Basic Pool Care

By Sharon Naylor

February 15, 2012 5 min read

Your swimming pool provides wonderful entertainment and relaxation for your family and friends, but only if the pool water is clear and inviting, not murky and green. It takes only a few regular maintenance tasks to maintain your beautiful pool and keep its engine and filters in good working order. Make these easy errands a part of your regular routine to give your pool special care.

--Run the filter. While some pool owners worry about accruing high-energy costs by running their pool filter, it's best for your pool's optimal care to run it for at least eight to 10 hours per day. As the filter runs, it's clearing your pool of debris and particles, while circulating chlorine. It's best to run your filter during the daylight hours, rather than at night. So either set your pool filter's timer for those hours or manually switch it on.

--Skim your surface. Use a long-handled, sturdy net to sweep across the water's surface, removing all large and small leaves and debris. Rather than let small pieces go into your filter, it's always better to manually remove as much as you can.

--Use a deep-leaf net. This wide net is used to scoop up branches and leaves that have fallen to your pool's floor and need to be removed so they don't absorb chlorine, encourage the growth of algae or rip the liner of an aboveground pool. The floor also has to be clear so you can vacuum.

--Empty skimmer baskets. In the morning and in the evening, remove your filter's skimmer basket and shake out any accumulated leaves or debris. Don't tap it against the side of an aboveground pool or on the ground; it might crack. Firmly shake the basket and/or rinse it with a hose to clean it out.

--Empty the pump basket. Just like the skimmer, this filter on your pump also catches debris, human and pet hair, and other debris. Remove and empty it; rinse before replacing it.

--Vacuum your pool. Vacuuming the floor of your pool is essential for both aboveground and in-ground pools. If you're using a manual, long-handled vacuum, move it slowly back and forth to allow it to remove debris and other substances, such as sand, that have been tracked in. If you have an automatic vacuum, submerge the unit; turn it on; and stay there to be sure it's working properly. You don't want to walk away and then return to find that in three hours it hasn't moved at all. "As you vacuum the pool, dirt and debris will get trapped in the filter. This, of course, will cause the pressure to rise within your equipment. Monitor the pressure gauge. If the pressure is 8-10 psi above the standard operating pressure, then clean the filter, regardless if you are still vacuuming or if you are complete," say the experts at PoolManual.com.

--Test your water. At the start of pool season, bring a sizable sample of your pool water, in a lidded plastic or glass container, to your local pool supply center so the experts may run a complete test on your water, determining its chemical treatment needs. Follow the instructions and measurements given to you by the pros, or on the manufacturer label of products you've purchased, to correct the chemical balances of your pool. Throughout the season, use pool water test strips or test kits daily to assess your water's levels.

The experts at pool maintenance site PoolManual.com emphasize the importance of following your kit's directions to the letter so you correctly add the number of test dye drops or capsules to measure your water's alkalinity, chlorine levels and other clarity factors. You'll then measure your sample's shade against a color chart to figure out how much chlorine or other treatments you need to add to your pool. "Be sure to rinse your test kit's container with fresh water before testing to ensure a pure test," warn specialists at PoolManual.com. "And reach at least 18 inches into the water to fill your test container." Pour the used test water into a deck drain, not back into the pool.

--Apply chemicals. Chlorine must be added daily, using any of the following: an automatic chlorinator, a floating chlorine dispenser you've loaded with dissolving chlorine tabs or dissolving tablets added to your filter. The amount of chlorine needed depends on your pool's number of gallons, so follow instructions carefully.

--Shock your pool. Ask your pool care professional for advice on shocking your pool water. This treatment sanitizes and conditions the water. It needs to be done according to humidity levels and other factors.

With daily attention and regular cleaning, testing and chlorinating, your pool will be clean, clear and sparkling. It's easier to keep your pool maintained than it is to solve a pool water problem, so make it a priority to tend to your pool every day. For more information, visit PoolManual.com.

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