The Cold, Hard Facts About Pool Heaters

pool temperature reading

We’re not sure who coined the term “Hotlanta,” but that person has caused immeasurable confusion around the globe with the misnomer. Non-Georgia residents not only use the nickname with reckless abandon, but they also tend to believe that the ATL’s temperatures never get under 75 degrees. 

Sadly, the confusion is far from being just an outsider’s problem, though. A number of local pool owners seem to be vexed as well. Their hot take is that heaters aren’t all that necessary for backyard fun in the sizzling South. Leave it to Mother Nature, they say. But according to Dawn Elser, Paces Pool Service’s Service Manager, that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

While Georgia weather will keep things relatively comfy poolside for you from June through September, Elser says you can “extend your swimming season by six to eight weeks comfortably and economically” by simply getting a heater. 

After realizing the general benefits of a dependable unit, you need to understand which heater best fits your needs. While electric, solar and propane versions exist, Elser says most Georgia homes go with a natural gas option. After that, you should pick a heater that best matches the size of your gas line and warms your water at a speed you’re comfortable with. 

“Most residential pool heaters are approximately 405 BTUs,” says Elser, referring to the amount of gas necessary to keep the heater fired up. “People get confused about the size of the heater that is needed. If you have a swimming pool/spa combination, you want a heater that is large enough to heat the pool and the spa. The heater has to be sized to the gas line and the swimming pool equipment.” 

Once the heater is set up, the key to keeping it running optimally is with its temperature settings. Adults are comfortable swimming in 89-degree waters. The most economical temperature is 82. Elser recommends setting your gauge to that number as soon as the water temp falls to around 65, leaving it there until it naturally warms. When it does reach 82, shut the heater off until the water dips back below 80 degrees. But whatever you do, don’t heat water that’s under 65 degrees. Colder water creates more condensation, which causes rust in the heater.

Follow these rules and Elser says you should be able to enjoy your pool from April to October—in other words, just long enough for your out-of-town family and friends to come down and say how much they love Hotlanta. 

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