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Swimming Pool Maintenance

Maintaining your pool can be a tedious job, but it's an important part of keeping your pool sparkling clean and safe for years of enjoyment.

Pool Terms

Total Alkalinity

This is the ability of your water to resist changes in the pH. If your total alkalinity is too low, the pH level will be very sensitive and could swing drastically. Also, if the total alkalinity is high, it can make the pH level too high and contribute to cloudy water and scaling. If your total alkalinity is too high, add an alkalinity increaser. If it's too low, add a pH decreaser.

pH

pH is a basic measure of acidity or basicity in your water, and it's one of the most important factors in balancing your pool. On a scale of 0 to 14, 7 would be considered neutral with an ideal range falling between 7.2 and 7.6.

Calcium Hardness

Hard water contains excess calcium and magnesium, and those levels can vary throughout the country. No matter where you live, calcium and magnesium are left behind as your pool water evaporates, and that increases water hardness. If the calcium hardness level is too low, add a calcium hardness increaser. If it's above 250 parts per million (ppm), add a scale and stain control product to prevent possible scaling. If it's above 500 ppm, drain off some of the water and dilute with fresh fill water to bring the level down.

Free Available Chlorine

Free available chlorine kills bacteria, algae and most viruses. It also eliminates grease and oil. If the free available chlorine is too low, add a shock treatment. A shock treatment is a high concentration of chlorine. Shocking adds 5.0 to 10.0 parts per million (PPM) of free available chlorine to pool water. Test and balance the pH before doing a shock treatment. Shock-treat after sundown with the pump and filter turned on. After a shock treatment, test the free available chlorine. Don't enter the pool until the reading is 1.0 to 3.0 PPM. If it's too high, allow the chlorine to evaporate naturally.

Pool Chemical Safety

Swimming Pool Maintenance - Chemical Safety

While pool chemicals are available to solve almost all water problems, they can be dangerous to humans and animals if handled improperly. Chemicals can cause skin and eye damage and can be fatal if swallowed. To keep yourself and your pool safe, follow these pool chemical safety precautions:

  • Keep all pool products away from children and animals.
  • Wear rubber gloves and goggles, and wash clothes and hands immediately after handling chemicals. If your skin comes in contact with any chemicals, flush immediately with cold water for 15 minutes and call a physician.
  • Follow the dosage directions and safety precautions listed on the pool product label.
  • Store chemicals according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Never return spilled material to the original container or place in the household garbage.
  • Use clean, dry measuring equipment for chemicals. Rinse all measuring equipment after using.
  • Don't mix spa, pool or household chemicals together.
  • Add chemicals to water. Don't add water to chemicals. Adding water to chemicals contaminates the entire container.
  • Don't allow dry chlorine to become damp or wet.
  • Keep open flames away from pool chemicals.
  • Don't reuse empty containers. Check with local, state and federal regulations for proper disposal.
  • Discard any unused chemicals after closing your pool. Follow local ordinances for disposing of hazardous materials. Buy new chemicals when you reopen the pool.

General Pool Maintenance

Swimming Pool Maintenance Steps

Clean water and balanced water chemistry are the keys to pool maintenance. Establish a weekly routine to clean the pool and maintain the chemical balance. A shock treatment solves and prevents the majority of pool problems. Test the pH and free available chlorine in the pool water and shock-treat, if necessary, on a weekly basis. Do an additional shock treatment if any of the following occurs:

  • Very heavy rains and windstorms
  • More swimmers than usual
  • Foul odor from the pool water
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Swimmers with burning, red eyes
  • Algae growth
  • Murky, slimy water

Step 1

Balance Your Swimming Pool

Balance Your Pool
When we talk about properly balanced pool water, we mean it has just the right pH, total alkalinity and calcium hardness levels. Maintain correct levels and everything should run smoothly. Proper balancing keeps your metal equipment and accessories from corroding and plaster surfaces from etching. It also prevents scale formation that can damage pool equipment, stain surfaces and cloud your water. Best of all, it prevents eye and skin irritation.

Step 2

Chlorinate Your Swimming Pool

Chlorinate Your Pool

Bacteria and algae are unwanted guests at any pool party. Your continuous chlorine level should always fall between 1 and 4 ppm for proper sanitation and to prevent bacteria and algae. There are a variety of options available to help you keep your pool clean.

  • Basic Chlorinating Tabs - Slow-dissolving chlorinating tablets, found in both 1-inch and 3-inch sizes, keep your water clear. Most chlorinating tablets have a built-in stabilizer to protect your chlorine from sunlight burn-off. Chlorinating tablets can be used in your floating dispenser, skimmer or automatic chlorinator.
  • Liquid Chlorine - Liquid chlorine is similar to the bleach you use in your household, but is two to three times stronger when formulated for pools. Liquid chlorine is easy to apply and an effective sanitizer, but it has a short shelf life compared to other chlorine products. It can't be stored for more than a few weeks.
  • Chlorinating Tabs - Many varieties of chlorine sanitizers offer a multifunctional approach to pool care. There are a variety of chlorinating tabs available to sanitize your pool and keep it in great shape for swimming, while shocking your pool to remove contaminants. Other varieties kill bacteria and control algae, while softening your water and protect pool equipment.
  • Chlorinating Granules - Multifunctional granular chlorine products can help you perform several tasks at once by chlorinating, shocking and killing algae with a single, daily application.

Step 3

Shock Your Swimming Pool

Shock Your Pool

Shocking should be done weekly, without fail. It can get rid of contaminants that cause cloudy water, chlorine odor and eye irritation, while also preventing future problems and reducing the need for other chemicals. There are a variety of shock products for use in any pool.

  • Basic Shock Products - Basic shock products help kill bacteria and break down cosmetics, suntan lotions, perspiration and other swimmer wastes that can't be filtered out of pool water. Shocking with basic shock products reduces chlorine odor and eye irritation, and it helps to keep your pool sparkling clear.
  • Multifunctional Shock Products - Multifunctional shock products quickly restore water clarity by effectively destroying bacteria and swimmer wastes, while also balancing pH, enhancing filtration and adding additional algae protection. Many shock products get you back in the pool extra-fast, as soon as 15 minutes after treatment.

Step 4

Add Algaecide to Your Pool

Add Algaecide to Your Pool

Like an alien invasion, millions of tiny microscopic plants in the form of algae can march into your pool by rain, wind and fill water. Leave it unchecked and your water will quickly become unusable due to clogged filters, low water circulation and reduced effectiveness of pool chemicals. Algaecides prevent algae from taking over the pool, and they treat algae growth if gets started.

Looking for fast results? Some algaecides quickly kill all types of algae and prevent them from returning. Other algaecides focus specifically on preventing and removing green algae, which is the most common kind found in a pool. Prevention is the key to an algae-free pool. In the case of an algae outbreak, algaecides can quickly and efficiently eliminate the problem and restore your pool to sparkling clear.

Step 5

Clean Your Swimming Pool

Clean the Pool

Daily:
1. Skim debris out of the pool.
2. Clean all skimmer baskets during swimming season.

Weekly:
1. Test the water.
2. Clean the walls and floor. Use cleaners, brushes and vacuums recommended by the pool manufacturer. Start at the shallow end and continue to the deep end. Overlap each stroke when vacuuming and brushing to cover all areas thoroughly. Always keep the vacuum head under water while in use. To speed up the process, dedicate 10 minutes a day to brushing down the walls.
3. Hose down the pool area after cleaning and before using. Direct the spray away from the pool to prevent dirt from washing into the water.