Introduction To Pool Maintenance
A swimming pool represents the pride and joy of almost every pool owner’s backyard. Not only is it a great place to relax during summer, but it also has the potential to turn your backyard into a social hotspot.
Owning a pool is a labor of love. After all, nothing good comes easy. A little goes a long way when it comes to keeping your pool water healthy. This guide will take you through swimming pool maintenance during both the on and offseason. It might seem a little complicated, but it’s really not. It’s time to dive in.
Starting up for Summer
As a pool owner, you undoubtedly get excited as summer rolls in. You might also experience more phone calls from friends wanting to come over and hang out. There are a few things that you will need to do to ensure your guests are greeted by a pool and not a swamp. Fortunately, you can make sure your pool is crystal clear for summer by following 7 simple steps.
Step 1 – Remove Your Pool Cover
This is an obvious one unless you prefer running on top of your pool all summer long. If there’s water on your pool cover use a pump to remove it first. Also, remove any debris to make sure they don’t fall back into the pool either. Then clean and dry your cover and that’s step one done.
Step 2 – Hook up your Equipment & Hoses
The next step to getting your pool summer ready is to hook up equipment such as your pump, skimmer, and filter. It’s recommended that you keep these hooked up during the winter unless you live somewhere where freezing temperatures are common during the night. You’ll read more about that under winter swimming pool maintenance.
Once you’ve hooked everything up, change your baskets, reconnect the pressure gage on the filter and if your pool has a heater, reconnect the pressure switch, turn the gas back on and ignite the pilot light.
Step 3 – Add more Water to the Pool
Simple enough. Your water level should be halfway up the skimmer.
Step 4 – Clean your Pool
Another simple enough step. Grab your leaf skimmer to remove all surface debris. Use a brush to scrub the sides and bottom of the pool. Finally, vacuum any particles from the bottom of the pool surface. For this step, you might want to consider investing in a robotic pool cleaner. This is also a chance for you to check for cracks, leaks or tears along your pool’s walls and edges.
Step 5 – Circulate the Water
One of the most important parts of swimming pool maintenance is ensuring that your water is consistently circulating. Allow your pump to circulate the water in your pool for between 12 and 24 hours before testing your water chemistry. This will ensure results are more accurate.
Step 6 – Take a Water Sample and get it Tested
Scoop some water out of your pool with a plastic container. Try reaching into the water until you reach your elbow. Take the water to a pool specialist to get a read on your chemical levels. Be sure to measure the length, width, and depth of your pool so that your local professional can tell you what types and quantity of each chemical you will need.
Step 7 – Balance your Water
Based on what your specialist recommends, balance your water’s pH, total alkalinity and chlorine levels. You will read more about this later. Also, buy some pool water test strips. They will assist you in ensuring your chemical levels are in the right range throughout the swimming season.
Summer Swimming Pool Maintenance
Once you have opened your pool up for summer it’s all about keeping the water healthy all season long. The three main aspects of swimming pool maintenance during the on-season are circulation, cleaning, and chemistry, in that order.
Circulation is the most important and also the most overlooked part of on-season pool maintenance. The pump is the center of a pools circulatory system. It moves water through the filter where debris, dirt, and dust are collected before the water is pumped back into the pool. By running your pump consistently during the on-season, you will prevent issues such as algae build-up and cloudy water.
So, how long should you run your pumps? That depends on the size of your pool. Of course, running your pump 24/7 would ensure that your water stays as clean as possible, though that will result in hefty electricity bills. Your best bet is to consult a pool cleaning professional. Provide them with your pool’s dimensions (length, width, depth) and they will advise you on how long to keep your pump running each day.
It may seem like you’ve taken care of all the cleaning by running your pool pump. You’ll still need to apply some elbow grease, however. What that means is that you still need to skim, brush and vacuum your pool, usually in that order. It’s ideal to do this weekly, or at least fortnightly. Set a schedule and ensure you stick to it, or if you can’t get around to it then consider hiring a professional. If you are going it alone, however, at this stage you will need your skimmer net, brush, and vacuum.
Getting your chemical balance right is the most confusing part of ongoing swimming pool maintenance. It’s why people usually hire a professional pool cleaner. The reality is that it’s not that hard. You need to learn about pH, total alkalinity and chlorine levels. From there you can begin adding the appropriate chemicals to keep those levels in check. Before you begin, however, take a sample of your water to your local pool shop so that you know what levels your pool water is currently at.
Here’s a Breakdown of how Pool Maintenance Works
The pH level is a measure of the acidity vs alkalinity in your water, represented on a scale from 1 to 14. Ideally, your pH level should be between 7.2 and 7.6. If there’s too much acidity in your water, you risk damaging pool components. Also, if your pH levels are too high then the chlorine is your water isn’t working as effectively as it could be.
So, how do you balance your pH levels? Once a professional has analyzed your water and returned you’re ready, simply by a pH ‘increaser’ or ‘decreaser’ and follow the instructions on the packaging. You want to get your water tested roughly every 2 – 3 weeks to consistently be sure of your water’s quality.
By controlling what’s known as total alkalinity, you will prevent your pH levels from varying up and down in volatile fashion. Your total should be 120 – 150 parts per million. If it’s too low your pool parts could begin to corrode. If it’s too high, your water will become cloudy. Again, take your water sample to a professional every 2 – 3 weeks to get a reading. Then, if you need to increase your total alkalinity level, purchase an alkalinity booster and follow the instructions on the packaging.
Here’s the final part to your ongoing swimming pool maintenance – make sure there’s adequate chlorine in your pool. Chlorine sanitizes your pool water and kills bacteria. Chlorine can be purchased in the form of tablets, sticks, and granules. Chlorine diminishes over time due to factors such as the sun. You can buy either stabilized or unstabilized chlorine. The great thing is that you will only ever need to increase your chlorine levels. Just make sure it’s between 1 – 3 parts per million.
Getting your Pool Winter Ready
You already know how to get your pool started for summer and maintain it during the on-season. It’s time to round off your knowledge of swimming pool maintenance. Getting your pool winter ready isn’t hard at all. Especially if you have kept to your schedule during summer. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Clean your pool – remove debris, scrub all surfaces and vacuum your pool.
- Check that your pumps, filters, and chlorinators are working properly. Also, run your pump for about 4 hours per day.
- Backwash your filter.
- Balance your water’s pH, total alkalinity and chlorine levels.
- Add a phosphate remover to prevent algae build up.
- Use a pool cover. It traps the water’s temperature and also prevents debris from getting in.
- Continue basic maintenance, albeit less often. Take a sample of water to your local specialist every 4 – 6 weeks. Voila!
As you can see, swimming pool maintenance isn’t that tall an order at all. It’s all about consistency and understanding a few core elements. A little goes a long way, as far as pool care is concerned. By being consistent, you will reduce the risk of major problems occurring in the long run. It’s always worth hiring a professional once in a while, however. That way you will avoid huge problems, both technically and financially.
Guest Post Written By Pool Magic Pool Care