Caring For Your Swimming Pool

Caring For Your Swimming Pool
article about caring for your pool

Caring For Your Swimming Pool

When the weather starts to heat up, thoughts turn to the swimming pool! It’s great to be able to jump in and cool off. The pool can provide relaxation and exercise. At the same time, it does take some effort to keep it in tip-top shape. A pool that’s not cared for will not only look bad; it can also be bad for your health. But what do you need to do to keep your pool healthy?

Pool care starts in spring when you open the pool, and continues until fall when you close it for the season. If you’re lucky enough to live in a milder climate, it’s basically a year-round activity. It’s important to develop a regular maintenance routine so that you can maximize your enjoyment.

What You Need To Maintain Your Pool

As with any project, it’s good to have your tools and supplies on hand and in good shape. Be sure to keep these in stock and in good shape.

  • Water Test Kit
  • Net skimmer
  • Pool brush
  • Deck broom and brush
  • Chlorine or bromine tablets
  • Filter cleaner solution (if you have a cartridge filter)

Keep The Water Moving

Your pool’s filter is the biggest factor in keeping your water clean. But it doesn’t do any good if the water – all the water – doesn’t pass through it.

In an ideal world, your pool filter would run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, most of us have to worry about the electric bill at the end of the month. Minimally, though, run your filter eight to twelve hours a day during summer. If your pool is open year-round, you can cut back a bit during the cooler weather. In that case, run the filter at least four to six hours each day in cool weather.

This will make sure that all the water in the pool passes through the water several times so that contaminants can be removed.

There are several types of filter, but for all of them you’ll also have to keep an eye on the filter pressure to see when it’s time to clean them. Higher pressure means that the filter is more clogged.

If you have a sand or diatomaceous earth (DE) filter, it will need care when the pressure reaches 8 – 10 psi. At that point, they need to be backwashed to clean them. Don’t clean them too soon, though, because they work best when they are a bit dirty.

Cartridge filters also need attention when the pressure rises to about  8 – 10 psi. When it reaches that level, the cartridge should be removed, rinsed off thoroughly, then soaked in filter cleaner solution for 8 – 12 hours. After that, rinse it off with clean water and return it to the filter. Ideally, have a second cartridge on hand to use while cleaning the first.

Your pool also has skimmers that serve as the entryway to the filter system. These are at the vent(s) where water is sucked in and are not the same as the long-handled net skimmers you use to remove leaves and other debris.

These filter skimmers do catch debris, though. Clean them out daily if possible. Leaves, twigs, hair, and insects can become trapped here and slow down the circulation of your water.

Clean Your Pool

We did say that your filter does the most important work for keeping your pool clean. But that doesn’t mean we’re letting you off the hook for more cleaning.

You should try to use the net skimmer on your pool on a daily basis to get rid of anything that is floating on the surface. This will prevent it from entering the filter skimmers. The filter skimmers do help prevent these materials from getting further into the system. Still, they can get overloaded and slow down water filtration.

Vacuum your pool and brush the walls and floor about once a week. This will help catch finer particles that you may not get with the skimmer. It will also do a better job on things like suntan lotion, body oils, and shampoo residue that end up in the water.

To save you time, there are even robotic pool cleaners available. They can handle the vacuuming, although you still need to brush the pool’s walls and floor to remove mold or anything that’s become stuck to them.

Many chemicals – including those that come off your body – that may not be visible but will find their way into the pool. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there! This cleaning will help keep them from building up and making your water unhealthy.

Test And Treat Your Water

In addition to cleaning your pool regularly, you’ll also want to test the water to make sure it stays balanced chemically. You can get a simple test kit anywhere that sells pool supplies. Test about once a week or any time there’s a major change to your pool’s system, such as a large group using it or even rain.

What You’re Testing

The most important factor to consider is the pH balance. Neutral is 7.0. Below 7.0 is acidic, and above is basic. The ideal range for your pool is around 7.4. That’s where your chlorine will be most effective and your pool will hold up best. Too much variance from there can lead to corrosion, scaling, and bacteria that grows when the chlorine doesn’t work well.

You’ll also measure for calcium hardness, which should be in a range of 200 – 250 parts per million (ppm). If this goes higher, you may start seeing calcium deposits. But lower can also be problematic.

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Another test is for the presence of metals. Magnesium, copper, and iron often work their way into water supplies through rain or other means. Initially invisible, they can end up staining your pool lining, tiles, and equipment. If these are present, you’ll have to treat the water to remove them.

Alkalinity is also an important factor to be aware of and keep regulated. An alkaline level of 110 – 150 ppm will help keep your pH from varying much. Too high and you´ll have a cloudy pool with scaling; too low, and you might face corrosion and pH levels jumping all over.

These tests are quick and easy to do. The results will guide you in the use of pool chemicals. Chlorine is the most common and helps to remove harmful biological agents. Bromine is a common substitute, though, and works well especially if chlorine irritates your skin or nose.

Your local pool supplier or installer can advise you on other chemicals you need. They can vary according to your exact situation and it’s important to understand what each does and how it should be used. Always follow the instructions on the label, of course!

When To Shock

Shocking your pool is also important and is a step beyond regular chemical testing and treatment. This process is for times when the pool faces unusual loads. That may be because of excessive use, such as a pool party. But rain also carries chemicals that can enter your pool, so shocking after significant rainfall is a good idea, too.

It’s best to shock the pool once the sun goes down. Sunlight will break down the chlorine quickly, making it less effective. Applying the treatment at dusk and letting the filter run overnight creates an effective treatment.

Cleaning Up Around The Pool

Once you’ve taken care of the pool itself, you’ll want to be sure to clean the deck area as well. An important first step is to make sure that there’s a place to dispose of any waste that might be brought poolside.

Regular cleanup can be done when you clean the pool itself. You can use pool water and a rag to wipe down furniture and toys. Only use pool-safe chemicals for cleaning, especially on anything that may end up in the pool and on the deck itself.

A stiff broom will help with regular cleaning, but sometimes you might want to use a brush to do a more thorough job.

Pool decks, like any other surface, will face a buildup of bacteria. In itself, that’s natural and not harmful unless it gets out of hand. Buildup can also make the surface more slippery. So regular cleaning is important.

You might even want to use a power washer, particularly if you have a larger deck. It will definitely make the work go faster!

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Conclusion

A pool brings a lot of fun, but only when it’s properly maintained. By establishing a regular cleaning schedule for the pool and surrounding area, you’ll have a more beautiful pool that’s healthier to use. A little bit of work will pay off with tons of summer fun!