Having a swimming pool on your property can be a pretty sweet deal during those hot summer months. But like most good things, a swimming pool requires quite a bit of maintenance and attention to detail. Many people choose to enlist the help of pool professionals, but if you’re more of a do-it-yourself kind of person read on to find out how to keep your pool’s water sparkling clean.
Understanding Your Pool’s Water Needs
Become familiar with your pool’s total alkalinity and pH levels.
Total alkalinity is a way of measuring the water’s ability to neutralize acidity. Your water’s alkalinity levels are directly related to your water’s pH; the higher the total alkalinity, the higher the pH levels of your pool’s water will be. .pH levels measure how acidic or basic substances are. The pH scale has a range between 0 and 14, with a neutral pH at 7.
Know your pool’s chlorine, calcium hardness, cyanuric acid, and total dissolved solids levels.
Besides the pH and alkaline levels, these are also important considerations. Make sure you understand what they are and how they benefit your water.
- Chlorine is used to disinfect and sanitize the water.
- Calcium hardness refers to the amount of calcium present in the water. If the calcium levels are too low your water will become corrosive, potentially ruining the body of your pool.
- Cyanuric acid protects the chlorine in the water from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
- Total dissolved solids are mainly composed of inorganic salts (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonates, chlorides and sulfates) and small amounts of other organic materials dissolved in the water.
- Know your testing timelines for each water component.
When you test your pool’s water, you should observe certain timelines in order for your pool to function well, and for the water to stay clean and healthy. Each element, like the pH for example, has to be tested at a specific point. Some professionals advise daily testing, which can be difficult for many people. Keep the following timeframes in mind to ensure proper pool functions:
- pH should be tested twice a week.
- Total alkalinity should be tested once a week, and at least once a month.
- Chlorine should be tested twice a week.
- Cyanuric acid should be tested twice a season.
- Calcium hardness should be tested twice a season.
- Total dissolved solids should be tested once a week, and at least once a month.
Testing Your Pool’s Water
Purchase testing strips from your local pool store.
Buy the strips that identify chlorine, alkaline, pH, and cyanuric acid. Nowadays, you don’t have to bother with different tests for different chemicals
Dip the test strip into the pool.
Move to an area that’s separated from the pool’s skimmer, and dip the test strip about 18 inches (46 cm) into the water for about ten seconds.
Wait until the different colors fill in.
Match the color readings to the color description on the product box or bottle. Make sure to read the product’s instructions carefully, as different manufacturers might have different procedures.
Make sure that your readings fall in the appropriate range.
It’s very important to adjust your water in case your readings do not match the recommended ranges. Using the right chemicals will easily adjust the ranges should they not meet suggested standard
Maintaining Your Pool’s Filters
Manually clean your pool daily, if possible.
Use brushes, cleaners, and debris catching devices to remove surface dirt and excessive amounts of leaves or branches.
Keep your pool’s water between 1/3 and 1/2 way up the opening of the pool skimmer.
This is the level at which your pool operates best. A pool skimmer is a device that attracts the surface water of the pool. It pulls in small debris, like leaves and other things that might have fallen into the pool. A few inconvenient, and potentially damaging, things can happen if the water level is too high or too low for the skimmer.
- If the water level is too high, the
water moves too slowly into the skimmer. This can result in debris bypassing
the skimmer and accumulating in the pool.
- If the water level is too low, the skimmer is left with little to suck in and it can bottom out. It will suck in air instead, potentially burning your pool’s motor pump.
Pour in water before backwashing and vacuuming.
The action of vacuuming causes the water level to decrease, which is why you need to add water beforehand.
Be aware of different filtration systems.
There are three basic filtration types]:
- Sand filters: these filters are made
of metal, fiberglass, or concrete and they contain a solid bed of specific
sand. The sand does the job of trapping debris. Change the sand in the filter
every five years.
- Cartridge filters: these filters allow water to seep through a fine filtrating surface. This filter keeps the impurities it catches until you clean it. An advantage of cartridge filters over sand ones, is that they have a greater surface area, which results in fewer clogs and easy maintenance. Replace them every 3-5 years.
- Diatomaceous earth filters: these filters contain porous bone material, which easily filters debris. Installing a DE filter is quite simple, as you place it directly into the skimmer. Backwashing and replacement/addition of a new DE has to be done once or twice a year.
Remember to maintain your filters.
Your pool filters are some of the most important tools for your pool, and need to stay very clean. So make sure to remember them in your pool care routine.
ARTICLE BY MANYARA .J .CHIURA