How To Use Your Hot Tub During The Winter

hot tub

Use Your Hot Tub in Winter

A great way to escape the cold is to create a warm haven in your backyard. Your hot tub or spa are the perfect ways to stay warm in the winter.

Here are our tips for using your hot tub in the winter.

Invest in a Good Cover.

Make sure your cover is well-insulated and has a tight-fitting seal. A high-quality cover in good condition will help your hot tub maintain a constant high temperature, even when the weather is frightful.

Hot tub covers insulate much better when they’re locked. When locked, the straps pull down on the edges of the cover, forming a tight seal that keeps heat in. Without the straps being locked, the edges of the hot tub cover can lift slightly; allowing heat to escape.

Not only will this cost you money in extra heating costs, but a bad seal will also allow steam to escape. This means having to top up the water level more often and having to add more chemicals to balance the water.

Monitor the Water Level.

Check your water level frequently and add more as necessary. If the water level falls too low in cold weather, the components may freeze, which could damage your hot tub.

If the water level drops too low your pump and heater could shut down resulting in frozen water and possible damage to your hot tub.

For most hot tub owners, there are times in the year when you’re just too busy to use your hot tub. The problem comes when that lack of use becomes a lack of maintenance. There are a few reasons why you don’t want to neglect your hot tub, the biggest being all the time and effort required to fix a hot tub with water quality issues.

Even if you’re not using the hot tub, you should still try to get out at least once a week to check on it and add your maintenance chemicals. Doing this can save you a massive headache later and makes sure that your hot tub is ready to use when you’re ready to start using it again.

Keep the Water Clean.

Make sure you clean and maintain your water and filters according to your usual schedule. Simple problems can become more complicated to fix in subzero weather.

Change Your Water Early.

If your tub will be due for a scheduled water change during winter, it’s a good idea to shift it to earlier in the year.
Changing water while the outside temperatures are low can be particularly challenging, as there’s a risk of water freezing and damaging your spa.

Conventional wisdom says that you should change your hot tub water every 3-4 months. For some people, this means having to change your water in the dead of winter.

While having freshwater does make for a more enjoyable hot tub experience, changing your water in -20C weather is never a good idea. The risk of your pipes freezing greatly outweighs any benefits that changing the water has.

If you need to change the water, do so in small batches. Remove 6″-12″ of water at a time; refilling – and reheating – the water in between these partial drains. While this won’t get you the same results as completely draining and refilling the hot tub, it will get you by until the weather warms up.

Turn Down the Jets.

Use the jets to a lesser extent than you would in other seasons, and don’t forget to turn them off when not in use. The jets work by blowing air into the water, which can lower the temperature.

Be Smart About Soak Times.

The longer you stay in your spa, the higher your body temperature climbs. While it may be tempting to linger in the comforting warmth of your hot tub when the outside air is cold, try to limit your soak time to about twenty minutes. Moving from extreme heat to extreme cold can place dangerous stress on your body.

Have a Plan for Retreat.

Cold weather can be dangerous, particularly when you’re wet and wearing a bathing suit. After your soak, when you must leave the protective warmth of your spa and face the icy winter air, make sure to immediately shield yourself from the cold. Keep a bathrobe and shoes or sturdy slippers nearby, and get indoors as quickly as possible after leaving your hot tub.

Enhance Your Outdoor Sanctuary.

Use accessories to add warmth and comfort to your outdoor hot tub environment in the winter. Consider adding heating lamps, or a towel warmer, or maybe simply a weatherproof rug to protect bare feet from the frozen ground. Just make sure all electrical devices are either battery-operated or are placed far enough away from your hot tub to avoid any possible risk of electrocution from contact with water.

Closing Your Hot-Tub

If you won’t use it in winter, you can save money by closing it. However, you can’t just close the cover and forget about it. You need to take the time to properly drain and dry out your hot tub before it gets too cold. If you don’t, you could end up with an expensive repair in the spring.

Flush and Drain Your Hot Tub

First, you must flush your system and drain all the water from your hot tub. During the cold winter months, uncirculated water can freeze and cause damage to the pumps.

Air Blower

If your spa has an air blower, you need to take the time to drain it too. Shut off the heater and run the blower to push all the water from the system.

Remove the Filters

Closing your hot tub for the winter is a good time to pull out and clean the filters. If they are worn out, now is the perfect time to replace them. Clean and dry them and put them somewhere safe during the winter.

Loosen Fittings

After you have drained your hot tub, there could still be water in many of the plumbing fittings as well. Loosen these fittings and allow all the water to drain out of them. If you have a gas heater, shut it down and drain the water from any valves.

Blow Your Jets

You need to be sure there is no water in the jet system as well. Using a wet-dry vac, blow air through each jet to make sure all water has been blown from the system.

Final Clean Up

Mop up any water and make sure the inside is dry. Once it has been dried, give it a good cleaning before putting your cover on. Locking it for the winter will make opening the hot tub in the spring much easier.

Interested in learning more? Contact us here. 

Tips For Grilling In Winter

grilling in winter

Tips For Grilling In Winter

When the temperatures start to drop, our first reaction is to escape to our homes and avoid braving the cold as much as possible. We’re here to tell you that you don’t have to become a recluse this winter! You can enjoy a delicious grilled meal just like summertime! Yes, you can enjoy grilling in winter.

Keep it Covered

Getting a cover for your grill before winter is important because it not only will protect your grill from the elements, but a cover makes grilling more convenient during the months of heavy snowfall. Simply dust the snow off the cover with a shovel or brush, then remove the cover, and you have yourself a snow-free grill. We always recommend keeping a shovel or brush right outside your back door to clear a path to your grill as well.

Fuel Check

Make sure to keep extra fuel nearby during cold months. Charcoal should be stored in a dry place protected from snow or rain. When you are grilling with charcoal be sure to use a little extra because it will burn quicker in colder and windy weather. For all gas grilling, remember to preheat with all burners on high for at least 15 minutes. Having a full gas tank and extra charcoal ensures you will be able to keep your grill at the desired temperature.

The colder temperatures will mean your grill will need a little more time to get up to the temp you want for cooking. Give it a good 5-10 minutes extra from what you would normally wait. It is best to pre-heat to 400 or 450 degrees as a minimum and then adjust the temperature. When you place your food on the grill and it doesn’t sizzle then that tells you that it is not nearly hot enough. If cooking on a charcoal grill, make sure to use plenty of charcoal to get the heat needed for grilling.

Stay Warm and Safe

The Midwest hit some low record-breaking temperatures last year, so just remember if you are going out in the cold to grill, bundle up in your winter gear, tuck in any scarfs inside your coat, and use your grilling gloves when handling the grill!

Safety First

Just because it’s cold outside remember it is never a good idea to grill in an enclosed space that can trap deadly carbon monoxide, like inside a garage, under an overhang, indoors or in an enclosed area. In addition to carbon monoxide accumulation, accidental fire damage, and smoke damage are all possible to be aware of any loose or dangling clothing that could catch on fire.

Being well-prepared is the best way to avoid problems. Place your grill on a firm level surface—a wooden deck is not the best choice for obvious reasons! Keep your spare fuel away from the lit grill.

Winter clothing like scarves can trail into the flames, so be sure you’re safely dressed when grilling.

 

Good Lighting

If you’re grilling in winter after dark, you’ll need to choose outdoor lighting, both for atmosphere and practicality. Light strings are an attractive feature when draped around your deck. Don’t rely on extension cords as your power source because they are a trip hazard. And beware of naked flames like candles if children and pets are around.

For grilling, a good overhead light is best, but you can get excellent visibility with a powerful headlamp that leaves your hands free for cooking.

 

Invest in Grilling Gloves

 

Normal winter gloves might keep out the cold, but they won’t cut it for grilling. Purposely designed grilling gloves are made to withstand extremely high temperatures and have long cuffs to protect your hands and wrists against burns. Made from fire-resistant material such as silicone, they won’t wear into holes, and they often have special non-slip grip for safety when handling hot food and utensils. And best of all, they’re easy to clean—some are even dishwasher-safe.

 

Avoid Catastrophes

Planning is key: Locate your grill at least 10 feet away from fences, buildings or other flammable materials. Have a designated place for raw and cooked food and don’t mix the two—no one wants food poisoning to follow a great barbecue! Use separate utensils, too.

 

Build a Permanent Grill Shelter

For confirmed winter grilling fanatics, the best solution is to construct a purpose-built shelter that houses your grill, and also has a wide range of customizable features like built-in cooler space, storage for barware and beverages, lighting and bench seating.

Have any questions about grills, grilling in winter,  or any other products that we offer? Contact us here. 

5 Tips to Enjoy Your Backyard in Winter

backyard

Winter is here and no matter how much you are dreading the cold weather, there are always ways to continue to enjoy your backyard in winter.

For many homeowners, the backyard is a staple of summer living that may fade away once the snow starts to hit, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Winter takes away the daylight, the warmth and replaces it with a whole lot of snow. The key to enjoying your backyard in winter is to make up for what Mother Nature took away while making the most of what she provided.

Here are 5 Tips to enjoy your backyard in winter

FIND A NEW SOURCE OF LIGHT

In winter, the days are short and daylight is very hard to come by. A practical way to address this issue is by going with a neutral holiday light set and using it all winter long. Permanent lighting in your backyard is a great option to add extra light.

FIND A NEW SOURCE OF WARMTH

With temperatures plummeting, you need heat to make your backyard more hospitable. There are a variety of options on the market that can address this concern. These options include purchasing patio heaters, having a fireplace installed or even getting a hot tub, which is more affordable now than ever before. These pieces are well complemented by other winter-friendly additions such as wooden furniture and gazebos. You can enjoy the still peace of nature while thawing out by an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit. Bring the blankets and the hot chocolate for a relaxing time with your family or friends.

ENJOY THE SNOW

When it snows, you often dread shoveling your driveway, cleaning off your car and dealing with other drivers on the road. Why not take a break from shoveling and go have some fun in your backyard? You can build a snowman, construct an igloo or snow fort and have a snowball fight.

Therefore, you might as well make the most of the winter by enjoying the one gift it provides that many people don’t actually mind, the snow. The opportunities for fun are limitless, whether you want to make snow angels, a snowman, or even have a snowball throwing contest (where you aim at targets, not at each other!).

One great thing you can do year-round on your patio is grilling. Don’t let the bitter cold and snow stand in your way from eating delicious steak, chicken, and burgers. Just remember to prepare and make sure that your grill has fresh dry charcoal or a fresh tank of gas.

RELY ON WINTER PLANTS

Spring is the season of blooming for most plants, but there is still some plant life out there that can survive and thrive in winter. So head over to your local nursery to learn more about cold-resistant and winter-blooming plants, shrubs and perennials that can add some much-needed vibrancy to your backyard this winter. Look out for Red Osier, a red winter shrub, and Purple Coneflower, a perennial, two options that will compliment any winter garden.

WARM UP WITH A HOT-TUB

Why leave the hot tub to the ski resorts, when you can have one in your own backyard? Your hot-tub can provide a warm relaxation station in your backyard. Be sure to wear a winter hat in the tub. A hat will actually help you regulate body temperature in the tub, and will protect your head from any winter air.

Have any questions about getting your backyard ready for winter? Then contact us here!

How To Prepare Your Spa For Cold Weather

spa

Preparing Your Spa

Spa owners already know this: when summer ends, hot tub usage heats up. The weather gets cooler, kids start new sports activities, and in general, everyone spends more time at home. It’s a prime season for spas and hot tubs, so make sure yours is ready for action.

Consider these tips:

1. FILTER

Start of a new season is a good time to check the filters – replace them if needed for maximum operating efficiency.

Clean your filter regularly on the recommended manufacturer’s basis. Dirty filters are often the cause of bacteria build-up and other water issues, which can cause health problems in spa-users.

It’s good practice to clean your filters every time you drain and refill your spa. Not only because a clean filter promotes cleaner water and reduces cloudiness, but also because it increases the longevity of the filter itself. With regular cleaning, your filter should be replaced about once every 6 months. So, if you replaced your filter in the spring, it’s time for a new one.

2. OZONE GENERATOR

To maintain water quality, check the levels of pH, total alkalinity, hardness, and chlorine or bromine in your water before each use. Adjust as needed if you don’t use an ozone generator. An ozone generator is a water purifier that sprays ozone gas into the water – significantly reducing, but not totally eliminating, the need for chemicals.

3. SHELL, CABINET, AND COVER

Clean your cabinet, hot tub surface, and cover according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If snow is an issue in your area: A plastic tarp over the cover can prevent snow shovel damage.

Is your cover in good shape or is it time for a replacement? Your spa cover prevents leaves and dirt from getting into the water, and it keeps the heat inside to conserve energy.

Early fall is the perfect time to clean and treat your spa cover for the coming cold season!

To properly clean your cover:

Hose down the vinyl to loosen dirt and grime.
Apply the gentle non-abrasive oil-free cleaner on a rag or soft sponge.
Wipe off dirt and grime, regularly hosing off rag or sponge to prevent smearing.
After the cover is dry, apply alcohol and oil-free protectant.

4. CHANGE IT UP

Depending on the use of your spa, plan to change the water completely about every 60 to 90 days. Chemicals can’t protect you properly in water that is old and used often.

SPA SYSTEM FLUSHING

Flushing your spa plumbing system prior to draining will save you time in the long run by eliminating scum build-up in the pipes which often cause water balancing problems if left unchecked. We recommend Spa System Flush for its unsurpassed cleaning performance and economical price.

DRAINING

Always start your hot tub draining procedure by shutting off the heater and powering off the spa, then switching off the power service at the breaker panel or disconnect box for safety. Once the power is shut off to your tub, you can resume your normal training routine.

REFILLING

Before refilling your spa, take time to wipe down the shell with a rag and gentle non-foaming cleanser. This will remove the remaining contaminants and help you to start your hot tub with cleaner clearer water. If you have well water or live in an area with hard water, consider using a hose-end pre-filter to filter out excess minerals and other small particles before they enter the spa. A pre-filter can also prevent hard-to-remove waterline stains and scale build-up on the equipment.

Have any questions about spas? Contact us here! 

Preparing Your Outdoor Furniture For Bad Weather

outdoor furniture

OUTDOOR FURNITURE

This time of the year is perfect to prepare your outdoor furniture for winter. While most furniture nowadays will stand up to the harsh winter elements, there are some things you can do to make sure it will look its best next year. After all, the happier you are with your furniture, the more likely you are to use your outdoor space for entertaining!

Before you jump right in and accept that summer is over, keep in mind that some of the best temperatures for spending time in your outdoor space have yet to come. You may find yourself outdoors more now than during those hot afternoons.

Here is our list of what you should do to prepare your patio furniture for cold weather.

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR OUTDOOR FURNITURE FOR BAD WEATHER

Storage

Depending on what is in your outdoor living arrangement, you may want to consider storing some of the furniture or at the very least store the cushions. Having space dedicated to your outdoor living furniture or lawn ornaments in the offseason may help in protecting your investment.

Know what choices you have for storing outdoor furniture. Whether it be a garage, shed, or storage unit, knowing how much space you have ahead of time will make things easier for you when it comes time to store it.

Give it a coat

After your furniture is clean, a protective coating will help keep it looking good for next spring. Aluminum or plastic pieces can be covered with a thin coat of car wax to protect them and use a coat of paste wax for wicker furniture. Check metal furniture for any signs of rust and remove with a wire brush, then spray metal furniture with a silicone sealant.

Wash it!

The most important step in preparing furniture for storage is to get it clean. Moisture and dirt left on outdoor items can cause mold or mildew to grow in the winter months. Mold can grow and spread quickly, leaving your furniture in bad shape by the time you are ready to use it again. Pieces made from wicker, wrought iron, mesh or plastic can be cleaned with a simple dish soap and water solution.

For wood furniture, you can use a wood cleaner (such as Murphy oil soap) and water, then rinse and let dry. If there are stains that are difficult to remove, make a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1-gallon water. Use a soft brush to work on the stains, then rinse and let dry completely. Take time to work on stains now, to prevent problems in the spring.

Cushions also need to be clean and dry before you put them away for the winter. If you have cushions covered in fabric or canvas, prepare a solution of 1/2 cup Lysol and 1-gallon hot water and use a soft brush to scrub them clean. Rinse cushions thoroughly and let dry. More serious stains may respond well to a solution of 1/2 cup bleach and 1-gallon water but test first on a small area.

Cover Up

Even if you’re planning on storing your outdoor furniture in a shed or garage, you need to cover everything up to protect it from dust, moisture, and all those other things that are best avoided. You can either buy designated furniture covers or make your own using drop sheets or other large, protective fabrics. If you’re leaving everything outside, you need to ensure that the covers you choose are weather resistant and can withstand the elements. It’s worth noting that some materials (like plastic and natural rattan) don’t fare very well outdoors for extended periods so try to avoid leaving them out for the season.

Plan ahead.

It’s not always possible to predict the weather. But, if you know extreme weather is about to hit your area (including a heatwave), go ahead and cover up your furniture or move it into a storage shed. Furniture covers won’t do much against the wind, but they will protect against damaging UV rays and torrential rain.

If you need any help with your outdoor furniture or backyard living, don’t hesitate to contact us here.

7 Easy Tips For Closing Your Pool This Fall

closing your pool

Closing Your Pool

With summer gone, it’s time for above ground pool owners to close down their pools. Winter brings frigid temperatures and ice can cause thousands of dollars of damage to pools that aren’t prepared correctly. That makes properly closing down your pool an essential part of pool maintenance. Here are our key steps to prepare you for closing your pool.

In-Ground Pools

The first task in prepping your pool for its winter nap is to make sure the water chemistry is correctly balanced to last through the winter without corroding or forming scale on the sides of your pool. This will also keep the thousands of gallons you have in your pool clean and ready to use next summer.

Next, cycle the water through the pump and filter for a few days until chlorine levels to return to normal. Then add winter algaecide.

On closing day, clean the pool one last time. Be sure to use a brush on the walls and the bottom to clear any leftover algae or silt. Drain water from the pump, filtering, and heating systems.

It’s a general practice to drain the pool below the mouth of the skimmer inlet. The idea is to keep water out of the filter and pumping system. While this sounds convenient, freezing may be an issue if you have tile at the waterline.

Above-Ground Pools

You’ll need to remove and store pumps and filters. Insert plugs into the pool filter water intake and outflow openings (usually in the pool’s sidewall). Disconnect all hoses from the pool and let it drain. Disconnect and drain all water heaters, filters, skimmers, automatic chlorinator, or salt chlorinator, and then store these in a warm, dry place like your basement.

Lastly, inflate and deploy the pool pillows and cover the pool. Be sure the cover is secure so that it won’t blow away and that there is enough support from the pillow underneath so that ice meltwater will drain easily from the cover. Otherwise, ice and meltwater can stretch and tear the cover and contaminate your pool water.

Closing down your pool may sound like daunting maintenance job, but it’s something that can be finished in the span of a week but a mistake could cost you thousands.

There’s a lot more to it than just slapping a cover on and calling it a day.

Let’s take a look at what you need to do to get your swimmin’ hole ready for its long winter’s rest.

1. Get the timing right

Closing your pool too early can encourage algae growth and make your job a whole lot harder when it’s time to reopen the following spring.

Make your life easier and enjoy your pool longer by waiting until late summer.

If your pool is heated, you can get away with waiting until October.

A good rule of thumb is to wait until the water is consistently lower than 65 degrees before closing.

Begin the process about a week before you actually want the pool to be closed.

2. Clean it up

Brush the sides and bottom of your pool and then vacuum it. A thorough cleaning before closing for the season will help to prevent algae growth and lighten your workload when it’s time to open it back up.

3. Test the waters

It’s best to take a sample of your pool’s water to a reputable pool store to have it tested.

You’ll want the pH to be between 7.4 and 7.6 and the alkalinity to be between 100 and 150 ppm.

Shoot for the top of these ranges when you’re closing your pool for the winter.

4. Add the chemicals

The winterizing chemicals you’ll add to your pool are:

  • A pH increaser and/or an alkalinity increaser.
  • Sanitizer, such as Chlorine or Bromine.
  • Chlorine shock.
  • Winter algaecide.

Keep in mind that the chlorine shock will destroy the algaecide.

The best course of action is to add the shock five to seven days before closing your pool, and then waiting to add the algaecide until right before you put the cover on.

5. What about the filter and pump?

Remove the drain plugs and allow the pump to drain. Remove the pump and all the hoses that are attached. If you have a chlorinator, that should be removed at this time as well.

If you keep all the drain plugs in the pump basket, you’ll know right where they are and you won’t risk them getting misplaced.

The hoses, pump, and chlorinator will last longer if you store them inside during the cold winter months.

No matter what type of filter you have, it will need to be removed and cleaned before storage. Filters should also be stored inside, with the exception of a sand filter, which may be too large and/or heavy to take indoors.

6. To drain or not to drain?

There is some debate about the validity of lowering the water level for the winter. This issue revolves around protecting the skimmer from cracking due to freezing temps.

For an above ground pool, removing the hose from the skimmer and using a winter skimmer cover plate will remove the need to drain the pool at all. The normal level will actually be better.

An inground pool is a bit different. Your best bet is to hire a professional to come and blow out the pipes. They can insert a rubber piece that will protect the skimmer from damage in the freezing cold. If this is done, you won’t need to drain the pool.

If you have tile on the sides of your pool, you should lower the water level to about 4 inches beneath the tile. This will prevent it from possible damage.

At this point in the process, it’s also the best time to remove ladders and any other accessories that can be stored.

7. Cover it up

An above-ground pool will need an air pillow beneath the cover.

You can use clips and cables to secure your cover.

An in-ground pool doesn’t require an air pillow but should use clips to secure the cover.

The long wait for spring

You’ve cleaned and scrubbed, added chemicals and covered up your pool.

Following these maintenance tips gives you the best chance of not having any unwelcome surprises come spring. Have any questions about closing your pool? Contact us here. 

How To Protect Your Patio Furniture

protect your patio furniture

How To Protect Your Patio Furniture

The heat is on and the summer sunshine is upon us! Although we love this beautiful weather, the summer sun can be damaging to patio furniture. To avoid fading paint and other sun damage, here are some tips to protect your patio furniture from the weather:

1. Get a Patio Umbrella

Investing in a good umbrella is among the best tips to protect your patio furniture from the sun. One of the best features of a patio umbrella is its versatility. It can be moved from place to place or angled, depending on what needs to be protected from the summer sun.

2. Store your cushions and umbrella!

Cushions and umbrellas are easily damaged during storms when left outside. So if a storm is coming, take them inside or store them in a heavy-duty outdoor storage container. Umbrellas can get sun and wind damaged as well. So if you are not using your umbrella, make sure it’s secured in an umbrella base and covered with an umbrella cover or store it away inside.

3. Try a Pavilion

Pavilions are another great way to stay protected from the sun. Not only does it help hide you from the sun’s harmful rays, but it can also turn your outdoor space into a private oasis. When it comes to tips to protect your patio furniture, you can’t go wrong with a pavilion.

Pavilions are a fantastic way to provide large areas of shade. They’re large enough to cover a complete patio set and hide your summer picnic or family BBQ from the summer elements. A pavilion can transform your backyard space into a separate outdoor living area that provides ample shade for the whole family.

4. Cover your Furniture!

It’s the BEST way to keep your furniture dry and free from any debris or scratching during a storm. And make sure to find the right fit for your chairs, tables, and umbrellas. Measure your furniture before buying your furniture covers or if you’ve purchased with American Sale, remember your set name and we can help you find the proper fit for your seating group. We sell individual covers for pieces, but we also sell covers for chairs and tables together.

5. Powder coat it.

Powder coating your patio furniture is the equivalent of covering your skin in sunscreen. It creates a layer of protection between the metal item and the harsh UV rays, slowing the progression of the damage caused by the sun. Though it won’t last forever, powder coating can help your furniture resist fading and rust, giving it a great finish for longer than any other wet paint product.

6. Get a Tent

If a pavilion is too large for your outdoor space, consider a tent. Tents are a great way to provide a shaded area that can be placed over seats, a children’s sandbox or a kiddie pool to protect the little ones from the harmful rays the sun brings.

One amazing thing you can add to your tent (or your pavilion) are water misters. While sitting in your protected space you can get a cool-mist amongst the heat. If you’re looking for tips to protect your patio furniture, adding a mister will also make cleanup easier by spraying down your tables and chairs.

7. Trim Your Trees!

Large tree branches hovering over your patio furniture can pose a threat to damaging your set. It’s a good idea to make sure any tree branches that are overhanging your set are either trimmed or removed. Also, if you have an awning, make sure it’s closed or secured before a storm just to make sure your patio furniture doesn’t get damaged by it.

8. Weight your furniture!

Weighing down furniture with sandbags or weights can also be a good idea if the storm is going to be particularly strong. This depends on the weight of your furniture itself as well. If you have a sling, aluminum, resin or wicker patio furniture, weighing down your table and chairs is a GREAT idea. If you have a cast iron or aluminum set, you may not have to do this. Chairs should also be tucked in under the table and umbrellas should always be placed in a heavy umbrella base like below to keep it from blowing away.

9. Protective cleaner

When it comes to protecting furniture from the weather, umbrellas, and covers are the go-to resource. Do not forget that protective cleaners can go a long way in keeping your furniture safe during the times there is no cover. The sun moves all day, so chances are at some points throughout the day, your furniture will be exposed. Using a protective cleaner regularly prepares your furniture for any exposed time and keeps it safe from permanent damage.

Enjoy the Summer

However you choose to catch a break from the sun this summer, Cincinnati Pool & Patio has a plethora of options to best suit your space, budget, and outdoor decor. Make sure you have fun and stay protected this summer.

Contact us today with any questions you have today!

Hot Tub Safety: Things to Watch Out For

hot tub safety

HOT TUB SAFETY

The comfort of a good soak in the hot tub can make the best of us throw caution to the wind. The reality is all bodies of water, even the ones as small as a spa, can be quite dangerous. If you own a hot tub or spa, you should practice hot tub safety.

Daunting as the task may seem, you can avoid accidents in your hot tub. Here are some tips for hot tub safety.

Spa check-ups

All machinery needs regular checkups to ensure things are in order and working smoothly. Your hot tub is no exception.

Set a weekly or monthly schedule, depending on the frequency of your use to make sure nothing is wrong. You should consult a professional to make sure the spa is in safe working conditions.

Installing a 24/7 pH monitor like pHin in your spa will let you know about chemical imbalances as soon as they occur. With the right pH, spa chemical balance, and regular cleaning, you can avoid harmful bacteria buildup in the hot tub.

Hot Tub Safety precautions

As the owner, it is your responsibility to educate everyone about safety measures.

Hot tub bathers are at serious risk for hot water-related injuries. It is crucial that the water temperature doesn’t exceed 104°F. It is also important to time your soaking period. The average soaking time is around 15-20 minutes and it shouldn’t be exceeded. Spending a prolonged amount of time can result in dizziness, fainting, and in extreme cases death.

Expecting Mothers

Pregnant women are at a higher risk of heat-related issues such as hyperthermia. Prolonged bathing times are to be especially avoided because excessive heat can harm the fetus. Soaking time should be no more than 10-15 minutes. If any discomfort is felt, pregnant women should get out of the tub immediately. The water temperature should be below 102°F.

Children

Children should not be allowed to enter the tub without adult supervision. Though, accidents can happen even when an adult is around.

Kids can get very excited at the opportunity to have a dip in the tub. Therefore, don’t let this excitement come in the way of precaution.

Beware of signs of overactivity like rosy cheeks. You might want to take your child out of the tub to let them cool down for a bit before entering the pool again.

Ensure that all bathers, especially kids, are hydrated. You can set a small snack bar of juices and fruits like watermelon for the kids so that they can enjoy the hot tub without dehydrating.

Some hazards to look out for

Hot tubs are a great way to enjoy an afternoon with your family. Though, a very common hazard is slipping inside the tub. Therefore, children and adults alike should not attempt to run in the hot tub. Accidents like spraining, bruising, and drowning can very easily occur.

Do not bring any sharp objects or toys in the hot tub. Small and sharp objects not only cause severe injuries to bathers, but they can also clog the spa’s jets and filters.

Handling electrical devices

We know you might be thinking it is absurd to even mention this because it’s common sense, but we’ll still say it: keep ALL corded electronic devices, naked wiring, and electrical appliances away from the spa.

It would also be a good idea to keep your mobile phones and gadgets away from the spa to avoid damaging them.

Spa cover

We cannot stress how important a spa cover is. It will help you keep out unwanted bathers, restrict kids from entering the tub without adult supervision, keep dirt and debris out of the pool water, and avoid contamination.

Apart from those benefits, a spa cover will also aid you in conserving electricity, thus reducing your bill greatly.

Don’t have a spa cover? Contact us today and we can walk you through our selection of hot-tub covers and hot tub safety accessories.

Cleaning Your Grill

cleaning your grill

Cleaning Your Grill

Like any good relationship, you need to put some work into the one you have with your grill. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a top-of-line model or a cheap knock-off, with proper maintenance, cleaning your grill bound to keep it working a long time.

Polish the Outside

If you have an enamel grill, you can just spray a paper towel with glass cleaner and wipe down the exterior. For a stainless steel grill, you should use a brush and polish made for steel. Then you can buff along the grain with a microfiber cloth.

CLEANING THE GRILL GRATE

After getting a fire going, the first order of business is cleaning the grill grate. The grill grate will see the most action and because of this—and the fact that food will come into direct contact with it—most of your cleaning attention should be focused here.

If you haven’t already, invest in a good grill brush with a long handle and firm bristles or scouring pad.

Soak and Scrub

Remove the grates and the metal plates underneath, and place everything in a bucket of hot, soapy water. After a few minutes in the bucket, give the grates and the plates a good scrubbing with the grill brush; dip and redip it in the soapy water as needed. Give the grates a rinse with the garden hose and set aside. Use the grill brush to scrub the inside of the hood with hot, soapy water (that stuff that looks like peeling paint is a harmless buildup of carbon), and use steel wool for hard-to-get nooks.

Remove and clean the drip pan, then toss it into the soaking bucket. Let sit, then scrub with the grill brush and rinse with the hose. Reassemble the grill (no need to dry anything), and reconnect the propane tank. If there’s a cabinet below, give it a good sweeping with a whisk broom, then wipe it out with a damp paper towel.

OILING THE GRATE

After cleaning the grate, the question is: “To oil, or not to oil.”

Oiling your grill grate helps prevent food from sticking when cooking. To do this, dip a wadded paper towel in a little oil and, using tongs, wipe the oil evenly over the grate. Be careful not to use too much oil, because that’s a sure-fire way to start a good flare-up—a little goes a long way here.

CLEANING YOUR GRILL

Cleaning the grill grate and the ash out is very important, the rest of the grill—not so much. About once a month take a rag and some cleaner to the outside of the grill to keep it looking nice and shiny. Like a good cast iron pan, grilling over and over seasons the inside of your grill.

Fire up the grill, cranking it high for 15 minutes to burn off any food residue. Use a stainless-steel grill brush to scrape anything loose off the grates. Then turn all the knobs off, disconnect the propane tank (or, if your grill is connected to your main gas line, turn off the gas line), and wait until the grill is cool to the touch.

Clean the burner

Make sure the propane tank is turned off. Remove the briquettes and cooking grates, and carefully detach the gas tubes and burner. Clean the tubes with warm, soapy water and dry them with a towel. Wipe the burner clean with a damp cloth.

If you have a gas grill, one part that often gets clogged is its burner tubes. Symptoms of dirty burners include reduced flame size. They may also burn with an orange color instead of the usual blue. Both indicate abnormally low temperatures and an underpowered grill.

Typically a gas grill has multiple burner tubes, though some may only have one. Use a nylon or steel wire brush to gently clean the small holes on the tubes. Be sure to brush from the center of the tube outward, moving sideways (not up and down). Otherwise, you may push debris into the tube or holes themselves instead of clearing them.

Burn Off The Grease

During grilling season, briquettes transfer heat to the cooking grates, leaving them coated with grease. Before firing up your grill, flip over the briquettes, close the lid, and heat the grill on high for 15 minutes.

Certain practices can help discourage deposits of dirt and grease from forming in the first place. One method is to grease the grates of your hot grill with a little cooking oil right before you start cooking. In the same vein, scrubbing grates with raw onion is another tactic you can try. If you do have a grill brush without bristles, it’s a good idea to scrape your hot grates both before and after grilling.

Wrap It Up

If you don’t have a grill cover or never use the one you do have, change your ways. It could reduce your monthly deep-cleans to once a season. Best are vented covers, which allow moisture to escape.

If you have any questions about grills or cleaning your grill then you should contact us here!

Summer Grilling Tips

grilling tips

One of our favorite things about summertime is summer barbecues and cookouts. We know not everyone is a grill master. That’s why we’ve assembled a list of our best grilling tips to ensure you can have fun and be safe during your summer cookouts.

Here are 14 of our grilling tips!

The Pool and Spa Warehouse’s Grilling Tips

Clean Your Grill

Start with a clean grill. Don’t let last night’s salmon skin impart a fishy-char flavor to tonight’s chicken breasts. Use a sturdy metal brush to clean the grates in between uses.

The Less Movement The Better

Don’t move the food around. In general, the fewer times you flip something, the better (once is ideal for most meats). If the meat is stuck to the grill, let it cook more — it will unstick itself when it’s ready for flipping.

Don’t Press Down

Don’t squeeze or flatten meats. Yes, I know that burst of sizzling flame that comes from squishing a burger with a spatula is tempting. But you know what is creating that flame burst? Fat. And you know what fat is? Juicy flavor. Don’t squish meat, because you will squeeze out the taste and moisture.

Keep Water Near

Keep a spray bottle handy for flare-ups. Flames are not your food’s friends — they will char it unpleasantly. Keep a spray bottle filled with water handy; this will allow you to dampen flare-ups without interfering with heat.

Check The Temp with a Thermometer

Buy a meat thermometer. Unless you are a very experienced cook, it is hard to tell meat’s temperature merely by touching it. (Although if you are interested, here’s how to do it: Touch the meat. If it’s soft like the flesh between your index finger and thumb, it’s rare. If it’s soft like your cheek, it’s medium-rare, and if it’s firm like your forehead it’s well-done.) More accurate for most of us: A quick check of temp from a thermometer. Your confidence in grilling will skyrocket with this one $10 purchase.

Use aluminum foil to trap heat.

Really hot grill bars equal great grill marks on your steaks. To concentrate the heat and keep it from escaping, lay a sheet of foil over the grill for 10 minutes. Peel the foil off just before cooking, scrunch it into a ball (it cools fast) and use it later to scrape any residue or ash from the bars.

Bring the Meat to Room Temperature

Avoid putting cold foods straight on the grill. Letting meat come to temperature on the counter for 30 minutes before grilling will help it cook more evenly. (If you are looking for a rare sear, however — like if you’re grilling tuna, for example — then chilled is the way to go!)

Season meat liberally.

One of the most important grilling tips. Big, thick steaks need a lot of seasoning, so be sure to cover them liberally with salt, pepper, and any rub before grilling. A good rule of thumb for home cooks is to salt the meat twice as much as you think is needed.

Under not over

Undercook foods, just slightly. Carryover cooking is a real thing — food continues to cook after it leaves the grill. You can expect food temperature to go up about five degrees after leaving the grill, so plan accordingly.

Don’t poke.

When checking for doneness, resist the urge to repeatedly poke, stab, or pierce your meat with a fork or prongs. The juices will escape, making the meat drier and less flavorful. Use a spatula or tongs to gently move and flip your food

Create heat zones.

On a kettle grill, bank up the coals in the center. Sear food in the middle, where heat is highest, then moves it to the outer edges of the grill to perfectly cook without burning. On a gas grill, leave one burner on high, another on medium.

Cook on the coals.

Lay sweet potatoes, onions, and even corn in the husk directly on the embers. Roast, turning with tongs until the skins are coal black. When you scrape off the burned skin, the vegetable inside will be super sweet and smoky.

Let It Rest

Rest all meat! Allow the meat to sit undisturbed (and unsliced!) for five to 15 minutes after cooking, as this will allow the juices to redistribute. The bigger the piece of meat, the longer the rest time. Resting meat is an important key to juicy results.

Don’t Over Char

Don’t over-char to cook through meat with bones. No one wants to eat meat covered in thick, black char. If you have thicker meats with bones, such as chicken thighs or legs, cook them on high heat to get a nice crust, and then move to lower, indirect heat on the grill. This will allow the meat to cook through more slowly without overcooking the outside. Or, consider par-cooking the chicken in an oven for 15 to 20 minutes before grilling. Also great to precook: ribs!

Have any questions about grills? Or need more grilling tips? Don’t hesitate to contact us here!