Owning a swimming pool can be very rewarding and provide hours of needed relaxation and recreation. A swimming pool can also be demanding if there is a problem with the water. The truth is all pool problems can be completely avoided by correctly maintaining your swimming pool from the day the pool is opened in the spring, until the day the swimming pool is closed for the winter.
Swimming pool maintenance is relatively easy and much less expensive when it is done right. The topics below are an excellent source of general information, and if these easy suggestions are followed, you can expect a rewarding and trouble-free swimming pool.
Pick two times during the week that are a few days apart. For instance, choose Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening for your weekly pool maintenance.
The pool filter system should run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This should not involve any attention from the pool owner unless filter media needs to be replaced. Under normal conditions the pressure gauge of the pool filter should be checked twice a week, and cleaning performed once a week with a manual vacuum system and maximum twice a week with an automatic vacuum system. Having an automatic vacuum system cleaning the pool more than 24 hours at a time will cause the pool not to circulate the water properly and grow algae. The pump basket and skimmer basket(s) should also be checked and cleaned of any debris. If a large amount of debris falls into the pool (such as leaves) the filter pressure and pump/skimmer baskets must be checked more frequently.
At least, once a week the pH, Chlorine, Alkalinity, and Stabilizer levels should be checked using a simple home test kit and adjusted as needed. Twice a season, once when a pool is first opened in the spring, and one time in the middle of the season, a sample of water should be tested by your professional pool service provider to ensure your pool water is balanced.
pH LevelThe pH level should be maintained at 7.2–7.6 and adjusted using pH Up and pH Down chemicals. A high pH reduces the ability of chlorine to sanitize and creates cloudy water, algae and bacteria growth. A low pH is acidic and corrosive to the pool.
Chlorine LevelThe pool chlorine level should be maintained at 1-3 ppm at all times, using chlorine tablets in an automatic chemical feeder or by placing the tablets in a pool’s skimmer basket to slowly dissolve. DO NOT drop chlorine tablets directly into the pool as they need water flow to dissolve and will cause the pool liner to be damaged.
Total AlkalinityTotal Alkalinity acts as a pH buffer or stabilizer. Alkalinity prevents large changes in pH. To raise your pool’s Alkalinity add sodium bicarbonate (i.e. baking soda) directly into your pool’s skimmer. Alkalinity is naturally lowered by chlorine and acid rain. The ideal range is 80-150 ppm. NOTE: Total Alkalinity should be adjusted before adjusting the pH.
StabilizerChlorine, whether it is generated by a salt-water sanitation system or chlorine system, is burned off quickly by the ultra violet rays of the sun. Stabilizer is a chemical used to protect chlorine loss from the sun. In salt water pools the stabilizer level needs to be maintained between 60-80 ppm. However, in a chlorine pools when chlorine tablets are used, the level of stabilizer in the beginning of the season should not exceed 20 ppm as the chlorine tablets contain stabilizer. To add Stabilizer, first dissolve the chemical in warm water and then add to the skimmer. Make sure the filter is clean. DO NOT backwash for 2 days.
Calcium HardnessCalcium Hardness is a measure of the amount of dissolved calcium in pool water. Too little calcium can result in hardening of vinyl liners, etching of concrete surfaces, and also corrode metal components in pool fixtures. Too much calcium contributes to cloudy water, stained surfaces, and scale formation. In most pools calcium hardness should be maintained at 175 to 250 ppm.
Algae – a pool owner worst enemyAlgae are microscopic plant like organisms, which grow in the water and thrive on sunlight, warm water, heavy bathing, and insufficient dosages of sanitizing chemicals. Algae is continuously introduced into the pool by rain, wind, dust, and organic wastes from swimmers.
The best way to control algae is to prevent growth in the first place. If the pool is properly maintained, algae should never get a chance to grow.
In a chlorine pool, every 7 to 14 days, a pool should be “shocked”. This is a quick and easy process that consists of bringing the chlorine to a high level for a short period of time to burn out bacteria, algae, and other growths. In addition to the shock treatment a concentrated algaecide should be added as well.
In a salt-water pool, every 7 to 14 days, to prevent algae make sure you put your salt generator on super chlorinate mode especially after a heavy rain or a heavy bathing load and use algaecide.
Under normal conditions the easy weekly maintenance routine described above will keep your swimming pool clean and safe. You should always be on the lookout for problem situations that are out of your control. Heavy rains, extended periods of hot sunny weather or large amounts of debris in the pool will require that you break from your easy weekly routine and spend some additional time maintaining the swimming pool.