Swimming is considered the fourth most popular activity in the USA. With this in mind, there is no surprise to find out there are 10.6 million swimming pools across the United States.
With how many benefits swimming brings - there’s no wonder this trend should only continue to climb in 2020. Swimming not only helps you maintain your figure, but it also reduces stress! It improves your body’s flexibility and can actually help alleviate aches and pains!
While pool owners will happily notice the benefits of owning their swimming pool, many will gloss over a very important aspect. Cleaning and maintaining your pool might sound like a chore, but it’s much more than that.
Failing to properly clean and maintain your pool can lead to many undesirable outcomes. From creating a breeding heaven for bacteria to causing actual damage to your pool - the consequences can be dire.
It’s time to learn How to Properly Maintain Your Pool, in order to minimize the negative consequences! Let’s take a look!
How to Properly Maintain Your Pool In Step By Step:
1. Proper Pool Circulation:
Even if you had the best pool cleaning equipment in the world, poor pool water circulation can negate all of those benefits. Pool owners will often focus on investing into pool cleaning and maintenance supplies. 8/10 times, the cleaning equipment won’t be what your problem is.
Since dirt and bacteria can settle and form more quickly in still water, it’s important to keep the water moving. This is what the filter pump is for. The filter pump is responsible for circulating and filtering your pool’s water. It doesn’t all come down to simply owning the filter pump.
You should be running your filter pump for a minimum of eight hours per day during warm weather. 12 would be ideal, but that might actually increase your electricity bill significantly. On colder days, you can cut that down to six hours.
In most cases, no one should be in the pool while the filter pump is running. You might be tempted to run the pool pump during the night. It’s cheaper and it’s more convenient at first glance.
However, doing this turns out to be less efficient, because your pool is exposed to sunlight during the day. This is when you want to make sure your chlorine is circulating through the water. Algae is more likely to develop during the day, under sunlight.
The only time you should really be running your filter pump at night is when your pool is undergoing a major chemical cleanse.
Optimal Filter Pressure Is Also Important:
It’s important to make sure the filter pressure is optimal. Optimal filter pressure is considered to be between 10-20 psi. This can vary based on the specific filter you have. You’ll see what the optimal pressure is, as specified by the manufacturer. Keep an eye out for the baseline.
Once you see the filter pressure increase by 10 psi from what is considered normal, it’s time for a backwash. Cleaning your filter or back-washing it can dramatically improve its efficiency.
Check For Dead Spots Regularly:
Check occasionally, to see if your filter has any dead spots. A dead spot would be an area of the pool the filter is failing to reach. If you see that there are certain spots in the pool that the filter doesn’t get to, react immediately! Make sure to check your skimmer basket, drains, return lines and the filter.
2. Proper Cleaning or Vacuuming:
Another part of pool maintenance is vacuuming dirt and skimming debris out of your pool. This is performed by using a manual or an automatic pool cleaner.
Depending on your pool’s type, you may need to consider getting an appropriate pool cleaner. A manual pool cleaner would work best for smaller pool. Bigger pools would require an automatic cleaner, instead. Basically, there're 3 different kinds of automatic pool cleaner available in the market. They're:
Getting an automatic pool cleaner reduces the amount of work you’ll have to do. If you are getting things like leaves and acorns drop into your pool, a leaf trap is a must. It’s going to help keep larger debris from clogging up your pool leaf vacuum, as well as your filter pump.
Normally, your filter pump is also going to do its fair share in cleaning algae and dirt buildup. Still, you will need to brush your pool to make sure the filter can pick up on the dirt. Scrubbing the floors will help both your filter pump and your pool cleaner pick it up more efficiently.
In terms of cleaning, you want to make sure that you skim the pool surface at least once a day. This takes care of larger debris before it has a chance to sink to the bottom. If you do this regularly, you will be reducing the amount of debris you will have to vacuum later. Also, you will be preventing pool staining dramatically. When you are skimming, you want to make sure you follow the water flow and skim in a circular motion.
While skimming takes care of the surface, you still have the walls, ladders, stairs and tricky corners. These are often considered dead spots, or prove to be difficult to clean. You want to run a brush along these areas at least twice a week. That way, even if algae starts to develop, you’ll brush it straight into the water and the sanitizer will make quick work of it.
3. Know About Different Pool Testing Kits
Who knew that chemistry plays such a big part in maintaining your pool? Making sure that your pool is chemically balanced is just as important is cleaning it.
You see, when you use chemical to treat your pool water, you inevitably change its pH value. In order to know if your pool is chemically balanced, you would need to test it using a test kit. There are several different ways to test your pool’s water, so here is what you can find.
3.1: Pool Water Test Strips:
Test strips are beginner friendly and can be found at pretty much every pool supply store. A good reason to get the test strips is because they are extremely easy to use. You would take one test strip, dip it directly into your pool’s water and wait for about 15 seconds. The test strips come with a color-coded chart.
Once you pull out the test strip, you can match the color on the strip to your chart, to get a reading. The only downside to this is that you might have trouble recognizing your reading off of the chart.
3.2: Digital Water Test Devices:
A way to get much more accurate readings that are open to interpretation, you have the digital test strip. It’s very simple, you get an electronic device with a slot that fits a test strip. You put it into the slot, you dip it into the pool water - and you get the reading on the device’s screen.
3.3: Liquid Testing Kits (Reagents)
If you want to take a step further, you could go with a liquid test kit. These work slightly different from the test strips. The benefit is that they often offer reliable and accurate readings. The downside is that you need to be really careful when using them. Not following the process will ultimately end with you getting an incorrect reading.
The kit comes with a container, which you’re supposed to fill with your pool water. On its sides are smaller compartments used to measure chlorine and pH levels. After getting the water from your pool, which will act as the baseline - you will add reagents also included in the kit. This will test the water for substance levels in your pool.
3.4: Testing Kits (Tablets)
Finally, you have tablets that can be used for pool water testing. The testing process is the same as above, except instead using reagents, you would use tablets.
You are supposed to test your pool’s water at least once a week, to make sure that your pool’s chemicals are balanced correctly.
4. How To Properly Maintain The Pool Water Chemistry
Now that you know how to test your pool’s water, it’s time to learn more about what you’re testing for. Let’s take a look at a few different things you want to keep an eye out for:
4.1: Maintaining pH Levels:
Maintaining a stable pH level in your pool is extremely important. No matter which chemicals you use to treat your pool, if the pH level is too low or too high, it will render your sanitizer ineffective.
PH is basically used to measure if your pool water is leading to more acidic or basic side of the scale. Both sides of this scale are extremes. The ideal pH balance is considered to be in a range between 7.4 to 7.6. Anything above or below these values indicates an improper pH level.
High pH in your pool water causes chlorine to be less effective. You will need to increase your chlorine input twice as much, to make it work. Over time, the water will become cloudy. Eventually, the calcium in the water will mix with carbonates and create calcium carbonate clogs. These can considerably damage your pump’s filter. Swimmers are exposed to the risk of eye and nose burns.
On the other hand, having a low pH makes it ideal breeding ground for algae. Not only that, but any metal exposed to this kind of water will start to corrode. This cannot only damage your filter pump, but also ladders and any rails you might have in your pool.
4.2: Maintaining Alkalinity Levels:
Your pool’s alkalinity is another important thing to keep track of. This can also be measured by test strips and other water testing tools. Your water’s alkalinity is what determines if your water’s pH levels can remain stable. The ideal alkalinity levels in your pool should be between 80 and 120 parts per million, or ppm.
Low alkalinity means that your pH level is going to bounce. It will swing very dramatically between the acidic and the basic side of the spectrum.
This can cause a number of issues as seen above. Increasing your pool’s alkalinity can be done by adding sodium bicarbonate into your pool’s water. You can use this calculator to determine how much you should treat your pool with.
High alkalinity in your pool means that it will get really hard to change the pool’s pH levels. Usually, the pH levels will lock on a much higher level than normal. You can easily recognize this if your water suddenly turns cloudy. In order to regulate high alkalinity, you would need to add Muriatic acid or Sodium Bisulfate into the water.
Start by treating your pool with the appropriate chemicals until the alkaline levels stabilize. Make sure that your pump is running during the treatments. Let the water sit afterwards and continue the treatments once every four days until the alkaline levels have stabilized.
4.3: Maintaining Calcium Hardness:
Calcium hardness is used to determine whether your pool water is soft or hard. Yes, that is a thing! It is used to measure exactly how much calcium has been dissolved in your pool water. The same thing that makes your bones hard makes your pool’s water hard! Unlike alkalinity and your pool’s pH levels, you don’t need to measure calcium hardness levels as often.
Ideally, you would check about every two weeks. Keep in mind that most of your basic test strips don’t include calcium hardness measuring. You are likely going to need a liquid test kit to get a reading. The ideal calcium levels for your pool water should be in the range between 200 – 400 ppm.
This could very well be the hardest thing to keep track of. Generally, if your alkaline and pH are stable, you won’t have to worry about calcium hardness as much. Get a reading to find out whether the calcium levels will need to be increased or lowered. If the calcium levels are under 200 - an increase will be in order. Anything that goes over 400 will require decreasing.
Higher The levels of Calcium Hardness:
If your water’s calcium levels are too low, increasing them is pretty easy. Any pool supply store will be able to sell you a calcium hardness increaser. These are usually based on calcium chloride (CaCl2). You can also get calcium chloride independently, if you like. Just follow the instructions on the packaging of the product and have the filter pump running while you’re adding the chemicals to the water.
Lower The Calcium Hardness Levels:
If your water’s calcium levels are too high, things tend to get a little more complicated. The most efficient remedy would be to partially drain your pool. You would proceed to add softer water into the mix. Ideally, this would restore the balance. If this doesn’t work, you will want to get a flocculant.
In a nutshell, this is a chemical that makes colloids and suspended solids, like calcium, bind together into clumps. This would allow you to literally scoop out and extract the excess calcium from your water. Add the appropriate amount of flocculant, wait for it to take effect. You will start to notice clumps of calcium around your pool. Do a thorough scrub to remove the clumps. Make sure that you clean the pump filter, as well.
4.4: TDS (Total Dissolved Solids):
It’s time to talk about TDS! It defines the total amount of all solids that have been dissolved in your pool’s water. This includes metals, minerals and various salts. Since they are dissolved, they are invisible to the naked eye. This is why you can only detect these elements by using a water testing kit.
The optimal level of TDS in your pool should be no larger than 1,500 ppm. Values above this one indicate that the water has been contaminated. The water can become cloudy, or change color altogether. It can also develop an odor and a salty taste.
TDS is tied directly with alkalinity, the pool water’s pH value and the amount of calcium present. All of these factors can contribute to reaching higher TDS counts. The best way to control TDS and have it returned to the optimal value would be to partially drain your pool.
5. Sanitizing and Shocking
Shocking your pool is also crucial when it comes to your pool’s maintenance. There is a special chemical called pool shock. It is used to boost the levels of chlorine in your pool temporarily. It is very efficient in providing a thorough cleanse and ensuring that bacteria and algae have no chance to develop in your water.
Why do you need to shock your pool? How often?
Shocking your pool is mostly a preventative measure. With that in mind, the frequency at which you should shock it would depend on how often the pool is used. Doing it once per week, or once every two weeks is considered best practice.
- You should consider shocking your pool more often if it sees a lot more activity than usual. For example, if you had a large pool party, it might be a good idea to shock the pool after party.
- Your pool should also be shocked after a big storm. Practically any event that brings more debris to your pool than usual warrants shock.
Things To Consider When Shocking Your Pool:
- If you are using a chlorine-based pool shock, you will be able to use the pool for at least eight hours after shocking it.
- If you’re using a chlorine-free pool shock, you can feel free to swim in your pool 15 minutes after administering it. However, due to the lack of chlorine in this shock type, it can’t be used as an algaecide.
Step-By-Step Process Of Shocking Your Pool:
Shocking the pool should be done at a time that allows the pool eight hours to sit after treatment. You are recommended to do this at dusk or during nighttime. You also need to make sure that your pool’s pump is running for the duration of the treatment, as well as the following eight hours.
You are going to need some safety gears. Since you are dealing with consecrated chemicals, you’re going to need rubber gloves and safety goggles. You might want to wear some older clothes for this, or clothes you don’t particularly care for.
You need a bucket that can hold at least 5 gallons of water. You are also going to need the pool shock and something to stir it into the water. That could be a yardstick, or a paddle. Pool shock is normally sold in packets at every pool supply store. Usually, one packet is used to treat 10,000 gallons of water. That’s just how potent the mixture is.
Fill your bucket with 5 gallons of water. Then, take your pool shock packet and add its contents into the bucket. Always make sure that you are adding the pool shock into the water and not the other way around. Stir the mixture gently and allow at least 5 minutes for the pool shock to dissolve.
Turn on your filter pump. Remember, it will need to stay on for the hours after the pool was shocked.
Take the bucket containing your dissolved mixture and pour it evenly across the surface of your pool. Pour slowly, allowing the pool water to absorb the shock.
After you are done, rinse your bucket off and let the pool pump handle the rest.
6. Few Additional Pool Maintenance Tips
- Skim your pool on a daily basis to remove loose debris. Although it can be a chore, it only decreases the amount of cleaning you will need to do later on.
- Don’t forget to test your pool’s water regularly. Finding imbalances early can help you correct your pool’s chemical balance easily and prevent damage to your pool.
- You should clean or backwash your filter at least once a week. You should use this time to check if your filter’s performance is on par.
- Learn how to winterize your pool properly at the end of the season. It goes a long way to making sure you will have to do less cleaning when you open it again.
- Invest into a pool cleaner. Whether it is manual or automatic depends on your needs, but you should definitely have one.
- Make sure you are always stocked with chemicals your pool needs, as well as a sufficient amount of water testing kits or strips.
FAQ's About Swimming Pool Maintenance :
Q: Is it expensive to maintain a pool?
A: On average homeowner spends between $3000 and $5000 annually on pool maintenance and supplies. Maintaining your pool, assuming that you are taking proper care of it, shouldn’t be expensive.
Q: How often does a pool need to be cleaned?
A: Your pool needs to be cleaned on a daily basis. Remember, cleaning includes skimming the pool, running the filter pump, vacuuming, scrubbing the floor, walls, ladders and corners. Skimming the pool needs to be done on a daily basis. The same goes for running the filter pump. Vacuuming and scrubbing can be done once a week.
Q: Can you over shock a pool?
A: No, you can’t over-shock your pool. Adding too much pool shock will give your chlorine levels a nice boost. It will eventually dissolve, returning your chlorine levels to normal.
Q: Do you run pool pump while swimming?
A: It depends on the kind of a pump you have. Some of them are safe to run while the pool is being used. Others are not certified for that kind of use. Check your pump’s manual. If it explicitly states not to have it running while someone is in the pool - don’t take any chances.
Q: Should I run my pool pump 24* 7? How many hours a day should I run my pool pump?
A: Running your pump 24/7 is a crazy notion. It would put a huge strain on your electricity bill. And it’s not as effective as you might think it would be. Running your filter pump for at least eight hours every day sufficient. It doesn’t even need to be eight consecutive hours.
Q: Is it better to run the pool pump at night or day?
A: While some situations will call for you to run the pump during the night, it is preferred to do it during the day. Daylight is the time when your water is exposed to sunlight and when your pool gets the most action. You want to make sure that the water is properly filtered during that time.
By taking good care of your pool, you are not only working on decreasing the expenses that go into maintenance. You’re also making a safe environment for your swimmers and preventing devastating damage to your pool. Maintenance goes a long way in ensuring a great, safe swimming experience. A clean pool is a happy pool!