Done right, pool maintenance can be low key and allow you to focus on maximizing your enjoyment of the pool. The exact details of How you maintain your pool can vary based on the type of pool you have, but for most pools, the basics of quality pool maintenance stay the same!
Regular upkeep is an important part of maintaining a healthy pool — you can prevent damage to your pool and enjoy a hassle-free swimming experience with just a few routine tasks.
Better maintenance also means you’ll spend less money by avoiding expensive issues like algae bloom or scale buildup, which can demand the addition of lots of chemicals as well as potentially stain or damage pool surfaces. Today, let’s look at how you can spend less time worrying about your pool, and more time enjoying it with these simple pool maintenance tips.
No matter what type of pool you own, sanitation is the key to avoiding a swamp in your backyard. With any pool, you’ll need to kill off micro-organisms and germs present in your pool water. Otherwise, your pool will end up murky, clouded, full of algae, and potentially unsafe to swim in.
The first line of defense is proper sanitation measures, which usually means some kind of chlorination.
You have two options:
- Add chlorine continuously as needed over time
- Add a salt chlorinator to your pool to produce chlorine naturally.
Traditional chemical chlorine pools demand a lot more time for maintenance. You have to manually add chemicals on a regular basis to keep your pool in check; when this isn’t done perfectly you get large swings in your chlorine levels that can produce harsh chemical effects and cause a vicious cycle that puts your maintenance in a tailspin.
Salt chlorination, on the other hand, provides predictable & consistent sanitation that requires significantly less hassle & oversight, while generating free chlorine naturally in a way that eliminates effects like red eyes, itchy skin, and the stereotypical “pool smell”.
Of course, picking the right salt system for you is crucial, You’ll need to make sure the size of the chlorinator is a good fit for your pool. Proper sizing ensures the best possible sanitation coverage even after storms or heavy pool usage.
Both chlorination setups will get the job done; it’s simply a matter of how much time and effort you want to spend on regular pool maintenance. Salt systems are easier to maintain and cheaper over time, but with proper care, both processes will keep your water clean and clear.
Keeping Your Chemistry Levels Balanced
People are often intimidated by the idea of water chemistry, and it’s easy to forget to check water chemistry levels, but imbalanced water over an extended period can add up and cause problems for your pool. So it’s important to check on a semi-regular basis
Making minor adjustments to your water chemistry levels now will save you from having to make costly adjustments in the future. There are a few things you can do to keep them appropriately balanced.
- Test the water before adjusting levels:: Using test strips, digital testers, or just taking a sample of your water to a local pool shop will give you an idea of how you might need to adjust your chemistry levels. Do this weekly, at least until you get a sense of how frequently things change & need adjustment.
- Chlorine Level: The ideal chlorine level is 1-3 ppm. Less chlorine means that algae and microorganisms have a chance to grow. High levels of chlorine are uncomfortable or even harmful to swimmers. Adjust this but changing the setting on your salt chlorinator, or by adding higher or lower amounts of chlorine manually.
- PH level: The ideal pH level is 7.2- 7.8, which is slightly alkaline (7 is neutral.) Most homeowners struggle with high pH levels, which means that you need to add muriatic acid to the water. For low pH levels, you would add soda ash.
- Cyanuric acid: Cyanuric acid (CYA) acts as a stabilizer that prevents UV light from breaking down chlorine. You don’t want too little or too much, and should typically keep the level between 30-50ppm. CYA is also a built-in additive in some chlorine tablets, which is a way that pool owners often inadvertently add too much to the water
- Minimize the chlorine demand: If your swimming pool needs more chlorine than usual, try to find the cause. Typical problems that lead to higher chlorine demand include phosphates, nitrates, and the stabilizer (cyanuric acid.)
- Monitor your salt level: If you have a salt pool, you need to maintain a salt level of between 3000 and 4000 ppm (Always check the manual for exact ranges.) Most homeowners need to add between two and four bags of salt per year.
Circulation & Filtration
Think of circulation in your pool like a river versus a pond.
Rivers are usually clear, while ponds tend to have stagnant, algae-infested water.
This is in part due to circulation — the river is constantly flowing, exchanging old water for new water. Meanwhile, ponds tend to collect water, which makes it much easier for algal growth and stagnation.
For pools, circulation has the added benefit of allowing the water to be actively filtered. Providing the circulation pump with adequate run time means that your filter has a chance to remove dirt & debris from all of the pool water.
Running a typical pump and filter system for at least 8-12 hours a day on average will give water a chance to cycle through and clear out any accumulated debris. Additionally, regularly cleaning/backwashing your filter promotes good circulation in your pool. Making sure your pool return jets help direct floating debris to your skimmers and drain is helpful as well.
This helps avoid cloudy water or other contaminant growth. Your pump and filters should work the same way regardless of what pool type you have. Of course, you can always upgrade your pool components to more low-maintenance or energy-efficient equipment if desired.
In addition to the major routine maintenance that we just covered, there are a few basic tasks that you can handle on a regular basis that will help keep your pool safe, comfortable, and looking good.
Performing these simple, but essential chores will make balancing, circulation control, and general sanitation significantly easier.
- Vacuum the bottom of the pool weekly
- Install a robotic cleaner to keep the water clear of any debris that has sunk to the bottom
- Clean your skimmer baskets and pump basket daily or weekly
- Use a surface leaf skimmer to remove leaves and other things that have fallen into the pool
Pool maintenance is only a headache when you neglect it for too long. Whether you’ve got a high-quality saltwater pool system or a chlorine pool, setting up a little bit of routine maintenance and pool care can save you from major issues popping up, which could require major amounts of labor, chemicals, or expense. By caring for your pool, you’ll be able to enjoy a fresh, clean pool all season long.