Pool Care and Maintenance

Here's what you need to know about standard pool equipment, water analysis and chemicals, cleaning, and seasonal maintenance chores.


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Before jumping right into the pool of your dreams, equip yourself for the amount of work owning and maintaining it may entail. Here's what you need to know about standard pool equipment, water analysis and chemicals, cleaning, and seasonal maintenance chores.

All pools, with the exception of the most basic above-ground pools, require operational equipment to circulate and clean the water.

Pump and Motor

The motor drives the pump which circulates the water from the pool through the filtration system -- including skimmer baskets, filter, heater and automatic chlorinator -- and returns the water to the pool.

Skimmer Baskets

As water is drawn to the filtration system it first passes through skimmer baskets, located at the perimeter of the pool, to catch large debris such as leaves and twigs.

Filter

The filter cleans the pool of fine particles. There are three basic types of filters available on the market.

Diatomaceous Earth Filters (DE)

DE filters are fine mesh that has been coated with diatomaceous earth. Although these filters are organic, some areas restrict disposal of DE, which is done each time the filter is cleaned or backwashed.

Sand filters

This filter forces the pool water to pass through a fine sand which filters particles from the water. The sand needs to be replaced every few years.

Cartridge filters

These pass the pool water through a series of grid-like devices made of a pleated mesh material.

Heaters

They heat the pool water. Although common in cooler climates to extend the pool season, they are also popular in warmer climates for the comfort.

Ladders and Safety Equipment

Ladders provide an exit from the pool and are typically located at the opposite end from the pool steps.

Pool Float

A pool float is a line which crosses the pool at the point where the depth changes.

To provide a clean and safe swimming environment, pool water must be sanitized and balanced regularly.

Sanitizers

Chlorine and bromine are the most common chemicals used to sanitize -- or keep your pool free from microscopic particles. Other sanitizers such as chlorine generators and oxidizers are also available.

Balance

Balanced water means the pool water's pH level, total alkalinity, water hardness and total dissolved solids fall within certain ranges. Imbalanced water causes eye irritation, cloudy water, and can spell trouble for your pool's operation equipment and your interior finish. Sodium bicarbonate (soda ash) and muratic acid are the two most common products used to balance pool water.

Testing

Pool water needs to be tested regularly. The frequency depends on your region, weather conditions, and how much the pool gets used, although a good rule of thumb is four to five times per week.

Testing Kits

Don't worry if chemistry was not your best subject in high school. Simple to use and read, test kits make it easy to test your pool water.

Shocking

It is occasionally necessary to add high doses of sanitizers. Heavy rains, unusually high temperatures and heavy usage create the need for shocking.

Keeping the pool water free of debris helps to maintain its cleanliness and provides a more attractive swimming environment.

Skimming

This is the process of removing debris from the pool's surface.

Vacuuming

A vacuum removes debris from the pool floor.

Brushing

This removes debris from the pool walls.

Emptying

You must empty the skimmer baskets and filter trap to clean the pool of debris.

Backwashing

This reverses the pool's circulation system, forcing water backwards and completely out of the system while carrying small particles with it.

Unless you live in a region that is warm year-round, pools are typically opened during swim season and closed during the off season.

Opening a Pool

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Beginning your pool season requires removing, cleaning and storing the cover; removing the anti-freeze chemicals from the plumbing system; and re-filling the water to an appropriate level; starting the equipment and adding the first dose of chemicals.

Closing a Pool

Closing down the pool for the year requires draining the water level below the freezing level; clearing water out of all of the pool's plumbing lines and adding an anti-freeze to keep the plumbing from freezing and cracking during the winter. A pool cover is typically used to keep debris from settling into the pool while the filter and circulation equipment is disconnected.

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