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Pool Facts

Metro Pool Services Limited Helps You Troubleshoot Pool Problems

Are you having a pool problem at your home in the Greater Toronto Area? Metro Pool Services Limited has compiled the most common questions asked by our Customers in Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Maple and beyond. Some problems can be fixed by you at home, but we can let you know if your pool’s issue needs the help of a professional.

Please select a category:

New Pool Owner

When is the best time to open my pool?

For most pool owners, the pool is a major feature of the property, so why not open it early and enjoy the way it was intended to look? Obviously the interest of your family and the need to maintain the pool should be part of your decision. We have a number of customers who like to open their pools as soon as the ice is gone. Why? Some are eager to swim, but most just want to enjoy the enhanced appearance of their yards and gardens.

Pool Opening Questions

I have never owned a pool before. Can you tell me how to open it?

Each pool is unique but, generally, opening your pool involves:

  • Removing the water and debris from the winter pool cover

  • Removing the winter cover

  • Removing the plumbing plugs that were installed during winterizing

  • Reassembling your pump and filter system

  • Refilling the pool

  • Balancing the water chemistry

  • Restarting your equipment

You may wish to have your pool opened professionally the first time to see how it is done before you attempt to do it yourself.

I am trying to get my pump and motor running for the first time this spring. The motor hums, but nothing else happens. What's wrong?

Turn the power off at the breakers or remove the fuses so there is no power to the pump. You will find a cap on the end of the motor that can be pried off using a screwdriver. Inside, you should see the end of the motor shaft, which usually has a slot that will accommodate a straight screwdriver. Use a screwdriver with the widest blade that will fit the opening and still slip into the slot on the motor shaft. Try to rotate the shaft (it usually requires a bit of strength). If you are successful, replace the cap, restore the power and try the motor again. If you are unable to rotate the shaft or the motor will still not run, call for assistance. If you are a "veteran" and are familiar and comfortable with dismantling the pump, make sure the power is off, as described above, expose the impeller and try turning it by hand or with a pair of "channel locks." Be careful though, as most impellers are plastic and are easily broken.

I am trying to get my pump and motor running for the first time this spring. The motor sounds like it is running okay and the water disappeared from the basket, but I cannot get the water to flow. What should I do?

It takes a few minutes for the pump to pick up the prime and actually move water. The fact that water disappeared from the basket suggests that the pump will probably work. You should make sure that all winterizing plugs used to seal the plumbing have been removed, the water level in the pool is at least half way up the skimmer opening and the skimmer basket is in place.

Completely fill the pump strainer housing with water, insert the pump strainer basket and replace the pump lid, making sure that the pump lid "o" ring is properly in place. If there is a chemical feeder, make sure that the lines connecting the feeder to the plumbing are properly attached and that the chemical feeder is full of water. Make sure that any valves on the plumbing are fully open. If you have a sand filter, set the dial at "filter.” Turn the motor "on.” It usually takes two to three minutes for the pump to pick up the prime. Never let the pump run for more than five minutes without circulation or it may overheat and be damaged.

The winter cover ripped and the pool is very green and cloudy underneath. What should I do?

For concrete pools, the pool should be completely emptied, acid cleaned and then refilled.

For a vinyl lined pool, the cover should be removed as carefully as possible to keep any remaining debris from entering the pool. Using a leaf rake, carefully scoop (to avoid damaging the liner) and remove as much debris as possible, even if you can't see the bottom. If there is a lot of debris, you may need to do a bit at a time as you will be "stirring it up.” When all debris has been removed, fill the pool and activate your filter system.

Bring us a water sample from your vinyl lined pool for testing (there is no charge for this). We will advise you on the steps to be taken to bring the water into balance. Once balanced, a heavy "shock" treatment should be added (some "shock" treatments can damage your liner, please call us for advice) and the water will soon begin to clear. We do not recommend the use of an automatic cleaner until the water has cleared and heavy debris has been removed. We do recommend the use of a "leaf trap" when vacuuming, to prevent "clogging the lines.”

Can I empty my pool myself?

Yes, but seek professional advice before you empty your pool.

What is a hydrostatic relief valve?

This is a "check" valve that is installed in the main drain of most pools. It is held in the "closed" position by the weight of water in the pool.

Think of your nine feet deep empty swimming pool as being a big boat sitting in the ground. Now, imagine that the water table in your area is only six feet below the surface. Your empty pool could actually lift up out of the ground or float to the top of the water table.

If the water level in the pool is reduced to a level lower than the depth of ground water around the pool, the hydrostatic relief valve should open, allowing the ground water to enter the pool, relieving pressure on the pool structure. Please seek professional advice before emptying your pool.

The vinyl liner has slipped out of the track. How do I fix it?

The easiest time to fix this is after the winter cover has been removed and before the pool has been refilled. Apply hot water from a kettle to the portion of the liner that has slipped from the track. This will make the liner pliable. Stretch the liner back up and hook the bead of the liner onto the track. The liner bead (available from our retail store) can be inserted into the track to keep the liner from slipping back out. Large areas may require the assistance of a professional.

Leak Questions

How do I know if the water loss from my pool is from evaporation or a leak?

Under normal circumstances during the swimming season, your pool water level will drop about 1/4 inch per day due to evaporation, splash out and back washing your filter. The use of a solar blanket will help reduce evaporation. To test for a leak using a garden pail, you should draw a line about one inch from the top with an indelible marker. Fill the bucket to the line with water and sit the bucket in the pool on the top step. Accurately mark the pool water level – the easiest way is with a piece of black tape on the leg of your pool ladder. If the water loss from the pool is greater than the water loss from the bucket, then your pool is leaking.

Circulation Questions

The flow of water into the pool appears to be surging or stopping and starting. Why?

Check the water level in the pool. If the water level is too low, the pump will draw water out of the skimmer faster than water can flow from the pool into the skimmer. The skimmer will empty out; the pump will get a "gulp" of air and then lose the prime. After a few minutes, the pump will regain the prime and the process will repeat itself. If the water level is ok, check that the weir or "flap" in the skimmer can move freely. If it is sticking the skimmer will empty as described above. A defective weir should be replaced.

The pool appears to be circulating normally, but air bubbles constantly return to the pool through one or all jets. Why? If I just leave it, will I have a problem?

Again, first check the water level in the pool. Raising the water level may correct the problem. However, if the water level is correct and you are still having air returned to the pool, you may have a leak in the suction line between the pool and the filter. Left unchecked, air traveling through the system can dislodge dirt trapped in the filter and cause other problems such as cloudy water in the pool. Call us for assistance.

I cannot get any suction through the vacuum. Why?

Check to make sure that you are plugging the vacuum into the correct receptacle in the skimmer. The correct receptacle has noticeable suction. If you still have problems, check for leaks in the vacuum hose.

Every time I connect my vacuum hose to the skimmer, the circulation quits. Why?

Be sure to submerge the vacuum head and completely fill the vacuum hose with water before connecting the vacuum hose to the skimmer. Otherwise, air in the vacuum hose is drawn into the pump, causing it to lose its prime. If you are connecting the hose correctly, the problem may be more serious. Please call for assistance.

Pump Questions

Water is leaking from the underside of my pump. What causes this and is it a problem?

This usually indicates a defective shaft seal. The shaft seal prevents water from leaking from the pump into the electric motor. Water leaking into the motor causes corrosion, resulting in failure of the bearings. This is one of the reasons that some motor shafts "seize up" over the winter.

The pump is running and water is circulating in the pool, but when I look into the pump through the lid, the basket will not completely fill with water. Why?

There are a few possible reasons for this. First, check the skimmer and pump baskets. There may be debris in one, the other or both that is preventing the water flow. Second, your filter may need back washing. Third, there may be a blockage in the plumbing or in the pump. If you have tried cleaning the pump and skimmer baskets and back washing the filter and the problem still exists, we recommend that you arrange for a service technician to call.

The pump motor is making a very loud noise. What should I do?

This usually indicates that the motor bearings are defective and you might need to replace the bearings. If it is an older motor, we recommend that you replace the motor instead. In either case, replace the pump shaft seal when re-installing the motor. Occasionally this problem is caused by an object lodged in the pump's impeller and can be solved by dismantling the pump and clearing the impeller. Always turn the power off at the breakers or fuse panel before attempting a repair to the pump or electric motor.

Filter Questions

What causes sand to enter the pool and gather under the jet(s)?

The most likely cause is a defective "underdrain" or "lateral" in the bottom of your sand filter. If an "underdrain" or "lateral" is broken, sand will escape the filter and be carried into the pool by the flow of water and usually collected under the jets. It will be necessary to dismantle the filter, remove any remaining filter sand and replace the defective parts.

The pressure gauge(s) will not move from zero. Why?

Either the gauges are defective and should be replaced or there is no water flow.

What should the pressure on the gauge be?

Every pool is different. Make sure that the pressure gauge works properly. It should return to zero when the pump is off. If your filter has one pressure gauge, make note of the system pressure after back washing or cleaning your filter. Generally, pressure changes of six to eight pounds indicate the need to back wash or clean the filter. If your filter has two pressure gauges, a pressure differential greater than 10 pounds indicates the need to back wash. After back washing, the differential should be five pounds or less.

Skimmer Questions

There are two holes in the bottom of my skimmer. I know that one hole leads to the pump suction, what is the other one?
The other hole in the bottom of the skimmer is known as the "equalizer" and connects to the main drain at the bottom of the pool. If the water level of the pool should drop below the skimmer opening in the side of the pool, water will flow into the skimmer from the main drain to prevent the pump from drawing air and losing its prime.

Heater Questions

If you are having problems with your pool heater, we strongly recommend that you consult a professional rather than attempting to remedy the problem yourself. Metro Pool Services Limited has trained technicians to deal with your heater problems. Please call us to arrange a service appointment.

Paint Questions

We strongly recommend that you seek professional advice before emptying the pool and before applying the paint as there are several hazards involved in both procedures.

The paint on my pool is blistering and peeling. What should I do?

Peeling and blistering paint is indicative of defective paint. If you are attempting to repaint the pool, all of the defective paint should be removed or the problem will not be solved. As a temporary measure, you can sand and scrape the affected areas. Be sure to repaint using the same kind of paint that was last used. To solve the problem on a permanent basis, you must drain the pool and sandblast the pool to completely remove the old paint.

I want to repaint my pool. What do I need to know?

Painting your pool appears easy, but small mistakes cause years of aggravation and can be very expensive to remedy. Most paints are very sensitive to temperature. They just don't cure properly if the painted surface is cool or cold. For this reason, we don't recommend painting your pool before the 1st of June.

The pool must be properly cleaned and it must be dry. Follow the paint manufacturer's instructions for preparing the surface. You should identify the paint last applied to the pool. There are different types of paint. Chlorinated rubber base and epoxy base are two. Different types of paint and sometimes different brands of the same type of paint are not compatible with each other. If the wrong type of paint is applied you will most likely experience widespread blistering and peeling. Please call for advice and assistance.

Marbelite Questions

The marbelite surface on my pool is chipping. How do I fix it?

Marbelite repair kits are available from our retail store. Simply follow the label instructions to repair small areas.

The pool surface is so rough that we cut our fingers and toes. What can be done?

Marbelite is a plaster similar to stucco. When it is washed with muriatic acid or if your pool water chemistry is out of balance, it is possible for the marbelite to become "etched" or very rough or sharp. The sharpness can be removed by going over the surface with a sander or power grinder. When the pool is refilled, it is very important that the water chemistry is properly balanced. Simply bring a sample of the water to our store where we will test it (free of charge) for calcium hardness.

The marbelite surface on my pool is worn away in several areas. What can be done?

If there are only a few areas that need repair, you can use the marbelite repair kit. If there are many very large areas to be repaired, it may be necessary to resurface the pool. Please call us to arrange an estimate.

Can I paint over the marbelite?

Yes, but we don't recommend it. Once you have painted the pool, you must repaint again every three to four years to maintain the pool appearance. Over the long term, repainting the pool will cost about the same as having the marbelite replaced periodically.

What does it cost to re-marbelite my pool?

This is a major repair and the cost varies from pool to pool. Please call us for an estimate.

Pool Light Questions

My pool light will not come on. What should I do?

Never attempt to open the pool light, the junction box or the breakers. These are functions that should only be handled by an electrician.

Check to make sure that the "ground fault circuit interrupter" is turned "on" and that the circuit breaker for the pool light is "on." If there are any other switches, make sure that they are also turned “on." If the pool light still does not work, please call for advice.

The circuit breaker for my pool light trips "off," when I try to turn my pool light "on." Why?

The breaker that is tripping "off" is most likely the "ground fault circuit interrupter." This breaker is on your system to protect bathers from electric shock in your pool. If it is tripping "off," there is a problem that requires the services of an electrician.

Other Repair Questions

Some of the tiles are coming off the pool wall. How do I repair them?

If the tiles have been lost, it is usually very difficult to replace them. Most manufacturers do not maintain an inventory of old styles. It is best to find a reputable ceramic tile retailer and purchase tiles that closely resemble the existing tile in the pool. In addition, you should purchase the appropriate tile cement and grout when you purchase the tile. Follow the instructions from the tile manufacturer to install the tile.

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