If you’re lucky enough to have a pool in your yard, whether it’s a large below ground pool or a smaller above ground variety, they can be a big investment that you’ll want to protect. Maintaining the perfect pool conditions is quite a commitment but following these simple steps will keep your pool clean and enjoyable for as long as possible each year.
#1 Skim the Surface
Skimming the surface of the pool water every few days is a quick, easy and cheap way to maintain cleanliness. Skimming objects on the surface fairly soon is important to prevent the debris from sinking and making it harder to discard. A long-handled net or hand skimmer will easily collect leaves and bugs and also help circulation, meaning you can use less chlorine to keep the water clean.
#2 Scrub the Algae
Eventually the annoying green stuff will begin to accumulate, no matter how hard you try. Nature wants to take us back to the swamp but we can halt that with a little bit of scrubbing. A regular brushing off the pool walls will prevent algae building up. The type of brush depends on the material your pool is made of. Use a stiff brush for plaster/concrete and a softer brush for vinyl, tiles or fiberglass.
#3 Vacuum the Pool
Once a week, give your pool a thorough clean with a pool vacuum. This helps to keep the water clean and clear, meaning you need to use less chemicals – which is always a good thing! Depending on the type of vacuum you have, follow the manufacturer’s instructions but generally, you use it as you would a carpet vacuum. After doing this, check the filter and clean it out if necessary.
#4 Filter Clean-out
At least once a week, have a good clean of your filter. The three kinds of pool filters include cartridge, sand and diatomaceous earth and there will be different cleaning instructions for each. Having some dirt in the filter is actually a good thing as the dirt helps to trap other debris and dirt particles so it doesn’t have to be totally spotless. Don’t leave it too long though or it will simply get blocked and stop working.
#5 Tennis Ball Trick
One of the annoying things about pool use is how your crystal-clear water turns into an oily slick when people have used it. Natural skin oils, cosmetics and suntan lotion will cause a greasy film on the surface of the water but there is a neat trick to help this problem. Throw a tennis ball into the water and the outer material absorbs all the excess oil from the water!
#6 Test the pH Level
To be sure your water is healthy, you need to test its chemical balance often. An ideal reading is between 7.2 and 7.8 which is safe for people and helps your equipment work efficiently. You can do this by buying test strips that you simply dip into the pool water, watch the strip change color and compare it to a chart of different pH levels. You’ll then know exactly what you need to do, if anything, to adjust the chemical balance.
#7 Shocking the Pool
You shouldn’t need to do this too often but a couple of times a season is a good idea, although some pools might require it more often. Shocking is basically adding a large amount of chlorine to the water in one go. The reason for this is that ammonia or nitrogen build up in a pool over time and mess with a pool's chlorine balance. This results in that really powerful chlorine smell that can be overpowering and irritating to the skin. Bizarrely, the solution is to ‘super chlorinate’ the pool to get it back to its normal state.
#8 Take Care of Your Heater
If you have a heater, it shouldn’t need too much maintenance but if calcium builds up inside the tubes, restricting water flow and rendering the heater inefficient then it’s best to get it serviced by a professional. Don’t be tempted to fix it or take it apart and clean it yourself unless you’re a professional.
#9 Don’t Forget the Deck
Keeping the area around your pool nice and clean is also important as you’ll be less likely to get debris in your water. Keep it swept and washed down and don’t remove your pool cover until you’ve done this to minimise the risk of dirtying your pristine pool water conditions!
#10 Be Prepared
To save yourself big headaches next summer, make sure you properly prepare your pool for the winter season. If the weather is going to drop below freezing, you’ll need to use air compressor to blow any remaining water out of pipes so it doesn’t freeze and damage the pipes. Disconnect everything, clean and store in a dry, safe place. Clean the pool thoroughly, keep about 18 inches of water in the bottom which you should super chlorinate and then cover well for the winter.