How To Maintain A Swimming Pool
Does anything truly say “summer” like a backyard swimming pool? That clear blue water, the cool and chill vibes emanating from the pool deck, and the general feeling of relaxation you get from having such an oasis at home. The benefits are endless – just ask your friends and neighbors – but many people admit to not knowing enough about swimming pool maintenance.
If you’re already a swimming pool owner, you know this: a pool is a major investment. The process of selecting, building and finishing a backyard swimming pool is intensive and can be impacted by many things, including (but not limited to): labor costs, scheduling, weather and more. If you’re considering become a swimming pool owner, you may want to know more about how to maintain a swimming pool and everything that falls under the “maintenance” umbrella. After all, if you’re going to invest in a pool, you want to make it last for years to come – and faulty maintenance (or lack of upkeep in general) is a main reason why pools fall into disrepair and homeowners end up with a sunken asset on their hands. And that’s not what you, or any homeowner, wants. A pool should increase the value of your home and make it a place where you, friends and family want to spend those long and hot summer days.
In this blog, we’re going to provide some helpful tips, steps and tricks to make sure your pool is in tip-top shape all year long and not just when you want to use it. Which brings us to another point: maintenance for a backyard pool doesn’t stop when the pool cover goes on, or when the water drains out. It’s a year-long commitment, and if you do it right, you’ll enjoy your swimming pool for a long, long time.
How often does your swimming pool require maintenance?
Long story short: your swimming pool needs regular maintenance, but we will break this down into different aspects of maintenance so you can create a schedule. We’ve found that, with a number of different processes and materials involved, it’s best (and most efficient!) to schedule when you’ll perform different duties – and it’s never a bad idea to involve the kids, provided that they’re old enough to sweep and scrub.
One of our favorite maintenance scheduling hacks? Create a schedule for each task, write it down, and tape it to the fridge so everyone knows what’s required, when it needs to be done, and who is responsible for taking care of it. But that’s down the road; for now, we’re going to outline exactly what needs to be done.
With that being said, let’s talk about the elements of pool maintenance and when you should tackle them on the to-do list.
Everyone wants pool water that’s clear, safe, and ready to swim in. Without proper water circulation, that’s just not going to happen. The pool pump is critical to making sure your water is circulating as it should be. Ideally, you’ll run your pool pump 24 hours a day and seven days a week, but that’s expensive and not all that realistic.
Our best advice? Run the pool pump in the morning and turn it off just before you shut down for the night. A 12-hour pump is going to get quality results. Also, always make sure to backwash your pool filter, which gets dirty water and other contaminants out of the system before you run the pump again.
Cleaning Your Pool
This is where the kids really come in handy – but they need to know proper technique first. Also, attention to detail is key to making sure your pool is cleaned the right way. Without it, you’re going to be back at square one and wasting a lot of time and energy.
Fun fact: cleaning your pool the right way becomes a lot easier if your water is circulating properly. Funny how that works, isn’t it? But a good clean does have shelf life. There’s nothing like a good vacuum, skim and scrub only for a thunderstorm to bring all kinds of new and fun things into the pool. Then, you’re right back where you started – but that’s the nature of being a swimming pool owner!
When learning how to maintain a swimming pool, we need to know the three main components of cleaning: sweeping, skimming and brushing. As outlined in the materials section below, the skimmer, vacuum and brushes are must-haves and we recommend getting them a reputable pool supplies provider. Pool vacuums aren’t cheap, but they can last a while and make your job of sweeping much easier.
As far as scheduling goes, make sure you’re sweeping, skimming and brushing your pool’s interior at least once per week.
The Chemistry of Water
Who said there wasn’t a science lesson involved here? Well, it should go without saying that pool water isn’t exactly water straight from the river or creek behind your house. It’s specially-curated water that’s suitable for swimming and that, when maintained with care, can almost clean itself.
Also, we’re kidding about the science lesson. Reading the words “water chemistry” can be a little overwhelming at first, but we promise that it’s quick and easy to learn. One attempt and a bit of diligence will have you up to speed in no time, and this is also something that older kids can help you with.
When you buy your pool, your pool provider or retailer should supply you with (or point you in the direction of) a water testing kit. You’ll learn three important things about your water before you start anything else:
Ok, so maybe just a quick science refresher when it comes to your pool’s water. High pH levels are basic, while lower pH levels are acidic. You want your swimming pool’s water pH to be somewhere between 7.4 and 7.6
This will tell you how much chlorine, bromine and/or salt is in your pool water. Depending on which sanitizing solution you use, your sanitizer levels are likely to vary, but your water testing kit will confirm.
Avoiding major changes in your pool’s pH levels (you don’t want it to swing from too acidic to too basic quickly, or vice versa) is critical. Alkalinity is a buffer for pH, and the target alkalinity level is 100-150 ppm, or parts per million.
When you get your water testing kit, you’re on your way to mastering how to maintain a swimming pool at home. The results of each water test – which should be done at least once per week (though we recommend twice to be safe) – will let you know what to add to the pool water to ensure it’s at its best quality for swimming.
The DOs and DONTs of Swimming Pool Maintenance
We’ll keep this short, sweet, and hopefully in the form of a list you’ll remember. The do’s and don’ts of swimming pool maintenance aren’t difficult to keep track of, but they will keep you accountable and on-track as you learn to take care of – and enjoy – your backyard pool.
Test water levels
Set a schedule
Neglect the schedule
Use “regular” tools in place of pool-specific tools
Ignore water testing results
Materials you need to properly maintain your pool
This is really important to know, and is often covered by your installation team or the experts they have on staff. If you want a handy list, see the following to know what you need to properly clean and maintain your backyard swimming pool.
- Pool vacuum
- Pool skimmer
- Gloves (disposable is fine)
- pH increase or decrease solution
- Pool sanitizer (salt, chlorine or bromine)
- Water clarifier
- Pool shock
Three Components to Properly Maintaining Your Pool
Step 1: Circulation
The Golden Rule for swimming pool maintenance is that moving water is safer and cleaner water. Without good circulation (backwashing your filter is a must for proper circulation), you’ll likely run into problems like cloudy water and algae. This is why we recommend – as seen above – running your filter for at least 10 hours each day.
Step 2: Cleaning
Sometimes, you’ve gotta be a little hands-on and take on manual labor. Thankfully, with today’s technology, skimming, scrubbing and sweeping your pool is not as arduous as it used to be. Scrubbing once a week will keep the interior walls of your swimming pool clean and free of build-up. Using a net skimmer to get surface debris like leaves, bugs, etc. will make vacuuming easier, as well. When it’s time to vacuum, know that it’s going to take some time (we recommend committing at least 30 minutes to a thorough cleaning) but it’s worth it.
Step 3: Chemistry
Our No.1 piece of advice when it comes to testing and adding to your pool’s water? Follow the instructions. Take care and be diligent because this is one of the most important steps to ensuring your pool water is safe and balanced. Pool shock can also help in between cleanings, and it’s recommended to add pool shock at night when the pool is not in use. Running the filter overnight will help the shock work and keep your water clean.
Things to be aware of when working on your pool’s maintenance
We’ve outlined many of the obstacles and careful considerations to take when cleaning and maintaining your pool, but it’s also good to know that we can’t control certain things. We can’t control accidents (especially with little ones), the weather, and mechanical issues.
Your pool pump might need fixed. When you sense or spot an issue, call your pool installation company right away – the sooner you get a professional on-hand to work on it, the sooner you’ll get your pool back in action. Weather is going to have a hand, too; don’t get discouraged if a storm hits just after you’ve cleaned. Follow the steps above and with a little bit work, you’ll be doing right by your family, friends and guests who are enjoying the swimming pool.
If you know how to maintain a swimming pool and the steps involved in doing it right, you’ll enjoy your pool for a long time.
At Best in Backyards, we’re swimming pool experts – with decades of experience installing some of the best pools you’ll find to make your backyard the best it can be. Got questions or want to take a look at our award-winning inventory? Give us a call or stop by your nearest store location to meet with our team.