A very own personal swimming pool is perhaps one of the very best features a home can ask for.
May it be an outdoor pool or indoor, inground or above ground, the benefits of any swimming pool are limitless.
From being a place to de-stress to providing a fun family time to improving your home’s aesthetic appeal, a swimming pool can do it all and more.
But to enjoy the comforts of a pool, it is very important to have it regularly maintained.
Apart from seeking out professional help, there are a lot of things you can do as well that can help keep your pool fresh and sparkling clean.
And we have brought you a guide to help you out with just that.
To make pool treatment a rather fun DIY project, we bring you our top pool care 101 tips of how to maintain a swimming pool.
And we are confident that our comprehensive guide will help solve all your pool maintenance needs.
Pool Maintenance 101
Any proper pool care and pool maintenance procedures involve a lot of factors that need to be considered beforehand. From checking water circulation to keeping the right pH balance, swimming pool maintenance demands certain necessary steps that need to be followed.
So here are certain essential aspects you should keep in mind on ‘how to maintain a pool.’
- Water Circulation
The water circulation of a pool is one of the most important factors to look out for when attempting any above ground pool maintenance. The water circulation of a pool depends quite heavily on the functioning of the pump.
The pool pump moves water from the pool and helps it to pass through the filters to get cleaned and keep the pool free of dust and microbes. But a bad water circulation can lead to stagnant water and cause cloudiness in your pool, and form a breeding ground for infections like E.coli and Shigellosis.
So, running the pump periodically is a good habit to have. And the amount of time you should run it for will depend on the size of the pool you own. If you’re not aware of your pool pump cycle, it’s better to seek the advice of a pool care professional then.
But as a golden thumb rule, running your pump 1 hour for every 10 degrees of temperature will suit your needs just fine.
- The Pool Filtration System
What a lot of first-time pool owners don’t know is that it’s the filtration system which keeps their swim pool water sparkling clean. Sure, the skimmer basket and the pump play a significant role in the cleaning process, but it’s the filters that remove the microbes and undissolved dirt and debris from the pool water.
Hence, it’s vital that you don’t backwash sand or D.E filters too often, as it might compromise their cleaning potential in the long run. A lot of filters will demand backwashing when the pressure gauge rises to 8-10 psi, but always consult with a pool help professional first before attempting a backwash.
The filtration systems for both above ground pool care and inground pool maintenance are mainly of 3 types: Cartridge, sand and D.E filter. Where each have their own unique functions and maintenance procedures. So, let’s go ahead and discuss them in some detail.
a) Cartridge Filters: When it comes to cartridge filters, the filtration cartridges can get quite dirty over a significant period of use. When the pressure gauge indicates a psi range of 7-10, it is then time to take the cartridges out of the filter and clean it off all the accumulated dirt.
Begin by removing the cartridges and washing off all the debris with the help of a garden hose. Followed closely by soaking all of the individual cartridges and filter parts in a filter cleaner for at least 12 hours. The cleaners help in removing all the oil and greases that may have deposited themselves in the filter.
After the 12 hour period is up, rinse the cartridges again with fresh water, and then leave them to dry. Drying out the cartridges before installing them will help to avoid any sort of ‘down time’ for the circulation and filtration systems.
b) Sand Filters: Swimming pool care for sand filters is relatively easier than their cartridge counterparts. Dirt and accumulated grime can be very easily removed from sand filters by the help of a process called ‘backwashing’ or ‘reverse water flow.’
When the pressure gauge indicates 7-10 psi more than the normal range then putting your sand filter through a backwash would be wise. Sand filters work better when they are slightly dirty and show a higher pressure range than the standard psi mark.
Hence, cleaning out your sand filter once every season should be optimal enough.
c) Diatomaceous Earth Filter.
Not many swimming pool maintenance guides mention D.E or Diatomaceous Earth Filter reviews, as they are the most expensive form of pool filter out there and quite rarely used. But a lot like sand filters, a D.E filter can be cleaned by backwashing as well.
The difference only becomes apparent after backwashing, when for a sand filter you will not have to add a new batch of sand to form a layer. Whereas for a D.E filter, new D.E needs to be added by pouring the powder or tablets through the skimmer.
Additionally, apart from periodic backwashing, the filter grids should also be cleaned to remove oil and grime build up. Disassembling and cleaning out the entire D.E system once a year is important for your filter’s health as well.
- Testing the Sanitizer Levels.
Sanitizers are the extra water cleaners you add to your swimming pool to remove the microbes and harmful bacteria that may have been growing there. And maintaining its correct levels in your pool water is not all that easy to achieve.
Too less sanitizer will cause cloudy pool water, and too much sanitizer will harm swimmer comfort and cause irritation of the skin. So it’s essential to test your pool 2-3 times a week during the summer and once every week during the colder months.
Affordable test strips are a convenient way to quickly test the sanitizer and pH levels in your pool, along with the total water alkalinity.
A pool treatment technician can do thorough testing that involves mapping the mineral content and calcium hardness. Weekly pool maintenance is necessary for maintaining a well sanitized swimming pool.
- Getting the right pH balance.
pH is the scale on which the acidic and basic properties of your pool are determined. And the pool water’s pH can change in a matter of hours. And there are a lot of factors that can affect it, starting from temperature to urine to cosmetic products such as sunscreen.
So keeping a close eye on the pH levels of your pool on a weekly basis is rather important. If your pool water becomes too acidic, it will lead to the corrosion of your pool tiles and the filtration mechanisms. In such cases, soda ash can be added to your pool to increase its pH and bring to an ideal 7.4-7.5.
While on the other hand, a high pH pool is high on alkalinity, which will lead to the water losing its antiseptic qualities, and ultimately favor bacterial growth. pH decreasers such as dry acid and muriatic acid can be used under such circumstances.
But if you aren’t all that keen on hiring a professional swimming pool service; then we recommend that you follow the labeled instructions when adding any pH decreasers or increasers. It’s important to be able to add the right amount, as too much of either can significantly damage your swimming pool.
- Checking Calcium Hardness.
Have you ever noticed slight white stains on your shower glass door or the porcelain of the tub? These white patches are calcium deposits that can accumulate in your pool as well. On the tiled floors, ladder or even within the pumping mechanism itself. This is calcium hardness.
It is the total amount of calcium that is dissolved in your swimming pool. A new pool may not have calcium issues, but for the older ones, a periodic calcium check is crucial.
High calcium levels will lead to staining all around your swimming pool. But a low calcium level will leave your pool water corrosive and unusable.
The calcium range you should always aim for is 200- 250 ppm (parts per million) for concrete pools and 175-225 ppm for vinyl pools.
- Measuring Total Alkalinity
Total alkalinity is the measure of the additional acid buffers that are used to keep your pool’s pH in check and reduce its volatility. The ideal range of total alkalinity is between the scale of 120-150 ppm (parts per million) which must be weekly tested and maintained.
If the water alkalinity falls low, you can use increasers such as sodium bicarbonate to get it back to the optimum level. But alkalinity increasers are rather a double-edged sword because of their basic nature. Hence, applying an excess of them to your pool water can flip the pH levels to the basic side.
It is always significant to have pH decreasers like muriatic acid handy every time you choose to treat your pool’s alkalinity.
- Keeping your pool metal free.
It’s no hidden fact that the metal in your pool water can cause staining of the tiles and even your pool water to change colors. Hence, the metals if found should be immediately removed from your pool.
The most common forms of metal that can be found in pool water are copper, iron, and manganese which can be effortlessly removed with the help of stain and scale removers. Using these removers regularly are a significant aspect of proper pool maintenance.
- Chlorine Sanitization.
What a lot of ‘pool maintenance for dummies’ and ‘pool maintenance for beginners’ guides fail to mention, is that chlorine itself acts as an amazing sanitizer. From killing bacteria to clearing up the pool water, well-balanced chlorine is essential to ideal pool health.
And chlorine can be bought in many forms.
- 3” Chlorinated Tablets
- 1” Chlorinated Tablets
- Skimmer Sticks
- Multi-functional Chlorinating Granules
The ideal chlorine level is 1-3 ppm which should be maintained in the pool at all times. The UV rays of the sun are great chlorine depleters, so adding the chemicals after sundown can help you get the most out of it.
- Bromine Sanitization.
Bromine is one of chlorines halogen cousins with its ideal saturation levels between 3 ppm to 5 ppm. But it’s not as strong or effective as chlorine and is mainly used for indoor pool treatment.
It can act as a decent disinfectant nonetheless, but keep in mind that it doesn’t come with any Trichloro or Dichloro active elements. Hence it remains unstable throughout its whole cycle and gets rapidly soaked up by the sun.
- Pool Shock Treatment.
Mainly recommended for cloudy pools or swimming pools with a lot of algae infestation. Shock treatment is where you treat your pool water with a high dosage of chlorine or other non-chemical products (for pools that use sanitizers).
This instantly clears up the cloudiness or the algae but leaves the water too acidic and corrosive to be used.
- Use of Algaecide.
Algae is a swimming pool’s biggest enemy. If the pool water is left unkempt with poor circulation, algae can infest the water, grow and spread throughout the pool in a matter of days.
Algaecide helps prevent this and acts as a backup to any sanitization process. Algaecide should be used after every shock therapy as well.
Swimming pools are quite fragile; with just the slightest negligence it can get absolutely dirty, cloudy and unusable. And maintaining them regularly is a difficult feat to accomplish. But we hope that our comprehensive guide on ‘how to care for a pool’ was able to help make it a bit easier.
Till next time!