What Are the Best Home Swimming Pool Maintenance Tricks and Tips?
Nothing says summertime like a refreshing dip in the crystal blue waters of a swimming pool. The experience is even better when that pool is in your own backyard for your entire family to enjoy every day — provided those waters always stay sparkling and clear, of course. It’s critical to maintain your pool and the water in it in pristine condition, but contrary to what you might think, pulling this off doesn’t have to be an overwhelming chore.
In fact, all you have to do is practice some basic steps for pool care, and you can count on enjoying a sparkling, beautiful pool all summer long. From mastering a pool vacuum to putting your chemistry skills to the test, here’s a look at some of the most crucial things you need to remember about pool maintenance.
Keep Pool Surfaces Clean
Trash near your pool or in the water is more than just visually unappealing; it’s a potential health hazard. Use a dip net to skim debris, grass and leaves from the pool’s surface, and vacuum the bottom and sides of the pool frequently. Investing in a robotic pool vacuum requires a larger cash outlay up front, but it can ultimately save you a lot of effort when it comes to pool cleaning.
It’s also important to scrub the sides of the pool regularly to get rid of algae. Spot scrubbing is fine most of the time, but the whole pool should be scrubbed occasionally. Avoid using cleaners that could upset the chemical balance of the pool or cause stains or discoloration of the tiles. Instead, rely on some old-fashioned elbow grease to scrub away algae and allow the pool’s chemicals to do the rest.
Maintain Balanced Chemical Levels
As we just implied, it’s important to keep the pool’s chemical levels within their recommended ranges to ensure the water remains crystal clear and free of bacteria, toxins and other potential hazards. Be sure to pick up a water testing kit at a pool store or home improvement store and test the water at least once a week. The test kits come with precise instructions to help you keep the chemicals balanced.
The main chemicals and readings you need to monitor are free chlorine, acidity and alkalinity, water hardness, and cyanuric acid, which helps protect chlorine and make it more effective. If you want to trim your pool budget, you can use baking soda to help maintain the proper alkalinity level instead of purchasing an expensive solution. Additionally, when everyone gets out of the water, toss a tennis ball into the water and let it float around all night to absorb the oils left in the water from skin and tanning and sunscreen products.
Don’t Neglect the Filter System
Your swimming pool’s filtration system works in conjunction with your chemical levels and cleaning efforts to maintain the perfect harmony you need to enjoy a sparkling pool day after day. Think of it as both the circulatory system and the kidneys of the pool. Not only does the filter keep out visible trash and junk, but it also gets rid of bad stuff you can’t see. Be sure to clean out your filter’s basket every day to remove any debris it catches. It won’t do any good to use a great filter that you rarely clean.
Backwash your filtration system occasionally to clean out the pipes and improve cleaning capabilities. If you can afford it in your budget, purchase a timer and set it to turn the filter system on for about six hours each day before turning it back off. Otherwise, you will need to manually turn the filter pump on and off to some cleaning each day.
Shock Your Pool
If you aren’t familiar with the term, shocking your pool doesn’t mean jumping in for a little skinny dipping — although that might definitely shock the neighbors! If your pool water turns cloudy, grows algae, burns your eyes or has an extremely strong chlorine smell, you can chemically shock it with a concentrated dose of chlorine to break apart combined chlorine molecules and boost cleaning power. For most of the year, you can buy pool shock at your local pool, home improvement and big box stores, but pool supplies may disappear from store shelves during the winter months in some parts of the country.
Once you have the chemicals you need, shocking your pool is easy. Simply pour the powder into the filter return and let it smoothly distribute throughout the water. This treatment delivers a potent dose of chlorine at one time, so be sure to stay out of the pool for a little while after shocking the water. Pool shock is a good solution when the water looks cloudy or after a day of swimming with a large group of people.
Keep the Pool Deck Clean
The cleanliness of your pool deck is almost as important as clean water. If you don’t keep your deck clean, you can rest assured that any spills, germs and contaminants will eventually end up in your pool, making all the previously mentioned chemicals and tools work that much harder to maintain the pretty blue water you want.
Sweep the deck often, especially when fall approaches and the leaves begin to fall. Nothing will clog up a filter faster than a bunch of soggy leaves. Clean up any spills as soon as they occur. Even something as simple as a soft drink can have chemical additives of its own that interact negatively with the chemicals in your pool. Beyond these simple tasks, give your deck a good pressure washing once a year to clear out any deeply embedded hazards and improve the overall look of the area for all those warm, lazy days hanging by the pool.