Swimming pool maintenance can be enough to scare many people away from the idea. A pool for most people, especially in the warmer regions of the country, is a luxury they would love to have in their backyard. However, many resist the urge to get one because they’ve heard stories about how much trouble they can be to maintain or how expensive it is to hire a maintenance company. While there is some truth behind both of these fears, maintaining your own pool can be relatively simple and inexpensive if you have the right information. Whether you’re considering having a new one built or looking to cut expenses by taking over your own swimming pool maintenance, the following list of important facts will simplify the job and save you time and money.
Regularly Test Chemicals-The single most important part of swimming pool maintenance is maintaining proper water chemistry. This will prevent the growth of algae and bacteria, which can be difficult to stop once it starts.Simple test kits can be purchased at any pool supply of home improvement center.
Maintain Proper Water Chemistry-There are, primarily, five elements of water chemistry that need to be monitored on a regular basis.
- Chlorine-Sanitizes the water, killing bacteria, which maintains water clarity and prevents algae growth (the arch enemy of swimming pool maintenance). The acceptable chlorine levels are between 0.5 and 3.0 PPM
- PH-Measures the acidic quality of the water. Acceptable levels are between 7.2 and 7.6 PPM
- Total Alkalinity-A measure of the alkaline materials in the water. Acceptable levels are between 80 and 120 PPM
- Calcium Hardness-The measure of dissolved calcium in the water. Acceptable levels are between 250 and 500 PPM.
- Stabilizer (Cyanuric Acid)-Stabilizes the chlorine in the water preventing it from being absorbed too quickly by the sun. Acceptable levels are between 30 and 60 PPM.
Clean Filters Regularly-As your the water circulates; dirt and other small debris are captured in the filter. This makes it necessary to do regular cleaning. How you accomplish this process, depends on the type of filter you have.
- Sand-This is by far the most commonly used filter. The way it works is; as the water is circulated through, the sand traps small particles of debris and prevents them from being re-circulated to the pool. As larger amounts of debris clog the sand, the filter pressure rises and flow is reduced. Sand filters are cleaned by backwashing. Which is the process of reversing the flow of water through the sand to waste water line. The amount of use determines how frequently it needs to be done.
- Cartridge-These filters consist of one or more cartridges made of a pleated mesh type material, which catches the debris. The cleaning is simple. Just remove the filters and clean with a water hose; then re-install. Like the sand filters; the frequency of cleaning will depend on the size of the pool and filter as well as the amount of useage.
- DE Filters-These are extremely efficient filters which consist of a fine mesh fabric cartridge coated with a fine white powder called Diatomaceous Earth. The DE powder traps even the tiniest of particles. When the filter pressure rises; it must be backwashed to clean out the trapped debris. The difference is, unlike sand, when you backwash a DE filter; the powder is flushed along with the debris and must be replaced by adding more through the skimmer.
For more detailed instructions on cleaning and maintaining your specific filter;refer to the manufacturers recommendations.
Clean Skimmers Regularly-Skimmers trap large debris such as leaves, bugs, and other trash; preventing it from being sucked into the filter. The removable baskets should be cleaned once or twice a week, depending on the amount of debris present. Brushing and Vacuuming-Most vacuuming is done using the pump and filter system. Dirt and other small particles can be brushed toward the main drain which will take it to the filter or vacuuming can be done with a vacuum head attached to an extension pole with a hose running to the skimmer, which also takes the debris to the filter. Automatic sweepers and vacuums have become very popular and make the job of cleaning, and swimming pool maintenance in general, much easier on the homeowner.
If you're thinking of taking over your own maintenance; I recommend taking a look at "The Ultimate Pool Maintenance Guide" by Terry Duff. Duff is a well known expert on water chemistry and pool maintenance and his book offers easy to follow practical instructions for maintaining a beautiful pool year round, while saving lots of money. There's also a money back guaranty; so you really have nothing to lose.