When you dream about your swimming pool, you think about relaxing nights after a long day of work, pool parties with your friends and family, or squeezing in a few laps for exercise. However, it’s not all fun and games. Pool ownership can quickly become a major headache without proper pool care and maintenance. In this article, we’ll take a close look at exactly what you need to do to keep your pool in great condition all year.
Pool maintenance isn’t something you only do occasionally or when there’s a problem. It’s something that requires attention and consistency. Much like maintaining a quality relationship with your spouse, it requires consistent and regular care and attention. Without it, things can quickly get out of hand.
An Overview of Pool Care
When you own a pool, it’s good to have a general idea of what you need to do for proper maintenance. The following are the primary concerns you need to keep in mind.
- Water filtration. Your pool filter system is the primary way to keep the water clean and sanitary. Water will accumulate all kinds of unwanted elements, from leaves to insects to random debris. The filter clears out much of the smaller debris, which is why it needs to be run daily. You need to regularly check on the filter and clean or change the filtration media when needed.
- Water circulation. Many problems, such as cloudy water and algae, arise from stagnation. Keeping the water circulating is one of the fundamental aspects of pool management. Your pool pump and filter are in charge of this task.
- Maintaining the right chemistry. A pool is filled with water, but it’s far from pure H20. You need to balance chlorine levels, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and cyanuric acid for optimal cleanliness and comfort. You need to regularly perform tests on the water and make adjustments as needed.
When you plan your pool maintenance strategy, you have to remember that not all pools are the same. There are above ground and inground pools. They differ in size, construction, and whether they are freshwater or saltwater. Pools may be constructed out of fiberglass, vinyl, or other materials. All of this can affect pool chemistry.
When buying products for your pool and preparing for your pool maintenance routine, keep in mind the specifications for your pool and consult the manufacturer’s recommendations. The following guidelines are for freshwater pools that require chlorine. Many of these recommendations will apply equally well to salt water pools, but not in all cases.
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Why DIY is the Way to Go
The big question to ask yourself regarding pool maintenance is whether you’re going to do it yourself or hire a pool service. New pool owners sometimes assume that it’s too difficult or time-consuming to care for their own pools. However, with the proper resources and guidance, you too can learn to do your own pool maintenance. There are several good reasons to take the DIY route.
- Save money. You’ll have to buy some tools and supplies, but it’s still quite a bit cheaper than using a pool service. Many tools will only need to be purchased once.
- Less hassle. Waste no time or hassle making appointments with a pool service. These companies are usually busy, especially in the summer, and it can be tricky to work out a convenient schedule. When you care for your own pool, you can set your own schedule.
- Satisfaction. You may not consider pool maintenance a fun activity. However, it can be quite satisfying to learn how to maintain a pool and discover how all the parts work. When you maintain your own pool, you’ll learn about pool chemistry and how to maintain optimal conditions. Taking care of your investment brings a sense of pride. It can also be a family bonding task that can be shared.
Pool Equipment to Have On Hand
To maintain your pool, you need to have the right tools and supplies. Here’s the minimum of what you’ll need to get started.
- Pool pump and filter.
- A pool vacuum.
- Pool brush to clean the pool walls and floor.
- Pool rake. A rake with a mesh bag is the most effective tool for capturing the bulk of debris from the both bottom of the pool as well as the surface (unlike a vacuum, which can only clean the bottom, or a skimmer, which can only clean the surface).
- Telescoping poles. These allow you to operate tools from a distance.
- Skimmer. A pool skimmer net makes it quick and easy to clear small amounts of debris from the water’s surface.
- Pool test strips to test for pH, calcium, and other factors.
- Chlorine tablets to keep the water clean and safe.
- Algaecide to kill harmful algae that may invade your pool.
- Metal control to prevent the accumulation of metals such as iron and copper.
- Clarifier to prevent water from clouding.
- Protection for your eyes and face. Certain substances, such as chlorine, pool shock, and cyanuric acid are toxic to the skin and eyes.
Daily Pool Care
There are some things you should do every day to keep your pool running at its best.
- Inspect the pump and filter pressure to make sure it’s operating properly.
- Skim the pool’s surface with a pool skimmer or rake. Removing larger debris puts less pressure on the filter.
- Check the skimmer and pump basket and empty as needed.
- Run the pool pump for at least 8 hours per day. This will keep the water circulating and clean.
Weekly Pool Care
These tasks should be done around once per week.
- Vacuum and brush the pool. Use your rake or skimmer to remove debris before vacuuming.
- Add chlorine tablets as needed.
- Test alkalinity. It should be between 80-120 ppm. You can increase alkalinity by adding baking soda or a specialized alkalinity increaser product.
- Check the filter and backwash. Remove any debris. Change the filter as the manufacturer recommends.
- Add recommended doses of clarifier, algaecide, and metal control.
Monthly Pool Care
- Test calcium hardness. Most pool manufacturers recommend levels between 150-250 ppm. You can test using calcium hardness strips. To lower calcium hardness, add pool flocculant. There are calcium hardness increasers to raise calcium hardness.
- Shock the pool using a pool shock product. This keeps the water clean and prevents substances such as algae from forming.
- Check the cyanuric acid level. This helps the water retain chlorine, which can be destroyed by UV rays. The level should be between 30-50 ppm. If you need to lower the levels, you’ll have to drain water from the pool and refill it with fresh water. If you need to raise the levels, add cyanuric acid. Be sure to wear acid-resistant gloves when doing this.
- Clean the skimmers. Skimmers are useful for keeping the pool water clean as they suck in water, clean it, and expel it back into the pool. As they perform this function daily, they accumulate dirt. Cleaning them about once per month will help to keep the pool’s waterline clean.
Annual Pool Care
Here are important tasks to do annually.
- Take apart and clean all components of the filter. Replace cartridge elements.
- Clean and check the diving board, ladders, and slides. If you have a diving board, ladders, or slides, clean them and check the bolts to make sure they are tight.
- Clean and lubricate O-rings. Lubricate o-rings on the chlorinator, filter, and pump lid. Use a product such as pool lube rather than petroleum-based lubes which can cause damage to the rubber.
Closing or Winterizing Pool Care
The following is a checklist of tasks for winterizing your pool if you live in a climate with cold winters.
- Store all pool accessories in a safe place.
- Do a thorough pool cleaning. Remove debris with skim nets and run the pump and filter for at least 12 hours.
- Check and optimize the pool chemistry. Test alkalinity and hardness and make any needed adjustments.
- Lower the water level. Depending on your climate (e.g. if the water freezes in winter), you’ll want to lower the level to appropriate levels. The general rule is to lower it to around a foot below the level of the skimmer.
- Cover the pool. A good pool cover will protect the water and prevent unwanted items and creatures from getting in over the winter. There are a variety of pool covers to choose from that differ based on material, thickness, and climate, so it’s important to do your research to determine which cover makes the most sense for your environment and lifestyle.
Vacation Pool Care
If you’re going away for over a week, you should make preparations so your pool will be in good condition when you return.
- Check the water before you leave. Make sure chlorine, pH, calcium, and calcium hardness levels are appropriate.
- Keep the pump running 8 to 12 hours per day using a pump timer. If you don’t have one, it’s worth investing in one if you’re traveling.
- Enlist help. Ask a friend or neighbor to check your pool while you’re away.
- If you’re going away for an extended period, you may want to opt for the closing/winterizing tips above.
Have a Consistent Schedule For Pool Maintenance
The above guidelines can be adjusted based on the type of pool you have and your needs. When you have a regular pool maintenance schedule, you can become aware of potential problems before they get more serious. For example, if you notice any algae, you may need to add additional algaecide or leave the pump running a bit longer every day. Once you establish your daily, weekly, and monthly pool care schedule, it becomes part of your routine.
Ongoing pool care is the best way to ensure your pool stays healthy. To do that, you need the best tools on the market. ProTuff has a large selection of top-quality products for pool maintenance. All ProTuff Products come with a lifetime replacement guarantee so you don’t have to waste time or money shopping for pool tools ever again.
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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.