Swimming pool upkeep is never going to be fun, and it will never be totally free. Nevertheless, it does not need to be a major ongoing expense, and you do not need to invest every waking moment stressing about it, in order to have an excellent pool.
Here are 10 basic suggestions to help you minimize the time and money you spend on this important aspect of swimming pool ownership:
1. Quit Messing With Your pH
The level of acidity of your water adjusts normally and regularly throughout the day. The pH might be 7.2 in the morning and 7.6 by mid-afternoon. When you respond to every little increase or decrease with ‘pH up’ or ‘pH down’ (Soda or Muriatic acid), take a guess who is aggravating the problem and making it worse?
When you’re regularly experiencing wide fluctuation in your pool water pH readings, chances are the problem is you and your constant meddling (sorry to be so blunt).
At the end of the day, it’s your swimming pool, and you are welcome to throw as many pricey chemicals into it as you care to, but all you really require is a one-time dump of around 7 pounds of stabilizer (Cyanuric acid), a weekly application of fluid chlorine – probably about half a yellow jugful dumped in midweek and the rest on Saturday or Sunday (the input amount tends to differ with every swimming pool and the size of it), and perhaps a gallon of Muriatic acid poured in a quart each time over a six month period.
You could invest much more, but why would you?
2. Minimize Usage of Over-Priced Chlorine Tabs & Powders
Most pool owners aren’t just messing with pH. There are other water problems and imbalances that they spend time and money on … often too much. One big area is chlorine.
Some pool shops will attempt to steer you away from liquid chlorine due to the fact that there’s very little profit in it. They would much prefer to push you to purchase the ‘Sticks’, the ‘Tabs’ or the granular ‘Shock’, when fluid chlorine does everything those products claim to do, but sometimes does them better, faster and more economically.
Besides chlorine gas, liquid is the purest form of chlorine you can purchase, and often (although not always) the cheapest. Lately, the price gap has been closing a bit, but it’s still worth crunching the numbers to see just how much you might save one way or another.
But what about the pucks or sticks. Have you ever wondered how pucks and sticks keep their shape? What is it that holds them together?
Animal fat … same stuff as in Elmer’s Glue. Why do you think the water turns hazy blue after a shock treatment? The blue comes from the chlorine, but the haziness is from the animal fat and guess where it’s going to end up? That’s right. It’s going to goop up your filter over time.
So, it’s worth considering what your best options are when it comes to chlorine and just how much extra you might be paying for a somewhat “adulterated” version of simple liquid chlorine. There ARE legitimate reasons to use sticks, pucks or granular chlorine. But, make that decision based on a true need for chlorine of that form, even if it might cost a bit more or clog your pool filter a bit more quickly. Don’t buy it as a result of good marketing. You may just be throwing money away, unnecessarily.
And, here’s a little bonus tip – Sunlight degrades chlorine, so, pour it in after the sun goes down and it will have more time to “do it’s thing” before the sun gets high the next day.
3. pH Should Never Be Allowed to Climb Above 8.0
Remember how we said to quit messing with your pool’s pH? Well, every rule has an exception, right? Here’s the low down on pH.
Chlorine has lost 90% of it’s effectiveness at a pH of 8.5. In other words, it’s nearly useless, being only 10% active.
Compare that to a 7.0, neutral, pH where chlorine is still nearly 75% effective. Even at 7.5, the chlorine is still at least 50% active.
The key here is that a certain amount of fluctuation in pH should be expected, and you can’t be adjusting your pH every time you notice a fluctuation. However, you do have to keep tabs on it, and, if pH begins to climb above 8.0, you definitely need to intervene.
Otherwise, you’ll be throwing good money away on chlorine that is doing virtually nothing, which will result in problems very soon. So, keep an eye on pH and only adjust when absolutely necessary to make sure your chlorine is disinfecting as it should.
4. Skim the Pool Surface Regularly
Debris on the surface of your pool will eventually become water logged and will sink to the bottom. It is much easier to skim it from the surface than to rake it or vacuum it from the bottom. Thus, it makes sense to try and skim the pool daily or every other day.
Honestly, if you skim the pool surface daily or every other day, it will likely only take about 5 minutes, if that, especially with our deep net, wide mouth ProTuff rake.
Doing so will save you a great deal of time and will also save on chlorine costs. And, if you send the kids out to do it, it won’t take you any time at all.
5. No More Fountains or Spray Features
If you don’t mind blowing an extra $10+ every week on extra chlorine, then you can feel free to ignore this tip. However, if you’d like to save yourself $50/month or more in chlorine expenses, avoid fountain features in your pool.
Any time you break tension on the surface of the water, chlorine gas is released into the air. Of course, there are certain times when you can’t help but break that surface tension, but, that is all the more reason to avoid doing it when it’s unnecessary.
Fountain features are cool. Just be sure you understand what they are costing you to operate on a regular basis. You might be surprised how much you could save by shutting them off.
6. Periodic Heater Maintenance Will Save Your Money
Water heaters for a pool typically require very little maintenance, and will likely go a couple years or more without needing any upkeep. But, it can be helpful to have them serviced periodically. Scale build-up can prevent the heater from performing optimally, meaning high heating bills and cool water.
Servicing the heater more than every 2 or 3 seasons, though, is likely unnecessary and will simply be a waste of money.
7. Frequent Backwashing of Your Filter is Unwise
Filters actually become MORE efficient as they collect debris. This is true of air filters, oil filters AND sand or DE pool filters. So, if you are backwashing too frequently, you are minimizing their efficiency.
As long as pressure in the system doesn’t rise too high above normal, the filter is still passing water just fine. Leave it alone. Only if the pressure gauge measures about 10 PSI above what it registers when the filter is clean should you consider backwashing to clean the filter. Otherwise, leave it be.
If you’re backwashing more frequently than that, you’re hampering the efficiency of your filter AND you’re wasting a lot of water.
8. Suspected Leaks Should Be Addressed Quickly
Even a “slow” leak in a pool can be quite costly, resulting in hundreds of gallons of water loss per DAY. But, remember, you’re not just leaking water, you’re also leaking pool chemicals that you paid for. And, replacing that water isn’t completely free, especially if you have city water. Moreover, if you heat your pool, all that water lost is also heat lost, meaning a rise in your heating bill. It pays to address leaks quickly.
Of course, a certain amount of water loss WILL occur simply due to evaporation and such. It’s not worth worrying about this water loss. But, if you suspect a leak, it’s best to determine for certain if the pool actually IS leaking and, if so, do something about it.
The “Sunken Bucket Test” is an easy way to test a pool for leaks. We’ll be sending out complete instructions to our mailing list subscribers on how to perform this test in about a month or so, but you can always look it up online too.
Of course, if you find a leak, you’ll likely need to hire a professional to come in and diagnose WHERE the leak is (main drain, light fixture, plumbing, crack, etc.) and how to correct it.
9. Use More Chlorine to Minimize “Chlorine Smell”
It will likely seem counter-intuitive, but, when your pool seems to have a stronger chlorine smell than it ought to, it’s not because the pool has too much chlorine. It is actually due to high levels of organic contaminants.
These contaminants actually react with the chlorine in your pool to form “chloramines”, which are actually the cause of the chlorine smell that is often associated with pools.
In order to address such an issue, it can actually be necessary to superchlorinate or shock the pool in order to neutralize these chloramines in the water.
For some pools, this might be necessary on a weekly basis. Others might go weeks without needing such a shock. Every pool is different. Just realize that the “chlorine smell” isn’t actually chlorine, but, rather, chloramines in the pool. MORE chlorine, often, is the solution.
10. Drain the Swamp Water Already
I don’t care who you are, at some point in your ownership of a pool, you’re going to end up with green “swamp water”. Something went wrong and you just couldn’t get things adjusted in time to salvage it. But that’s OK.
Unless this is a regular occurrence, it’s really not even worth worrying about what went wrong or what chemicals to dump in to fix it. Honestly, in most areas, 1,000 gallons of city water will only cost a buck or two. And, if you’re on a well, then all your paying for is a bit of electricity to pump in new water.
In most cases, the amount of water required to refill your pool after a full drain will only amount to about a $20 or $30 in expense. Compare that to what would likely be a much heavier bill for all of the chemicals you’ll need (and the time and effort involved) in trying to salvage the green swamp and make it clear again.
And, if you drain the pool into your yard, not only is green swamp water excellent fertilizer, it won’t run up your sewer bill. Win – Win.
Honestly, at the end of the day, the cost of draining the pool, cleaning the pool walls with a bit of liquid chlorine and the day spent refilling it, is much less expensive and certainly less time consuming than the week you’d spend trying to balance the chemistry of a pool that has gone “bad”.
WARNING: Completely draining a BELOW-ground swimming pool can be problematic, as it can cause the pool to “float” or pop out of the ground without the weight of the pool water to maintain it. So, we’d only recommend this method for an above-ground pool.
Bonus Tip to Save You More Time, Money & Headache
OK, so, this section is a little self-serving, but, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be any less useful to you. You may find it enlightening.
Upgrade Your Other Pool Tools & Keep the Old Ones as Crucial Spares
The truth is, we offer our unlimited free replacement guarantee BECAUSE, even with our excellent build quality, you WILL eventually need to replace a ProTuff pool tool. But, if the ProTuff tool is all you have, what will use for the few days you have to wait for the replacement tool to arrive?
What if you’ve got a pool party tomorrow and your ProTuff pool net has a hole?
PRO TIP: Replace your other tools which higher quality ProTuff tools now, BEFORE they give up the ghost, and save those lesser quality tools to use as a backup for the few days you’re waiting for your ProTuff replacement.
Then, when the free ProTuff replacement shows up, thoroughly wash that old backup, dry it out really well and store it in a sealed container to keep it in good shape till you need it again (because we can’t teleport your replacement to you – you WILL have to allow a few days for us to get your replacement to you).
Don’t be left in a lurch. Upgrade to a better quality, unlimited free replacement, skimmer, rake or pole TODAY and save your old one as a backup. You’ll thank me later, trust me.
You know “Murphy’s Law” always strikes at the least convenient moment. Why not be ready for it. Every ProTuff brand product offers the exact same pro-grade quality and unlimited free replacement warranty.
Disclaimer: Pool ownership and maintenance is very complicated, and we know every situation is unique. While we’ve done our best to cover the best practices here, we encourage you to reach out to ProTuff directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any specific questions you may have.