Pool & Spa FAQs

With over 30 years’ experience in design, construction, maintenance and repair in the San Diego area, and knowledge of how to deal with our unique hard-water issues, we have pretty much seen it all! Here are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

FAQ’s – Design

Do you give free estimates?
In most cases an initial consultation is free of charge. During this consultation we can usually give you an idea of how much your project might cost, and often times that will include a written estimate. In some cases where extensive work is involved before an estimated price can even be presented there may be a charge for that preliminary work. In these instances the money spent doing preliminary work will be applied towards your contract if work is initiated with us.
What is a “Bond Beam”? What is a “Raised Bond Beam”?
A “Bond Beam” is the thickened upper portion of a pools wall that provides additional strength to the pool at that point. If you imagine a pool as a Dixie Cup, the bond beam is the rolled edge at the top of the cup that helps keep it circular in shape. A “Raised Bond Beam” is just that; an area of a pool wall which is elevated or raised above the adjacent pool walls. Raised bond beams are often used to create terraces behind a pool which is built into a slope or to form a raised spa which has a water spillway into the pool.
Do I need “Special Engineering” on my project?
Special engineering is a customized engineering design for a pool which can be needed for unusual pool designs or site conditions. It can be expensive since an engineer needs to be contracted to produce the design. Fortunately we have access to a pool engineering firm which has created a large variety of engineering designs which cover most of the situations encountered in residential pools. As such, this work is not custom made and does not have a huge price tag. If custom engineering is required this same firm has vast experience in pool design and provides quick turn-around times for our projects at reasonable prices.
Is my contract for a “Fixed Price”?
In most cases a pool proposal from Del Rancho Pools is a “fixed price” proposal. If anything within the proposal is not a fixed price, it is spelled out in the proposal or the contract itself. We pride ourselves in our “on-budget” record.
What is “Group V” tile?
In many cases a pool proposal is offered before final material selections are made. In this case some benchmark or allowance must be made in order for the proposal to make sense. “Group V” tile expresses the allowance for pool tile in terms of dollars per square foot. Therefore a “Group V” tile has a tile cost of $5 per square foot. If you as the client choose a tile which is more expensive you can expect to pay a bit more. If the tile is less expensive than you will pay less.
Does “Upsized Plumbing” really make sense?
Yes, the size of the plumbing does matter. Especially since Variable Speed pumps are now the norm. Using pipes which are properly sized for the pump system increases water flow, which in turn reduces energy use. We always size our plumbing to allow for the flow rate of the pumps used.
Can I build a pool near a down-slope or an upslope?
Yes, with proper design and engineering a pool can be built almost anywhere.
Is a fancy control system important?
While a “fancy” control system was at one time considered a luxury item only, that is no longer the case. Modern energy efficient features like LED lighting and variable speed pumps work best and save you the most money when properly controlled. Without some form of control you will not get a large portion of the benefit these dollar savers offer.
What is “Pool Coping”?

“Coping” is the top of the pool wall level to the ground. It is commonly seen as a 12-15 inch wide band of brick, stone, or concrete just above the pool tile and right against the pool decking. The coping is a cosmetic cap of the pool wall.

Does my contract include a “Pool Deck”?
Some pool contractors always include some quantity of concrete decking with every pool. We do not always include decking, but if it is included it will be clearly described with an itemized cost given for it.
What type of pool fencing do I need?
Pool fencing is the term for one of the approved barriers used to keep young children out of unattended pools. A pool fence must be at least 5 feet high, un-climbable, and have self-closing and self-latching gates which open to the outside. Other barriers along with pool fencing may be required to meet codes.
What is a “Base” pool?
A “base” pool is a pool with no extra frills; just the bare necessities of shell, tile, coping, plaster, pump and filter. Often we start an estimate with a “base pool price” and build on that with options and extras to allow you to pick and choose which items are most important to you. Even a highly customized pool can start from a “base” price.

FAQ’s – Construction

How long does it take to build a pool?

A typical in ground pool takes about 6-8 weeks to build from the time we break ground. We have built pools in as little as 30 days, but that is not always the case. If your project involves more than just a pool it will most likely take longer.

How much does a pool cost?

A basic pool usually costs just under $30,000. A pool and spa combination starts at just over $40,000. There are, of course, options which can raise the price.

Can you help me submit to my HOA?

We typically produce the types of drawings needed for HOA approval as part of a pool project. We ask that you fill in the forms for submittal and pay any fees they charge.

Does my project need a permit?

Not all projects need a permit. Simple remodels that do not involve additional gas or electrical work are normally exempt. New pool or spa projects do require building permits and inspections. We typically include the pool permit if the project needs one.

Who can I hire to build a pool for me?

Only a licensed pool builder, licensed general contractor, or licensed landscape contractor can write a contract for a swimming pool. If the builder is a general building contractor or landscape contractor he MUST have a licensed pool builder do the pool portion of the work. A licensed pool builder may only build the pool and is not licensed for additional work like decks, fireplaces, BBQ centers, etc. By law, this type of work must be performed by a landscape contractor or general contractor.

What licenses does Del Rancho Pools have?

We have a General Building Contractor License, Pool Building Contractor License, and Pool Maintenance License, license #675390.

I have a small yard. Can I still build a pool?

A pool or spa can be built in almost every yard. The size of the pool will be determined by the city “setbacks”, which is how close to the property line the city will let us build the pool. Setbacks are typically 4 or 5 feet but do vary from city to city.

What type of pool equipment do you recommend?

We offer all brands of equipment but usually specify Pentair Pool Equipment, since we are their local Warranty Service Center.

Where can I see the types of materials you use on your pools?

We have a showroom in Encinitas and we suggest you schedule an appointment to come in and see the variety of materials available. In the meantime you can visit the National Pool Tile Group website to get a preview.

How do I contact Del Rancho Pools?

Call us at (760)-753-6369 or visit www.delranchopools.com

Do you remodel/refurbish pools?

Yes, we remodel pools. We can do everything from simple repairs to major renovations, including adding a spa or waterfall to an existing pool.

I have rust spots in my pool. Are they serious?

Rust spots may or may not be a serious issue. The source of the rust is the determining factor, since it can be from a metal object dropped in the pool or from rusted rebar, which will eventually cause the plaster to flake off and delaminate (spall).  Call (760)-753-6369 to schedule for one of our staff to take a look.

My tiles are cracked and loose. Is that a problem?

There are many causes for cracked or loose tiles. Someone needs to take a look to see what is causing the problem. Call (760)-753-6369 to schedule a visit.

My pool is losing water. Why?

All pools lose water to evaporation. If you are losing more water than normal evaporation then there could be a leak in your pool or pool plumbing. We can fix leaks at the pool equipment and even in underground piping if the location is known. For unknown sources, we can recommend a local professional leak detection service to assess this situation before it gets worse. Call (760)-753-6369 to set an appointment.

The caulking around my pool between the coping and deck is old and falling out. How do I replace it?

That caulking is called “pool mastic” and is there to keep water from getting behind the pool and under the deck. It is very sticky stuff when wet and hard to clean up. It is not really a “do-it-yourself” type of job. We can remove and replace it for you. Call (760)-753-6369 for a quote.

How do I drain my pool?

Draining a pool should only be done under certain conditions. If you drain your pool at the wrong time you could cause serious damage to the pool. In addition, some plaster finishes may be damaged or weakened once exposed to air. We generally recommended reverse osmosis  over draining and refilling the pool to improve water quality. If the pool needs to be drained for other purposes, we can send a repair technician to assess the situation and drain your pool. If you prefer to drain the pool yourself, we rent submersible pumps, which can usually drain a pool in one day, and you will probably need to purchase some backwash hose

There are regulations concerning where all that pool water goes, for example keeping the water out of storm drains, so check with your city before proceeding. If you need a pump we have rental pumps available. Call (760)-753-6369 for assistance.

FAQ’s – Service & Repair

How often should my pool filter be cleaned?

Swimming pool filters should be cleaned at least every six months. Cleaning the filters more often may be necessary due to heavy use, contaminants entering the water, or an algae bloom, which quickly clogs the filter.

Your pool filter collects the stuff you don’t want in the water, like organic waste material, plant debris, insects, pollen, etc., and all of these accumulations increase sanitizer demand and increase the system pressure, thereby decreasing the flow-rate through the  filter and decreasing the efficiency/increasing the cost  to run your pump. In addition to these issues, organic matter that is kept in the filter too long begins to decompose and can lead to problems like phosphate buildup, which promotes the growth of algae, and poor water quality. Regular “back-washing” of diatomaceous earth (D.E.) filters will minimize these issues, but will not completely prevent them.

For portable above-ground spas is it best to follow the manufacturer’s directions, since many of these have very small filters. Also, filter cleaning is more dependent on the frequency of use.  Regardless of use, the filter should be cleaned and the water completely drained and refilled a minimum of every 6 months.  For in-ground spas,  which typically have larger filters and better circulation systems, filters should be cleaned a minimum of every six months and the spa drained annually.  

In conclusion: with regard to filter cleanings, the more often it is done, the better off everything will be!

What causes green hair after a swim?

Green-tint to hair after a swim occurs due to a combination of factors. Most people assume that too much chlorine in the water causes this. Chlorine does play a part in this problem, but there is much more going on in this equation. The green-tint comes from high levels of dissolved copper in the pool water. This coupled with high pH and high levels of an oxidizing agent like chlorine will bring the copper out of its suspended state, thus depositing in your hair!

Copper collects in your pool or spa typically from the tap water that is used to replace water that has evaporated. Copper content can also increase due to use of copper-based algaecides and from gas-heater coils, especially if the pH had previously been allowed to drop below 7.0.  Solids like copper, iron, manganese, salt and calcium don’t evaporate, and as such, will continue to accumulate as the water “ages”. Pool or spa water needs to either be changed or filtered using reverse-osmosis when high levels of minerals have built up. If changing the water or having reverse-osmosis services provided are not plausible options, use of a metal sequestering agent and consistent maintenance of the pH will typically prevent this from recurring.

In conclusion: proper water balance (pH and alkalinity) and keeping the mineral content as low as possible will prevent green hair.


Why does my pool/spa reek like chlorine?

shick the ddStrong chlorine odor is one of the most common complaints regarding pools or spas. This is a highly misunderstood problem, and believe it or not, it typically means that not enough chlorination is being done to meet the sanitation demand of the water! Chlorine is an oxidizing agent. It kills bacteria by chemically “burning” the contaminant. Chlorine also reacts with other organic compounds in the water like ammonia and nitrogen, as well as body oils, dead skin cells, etcetera. Once this oxidation process begins, “off-gassing” of the contaminant particles occurs, and the chlorine smell is produced. When the chlorine molecules are in this stasis, we call them “chloramines”, or  “combined chlorine”. The best way to eliminate this is by adding more of an oxidizing agent. That’s right, to get rid of the chlorine smell, you can in most instances just add more chlorine! Sounds crazy, but it is true. So really, when you smell that powerful, irritating chlorine smell, it typically means that the sanitation regimen of the pool or spa in question is just a bit behind where it needs to be.

When you bring a sample of your pool or spa water to our retail store, we measure for “Free Chlorine” and “Total Chlorine”. Free chlorine is available chlorine that has not already attached to a contaminant, and total chlorine includes the free chlorine, plus any chlorine that is in the combined state with a contaminant. Ideally, we want these measurements to be equal. If they are not, combined chlorine has accumulated and you need to “shock” the pool with more chlorine or another oxidizing agent like MPS (Potassium Peroxymonosulfate), otherwise known as non-chlorine shock.

Salt-chlorination systems are very effective at preventing this issue, as they generate low levels of chlorine daily, thus avoiding the “roller-coaster” effect that occurs when the chemical testing and adjustments occur days or sometimes weeks apart. The periodic addition of liquid chlorine  is still recommended after heavy pool use to “shock” the pool and eliminate the combined chlorine. 

In conclusion: Regular maintenance of chlorine levels (in direct correlation with bather-load and/or occurrence of contamination of any organic source) will prevent that awful chlorine smell and irritation.

What are the advantages of a "saline" or salt pool?

Most swimming pools are not serviced on a daily basis. As a result, we see a lot of pools that go through the “chlorine roller-coaster”, which is to say, chlorine is added once a week or less, creating high levels that diminish throughout the week, until little to no chlorine is present, and requiring large amounts to be added again.

“Saline” or salt-water pools utilize a chlorination system that converts salt in the water into chlorine on a daily basis. The biggest advantage to this system is that it consistently delivers chlorine, allowing the chlorine levels to be kept relatively low, The consistency of these systems also helps to prevent the buildup of chloramines, which are the culprit when it comes to that chlorine smell we all would like to avoid. The amount of chlorine that needs to be produced to maintain good water quality and prevent algae growth varies seasonally, and the production rate of salt cells is adjustable. 

In addition, the salt in the water gives it a “softer” feel for your skin and hair.

Salt chlorination systems are one of the best options available for your pool and spa.

How long should I run my filter pump?

Your pool filter pump should run long enough to allow filtration of the entire volume of water three times each day. The time that it takes to achieve this will depend on the flow rate of your pump. If you do not know how much water your pool pumps per hour, our recommendation would be to run a single-speed filter pump no less than eight hours per day in the summer months and, most important, it needs to be during the middle of the day, when algae is most likely to occur.

Many pool owners find themselves cutting back on hours of pool pump operation in order to cut back on energy costs, but this typically results in increased chemical demand, frequent algae blooms and poor water quality overall.  However, pump run times can usually be decreased by a couple of hours a day during the winter months.

Recent advances in electric-motor technology have brought us the variable-speed pump. Variable-speed pumps, like the Pentair Intelliflo VS Plus utilize permanent magnet motors that allow us to dictate just how fast the pump runs. The advantage with this is that it allows filter pumps to run at a low speed for a longer period of time, at a minimal cost. By comparison to a single-speed copper-wound pool pump motor, a variable-speed pump will pay for itself in energy savings in a relatively short time.

In addition, movement of the water tends to slow fluctuation in pH balance. Running your pool pump longer will keep your chemistry balanced much easier.

In conclusion: it is best to run your pool filter pump as long as possible each day.

Why do I keep getting algae in my pool?

Algae happens for a variety of reasons. Even a properly balanced pool can grow algae if the filter pump doesn’t run long enough each day, or at the wrong time of day.

Here are some of the most common issues that lead to algae blooms:

  • Dirty pool filter
  • High level of Phosphate
  • High level of Calcium
  • Inadequate chlorination
  • Overuse of stabilized chlorine (high cyanuric acid)
  • High pH and Total Alkalinity
  • Inadequate circulation/filtration

 Algae growth is typically a symptom of one or more problems that need to be addressed with a pool, spa or fountain. A good place to start diagnosis is at our store, where we will test your water and help you to solve these issues on a daily basis! Bring us at least twelve ounces of the water for in-depth analysis, and we’ll get you on the right track!

Why do I have to use chemicals in my pool or spa?

Bacterial or viral contaminations, as well as damage to equipment and pool or spa finishes are all reasons why we use small amounts of chemicals to sanitize and balance the water in a pool or spa.

When properly cared for, the chemical levels in a pool or spa are minimal. It is only when things get out of control that excessive amounts of chemicals are needed. Improper care of swimming pool or spa water can lead to contamination of E.coli bacteria, Cryptosporidium, Folliculitis, Giardia, Shigella, norovirus, and even Meningitis.

Proper maintenance of chlorine or bromine systems will keep the levels acceptably low and help prevent these dangerous contaminants. In fact, a properly maintained swimming pool can do great with chlorine levels no higher than tap water!

Many people misunderstand chlorine based on experiences with poorly-cared for pools or spas. We frequently hear from people who claim to be allergic to chlorine. Fortunately, this is not really plausible. Chlorine is derived from Sodium Chloride, the predominant mineral in all of our bodies! “Allergic reactions” to chlorine can usually be attributed to problems like Folliculitis, also known as hot-tub rash, which occurs from a germ called Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Chlorine is a naturally occurring element, and when used properly, it should have no adverse side effects to the pool or spa user, and it serves to prevent far more dangerous viral or bacterial contamination. Bromine is a nearly identical compound to chlorine, and again, when used properly, should pose no danger to the swimmer or bather.

Adding acid to the pool or spa in proper dosages serves to change the properties of the pH and Total Alkalinity. Once this reaction is complete, the acid is rendered to inert ingredients. When the pH and Total Alkalinity are out of balance, poor efficiency of the sanitizers and/or damage to the pool and spa equipment can occur, as well as staining.

Other chemicals, like Cyanuric Acid, copper based algaecides, metal sequestering agents and clarifiers have been used for decades, tried and tested with no adverse health consequences when used appropriately. Proper maintenance and preventive actions are really the key, here.

There are also many alternative sanitizers available that will greatly reduce the amount of chemical sanitizer necessary to maintain a safe, healthy swimming or bathing experience. For instance, ozone generators, mineral sanitizers, and UV (ultraviolet light) manifolds are all highly effective at killing bacteria and viruses. Any one of these options can be used in conjunction with chlorine or bromine systems, and in most cases will reduce the necessary level of chlorine or bromine to ½ ppm (parts per million) residual!

In conclusion: Chemicals for the sanitation and balancing of the pool water are far more of a benefit than a danger, when used correctly.

How can I learn to properly care for my pool or spa?

Resources are readily available for the lay-person to learn about proper pool or spa maintenance. There are many websites that offer differing techniques and opinions on how pool or spa maintenance should be approached. Be aware that websites can often vary greatly in approach or technique or focus on specific types of equipment based upon the region where the author lives. And here in San Diego our tap water is much harder than in most parts of the country, so we need to follow different criteria to maintain proper water chemistry. 

Swimming pools and spas are quite often built as custom installations, and consequently are significantly different from one to another. Even pools built by the same builder, on the same street, at the same time can be drastically different from one another! Del Rancho Pools offers a “Tutorial Service” wherein one of our experienced technicians will meet with you at your pool or spa to accurately identify the configuration of your equipment and plumbing, and teach you how to operate the equipment, service the pool, and answer any questions you may have regarding your pool or spa. The charge for this service is $95.00 per hour, and is arguably the best way to learn how to care for your specific pool or spa. 

Call us anytime to set up your personal tutorial at 760-753-6369.

Contact Us

Encinitas Showroom
1315 Encinitas Blvd.
Encinitas, CA 92024

Customer Enquiry
(760) 753-6369

Fax: (760) 753-9048

CA License #675390

Service Areas

Serving the communities of northern San Diego County for over 40 years, including the beach areas of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside. We also cover the inland regions of Scripps Ranch, Carmel Valley, Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Escondido, Valley Center, San Marcos, Vista, and Bonsall.

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