UV vs. Saltwater Pool Filtration

I am sure in the past you have heard the debate between chlorine vs. saltwater pools – some of you may have had to choose for yourself. However, there is a new and, in our view, superior method for keeping your pool clean: UV also called Ozone. We have recently begun using BioShield, a UV sterilizer, in our newest builds, and we wanted to use this post to flush out the pros and cons of both UV and saltwater pools. In the end, it should be clear why we favor UV, and the massive benefits it can offer to both you and your pool.

First, what is a UV pool?

UV pools, and BioShield specifically, utilize an ultraviolet lamp to sterilize a pool’s water. The water filters through a tube with low temperature, energy conservative UV lamps that kill harmful bacteria and pathogens. BioShield is 99.9% effective at neutralizing bacteria and provides cleaner and safer water than most alternatives.

With this said, UV pools still contain some chlorine because a reliance on water circulation means chlorine provides a quicker bacterial remedy when needed. While this may sound off-putting, the chlorine levels are reduced by 50% or more, and even saltwater pools still contain chlorine. Even with low levels of chlorine, we believe UV offers the best solution for cleaning your pool, and we contrast the pros and cons to saltwater specifically below.

What are the pros and cons of saltwater and UV?

Saltwater Pools

Lower maintenance than chlorine pools, as salt levels remain relatively stable
Less irritation than chlorine pools
Still contains some chlorine
Greater up-front cost
Leaves white buildup on tiles
Corrosive to surfaces and equipment

Calcium build is up is 5 times worse on a saltwater pool vs a UV pool.

UV Pools

Very low maintenance
Instantly neutralizes bacteria
Less irritation than chlorine pools
Still contains some chlorine
Additional energy usage


We hope this comparison between UV and saltwater pools illustrated our reasoning for choosing UV, BioShield specifically, as our preferred method of cleaning pool water. The UV system is newer but gaining popularity quickly due to these obvious benefits, and we would not be surprised if everyone makes the switch to UV at some point in the future.

Pool Myths — Busted!

At some point, we have all heard a mom, whether it was yours or someone else’s, tell us to wait 30 minutes to swim after eating. Well, turns out this and many other pool “rules” are actually myths. In this post, we are going to play the MythBusters and dispel some of these widespread fallacies.

Waiting 30 Minutes After Eating Before Swimming

This is by far the most popular pool myth. This idea stemmed from the fact that after a big meal blood diverts away from your ligaments towards your stomach and digestive tract. People then assumed the risk of drowning is heightened if your limbs are not working at full force. However, while it is true blood moves to assist your digestive process, a person still has plenty of blood in their body parts to function after a big meal. This makes sense after all because, while you may feel bloated after a large meal and want to sit down, it is not like you are suddenly unable to stand. Some say not waiting to swim after eating makes you more subject to cramps, but even this is not proven. Myth: Busted – maybe mother does not know best after all.

Chlorine Changes Hair Color

Likely better known among the female community is the myth that chlorine can make your hair green. Surprisingly, chlorine has no impact on turning hair green, although it goes damage hair and make it dry and brittle. However, hair can still gain a green tint from swimming due to copper sulfate, which binds to proteins in your hair to cause a green coloring. Copper sulfate is a safe chemical and is added in most pools to combat algae, but the one downside is this green tint. If you are concerned about this effect, then there are certain “swimmer’s shampoos”. Myth: Partially Busted – chlorine is harmful to hair, but it is not the chemical causing the green tint in hair.

Chlorine Smells

Properly chlorinated pools do not have a strong chemical smell. There are only two reasons why you would ever have a chemical smell: yucky substances in the pool that mix with chlorine and form chloramines or if the pool is overly chlorinated. If your pool is clean and properly chlorinated, then you will never have the “chlorine smell”. Myth: Busted – only if your pool is kept properly clean though.

Peeing in the Pool Will Turn It Blue

Growing up, you likely were told not to pee in the pool because it would turn blue. Well for those of you that have tried peeing in the pool you quickly realized this was a lie. In fact, there is no such dye that even exists. Regardless, pools are not meant to be peed in, as urine contains bacteria that you do not want to swim in. Myth: Busted – but do not pee in pools!

Growing up, we all here our parents tell us various things that we take as fact only to find out later they are not so. We outlined a few above, but we want to know: What did your parents tell you as a child that was not, in fact, true?

Bismarckia on Fire! — Eight Wonderful Years of Tree Growth

Many of you who have been by my home know that I am a bit fanatical about landscaping, especially drought tolerant options (which we have written about herehere, and here). Years ago, we had a front triangle planter island with a Crepe Myrtle. This matched well with my previous house, but, when we switched to Mediterranean style, I decided I needed something more exotic.

That search led me to the Bismarckia Nobilis, also known as a Madagascar Blue Palm. The Bismarckia Nobilis is a very dramatic plant with greyish/green leaves that is very slow growing but will often reach 50 feet or more. I had a hard time finding a plant larger than very small 5- or 15-gallon containers in the local area, but, eventually, I found a 36-inch box in Chino, which was not an easy trip home. The troubles did not end there though, as we then had to dig out the entire planter to remove the old clay, 2 feet down, and amend the soil with gypsum, sand, grow power and new soil to continue breaking up the old clay in the bottom of the hole.

2011 – 36″ Box

2014 – 2′ Brown Trunk

2019 – 6′ Brown Trunk

You are probably wondering, why would I go through all this work for a simple palm? Well the result speaks for itself, and I have had several people stop by to see what kind of palm it is. Since 2011, the Bismarckia Nobilis has grown from the 36-inch box to a 6-foot-long trunk, but the best way to get a sense for the tree is to see it yourself. If you are in Rossmoor at Rush Park driving on Silverfox, you will dead end on Blume and you can’t miss the Bismarckia Nobilis.

While you are driving by, also be sure to check out the other fan-favorite: my Arbutus Marinus, also known as a Strawberry Tree, by our garage. It was one of the first planted in Rossmoor and has turned into a true masterpiece. We have seen the copycats plant their own, but I will take this as flattery of a great plant choice.

NHC Martial Arts & Fitness

Most of you have likely heard of or driven past the National Hapkido Center (NHC), located in the shopping center on the corner of Katella and Los Al Blvd, but you likely do not know the meaningful role NHC has played in the lives of my family.

Eddie was the first member of the family to join NHC in Middle School. He had gotten sucker punched at Junior Lifeguards and wanted to learn to kick some butt. He did learn how to defend himself, but he never expected the lessons NHC would teach him regarding respect, discipline, and self-control. It truly was the beginning of him growing into the gentleman he is today.

After a year, Eddie encouraged me to join Hapkido because he thought I would enjoy martial arts as well – he was spot on. We both worked hard to learn the extensive curriculum and conditioned our minds and bodies. In 2008, the hard work paid off and Eddie got his black belt. I got mine a year later, in 2009.

After all the years on the sideline, Alyson decided to try kickboxing with me in 2010. Like Eddie and me, she was hooked. We trained for 5 years, and, in 2015, we both got our kickboxing black belts. We continue to attend weekly kickboxing classes together to this day.

So What Is Hapkido?

Hapkido is a highly eclectic Korean martial art. It is a form of self-defense containing both long- and close-range fighting techniques. Hapkido emphasizes circular motion, redirection of force, and control of the opponent. Practitioners seek to gain advantage through footwork and body positioning to incorporate the use of leverage, avoiding the use of strength against strength.

Why NHC and What Do They Offer?

NHC is our extended family in and out of the center. Master Louis Kim is an amazing leader and helped us all to enrich our lives. NHC offers Martial Arts, Taebo, and Kickboxing, which are all explained below:

Martial Arts: focused on teaching students self-defense while emphasizing fitness, health, and safety

  • Teen & Adult: a healthy, fat-burning workout that utilizes both your mind and body to increase your energy, discipline, and fitness for a longer, happier life.
  • Children: Available for ages 4-14, NHC has been teaching children for more than 18 years in Los Alamitos.

Taebo (Aerobic Cardio): combines martial arts and aerial kickboxing to give you a total body workout while challenging your mind and will

Kickboxing: a great fat burning exercise that will help you get in shape while teaching self-defense

We encourage everyone to come join Alyson and me for a workout of Taebo or Kickboxing. If you are interested, give NHC a call at (562) 430-5263 for a free trial! You can also check out their website www.nhcfitness.com and see if you notice a familiar face in the Adult Martial Arts section 😉

Swimming Pools STILL Raise a Home’s Value!

The LA Times just put out an interesting article that confirmed pools still raise a home’s value.

It makes perfect sense to me because in Southern California most home owners are on the quest for Outdoor Living with the pool as a main attraction.

LA and Orange counties being top on the list of increased value and percentage of homes with pools. I suspect the number could be even higher in our little part of the Gold Coast? I joke with my prospects, “Pool or not to Pool?” that is the question as well for home buyers. Do you want a Mecca in your backyard for family and friends to be attracted to? I look back happily to all the decades of our kids playing in our pool that made the cost priceless.

Please take a moment and read what Jack Fleming of the LA Times thinks about the value of a pool.

Love to get your feedback…

Oh Hail, CA Is Drought Free!

All right already the rain can now stop! The snow pack is more than I can ever remember and it still looks like more could hit this season.

It truly is a nice thought that we are drought free for now, but we can’t loose sight of water conservation. In the past I’ve written blogs such as ‘Please Don’t Pick on the Pool Builder’ that have pointed out that having a pool doesn’t mean your property as a whole can’t be water wise. I am personally continuing to tighten up the water saving belt and still have a pool. We recently installed artificial turf in the front yard to permanently stop unneeded water use on a lawn. I installed a drain system that reintroduced any run off water on my property into the native soil instead of the gutter. We removed a fountain that was a waste of water and a maintenance issue at times. Newer appliances and fixtures are mandated to be water savers and energy savers. I’m glad to help you consider ways to become more water wise.

Good news, I’m excited about the upcoming river rafting season that has struggled in past years. Lakes that have been low and ugly will be full and beautiful. This weekend is the peak of the Wildflower Super Bloom in many areas in SoCal with many flowers yet to bloom as it warms up for Spring. We experienced an amazing migration of Pink Lady butterflies from Mexico that was a first for this 54 year native. Parts of Los Alamitos, Long Beach and Lakewood saw intense hail storm that dropped large hail balls. Thank you Amy Mora for this entertaining video.

Please share with us any extraordinary experiences you have witnessed due to this wet weather.

*Featured image from https://twitter.com/DigitalGlobe/status/1108441980567277573/photo/1

Pool Tile Cleaning – Amazing Results Through Bead Blasting

John: Hey Brian, we have clients that have beautiful pools with tile that looks chalky and unsightly; is this because of our hard water?

Brian: Yes John, you would be amazed how many different chemicals and elbow grease it takes for a pool service technician to keep tile looking beautiful. Calcium buildup is thanks to California hard water.

John: What else can a homeowner do?

Brain: On average a bead blasting of the tile every 3-5 years keeps the tile looking like new.

John: And what does bead blasting entail?

Brian: With Precision Pool Tile Cleaning, we simply show up with our trucks and equipment specialized in calcium removal. We first drain the pool a little, only enough to access the calcium line, then we use the correct blast material for your specific tile type. Then clean up is as easy as vacuuming to remove the spent media and refilling the pool. We apply a sealer at the discretion of the pool owner, to make it easier for removal of the calcium when in returns due to hard water.

John: Nice, sounds pretty easy. How long does an average sized pool and spa take?

Brian: Amazingly, typically half-a-day to a full day depending on the size of the pool/spa and the amount of tile in need of bead blasting. We have completed over 1,500 pool tile cleanings per year for the last 17 years; that is over 25,500 pools and counting! Check out our reviews on Yelp and the amazing Before & After photos.

Check out the Precision Pool Tile Cleaning Yelp Profile for amazing testimonials. Call 888-300-8453 to discuss your pool tile cleaning needs.

Winter Storms Push Back CA Drought

In just a few recent weeks the wet winter has greatly reduced drought conditions here in California. The mountains are covered in snow, Mammoth mountain recently received 11+ feet in just 5 consecutive days.

“The U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday, February 7th, that a large portion of the state including the Sierra Nevada, much of the Central Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area is free of any significant dryness. Heavy rain has also ended most of the moderate drought that stretched from the Central Coast to the southern tier of the state, leaving a lesser condition designated as abnormally dry, according to the monitor.”*

Even before the recent stormy weather, the California Department of Water Resources found the Sierra snowpack above 100 percent of normal, an important reading because it holds about a third of the state’s water supply. It is now well over 125 percent of normal.**

Please Don’t Pick on the Pool Builder

Yes, on the surface it seems like a swimming pool uses a lot of water. Of course, we do not want to waste water, so be sure your pool doesn’t have a leak, a pretty obvious issue. Beyond a possible leak, when you think about the water consumption per square foot on a piece of property, you have many other culprits which waste much more water. The biggest culprit is your luscious green Marathon II sod lawn. This lawn uses much more water per square foot on your property than any other item except for maybe your toilet and shower. We believe the lawn and landscaping needs more attention than the swimming pool.

We did some research and found out that the per square foot evaporation rate of a swimming pool at an average temperature of 75 degrees is almost half of what it takes to maintain a Marathon II sod lawn. This doesn’t take into account the area around a pool known as decking which is either a concrete or other hard surface which requires no water. If you take the square footage of your swimming pool and decking area into account, you will likely see about 50% or less consumption of water compared to a lawn with landscaping.


We desperately need the rain but still need to be #waterwise all year long!



The Power of Communication – Our Process

Sunset Designers & Builders has been around for more than 70 years and our expertise is second to none, but it is our communication skills which set us apart from our competitors. We ensure that our clients are informed and up-to-date on all information regarding their project whether it be job progress, materials selection, or any causes for concern. We do this by sending emails informing clients as their project progresses, but also by guaranteeing that we are always a phone call away when a client has any questions or comments both good and bad. In this post, we want to address how we developed this system of communication and why we think communication is so important, especially in the pool business.

John ZahnHow This Communication Started?

We first began sending daily emails to a pair of clients who were both working professionals and were rarely home to survey the jobsite. We found that the best way to communicate with them was through emails recapping the day and asking about any necessary material selection. This constant line of communication kept the clients informed and allowed them to ask any questions or express any concerns despite not being present at the jobsite. We found this technique of daily communication to be incredibly beneficial and the clients truly appreciated the information we provided them. In this way, our increased communication benefited both parties. We then took this strategy and applied it to all our clients, and, while many clients do not need this level of communication, most appreciate it and like to remain informed. We do not expect clients to respond every day but rather we just find comfort in knowing that they receive the information. We have had countless clients tell us that they appreciate our communication skills and claim it made a timely, expensive project like building a pool less stressful and more manageable.

Nate TrimmerWhy Is Communication So Important?

It’s simple – we care about the customer experience. How would you feel if your contractor building your house just decided not to contact you for a week straight? You would feel nervous and frustrated because you have no idea what is happening despite the hefty sum of money you are paying – the same goes for a pool. We understand that customers want to be kept informed on projects for which they are paying for, and it is our duty to maintain this communication. It is for this reason that we place such a high emphasis on communication because we have been in that position of being the customer. We understand that the customer wants to be the first person notified when something happens and wants to be constantly informed regarding the status of their pool and outdoor living space.

The History of Sunset Designers & Builders, 70 Years in the Making

Sunset celebrated its 70th birthday this year since our opening back in 1948. Our history is a long one and involves a few changes in location and business focus, but we have always been involved in Outdoor Living in the Southern California area. Our experience is one thing that sets us apart from competitors, and we thought our 70th anniversary would be a good time to share this history that has made our company what it is today.

Origin, Our History Starts in 1948…

Back in 1948, we were originally named “Sunset Fence and Patio Company” and located in Long Beach on American Avenue, known now as Long Beach Blvd. Sunset Fence and Patio Company allowed customers to buy fencing materials and do it themselves or hire Sunset Fence and Patio to come build them a custom fence. A World War II veteran, Bob Dare, was in charge of selling the services of the company. Bob became one of the partners in 1950, and the company changed its name to Sunset Designers & Builders in 1953 as the company gradually grew and added in-ground swimming pools to the list of their services. In 1973, Bob married John’s mother Peggy. In 1991, John Zahn purchased the business from the other partners including Bob Dare, John’s stepfather.

Sunset Under John Zahn

In 1991, John Zahn purchased the business from the other partners including Bob Dare, John’s stepfather. Since that time, John has been the sole owner of the business and has grown the company into a premier Outdoor Living specialty company. As customers’ wants and needs change, and the appreciation for Outdoor Living increases, John has changed the business accordingly, staying at the cutting edge of pool and spa design trends. Although making selections in the digital age has gotten easier, John has not retired the importance of personal one-on-one attention. John personally manages his team on each job from beginning to end, continuing the legacy of excellent customer service, while creating Outdoor Living spaces to enjoy year-round.

Sunset has come a long way from Sunset Fence and Patio Company back in 1948, but we have never lost our commitment to high quality projects as well as customer service. We have shifted locations slightly but continue to focus on the Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Seal Beach, and Long Beach areas. We are proud of our 70 years in the business and believe it sets us apart from all the other Outdoor Living specialists in the area!