Sun Dome gets punctured or damaged?

We supply a patch with every Sun Dome when it is sent to you.

However, if you need additional patch vinyl material, please contact fabrico sun domes directly.

How do you take down a Sun Dome and how do you store it?

In order to take down the Sun Dome, simply unsnap the neoprene cords all the way around the pool and gently tug the cover up and over the frame.

Make sure the cover is clean and dry prior to folding it for storage. It can be rolled up, similar to a sleeping bag and should be stored in a cool dry place when not in use.

Also, cornstarch can be sprinkled between the folds of the vinyl to keep it from sticking together.

If a dome cover is wet prior to storing it may turn milky white. However, this condition will clear up once the cover is back on the frame and exposed to sunlight.

Does my Sun Dome protect me from harmful UV Rays?

While it is not intended for sun-protection… It will keep UV Rays out.

You can get a slight tan with the dome on, but you will not get a sun burn.

Learn More About Sun Dome Pool Enclosures and Other Pool Heating Options

Pool Safety

The child you save may be your own.

Each city or town seems to have their own  regulations and minimum standards for pool safety depending upon how that public  official interprets the laws.  Some of the regulations may seem overly cautious  or burdensome, but remember, it is your own family’s safety that matters.  Don’t  skimp on safety!

KEEP IN MIND  … An open swimming pool will attract  children.  It requires disciplined vigilance to keep your pool secure.  Be  alert!

ABOVE-GROUND POOL SAFETY

  • Steps and ladders leading from the ground to the pool should be secured and  locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.
  • Don’t leave lawn furniture or other items near the pool which a child might  pull near the pool to climb up.

RULES FOR POOLS

  • Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards to young children and  about the use of protective devices, such as door alarms and latches. Emphasize  the need for constant supervision.
  • Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool. During social gatherings at or  near a pool, appoint a “designated watcher” to protect young children from pool  accidents. Adults may take turns being the “watcher.” When adults become  preoccupied, children are at risk.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool first.

    Seconds  count in preventing death or disability. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the  entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the pool area.

  • Do not allow a young child in the pool without an adult.
  • Do not consider young children to be drown-proof because they have had  swimming lessons. Children must be watched closely while swimming.
  • Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
  • Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Babysitters and other caretakers,  such as grandparents and older siblings, should also know CPR.
  • Keep rescue equipment by the pool. Be sure a telephone is poolside with  emergency numbers posted nearby.
  • Remove toys from in and around the pool when it is not in use. Toys can  attract young children to the pool.
  • Never prop open the gate to a pool barrier.