How To Make Pool Care Easier
Why do so many pool owners struggle to take care of their swimming pools? The first reason is simply not understanding the technical aspects of pool maintenance such as water chemistry. If you do not understand pool water chemistry values or how to interact with these values then it would seem obvious that you might struggle with the difficulty of caring for your pool. Aside from not knowing what you are doing, which is an obvious concern, the next most common problem is complacency. This article is intended to impress upon you the importance of establishing some good fundamentals when it comes to how you care for your pool. Nothing on this list should come as a surprise to a seasoned pool owner, but what is surprising is how often these important fundamental pool care steps are skipped. By going back to basics you can make it much easier to care for your pool.
Swimming pools are complicated and there are 1000 ways in which you will need to interact with yours to one extent or another. This is one of the main reasons why pool owners can lose track of what is important over time and begin to skip on some of these fundamental processes. In the vast majority of cases with "pool problems", the cause of the problem can likely be traced back to one or more of these simple, fundamental steps being skipped.
Shower Before Entering The Pool
Showering before you go swimming is something that every swimmer is made aware of before going into commercial pools. The logic applies in the same way for residential pools as well, however most pool owners never actually do this. Why? Simply because it is not convenient and there is not a direct and immediate problem with the water if you decide to not bother with enforcing this rule. So do you really need to shower before going in your pool? Well, no, but if you want to make caring for your pool easier, then yes.
Every time you go swimming you are introducing bacteria into the pool water. Many pool owners assume this is the reason why you should shower before going swimming however the main problem actually relates to detergents and phosphates as well as the oils on your skin. By showering directly before you go swimming you can reduce on the amount of contaminants that you introduce to the water. This has a trickle down effect in that you will put less stress on your filtration system, as well as require less chemical maintenance and corrections being needed.
Phosphates - Phosphates are one of the more difficult and complicated problems that swimming pools need to deal with. Phosphates act as a food source for organic matter growth, and can readily use up free chlorine that is in the water as a result. Phosphates can be introduced to pool water in a number of different ways, but one of the most common is through laundry detergent that is on yourself and your bathing suits.
Oils - Oils are a constant problem in swimming pools as they deplete the free chlorine available in the water as well as putting strain on the filtration system. Hair spray and gels, makeup, suntan lotion, moisturizer and even sweat are all oils that you could eliminate from your pool water by simply rinsing off in the shower before you go swimming.
If you reduce on the amount of bacteria, phosphates and oils that get introduced to your pool then you will reduce on the amount of chlorine that your pool uses. In addition to this you will also reduce on the amount of chemical corrections that you need to make, as well as the amount of filter maintenance that you need to do. All of this adds up to less overall work for you, and cleaner water for you to swim in. The more people who use your pool, the more important it is to follow this basic rule. If your pool gets a lot of use then you should consider installing a basic outdoor shower near to the pool area to make it quick and easy to rinse yourself and your bathing suit off before taking a dip.
Brushing The Pool Walls & Floor
Brushing a pool down at least once per week is a seemingly thankless job. It takes a fair bit of physical effort and time to do, and yet you can clearly see there is nothing coming off the walls and floor so what is the point of this exercise? The truth is that brushing a pool is a critical component of the maintenance cycle and when you neglect to do it your pool chemistry will suffer. Bacteria and organic debris, as well as bio films, tend to attach themselves to physical structures within the pool. Very rarely are these problematic elements just free floating around in the pool water. Just because you can not see them with the naked eye does not mean that they are not there.
Every pool owner has been made aware that they should be brushing the pool regularly however this is one of the first maintenance tasks that gets conveniently skipped. As much as it seems like wasted effort, rest assured that your pool appreciates when you take the time to do it regularly. Both the chemicals in the water as well as the filtration system is useless against bacteria and organic debris that is stuck to the walls and floor. In order for the chlorine and filtering to be effective you need to manually force the bacteria and debris into suspension in the water where it can be chemically sanitized and removed by the filter. Regular brushing of your pool will help to prevent stains on your pool surface, as well as preventing sudden situations where the water turns green.
Balance Your pH Levels
Easily one of the most common problems that pool owners encounter when it comes to regular maintenance is the inability to manage the pH level of the water. The pH balance equation is one of the harder things to get your head around for new pool owners as it is a dynamic equation involving multiple variables. If you do not understand the order to correct your chemicals in, or you do not understand the direct relationship between pH and total alkalinity, then you may very well struggle to keep your water neutrally balanced. Constantly chasing pH levels is one of the biggest frustrations for some pool owners. If you struggle to keep your pH balanced then you should start by reading the pool chemistry crash course to brush up on your order of operations.
If you are one of the many pool owners that tend to neglect your pH levels and let them chronically get too high or too low then you are certainly making more work for yourself. In addition to making work for yourself you are probably also doing expensive and permanent damage to your pool and peripheral components like your heater. Pool interior surface finishes (like pool plaster or a vinyl liner) also will experience staining and early failure problems from poorly balanced pH. Even a single episode where the pH is significantly out of ideal range can result in permanent damage and failure to these items so it is very much in your best interest to avoid this.
It is extremely common for pool owners, especially salt water pools, to have a pH level in excess of 8.0 regularly. To the untrained eye this may appear as not a huge problem but the reality is that this compromises fundamental pool processes...for example chlorine is almost completely inactive in the water above a pH of 8.2. If your pH is too high, your chlorine (although present) is simply not able to kill bacteria. This can create a lot of headaches for pool owners as you think you have chlorine in the water, but in fact the water is virtually unprotected. This can result in a lot of "tail chasing" where you try to find out why the water is always murky or green. Learning how to balance your pH (and total alkalinity) is a fundamental aspect of pool care that you need to learn. If you have tried everything to keep your pH under control, without success, then you might like to read this article that talks about how adding borates to pool water can help to stabilize pH levels.
Vacuuming & Skimming The Pool
The final step in making it easier to care for your pool is to simply be diligent with the skimming and vacuuming that you do. Every time that a leaf falls into your pool it is now using up free chlorine. If you use up all of your chlorine then you will need to add more, and in doing so this will upset the chemical balance in the water which will require further correction on your part. A huge aspect of making it easier to take care of your pool is simply to be prompt when it comes to regular maintenance like skimming and vacuuming.
If you only get around to removing the debris from your pool once per month or so, then you will certainly be doing more chemical corrections than someone who more actively removes contaminants from the pool. In addition to using less chemicals overall, which most people want, you will also be less likely to experience staining of your pool surface or damage to pool equipment that is choking on leaves. If your skimmer and pump strainer baskets are always crammed full of leaves when you check on them then you should absolutely increase the frequency in which you check and clear these. A pool that chronically has skimmer and pump baskets full of leaves will certainly experience more (and earlier) pump failures, as well as a reduced functionality of the filtration system. In addition to this, the skimming action of the pool will also be reduced from the lack of flow going into the skimmer. It might seem counterintuitive that skimming and vacuuming more will actually help to reduce the amount of work you need to do to take care of the pool, but it will. Further to this, vacuuming and skimming is easy, and the type of problems you will avoid are much more expensive and frustrating.
None of the maintenance items listed on this page should come as a surprise to a pool owner. The hope is that this article will reinforce why these maintenance tasks are important and why you should not skip on the fundamentals of pool care if you want to make your life as easy as possible moving forward. Complacency is not your friend when it comes to pool care, and it can end up costing you more time (and money) in the long run if you do not follow these basic steps.
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