WALLINGFORD — It’s almost that time of year where the pool covers come off and the floats go in, welcoming the first signs of summer.
Hunter’s Pool Center on Church Street is preparing for the busiest time of year with tips for current pool owners and consultations for people looking to get their feet wet in a pool of their own for the first time. Kelly Hunter-Johnson, general manager, is the third generation of her family in the business. Her grandparents opened the center more than 50 years ago.
Q: What is Hunter’s Pool Center all about?
Hunter-Johnson: We install and service inground pools, aboveground pools, we have Saratoga hot tubs. We have a large retail store, lots of chemicals and floats. We do free water testing to help people, if they have any water issues, to keep their water balanced and clear. It’s a full family-run, owned and operated establishment.
Q: What is the season like now?
Hunter-Johnson: Crazy. Yes, these next two weeks are the busiest two weeks of the entire season. Installations are in full swing.
Q: When do people typically open up their pools?
Hunter-Johnson: If you have a pool heater, we start opening pools early- to mid-April. The majority of people open anywhere between the second and third week in May.
Q: What are the most popular requests from pool owners this time of year?
Hunter-Johnson: They need their season supply of chemicals, they need their water tested, filters when they’re first starting out for the season, sometimes they need some servicing because things happen or things freeze over in the wintertime. People uncover their pool and maybe their liner let go over the wintertime so they need a new liner installed in their pool.
Q: What are the absolute essentials a pool owner needs to take care of their pool now and throughout the season?
Hunter-Johnson: So there’s the filter (operate the filter at least 12 hours a day), the pump, heaters are optional. Water chemistry is probably the single most important aspect of owning a pool.
Q: Why is the water chemistry so important?
Hunter-Johnson: If your pool water is too acidic it can be dangerous both to you, it can be erosive to your pool equipment. If you use really harsh chemicals — a lot of the box stores sell chemicals that are very acidic and very harsh. They can be very damaging to pool equipment and they can be irritating to skin.
Q: What chemicals do you recommend?
Hunter-Johnson: The chemical a majority of our customers use is called Sustain. It’s a calcium hypochlorite, what it is made of. It has a PH of 8 so it’s on the basic side of the scale. So it’s not at all corrosive or irritating.
Q: Do you have a lot of returning customers?
Hunter-Johnson: Yes. A lot of people have been here when my grandparents were here and we’ve installed their pool in the late 1960’s and it’s still standing and they’re still swimming in it.
Q: What kind of pools do you install?
Hunter-Johnson: It differs from inground to aboveground but we sell aboveground pools that are full resin, so there are no steel top rails or uprights or bottom rails in the ground that are going to corrode or rot out over time. They have a little bit more of a streamlined look, more of a modern look.
As far as inground pools go, a lot of people are going with the free-form style shapes. They do vinyl liner over their stairs so that it’s the textured material and it’s a more seamless, classy look.
Q: What is the coolest pool you’ve installed here?
Hunter-Johnson: We did a great pool last year in Meriden and they did a kidney shaped pool and they also did a large sun deck that was incorporated into the stairs so that they could put a couple lounge chairs on it and still be submerged in the water.