Beginner’s Guide on the Basics of Pool Care and Maintenance
The glamor and prestige associated with having a swimming pool in the backyard belie the sheer hard work of maintaining it. Yes, pools need regular upkeep because if not, it can quickly become a disease-harboring man-made swamp. Of course, you wouldn’t want someone contracting athlete’s foot or diarrhea because of a dirty swimming pool.
Since swimming pool maintenance is imperative if you own a pool, we will walk you through the basics and perhaps throw some tips and tricks along the way. If you are a relatively new owner or have been one in years, we encourage you to pay attention to what we have to say, especially since the summer season is just around the corner.
Basic Swimming Pool Parts
This may be the most elementary thing ever, but it’s essential to know the main components of your swimming pool before cleaning it. The basic parts are the walls, the filtration system, and the skimmers and returns.
Simply put, the walls form the interior of the pool. (It may be referred to as a “wall,” but it also includes the floor.) It cradles the water and is in contact with everything, including mold, germs, and algae.
The filter system also includes the pump and filters, one acting as the lifeblood of the pool and the other as the janitor that does away with any debris it finds. But, as much as a person will be considered dead without a heart and a liver, a swimming pool might as well rest in peace without a robust filtration system.
Lastly, the skimmers and returns do the pulling and pushing of the water back into circulation. The former pulls the water into the filter, and the latter pushes the cleansed water back into the pull. These parts should also be maintained because they may not work if something is impeding the system.
Things You Need To Clean The Pool
If you have to fight this war, then you better come in hot. And in pool maintenance, ‘coming in hot’ means you have to get these tools ready:
- Skimmers attached to telescopic poles. One or the other may not be enough to clean a pool, but put a telescopic pole and a skimmer together, and we’re in business. Also, do not confuse this “skimmer” with the other “skimmer.” This one is made of net and mainly used for collecting debris like leaves and whatnot, floating in the water.
- Brushes and vacuum cleaners.
Pool walls and floors need to be brushed and vacuumed to prevent algae accumulation. If you choose to do it manually, there are nylon and steel-brush options, although nylon is the ideal choice if the pool wall is made of vinyl or fiberglass. What the brushes couldn’t get would be the vacuum cleaner’s job, especially if the dirt starts to collect at the bottom. Now, since we are in this modern-day and age, you may choose to forego the manual processes and buy yourself a robotic cleaner to brush and vacuum the pool. Many users admire the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus for various reasons on top of its first-rate cleaning ability. For more information on this robotic pool cleaner, check out this comprehensive Nautilus® CC Plus 2021 review.
- Water testers and pH balancers.
Swimming pools should have an ideal pH balance (7.2), and they could also go awry at any moment due to some factors. Always have a water tester with you, and if you see that it’s not at that precise pH level, have the chemicals ready to bring the pH back to an acceptable proportion.
- Chlorine. Chlorine is the best-known chemical that sanitizes the pool. It destroys microorganisms and bacteria, although it may take a while. Now, chlorine could come in three forms — powder, liquid, and tablets. All of them have their pros and cons. Whatever form you choose, be familiar with the correct way to administer it to your pool.
5 Tips on How to Clean Your Pool
1.) Skim, Brush and Clean Regularly
Skimming should always be at the forefront of pool maintenance because even if nobody uses the pool, leaves and debris could fall into it. This should be done on a daily basis, or even twice daily, depending on the need.
Now, you can get away with brushing less often, but it is recommended that you should brush the surfaces as part of the pool’s weekly maintenance. Also, as mentioned, you could slash off hours of your time if you choose to invest in a robotic pool cleaner. These smart machines are typically plug, push, and go, needing minimal human intervention as they make your pool as pristine as possible. It will cost you several hundred bucks as an initial expense, but you will save money in the long run.
2.) Constantly Check Chemical Levels
The pool’s chemistry tells you a lot about its cleanliness. If you see signs that something is out of whack — algae buildup, cloudy water, or other symptoms — this means the pool chemistry is not normal. You probably will make this rookie mistake, but even if you don’t see these signs, it’s advisable to check the chemical levels before anything serious happens.
Some of the things that you should test are the pH balance, alkalinity, chlorine levels, phosphates, and calcium hardness. For the pH, you want the pool to be in the 7.2 to 7.8 range. For alkalinity, aim for not more than 150 ppm and not lower than 120 ppm. For calcium hardness, the range is from 220-350, but the lower, the better if you have vinyl pool walls.
3.) Sanitize the Pool Water
Properly sanitizing the pool is the key to maintaining perfect pool water. You can do proper pool sanitation in many ways, including using pool ionizers and ozone systems. However, the one proven and tested method of sanitizing the pool is using chlorine.
It’s also a good idea to “shock” the pool every once in a while, especially if used often or after a rainstorm. “Shocking” simply means to overload the pool with a granular sanitizer like chlorine to get rid of bacteria. When doing this, do not swim in the pool for at least 48 hours to ensure every strain of contaminant is taken out by the chemicals.
4.) Check the filters and make sure they’re working properly
More often than not, you can readily know if there’s something wrong with the filter, but just to be on the safe side, you should check it every once in a while. See if it’s clean or if something is clogging it. Doing this every other day, perhaps, could save you a considerable amount of money in the long run. You know, a pool’s filter system is not cheap!
5.) Monitor the Water Level
As simple as this sounds, this one is actually very important. If the water level is too low, it displaces the pool skimmer, sucking air into the filter system. This puts the water pump at risk of burning and when it does, your wallet also gets burned.
Now, you won’t need to do much if the water level is too high, but it could still pose its fair share of maintenance problems. It’s not as serious as replacing a pool pump, but the point is, you should always keep an eye on your pool’s water level.