Summers are the time for fun at the pool—holding parties, getting the perfect tan, and performing tricks on a diving board? What fun!
But if your fun is going to last, then you need to perform regular maintenance on your pool. You are the proud owner of a pool, right? Well, it is up to you to keep it in condition to be proud of; set up reminders to schedule service with professionals on a regular basis and your pool will remain a source of pride. But even though you are getting help from experts you should still learn some of the basics about how things work so that you can fix simple things yourself.
Pool system maintenance 101
Though you will get professional help with your pool, learning the basics never hurts. By doing this, you may be able to address minor issues with your pool, and that is a benefit to you both financially and because you can resolve the issue without scheduling an appointment. Below we will take a look at pool care basics.
Testing your pool water
Always start with checking the water. By doing this yourself you will benefit from gaining firsthand experience working with chemicals. By checking the pH balance of the pool yourself, you can test the water at any time. Two options for testing the water are either using a testing strip or a liquid water testing kit. Both options will let you know if the chemical balance of your pool’s water is appropriate or needs to be adjusted. Still, you may prefer one over the other.
Creating a cleaning schedule
Creating a cleaning schedule for your pool helps you by blocking out time in a predictable way. This ensures that you are able to perform not just the necessary weekly and monthly maintenance of the pool, but also that there is room in your schedule for other commitments and errands that you must accommodate. With respect to the pool, start simple.
First make sure you have the pool cleaning equipment you need—a leaf rake, skimmer net; possibly a vacuum cleaner. Next, remove debris from the surface of the pool. Follow this by scrubbing the walls of your pool to prevent algae buildup. By keeping yourself organized and doing things in a predetermined way you can minimize slip-ups and make sure that your pool is kept clean and ready to use.
Learning to balance your pool water
Balancing the chemicals in your pool water is critical if it is to be maintained properly. A necessary first step is knowing the gallon capacity of your pool. Once you know that you can start figuring out how much of each chemical is necessary to properly balance the water.
Now, you may be thinking that a professional could do this job better than you. Maybe. Perhaps they could do the job faster or be more precise in their measurements. But there is an “acceptable range” and as long as you are within that you should probably be fine.
By learning a few of the basics—like balancing the chlorine level and bringing the pH and total alkalinity of the pool down—you can save yourself some money and do the job yourself.
Certain measurements need to be remembered by you as a pool owner:
Chlorine level: 1–3 ppm (parts per million)
pH level: 7.0–7.4
Total alkalinity: 8–120 ppm calcium
Calcium hardness: 180–220 ppm cyanuric
Cyanuric acid: 30 ppm–50 ppm
Bromine level: 2 ppm–6 ppm
Addressing a concern immediately
Your pool adds beauty to your home and maintaining it is a big responsibility. If you are a person who loves to swim daily, then you are going to want to make sure that your pool is in top shape—that means prioritizing pool maintenance.
There are some tip-offs that things may not be quite right with your pool. Be mindful of when eye irritation becomes an issue and do a water test. If your pool seems cloudy check the filters and sees if it is something you can clean yourself.
Some things are simple enough that you can handle them yourself. Does it only require a skimmer to resolve? Then do it yourself. How much is your time really worth? Often calling for maintenance is a waste of money if it will only cost you a little time to do it yourself.
Pool maintenance anatomy 101
In the last section we covered some of the simpler things that you can do yourself, but there is always more to know. Time for a deeper dive to learn the anatomy of a pool. You are about to gain a better appreciation for your pool and what makes it work…and you will seem so much more knowledgeable than your friends who never bothered to learn.
Water circulation system
The circulation system works like a human heart, cleaning the water thoroughly before returning the water to the pool. The system will filter, clean, and remove debris from the pool before sending it back to the system.
The water drain is located at the bottom of the pool; the main drain works by sending the pool water to your pool's circulation system. Some pools might have gutters and need manual pumping. Your main drain carries the pool water to your pump for cleaning and proper circulation.
Extras: Make sure to have it installed in your pool to stop all the manual work of carrying the pipe every time for filtration.
The heater is the last place the water will flow through after cleaning; they heat the water to add more warmth off-season (winters). You can have it turned on whenever the water dips below 78 Fahrenheit if you are looking to save more power. The heater does not require much maintenance; all you need to do is make sure nothing is combustible lying around the heater as it works on natural or propane gas.
Extras: Having one installed is an individual choice; if you are an arduous swimmer getting one will let you enjoy your winter swims.
A chemical feeder is an excellent addition to your pool system. If the thought of balancing the chemicals in proper ratios intimidates you, getting a chemical feeder makes this job easy. Your feeder will ensure the pool receives the right chemicals once it is filtered.
Extras: Installing a feeder does not mean that you can put off weekly testing of your pool water. Testing your water weekly is important and a chemical feeder does not know how to automatically adjust chemical ratios based on output; human intervention is still required.
Water filtration system
The key to healthy swimming lies in your filtration system. Your filters do all the clean-up work for you. You might have to clean the filters periodically, but you won’t need to clean your entire pool!
Skimmer baskets come first in the filtration system. It collects all the debris—grass, twigs, dirt, leaves, etc. Doing this will let your filter work properly without any hindrance in the system. You need to remove the debris from the skimmer, and the rest will be taken care of by the filter.
Extras: Check your skimmer baskets for any damage to avoid trouble with the filter.
Your pool pump runs your whole pool, meaning it does all the pumping work for you and, once done, lets you enjoy your pool water without much trouble. You need to ensure the product is working perfectly, concentrate on minor details like closing the pump lid tightly after cleaning it to avoid air leaks and check for changes in the pumping sound.
Taking care of small details will extend the life of your pool pump. You will need to run the pump for a minimum of 8 hours to sufficiently purify the pool water, and running it for 24 hours is not unheard of.
Extras: Inground pools will have their pumps above the water level compared to the ground pools, which have them at the bottom.
The pool filtration system traps tiny particles of dirt and debris and removes them from your pool’s water. Regular cleaning of the filters is necessary in order to ensure that they are free of built of debris and crud; if too much buildup is allowed to occur, it could overwhelm the filter and find its way back into the pool water again.
There are various types of filters; let's have a look at those:
Sand filter - A filter built entirely on sand that evenly filters the water sent through them without any dust particles.
Cartridge filter - A firmly pleated layer of polyester cloth is used in this filter, thus allowing the water to run through it with all the dirt getting accumulated in the cloth.
DE filter - A sedimented layer of filter powder stuffed in the pump sifts the particles through the porous material, capturing all the dirt.
Water sanitation system
The sanitation system makes your pool a more hygienic place to swim. There are some substances that play a significant role in sanitizing a pool and they are:
Chlorine feeders and chlorine tablets serve as the best example of chlorinators. These chlorinators are preferred by many people because they simplify the chlorination process. However, even with a chlorine feeder in place, you will still need to check your chlorine levels frequently to verify that they are appropriate and that additional action does not need to be taken.
You can also use pool shock as a sanitizing agent; this will raise your chlorine levels quickly to kill all the bacteria and other harmful microbes in your pool. Rather than adding this directly to your pool, mix it in 5 gallons of water and distribute it around the pool—this way, it will sanitize the pool evenly.
An essential addition to your pool water is cyanuric acid. In outdoor environments chlorine can be lost to UV exposure and evaporation; cyanuric acid helps to prevent this, helping to retain the chlorine that you have added to the pool.
Proper pool maintenance is an ongoing process, but also a necessary one. A clean pool is not just visually appealing, it is mandatory if you are to have a safe swimming environment. Set up a pool cleaning checklist for yourself of what you need to do. If you give yourself a process to follow—and follow it—your pool should always be ready to go.
Never hesitate to get your hands dirty if that is what it takes to keep your pool clean; people will judge you on the condition of your pool just as surely as you judge others who don’t take care of theirs. If you are a pool service enthusiast, keep an eye out for our pool cleaning blogs.