Keeping your swimming pool clean can be quite a job. It helps when you know what needs to be done to keep your pool in top working order. By following a few simple steps, your swimming pool can be the envy of the neighborhood. The first step in keeping your pool clean involves skimming the surface of the water to remove any leaves and another debris present.
This can be done with a simple leaf net daily, or as often as needed. If the tile board around the pool becomes dirty or covered with algae, a stiff bristled brush can remove this buildup quickly. A push broom with a long handle can be used to clean the bottom of the swimming pool.
Don’t forget if you have a pool vacuum to clean it out after each use. You can maintain the deck looking awesome by using a garden hose to rid the floor of any dirt and debris. This is an integral part of pool maintenance. Whenever feasible, use a cover over your pool, especially when the swimming pool is not being used for an extended time.
This will make it much easier to clean when pool season starts again. This can help make pool maintenance a cinch. Empty and rinse off the skimmer basket at least once a week, or more often during times when leaves are falling for proper pool maintenance. Clean the pool filter once a month; a sand filter can be cleaned by reversing the water flow 2-3 times until the water runs clear. If you have a cartridge filter, you can remove it and clean it with a hose on high pressure. Don’t forget to replace the filter when you are finished.
Here is a breakdown of the important things to look at to ensure a clean, safe pool to swim in
1) Water Hardness Level
Water hardness level is the first key to balancing swimming pool chemicals, and consists of two components: Direct Hardness Level and Indirect Hardness Level.
Direct Hardness Level – Hardness in your water is a direct result of the source your water comes from. When the water hardness is too high, it makes balancing swimming pool chemicals difficult. The biggest things that make water hard are dirt and partials (Magnesium and calcium from the dirt and atmosphere to be exact) that are in your water when it arrives at your house from wherever it came from. If you get your water from a well, it will have a different hardness level than if you get it from the city you live in. Some communities have harder water than others. It all depends on the source.
Indirect Hardness Level – Hardness in a pool is indirectly affected by the various chemical compounds that dissolve in your pool’s water. As you add chemicals to your pool and they do their job, they get used up and start to add to the harness level of your pool’s water chemistry.
When water gets too hard, it has no room to let the chemicals that balance a pool to dissolve and work, and it has a tendency to start creating deposits or minerals on your pool’s floor and walls and pool equipment due to the high concentration of the minerals in the water. When water hardness is to low (this is not the case too often) water is corrosive and will start eating away at your surfaces. In this case, you can add a chemical called Calcium Chloride to bring the harness level up.
Perfect water hardness levels should be between 200-400 ppm of minerals to be safe and effective. If the water in your pool becomes too hard the only way to resolve it is to drain your pool partially or completely, and refill it with new fresh water.
2) Chlorine Level
The chlorine level in the pool is the second key to balancing swimming pool chemicals. When talking about sanitizing a chlorine pool and killing unwanted algae and bacteria, chlorine is the most important chemical to have. It is important to keep this chemical in balance, though, because if you have too much it can irritate swimmers’ skin and eyes and be unhealthy, and if you have too little, then algae and bacteria can grow.
There is two forms chlorine takes when it is in your pool. I call the two forms “Useable Chlorine” and “Used Chlorine.” Combined (Useable and Used) make up the “Total Chlorine” in your pool.
- Useable Chlorine (AKA Free Chlorine) is the chlorine that is actively working, sanitizing and killing unwanted algae and bacteria in your pool. This useable, or free chlorine level, is the most important chemical to keep in balance. The minimum usable chlorine there should be in your pool is 1 ppm. Less than this and there will not be enough to sanitize and kill. The most usable chlorine there should be in your pool is 10 ppm. More than this, and it becomes irritating and unsafe to swim in. The ideal range for perfect pool chemistry is to have 1-3 ppm of free, usable chlorine in your pool.
- Used Chlorine is the chlorine in your pool that has already done its job and is now ineffective. Usually, the part of the chlorine that is just floating around adding to the hardness of your water and it is not killing anything. Sometimes when people check chlorine levels in pools, they see that there is a good amount of “Total Chlorine”, but that does not ensure that there is enough useable chlorine killing things because the used chlorine is done and used up.
- This is where “Shocking” a pool comes into play. Shock is an extra-large dose of useable or free chlorine and when a pool is shocked the usable chlorine sanitized, kills and burns off the used chlorine. This helps give room in the hardness level of the pool for the usable chlorine to move around and do its job in keeping your pool clean and safe.
- Next comes the fun part. Balancing the ph of the pool water. Before adding any chemicals to the water, be sure that the filter is on in your swimming pool. You need a water testing kit to figure out the calcium hardness of the water. It is right when it is between 200 and 400 parts per million. Read the package directions carefully when adding calcium carbonate dihydrate to raise the calcium hardness, and hexametaphosphate to bring it down. You should carefully pour the chemical mixture at different spots away from the pool’s sides. The next thing you need to do is discover the pools alkalinity. The ideal range is between 80 to 150 parts per million.
- You can raise the alkalinity by adding baking soda, and lower it by adding sodium bisulfate. Use a ph tester to measure the waters’ total ph. It needs to be in the range of 7.2 to 7.6. This is very necessary for the proper pool maintenance. Add chlorine to water by placing chlorine granules in water in a container made of plastic. Following the directions are given on the package. Ensure you are wearing gloves and goggles when you are using chlorine. Stir the chlorine for about a minute, and then leave it for 30 minutes. Turn the pool filter on. Get as close to the middle of the swimming pool as possible, and add the chlorine to the pool.
- If the pool is used a lot, this needs to be done 3-4 times a week. The pool may need to be shocked about once a week, following package directions. This will remove any algae buildup, ammonia, or bacteria. By following these steps, you can have your swimming pool clean and ready for fun in no time.
Perkins, P. (2000). Swimming pools. London New York: E & FN Spon.
Hardy, D. (2007). The complete pool manual for homeowners & professionals : a step-by-step maintenance guide. Ocala, Fla: Atlantic Pub. Group.