It’s almost summertime, which means it’s time to get your swimming pool in shape for the warm months ahead. As you prepare for parties and family get-togethers, it’s important to know what care your pool will need. Here are some maintenance tasks that will keep it clear and cool:
1. Skim Debris
If you have trees, bushes or other flora, there’s a chance the wind will blow debris into the pool. You will need to use a hand or leaf skimmer to get the debris out so it looks clean and clear before anyone jumps in. This will need to be repeated on a semi-weekly basis. Doing this also helps to increase the pool water’s circulation and decrease the amount of chemicals in the water.
2. Vacuum the Pool
To get the hard-to-reach debris and decrease the amount of chemicals you need to add, you should vacuum the pool on a weekly basis or get an automated vacuum that runs on a schedule. The vacuum goes over the surface of the pool in the same way you clean a floor. Make sure you overlap each part of the pool to ensure you don’t miss any spots. Check and clean the vacuum filter as needed so it always catches the debris.
It usually takes around half an hour to completely clean a pool with a vacuum. If your pool is particularly wide, you might have to vacuum one half of the pool at a time and then do the other. Don’t accidentally vacuum up the hose, though. For any algae or other hard debris that sticks to the pool, you’ll need to scrub it with a nylon brush and some chemical pool cleaner.
3. Clean the Pool Filter
Your pool filter comes in one of three different types: cartridges, sand or diatomaceous earth (DE). Maintenance will vary depending on which type you have, but each one requires periodic cleaning. If your filter isn’t cleaned regularly, it won’t trap the debris -- and that means your pool water may start to look discolored or murky. The flow of your water will also change, signaled by the increase in the pressure gauge and flow meter. To clean the filter you must:
- Turn the valve to backwash
- For a DE filter: empty the filter bag every other week
- For the cartridge: remove and hose down
- For the sand filter (not often used anymore): consider replacing with the other two filters because it filters water down into your waste system and depends on a storm drain
4. Maintain the pH Level
To avoid injuries or ruining clothes, make sure the pool’s pH levels remain the same. A pH scale measures the acidity of the pool water, which can be anywhere between 0 and 14. The ideal for pool water should be between 7.2 and 7.8, which is safe for swimmers and keeps the water clean. You should have a testing kit on hand with test strips to measure the water.
If the water is below or above the safe range for swimming water, you will need to add chemicals in to fix it. To increase the range to 7.2, you’ll need to use soda ash. To decrease the levels, you’ll need to use muriatic ash. If you don’t have these chemicals on-hand, you might call a professional pool service to do the work for you. They have the experience working with such chemicals.
5. Find and Repair Leaks
You should always check for leaks and other problems with your pool at the beginning of summer before anyone jumps in. It could be hard to find some of the leaks if your water just seems low at the beginning of the season. The best way to check is to do a bucket test. You fill a bucket ¾ of the way full and mark the water line. Once you put it in the pool, mark the line outside the bucket and let it float for a couple of days. If the water goes down the same amount, it’s evaporation. If the water goes down more on the outside, there is a leak and you need to call a pro. In such cases, you could be looking at pool repair costs between $250 and $500, depending on the extent of the problem.