People who dream about having a pool rarely think about the maintenance. If you’re going to hire someone to clean and treat the pool as well as change the filters you’ll probably spend between $3,000 and $5,000 a year. Taking the time to keep your backyard oasis in good shape will save you money, and can become a relaxing ritual. The following suggestions for pool maintenance fall in line with a lean approach — doing just the right amount to keep the pool water healthy. Some people may recommend more, but given how expensive having a pool is, you probably don’t want to spend any more than necessary.
Skimming the debris off of the pool surface may seem like a never-ending task, but it’s extremely important to keep the rest of your pool clean. Rather than groaning every time you pick up your net to fish out leaves, twigs and other flora, consider this simple activity your first line of defense. Those bits and pieces will sink to the bottom or break apart and may eventually wind up clogging one of the filters, making it harder for the water to circulate.
Spending a few minutes every day (yes, every day), to extract them out of your pool pays off numerous dividends in the long run. As a part of your cleaning regimen, you should also brush the walls steps and ladders every few days.
Pay attention to those hard to reach locations that don't always get clean, like behind the ladder.
Empty out the pump baskets daily to keep debris and muck from getting to the pump filter. Some of that grunge will always find its way there, but the cleaner you can keep the pump filter, the stronger the pump will be.
You'll need to vacuum your pool once a week, and more often if the water gets heavy use. Vacuuming removes dirt, leaves, and other dross from the bottom and sides of the pool and also keeps some bacteria from growing. It’s particularly important to hoover over those corners and crevices of the pool where the circulating water doesn’t naturally wash away the dirt.
For homeowners who aren’t vacuuming fans, robotic pool cleaners (a sort of underwater Roomba) will do the chore for you. These machines typically cost between $500 and $1,500, and many allow you to control the robot from you cell phone and set the time for the cleanings. If you’re saving money by going DIY, one of these robots may be a good investment.
Keeping the pool chemically balanced stops bacteria and algae from growing in it, and from the water getting cloudy. Pool owners want to keep the pH between 7.2 and 7.6 and the alkalinity between 100 and 150 ppm (parts per million).
“If you keep your pool balanced between these ranges, you’re doing 90 percent of the work here,” says Matt Giovanisci from Swim University in his above video about pool maintenance.
While most people think of chlorine when purifying a pool, several options now exist, including bromine, Biguanide and minerals.
Plenty of low-cost pH testing kits can be bought online or from the local hardware store. Some specialty stores like Watson's pride themselves on having the best above ground pool supplies.
If the pH is too high, you can add an acidic chemical like muriatic acid. If the pH is too low, you may add a basic chemical such as sodium bicarbonate. Anyone who wants a high tech pool can buy an automatic tester that will consistently update your phone on the chemical balance of your water.
Once a week you’ll need to “shock” the pool, which basically means pouring a concentrated amount of sanitizer into the H2O to cleanse it from any bacteria or other potentially harmful irritants.
Follow manufacturer's instructions when adding chemicals to your pool. Adding too much of any chemical can be dangerous. When shocking the pool, you’ll probably need to let chemicals flow through the system for several hours before anyone can swim in the water.
Change the Pump Filter
Your pump’s filter should be run at least four hours a day in cool weather and up 12 hours when it’s warm out. Numerous options exist for pump filters, including cartridge filter, D.E. filter and sand filter. If the pressure gauge on your system goes 10 pounds above normal that’s often a sign the filter needs to be cleaned or replaced.
While these guidelines will work for most pool owners, keep in mind that the season of year and pool usage may require you to adjust.