Whether you’ve been a proud pool owner for years or you are maintaining your pool for the first time, there are a few basic tips that can keep your pool sparkling clean.
For a truly pristine pool, skimming the leaves and debris off the surface of the water should be done daily. If you want to leave the work to the equipment, you can purchase an automatic cleaner that will clean the debris for you. In addition to skimming, you need to scrub the sides of the pool to prevent algae build-up. You can perform this task once every other week. Be sure to look for any growths and use a scrub brush to keep the pool walls looking fresh and clean.
Your pool’s filter is responsible for removing impurities from the water – such as dirt, leaves, and other debris. Most of the time, the pool can be cleaned by turning off the filter, removing the skimmer cover located on the pool deck, lifting out the basket, and removing any debris before replacing it. You should do this at least once a week. Once a month you’ll also want to clean out the pipes utilized by your filter system, which you can do by backwashing. To do so, simply set your filter to “backwash,” remove the leaf basket and clean it out. Then turn on your pump and let it run until the pipe ejects clear water. Be sure to set your filter on a timer and allow it to run for at least six to eight hours a day.
Chemical balance is one of the most important aspects of pool maintenance. Improperly balanced water can look murky, can irritate your skin and eyes, and can cause your pool to become a breeding ground for bacteria. Ideally, you should test the water every 2-3 days. The following chemicals should be tested:
- Free Chlorine – A sanitizer which keeps your pool water safe and free of germs should be in the range of 1-3ppm.
- pH – pH should be kept between 7.2 and 7.8 to prevent irritation and protect the pool equipment from eroding.
- Total Alkalinity – Helps keep the pH in balance. Levels should be within range of 80-120ppm.
- Calcium Hardness – Appropriate levels help prevent plaster damage. Aim for 200-250ppm, but lower for pools with vinyl surfaces (175-225ppm).
Testing the water is simple. You can purchase test kits from your local pool store. Simply fill it with a sample of your pool’s water. After a few seconds, your sample water will change color and a comparison of the sample water to the colors shown on the testing kit should allow you to determine the current chemical levels. You should adjust the levels as needed to achieve an ideal balance. When all the chemicals are properly balanced, the water should be crystal clear, have no scent, and leave very little residue on your skin.
Don’t be afraid to shock your pool when necessary. Shocking refers to raising the chlorine levels for a short period of time to kill bacteria.
As important as the chemical composition of the water is, the physical water level is just as important. The levels will naturally fluctuate after a heavy rainstorm or an afternoon of kids playing in the pool. You want to maintain a level that is halfway up the opening of your skimmer. If the water is too low, simply use a garden hose to add the necessary amount of water back in. If the water level is too high, use a submergible pump to drain the excess. When you’ve reached the appropriate water level, remember to re-test the chemicals. The water level fluctuations may have thrown them off balance.
Your pool deck is just as important as your swimming pool. You can help keep your pool deck clean by pressure washing. Pressure washing will help get rid of any rust or weather stains that occur over time. Start the process by sweeping the deck free of excess dirt or leaves. Set the machine on a weak to medium power spray and remove the surface debris in layers, repeating the process until the surface is clean.
Sometimes you need to trust an expert when it comes to your pool’s equipment pad – pumps, filters, heating systems. At least once a year, have a pool service professional come out to check your pool equipment for leaks, cracks or other issues.
As important as pool care is during the summer, you also need to remember to care for it during the winter. Taking the right steps to properly winterize your pool can save you lots of time and money on repairs for next season. Before closing for the winter, test the water to ensure your chemicals are correctly balanced. Blow any excess water out of your plumbing lines, and invest in a cover to keep the pool free of debris.
By incorporating these pool maintenance tips into a regular cleaning routine, you can ensure that you’ll spend more time enjoying your pool.