Many people dream of having a pool, but pool cleaning can be a hassle. Keeping a clean pool through the heat of the Australian summer months can be challenging, especially if this is your first year of pool ownership. However, we have several tips to help you keep your pool sparkling clean and ready to use whenever you like. It doesn’t matter what size your pool is, you have options, and we’ll outline them for you below.
Tips for a Clean Swimming Pool
1. Understand and Monitor Your Pool’s Chemical Levels
Understanding and testing your pool’s chemical levels are two of the biggest keys to maintaining a clean pool. Water that has a chemical imbalance can look murky, can open the door for bacteria to breed and can irritate your skin and eyes. Ideally, you want to get into the habit of testing your pool water at least once every week, and there are five different things you want to test for and manage. They are:
- Acidity or Alkalinity – The pH of your pool tells you how acidic or alkaline your pool water is. Your pool water should be basically neutral, but very slightly alkaline to keep you safe and to activate the chlorine. You should keep the pH of the pool water between 7.2 and 7.8. This range will prevent skin or eye irritation and save your pool equipment from corrosion. Don’t exceed this level, as a higher pH will reduce your chlorine’s activity level.
- Calcium Hardness – Keeping your pool’s calcium levels between 220ppm (parts per million) to 350ppm will help prevent damage to your pool’s walls if you have a concrete pool. Fibreglass or vinyl-liner pools do not require this level because if the water is hard it can’t pull the calcium out of the walls like in a concrete pool hence the levels can stay below 220ppm.
- Cyanuric Acid – This acid protects the chlorine in your pool from sunlight, and determines the required free chlorine level in the water. For outdoor pools, an ideal range is between 30ppm and 50ppm. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘sunscreen’ that helps protect the chlorine.
- Chlorine – Chlorine is a sanitiser that keeps your pool water free of germs and safe from bacteria growth. The levels should range between 1ppm and 3ppm.
- Total Alkalinity – The total alkalinity keeps your pool’s pH level balanced. Your levels should fall between 60ppm and 120ppm.
Testing your pool water once a week is easy. When your pool is handed over you will be given test strips and a 4 in 1 test kit. Some customers like the simple strips. You can buy kits from any pool shop and they also provide a free sample jar with your pool’s water that you can take water there to have it tested. A 4 in 1 test kit is where you add the solution from the kit and close the vials.
The vials will change colour after a few seconds. Look at these vials and compare them to your testing kit chart. This will tell you your pool’s current chemical levels. If some are off, you can adjust them to get an optimal balance. A pool with good chemical levels will have no scent, look clear, and leave little to no residue.
2. Monitor the Water Levels
The physical water level is very important to your pool water chemistry. Water evaporates from wind and sun, the kids splash it out when they play, or a heavy rainfall can cause the levels to swell. The goal is to keep your water level halfway up your skimmer’s opening. If the water drops too low, you can add water via a hose.
If the water level rises too high the most practical way is to make the most of the water and give your filter (assuming you have a sand filter) a good back wash. (see point 6). If you have a cartridge filter you will have a 3 way valve that will most likely be connected to your sewer point and you can drop the water level down using this method. Heavy rains or lots of topping up due to splash out can affect the pool chemistry level. The balanced chemicals get diluted so you will notice this when you check the balance. Fluctuations in the water levels can throw them off balance.
3. Choose a Self-Cleaning Pool System
Did you know you can buy pools that have self-cleaning options available? These are perfect for those busy pool owners who don’t have the time to dedicate to maintaining a perfectly clear pool. For example, the Vantage Pool Cleaning System will circulate the water from the bottom to the top of the pool to help remove any debris or dirty water.
So why do customers with self-cleaning pools still claim they have to do very little when they still have to have the same chemical balance as any other pool? The biggest benefit of this system is that the water is turned over through the filtration system and salt chlorinator (or another sanitising unit) so much quicker than a traditional eyeball suction pool. The water is cleaner and thus, the balanced chemicals do not need to work as hard (hence then be replaced). The clean water (just from the filter) and correct chlorine level is returned through the heads in the radius of the pool and circulated from the floor upwards.
You still need to check and balance your water, but you will need to adjust it a lot less. Also, there will be no organic build up (i.e. leaves) so the water balance is not working as hard.
Fibreglass pools and vinyl-liner pools also use less chemicals as the walls are smooth.
The Vantage Pool Cleaning System, own to Compass Pools, doesn’t leave any hidden areas where algae or bacteria can take hold and grow. You are only balancing the water for the pool water only (not trying to manage the water so it can protect the vessel that it is being held within).
4. Schedule a Service Appointment Once a Year
Sometimes, it pays to trust an expert. When it comes to your pool’s mechanical equipment, this is especially true. Think of your heating systems, pumps, and filters. If you don’t know how to care for them year-round, it pays to have a professional come out once a year to ensure they’re in excellent working order, and fit to keep your pool clean. Just like a car, all equipment, valves, orings need to be lubricated, cleaned and checked. All pumps have Orings that need lubricating.
Before this expert shows up, give your pool a once-over. Have the filters been keeping up with the demands of keeping the pool clean? Maybe you noticed an odd sound or something isn’t working correctly? Mention this to the technician so they’ll have an idea where to start or take a photo of any error message or video anything that has happened. You can use this opportunity to have them go over the equipment with you as a refresher.
5. Clean Your Pool’s Cartridge Filters & Routinely Backwash Your Sand Filter System
Your pool’s filter system is a key component to keeping your pool clean as it removes microscopic debris and dirt. Backwashing the filter is one way to ensure that every aspect of it is clean and working at peak levels to keep your water clear.
Every pool will have a filter system, and it helps to think of these filters as your pool’s kidneys. They function to remove impurities from the water like leaves, dirt, algae, and bacteria just like your kidneys remove impurities from your body. To keep them in top shape, you have to routinely clean them or flush them out. If you imagine your house vacuum cleaner – when it gets full it does not suck as well. This is the same with your filter. When it is full (from all the small impurities from the water) then water can not pass through the filter hence it does not suck as well.
There are 2 main types: Sand and cartridge.
Sand: You will need to a regular backwash. As a minimum once a month but depending on the wind load and pool use sometimes you need to fortnightly. The sand filter is so easy to clean as you just need to turn some valves to clean it and it usually only takes around 5 minutes. You must follow the ‘backwash’ procedure and remember do not turn the Multi Port Valve on top of your filter whist the pump is on.
Backwashing is when the water flows through your filter system in the opposite direction to that which it normally does. If your pool water looks cloudy, it’s time to backwash the system. You can avoid the pool water turning cloudy by making a mental note of your pool’s normal pressure gauge reading. Once it reaches five to seven pounds per square inch (PPI) above the normal level, backwash it. You should keep the water running until it starts to run clear. When it does, you can set your filter system to run the normal way.
Cartridge: Depending on the size cartridge will depend on how often these need to be cleaned. The actual cartridge(s) will need to be physically removed and pressure cleaned.
6. Clean the Lint Pot
Every few weeks, take a few minutes and clean out the lint pot. You’ll find this pot installed just on the inside of your swimming pool pump’s clear glass screen. Turn off the pool pump and release the system pressure before opening the pump. Ideally, you want to clean this area out every few weeks, or as needed. If your pool area is prone to accumulating debris, you’ll need to clean the pump out more often.
Baskets: Your pool will have baskets that will need to be emptied. Skimmer box basket (this is poolside and will collect all the leaves that get skimmed from the top of the pool water). You need to check these regularly as if these are full once again your filter will be working harder trying to suck the water.
Infloor: Infloor cleaning systems also have a separate basket that needs to emptied.
Mechanical cleaners (many of these have inline canisters that also need to be emptied and cleaned).
Pumps: All pumps come with a ‘hair and lint’ pot and these can collect leaves & debris that gets past the other baskets. They come with a clear lid so you can keep an eye on these and empty them if you see leaves in them.
To begin with, you might do this weekly. however. once you have owned your pool for a while. you will get to know what the loading is like on the pool. i.e. high winds, the autumn time you will know when you have to check it more regularly than not.
Most Pools Are Salt Pools
If you have a saltwater pool you will find this the easiest way to manage the chlorine demand of a swimming pool. This can be magnesium salt or sodium salt but all salt pools are chlorine. The salt gets charged into chlorine. The reason they are much easier is that the machine produces the right level of chlorine and you do not have the highs and lows that you experience with public pools. It also means you don’t need to buy, handle or store the chlorine. Do not add too much salt because your salt systems can push the pH levels up artificially, which will mean you’ll need more acid.
What Happens to Your Pool in Winter
Most pools require less maintenance during winter than summer as the sun doesn’t use up the chlorine in the winter months. So many customers find that they continue running their pool all year round,
If your pool stays outdoors all year round, winterising it correctly is crucial. No one wants to pull the cover back on their pool in the spring to find out that the water contains dangerous bacteria or nasty algae slime, or that the pool itself has a leak. Taking steps to learn how to winterise your pool properly can save you thousands of dollars and hours of time next season.
To start, buy a water testing kit before you close the pool down for the season. Use the kit to check that all of your pool chemicals are within the right ranges. Blow out any water left in your pool’s plumbing lines next. This will prevent damage to the lines. Finally, invest in a cover to keep any debris out of the pool.
How to Tell if You’re Successful in Keeping Your Pool Clean
When you monitor your pool, how do you know if it’s clean or not? What areas or pool systems do you have to keep an eye on? Again, this may be common sense to some people but it can be overwhelming to new pool owners. Our short checklist will help keep you on track.
- Do you smell any abnormal odours when you go around your pool? A heavy smell of chemicals or chlorine tells you that you should test your water. If the water has a nasty smell, this could be due to bacterial or algae growth starting to take hold.
- Is the drain clear? If your pool’s drainage system isn’t clear and free of debris, it won’t be able to cycle water through it. Double-check that there’s nothing blocking it.
- How is your water clarity? The water should be crystal clear, and you should be able to see the bottom of your pool without a problem.
- If you have an in-floor cleaning system, is it working like it should? You shouldn’t see any dirt or debris. If you do, your system may have clogs or have a problem that prevents it from working.
- How strong are the returns on your sidewall? You should be able to feel them. If they’re too weak, you need to clean your filter system.
Get a Pool that Cleans Itself from Compass Pools
If you’re in the market for a new pool, Compass Pools is here to help. Opt-in for our self-cleaning pool, save time and money on pool maintenance and most importantly, enjoy your sparkling clean new swimming pool every day! Our professionals will guide you through the process of selecting the best filtration and cleaning system for your new pool. Locate a dealership and drop by or contact your selected authorised Compass pool dealer online today!