Do you have questions about swimming pool care and maintenance? Confused about what to do with that Hot Tub, now that it’s in your home? Just Ask The Bear!

Below you will find invaluable links including instructions on opening and closing your pool, winterizing your spa, cleaning your filter, and much, much more!

If you don’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to call or email us. If we don’t have the answer, we won’t rest until we get it!


Above Ground Pools – Buying & Installing

The following links will give you helpful advice on things you need to know when buying and installing an above ground swimming pool. We go over things such as above ground pool placement, where the best spot is and what should I avoid in my yard. Size and shape, what is too small or large for my needs? And what can I fit? Filter systems, which type? Sand, Cartridge, or DE which best fits my needs. Steel or Aluminum? What is the difference and what should I look for?

And the important question! Why should you choose Teddy Bear Pools & Spas to build you a new Above Ground Pool?

Pool Glossary of Pool Terms


A manually-operated brass or plastic valve located at the top of a filter tank for relieving the pressure inside the filter and removing the air inside the filter (bleeding the filter). Also known as a pressure-relief valve.


Microscopic plant-like organisms that contain chlorophyll. Algae are nourished by carbon dioxide (CO2) and use sunlight to carry out photosynthesis. It can be introduced by rain or wind and grows in colonies, producing nuisance masses. Algae can harbor bacteria and can be slippery. There are thousands of known species of algae. The most common types of algae found in pools are black, blue-green, green and mustard (yellow or drawn).


Chemical compounds designed to kill, prevent, and control algae.


A pool maintenance system that will agitate and/or vacuum debris from the pool interior automatically.


The backing up of water through a pipe in the direction opposite to normal flow.


The process of thoroughly cleaning the filter by reversing the flow of water through it with the dirt and rinse water going to waste.


Chemical compounds designed to prevent corrosion and staining by balancing the pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness in pool water.


A common term for a bromide salt used to supply bromide ions to the water so they may be oxidized or changed into hypobromous acid, the killing form of bromine. Used as a disinfectant.


A common name for a chemical compound containing bromine that is used as a disinfectant to destroy bacteria and algae in swimming pools and spas. Available as a tablet or as sodium bromide, a granular salt.


Abbreviation for British Thermal Unit. The amount of heat necessary to raise 1 lb. of water 1 degree Fahrenheit.


A pump consisting of an impeller fixed on a rotating shaft and enclosed in a casing or volute and having an inlet and a discharge connection. The rotating impeller creates pressure in the water by the velocity derived from the centrifugal force.


A mechanical device in a pipe that permits the flow of water or air in one direction only.


A device that dispenses chemicals into pool or spa water at a predetermined rate. Some dispense chlorine or bromine while others dispense pH-adjusting chemicals.


A chemical used to make chlorine harmless. Used in test kits to counteract the bleaching effect of the chlorine or bromine in order to increase the accuracy of pool water tests. Sold as chlorine and bromine neutralizer, it is used to destroy excessive amounts of chlorine or bromine so the high levels will not affect swimmers.


A term used to describe any type of chlorine compound used as a disinfectant in swimming pool and spa water or to kill, destroy or control bacteria and algae. In addition, chlorine oxidizes ammonia and nitrogen compounds caused by swimmers.


The cap or top lip on the pool or spa wall that provides a finished edge around the pool or spa. It can be formed, cast in place or precast, or prefabricated of extruded aluminum or rigid vinyl. It may also be part of the system that secures a vinyl liner to the top of the pool wall.


The etching, pitting, or eating away of the pool or spa or equipment. Can be caused by improper water balance, misuse of acid or acidic products, or from soft water.


A cover that, when placed on the water's surface of a pool, spa, or hot tub, increases the water temperature by absorption and transmission of solar radiation; reduces evaporation, and prevents windborne debris from entering the water.


Diatomaceous Earth – a porous substance used in certain types of pool filters.


A plumbing fitting used to change the direction or redirect the flow of water. Some diverter valves are used on pool/spa combinations to allow the use of the spa and then switch the flow back to the pool.


This term usually refers to a plumbing fitting installed on the suction side of the pump in pools, spas, and hot tubs. Sometimes called the main drain, it is located in the deepest part of the pool, spa, or hot tub. It does not function as a drain on a kitchen sink…pool main drains do not allow the water to drain to waste but rather connect to the pump for circulation and filtration.


Finespun filaments of glass are available in a rope or mat form. When used in a process with polyester resins, catalysts and hardeners can be formed or molded into pools and spas.


A device that removes undissolved or suspended particles from water by recirculating the water through a porous substance (a filter medium or element). The three types of filters used in pools and spas are sand, cartridge, and D.E. (diatomaceous earth).


The rate at which the water is traveling through the filter, expressed in U.S. gallons per minute (GPM) per square foot of filter area.


The quantity of water flowing past a designated point within a specified time, such as the number of gallons flowing past a point in 1 minute – also known as gallons per minute or GPM.


Abbreviation for “gallons per minute.”


A mixture of cement and sand sprayed onto contoured and supported surfaces to build a pool. Gunite is mixed and pumped to the site dry, and water is added at the point of application. Plaster is usually applied over the gunite.


An overflow trough at the edge of the pool through which floating debris, oil, and other "lighter-than-water" things flow. Pools with gutters usually do not have skimmers.


A screen attached to a frame that is then attached to a telescopic pole used to remove large floating debris, such as leaves and bugs, from the water's surface.


A device located inside the heater providing for the transfer of heat from the heat source to the water. This is usually a series of metallic tubes with fins located just above the flames.


A fossil-fueled, electric, or solar device used to heat the water of a pool, spa, or hot tub.


Also called a vinyl liner - The vinyl membrane that acts as the container to hold or contain the water in some types of pools.


A plumbing fitting installed on the suction side of the pump in pools, spas, and hot tubs. Sometimes simply referred to as the drain, it is located in the deepest part of the pool, spa, or hot tub. It does not function like the drain on a kitchen sink…pool main drains do not allow the water to drain to waste but rather connect to the pump for circulation and filtration.


A chemical used to make chlorine or bromine harmless. Used in test kits to counteract the bleaching effect of the chlorine or bromine in order to increase the accuracy of pool water tests. Sold as chlorine and bromine neutralizer, it is used to destroy excessive amounts of chlorine or bromine so the high levels will not affect swimmers.


A non-chlorine shocking compound that removes or destroys built-up contaminants and chloramines in pool water without raising chlorine levels.


A cover used on pools, spas, and hot tubs that rests on the lip (coping) of the pool or spa deck - not a flotation cover. Used as a barrier to swimmers and bathers and for maintenance and thermal protection.


A mechanical device, usually powered by an electric motor, which causes hydraulic flow and pressure for the purpose of filtration, heating, and circulation of pool and spa water. Typically, a centrifugal pump is used for pools, spas, and hot tubs.


The volume of liquid a pump is capable of moving during a specified period of time. This is usually listed in gallons per minute or GPM.


Also called a pump performance curve - A graph that represents a pump's water flow capacity at any given resistance.


Abbreviation for Potential Hydrogen. Indicates the level of acidity or alkalinity of water on a scale ranging from 0-15. A low pH can cause etched plaster, metal corrosion, and eye irritation. A high pH can cause scale formation, chlorine inefficiency, and eye irritation. The ideal range for pH in swimming pools is typically 7.4 to 7.6.


Chemical compounds designed to kill bacteria, algae, and other living organisms. Also protects water from the effects of the sun.


The practice of adding significant amounts of an oxidizing chemical - (usually non-chlorine oxidizers, such as sodium persulfate or potassium peroxymonosulfate) - to the water to destroy ammonia and nitrogen compounds caused by swimmers, the environment and/or weather.


A device installed through the wall of a pool or spa that is connected to the suction line of the pump that draws water and floating debris in the water flow from the surface without causing much flow restriction.


A removable, slotted basket or strainer placed in the skimmer on the suction side of the pump, which is designed to trap floating debris in the water flow from the surface without causing flow restriction.


A cover that, when placed on the water's surface of a pool, spa, or hot tub, increases the water temperature by absorption and transmission of solar radiation; reduces evaporation, and prevents windborne debris from entering the water.


An apparatus or device used to monitor specific chemical residuals, levels, constituents, or demands in pool or spa water. The most common pool and spa water tests are pHs, total alkalinity, free available chlorine, water hardness, cyanuric acid, iron, and copper.


Small plastic strips with pads attached that have been impregnated with reagents that can be used to test pool water for residuals, levels, constituents, or demands. The strips are usually dipped in the water, and the resulting colors of the pads are compared to a standard set of colors to determine concentration.


The cloudy condition of the water due to the presence of extremely fine particles in suspension that cannot be trapped by the filter because they are too small. Adding a clarifier, such as an organic polymer or alum, will coagulate the particles and make the filter more efficient.


Devices that use suction to collect dirt from the bottom and sides of a pool or spa. The most common is a vacuum head with wheels that attaches to a telephone and is connected to the suction line, usually via the opening in the skimmer. Pool vacuums must be operated by a person, and debris is collected in the filter.


The vinyl membrane that acts as the container to hold or contain pool water.


Also called coagulant or flocculant - A chemical compound used to gather (coagulate or agglomerate) or to precipitate suspended particles so they may be removed by vacuuming or filtration. There are two types; inorganic salts of aluminum (alum) and other metals or water-soluble organic polyelectrolytes.


The small floating "door" on the side of the skimmer that faces the water over which water flows on its way to the skimmer. Adjusts automatically to small changes in water level to assure a continuous flow of water to the skimmer. The weir also prevents debris from floating back into the pool after the pump shuts off. Also known as a skimmer weir.

Eco-Friendly Pools (Going Green) In Western MA
Opening & Closing Your Above Ground Pool
How to Clean Your Pool Filter

Teddy Bear Pools & Spas offer a variety of filters for your in-ground and above ground pools. Sta­Rite cartridge systems, as well as, Hayward DE & cartridge systems are available for purchase through our retail store.

When installing your filter for the first time or at the beginning of each season, we suggest that you remove and clean the DE element or cartridge at least once a week for the first week or two of operation. Your water may look clean, but this will help polish it.

At the end of each season, remove the filter top and clean the DE element or cartridge with “Bear Strip,” a biodegradable non-toxic cleaner. Do not use muriatic acid, which is harmful to your DE element or cartridge and the environment.

When the reading on the pressure gauge raises more than 10 P.S.I. in 24 hours or the water flow into the pool (return) decreases, it is time to clean your cartridge. It is recommended that you clean your DE filter as needed (about every 4 weeks) or your cartridge at least once during mid-summer months as a maintenance cleaning (Usually at the end of June or beginning of July).   


How To Clean Your DE Filter

How to Operate and Clean Your Cartridge Filter


How To Clean A DE Filter

Hot to Clean A Cartridge Filter

Above Ground Pool Replacement Liners
  1. Determine what type of pool liner you need. Above ground swimming pools are built to accommodate either an overlap style liner or a beaded style liner. The difference between a "beaded" style liner and an "overlap" style liner is the way the liner is held in place at the top of the swimming pool. Beaded aboveground pool liners have a very small groove or lip at the top edge of the liner. This small lip is snapped into a track all the way around the inside of the swimming pool at the very top of the pool wall, to hold the pool liner in place. If your swimming pool requires a beaded pool liner, you will be able to see this track by looking under the top rail on the inside of the above-ground swimming pool.
  2. An overlap style liner is folded over the wall of the swimming pool and held in place underneath the top rail of the above-ground swimming pool. If your swimming pool requires an overlap style liner, you can see a small amount of the pool liner under the top rail on the outside of the swimming pool. To install an overlap pool liner, the top rail of the above ground pool is removed all the way around the pool. The new liner is then placed in the pool and draped over the top of the thin metal wall of the pool. Long plastic coping clips, along with a top metal rim, are placed over the liner and the metal wall to hold the liner in place. The top rails are then re-installed over the new liner.
  3. Determine what grade of pool liner is in your price range. Replacement swimming pool liners for aboveground swimming pools can be found in several grades or thicknesses. The thickness of the vinyl pool liner material indicates how durable the pool liner is, and how long it might last inside a swimming pool. The thicker the pool liner material is, the more durable (and more expensive) it will be. The measure of pool liner thickness is presented in either “gauge" or “mil", both meaning the same thing.


  • The pool liner included with most new above ground swimming pools is plain blue color, and a 20 mil thickness. This is a standard pool liner and will perform well and look great for years.
  • Replacement swimming pool liners can be found in thicknesses up to 30 mils, but be aware that this is a significant price difference.
  • There are many ways in which liners are manufactured in the industry, with some companies offering re-processed vinyl. What this means is vinyl which is ground up and re-manufactured out of second-hand material.  It will not be as strong, or last as long in your pool. Be sure you are buying "virgin vinyl", which is the original processed material.


Installing a replacement pool liner yourself can be much more complicated than it might seem. If not handled carefully during installation, or if not installed properly, your beautiful new pool liner might quickly tear or leak. If you have never seen or helped with the liner replacement process, or the installation of a new swimming pool, you should pay a professional to install your new liner this time. Watch closely and ask questions, and you will be prepared for next time!


How do I measure for a replacement spa cover?
Question & Answer: Hot Tub Questions

Mark from Chicopee, MA writes: Why is my spa foaming

Q: Why is my spa foaming

A: There are several possible reasons for spa foam. One common cause is the rapidly moving water interacting with bathers who have soaps and detergents on their bodies and bathing suits. Showering before entering the spa helps prevent this problem, as well as using an anti-foam, such as Teddy Bear Anti-Foam. Also, do not wash swimsuits in the washing machine as the soap stays in the fabric, hand wash, and rinse thoroughly.

Another cause of foam is soft water. You should raise the calcium level to 150-400 ppm. Hope this helps.

Sara from Westfield, MA writes: What is the difference between bromide and chlorine?

Q: What is the difference between bromide and chlorine?

A: Without going back to my science days and getting all technical on you, the chemical “Bromine” is very similar to chlorine in the way that it kills bacteria and harmful contaminants, but the two chemicals react in different ways in the swimming pool water.

Bromine is most commonly used to sanitize spas/hot tubs because it is more stable than chlorine in the hot temperatures. The advantages of using bromine are obvious, and bromine is very beneficial to many people with naturally sensitive skin. Bromine is chlorine-based, and it is not an alternative sanitizer for people who are allergic to chlorine.

We generally recommend granular bromine. If you are allergic to bromine or chlorine other alternatives are available.

Shelly from Hadley, MA writing: change my spa water.

Q. Why do I have to change my spa water so often?

A: You know what a bathtub looks like after one person, right? What if there were several people in there with you? The big difference between a spa & a bathtub is that a spa has a built-in filter & it’s being chemically treated. If it gets really foamy or cloudy, then drain, clean & refill the spa. A normal rule of thumb is to change your water every 3 to 4 months depending on Bather Load.

Tori from Agawam, MA writes: Testing and Water Balance

I have 2 Questions about my hot tub water.

Q. How often do I need to test my spa water?

Q. Why do I need to test my spa water?

A. Ideally, chlorinated or brominated spas & tubs need to be tested DAILY. This is for your safety as much as the spas. A bad “water balance” can be harmful to your skin and in some cases result in health problems.

Regular, accurate testing of your spas water prevents water problems which lead to downtime & unhappy spa users.

It also prevents long-term problems such as corrosion of filters & metal accessories & parts. Prevention of scaling of a spa’s heater is another long-term need. We haven’t even talked about odors, germs & such. Need I say more?


Join the Staff at Teddy Bear Pools!

We are always seeking well-qualified people to join our team of service-oriented professionals at Teddy Bear Pools. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer. All applicants are considered without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, national origin, age (for those age 40 or over), or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local law.

Click here to view our Employment Application!

Customer Appreciation

Customer Appreciation Survey Raffle Winner 2015

Congratulations to Lynn & KC from Chicopee, MA. Winners of the 50″ Flat Screen TV.


The drawing was done this morning, the customer was notified by our Store Manger this morning and they came straight in.

Look for more survey raffle drawings coming soon.

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