2017 vs 2018 – A Weather Comparison

In the middle of 2016, El Niño appeared to be a bust – in fact, we even wrote a blog about it which you can find here.  However, near the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 California saw a historical downpour of rain that has helped alleviate the drought. In this blog, we are going to recap 2017’s historical year in California and look ahead towards 2018 and see what lies in store for us weather wise.

2017 Recap

  • The “water year” for California technically runs from October 1 to September 30, and this past year was one of the most wet years on record.
  • Precipitation exceeded 100 inches in higher elevations like the Sierra Nevada Mountains and amounts around 25-50 inches at lower elevations.
  • Snowpack in the mountains has increased dramatically along with reservoir levels with Lake Shasta around 73% full at the beginning of October – 23% higher than usual at that time of the year.
  • The precipitation was the highest on record across the Northern Sierra Mountains and second highest on record in the San Joaquin Valley.
  • As you can see on the drought monitor, this year has been huge in terms of alleviating the drought with 0% of California suffering from severe drought conditions or worse, while this number was almost 60% a year ago.

2018 Forecast

  • La Niña is currently brewing in the Pacific Ocean and is expected to impact California weather.
  • La Niña is the opposite of El Niño, which we have spoken extensively about in the past which can be found here. La Niña typically brings cold and snowy conditions in the Pacific Northwest and drier weather in places like Southern California due to cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures along the equator in the Pacific. This means that we will likely have a dry winter in Southern California, but it may not be a terrible winter for all of California as a whole.
  • With this being said, the future of California weather is still unclear. As for what exactly will happen this year, the federal government’s sharpest weather minds cannot predict whether La Niña will leave California with less rain, more rain, or the normal amount. Looks like we are just going to have to wait and see what happens, but if a dry winter does occur you know La Niña is to blame.
  • If low rain were to occur, parts of California could return to drought like conditions; however, the conditions would be much less severe than they were years ago.

What do you think will happen? Let us know your prediction in the comments.

The Devastation of the California Wildfires

As everyone is surely aware, wildfires have been devastating cities across California. However, many people are unaware of the cause of such fires, as well as the magnitude to which these fires are impacting communities. We wanted to write this blog to examine the cause of these fires, look at their impact, and take a moment to thank those brave fire fighters working effortlessly to keep us safe.

What is Causing This Outbreak in Wildfires?

California is coming off one of the wettest winters in years, so why are wildfires the worst they have been in years. Believe it or not, the wet winter negatively contributed to these fires because the rain left hillsides covered in grass and vegetation which then became dried out over the summer. This means that the hills were covered in dried out grass that provided tinder and fuel to these raging fires – there are also estimated to be 102 million dead trees due to the 5-year dry spell and bark beetle infestation. These factors, coupled with intense winds, make the fires stronger and pushing them further than ever before.

The Impact of These Fires

Cal Fire reported over 6,700 fires in California in 2017 which burned 505,000 acres. To put that in perspective, there were 4,742 fires in 2016 with 244,297 acres burned. This horrific year for fires first worsened in Northern California. The Northern California wildfires took 42 lives and burned 5,700 homes and businesses – making the Northern California series of fires the most deadly and destructive in California history. Now the fires continue in Southern California with new fires seeming to arise every day. The most significant and destructive fire is the Thomas Fire which had scorched over 270,000 acres and over 1,000 buildings. As of Christmas, the fire was only about 50% contained and had impacted over 100,000 Californians, according to Cal Fire. Below you can see a map of the fires that occurred in California from October to December and boundaries of the Thomas Fire specifically.

CA Fire MapFire Fighting Efforts

During the Northern California fires, there were some 9,000 firefighters working long hours to battle the raging hours. The combination of steep terrain, intense heat, and lack of sleep had Northern California firefighters “pushing it to the limits” according to one commander. The Southern California firefighters have been facing similar challenges, with more than 8,400 firefighters working around the clock with 1,000 fire engines and 34 helicopters. One firefighter, Cory Iverson, died fighting the fires and a funeral procession was recently held through 5 counties. We want to thank every firefighter working tirelessly to save these communities – especially those who may have spent the holidays fighting fires rather than with their families.

These California fires are looking to become the worst of all time; thus, we wanted to take a minute to update everyone on the magnitude of such fires. Beyond this, we are incredibly appreciative of everyone working effortlessly to stop such fires and keep us safe.

Pool Control Made Easy with EasyTouch Integration

The EasyTouch system by Pentair offers a new level of control for pool and spa control systems. In the past, to use your spa you would have to walk over to the heater, fight off the spider webs and insects, flip the switch to spa, turn the lever, and guesstimate the temperature. Even worse is when you have to do this process in reverse after being in the awesome spa. However, with the development of the EasyTouch, Pentair has made controlling your spa not only easier but also more effective. Keep reading to see what makes the EasyTouch just so awesome.

App Integration

Controlling your pool can now be done not only from your phone but from your wrist. Yes you read that right – the EasyTouch can be controlled via the ScreenLogic app in both the App Store and Android market. This means that you can download the app onto your Apple watch or other wrist device and simultaneously control your pool. However, don’t get too carried away because these smart devices are still not typically waterproof.

SunsetBlog - EasyTouch 1Fast Response

As you leave work you can start heating your spa with the simple touch of a button on your phone or watch. This will give you just enough time to make some food and put your swimsuit on before stepping into your nice, warm 100 degree Jacuzzi. The ScreenLogic app allows you to control your pool and spa from anywhere instead of in the past where it could only be done by the dusty, spider web filled heater.

Scheduled Heating

If you come home every night at 6 and go in the spa at 6:30 then there’s no need to constantly be turning on the spa with your phone; rather, you can just schedule the spa to start heating at 6 and it will be ready for you at 6:30 every night. This feature will eliminate the risk of you forgetting to turn the spa on and getting home to a cold spa rather than the warm, relaxing one you are used to. This is just another feature that makes the EasyTouch by Pentair so incredibly awesome and unparalleled in terms of control.

The EasyTouch by Pentair is on an entirely different level than other pool control systems. There is no other control device that offers such convenience as the EasyTouch and any other system would be troublesome in comparison. If you don’t have the EasyTouch then give us a call at (562) 881-6000 and we can come help install it for your pool.

Wintering Up Your Yard

Christmas is right around the corner meaning we are just reaching the peak of winter, and this colder weather is here to stay for a while. With that being said, there are a few changes we recommend you make to your yard in order to prepare it for winter. In this blog, we will cover a few of those changes that we make that will just help your yard and house function properly during these next few months.


Turn Your Sprinklers off with Rain

This one seems to become more and more important every year as we get further into the drought. Depending on the amount of rain you may be able to shut your sprinklers off for a few days or a few weeks or months. However, you just want to ensure you check the weather and water your lawn and plants the minimal amount over these next few months. This will not only save you money, but will help in fighting a future drought.


Flush Out Drains and Gutters

With all the leaves falling your drains and gutters can often get clogged. This is not really a problem until it starts to rain and your gutters cannot drain the water. Now we do not have heavy amounts of rain here so odds are your house may be fine without this change, but if heavy amounts of rain were to happen clogged gutters could cause damage to wood, foundation, and landscaping. Unclogging your drains and gutters is an easy process that takes a few quick minutes, and it would be a shame if your house got damaged because you forgot to spend a few minutes flushing out your drains and gutters. Don’t feel safe doing it yourself, then recruit a neighbor kid for a few extra bucks.

Put Solar Lily Pads on to Conserve Water

Even though the sun is not out and shining as often your pool water is still constantly evaporating. This is why you want to put your solar lily pads on your pool in order to conserve water and prevent evaporation. In addition, these pads can help heat your pool and have it ready if you ever want to take a warm late night swim. After all, nobody wants to swim in a cold pool during the winter months. If you still do not own lily pads and are interested in what they are then check out this article. If you interested in purchasing some then simply shoot us back an email and we’ll be glad to set you up.


These are just a few of the yearly changes we make to our yard and house to ensure we are ready for winter. These changes take a matter of minutes but can make a big difference in your water usage and spending. Luckily, we all live in Southern California and wintertime is not really “wintertime”. If we were on the East coast we would have to drain our pools and actually prepare for the winter. Thus, always be thankful for this awesome Southern California weather!

How Long Should You Stay in the Spa

A few weeks ago, we wrote a blog about the health benefits of your spa. However, in that blog we mentioned that you only receive those benefits if you stay in the spa for the right amount of time. In this blog, we will talk about what we consider to be the right amount of time to spend in the spa and what conditions impact this length of time.

External Temperature

It may feel better to soak in the spa when it’s cold outside, but this is not necessarily the best environment for your body. The transition from a spa to a cold temperature causes the body to cool itself too quickly which can result in dizziness. On the other hand, higher temperatures allows your body to cool itself slower and makes the adjustment back to normal temperature much easier. Thus, you can stay in the hot tub longer when the outside temperature is hotter despite how nice it may feel to remain in the hot tub on a cold winter night.

Spa Temperature

Most hot tubs reach maximum temperatures around 104 degrees Fahrenheit preset by the heater, as any temperature over this heat can lead to concern. 104 degrees may feel great and relaxing for some, but by turning the temperature down just a degree or two you are able to safely stay in the spa for a much longer time.

How Deep You Sit

If you sit with the water up to your neck then odds are you are going to overheat rather fast and want to leave the spa. Whereas if you sit with the water to around chest level then you will be much better off. I personally enjoy alternating my position to prevent overheating thus allowing myself to stay in the spa for a longer, more enjoyable time.

Other Conditions

One of the other main reasons to shorten spa time is alcohol consumption. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink in the spa, if you are drinking a lot then you should avoid the spa because it dehydrates you and can lead to dizziness and unexpected increased intoxication. Health conditions like pregnancy or a heart condition are another good reason to limit spa time. Finally, children should spend less time in the spa because their smaller bodies make it harder for their bodies to readjust their body temperature to normal levels.

Final Verdict

As a general rule of thumb, 20 minutes is about the right amount of time you should soak with a maximum of 30 minutes. Beyond this point the spa begins to dry out your skin and overheat your body. Everyone is different, so you can soak for as long as you feel comfortable hypothetically. However, health studies have just suggested that the best time for soaking is up to 20 minutes if you want to receive the best health benefits.

It is the Time of Year for Fall Fun

It’s that time of the year – look outside and see the leaves changing color! From Halloween to Thanksgiving, Fall is one of our favorite times of the year. Below we listed some of our favorite things to do at this time of the year so be sure to check them out and make the most of your fall.

Using the Pool in the Day and Spa at Night

It is tough if you’re feeling that you’re not making the most of your pool and spa, but have no fear because fall is the perfect time for this. The days are warm making it a great time to go for a quick swim in your pool, while nights are cold making it a great time for a spa. With that said, enjoy the weather and hit your spa at night for a nice sleeping pill!

Go to Your Local Pumpkin Patch

You’re never too old to go to your local pumpkin patch and pick out a pumpkin. The pumpkin patch is a great place to visit and get in season, whether it be with a family or with a date. Everyone loves carving a pumpkin and you are truly missing out on October if you don’t carve a pumpkin and set it on your front porch.

Get Dressed Up for Halloween

Some people may think getting dressed up for Halloween is just for kids, but getting dressed up is fun no matter your age. There’s only one time of the year that you get to dress up as whatever you want, so be sure to attend or host a Halloween party. Find a partner or few friends and get a group costume going if you really love to dress up.

Spend Thanksgiving with the People You’re Thankful For

Thanksgiving is a holiday unique to us Americans, and, although the rest of the world finds it odd, it’s many people’s favorite time of the year. Thanksgiving food is amazing, but Thanksgiving is really pointless if you don’t spend it with the people you love. So while we highly recommend cooking a turkey and some mashed potatoes, the most important thing is to make sure you gather the people you’re thankful for to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.

Experience Black Friday

Whether you’re shopping or not, you have to experience Black Friday. It’s truly amazing to watch the hype and spirit that surrounds Black Friday. People plan for weeks and line up for days just to save a few bucks. The atmosphere of Black Friday is truly unlike anything you’ve ever experienced and we recommend you watch, whether it be in person or online, if you aren’t planning to shop.



Fall is one of our favorite times of the year. The weather is perfect, the holidays are great, and the atmosphere is energetic. Fall is one of the best seasons to get into and really go all out, and we think you can do just that by following these tips. How do you like to celebrate fall and get into the spirit?

Getting to Know Your Neighbors

We all have neighbors, but not everyone knows their neighbors. I know my neighbors quite well and we get along nicely; however, it occurred to me that many people do not have a similar relationship. Oftentimes, people have those neighbors that they drive by and wave to but never truly talk to or interact with. Thus, I decided to write this blog to offer ways to get to know your neighbors whether they be new neighbors or old neighbors you just never got around to knowing.


NextdoorNextdoor is a private social networking service for neighborhoods and can be a great way to communicate online with your neighbors. The Rossmoor neighborhood is showcased at https://nextdoor.com/neighborhood/rossmoor–los-alamitos–ca/ and you can put in your address and it will direct you to an online community just for your surrounding neighborhood.

People are using Nextdoor to:

  • Quickly get the word out about a break-in
  • Organize a Neighborhood Watch Group
  • Track down a trustworthy babysitter
  • Find out who does the best swimming pool construction in town
  • Ask for help keeping an eye out for a lost dog
  • Find a new home for an outgrown bike
  • Finally call that nice man down the street by his first name

Nextdoor’s mission is to provide a trusted platform where neighbors work together to build stronger, safer, happier communities, all over the world. Nextdoor is a great way to stay up-to-date with your neighborhood without the hassle of speaking to every neighbor in your area.

Knock, Knock

There’s no better way to introduce yourself to neighbors than the old-fashioned tradition of knocking on someone’s door. How often do neighbors go and knock on each other’s doors these days? Not enough. In the modern age, we have grown accustomed to talking via text and social media at the expense of friendly, person-to-person interactions. I may have advocated for Nextdoor.com due to its convenience, but I have always found the best way to meet your neighbors is to simply go next door and knock. Bringing a gift of some sort or some form of baked goods is a great excuse for knocking on your neighbor’s door and can be a great start to a friendly relationship.

Invite Them Over For Dinner

If you have spoken to your neighbors a few times but don’t know them as well as you wish, then a dinner is the great way to grow more acquainted. Dinner can be at your house, someone else’s house, or a restaurant, but in the end, there is no better way to get to know someone than over dinner. Many of us know our neighbors but not very well – a dinner can be a perfect way to grow this relationship and learn more about your neighbors next-door.

Host a Party

Every few years, my neighbors and I plan a block party. Block parties are amazing because you are hanging out with the people who live in your area, and they are a perfect way to socialize with those people around you. Block parties can be rather hard to organize though, so a simple party at your house with food, drinks, and swimming is a great option, as well. Invite over a combination of good friends and new neighbors which will allow you to meet your new neighbors without putting the pressure on you to constantly be interacting with only them. Whether it be a block party or a smaller house party, having a party with your neighbors is a great way to meet them and form stronger relationships.

Being friends with your neighbor can be incredibly beneficial whether you are running low on sugar, need someone to watch your house while you are on vacation, or want to avoid a noise disturbance at your next party. Getting to know your neighbors doesn’t have to be anything extravagant and can be as easy as checking a social media site or knocking on their door; thus, we think everyone should be, or at least make an effort to be, friends with their neighbors.

Electrical Safety for Pool Owners

One of our previous customers emailed me an article recently regarding pool electrical safety, and I decided this would be a good question to address for all our clients. Thus, in this blog we will cover the basics of electrical pool safety and eliminate any and all fears for pool owners in regard to electrical problems.

No Need to Worry

We just want to preface this blog by reassuring our customers about the safety of their pools. Sunset Designers and Builders has been in business for over 65 years and in that time, we have never had an electrical accident. Through our experience, we have learned the correct and safe way to electrically wire pool lights and equipment, so there is no need to worry about potential electrical issues. Additionally, the advanced technology we use is designed in order to avoid accidents in any situation, so there should never be any issue with electrical. Now that you can sleep safe knowing that your children are safe swimming in a pool with electrical equipment, we should address the need to get your pool inspected every five years.

When to Get Pool Inspections

As we said, pool inspections should be conducted every five years. Electrical inspections can be conducted by licensed electricians or pool contractors to ensure your pool is properly grounded and all lighting is properly wired. Pool inspections are easy and typically go without a problem, but one can never be too safe.

How do Electrical Accidents Happen?

Electrical accidents can and do happen; however, most of these accidents only happen in older pools that were not properly wired. Faulty lighting and bar wiring are large electrical hazards, but these have never been an issue in a pool designed by Sunset Designers and Builders. Thus, all our customers should be comfortable and safe swimming in their pools, but electrical issues can be a cause for concern in older pools lacking inspection.

5 Health Benefits of a Spa

If you know me, then you know I love my spa. I’ve found my spa to be a perfect way to relax after a long day, and I try to enjoy my spa as often as I can. I’ve always known spas brought health benefits, but when I began to research the extent of the benefits I was blown away. In this blog, I chose the 5 health benefits I found the most beneficial and decided to share them.

Improved Sleep

Your body temperature naturally dips at night starting about two hours before you go to sleep, and the higher temperature drop the more relaxed you become. Thus, if you raise your temperature a degree or two by relaxing in a spa then the steeper temperature drop will help you fall into a deep sleep. With this being said, we do not recommend sleeping in your spa, as that can be dangerous, but rather relaxing in your spa up to two hours before you go to bed to get the benefit of improved sleep.

Reduced Stress

Studies have shown that a combination of hot water, massaging jets, and the feel of weightlessness all work together to reduce mental and physical stress. Jets can also help stimulate the release of endorphins which cause you to feel better and more positive. Thus, if you want to reduce stress and anxiety then you should try getting in the spa for 20 minutes a day.

Lower Blood Pressure

When you immerse yourself in warm water, your body’s reaction is to stabilize your temperature by pumping additional blood. This additional blood flow causes an increase in oxygen, antibodies, and white blood cells. The warmth then causes the blood vessels to dilate and expand lessening the resistance on the heart and lowering blood pressure.

Skin Care

The hot water of spas opens your pores to heal and rejuvenate skin. The hot water also cleans and disinfects the skin – which is a good reminder to keep your hot tub clean and well maintained. However, be careful not to stay in for too long or else you can dry your skin out instead of making it healthier.

Heals Body Aches

The increased blood circulation from hot water that we mentioned previously also helps relieve pain and body aches. The increased blood flow throughout the body also helps relax your muscles and ease inflammation. In conclusion, spas are a terrific way to relieve muscle soreness or more serious conditions like arthritis, tendonitis, or carpal tunnel.

These are just some of the great health benefits that come from regularly relaxing in your spa. You can receive these health benefits from a simple 20 minutes in the spa every day, which can be spent watching TV, listening to music, or whatever else you desire. I personally love my spa and try to spend some time in it every day. If you don’t have a spa and are interested in adding one then reach out to us and we can discuss your options.

Elevated Pool Update – Beauty, Safety and Improved Functionality

We designed the first elevated pool back in 2006 in my very own backyard. The elevated pool was designed to help make better use of limited space as properties continue to get smaller. In this blog, we will talk about the benefits of elevated pools, the current condition of the first elevated pool, and potential future innovations.

Brainstorming the First Elevated Pool

When it came time to remodel my pool back in 2006, I knew it was a perfect time to experiment with something new. I wanted a pool that could better suit my needs of hosting guests and optimizing space while simultaneously looking aesthetically pleasing. I also had a common issue with Rossmoor homes in that the pool was a few inches too high for ­the house foundation slab. This typically meant a drastic slope of concrete and was often unsightly. By elevating the pool, I was able to regrade the yard and add drains to work well in rain and look normal. After finishing the project, I realized that an elevated pool was a perfect solution not just for my home, but for all homes. Thus, Sunset began designing elevated pools and has never looked back.

What are the Benefits of an Elevated Pool?

Elevated pools allow you to make better use of limited space due to increased functionality with more seating. Elevated pools also allow users to swim surrounded by the environment rather than down in a hole like conventional pools. Elevated pools also look better partially because of the aesthetic beauty but also because fewer leaves and other debris blows into the pool. Finally, elevated pools are safer for little ones and big ones to ensure they do not fall into the pool. All of these features work together to make the elevated pool unique and our preference over old, traditional pools.

Current Condition of the First Elevated Pool

It’s been 11 years since my pool was first built, and it looks just as good today as it did when it was first built. I have no issues with my elevated pool, and I have truly loved the benefits it has brought me. Whenever I have new guests over to swim they love the additional seating and swimming environment the pool provides, and I think the elevated design helps it stand out from other pools. I will never have to remodel my pool again because of the long-lasting design, but if I were to I would choose an elevated design every time. The elevated pool design was one of the best ideas I have ever had, and it has truly changed my life for the better.

Zahn Drone Pool Effect