Pool Care Basics
To keep your pool's water healthy and sparkling clean, a few basic maintenance steps are required.
The heart of the circulation system is the pool pump. It pumps water from the pool and passes it through the filter for removal of any dust, dirt and debris prior to sending it back to the pool.
Pool size, swimmer load and the actual size of the pump all play a role in determining how long you should run your pump.
Remember, if your pump is not running, the water from your pool is not being properly circulated or filtered. Running the pump and circulating the water is the best way to help prevent problems.
The filtration system
The filtration system removes any undissolved dirt and debris from the pool water. While the skimmer basket and the hair and lint basket in the pump all play a role in the filtering of the pool water, the primary element of the system is the filter itself. If you backwash too often, the filter cannot reach it's cleaning potential and you are wasting water.
Dirt is removed from the sand filter by "backwashing" or reversing the water flow. Sand filters are more efficient when they are slightly dirty; consequently the should only be backwashed when the pressure is higher than usual.
Sand filters should be cleaned at least every season with a filter cleaner.
Testing your pool 2-3 times a week during the summer and once a week during the winter is important to maintain adequate water balance and sanitizer levels plus to ensure swimmer comfort. Test strips are a quick way to test the pool for adequate sanitizer levels as well as pH and total alkalinity. Proper testing also ensures that calcium levels are maintained and that there are no metals present in the pool water. These tests can be completed by you or your pool professional. In order to prevent scaling or corrosive action and to achieve maximum swimmer comfort, the pool water should be balanced to the following levels:
pH is the measure of acid and base in the pool water. The pH of the pool should be tested and adjusted, if necessary, on a weekly basis. If the pH of the pool water drifts to the acid side of the scale, corrosion of pool surfaces and equipment can occur. If the pH of the pool water drifts to the base side - scaling, deposits and cloudy watr can occur. Use a pH increaser to increase the pH of the pool. At 8.5, chlorine is only about 10% active. At 7.0, chlorine is about 73% active. If you maintain pH around 7.5, the chlorine will be 50-60% active. Keeping the pH in check will allow you to use the full potential of the chlorine that is already in the pool. To lower the pH of the pool, use a pH decreaser. Follow the label directions for the proper amount of the products to add based on tst results and pool size. Take a sample of water to your pool professional dealer at least once a month for a complete test analysis.
Note: Always follow label directions when adding any pool maintenance products to the pool. Never mix products together.
Calcium hardness is the amount of dissolved calcium in the pool water. Low calcium hardness levels can cause plaster finish etching and shorten the life of vinyl liners. High calcium levels can result in calcium deposits on the pool surfaces as well as equipment. If test indicate that you have extremely high calcium levels in your pool, take a sample of your fill water (water used to fill the pool) to your pool professional for analysis.
To prevent the pH varying up and down, the proper amount of acid buffers, or total alkalinity must be maintained in the pool. Test the pool weekly for total alkalinity. Low alkalinity can not only result in pH bounce and fluctutations but corrosiveness and the possibility of staining increase. High total alkalinity can cause the pH to fluctuate as well as cause cloudy pools along with possible scaling. To lower alkalinity, follow the directions from your pool professional. To raise total alkalinity, an alkalinity booster is recommended.
There should not be any metals in your swimming pool water. Metals can cause staining in the pool and cause the pool to change colour. The most common types of metals that appear in pool water are copper, iron and manganese. If metals are present in the pool, a stain and scale remover should be used on a regular basis to prevent staining. You should determine the source of the metals and remove if possible.
Sanitize with chlorine
Stabilized chlorine products sanitize your pool water and kill bacteria. Stabilized chlorine products are protected from sunlight degradation and are an ideal means to keep your pool clear and clean. Most stabilized chlorine products are available in different forms, like tablets or powder. Each has it's own advantages and you will soon learn which works best for you.
It is extremely important to maintain the free chlorine levels at the correct level.
Note: You will get more out of chemicals if you add them after the sun has set.
Shocking the pool on a regular basis is an important element in keeping the pool clear and clean. Swimmers and the environment add waste to the pool that must be eliminated on a regular basis in order to prevent problems such as algae and cloudy water.
Preventing algae is the key to an enjoyable pool. Algaecides act as a backup to your normal sanitazion program and prevent algae from starting and growing in the pool. Algaecide should be added after every shock treatment.
Cleaning the skimmer and pump basket
Cleaning the skimmer and pump baskets regularly is important to the overall maintenance of your swimming pool. Clogged baskets make your pump work harder to try to cycle water. This can decrease the life and stress the seals in your pump.
With water flow impeded by baskets full of debris, you are not getting the proper turnover rate to properly filter your pool water. For your pool to stay clean and clear the water must be filtered. With your skimmer and pump baskets full of debris, you are not pulling as much water to the pump, and not filtering as much water as if the baskets were kept clean. This can have a negative effect on your pool maintenance.
Clean the skimmer and pump basket at least once a week by following the directions below:
Turn of pool cleaner pump and pool heater. If the heater was in operation you should wait 5-10 minutes for the heater to cool down before turning off the pool pump.
Close skimmer and main drain valves.
If the pool pump is located below the water level in the pool, then turn the filter valve to "closed".
Remove pump lid.
Use a garden hose to wash the basket. Baskets become brittle over time and can break easily. It is easiest to clean a basket if the content are allowed to completely dry. Having a spare pump basket to rotate with the dirty basket is the easiest way to perform this task.
Inspect pump basket for signs of damage and replace basket if needed.
Re-install pump basket. Some baskets will twist-lock in place. Do not over-tighten the basket.
Inspect pump lid and o-ring for cracks or damage and lubricate pump lid o-ring with petroleum jelly if it appears dry.
Install pump lid and o-ring. Do not over-tighten.
Make sure filter valve is in the "filter" position.
Open the main drain valve all the way.
Open the air relief valve on the pool filter.
Turn pool pump on.
Once the pump has caught a prime, open remaining skimmer valves one at a time.
When a steady stream of water is visible out of the air relief valve, close the valve.
Turn pool cleaner pump and heater back on if desired.
Cleaning the skimmer basket
Turn the pool pump of.
Remove skimmer lid.
Remove skimmer basket and empty out.
Install the basket back into the skimmer.
Install skimmer lid and turn the system back on.
Pool water level
The level at which the swimming pool skimmers operate best is between one third and one half the way up the opening of the pool skimmer.
If the level is higher, the water moving into the skimmer is going so slow that debris may pass by the opening without being pulled in. If the pool water level is so high that it covers the skimmer opening, floating debris can't get in.
If the water level is too low the skimmer can bottom out, thereby sucking air into the system which can result in losing the prime and possibly result in burning up your swim pool filter pump motor.
Add water before backwashing and vacuuming the pool beause this will also lower the water level.