The Secure Gate Latch Solution
Getting in to the backyard to service the pool should be easy, right? Open the latch, pull open the gate, walk in. Even I had that part figured out. But when the latch was on the inside of the gate and the customer wanted to keep it locked I couldn't get in unless they left it unlocked for me. Many customers don’t want the latch to be on the outside of the gate where a criminal can simply take the latch off with a Philips screwdriver. Makes sense. So... what to do?
Recently a customer bought this locking system by National Hardware that’s working out very nicely. As you can see from the picture the combination lock is on the outside of the gate.
When the code is entered in the entire lock swings down which pulls on the latch that is on the inside of the gate. The lock and the latch are connected by a cable as you can see here. When I leave I swing the combination lock up which allows the latch to close down as the gate is closed.
There’s even a latch guard that prevents intruders from reaching over the fence to unlatch the gate or cut the connecting cable. The only thing I have to remember is to scramble the code after I am done locking the gate.
I admit, this has both me and the customer smiling. No longer do we need to synchronize having the gate unlocked when I will be there each week. Also the customer doesn’t need to worry about security if they forget to lock the gate after I’m done.
Pole and Leaf Bag Like a Pro!
I'm asked all the time by customers, "Where do I get a pole and leaf bag like yours?". I clean pools 4+ days a week so I do have a commercial grade pole and leaf bag that can withstand the greatest torment you can dish out. So, maybe you're a new pool service tech looking for quality gear or a home owner wanting the best tools for your pool. Either way I will tell you what to get and why.
First let's start with the pole. Skimlite makes the best heavy duty poles on the market. Shown above you can see the three piece 9024 model to the left (too many pieces) and the two piece 9016 model to the right.
I use the Dually model no. 9016. This telepole is a standard 8 ft and will extend to 16 ft (actually 15ft because you want to leave about a foot of the inner pole inside the outer pole at it's greatest extension). The pole has a cam built in to the end of the inner pole which makes up the internal lock. So when you extend the pole to where you want it you can then turn the inner pole a quarter turn to lock the internal cam inside the outer pole. This will make for quick adjustments that will only take a second when you need to adjust the pole length frequently. If you need to you can always use the second pole locking option, the external lock. The external lock is a black nylon clamp that is found on the outside between the two pole halves shown here. This is useful for when you have to pull out a lot of leaves or when your inner cam starts to wear out.
Metal items like screws, nails, and hair barrettes can find their way to the bottom for your pool and can rust and stain your pool plaster. To pull these metal items out I use this useful tool made by Pool Tool called the Magnetic Pool Adapter #122A (shown below) . It will not corrode. It is bright orange which is a helpful safety feature in case your pool needs to extend beyond the bed of a truck. After sliding the rubber handle off the inner pole a couple of inches I cut off the last inch of the handle on my Dually Pole and put the Magnetic Pool Adapter on the end. Both the rubber handle on the Dually and the Magnetic Adapter are the same thickness making for a smooth grip that your hand can slide over.
What leaf bag do I use? There are many imitations but the 20 inch wide Red Baron Purity Products Tuff Duty Leaf bag can not be matched (shown below). I've used this leaf bag for over 8 years and not once has it broken or bent under the heaviest tasks I could put it through. They are made in America since 1961 and have always been of the highest quality with every bag I've purchased (which has been about 3 per year!) The frame is a heat treated alloy that is both light and extremely durable. The bag is triple stitched to last a very long time. This bag comes in 5 different fabrics: standard, tuff duty, rag bag, silt, and leaf chaser. Why not get one of the other options of fabrics? The standard and rag bag fabric will wear out too quickly, the silt bag fabric quickly gets plugged and gets too "heavy" in the water, and the leaf chaser is too open to catch the smaller debris. The best option is the tuff duty Red Baron leaf bag. It will catch the smaller debris yet it won't get "heavy" when you move it through the water. It will last much longer and survive heavier abrasions than the other bags will.
After a dog decides to play tug of war using your Red Baron Leaf Bag you may need to purchase a renew kit to replace both the bag, the polyurethane rim, and the spring lock (the lock that holds the bag on the end of your Dually pole). With the renew kit you never have to purchase another complete Red Baron as the frame can easily last a lifetime. When my work is slow during the winter months I will buy the renew kit and take the time to rebuild the leaf bag. But in the summer when I have repairs to do I will, for simplicity sake, purchase a complete new Red Barons Tuff Duty bag when the fabric bag or poly rim on my old one wears out.
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Happy leaf bagging!
How to Get Rid of Swimming Bugs
The Old Solution
My customers have asked me for years, "how do we get rid of those swimming bugs?" They are called boatmen or backswimmers and they fly in to your pool. For a while I was using Bug Off. Then the state of California decided to prevent the use of that chemical here due to environmental reasons.
A New Solution?
Since Bug Off wasn't for sale I tried an algaecide
(why the state of California says we can still use algaecide and not Bug Off I just don't understand). The algaecide was expensive but I was told it would work well against the swimming bugs. The algaecide worked alright but it had limited success. There were still a lot of bugs in those pools.
A Better Solution
I came across a home remedy to resolve the issue. An old pool service buddy of mine said, "Use some dish soap." Dish soap?! I couldn't believe it. Obviously my customers didn't either. One customer that had hundreds of these bugs in his pool flatly said, "I'm not putting dish soap in my pool. Now, how do we get rid of the bugs?" I couldn't blame him since it did sound ridiculous. Still I had to try. When he was away one day I convinced his wife to try it. After asking her for the dish soap I squirt a good portion (1/4 cup) over the middle of the pool (it was a 20,000 gallon pool). It was like a swimming bug grenade had gone off! It took a couple of days for the soap to take effect. Hundreds of bugs showed up dead in the skimmer and automatic cleaner bag. I couldn't find even one of them left! Success!!!
I told the homeowner to reapply the dish soap on a weekly or biweekly basis as needed. There wasn't a problem with bubbles from the soap because the soap is very diluted in a swimming pool of over 10,000 gallons. The bugs have been gone all season and I still have a great customer! The husband hasn't complained about the soap either. ; )
How does it work?
The soap is a surfactant; so the soap interferes with the water surface tension in the pool. As it turns out, the little boatmen and backswimmers trap air against their little bodies by utilizing the properties of water surface tension. They use those little air bubbles to breath under water. When there is little to no water surface tension then they run out of air and die by drowning. So, if the dish soap doesn't work for you at first then just use a little more until it does. Over the years I have found Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid to be the best
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Happy bug killing!
I'm Jered Linden, the owner of Linden's Pool Service. I live in Sonoma County which is where I conduct business.
Call today to start worry free service!