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Regular Pool Maintenance

Regular pool maintenance can be easy if you keep in mind the a few essential treatments that your swimming pool will need.

Cleaning

General cleaning will ensure that your swimming pool remains inviting and free of debris.

General Cleaning
Start by cleaning the baskets located in the skimmer and pump to eliminate build-up. You should do this a few times a week. The pool should be vacuumed at least once a week and a hand held skimmer should be used to clean the surface of the water whenever bugs and leaves start to accumulate. When you see algae building up on the walls of the pool it is usually good to use a soft brush to scrub it off. A pool wall cleaner can also be used depending on the material that your pool is made from, whether it's vinyl, cement or fiberglass. Also make sure to keep your pool deck clean so that dirt from the deck isn't blowing into the pool.

Clean Your Pool Filter
Keeping your filter clean is also an important part of pool maintenance. A clean filter will allow your sanitizer to work more efficiently. When the filter is dirty the rate of flow of the entire circulation system is affected. One thing that can result from a slow flow of water is that algae can grow at an increased rate. Chemicals in the pool can become more depleted in areas that are full of dirt and debris if the water circulates quickly in an area that contains the proper levels of algaecide and sanitizer, the algae can be controlled. A dirty filter will also result in cloudy, murky water.

There are three types of pool filters, sand filters, cartridge filters and diatomaceous earth filters (or D.E. filters). Sand filters will need to be backwashed. Close all the valves leading to the filter and pour in filter cleaning solution. Let this solution sit for an hour and backwash the filter again. D.E. (diatomaceous earth) filters will need to be drained and backwashed and cleaned with filter solution to remove any oil, grease or scale build-up. Check to make sure the filter is not stretched or torn. Cartridge filters will need to be removed and flushed with a strong spray of water and then soaked in a filter cleaner.

Aim to clean your swimming pool filter at least two times a season, once in the middle of the summer and once in the fall. Backwashing regularly will also maintain filter cleanliness.

Backwashing
Backwashing involves reversing the flow of water within the filter. This will churn up any dirt in the filter's parts. Debris can then be removed through a backwash hose. Keep an eye on the pressure gauge on your filter, if it jumps 10psi, or higher than normal, it is time to clean your filter.

Run Your Pool Pump
Because stagnant water breeds bacteria you need to keep your swimming pool water moving. This usually means running your pool's pump at least ten hours per day. Water that is flowing properly will also allow for the even distribution of chemicals.

Shock Treatment
When chemicals are balanced and distributed properly, the pool's sanitizer levels can be easily maintained. If the sanitizer level falls below recommended levels for more than a few days, the pool water may turn cloudy. Routine shocking will blast out any extra algae or bacteria that is sticking around.

A shock treatment is the practice of adding large amounts of an oxidizing chemical such as sodium persulfate or potassium peroxymonosulfate, which are non-chlorine oxidizers, to the water. This process can destroy nitrogen compounds, ammonia and the waste that is leftover from swimmers.

Sanitizer
You need to make sure you consistently check your pool's sanitizer level. You can add sanitizer is a few different ways. The first is by hand feeding granular chlorinating products directly into the pool using a scoop or any other clean, dry measuring device.

Floating sanitizing devices (called floaters) can also be used in all types of pools to apply chlorinating tablets. They are particularly useful if you are going away and need to keep the pool clean.

Skimmer chlorination involves 3 inch chlorinating tablets being placed in the skimmer. As water flows over the tablets and through the circulation system, the tablets slowly dissolve and the sanitizer is able to enter the pool. Tablets can be integrated as part of a built-in filtration system.

Remember To Check Levels
Though you can leave many sanitizers alone in the pool to do their job, you still need to constantly check your pool's levels to ensure they are balanced.

How Often Do I Need to Check My Pools Levels?
Below are listed each of the tests that swimming pools require and the frequency with which they should be applied.

1. Total Alkalinity Monthly to prevent cloudy water and scaling of pool surfaces.

2. pH Level Twice a week to prevent corrosion of metal parts and equipment, etching on plaster, eye and skin irritation, cloudy water and scaling of pool surfaces.

3. Calcium Hardness Twice or three times per season to prevent scaling of pool surfaces.

A proper chemical balance will improve the effectiveness of chlorinating products and other sanitizers. It will also prevent corrosion of metal equipment and the formation of scale that can damage equipment, stain surfaces and cloud up the water. Most importantly, the ideal chemical balance will allow swimmers to remain comfortable and irritation free.

 

Other Maintenance Concerns: When To Call In A Contractor

There are some problems that you encounter with your swimming pool that you may be able to handle on your own, but bigger jobs will need to be tackled by a professional.

Cracked Tiles
Tiles can crack and fall off around the inner edge of the pool. These tiles may be popping off as a reaction to shifts in the soil around your pool. You can try using adhesive to relay the tiles if the damage is minor but if your pool has sustained structural damage from the loss of tile you may need to call in a professional. Structural damage from cracked tile can mean that you may need excavation and major repairs in order to fix the outer edge of your pool.

Vinyl Liners
Vinyl swimming pool liners are membranes that act as a container to hold water in some pools and these liners can be prone to rips and tears. Usually you can fix a minor tear in your liner on your own without calling in a professional. However, if the rip is bigger than three inches you may have a more serious problem on your hands. If you need to call in someone to fix the hole in your liner you might be looking at a steep repair bill. It may be cheaper and easier to completely replace a badly torn liner, rather than repair the hole.

Fiberglass Pools
Pools with fiberglass surfaces can also incur damage. The finish may chip, fade or discolor. If this happens first check your warranty to make sure that damage to the fiberglass surface isn't covered. If it isn't covered you may need to patch the area or, in more serious cases, apply a coat of paint to the entire pool.

Concrete Pools
Concrete pools may crack from the ground shifting around them. If your concrete pool or pool deck cracks and the damage is minor you may be able to easily fix it with plaster or caulking compound. If you are going to attempt this and the damage is below the water line, be sure to drain the pool to below the crack before you fix it. If your pool has a major crack call a professional.

Ideally, concrete pools should be re-plastered ever ten years or so to avoid ugly flaking and chipping.

If you do need to call in a professional to fix your pool be sure to check their references and get a few estimates if you don't someone who regularly services your pool.

Once you become used to maintaining your pool it will become like second nature. A well-maintained structure will continue to hold its value financially and recreationally to offer your family years of fun in the sun.

Hammer Need more information on swimming pool maintenance? Trek over to our Pools forum and talk to other DIYers about your swimming pool problems!