Swimming Pool Maintenance and Seasonal Care

A child going down a pool slide.

Maintaining a pool is a fairly simple thing, but it is a routine that must be followed religiously if you want to get the utmost benefit out of your pool. The best thing to remember is to take care of any problem before it happens, not after. Repairing a cracked or corroded pool is expensive, and you don't want to be without your pool during the summer months.

Guidelines for Regular Pool Maintenance

Pools are much like hot tubs or spas in that they require filter changes, routine cleaning, and a careful check of the pH water balance during the swimming season. If proper water balance is maintained, and you insure that the circulation system in your new pool is adequate and always working properly, then two thirds of the battle is done. A lot of the chemical considerations are determined by the amount of usage the pool gets during the summer months.

Sanitizing your pool is a must to insure the health of pool users. Typically, chlorine is added to the pool on a weekly basis. Chorine works in the water to kill bacteria and contaminants. This can be accomplished by several methods. A chlorine feeder is available from your local pool dealership. You can also mix the chlorine, which always come in a granular form, with water, and apply it yourself. Always be careful in the process and not dump it all in quickly, but add only a little at a time. Any chemical is caustic, and safety precautions must be taken when using them.

You may also consider using bromine to sanitize your pool. It is preferred by people with sensitive skin, and those who dislike the chorine smell. One of the main disadvantages of using bromine is its cost, which is much higher than chlorine.

After the water has been sanitized, it is then "shocked" approximately every two weeks before adding chlorine again. Because chlorine loses its effectiveness after a period of interacting with pool waste and contaminants, the shocker is used to clean out all of the leftover debris from the chlorine interaction in the water. The process, called oxidization, cleans the swimmer waste from the pool (such as skin cells, suntan lotions, cosmetics, and even urine), and rids the pool of old chlorine. If you notice the pool has a strong chlorine smell, or is cloudy, it's probably because the pool is not being maintained properly. Shocking the pool will quickly remedy the situation. The pool will then be re-chlorinated.

It is always a good idea to take a sample of your pool water to your local pool dealership for testing on a monthly basis to ensure that the water is correctly balanced. This will also help to foresee any problems that may be arising in your pool. Be sure to circulate the water in your pool for at least 8 to 12 hours continuously during the day.

On a weekly basis, vacuum and skim your pool to remove any debris. Doing so helps control pool contamination. It is also effective in discouraging algae growth in your pool.

Other regular maintenance includes the changing of filters on a regular basis as recommended by your pool dealership, and making sure that all O rings in the system are greased and void of cracks or abrasions. Check electrical connections on a regular basis to insure there is no frayed or cracked wiring. Keep skimmer baskets free of debris, and keep the pool area free of vegetation and leaves to insure there is no contamination of the pool.

Pool maintenance should always include checking things such as diving boards, handrails, and ladders to insure there are no loose or rusted bolts. Inspect your diving board for any cracks or stressed areas, and replace if you find these problems. Doing so will insure the safety of all pool users.

Closing and Opening the Swimming Pool

At season's end, the procedure for closing the pool is very important. First, drain the water to below the line marked for freezing on your pool, and drain all water lines. Add the recommended amount of anti-freeze to the lines to avoid cracking of pipes and lines during cold winter months. Cover the pool with a heavy duty pool cover, designed for your pool, to keep leaves and debris out of the pool during the closed months. Using a cover that is designed for your pool helps to keep debris out of the filter and circulation system during the time of the year when the pool is not used.

Opening the pool in the warm months is simply a matter of removing the pool cover, and cleaning it for storage during the summer. Remove any anti-freeze from the lines, and refill the pool with water. Sanitize properly, and check to insure all filtration systems and circulation systems are functioning properly. You are then ready for another season of summer fun.

Owing a pool requires a regular regimen of maintenance and care. Remember the old adage "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and you will have a sparkling clean pool that the whole family can enjoy.