Keeping your pool crystal clear and healthy seems like an unwanted chore for many homeowners. But if you neglect your pool, things will get out of hand. Allowing the water to turn green and leaving algae unattended is not only going mean extra work for you, it’s going to become a costly affair.
The good news is that basic pool maintenance isn’t too much of a hassle if you follow a few simple rules. Setting aside a few minutes every day to take care of the minor stuff, will mean very little effort in the long run. Here are my top tips for pool maintenance. If you stick to these simple daily and weekly tasks, there won’t be any need for heavy, costly pool maintenance. So it’s well worth your while to form some good pool maintenance habits and stick to them.
Healthy Pool Water
You want your pool water to look clear at all times. No one wants to swim in a green sludge pit that looks like a scene from Anaconda. Furthermore, your pool water needs to be hygienic and not irritate the skin or eyes.
Chlorine is the most commonly used pool sanitizer. It kills bacteria and other organisms that are hazardous to the well being of yourself and your family. In summer, I usually add a cup of chlorine at the end of each day. It’s important to add chlorine close to sunset as sunlight damages chlorine and makes it less effective. If you’re using an automatic pool chlorinator, it’s going chlorinate your pool throughout the day and this exposes the chlorine to sunlight. In this case, it will be a good idea to add cyanuric acid to your pool water, this protects the chlorine from the effects of sunlight.
At the same time as you add chlorine to the pool, test the PH level of the water. This means using a PH test kit, which requires adding test drops to a sample of the pool water and matching the color of the test sample to a color sheet. A much easier way is to use an electronic PH testing probe. They’re not expensive to buy and easy to use. You simply dip the probe into your pool and it will give you an accurate reading of your pool’s PH level (usually within 2 decimal points). Your ideal pool PH level is 7.5. If it goes higher, this isn’t too bad up to about 8 – 8.5. It’s never a good idea to let your pool PH drop below 7. Acidic water promotes the growth of algae and other organisms.
To adjust your pool PH, there are many products available. Hydrochloric acid is usually used to increase the PH (if your pool water is too alkaline). Sodium bicarbonate is an effective way of raising your pool PH if it’s too acidic and you want to make it more alkaline. Many people don’t know this, but ordinary household baking soda is mostly sodium bicarbonate and is perfectly suitable for increasing your pool’s alkalinity. In my experience, this is the cheapest way of doing things and it works just as well as any of the expensive pool alkaline products available.
Once a year, it’s a good idea to add an effective algaecide to your pool. These products are commonly available and you should use them as directed and the product label. Check for warnings as many algaecides can be harmful and you may not be able to use the pool for a day or two after adding some of these products.
Keep Your Pool Clean
I suggest skimming the pool with a net every day. Preventing floating debris from sinking to the bottom of your pool makes your general pool maintenance and cleaning so much easier. If this seems like too much work, you can get an automatic pool skimmer that will keep the surface of your pool clean whenever the pump is running. After a storm, it’s really important to skim the pool immediately. Harsh winds blow all sorts of nasty stuff into your pool and want to get rid it immediately. Skimming the pool with a net after a storm is necessary whether you have an automatic system or not. There’s usually too much debris in the pool after a storm and you will need to put in the effort to get it back to normal.
You should brush the side walls and vacuum your pool at least once a week. Most of us use an automatic pool cleaner these days because they really make things easier. Though most automatic pool cleaners won’t eliminate the need for brushing the walls and not doing so will result in algae growth on the pool walls. Many of the better robotic pool cleaners will scrub the walls as they clean the pool and this means just about no work on your part.
Taking Care of Your Pool Filtration System
Your pool pump and filters should be seen as the heart, lungs, and kidneys of your pool. These are your pool’s vital organs and are essential to maintaining a healthy pool. Your filter’s debris basket should be checked and emptied at least once a week. Most pools have a basket in the skimmer inlet at the pool and one at the pump.
The basket at the pump requires that you switch the pump off and open the basket housing to empty it. When you close it again, make sure that you line the seals up properly and secure the lid. You shouldn’t over tighten the lid. If the seal is correctly placed, there should be no need to tighten the lid too much. If the lid is not properly in position, the pump will suck in air. This will result in a reduced water flow and will damage your pump in the long run. A useful tip for ensuring a good seal (especially with older pools) is to rub a little petroleum jelly around the rim of the lid before replacing it, this helps prevent air from entering the filter.
To keep your filtration system healthy, you should backwash your pool every week, just after emptying the debris basket. You just need to switch the pump off and select the backwash setting. Then you run the pump until the water exiting your filter is clean. Your pool control will usually have a glass viewing bubble at the controls. Run the
backwash cycle until the water inside this bubble turns clear. Then switch your pump off and return the filter selector to the normal filter position and switch the pump back on.
Winterize Your Pool
At the end of summer, you’re likely to be leaving your pool dormant during the cold winter months. Before shutting your pool down for the winter, test and adjust the PH. Make sure the filter debris baskets are clean and then backwash your pool. Use a pool cover through winter to stop any debris from collecting in the water.