Presented by Pool Time
Nothing beats a dip in the pool on a hot day. Jump in and the cares of the day all wash away — unless you encounter water that is cloudy or laced with algae, bacteria or other contaminants. Fortunately, taking care of your pool is simple if you know what to do. This guide will walk you through how to maintain your pool confidently, so it stays clean and clear throughout the season.
Water Safety: Never leave small children unsupervised. Take proper precautions to ensure no child can enter your pool when you are not present or access your pool when you are not home.
Basic Pool Care
The first three aspects of proper pool care are circulation, filtration and cleaning.
1. Water circulation helps prevent algae and bacteria from clinging to surfaces while helping disperse chemicals. The pump circulates water in the pool by forcing water through the filtration system, then back into the pool once clean. Keep your pump running for a minimum of eight hours each day.
Stagnant water will not be clean no matter how many chemicals are added, so always have the system running when applying product.
2. Filtration occurs when a filter removes debris suspended in the water so the chemicals can work effectively to keep the water clean. The three most common types of filters are sand, cartridge and DE. Sand is the most popular filter; however, DE and cartridge are growing in popularity because they conserve more water and filter more efficiently.
3. Cleaning the pool involves skimming the top of the water, brushing the inside walls of the pool and vacuuming the bottom. By doing this weekly, you will help prevent visible problems like algae or scaling.
Tip: When cleaning, people often neglect the pool walls, corners and stairs. Do not miss this important step! Biofilm and other debris can collect on pool surfaces and provide an environment for algae and bacteria to grow.
Brushing and vacuuming these surfaces helps remove accumulations before a more costly and difficult problem appears. Compare cleaning your pool surfaces with brushing your teeth. You can use all the mouthwash you want, but until you brush your teeth, your mouth is still unclean. The same can be said of your pool walls. Until they are scrubbed, the walls can be layered with bacteria and algae biofilm.
The final aspect of properly caring for your pool is maintaining water chemistry. This ensures inviting water that is clear and comfortable while protecting your pool and pool equipment.
To achieve a healthy mix for your water, follow these four steps: water balancing, sanitizing, shocking and applying algaecide.
1. Water Balancing. Consistent and frequent water balancing is key to a well-maintained pool. Testing the current water levels will determine your treatment needs and the appropriate actions to take. Test and adjust as necessary to keep your pool water within these ranges to maintain water balance. The most important elements of maintaining water balance are correct levels of pH and chlorine.
• Water balance is affected by everything in the environment, including rain and sunlight. Chlorine breaks down very quickly as a result of the sun. A stabilizer helps protect chlorine from breaking down and significantly extends its lifespan.
• For accurate test readings, always obtain your pool water sample from “elbow” depth, away from water return lines and surface skimmers. Testing water samples from these areas can provide inaccurate results.
• Replace test strips at the beginning of each pool season. Secure the cap after use and store in a cool, dry place. Age, heat and humidity can affect the accuracy of test strips.
2. Sanitizing. Chlorine is most commonly used as a sanitizer, due to its ability to kill bacteria found in pool water. Chlorine is added to the water using tablets that slowly dissolve in the water. One-inch and 3-inch tablets are the most common form of chlorine tablets used to sanitize swimming pool water. Quality tablets provide high levels of chlorine to protect the pool against bacteria and algae growth.
• When the heat of summer sets in, it takes more chlorine to maintain the pool than it does in the milder months. Plan accordingly by using more tablets or turning up your chlorinator.
3. Shocking. Shocking your pool water is necessary to remove the build-up of used chlorine and other contaminants in the water. When water has a strong chlorine odor, it turns cloudy and irritates swimmers’ eyes. It is an indication of too many contaminants in the water and shocking is necessary. Dosage rates and benefits of shock can vary dramatically, so read product labels carefully and choose one appropriate for the amount of water in your pool.
4. Applying Algaecide. If algae is present, or to keep it at bay, algaecide can be applied. Read the directions carefully as many algaecides will require the use of shock in conjunction with the algaecide to be most effective. When dealing with an algae problem, run the pump 24 hours a day until the issue is resolved and clean the filter afterward.
5. Salt Water Pools. An alternative way of sanitizing a pool is with an electrolytic chlorine generator, more commonly known as a salt pool or salt generator.
• A salt generator makes its own chlorine rather than having to use chlorine tablets. A non-chlorine shock oxidizer, pH decreaser, cell protector and stabilizer all help contribute to clean water and a clean pool.
Learn more about swimming pool maintenance in our how-to guide.