Happy summer! We’re in the thick of the summer heat, and that means running through sprinklers and hopping in the pool. But unfortunately, owning a pool is more than just splashing around. It takes a lot of work and maintenance to keep your pool running efficiently.
In this article, we’ll make your swim-time a little less stressful with these 6 tips for maintaining your backyard pool.
Debris, leaves, and other gunk can fall into the pool and contribute to the growth of bacteria and algae. It can also make for an unpleasant, unhealthy swimming experience. Thus, it’s important to keep your pool clean and free of all kinds of debris.
Most pools have skimmer baskets that collect this junk as the water is pumped to the side of the pool. These baskets should be emptied daily or every other day, so they can continue to collect leaves and dirt properly.
Your pool may also need a daily clean using a handheld skimmer net, which helps collect leaves, bugs, and dirt from the surface of the pool. To clean the sunken gunk off the bottom of the pool, you should invest in a water vacuum. Some vacuums are programmable robots, so you can automatically set them to run in your pool at a certain time of day.
Your pool deserves weekly attention, and testing your water is the start of a thorough maintenance routine. You should test pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness. Your pH should be between 7.2 and 7.6 for a neutral environment that is safe for swimming and won’t harbor bacteria.
The total alkalinity can influence the pH level; a low alkalinity will make your pH sensitive, and a high alkalinity will lead to calcium buildup and cloudy water. For low alkalinity levels, you’ll need an alkaline decreaser. For high alkalinity, use muriatic acid.
Hard water has excess calcium and magnesium. This can lead to “scaling,” which is bad for the water, bad for pool tiles, and bad for swimmers. Prevent scaling by properly testing and balancing the calcium hardness. If the water isn’t hard enough, add a hardness increaser; if it’s too hard, dilute the pool with new water.
You can purchase testing kits from your local pool store. These usually come with instructions for proper testing and balancing.
Chlorine kills bacteria and algae, keeping your pool attractive and swimmable. Your chlorine levels should be between 1 and 3 PPM to prevent any unwanted growth. You can keep these levels regulated with chlorine tabs, granules, or liquid chlorine.
Often your pool will also need a weekly shock treatment to keep your water clear and prevent future unbalances. A “shock” treatment is a high concentration of chlorine chemicals, so it’s important to follow the instructions and handle it with care.
Generally, for a shock treatment, you’ll want to first test the pH level. Pour in the chemicals after sundown, as it could interact negatively with sun rays and damage the pool. You also want to ensure no one swims in the pool for 24 hours. Then, turn the filter on to help clear out the chemicals and rebalance the water. The next day, test the chlorine and pH again. Don’t swim in the pool until the pH is between 7.2 and 7.6 and the chlorine is between 1 and 3 PPM.
Algae—that green, thick layer on your pool— forms due to an overgrowth of bacteria. Algae spores can also be brought in with rain, wind, and critters. Algae can damage your pool and cause significant health concerns. However, algae can be controlled with the proper leveling of pH, alkalinity, water hardness, and chlorine. If there is still a growth of algae, algaecides can help quickly eliminate this green gunk, but these chemicals should be used sparingly.
People often take care of the parts of the pool they can see, but it’s important not to neglect the inner workings as well. The pumps help filter fresh water into your pool and remove dirty water, ensuring you don’t have water stagnation that can lead to bacteria growth.
Without a working pump, you don’t have a working pool. It’s common for pool owners to wait until the pump is broken before attending to it, but with proper cleaning, your pump won’t break as often and you won’t have to call in an expensive pool guy to fix it up.
First, know what type of pump you have. There are three main types of pumps: sand, DE, and cartridge. A cartridge or DE system is preferable over sand because they do a better job cleaning and save more water. They are also better for the environment, which we at HomeRev appreciate. If you have a sand pump, you may want to consider switching to save you money in the long run.
Start by putting the pump on the “backwashing” setting. This redirects water flow to help get rid of clogs and clear out pipes. After letting that run for a few minutes, turn off the pump. Close the skimmer valve, which will hold the water in place. Unscrew the top of the pump. There is usually a basket inside that is similar to a skimmer basket. It gets filled with hair and debris, so it’s important to empty it out thoroughly. After cleaning, you can start your pump again to push any final gunk out.
Before and after you have guests over and after any significant weather, it’s important to clean the deck and surrounding area. This will help keep your friends and family safe from trips, slips, and falls while they’re walking around the pool. It will also keep any debris from falling in the pool and clogging the baskets and pumps.
Use a hose or broom to push items away from the water. You can use natural cleaning solutions like water and soap or you can invest in specific cleansers for the type of deck surface you have, like tile versus stone.
A weekly cleaning routine will keep your pool fresh, clean, swimmable, and damage-free. Ensure that you know proper testing procedures and always follow the instructions on any supplies you buy. You should also ensure you do not have pool chemicals or solutions within reach of kids or animals. Pools are often filled with a lot of chemicals, so it’s important to maintain a proper balance for the health of your family, guests, and your pool.
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