Swimming Pools: Maintenance Edition

On a balmy summer day, what are some things you hear most people say when the heat becomes so unbearable? I'll tell you, it's usually something like "I wish I was in a swimming pool right now", or "Is there anyone who has a swimming pool?' Or, -- well you get the point.

If you are someone who is fortunate enough to be one of those who people look to on those kinds of days, you didn't get there by accident; you worked hard to get your pool ready and sustainable for others along with yourself to enjoy. 

When it comes to maintaining your pool, there are several things you must cover in order to assure your pool is safe to swim in, and enjoyable as well, these things include:

Get Rid of Debris - Skimming the surface for leaves and emptying the skimmer basket takes less than five minutes to do, but will help sustain the chemical levels and keep the water clean for hours. You also want to make sure you completely dispose of the debris, to avoid it blowing back into the water. If you have trees or bushes that shed pollen or blossoms, consider trimming them back or doing more hardscaping round the pool.

Vacuum the Pool - Your average pool takes about 30 minutes of vacuuming to ensure the floor of the pool is cleared of dirt hiding within the ripples or being kicked around when someone is swimming. In order to properly vacuuum, move the head slowly across areas, and parallel, as you would if you were mowing the grass. The reason you must move slowly is because, by moving quicker you will not only miss spots, but you will create waves in the pool, clouding your vision of the floor. Algae sometimes will collect on the sides of the pool, however, you can keep them clean by using something like a nylon brush and scrub 'til the algae is gone.

ADJUST THE CHEMICALS - Test and correct pool chemistry weekly. Adjust pH first—with muriatic acid if it's above 7.6 or with soda ash product if it's under 7.4. If the chlorine is below 1 part per million (ppm) or alkalinity is less than 90 ppm, "shock" the water: Dissolve chlorine and/or alkalinity increaser (baking soda works in a pinch) in a bucket of water and toss in.

Tip: Opt for lithium-based chlorine, which dissolves easily, leaves no residue, and won't jar pH.

Backwash the Filter - Turn the filter valve to "backwash" to re-direct the water flow.

Most pools use one of three kinds of filter: sand, diatomaceous earth (DE), or cartridge. In a sand filter—no longer used in new construction—sand blocks dirt and oil; the backwash directs the dirty water to a waste line leading to the ground or a storm drain. With a DE filter, the claylike remains of marine organisms do the filtering and the backwash directs the dirt into a filter bag (empty every other week and replace every few years). Replenish the DE by sprinkling it into the skimmer well. A cartridge filer is a removable unit that you hose off and reinsert. Consider replacing sand with a DE or cartridge system; both clean better, save water, and are better for the environment.

Clean the Pump Filter - Clean out the hair/lint catcher in the pump next. First, shut the system off, then close the skimmer valve in front of the pump to hold the water in place so the system won't need re-priming when it starts up again.

Unscrew the trap's cover and remove the basket, emptying it into the garbage.

Add Chlorine to the System - If you have a chlorinator, a tubelike tank next to the filter, it's a great way to introduce chlorine—in the form of slow-dissolving sticks—into your pool.

You can also use a floating container, but it can be a danger if small children get their hands on it.

Read the packaging and calculate the number of sticks needed for the pool based on the water volume. Add more in hot weather, when the heater is on, or when the pool is in more frequent use.

Finally, check the pool's water level, refilling if it's less than half way up the skimmer well mouth.

These are just a few things you can do in order to ensure everyone's pool experience is a safe one, and also importantly, enjoyable.


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