On a searing summer day, a swimming pool is a welcome respite from the heat. In order for your pool to provide crystal-clear perfection, regular maintenance must be performed. If completed regularly the tasks of skimming, vacuuming, and chlorinating can be performed in under an hour. Here are some techniques to speed up the process and create a safe, refreshing oasis.
Skim Pool and Empty Baskets - Skimming the pools surface by hand every few days is one of the fastest and easiest ways to keep your pool clean. Floating debris will eventually sink, becoming harder to remove. Use a long-handled net called a hand skimmer or leaf skimmer to remove leaves, bugs and other unwanted items. Skimming significantly increases the efficiency of the pool's circulation system and lowers the amount of chlorine you'll need to add to your pool. Cleaning out strainer baskets at least once a week also helps circulation and lowers chlorine demands. Locate strainer baskets attached to the side of aboveground pools and in the pool deck of in-ground pools. Simply remove the plastic basket and shake it out; spraying the inside with a hose can help dislodge stubborn objects.
Vacuuming and Brushing - With an automated vacuum you can relax poolside while a machine does the work for you. A pool should be vacuumed every week for a minimum of 30 minutes to keep water clear and reduce the amount of chemicals you need to add to it. There are many types of pool vacuums. If you have a manual design, work it back and forth all over the surface of the pool like you would if vacuuming carpet. It's good form to slightly overlap each stroke. Check the filter each time you vacuum, and clean it if necessary. But vacuuming isn't the only maintenance that should be done once a week. Brushing the walls and tile helps minimize algae buildup and calcium deposits so they don't fester and become larger problems. The material your pool walls are made of dictates that kind of cleaning tools you should use. Select a still brush for plaster-lined concrete pools and a softer brush for vinyl for fiberglass walls. For tiles, use a soft brush to prevent scratching or degradation of grout. A pumice stone, putty knife or a half-and-half mixture of water and muriatic acid can also work well.
Clean the Pool Filter - There are three kinds of pool filters: cartridge, sand and diatomaceous earth. While there are different maintenance procedures for each type, all require period cleaning depending on the type of filter and how often a pool is used. Cleaning the filter more often than recommended can actually hinder the filtration process. A clean filter is less efficient than one with a mild amount of dirt in it because the dirt helps trap other particles, which removes debris from the water. However, you don't want to let the filter get too dirty. A sign that it's time to clean it is an increase in flow between the pressure gauge and flow meter. Clean the filter when the difference reaches 10 to 15 pounds (4.5 to 6.9 kilograms) per square inch.
Pool Chemistry - Pool water should be tested regularly to make sure it's clean and healthy. The pH scale is a measurement of acidity or alkalinity that runs from 0 to 14. A reading between 7.2 and 7.8 is ideal; this range is safe for swimmers and helps sanitizers work at top efficiency. You can monitor your pools pH level with a testing kit. There are many kinds of testing kits available; however, most homeowner versions are either reagent kits or test-strips. Reagent kits aren't too difficult to use. You take a sample of pool water, add liquids or tablets to it. The water changes color, indicating its chemical balance. Test-strips work differently. When you submerge them in the pool for a few seconds, dyes they contain cause them to change color. Next, match up the strip to a color chart to determine the pools pH level.
Pool Heaters - Typically require the least maintenance of all pool equipment. Gas heaters can work fine without being serviced for a couple of years, and electric ones can last even longer. Consult your manufacturers manual for specific are instructions. Sometimes, calcium scales build up inside the tubes of a heater and restrict flow, preventing the water from heating adequately. If this happens, recruit the help of a professional because the heater may need to be disassembled and have its tubes cleaned out with a wire brush or acid.