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 perfect 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 you hire a maintenance company for all this? Of course, you can hire a pool servicing company to do the job. However, the services might become expensive in the long run.
What you can do is run through some essential and crucial steps required in keeping your pool in the perfect condition, and in the end, your swimming pool will be 100-per cent maintained.
If you’ve just installed a swimming pool, you’re planning to get one, or you recently moved into a new home with a swimming pool, you have to keep the pool maintenance fundamentals I will discuss here at your fingertips.
Understanding your swimming pool
Better pool maintenance starts with you understanding your swimming pool well. And to sit there and say your swimming pool is fully functional and safe, you need to know that you run through all of its components and make sure they are all clean and functional. So, start by understanding the type of your swimming pool and its features before putting on your gear, ready for some action.
1) Know your Swimming Pool Type (above-ground, semi-inground or inground pool)
When trying to understand your swimming pool, the ideal place to start is to know what type of swimming pool you have. This will help you figure out the right approach to some regions of pool maintenance.
Generally, pool maintenance routines apply to all types of swimming pools and are similar regardless of their orientation and size. However, some bits of the maintenance process will only apply to certain types.
You want to understand how water enters your swimming pool and how its circulation system works. Also, check the filter and the filtration line.
You can either have a fully inground pool, a semi-inground pool, or an above-ground pool. The interior is also something you want to familiarize yourself with. It can either be tiles, vinyl, fiberglass, or concrete. There are other materials out there, but these are the most common.
Once you know the type of swimming pool you own, it’ll be easier to classify what maintenance methods and chemicals work on your pool surfaces. It comes pretty handy when cleaning and brushing; different pool surfaces require other cleaning methods and brushes.
For instance, you can use stainless steel brush for the concrete and tiles, but not fiberglass or vinyl.
So, understanding your pool type can help a lot in determining the right pool maintenance approach.
2) Basic Components of a Swimming Pool
After knowing your swimming pool type, try and understand your pool’s essential components. They can help make everything involving pool maintenance a breeze for you.
A swimming pool is a collection of components that work in unison to ensure you enjoy a nice, cold, or warm bath. These components are there to make sure it stays functional when you need it to be.
As a part of the swimming pool system, pool components need to stay maintained for optimal performance. They include:
a) Pool Water
A pool is just but a horrible-looking dangerous structure when there is no water. Swimming pools require enough water to be functional.
And you have to keep the pool water clear, clean, and balanced to protect yourself and your loved ones from contaminants and pollutants.
It can also help prevent pool hardware issues such as staining, corrosion, and rusting. Overall, keeping the water at the ideal level, clean, clear, and balanced guarantees an extended pool life.
b) Pool Interior
The pool interior includes all the surfaces that come in contact with the pool water, including the walls and the floor.
Keeping these surfaces clean by clearing any debris entering the swimming pool, getting rid of algae and mold, scrubbing off the mineral stains can help keep the swimming pool safe and aesthetically appealing.
c) Pool Circulation and Filtration Systems
The pool water has to stay clean and keep moving to prevent things like algae from growing. Stagnant water isn’t an option when it comes to swimming pools.
You want to keep it moving to get cleaned by the pool filter and sanitized by the sanitizer feeder before returning to the swimming pool.
Ensuring the water flow stays leak-free and clog-free can help maintain the ideal water flow required for proper water circulation.
Ensuring you match your pool’s turnover rate can help keep the water chemicals properly distributed and every inch of your pool water adequately filtered.
d) Water flow controllers
Water controllers are the jets and the actuator. You want to make sure they are operational and functional at all times. You want water direction to be adequately configured by checking the water direction or the valve position. The actuator also has to be appropriately configured for it to help control the water direction and flow.
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.
Pool Cleaning: Brush and Clean the Surfaces and Unclog the Lines
After getting familiar with your swimming pool, the first step of pool maintenance is taking care of the pool interior, including brushing and vacuuming the pool surfaces. It’s also a good time to resurface or replace/repair worn-out surfaces.
a) Brush and Vacuum Your Pool
It’s recommended you brush your pool’s interior once every week. It might be time-consuming and times difficult if done manually, but crucial.
If you have concrete pool interior, you should know that it can be a perfect breeding ground for algae if not cleaned correctly and at the right time.
You can use a pool brush to brush the surfaces. However, make sure you know the type of pool interior you have before picking your pool brush.
For the concrete pool interior, the proper brush is a stainless steel brush. The brush will be able to get all the dirt in the tiny crevices and give your swimming pool optimal interior cleanliness.
However, you cannot use it on vinyl or fiberglass pools. Such a brush can tear the vinyl and cause leaks or leave permanent scratch marks on your fiberglass surfaces. Instead, get a soft stiff-bristle nylon brush for these types of surfaces. If it arrives without a handle, get yourself a telescoping pole like what you use with your skimmer net.
You can also hire a pool cleaning service to do the job for you, but you will have to spend some of your hard-earned money on the service.
Once you’ve brushed all the surfaces, remove this dirt using a pool vacuum than allowing them to reach your pool filter as it can cause clogging. You can get yourself a pressure-side cleaner, suction-side cleaner, manual vacuum cleaner, or an automatic pool cleaner to help you out.
Run the Pool Water through the Filter to Get Rid of Contaminants after all the brushing. Passing the water through the filter removes any microscopic contaminants that might have been left in the water. That means you have to keep the pool pump running to circulate the pool water. I recommend running it for 8-12 hours a day to meet the pool turnover rate.
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b) Shock Your Pool to Get Rid of Contaminants the Filter Can’t Remove
Pool shocking is a necessary step to keep the pool water free of stubborn contaminants. You can do all the cleaning, vacuuming, run the water through the filter, balance the pool chemicals and still get cloudy pool water. Such water requires pool shocking to get it clear.
Shocking involves raising the chlorine levels quickly to kill bacteria using Chlorinating Tablets or Chlorinating Shock Treatment.
I suggest you 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 pool’s return line to filter throughout your swimming pool, which then refills your swimming pool with water over time.
If you’re not familiar with the process, I have a complete article on pool shocking that can make the whole process a breeze.
Pro 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.
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- Kills all types of pool algae and kills bacteria
c) Treat Your Swimming Pool of Algae
One of the many pool contaminants that prove to be a menace if left to ride in the swimming pool is pool algae. Pool alga is of various types, including green, yellow and black.
Green algae are the most common, and they can infect any swimming pool if conditions favor it. It thrives in warm water with low chlorine and pH levels. It turns the swimming pool into a green, nasty habitat.
Yellow algae and black/brown algae can also infect any swimming pool. However, they are rare and only occur when introduced to the swimming pool.
All three types of algae can turn your pool nasty. They tend to take their time to grow before becoming visible to your eyes. That’s why you have to keep it balanced all the time and shock your pool regularly.
The reoccurring of algae happens more often in concrete swimming pools since they are porous. The algae might grow in the seams or areas with liner seals and plastic stairs for the vinyl pools. It’s rare to find algae growing on fiberglass and never if well maintained.
It’s neither a simple nor challenging task depending on the type of algae you’re dealing with. With the right tools and equipment, you can handle the cleaning smoothly.
My recommended method of killing 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.
- Shock, which is super-chlorinating the pool at dusk. You will be killing any bacteria in the water.
- Add algaecideto 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.
Once you brush the algae off, you can use tools, an automatic pool cleaner for algae, or the pool vacuum ideal for algae to remove them from your swimming pool.
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d) Pool Filter Cleaning
Cleaning your sand filter is a crucial step in ensuring it achieves the desired effect. How you clean your pool filter will depend on the type of pool filter you have. It’s necessary to prevent clogging the filter unit or even damaging the filter element.
1. Cartridge Filter
For cartridge filters, you need to remove the cartridge out and spray it with a garden hose. If there is stubborn dirt, the recommended way is to dip the cartridge in a solution of water and liquid dishwasher detergent. This will help dislodge the dirt parts and make it easier to rinse them off with a garden hose. If it’s too dirty, you’ll have to replace it with a model recommended in your filter manual.
2. Sand or DE filter
All you need to do here is to backwash the filter. Backwashing is the process of reversing the water through the filter to clean the filter element. The water is reversed through the sand 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 reloaded or cleaned, it must be back washed.
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 DE filters. For cartridge filters, you might need to remove the cartridge and clean it individually.
If the backwashing isn’t helping, or you’re starting to see sand and dirt returning to your swimming pool, it’s time to replace the sand. Here is a complete guide on how to replace the sand in a sand filter.
Pro Tip: If you’re using a sand filter, add a DE powder cup to boost the filter element filtering power. Another thing, cloudy water, clears more quickly when DE is used as it aids the sand filter in straining those fine particles.
e) Clean the Pool Skimmer(s) and Pump Basket
A pool skimmer is supposed to keep the pool surface clear of leaves, twigs, and other debris. At times, it can collect too much that they start to clog the suction line. That can lead to your pool running dry, resulting in overheating. Cleaning it every day can help deal with clogging problems. It’d also help to cover your swimming pool when not in use.
Another place that collects debris enough to clog the circulation line is the pump basket. Cleaning it now and then can prevent clogging issues and help keep water flowing ideally.
Pool Water Chemistry: Testing and Balancing Pool Chemicals
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 this water every time, it will not only be time-consuming but can also 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 cleaning the swimming pool and balancing the pool chemicals more often is a must. And if your swimming pool has a saltwater, the maintenance might differ a bit.
(a) Water Chemicals Balance
Can you imagine yourself swimming in a pod? Does the idea even come up in your mind? I don’t think so! Swimming in dirty water can put you in sort of all dangers. Untreated water can have bacteria and algae that can give you rushes, or even worse, a skin disease.
That’s why I’ve to emphasize you clean and treat the water while keeping the pool chemicals balanced. That way, you can reach a perfect pool harmony for ideal swimming.
I won’t talk about cleaning here since there is a section for that. For now, let’s get acquitted with pool water balancing. 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.
Let’s go through each of the four ingredients to slice them out and know what they are all about and how to maintain them.
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 precarious. Swimmers, rainwater, or anything that gets in the water can affect this pH level. When the pH goes low, the water becomes acidic. When it’s above 7.6 pH level, water becomes basic.
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 the pH is low, you need a pH increaser to raise the pH levels back to normal. If the levels are high, use a pool decreaser or muriatic acid to level them down.
The pH levels tend to change frequently, so I recommend you keep checking them out often. If you’re having issues balancing the pH levels, you might want to check the alkalinity levels as they directly affect each other.
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 pool alkalinity keeps the water pH from fluctuating drastically.
It absorbs significant changes happening to your pool water before affecting the water pH. Alkalinity levels tend to reduce a lot concerning the pool pH. Use an alkalinity increaser to increase the alkaline levels often as they tend to fluctuate easily and fast.
3) Calcium Hardness
Calcium hardness tells you the number of calcium levels in the swimming pool. It’s necessary to have the ideal levels of the calcium ions in your pool water since if there aren’t enough, the treated 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, in other words, calcification of the pool walls and floor.
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 saltwater. The proper sanitizer levels depend on the sanitizer you are using; the common one is chlorine, which should be between 1.0 – 3.0 ppm.
Pool Circulation System: Keep the Water Moving Ideally
If you’ve come across an uncared-for pond, then you know how nasty stagnant water can be. The same can happen to a swimming pool if there is no proper pool circulation and filtration. These two ingredients make a swimming pool safe and healthy for swimmers.
And you know what, an ideally circulated swimming pool rarely gets cloudy or infested with algae. That’s why you MUST keep the pool pump running at least 8-12 hours a day to maximize circulation.
But for successful and reliable pool circulation, the circulation line has to be maintained too. Where do you start?
a) Maintain the Ideal 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. And when the water level is too high or too low, there could be a series of problems.
Evaporation and routine maintenance activities such as backwashing and vacuuming can also lower the pool water levels, while rain, runoffs, and floods can overfill your pool.
Why should the pool water keep at the ideal level?
Low Water Level: Low water levels are the most common issue faced by most pool owners. When this happens, the pool surface is left out to the sun. With time, the pool tiles start getting dry, and they start losing their look. As time goes by, it becomes brittle.
The same goes for plaster surfaces. The plaster needs to stay moist or erode when it gets dry and heated by the UV rays. When this happens, the area will have a dull, ruined look.
Apart from ruining your pool’s look, low water levels can do a lot of harm to the pool equipment. The pool pump is the most affected equipment.
When the water level is below the skimmer, the pool pump will start sucking air and lead it to run dry. If that happens, the pump motor can overheat, and before you know it, you’re buying a new pump or a motor.
What’s more, the low water level won’t help the skimmer skim the water surfaces. The leaves won’t flow into the skimmer, and you will be left with a nasty swimming pool even with three days of a non-working skimmer and pump.
High Water Level: If the pool water level is above half the skimmer, the leaves won’t free flow inside the basket. They will keep circulating the skimmer.
What is the ideal pool water level 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 proper water level.
When the weather is hot and dry, you may need to add some water with time—this is 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.
Pro Tip: You can invest in the pool cover or a pool enclosure, which can help reduce pool maintenance. It will help prevent leaves and debris from getting inside your swimming pool, maintain pool temperatures, catch rainwater, and reduce evaporation.
b) Next, Maintain the Filtration System
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 pool filter 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.
To match your swimming pool turnover rate, you want to make sure the pool pump runs for 8-12 hours. That way, you’re sure all the pool water particle in your pool passes through the pool pump at least twice in one turnover.
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 set up, you might have a sand filter, cartridge filter, or a diatomaceous earth (DE) filter.
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c) Check the Functionality of Your Pool Pump
Similar to the pool’s filter system, the pool pump is a crucial element in proper circulation. It draws the water from the swimming pool through the pool skimmer before pushing it through the filter and to any other pool equipment in the line. You need it to draw water and make it through the filter for cleaning.
How long should I run my pool pump? That is a common question among many pool owners. The recommended 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 running your filtration system 8-12 hours 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.
d) Inspect the Pool Plumbing for Leak
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 keep 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 evaporates. But, there is a leak if there is a difference between the bucket water line and the central water line. 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 suitable 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.
Pool Aesthetic Improvement: Replace, Repair, and Resurface the Pool Surfaces
a) Replace 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 getting help from a professional, especially if you’ve never done this before.
Here is a DIY instruction on how to replace your pool vinyl liner:
- Drain your pool – find a place to drain your pool water, somewhere safe, and a spot that won’t flood. If you live in 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 are 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 – Once you’ve done all that, inspected to ensure there is 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.
b) Resurface your concrete pool
If your swimming pool interior surfaces are concrete, you don’t have to worry much. However, after 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. The condition of your pool, the interior finish, and the waterline type are factors that determine when to refinish or resurface.
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. A High-quality and well-maintained fiberglass pool gel coat might never need refinishing.
c) Landscaping Around Your Pool
Landscaping around your pool regularly with different plants, bushes and gardens will help you care for the swimming pool better. You also need to have enough maintenance equipment to take care of the surroundings at all times.
A landscaped area around your pool becomes an added advantage since it helps properly maintain water levels in the reservoirs. Swimming pools become much more attractive after landscaping them properly with different garden decorations.
The landscape needs two types of maintenance: general pre-season or before summer starts and care during the season or summer time.
Read more about this in my complete pool landscaping guide.
Pool Closing: Winterize it or Close It for Vocation Properly
Winter is a season that affects all outdoor swimming pools. There is no way you can skip winterizing your swimming pool when the season arrives.
Another thing, vocation is something we all deserve once in a while. When the time comes, you will have to know how to close the pool.
Closing it properly will ensure everything stays in perfect condition and eliminate the hassle of reopening it. So!
How to winterize your swimming pool
Another part of proper pool maintenance is winterization done at the end of spring. If you live in 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 pool’s plumbing using a sucker or an air compressor. Also, drain as much as you can from the pool filter, pump, and heater. Use a pool antifreeze to remove any remaining water.
- 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.
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- Non-toxic propylene glycol anti-freeze protects your pool plumbing from freeze damage
How to Close Your Pool When Going for a Vocation
It’s crucial you understand how to keep your swimming pool perfect when going for a few weeks’ vacation.
You can start by getting a friend or talking to your neighbor and asking them to help maintain your swimming pool when you’re away. You want someone who understands pool maintenance basics. Ask them to check your swimming pool at least once daily and do the following:
- Empty the pool skimmer(s) basket
- Skim the pool surface
- Check the pool filter pressure and backwash when needed
- Test the pool water and add the chemicals when needed
If you don’t have anyone to help you manage your swimming pool when you’re gone, it’d be best to close your swimming pool the right way to avoid getting back to a messy swimming pool needing a complete makeover.
How do you close a swimming pool for a vacation?
- Get a pool pump timer and set it to run 8 – 12 hours a day if you can split the time. This will ensure the pool circulation is maintained even when you’re not around.
- Check and balance the pool chemicals before you leave. You want to make sure the water chemistry is balanced as you head out.
- Make sure everything is clean, including the water circulation lines and all surfaces.
- Cover your swimming pool to prevent leaves and other debris from entering the pool water. It will also keep birds and wild animals away from your swimming pool.
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, helps you stay organized, and ensures 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 them on your wall, fridge, or somewhere you will see daily.
- 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 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 are no trees and flowers near the swimming pool, wash the skimmers once a week.
Pool Maintenance Summary
Owning a swimming pool is rewarding 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 right pool cleaning system 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.