As we all know, a swimming pool is a place we go to refresh, relax, and enjoy some time off from our busy day. It’s a small sanctuary that always needs proper maintenance to give you the best relaxation and fun we’ll need. That’s why pool maintenance has to be taken seriously. Fortunately, the process isn’t as tricky as most pool owners think. Can’t hire a company for all this? Yes, of course, you can hire a pool servicing company to do the job.
Pool Maintenance: How to Care for Your Swimming Pool
However, the services might seem expensive in the long run. What you can do is run through some essential crucial steps and in the end, your swimming pool will be 100-percent maintained. If you just installed a swimming pool, planning to get one or moving into a new home with a swimming pool, you need to keep some pool maintenance fundamentals at your fingertips.
Understanding your swimming pool
Better pool maintenance starts with you understanding your swimming pool well. For you to sit there and say your pool is fully functional and safe, you need to know that you run through all of its components. Like any other system, a swimming pool has a set of features, from water, interior to pipes, filters, and pool pumps.
All these elements need to be cleaned and inspected for leaks, dirt, and replacements. And for you to do this, you must know what your pool has and what’s missing. These are the basics of a swimming pool system.
So, before you engage yourself with pool maintenance, know the swimming pool you have – inground or above-ground. Next, understand how water gets to the swimming pool and how the circulation is done. You also need to check the filters and the filtration line.
Ensure the filters are functional. If not, then record it down. Is your pool pump working? That’s another thing you got to check. If everything is in place, you can jump right to the main task of the day, making everything perfect and safe.
Now that you have a picture of what is there and what needs to be replaced, you can start the maintenance by making the necessary replacements. If it’s a job that requires a handy pool repairer, hire one for the job.
Once the pool is fully functional or your swimming pool doesn’t need repairs, I can now take you through the various pool maintenance activities you got to do.
Pool water: Chemistry balancing
Of course, the crucial visible part of a swimming pool is water. But when you’re talking about pool water, you’re talking about a combination of water, chemicals, and temperature regulations that makes it usable and safe. And we all know that swimming pools carry a lot of water. An average pool can have more than twenty thousand gallons of water.
If you consider replacing all these water every time, it can drain all your pockets. At one cent per gallon, you might use over two hundred dollars to fill the pool. So, it’s natural that most pool owners want to empty and refill their pool water as rarely as possible. That’s why you must clean the swimming pool more often. And if your swimming pool has a saltwater, the maintenance might differ a bit.
(a) Water level
Your pool water is one of the main features that make your swimming pool useful. I mean, can you swim without water? There is no way you can swim in a swimming pool without water. The water levels can fluctuate almost daily. That can happen because of evaporation or heavy rains. Some routine maintenance activities such as backwashing and vacuuming can also lower the pool water levels.
Why should the pool water keep at the ideal level?
When the pool water levels aren’t at the right height: – This a common problem faced by many pool owners. What happens here is, when the water level isn’t put at the right level, it damages the swimming pool. You pool tiles get dry, losing their look, becoming brittle with time.
That happens because of the exposure to UV-rays from the sun. What’s more, the plaster surrounding the pool must be kept moist. If it does dry out, it becomes brittle too. That allows the plaster to erode when the water hits it. What you get is a dull-looking swimming pool – a ruined look.
When the water level is too high: if your pool water exceeds your pool’s skimmer middle part, the skimmer won’t work ideally. The water must flow through the skimmer and at a higher level. When the water level is low, it’s not skimmed well. Leaves and debris will find their way into your pool’s circulation system, including the pool filter and pump getting them clogged and ending up breaking the pool pump.
When the water level is too low: if your pool water levels go too little, it can lead to a breakage of your pool pump. That is never good for your pool and your investment. Low water level leads to the pool pump pumping air, which overheats it and finally breaks down. Another thing, when the water is below your pool skimmer, then nothing will be skimmed. That allows free flow of leaves inside the pool hoses and pumps, clogging them and breaking the pool pump. That can lead to costly maintenance.
Where should ideal pool water levels be?
It’s recommended you keep your pool water level just below the middle of your skimmer. That allows everything in your pool to work optimally. When the level rises, take out some water to maintain the right water level.
When the weather is hot and dry, you may need to add some water with time—this the time when evaporation takes away your pool water. Keep the water level right in the middle of your skimmer flaps. If your skimmer has no folds, keep the water level in the middle of the top pool tiles.
Tip: You can invest in the best pool cover such as Sun2Solar Blue Rectangle as it reduces pool maintenance hugely. It will help prevent leaves and debris from getting inside your swimming pool, maintain pool temperatures, catch rainwater, and reduce evaporation.
(b) Water Chemicals Balance
You can try to imagine what would happen if you tried swimming in uncleansed or untreated water. You might get skin rushed or even worse get a skin disease. For you to reach the perfect pool harmony, you must keep the water clean and balanced.
I will touch on cleaning later under the pool interior. Now, let’s get you acquitted with pool water balancing, which must not be too soft and must not be too hard. What I mean is, you must keep the water pH between 7.4 and 7.6, which is just above the neutral point on a pH scale. Underwater balancing, there are three ingredients:
1) pH Levels
As I mentioned earlier, the perfect pH level for safe swimming water is between 7.4 and 7.6, and it’s highly unstable. Swimmers, rainwater, or anything that gets in the water can affect this pH level. When the pH goes low, it means the water is acidic. When it’s above 7.6 pH level, the water is necessary. What’s more, when the water is acidic, it gives you a burning effect on the skin and mostly the eyes. When the water is required, your skin and eyes dry out.
When maintaining your swimming pool, you need to have a good pH increaser near you since the water pH levels can change frequently. I suggest you always monitor the water alkalinity levels if you are having issues balancing the pH. Adding alkalinity increasers will raise the pH levels.
2) Alkalinity Levels
The second aspect of balancing the pool water is the alkalinity level. The ideal alkalinity level ranges from 100 ppm to 150 ppm. As a pH buffer, the alkalinity keeps the water pH from moving up or down drastically.
It does this by absorbing significant changes happening to your pool water before affecting the water pH. Keep an alkalinity increaser near you always as the alkaline levels can fluctuate easily and fast.
3) Calcium Hardness
Without the right calcium levels, your pool water will be super hungry for it. It will start taking it wherever it can find it from your pool’s plaster and anywhere else that has calcium. That’s what calcification of the pool walls and floor is.
When you add calcium hardness to the water, you will be protecting your pool interior and equipment. However, too much of this can, in turn, cause scaling, among other issues. The ideal calcium levels should be between 175 ppm to 300 ppm.
4) Sanitizer levels
Depending on the type of pool sanitizer you’re using or planning to use, you need to balance it. It can be chlorine, bromine, or simply salt water. The right sanitizer levels depend on the sanitizer you are using, with Chlorine levels being something between 1.0 – 3.0 ppm. Once everything is done, measure the water balancing to test the chemical levels.
(c) Pool Water Shocking
After balancing your pool chemical, don’t be afraid to chock your pool if need be. You might do all the necessary cleaning and water balancing and still get a cloudy swimming pool. Yes, this might be a problem common for the public swimming pools, it might happen to your residential pool too, especially when you hold a party.
Shocking involves raising the chlorine levels for a short time to kill bacteria using Chlorinating Tablets or Chlorinating Shock Treatment. You need to do it by diluting 3-5 times the reasonable chlorine amount or any other sanitizer you’re using in your pool water. You then pour it slowly into the pools return line to allow it to filter throughout your swimming pool, which then refills your swimming pool with water over time.
Tip: You should know, shocking your swimming pool might damage your pool siding. So I recommend you shock your swimming pool at least two times in a season.
Pool Circulation system: The Pump and The Filters
For a swimming pool water to stay clean, then the pool’s filtrations system must be working. If the pool pump is the pool’s heart, then the liver is its liver. It clears dirt and other contaminants from the pool water, similar to how the organ works. It does protect you and your swimming from harm.
1) Filter System
If your swimming pool doesn’t have a functioning filter system, it will soon get polluted, cloudy, and messy. Depending on your pool filtration system setup, you might have a sand filter, cartridge filter, or a diatomaceous earth (D.E.) filter. If you have a saltwater pool, you will be using a saltwater chlorinator with or without one of the pool filters I’ve mentioned.
From the little education, we all got in low-grade level; stagnant water is never safe. Moving water is brighter, cleaner, and secure. Proper pool circulation and filtration are always crucial to safe and healthy swimming. And you know what, an ideally circulated swimming pool rarely gets cloudy or infested with algae. You need to keep the pool filter running all the time to maximize circulation and filtering.
2) Pool Pump
Similar to the pool’s filter system, the pool pump is a crucial element in proper circulation. You need it to draw water and push it through the filter for cleaning.
How long should I run my pool pump? That is a common question among many pool owners. The best period to run a pool pump is 24-hours a day and for a week long. However, this isn’t possible for everyone’s budget or pool equipment.
So, I recommend you run your filtration system 10-12 hours in a day for those seven days. That is enough to turn and circulate the water a couple of times, clean it, and make it safe.
3) Backwash the Filter
Backwashing cleans the filter element. The water is reversed through the component directly to the waste line. Check the filter directions for backwashing schedules. Typically, if the pressure reading is 10 PSI higher than when the system was reloading or cleaned, it needs to be back washed.
Backwashing the filter cleans the pool filter element, which depends on your pool filter type. It’s necessary to prevent clogging the filter unit or even damaging the filter element.
How is backwashing done? All you need is running clean water in a reversed direction through the filter element and directly to the filter waste line. This process is most familiar with the sand and D.E filters. For cartridge filters, you might need to remove the cartridge and clean it individually.
Tip: If you’re using a sand filter, you should add a cup of D.E. powder for boosting the filter element filtering power. Another thing, cloudy water, clears more quickly when D.E. is used as it aids the sand filter in straining those fine particles.
4) Cleaning the Skimmer(s) and Pump(s)
You must keep your pool’s pump(s) regularly clean by watching the pump pressure levels. When the pressure gets higher, backwash it immediately, or you will be replacing your pump soon.
You should clean your pool pump(s) thoroughly twice in a season. Also, open it up and flush it thoroughly – done daily, weekly, and seasonally.
You also need to clean the skimmers routinely and daily if your swimming pool is near trees. If there no trees and flowers near the swimming pool, wash the skimmers once in a week.
Interior Wall or Liner: Brushing, Cleaning and Replacing
The pool interior cannot be left behind while you do the routine maintenance. Here you are mainly dealing with pool cleaning, brushing, and replacing worn-out walls and floors depending on the material used.
- a) Brushing your pool
It’s recommended you brush your pool’s interior once in every week. It might be time-consuming and times difficult if done manually, but crucial. It’s more important if your pool interior is concrete as it offers the perfect breeding ground for algae.
A pool brush looks similar to a home broom head and is attached to a telescoping pole like what is used on a skimmer. You can also hire a pool cleaning service to do the job for you, but you will have to pay. You can take a look at the Poolmaster Deluxe Heavy-Duty Vinyl Liner Swimming Pool Brush, which comes with rubber bumper and designed for above or in-ground Pools.
For the concrete pool interior, the best brush is a stainless steel brush. Why? This brush will be able to get all the dirt in the little crevices and give your swimming pool optimal interior cleanliness.
If your pool interior is vinyl liner or fiberglass, you better use a soft pool brush like nylon to remove all the grime and dirt. The brisk or sturdy brushes might damage it.
- b) Getting rid of algae
Algae is one of the most common that can destroy the usability of a swimming pool. The water turns green and below a hazard to human health. The algae grow when the chlorine levels are low, and pH levels are high or low. You will mostly find algae floating on your water or even clinging on the walls and floor of your pool.
The reoccurring of algae happens more often in concrete swimming pools since they are porous. For the vinyl pools, the algae might grow in the seams or areas with liner seals and plastic stairs. It’s rare to find algae growing on fiberglass and never if well maintained.
How do you get rid of algae?
It’s neither a simple task nor is it a hard task. With the right tools and equipment, you can handle the cleaning smoothly. My best method to kill algae is using the SLAM way. All you need is shock, level, and Maintain. What does that mean?
Balance your water chemistry, add chlorine to the ideal level. You can also add a stabilizer if necessary. Next is to shock, which is super-chlorinating the pool at dusk. You will be killing any bacteria in the water. After this, add algaecide to kill the algae completely.
You can now take the pool brush and rub the entire pool surface with it. I also advise you to clean the filters frequently. What’s more, run your pool pump on high-speed nonstop until the water clears.
- c) Replacing your pool’s vinyl liner
On average, you need to replace a vinyl liner in your pool every 5-9 years, depending on the quality and pool usage. Even though you can do it yourself, I recommend you get help from a professional, especially if you’ve never done this before. Here is a DIY instruction:
Drain your pool – find a place to drain your pool water, somewhere safe, and a spot that won’t flood. If you live a position with the city drainage, you can redirect it there or hire someone for the job.
Remove the old liner – once you drain the pool, remove your old vinyl liner. While at it, inspect your pool’s walls, liner track, and floors to see if they need any necessary repairs.
Fit the new liner –Do the necessary repairs, if no repairs needed, you can spread the new vinyl liner over your pool and lock its bead into the track. Use a vacuum and suck all air out from behind the vinyl liner.
Fill your pool with water – One you’ve done all that, inspected to make sure there no space or bubbles under the line, you can fill your pool with water.
Seal the liner seams and spaces under the steps – you also have to replace your pool’s wall plates and gaskets on skimmers, returns, and lights.
- d) Resurfacing your concrete pool
If your swimming pool interior surfaces are concrete, you don’t have to worry much. However, after some time, 3-5 years, you need to acid-wash the floor and walls. That will help keep the interior fishing from fading and also stave off the algae.
Unfortunately, you also need to resurface or refinish every 10-15 years. Condition of your pool, the interior finish, and the waterline type are some of the factors that determine when to resurface of refinishing or resurfacing.
Most DIYers use epoxy paint, which rarely turns out perfect for anyone. You should hire a pro and use plaster, tile, or exposed aggregate for your pool’s interior finish. High-quality and well-maintained fiberglass pool gel coat might never need refinishing.
By now, you have cleaned your pool, balanced the water chemistry, and refinished it. Right? Next is checking for leaks. If you add water frequently even when the weather is cold, your pool water system might have holes. Detecting the leak is quite simple.
All you need is a plastic bucket filled ¾ and mark the water level from the inside. Set it on the steps or float it and mark the water level from the outside. After a couple of days, come back and compare the water lines.
If you find the amount of water lost is the same, then the water evaporated. But, if there is a difference between the bucket water line and the central water line, there is a leak. Call a professional repairer for the task.
If it’s a small leak that you can contain and call a professional later, you can use the best pool leak sealer and block the water. However, as I mentioned, this is a temporal fix. You have to call an expert to do the necessary repairs.
Another part of proper pool maintenance is winterization done at the end of spring. If you live in a place with a freezing climate, you have to do this during the cold season. That helps prevent damage from the frozen water and ice.
How do you winterize a swimming pool?
First, remove all the water from the pools plumbing using a sucker or an air compressor. Also, drain as much as you can from the pool filter, pump, and heater. You must also remove any remaining water by use of a particular pool antifreeze. Next, disconnect your pool’s heater, pump, and all the chemical feeders. While at it, clean and store your chemical feeders for the winter.
The next step is to give the pool water a good cleaning, close all the skimmer valves and reduce the water level eighteen inches under the pool edge. That helps with any expansion that might happen from freezing to take place without any pressure. The last step is to shock the water and cover it to prevent more debris from getting inside.
While you learn more about your swimming pool and maintain it, you should create a feasible to-do-list. Yes, it might start to seem intimidating, but you can keep it simple. Creating an ideal pool maintenance schedule smoothens your way of taking care of your swimming pool, help stay organized, and ensure you don’t skip any essential tasks. It’s a perfect way to plan and plan your advanced pool maintenance task ahead of time. Here my advice is, KEEP IT SIMPLE! List down pool maintenance scheduled tasks, pin it on your wall, fridge, or somewhere you will see daily.
Pool Maintenance Summary
Owning a swimming pool is a rewarding thing as it gives you something to enjoy the fun from and relax while at home. However, to enjoy the luxury, you have to keep it maintained properly. The harmony doesn’t come easy. If you think the whole process is too much for you. You can do the Cs, circulation, clean, and chemistry that includes shocking. Do not forget to invest in the best pool vacuum to handle the cleaning. Improve the circulation, always keep the pool water clean, and its chemistry balanced. Shocking will help kill bacteria and a clear cloudy swimming pool. If you do all the above right, you will enjoy your swim forever and save a lot during repairs.