9 Pool Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid

A pool deck with a couple brushes.
  • 1-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 1
What You'll Need
What You'll Need

A swimming pool can be one of the most luxurious things to have on your property, especially when the sun’s out and temperatures are up! In order to keep the water shimmering and safe for you to enjoy, regular maintenance is extremely important. Ignoring your pool’s needs can lead to disaster. Here are some common pool maintenance mistakes to avoid this summer.

1. Neglecting to Brush Your Pool

Make sure to brush walls and pool tile regularly to help eliminate algae problems and prevent calcium deposits from forming. Calcified plaque is extremely hard to remove once it’s there and usually requires a specialist to take it off. Make sure to manually brush areas in your pool that have little to no circulation, such as corners, stairs, and ladders. Make sure to brush on top of regular vacuuming and skimming as part of your weekly maintenance routine.

2. Forgetting to Check Calcium Levels

Monitoring calcium hardness is the next important step after checking the pH balance. Pools that have low levels of calcium (soft water) might look sparkling clear, but may actually be corroding surfaces of your pool. Hard water (high amounts of calcium) can create problematic scaling from calcium deposits. Unlike pH levels which fluctuate constantly, calcium levels change over a longer period of time, so monthly tests are sufficient to keep on top of things. Be sure to do a calcium test anytime you make significant changes like draining your pool or changing over to saltwater as well.

3. Not Testing the Water

A pool chemical testing kit.

Water is the most important part of the pool, so make sure to test it often. This means at least once a week, but possibly more often in optimal use. Doing this regularly will keep the water pH level at an ideal 7.5, allowing for minor adjustments as needed. High pH levels indicate there is too much acidity and will cause skin irritation and scale formation, whereas low pH indicates alkaline waters that can cause eye irritation and damage equipment. There are different test strips to use for either chlorine or saltwater pools.

4. Ignoring Chlorine Shocks

Your pool will inevitably have a build-up of unsanitary material over time, even if you chlorinate regularly and keep pH levels balanced, which is why chlorine shocks are important. These products will kill algae and bacteria, clear cloudy water, and remove contaminants like body oils and other organic material without affecting the pool’s pH levels. Saltwater pools will need a shock product safe for all pools or saltwater pools specifically. Make sure to shock the pool at night as the sun can affect the strength of the shock treatment.

5. Never Draining Your Pool

Even with proper water balance, regular chlorination, and shocks, you need to check your pool for TDS (total dissolved solids) which are caused by chemicals, sunscreen, sweat, organic debris, and whatever else finds its way into your pool. Check levels every six months if your pool is open year-round or once a year when opening or closing the pool. If levels are too high, the only way to safely eradicate TDS levels is to drain your pool completely. Usually, this only needs to be done every 4-5 years but yearly checks are important to keep your pool in good form and safe for swimming.

6. Not Backwashing Often Enough

A man checking a pool filter.

Your pool filter is extremely important in keeping your water clean and free of debris, algae, and other contaminants. Backwashing is the term used for cleaning out your pool filter by reversing water flow valves and allowing a thorough run-through. You should backwash your pool every week or more with heavy use, usually right after vacuuming the pool. It should only take about three minutes to fully complete. Make sure to clean your filter chemically a couple of times throughout the season, as well. Your pool has a pressure gauge and an optimum psi level. Check the gauge and if it shows water pressure is 8-10 psi above normal, then you know you should do a backwash.

7. Forgetting to Run the Pump

Circulation is one of the most important ways to keep your water fresh and flowing well. Be sure to run your pump for eight hours every day during regular use and for 24 hours when you first open the pool. Also, check the pump every so often to make sure it’s working properly. Water that has a nice flow will prevent algae build-up and allow for other systems like filters and vacuums to do their job. Good circulation will also disperse chemicals throughout the pool for equal coverage and proper balance from end to end. Keep the jets pointed toward the bottom of the pool to maximize circulation.

8. Ignoring Broken Filters, Skimmer Baskets, and Pumps

The best time to check for broken filters, pumps, missing drains or suctions is when you first open the pool. Fill your pool with water up to the middle of the skimmer opening and do a round of checks to see that everything is in working order. Neglecting to fix these parts can be dangerous since they are the hardest workers at keeping your pool clean and free from debris. Make sure that all other accessories such as ladders, diving boards, and the gates to the pool are also in good shape to prevent injuries.

9. Not Cleaning Salt Cells

Saltwater pools are different than chlorine pools in that they use salt cells to convert pool salt into chlorine. You’ll need to chemically clean your salt cell on a consistent basis, usually once a season, in order to keep it from clogging with scale build-up. There are different types of salt cells, so make sure to check the manufacturer's instructions for proper maintenance.

A swimming pool needs to be looked after on a regular basis in order to keep it in good working order. Neglecting to do your weekly, monthly, and yearly checks can result in hazardous swimming conditions, damaged parts, or costly repairs. Avoid making pool maintenance mistakes to keep waters sparkling fresh and safe for swimming!