You’ve finally done it. You decided to install a beautiful swimming pool right in your own backyard that you can use any time you like. You have all your gear, the pool is set up and it’ll last for years, right? Well, it should, but the answer depends entirely on your pool maintenance schedule. If you don’t know how to maintain a pool, your pool’s lifespan will shorten, drastically!
Any swimming pool requires routine maintenance to keep all of the parts in good working order and the water clean and clear. Our swimming pool maintenance guide will give you a strong understanding of everything pool maintenance entails. This includes knowing how your pool works, tips on how to care for it, and much more. We’ll help you keep your pool clean and looking beautiful all season long.
Basic Parts of Your Pool and Pool Maintenance
Before we get into the more complex topics of pool maintenance, we want to make sure you have a good understanding of your pool’s basic parts. Each part does something slightly different, and knowing how to maintain a pool requires a working knowledge of the four main components.
Component One – The Filter System
Your filter system is the workhorse of your entire pool setup. This is the component that is responsible for keeping your pool’s water circulating and clean. The pool pump is the part that will force the water to circulate to the pool filter. The filter will catch any debris, dirt and contaminants that could impact your water’s cleanliness level.
The filter protects your pool and anyone that swims in it from harm. It stops bacteria and algae from building up, and this makes the water safe. If your filter system were to fail, your pool water would turn cloudy and polluted. Salt water chlorinators, sand filters, cartridge filters, and diatomaceous earth (DE) filters are all popular.
Component Two – The Returns and Skimmers
The second biggest component of your pool are the returns and skimmers. The skimmers are the holes in the side of the pool that are responsible for pulling your pool’s water into the filter, and for pushing the water through the filter as it is cleaned. The returns are the components that return the clean water back to the pool.
These two parts work best when you routinely clean them. If there is a lot of debris or obstruction, the water won’t flow correctly. As a result, you’ll end up with dirty water. This is why you have to routinely backwash these systems and clean them out at least once a week. The cleaner each part is, the better it will function.
Component Three – The Pool Walls
No matter whether you have a fibreglass, concrete, rubber, plastic or vinyl pool, it will have walls that come into constant contact with the pool water. If your water doesn’t have the correct chemical balance, it becomes much easier for bacteria and algae to start growing and thriving. These pollutants can make your water unhealthy, and they can cause problems for your pool walls.
Every other week, you should make a point to scrub the pool’s interior walls to get rid of any bacteria or algae growth, and to remove any debris in the water. If you don’t have time to do it by hand, you can invest in a robotic cleaner that will run automatically. Another option is to get a self-cleaning pool system.
Component Four – The Water
For a beginner, finding the correct chemical balance for the water, and maintaining this, can seem like a daunting challenge. However, there are complete kits that can help to keep your water crystal-clear and safe to swim in. To keep your water clean and safe, you should focus on the following measurements (the values below are recommended for Compass Pools owners; if you have a fibreglass pool from another manufacturer or a completely different pool, refer to your pool builder or local pool shop to avoid potential damage to your pool):
- pH level – pH levels show how acidic or alkaline the water is. A neutral pH protects your pool equipment from corrosion while also stopping skin and eye irritation. We recommend keeping the pH range between 7.2 to 7.6 ppm.
- Total Alkalinity – This keeps your pH level in the pool balanced, and it should stay between 100ppm to 150ppm (parts per million).
- Chlorine – Chlorine acts like a sanitiser that rids the pool’s water of bacteria and algae. Keep chlorine levels between 1.0ppm and 2.0ppm but up to 3.0ppm is acceptable.
- Stabiliser (Cyanuric Acid) – If you have chlorine in your pool, this will shield it from sunlight. The ideal value is 50pppm, and cyanuric acid determines how much free chlorine you need in your water.
- Salt (for salt chlorinated pools) – Ideal level is between 3000 and 4000 ppm; lower salt levels may be required by some types of chlorinators.
- Calcium Hardness – You want to prevent damage to your pool’s walls, and keeping your calcium hardness between 175ppm and 225ppm will help.
- T.D.S. (Total Dissolved Solids) – Ideal level = less than 1500 ppm.
- Phosphates – Ideal level = zero but less than 0.2 ppm.
Water Balance – Zero, or slightly negative on the Langlier Saturation Index (-0.2).
Note: For more advice on maintaining a clean and healthy pool and maintaining correct water chemistry, consult your local pool shop.
If you’re having issues keeping your water clear, buy a water testing kit. This kit comes with individual containers to carry out each test. Fill the containers with pool water and see what shade the water turns. Compare this colour to the colour on the chart included in the kid. It’ll tell you exactly where your levels are, and you’ll know if you need to adjust something or not.
Test your water at least once a week in the swimming season or monthly outside it. If you have a lot of rain or you find yourself refilling the pool because your water levels dropped too low, test it. These things can throw your water chemistry off, and it can result in cloudy water.
Checking Your Pool’s Circulation
Pool Circulation and Pool Maintenance
Your pool’s water should circulate on a constant basis to keep it clean and clear. If you have stagnant water, this is the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. A high-quality, well-maintained circulation system will effectively combat pool algae or cloudy water. Your pump and filter system should run daily.
Ideally, your pump and filters should run around the clock. If this isn’t feasible for your budget, plan to run the system for at least 10 to 12 hours at the minimum, every day. This is ample time for your system to circulate all of your pool’s water at least once or twice.
Cleaning Your Pool’s Filter System
Your pool won’t be able to circulate water at full capacity if you have a dirty system. This is why it’s so important to clean out the filters and skimmer basket at least once a week. To clean these components, switch your filter off and remove the filter cap. Lift out the basket and remove any debris. Once you finish, put it back together and turn it back on.
Plan to backwash your filter system every month. Backwashing will help clean out the pipes on your filter system and get rid of any debris or stagnant water. To do this, remove the basket and switch your filter to the “backwash” setting.
What this does is has the water flow in the opposite direction as it normally does. Any debris will go into your pool’s waste port. Let the system run until the water becomes clear. Switch the filter back off, switch it back to its normal setting, and return the basket to the filter.
Cleaning Your Pool
A big part of pool maintenance is cleaning your pool regularly. It’s so easy to skip a day here or a week there, but this can significantly impact how long your pool components last. There are several ways you can clean your pool, and it all depends on your budget. At the very least, you’ll need a net skimmer to get rid of surface debris, and a pool brush to clean the sides and bottom of the pool. If you have money set aside, a robotic pool cleaner can help automate much of this task.
Brushing, skimming and vacuuming your pool at least once a week can help control the bacteria, algae and remove any debris. If you have a tough algae spot that you can’t remove, make a thick paste of baking soda and water. Apply this paste to the area and scrub. This won’t damage your tile or vinyl.
If you’re worried about the oils from skin or hair products forming a sheen on your water surface, tossing a few tennis balls into the pool or skimmer basket can help. The surface of a tennis ball will absorb the oils and remove them from your water. Wrapping a pair of fine denier tights around your skimmer basket helps catch very small particles.
Another thing you can invest in is an automatic pool cleaner. While this won’t totally replace the need for you to scrub the sides of your pool or skim it, it will mean you spend less time on the task. You need to ensure your automatic pool cleaner reaches every area of your pool, and this includes the walls.
Pool Maintenance Supplies
Depending on the pool type, there are a few supplies you can use to help with your pool maintenance routine. They’ll help you control the bacteria and algae while keeping your water clear. These supplies include:
- Shock – Pool shock is a chemical that oxidises organic water contaminants like algae and bacteria, destroying them. These are powerful sanitisers that you want to use either after heavy pool usage or in the beginning of the season. Most pool shock requires you to stay out of the water for 12 to 24 hours after use.
- Sanitisers – Chlorine is a popular pool sanitiser, but it has a strong smell that many people find unappealing. Bromine is another sanitising chemical that helps clear out any bacteria and keep your water clear between uses. There are also natural or enzyme-based sanitisers available, and some people like to use salt pools for this reason.
- Balancing Chemicals and Stabilisers – Adding and monitoring water balancing chemicals are essential parts of pool maintenance. Evaporation, sunlight, rain and the presence of oils can all throw off your pool’s chemical levels. You’ll need a test kit to monitor them, and you should test your levels at least once a week. A water conditioner (stabiliser) can protect and extend the life of your water chemicals to save you money.
- Algaecides – Algaecides destroy any algae in your pool and prevent build-up on your pool walls. Algae can clog your filter system and cause your water to look cloudy if you don’t keep up with it, and it thrives in warm water. You can find affordable algaecides that are safe to add to your pool, and they not only eliminate algae, but they prevent it from coming back for good.
- Stain Prevention and Removal – Water lines and stains can discolour the sides of your pool and be difficult to remove. Stain prevention and pool stain removal chemicals can get rid of these unsightly stains. These stains come from metals like silver, iron, copper, lead, cobalt, and manganese in the water, minerals that can cause scaling on your pool walls. However, applying stain remover will strip them away, and stain prevention chemicals will stop them from coming back.
- Chemical Kit – You have to keep track of an alter a range of chemicals in your pool water to keep your pool looking its best. The easiest way to do this is to buy a pool chemical test kit. This kit will come with several vials and test strips. You fill the vials with pool water and compare the colors to the chart. This will tell you whether or not you have to adjust your chemicals.
Compass Pools Can Help You Design and Install Your Dream Pool
Are you ready to add your dream pool to your yard? Perhaps you have questions about the installation process or maintenance? Either way, we want to help. Find our nearest dealership and drop by to talk to one of their professional staff today!