Maintaining your swimming pool is essential for healthy summer fun, but it can be easy to forget all the details involved with proper pool maintenance. Whether you’re looking for a guide to pool maintenance for beginners or you need to jog your memory on the specifics of pool care, this handy printable guide has everything you need to stay safe and get the best use of your pool all summer long.
This swimming pool maintenance guide includes:
- Swimming Pool Safety Tips
- Tools and Supplies
- Step-by-Step Swimming Pool Maintenance Guide: Open Your Pool for the Season
- How Do I Shock My Pool?
- Step-by-Step Swimming Pool Maintenance Guide: Testing the Water Chemistry
- Guide to Basic Cleaning Swimming Pool Maintenance
- Step-by-Step Swimming Pool Maintenance Guide: Backwashing and Cleaning the Filter
- Common Water Problems
- Caring for Your Pool’s Heater
- Step-by-Step Swimming Pool Maintenance Guide: Winterizing Your Pool
Swimming Pool Safety Tips
A swimming pool is fun to have, but there are many potential dangers to look out for. These tips will help you watch for general safety issues. We’ll also discuss the dangers related to chemicals used for pool maintenance in and around your pool.
General Pool Safety
- Always supervise children ten and under in and around your swimming pool.
- Use compliant drain covers.
- Get CPR certified.
- Teach children how to swim.
- Install proper barriers and alarms in and around your pool area.
- Teach children to stay away from drains.
- Establish rules, and always follow them.
Are pool chemicals dangerous?
Yes, pool chemicals can be dangerous when used improperly. Chemicals can cause skin and eye damage and may be fatal if swallowed. Use these tips to avoid dangerous mistakes when using chemicals designed for pool maintenance.
- Store pool products where children or pets can’t reach them.
- When handling chemicals, wear gloves and safety goggles. If chemicals come into contact with your skin, wash the affected area for 15 minutes under cold water. Then consult a doctor for additional instructions.
- Store chemicals according to the manufacturer’s directions. Dangerous reactions can occur when chemicals aren’t stored at the proper temperature and humidity levels.
- Keep open flames away from pool maintenance chemicals.
- Follow the dosage instructions and safety precautions on product labels.
- Never return spilled chemicals to the original package or place them in the household trash. Follow your local ordinances for chemical disposal.
- Use dry measuring tools for chemicals, and rinse the equipment thoroughly after using them.
- Add chemicals to water instead of adding water to chemicals.
- Keep dry chlorine dry; don’t allow it to become dampened.
- Don’t save your chemicals over the winter. Follow local ordinances for disposing of hazardous materials, and then buy new chemicals when the next swimming season arrives.
Tools and Supplies
Having the right tools on hand makes pool maintenance an easy job that won’t get in the way of your seasonal fun. Before you open your pool for the season, review this checklist to see if you have the tools you need to handle swimming pool maintenance all summer long.
- Telescopic pole
- Skimmer net
- Pool brush
- Manual pool vacuum
- Pool shock
- Chemicals for cleaning and pool maintenance
Step-by-Step Swimming Pool Maintenance Guide: Opening Your Pool for the Season
Whether you’re a seasoned professional when it comes to swimming pool maintenance or you’re eager to open your first season as a pool owner, taking the proper beginning steps is essential for maintaining the health and safety of your pool. If your pool was winterized properly, reopening it for the season will be simple.
Pro Tip for Opening Day Pool Maintenance
It takes a week or more for the pool to become correctly balanced and ready for swimmers. Taking these steps early means you’ll be ready when the weather warms up.
1. Clean Around the Pool
Before opening the cover of your pool, sweep or hose away any debris in the area surrounding your pool. After the area is clean, take the time to remove any water and debris from the pool cover with a pump or shop vac. Open the cover to begin prepping the pool. Don’t forget to clean and store your pool cover properly.
2. Add Water
If you properly winterized your pool, water levels will be 18 to 20 inches lower than its usual depth. Use your garden hose to fill the water to its normal level. It’s important not to reconnect hoses or start the filter until the pool is at its proper water level.
Open the skimmer valve and reconnect the heater, pump, and chemical feeders. Remove any winter plugs and reinstall drain plugs. Allow water to flow through the circulation system and circulate the water in the pool.
4. Test and Shock
Test the pH level of the water (see Testing the Water Chemistry below) and shock the pool. It will take several days for the pool to become balanced. Keep the pump running 24 hours a day in the beginning. Then start reducing the run time by an hour or two each day until the water is balanced. When the water is balanced, run the pump 8-12 hours a day during the daytime or when adding chemicals for general pool maintenance.
How Do I Shock My Pool?
Shocking your pool simply means adding enough chlorine (or alternative chemicals) to your pool to clean the water and destroy the buildup of chloramines.
When you’re near a public pool, the strong smell that you think is chlorine is actually chloramines. Chloramines form when the chlorine in your pool mixes with the nitrogen in sweat, body oils, and (sometimes) urine. This means the chlorine is doing its job, but it also means you need to add more chlorine. Shocking your pool (a process sometimes called superchlorination) is the act of adding enough chlorine to destroy the chloramines.
Follow these steps to shock your pool:
- Begin by using a test kit to determine the combined chlorine (CC) in your pool.
- To reach breakpoint chlorination, you must add ten times the amount of CC to your pool.
- Dissolve the shock in a bucket or add it directly to your pool, depending on the instructions on the package.
Shock your pool weekly, after a pool party, after a rainstorm, or whenever there’s a significant water level change.
You must shock your pool at night because the sun will burn off some of the unprocessed chlorine. This works well because you typically need to wait eight hours between shocking and swimming.
Step-by-Step Swimming Pool Maintenance Guide: Testing the Water Chemistry
Having the correct chemical balance in your pool leads to the sparkling clean water you look forward to on those sweltering summer days. It also prevents bacteria and algae from growing and eliminates the presence of germs. Test your pool once a week, and then perform an additional test when you have more swimmers than usual, after rainy weather, and after adding chemicals.
There are two main types of test kits: Liquid test kit and test strips. Test strips are often considered the easiest to use for regular pool maintenance. Some kits can even be used with mobile apps to store your information and offer custom suggestions.
Collect a Proper Water Sample
Use a clean cup or bottle to obtain a water sample, and choose a spot away from the skimmer opening and return jets. Turn your container upside down and dip it into the pool elbow-deep. Turn the cup right side up to gather the sample.
Follow These Steps with a Strip Kit
- Dip the strip into the water, moving it quickly in and out.
- Let the strip air dry without shaking.
- Compare it to the guide on the packaging.
- Adjust your chemicals according to the directions.
Follow These Steps with a Liquid Test Kit
- Collect your sample with the provided container.
- On the side for pH testing, add the recommended number of drops of phenol red to the sample.
- On the chlorine testing side, add the number of OTO drops to the water.
- Hold the collector up to a white background and compare the water colors to the scales on the collector. Redder water indicates higher pH, while yellower water points to higher chlorine levels. Note that fainter colors indicate lower chemical levels, and more vibrant colors indicate higher levels.
The pH level should be between 7.2 and 7.6. Chlorine levels should be between 1 and 4 parts per million. After balancing the chemicals, shock the pool to destroy contaminants in the water.
Pro Tip: Chemical Pool Maintenance
Specialty tests may be used to test for minerals commonly found in water, such as copper, iron, calcium, and salt.
Guide to Basic Cleaning Swimming Pool Maintenance
Regular cleaning is the best way to keep your water clean and maintain the equipment that keeps your pool running properly. It’s true that the chemicals you put in your pool on a regular basis help to keep it clean. However, manual cleaning is a pool maintenance requirement to remove chemical buildup, debris, and additional matter that can accumulate on the walls of your pool.
Follow these steps to clean your pool:
1. Skim the Surface
Attach your skimmer net to the telescopic pole and skim the entire surface of the pool. This will remove bugs, leaves, twigs, and any other debris that accumulate in the pool daily. As you gather debris, shake off the net periodically to avoid returning matter into the pool.
2. Brush the Walls
Attach your pool brush to the telescopic pole and brush all surfaces inside your pool. Scrub the pool’s walls and floor to detach dirt and algae. Don’t forget to brush all corners of the pool and scrub the ladder.
3. Vacuum the Pool
Grab the telescopic pole again and attach the vacuum head, vacuum hose, and skim vac or vacuum plate. Place the vacuum head and hose into the pool and allow it to fill with water. Hold the open end of the hose over one of the return jets to blow out all the air in the hose. When the bubbles stop, have a partner turn off the filter while you keep the hose underwater.
Next, insert your adapter into the skimmer intake and hook up the hose to the adapter. Set the filter to its waste setting. Then, turn it on to bypass the system and send dirty water directly to your drain. Slowly guide your vacuum over the floor of the pool. After vacuuming, turn off the filter, disconnect the hose, and turn the setting back to “filter.”
4. Clean the Filter
How you clean your filter depends on the type of pool filter you have. Check out the step-by-step pool maintenance guide below for backwashing and cleaning your pool filter.
5. Clean the Pool Deck
The area surrounding your pool sees a lot of traffic, debris, and water. Failure to clean the deck can lead to bacteria growth and slippery algae buildup. You will need a packaged pool deck cleaner or trisodium phosphate to disinfect your pool deck. Mix the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and then use a long-handled stiff-bristled brush to scrub the entire pool deck thoroughly.
Pro Tip for Easy Deck Cleaning
If you have a large pool deck, the use of a pressure washer or high-pressure garden hose may be a preferable alternative to scrubbing the entire surface.
Basic cleaning should happen regularly throughout the swim season. You can expect to skim the pool daily, vacuum every other day, and brush the walls twice weekly as your swimming pool maintenance schedule. Expect to clean after a busy pool day with lots of swimmers, as well.
Pro Tip: General Pool Maintenance
A significant amount of water is lost during the swimming season due to evaporation, swimming, and debris removal. Check the water level regularly while handling other swimming pool maintenance tasks to ensure it stays above the skimmer. When the level begins to get low, add water with a garden hose.
Step-by-Step Swimming Pool Maintenance Guide: Backwashing and Cleaning the Filter
If you clean the pool and neglect the filter, you’ll be rewarded with your filter pushing more dirty water into the pool. How you clean your filter depends on the type of filter you have. Your pool contains either a cartridge filter, a D.E. filter, or a sand filter.
1. Backwash the Filter
Unless you have a cartridge filter, you’ll need to begin by backwashing your filter. Your filter needs to be backwashed any time the pressure reads 10 psi higher than when you set up your filter or last cleaned the filter. Follow these steps to backwash the filter:
- Turn off the filter. Attach the backwash hose to the filter’s waste port and set the multiport valve to backwash. If your D.E. filter has a push/pull valve, open the backwash gate. (If your waste port is connected to drain, you won’t need a hose.)
- Turn the filter on and allow it to run for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Turn the filter off, turn the multiport valve to rinse, and then run the filter for one minute. (Skip this step if your D.E. filter has a push/pull valve. Instead, close the push/pull valve.)
- Turn the filter off. Open the pressure relief valve by the pressure gauge, and set the multiport valve back to “filter.” Then turn the system on. When water comes from the valve, you can close it and check the pressure reading so you’ll know when to backwash again.
- If you have a sand filter, the backwashing process is complete. If you have a D.E. filter, it’s time to add D.E. powder. Begin by checking your owner’s manual to determine the amount of powder you need. After that, prime the pool pump. Remove the basket lid, and allow the basket to fill with water. Turn on the pool pump. Mix measured D.E. powder with water to make a slurry. Pour the slurry directly into the pool skimmer while the pump is running. Allow pump to run 30 minutes for even distribution.
Pro Tip for Pool Maintenance Waste Disposal
You must check local ordinances to determine how to get rid of your pool’s wastewater safely.
2. Remove the Air (Cartridge and D.E. Filters Only)
Turn off the pool pump and filter system. Remove air from the system with the air relief valve located on the top of the filter.
3. Remove the Top of the Filter
Consult your owner’s manual to remove the latching mechanisms correctly. Then remove the lid from the filter.
4. Clean the System and Replace Any Worn Parts
- Cartridge Filter: Remove and inspect the cartridge. If cracks or tears are visible, you’ll need to replace the cartridge. If the cartridge is still usable, clean the cartridge with a garden hose. (Very dirty filters require filter cleaner and may need to soak overnight.) Check the O-ring on the filter tank and apply lubricant or replace it if it has dry rotted. Rinse the cartridge, and then secure it back in place. Return the filter lid. Turn the system back on, and open the air relief valve until a steady stream of water is emitted. Note the pressure on the pressure gauge.
- Sand Filter: Pour sand filter cleaner into the strainer basket and replace the lid. Turn the pump on for 15 seconds, and then turn it off and leave it off overnight. Backwash the filter again and turn the system back on.
- D.E. Filter: Remove the filter manifold and take out all the grids. Rinse out the tank and clean the manifold and grids. (Very dirty filters require D.E. filter cleaner and may need to soak overnight.) Rinse the grids to flush out all debris. Place the grids back into the filter tank, and replace D.E. powder according to manufacturer instructions.
Common Water Problems
Routine pool maintenance is the best way to avoid problems in your pool. However, there are many reasons why you might have occasional water problems that require additional attention. These are common water problems you may encounter.
When your pool water looks murky or not quite clean, you should attempt to find the source of the problem. Cloudy water may be caused by poor circulation, poor filtration, or improper water balance. Shocking your pool or adding a water clarifier could quickly fix the problem.
Swimming in your pool is a lot more fun than cleaning it, but missed cleanings lead to algae growth. If you’re cleaning the pool regularly, the culprit may be a lack of sanitizer or preventive algaecide. A high pH will affect the performance of your algaecide. To clear up the problem, balance the water, add an algae treatment, and then clean all of the surfaces. Use algaecide on a weekly basis for preventive pool maintenance.
If your pool appears green, algae might not be the problem. The water you use to fill your pool contains different minerals based on the source of the water. Strangely colored water is often a reaction that occurs when these minerals meet chlorine. Green water may indicate copper, and a reddish tint could be a sign of iron. Purple or black tints are often due to an excessive amount of manganese. You can purchase testing kits to detect excess minerals and find the chemicals to counteract them.
Caring for Your Pool’s Heater
If your pool has a heater, it’s important to be sure it stays in excellent condition. Routinely inspect your heater’s burner intake ports and remove any debris. Check the burners for fraying or corrosion. Also, keep your general pool maintenance up to date to ensure the filter is running properly and the pool skimmer is unobstructed. If you think your pool’s heater is damaged or needs maintenance, contact a professional.
Step-by-Step Swimming Pool Maintenance Guide: Winterizing Your Pool
Preparing your pool for winter is just as important as preparing it for the swimming season. If you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing, it’s essential to winterize your pool to avoid damage.
Follow these steps:
1. Remove Water From the Plumbing
Use an air compressor to blow excess water from the pool’s plumbing system. Water expands when it freezes, so you don’t want water trapped inside fragile components when the temperature starts dropping.
2. Drain the Heater and the Filter
Drain as much water as possible from the heater and filter of your pool. The remaining water can be removed using a non-toxic antifreeze. Note: This is different from the antifreeze you use in your car!
3. Disconnect Hardware and Tubes
Disconnect the heater, pump, and chemical feeders. The chemical feeders should be cleaned, dried, and stored in a dry place.
4. Clean and Shock the Pool
Skim the surface, brush the walls, and vacuum the pool. Empty the skimmer baskets and close the skimmer line valve. Lower the water level to around 18 inches below the coping and shock the pool. Cover the pool to keep out debris.
Should I drain my pool for the winter season?
No. An in-ground pool should only be drained as a last resort.
When your pool was installed, it was built in a large hole and surrounded by backfill. Since the backfill is less dense than the earth surrounding it, it retains additional water, which is heavy and presses against the sides of your pool. The water in your pool balances this pressure to avoid severe damage to your pool. However, pools should be drained every 5-7 years or if a significant repair is necessary. Always consult a professional to have your pool drained safely.
Cleaning your pool isn’t the most fun you could have with the pool. However, waiting too long could mean the pool is too gross to enjoy or can lead to severe damage to the pool’s working parts. Regular pool maintenance doesn’t take a significant amount of time. Knowing how to maintain a pool and keep the water clean makes owning a pool more enjoyable and saves you money on maintenance.
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