Tortorella Pools

Tortorella Pools FAQs

Alarms Automatic Chlorine Dispensers
Automatic Pool Cleaners Electric
Filters, Pumps & Heaters Green Products
In-home Monitoring and Controls Lighting
Pool & Spa Covers Pool Care

AlarmsBack to Top

Do I really need to install a pool alarm?

Obviously, there is no substitute for proper supervision and pool safety. Unfortunately, there have been an increasing number of reports of fatal accidents involving swimming pools. A pool alarm can notify you should a child fall or jump into the water unexpectedly.

What type of alarm should I install?

There are a variety of alarms available on the market today. The simplest sit on the coping of the pool and are able to detect when an object larger than 18 lbs. breaks the surface of the water. When this occurs, a loud alarm sounds. The alarm is easily disarmed with a personalized keypad code located on top of the device. Other alarm systems are more intricate: for example, a sonar alarm that’s installed during pool construction can detect anything that has fallen near the bottom of the pool. This device is also linked with a loud alarm that is disarmed on the control panel located near the system area.

I’d rather not have an alarm at poolside. Are there other options?

There are alarm systems that can be installed underneath your pool coping – out of sight and out of the way – to preserve poolside appearance. These can be used on irregular shaped pools and those with automatic pool covers.

Do all pool alarms meet the same safety standards?

The ASTM standard for pool alarms specifies a minimum weight of 18 lbs. (8 kg.)

I’ve heard that some alarms sound in high winds. How can this be prevented?

Check to make sure the alarm has passed the stringent AFNOR test for high winds.

If I have a pool and a spa, should I install two alarms?

Probably. With most systems, you will need one detector for the pool and one for the spa.

Automatic Chlorine DispensersBack to Top

Why does my pool/spa need to be chlorinated?

Pools should be disinfected continuously by a chemical that imparts a residual effect. Chlorine is a type of “disinfectant,” also called a “sanitizer.” Disinfectants or sanitizers destroy living microorganisms and bacteria, preventing the transmission of disease. There are several types of disinfectants, such as chlorine, bromine, ozone and UV light. Public pools need a disinfectant with a measurable residual.

How much chlorine should I have in my pool and spa?

There are two kinds of chlorine found in pool/spa water: free (able to destroy microorganisms) and combined (unable to destroy microorganisms). Public pools and spas should have a free residual chlorine level of a minimum of 1.0 parts per million (ppm) if cyanuric acid is not used, and 1.5 ppm if a cyanuric acid is used. There should always be an operable automatic chlorinator when the pool and/or spa is open. The automatic chlorinator can be adjusted to maintain a safe level of chlorine. Chlorine should not exceed 5.0 ppm.

What is cyanuric acid?

Also called “stabilizer” or “conditioner,” cyanuric acid is added to swimming pools and spas to slow down the decomposition of chlorine from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. With a correct dose, it can save up to 80% of normal chlorine consumption during peak sunny months. With an incorrect balance, it can substantially decrease the effectiveness of the chlorine. Cyanuric acid is found in most chlorine tablets or can be added as a separate chemical.

Automatic Pool CleanersBack to Top

Are there different types of automatic pool cleaners?

Yes. An in-floor cleaning and circulation system, installed when your pool is installed, works automatically to minimize maintenance time and maximize your enjoyment. There are also robotic cleaning devices that can be used in virtually any type of pool.

Which type of cleaner is right for me?

That depends on what’s most important to you. With its pop-up cleaning units, an in-floor cleaning system can be more convenient and energy efficient than a robotic model, which must be removed from the water when the pool is in use. The robots are usually less expensive, however, and also can be easily added to the maintenance of an existing pool.

How does the built-in pool cleaner work?

In-floor cleaning nozzles direct dirt and debris to the main drain, where they’re collected and transported to the collection bin for removal.

Does pool design affect my in-floor cleaning system?

Elements such as water falls, solar heating, spa spillovers and in-line chlorinators can take away flow and pressure from the in-floor cleaning system. When the in-floor system does not have proper flow and power, it will not clean properly. That’s why it’s important to have your pool designed by experienced professionals like J. Tortorella.

If a nozzle seems to be working but the surrounding area isn’t clean, what’s wrong?

There is probably a blockage in the nozzle. Remove the nozzle and clear the blockage.

What type of pool is suitable for a robotic cleaner?

A quality robotic cleaner works on all residential size, shape and surface pools.

How often should I use the robotic cleaner to clean my pool?

Use it as often as necessary. Most manufacturers suggest two or three times a week.

What kind of installation does a robotic system require?

None. Most only require a simple plug in to a power outlet. They’re separate from your pool’s filtration system, and no extra pumps or hoses are required.

Can we swim while the robot is cleaning the pool?

Manufacturers suggest that you DO NOT use the robot while swimming.

Where should I get the robotic cleaner serviced?

Contact us, and we will refer you to a nationwide network of service centers that can help you.

ElectricBack to Top

What should I do if I have a problem with my pool’s electrical system?

We suggest you contact a reputable, licensed electrician in your area. Just have a question regarding your pool lights? Please see our Lighting FAQs.

Filters, Pumps & HeatersBack to Top

How does my pool system work?

Every pool needs a filter and pump to properly sanitize the water. While there are many systems options, all work pretty much the same way. The pool pump pulls water through the main drain and skimmers, forcing water through the filter, which separates particles from the water to keep it clear and free of organic materials. Past the filter, some systems have optional equipment such as heaters and chlorinators. After water passes through these system components, it returns to the pool.

Why has my electric bill significantly increased since I installed my pool?

Make sure that time clock or automated control is correctly set. Eight to 12 hours a day is usually a good benchmark for circulation time, but this does vary based on the size of the pool and the horsepower of the pump. Of course, as motors age, their efficiency decreases.

How long should I run my filter for?

That depends on the age and efficiency of your system. Some of today’s high-efficiency systems can be run 24 hours a day and still use less than half the electricity of an older system – yet do a fine job keeping your water clear. To find the time length that’s best for your pool, consider how often it’s used, if you’re continually finding large debris in the water, as well as the amount of sun exposure. But remember, cutting filtration time below the manufacturer’s recommended time period to conserve electricity (while admirable) could lead to higher chemical costs to keep the water clear.

How do I backwash my pool?

That depends on what type of filter you have: Sand, D.E. (Diatomaceous Earth) or cartridge. The first two are manufactured for backwards flow; a cartridge filter is not. For maintenance, it’s therefore best to consult your filter manufacturer’s specific instructions.

Do I need to have a strainer basket in my pump pot?

Yes. Without the strainer basket, debris will get in. Be sure to clean your strainer basket, as well as the skimmer baskets, so water flow is not obstructed and the pump is not overworked.

Can I run my pump without water?

No. Pool pumps should never operate without water. If left running without water for a long period of time, heat generated by the pump could damage its PVC pipe and other system components.

Is it okay that my pump motor is warm to the touch?

Yes, this is normal in most cases.

Why is water leaking from the underside of my pump?

This usually indicates a defective shaft seal, which prevents water from leaking into the electric motor, causing corrosion and bearing failure: a main reason that some motor shafts “seize up” over the winter.

Even though the pump is running – and water is circulating – the pump basket is not completely filling with water. Why?

There could be debris in the skimmer or pump baskets, your filter may need backwashing, or there could be a blockage in the plumbing. Check the first two; if the problem persists, call a service technician.

Why won’t my pump turn on?

Check for water damage. Check the power – use a volt meter to check voltage – as well as the breakers and switches to ensure it’s electrically powered. If you can’t determine the cause, call a technician.

My pump is noisy. Is there anything I can do to quiet it?

While the motor’s internal cooling fan can be heard, there are actions you can take to lessen it. Try to reduce the vibration by placing a piece of carpet or rubber under the pump. Also, make sure the pump is level and that no suction lines are higher than the unit. If noise has never been an issue before, your pump may be leaking or your bearings may be old. Check it out to prevent extensive damage.

Why won’t my pump fill with water (prime)?

There could be an air leak on the suction side of the pump. Make sure the line is free of obstruction and that the impeller is still attached; if it’s not, it will need to be replaced. If the pump is elevated above the deck, a check valve may be needed for easier priming.

What is the best way to heat my pool?

While gas is best for heating pools for short periods of time, solar power is another viable option and better for long-term heating.

How does a gas swimming pool heater work?

Gas heaters use natural or propane fuel. The gas is burned in a combustion chamber where the heat is transferred to the pool water. Operation requires a storage tank for propane gas, or hookup to natural gas, where available.

Are gas heaters efficient and how are they rated?

Gas heaters are rated in BTU output and are tested by government standards. Their efficiency ranges from 60% to 90%. Efficiency may decrease over a period of time due to scaling in the burner or heat exchanger.

What size gas heater will I need?

That depends on the size and shape of your pool, how much sun it gets, how long you’d like to keep your pool open as well as the desired water temperature.

Can I install a gas pool heater myself?

It is strongly recommended that electric and gas hookups be made by a professional contractor.

Green ProductsBack to Top

Will a solar heater really heat my pool?

Absolutely. Depending on the weather, you can expect your solar pool heater to raise your pool temperature 2°F to 5°F each time the water passes through the system. With several days of good weather, this could equal an increase of 5°F to 15°F. To make the system even more effective, use a solar blanket at night to help hold in the heat.

Can the solar heater also cool my pool?

During the hottest part of the summer, running the solar system at night can cool a pool to a more refreshing swimming temperature – down several degrees in one night if the conditions are right. You also may want to leave the solar blanket off at night to allow more heat to escape.

Can solar pool panels be used to heat the house?

No, solar pool panels and controls are designed specifically to heat a large volume of water in a swimming pool and to operate in temperature ranges of 80°F to 100°F. Household space heating and household hot water are different applications of solar, requiring heating smaller volumes of household water to higher temperatures.

How much would a solar pool heater cost for my pool?

Solar pool heating system prices for a residential pool depend on the location and size of the pool, location of the solar panels, desired temperature and season, and type of pool equipment. Because of all the variables, it is impossible to give an accurate estimate without careful inspection of the site. If a pool owner heats their pool with natural gas through the normal swimming season, an investment in solar can pay for itself in two to three years.

How much does a solar pool heater cost to operate?

The majority of residential solar pool heaters use an automatically controlled valve to divert the existing filtration flow to the solar panels, so there is no additional cost to operate the solar pool heater. Some pools might require an additional solar boost pump that would cost a few dollars per month to operate during the swimming season.

How long will the solar equipment last?

Modern solar collectors made of stabilized polypropylene can be expected to last between 15 to 20 years.

Should I use a pool cover with a solar pool heating system?

A pool cover prevents evaporation loss, particularly at night. The cover traps the solar heat that has been added during the day and is a great complement to the solar system. The solar system actively adds heat; the cover retains that heat passively.

What special maintenance is required on a solar pool heater?

Usually no special maintenance is required during the season. Modern electronic controls allow you to “set and forget” the solar heater. It is recommended that the panels be shut off and drained in the winter, which takes just a few minutes.

In-Home Monitoring and ControlsBack to Top

How do I program a timed schedule for my pool system?

There are three popular choices: a time clock; an Aqualink control interface by Jandy and the IntelliTouch® system. A time clock works similar to the timer on most household devices. While simple to operate, most are limited in their functionality. An Aqualink control interface has the ability to program separate times for all system components – or multiple instances for one device – via its control panel. The IntelliTouch system works much like an Aqualink, and multiple settings can be programmed for any device. Please contact our service division for assistance in programming your system.

LightingBack to Top

What is the difference between a niche and a light?

A niche is a housing that is permanently mounted in the pool wall, while the light is a “fixture” that is secured into the niche.

What is the difference between a 12V and 120V light?

A 12V light receives its power from a transformer, which steps down 120V to 12V. 120V is your standard house voltage. Some areas of the country do not allow 120V lights. The brightness is equal for either voltage because brightness is measured by the bulb’s wattage.

How do I change my bulb?

NEVER ATTEMPT TO OPEN THE POOL LIGHT, JUNCTION BOX OR BREAKERS. CALL AN ELECTRICIAN. Before you do, make sure that the “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter,” circuit breaker and any other switches are in the ON position.

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

NEVER ATTEMPT TO OPEN THE POOL LIGHT, JUNCTION BOX OR BREAKERS. CALL AN ELECTRICIAN. Before you do, make sure that the “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter,” circuit breaker and any other switches are in the ON position.

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

It’s most likely the “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter,” which protects bathers from getting shocked in your pool. If it’s tripping off, there is a problem. Call an electrician.

What are LEDs?

LEDs are light-emitting diodes. They are housed on a circuit board. The circuit board controls the color and intensity of each diode. Using red, green and blue diodes, different colors are created depending on the numbers of each color and their intensity.

How long does an LED light last?

The life expectancy for a LED light is 50,000 hours. The light will perform for more than 10,000 hours without any noticeable loss of brightness.

Pool and Spa CoversBack to Top

What’s the difference between a regular pool cover and a safety cover?

While a typical pool cover can prevent debris from entering your pool, it does not prevent children or pets from gaining access. All safety covers must conform to the Standard Performance Specification set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and be able to support a certain amount of weight, not permit gaps that a child or pet could squeeze through and remove standing water.

I always supervise my children when they are around our pool. Why do I need a safety cover?

A swimming pool is always a magnet for children. When you’re not around to supervise or your family is away from home, wandering children and pets from the neighborhood may attempt to enter your pool. Even if you have a locked gate (which is a great extra layer of protection), a determined toddler will often be able to breach it. A safety cover is an additional layer of protection, which also retains pool heat and decreases energy consumption.

My custom-designed pool is irregularly shaped. Can I get a safety cover that will fit it?

There are a variety of safety pool covers that can be measured and customized to fit any size or shape.

Can my children walk and play on my safety cover?

While a safety cover meets ASTM guidelines to support the weight of a child or adult in an emergency, no one should walk on the cover, and children and pets should not play on top of it.

Should I get a mesh or a solid safety cover?

That’s up to you. All ASTM-certified covers provide superior protection. The choice between a mesh or solid cover is up to the preference of the user.

Why does the water have to be removed from the cover for it to be considered “safe”?

Collected water on a cover is a hazard in itself. There have unfortunately been cases of children and pets who have wandered out on a cover filled with water and slippery debris, become trapped and drowned. That is why the ASTM Performance Specification states that no pool cover can call itself a safety cover if it does not provide for water removal.

Pool CareBack to Top

When is the best time to open my pool?

While it’s important to consider when you usually begin using your pool, it’s best to open it toward the end of freezing temperatures. When the water is cool, it is easier to sanitize and will require fewer chemicals. Another advantage of opening your pool earlier in the season is the limited capability of algae growth and other organic matter that can make the pool green and/or cloudy.

Why is my pool green?

This could be from overgrowth of algae or from a high iron content of your pool water. The first signs of algae will be a slimy feeling along the sides of the pool, followed by a green growth on the walls that can easily be wiped away. If left untreated, algae makes your pool dark green like a pond. You can avoid algae problems by maintaining proper water chemistry and routine pool maintenance. Iron can cause pools to have a green tint even though the water itself is clear. There are water treatments available that can counteract iron and return the water to normal.

How do I backwash my pool?

If your pool is equipped with a sand filter, then it should be backwashed regularly. With the system off, push the valve down and turn the valve to the backwash position. Turn the system back on and flow will be reversed inside the filter to clean and expel waste through the waste line instead of back into the pool. If you have a valve on the waste line, make sure that it is in the open position, and if a hose is used to expel water, make sure that it is rolled out toward the desired drainage location. You will notice a watch glass on the side of the multiport. When backwashing begins, the water should be opaque. After a few minutes, depending on how dirty the filter is, the water should clear. Shut the system down, and turn the valve to the rinse position. Turn the system back on for 30 to 40 seconds to rinse the filter of any remaining debris. Shut the system down, and return the valve to the filter position to resume normal operation.

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

During the swimming season, you should expect your pool water level will drop about 1/4 inch per day due to evaporation, splash out and backwashing your filter. The use of a solar blanket will help reduce evaporation. To test for a leak, take a garden pail and use an indelible marker to draw a line about 1 inch from the top. 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.

How does rain affect a pool?

Rain brings all of the airborne pollution – both natural and manmade – that is in the atmosphere right into the pool. You will always have an algae bloom or new algae growing after a rain, so it’s best to super-chlorinate as soon as you can.

What can cause eye irritation?

The two main causes of eye irritation are too much combined chlorine (greater than 0.2 ppm) and a pH value that’s either .3 greater or less than the normal eye pH, which is between 7.35 and 7.45. It’s important to monitor your water chemistry regularly. Some people also have sensitivity to various shocking chemicals, so use those based on your water needs – not based on the calendar.

When is the best time to close my pool?

Mid-October is usually best, before the leaves begin to fall and the ambient temperature is cooler. When the temperature is cooler, it leaves less opportunity to allow for algae growth underneath the cover, which may complicate opening the pool the following season. It is important to winterize your pool before freezing temperatures to prevent freeze damage.

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