Reduce the cost of summer swimming
DIY Pool Maintenance
by Benjamin Roussey
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As with most other things around the house, a swimming pool requires regular maintenance to ensure economical operation and extend the life of the pool. Each pool will have its own needs, but general pool cleaning is not a cumbersome task and should not be viewed as such. Below are some DIY pool maintenance tips to keep your pool in tip-top shape.
Understanding the Terminology
Before you inspect your pool for any maintenance issues, you will have to familiarize yourself with some related terminology. For instance, pH refers to the acidity level of the water while calcium hardness is the measurement of the amount of calcium in the pool.
Similarly, "total alkalinity" indicates the ability of the water to maintain the pH level while "free available chlorine" is the chlorine that has not yet reacted with other contaminates in the pool and is still available to help maintain the hygiene of the pool. Shock or superchlorinating the water involves suddenly increasing the chlorine level by an additional 5.0 ppm. This is done by adding significant amounts of liquid chlorine to the water.
Cleaning the Pool
First, use a pool skimmer to remove all the floating debris, and then scrub away the scales along the water line. Clean out the strainer baskets at least once a week. This helps keep the circulation system running optimally and reduces chlorine use.
The pool filter will also need cleaning. Procedures are unique to the filter so check the manual for instructions.
If you don't have an automatic pool cleaner, you will need to use a vacuum to suction any debris. The walls and floor of the pool can be cleaned with manufacturer recommended cleaning products and brushes.
The water level of the pool must be monitored regularly. If it falls below a level the skimmer can handle, you could damage the pump. Do not allow the pool to sit empty for a long time. Even if you will not be using it for a while, it is best to leave the water in to protect it from damage.
Closing or Opening the Pool
If you need to close your pool for some time due to weather conditions or other reasons, take proper precautions. Most of these tasks can be done quickly. You may not have to do some of these tasks, depending on your shade level or temperature zone. If you live in a cold region, you will need to bring the pH level down to between 7.2 and 7.6, and then a superchlorinating treatment or shock can be given. Put away any ladders, diving boards, ropes, and furniture that might be in the pool area. Then turn off the heater and run the filter non-stop for a day or two. Clean out the pool, walls, and floor after removing all the debris.
Remember to pour pool antifreeze into the pump and run it through the system for a few minutes. Drain the water level until it is at about 18 inches below the skimmers. Drain the hoses, store the filter, pump, and motor indoors before turning off the electricity.
If there are any permanent ladders or other metal components, coat them with petroleum jelly to prevent rust. Then cover the pool with a weather resistant pool cover and secure it well.
If you live in warm weather, you don't need to do much except adjust the filter cycle to half the normal and check the pH and free available chlorine levels weekly. The skimmer will also have to be cleaned weekly.
When opening your pool after it has been unused for a while, clean and scrub the floors and tiles before filling water to the required level. All the equipment that you dismantled or put in storage will have to be brought out and reinstalled. Test your work and all the equipment to determine if it is in working condition. Retest the pH as well as chlorine levels.
Pool Chemical Safety
Pool chemicals can be dangerous, so it is important to be cautious. Wear gloves and goggles when mixing or pouring chemicals. Keep the chemicals and cleaning agents in a secure place where animals or children cannot get at them. Store them in accordance with manufacturer's instructions. Some are flammable, so avoid exposing them to fire. Do not dilute or mix chemicals unless the instructions specifically call for mixing. If you get any chemicals on your body, wash the area with tap water immediately and see a doctor if necessary.
Reviewed May 2017
Benjamin Roussey is from Sacramento, CA, and grew up doing all varieties of home improvement projects around the home since his parents did not hire contractors or outside help to maintain their home or vehicles. As a result, he has acquired a multitude of home handyman skills in plumbing, carpentry, electrical and everything in between. He also has two Masters degrees and he served four years in the U.S. Navy.
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