At PetStep, it is our mission to make dogs’ and their humans’ lives better. We do this by continually innovating our pet products to make sure our clients and their pups receive the best possible solution. Our industry-leading pet ramp for pools, the PetStep Pool Ramp Kit, is a shining example of our continuous innovation and improvement efforts.
Since we strive to make our clients’ lives better, we always welcome and encourage customer feedback. This summer has been a busy season for our pool ramp kit, and we had the pleasure of speaking with lots of our awesome customers about their dogs’ experience using the ramp. We got a lot of rave reviews, but we also talked with clients who encountered some hiccups when using the PetStep ramp in their pool. Besides providing excellent customer service and offering a 5-year warranty on our ramp, we also strive to make sure that our clients and their pups are receiving the best possible ramp for their pool.
In the interest of transparency, we want to share the improvements we’ve made to the PetStep pool ramp kit with you. The issues we’ve addressed include preventing buoyancy, reducing the ramp incline in deeper pools, decreasing chlorine buildup, and increasing the overall stability of the ramp.
Problem: Ramp would become somewhat buoyant when used in deeper pools.
PetStep Solution: Simple weight attachments.
When used in deeper pools, the pressure and movement from the water can cause the PetStep ramp to become slightly buoyant when submerged. While only a small percentage of our clients have experienced any sort of buoyancy while using the ramp, we wanted to come up with an easy fix that anyone could employ if needed.
If the PetStep ramp is at all buoyant, it usually occurs at the center hinge where the ramp can begin to slightly fold. Usually, our Locking Brace Kit, which is a product we always recommend if you’re purchasing the ramp for a deeper pool or large, active dogs, is all you will need to prevent this slight folding. The locking brace kit works by keeping the ramp locked in the deployed position when submerged in the pool.
In a few situations, however, the locking brace kit did not fully resolve ramp buoyancy. To remedy this issue that some of our clients were experiencing, we came up with a simple solution involving a pair of hand weights and zip ties, which most households likely already own. With the ramp underside visible and the locking brace kit installed, thread two or so zip ties around each brace. Then, place a hand weight, we recommend weights from 5-10 lbs, over each locking brace. Use the zip ties to secure each weight to the locking braces. For more detailed step-by-step instructions on attaching weights to your PetStep pool ramp, take a look at this PDF. Take extra care when placing the ramp back in the pool with the weights attached, as it will be heavier to lift than before!
For more info on using the PetStep pool kit in deeper pools, check out our dedicated blog post.
Creating Longer Legs for Deeper Pools
Problem: The ramp would be a bit steep for some dogs when used in deeper pools.
PetStep Solution: Create longer pool legs for the ramp so that it can be comfortably used by dogs in deeper pools.
We manufacture the aluminum pool legs for our PetStep ramp in-house. This has allowed us to tweak or extend the design when needed as we did when faced with this issue. Our standard pool legs for the PetStep ramp measure 24” in length. While this standard length may be perfect in the shallow end (52” or less in depth from pool floor to top of coping) of most pools, the standard pool leg length may not be ideal in deeper pools. Some clients with pools that exceed this 52” measurement in the shallow end found that the pool ramp was a bit too steep for their dog(s) to use the ramp comfortably.
While removing the ramp from the pool and wiping down the legs is simple enough, we also wanted to come up with a more long-term solution for our clients who prefer to leave the ramp in the pool for prolonged periods of time. First, our team researched the chemical reaction (we go into more detail about it here) that occurs between aluminum and chlorine. Then, we facilitated some of our own experiments in-house to determine to what extent the chlorine may be corroding the aluminum and any ways we may be able to avoid it. We concluded that when pieces of zinc are attached to aluminum, the aluminum does not corrode when submerged in chlorinated or salt water. The zinc works kind of like a battery by conducting electrical currents through the pool water. This causes the weaker of the two metals (the zinc) to oxidize instead of the aluminum. For this reason, many pool supply stores sell “sacrificial zinc anodes” to protect the other metals present in the pool like lights or swim bars.
For our clients with deeper pools, we determined that pool legs with lengths of 30” would create a more comfortable ramp incline for pups using the pool. So then we immediately got to work! We manufactured and shipped pool legs with 30” lengths to our clients with deeper pools. After receiving feedback from these clients, we were able to come up with a criterion for when to use the 24” standard or 30” longer legs in pools. We determined that pools with total depths of 40”-52” would support our standard 24” legs. For pools 52” and deeper, we recommend our 30” legs. If your total pool depth is 52” or deeper, give us a call to add 30” legs to your order instead of our standard 24” legs!
Measuring tip: when we refer to pool depths in relation to our ramps and pool legs, we are not referring to the water depth. To measure the total depth of your pool, measure from the pool floor to the very top of the pool coping, above the water height. You can do this with a measuring stick or tape, or if you know the exact water depth of your pool, you can measure from the top of the water line to the top of the pool coping and add that measurement to the water depth measurement.
Decreasing Chlorine Buildup
Problem: White deposits build up on aluminum legs in chlorine or saltwater pools.
PetStep Solution: Easy cleaning practices and zinc anodes.
As we mentioned above, we manufacture our pool legs in-house using hard-wearing aluminum. The main reasons that we chose aluminum as the material for our pool legs are that it is durable as well as lightweight. However, aluminum can be somewhat reactive to chlorine, meaning white scale can begin to build up on the aluminum pool legs when left in a pool that is treated with chlorine or salt. This buildup may not be the prettiest to look at, but it does not interfere with the function of the pool legs in any way. To reduce the reaction and white buildup, we recommend removing the ramp from the pool after each use and rinsing it off with a hose. The white buildup can also be easily removed from the legs using a rag and a little water or a scouring pad. For more information about the chlorine reaction and cleaning the legs, check out our pool legs blog post. Clients who remove the ramp from the pool after each use have reported to us that it is enough to prevent any white buildup from the chlorine.
While removing the ramp from the pool and wiping down the legs is simple enough, we also wanted to come up with a more long-term solution for our clients who prefer to leave the ramp in the pool for prolonged periods of time.
First, our team researched the chemical reaction (we go into more detail about it here) that occurs between aluminum and chlorine. Then, we facilitated some of our own experiments in-house to determine to what extent the chlorine may be corroding the aluminum and any ways we may be able to avoid it. We concluded that when pieces of zinc are attached to aluminum, the aluminum does not corrode when submerged in chlorinated or salt water. The zinc works kind of like a battery by conducting electrical currents through the pool water. This causes the weaker of the two metals (the zinc) to oxidize instead of the aluminum. For this reason, many pool supply stores sell “sacrificial zinc anodes” to protect the other metals present in the pool like lights or swim bars.
After our research and experimentation, we created and shipped out pool legs with zinc anodes attached to them to some of our clients. So far, we’ve seen promising results. This is still a solution we are continually perfecting, so not all of our pool legs come equipped with zinc anodes. Until then, you can purchase a sacrificial zinc anode of your own from a pool supply store or online retailer to prevent any corrosion to the metals submerged in your pool.
Increasing Overall Stability
Problem: Ramp would slightly wobble when used by large and active dogs.
PetStep Solution: The stabilizing outrigger prototype.
One of our favorite things about our PetStep ramp is its 500lb capacity because that means any dog can safely use it! Since a wide variety of dog breeds and personalities use our ramp, we’ve found that large, active dogs like to use the ramp as a platform for jumping into the pool, or will come up on the ramp from the side. When used like this, the ramp can slightly wobble from side to side. We want to make sure that every pup will enjoy using our ramp, so we knew we had to find a solution for making the ramp more stable when used by large and active dogs.
When faced with the task of further stabilizing the pool ramp, our engineering team came up with a stabilizing outrigger prototype, made of the same aluminum material as the pool legs. The pool legs secure into the outrigger prototype, which has bars that project out to the sides of the ramp to create an even more stable base. After conducting a few tests internally, we sent some prototypes out to our amazing clients who were willing to test them with their pups. Overall, we’ve received very promising feedback, but there are still a few aspects we’re continuing to improve. It is a prototype after all! Although future models of the outrigger may look slightly different than the one pictured here, we are excited for what is to come!
“I love using the PetStep ramp as a platform for my awesome jumps. That’s why it needs to be tough, just like me!”
While we are already very proud of the enhancements we’ve made to our pool ramp kit, we are still dedicated to consistently looking for ways to improve our product line. We are always available to you if you’d like to share some incredibly cute snaps of your pup, or if you have any questions or concerns about your PetStep product. Being able to interact with our clients and listen to feedback is one of the best parts of the job! So for that, we’d like to thank you for being a part of our PetStep family, and we are so excited to watch our community grow!