One of the best feelings on earth is jumping into the pool on a hot summer day. But every pleasure has its price. In this case, it’s called pool maintenance. The worst thing about pools has to clean them. However, it’s not as hard as you might think if it’s done properly and regularly. Routine pool maintenance can also save you a ton of money on repairs. So, if you’re lucky enough to own a pool, here are some tips on how to clean and maintain it.
The 3 C’s of Pool Maintenance
When talking about proper pool maintenance, there are three things that are extremely important. Those are circulation, cleaning, and pool chemistry. If you can master these three areas of pool maintenance, you’ll have a crystal clear pool all the time, and it will be safe and ready to swim in every day. So, let’s just dive in, pun intended.
Adjusting the circulation in your pool
Running your pump and filter system
Ideally, we would recommend running your filter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s the best circulation, just like your body. Your body is constantly circulating blood. And your pool should constantly be circulating water. However, we know that this is just not realistic. So, the best thing to do is to run your filter 8 to 12 hours a day in the summer. Closer to 12 hours a day would be great. If you keep your pool open all year long and the weather is colder, you can run it to about 4 to 6 hours a day. If you have a variable-speed pump, you may be able to drop it to a lower speed and keep it running all the time and actually save some money. But the general rule for a hot summer day is 12 hours a day.
Angling your jets
You should already know that, but you have jets that are situated in your pool. Once the water goes through your skimmer basket and through your filter system, it gets pushed out through your jets. You might have just one jet if you have an above-ground pool, or you might have multiple jets if you have an in-ground pool. However, the aim here is to angle some of the jets at about 8 o’clock. Thus, the water can be pushed underneath to the bottom of the pool. If you have more than one jet, it would be best to have them spinning in a clockwise motion. That will help if you have any dead spots in your pool, for example, a corner that doesn’t get a lot of water movement.
Clearing out your skimmer and pump basket
Your skimmer, or multiple skimmers, if you have an in-ground pool, get filled with debris. Check them every single day and just empty them out. That will help the flow of water that goes through your filter system and make the circulation better. You should also make sure that your pump basket is cleaned out. It won’t be filled with debris as much as your skimmer baskets, as they are the first line of defense, but for best results, make sure that it is clean, too.
Тhe frequency of filter change depends on the filter type and the condition of the water. A general rule to follow is to take a reading when both the filter and the pool area clean, and then clean the filter every time the pressure rises by around 10 psi. No matter if you have a cartridge, D.E.or sand filter, once they get clogged, the backpressure of the whole filter system grows, and the overall flow of the circulation system drops significantly.
- Cartridge filters – they need to be cleaned around every 2-6 weeks. The important thing to remember about cartridge filters is that too much flow decreases their lifespan and lowers the efficiency of the entire system. So, you’ll need to situate it in a spot with less flow, because otherwise, debris can get through the filter and back into the pool. Also, pay attention to the maximum pressure reading label situated on the outside part of the filter. Cartridge filters run at a lower pressure than D.E. or sand filters, so it’s normal if the reading is around the single digits, but it’s very harmful if the maximum reading is reached. When you clean this type of filter, never use a power washer, because it can destroy the material of the filter and decrease its productivity. Instead, gently remove all the biggest debris by hand and clean it under running water. Once a year, you can also soak it in a cleaning detergent to remove any dirt buildup.
- Sand filters – These filters require less maintenance than cartridge and D.E. filters, mostly because they are tightly sealed and don’t lose any of the filtering material during washing, which makes them very durable. Sand filters need to be back-washed once you see a rise in the pressure – around 5-10 psi is a good indicator that cleaning is needed. This usually happens between 1-4 weeks, depending on the surrounding. If your pool is painted, you’ll have to replace the sand in the filter at least once a year, otherwise, every 4-5 years is enough.
- D.E. filters – this type of filters work by straining dirt particles through a chemical substance called diatomaceous earth. They require washing every 1-3 months, or after the pressure rises with 5-10 psi. During the washing, small amounts of diatomaceous earth will also get flushed, so you’ll need to refill it. Once a year, you’ll also have to dismantle and clean the whole filter in detail. In case you use the pool all year round – detailed cleaning twice a year is required.
Cleaning your pool
You probably don’t want to hear that, but you should skim the top of your pool basically every day. Here’s a tip from professional cleaners: Consider it a break from your day. When the weather is nice, simply go outside, stand there, move the thing around and pick up all the debris. Think of it as a zen garden. If you can do if every other day, or every three days, that’s fine, too. But remember, the more often you do it, the healthier your pool is going to be.
Brushing is something a lot of people skip, but just as you’ve got to brush your teeth, you’ve got to brush your pool. Simply take your brush, put it on a telescopic pole, and start brushing. The walls, the steps, the ladders, everything needs to be brushed. If you’re going skim today, you might as well brush, too. And again the same rule applies, the more often you do it, the cleaner your pool’s going to be.
Vacuuming is a harder and more time-consuming task. It needs to be done once a week for the best results. If you regularly skim and brush your pool, you might not have to do it as often. However, generally speaking, weekly would be best. If you don’t have the time and energy to do that, you should invest in an automatic pool cleaner that will do it for you all the time.
Test the water
Start by testing the water 1 to 2 times a week. You can use a home test kit, test strips, or you can take it to your local pool dealership. Just make sure your water is good to go.
Make sure the pH and alkalinity are balanced
It’s best to keep your pH between 7.2 and 7.6 and your alkalinity between 100 and 150 parts per million. If you keep your pool balanced at all times within these rangers, you’re doing 90% of the work here. If you have well-balanced water, all the other chemicals will work much better.
Keep your sanitizer in check
Here are the basic reference values you need to maintain:
- Chlorine – 1-3 ppm
- Bromine – 3-5 ppm
- Biguanide – 30-50 ppm
- Minerals – 0.5 ppm