10 Tips for Maintaining Your Pool

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Home Improvement

Achieving a sparkling blue swimming pool doesn’t have to be a difficult task. While every pool has unique maintenance needs, they all require regular care to remain in good condition. If you decide to handle issues like murky water or broken pumps on your own, it’s important to consult the manufacturer’s manual before attempting any repairs. Even if you hire a service company to maintain your pool, there are still a few things you should do yourself to ensure it stays healthy for years to come.

10: Remove Debris and Clean Baskets

Removing debris from the surface of the pool using a hand skimmer or leaf skimmer every few days is a quick and easy way to keep your pool clean. Floating debris will eventually sink, making it harder to remove. Skimming regularly improves the pool’s circulation system and reduces the amount of chlorine needed. Cleaning strainer baskets once a week also contributes to better circulation and reduces the amount of chlorine required. Aboveground pools have strainer baskets attached to the side, while inground pools have them on the pool deck. Simply remove the plastic basket and shake it out; using a hose can help remove stubborn objects.

9: Vacuum, Brush, and Clean


Using a pool vacuum once a week is necessary to maintain clear water and reduce the amount of chemicals required. There are various types of pool vacuums available. If you have a manual vacuum, work it back and forth over the surface of the pool, slightly overlapping each stroke, like you would if vacuuming a carpet. Check the filter each time you vacuum and clean it if necessary.

Brushing the walls and tiles of the pool once a week minimizes the buildup of algae and calcium deposits that can lead to bigger problems. The type of material used to make the walls of your pool determines the type of cleaning tools you should use. Use a stiff brush for plaster-lined concrete pools and a softer brush for vinyl or fiberglass walls. For tiles, use a soft brush to avoid scratching or damaging the grout. A pumice stone, putty knife, or a mixture of water and muriatic acid can also be effective.

8: Keep Your Pool Filter Clean

There are three types of filters commonly used in pools: cartridge, sand, and diatomaceous earth. Each filter type requires different maintenance procedures, but all need periodic cleaning depending on usage. Cleaning the filter too frequently can actually hinder the filtration process. A slightly dirty filter is more effective because it helps trap other particles, removing debris from the water. However, a filter that is too dirty can cause an increase in flow between the pressure gauge and flow meter. You should clean the filter when the difference reaches 10 to 15 pounds (4.5 to 6.8 kilograms) per square inch.

7: Hire a Professional to Service Your Heater


You can remove leaves from your pool yourself, but it’s best to hire a professional to service your heater.
©iStockphoto.com/TerryHealy

Pool heaters typically require the least maintenance of all pool equipment. Gas heaters can work fine without being serviced for a couple of years, and electric ones can last even longer. Refer to your manufacturer’s manual for specific care instructions. Sometimes, a heater’s tubes can develop calcium scales that restrict flow and prevent the water from heating adequately. If this happens, it’s best to hire a professional to disassemble and clean the tubes with a wire brush or acid. The cost of hiring someone to service your pool can vary depending on the maintenance your pool requires, but it can cost $100 or more per month.

6: Keep an Eye on Water Levels

A significant amount of water is lost from a pool during the swimming season due to evaporation and normal wear and tear from swimming, splashing, and exiting the pool. Whenever you remove debris with your skimmer, take the time to check the water level. Ensure that it doesn’t fall below the skimmer’s level, as this could damage the pump. If the water is low, use a garden hose to bring it up to safe levels.

If you drain your pool for maintenance or at the end of the swimming season, be cautious not to leave it empty for too long. As a general rule, it’s best to leave water in the pool throughout the winter because the weight of the water counteracts with forces from the ground pressing up against the pool from below.

5: Maintain the pH Level of Your Pool Water


Testing your pool’s pH level is as simple as dipping a strip of paper in the water.
©iStockphoto.com/Petegar

Regularly testing your pool water ensures that it’s clean and safe. The pH scale measures acidity or alkalinity on a scale of 0 to 14. An ideal reading falls between 7.2 and 7.8, as this range is safe for swimmers and helps sanitizers work at optimal efficiency.

To monitor the pH level of a pool, you can use a testing kit. These kits come in different types, such as reagent kits and test-strips, but they both offer a simple way to determine the pool’s chemical balance. Reagent kits involve adding liquids or tablets to a water sample, while test-strips change color when submerged in the pool and matched to a color chart. By using this information, you can determine what chemicals your pool needs. To get rid of harsh odors caused by organic contaminants, you can superchlorinate the water. This involves adding a large amount of chlorine to shock the pool back to normal chlorine levels. You should follow the manufacturer’s instructions to get the best results. If you suspect a leak in your pool, you can conduct a bucket test to determine if the water level is due to evaporation or a leak. If the pool has a leak, you should call a professional to patch it. Winterizing your pool is crucial if you live in an area with freezing temperatures. You can use an air compressor to blow water out of the pool’s plumbing and drain as much water as possible from the filter and heater. Finally, clean the pool, lower the water level, superchlorinate, and cover it to keep out debris.

1: Prepare Your Pool for Swimming Season


Ensuring your pool is maintained all year round will make it easier to open up when swimming season arrives.
©iStockphoto.com/DigiStu

If you have winterized your pool properly, opening it up for the swimming season will be a breeze. First and foremost, do not remove the pool cover until the area around the pool has been cleaned. Use a broom or hose to get rid of debris to prevent it from entering the pool. Next, use a garden hose to fill up the pool with water to its normal level. Reconnect all items that were disconnected. Water needs to flow through the circulation system, so open the skimmer line valve. Check the water’s pH level, then shock the pool. It will take around a week for the pool to balance and become swimmable. Keep the pump running 24 hours a day, and reduce the running time by an hour or two each day until the water is balanced.

More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Aboveground Swimming Pool Care
  • Things to Consider Before Installing a Swimming Pool
  • How Swimming Pools Work
  • Integrating a Swimming Pool into Your Yard
  • Swimming Pool Cleaners

Sources

  • Donegan, Fran J. and David Short. “Creative Homeowner Pools and Spas: Ideas for Planning, Designing, and Landscaping.” Creative Homeowner. 2003.
  • Ramsey, Dan. “Trouble-free Swimming Pools.” TAB Books Inc. 1985.
  • Rist, Curtis, Vicki Webster and Editors of Sunset Books. “Sunset Swimming Pools and Spas.” Sunset Publishing Corporation. 2005.

FAQ

1. How often should I clean my pool?

It is recommended to clean your pool at least once a week. This includes skimming the surface, brushing the walls and tiles, and vacuuming the floor. If you have heavy usage, you may need to clean it more often.

2. How do I maintain the water chemistry?

You should test your pool’s water chemistry regularly and adjust it if necessary. The ideal pH level is between 7.2 and 7.8. You should also monitor the chlorine level, alkalinity, and calcium hardness. If you are unsure about how to maintain the water chemistry, seek advice from a professional.

3. Should I cover my pool when it’s not in use?

Yes, covering your pool when it’s not in use can help reduce the amount of debris that falls in and can also help retain heat. There are various types of covers available, including solar covers that can also help heat the water.

4. How often should I backwash my pool filter?

You should backwash your pool filter when the pressure gauge indicates a 7-10 psi increase over the original starting pressure. This may vary depending on the type of filter you have and the size of your pool.

5. How do I prevent and remove algae?

You can prevent algae growth by maintaining proper water chemistry, keeping your pool clean, and running your pump and filter regularly. If you do have an algae problem, shock your pool with a chlorine shock treatment and brush the affected areas. It may take a few treatments to completely remove the algae.

6. How do I winterize my pool?

If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, you will need to winterize your pool to prevent damage. This includes draining the water level below the skimmer, blowing out the water from the plumbing lines, and adding winterizing chemicals. It’s best to consult with a professional to ensure proper winterization.

7. How often should I replace my pool equipment?

Pool equipment such as pumps, filters, and heaters should last several years with proper maintenance. However, if you notice significant wear and tear or decreased performance, it may be time to replace the equipment. Consult with a professional to determine the best course of action.

8. Can I use household cleaners to clean my pool?

No, you should never use household cleaners to clean your pool. They can damage the pool’s surface and alter the water chemistry. Use pool-specific cleaners and equipment for proper maintenance.

9. How do I maintain the pool’s water level?

The water level should be maintained at the halfway point of the pool skimmer. You can add water as needed using a garden hose. If the water level is consistently low, you may have a leak and should contact a professional for repair.

10. How do I keep my pool safe?

Ensure that your pool is properly fenced off to prevent children and pets from accessing it without supervision. Keep a first aid kit and rescue equipment nearby. It’s also important to regularly inspect and maintain your pool equipment to prevent accidents and injuries.

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