Swimming Pool Maintenance Tips
How to Maintain a Swimming Pool
Timer -- a residential pool pump should run 8-12 hours per day during summer and during any usage or warm weather times. During colder months 5-7 hours is normally sufficient. The time of day the pool runs is important. Typically we run our pools 10AM to 6PM, or longer if it’s a high maintenance pool. Code now requires 2 speed pumps to only run on high for the first 2 hours of run time then revert back down to low speed to save energy, pools with solar can run longer on high for purposes of heating using solar.
Pump -– all pool pumps will have a strainer basket to catch large debris before getting to the pump impeller and filter. The lid is usually clear and a visual inspection is normally sufficient to see if basket needs to be cleaned. If you take the lid off make sure the o-ring seal for the lid is clean and not brittle o-ring should be lubed with a silicone rubber lubricant occasionally. Strainer should be checked once a week more often if your pool is getting a lot of leaves and debris.
Pressure gauge -- the pressure gauge is a good tool to monitor water flow. Low pressure typically means there is no water getting to the pump or an air leak is present before the pump. High pressure is result of blockage in the lines. The main culprit on high pressure is a dirty filter or improper valve placement. A baseline for pressure should be established with a clean filter and open valves, then variations of plus or minus 5psi inspections need to be made.
Cleaning -- a weekly cleaning is typically sufficient to insure a properly working pool sometimes more in the summer and sometimes you can get away with less in the winter.
Cleaning is basically getting the debris out and brushing the entire pool.
Water Testing – there are 5 main aspects to water testing
- Chlorine – chlorine is the sanitizer in the pool or basically what kills off the bad stuff.
Chlorine is typically bought in three styles
Tablets – normally 3” round these are slow dissolving and have a low ph level, also they contain stabilizer, so be careful to control stabilizer levels and not let them get over 100 PPM.
Liquid — normally bought in 1 gallon or 2.5 gallon refill jugs, liquid is fast acting and have a high ph level.
Granular — normally sold in a 1 pound bag called shock it is fast acting, has low pH
- pH – determines whether the water is acidic or alkaline based. High ph will cause scaling on the pools surface and minimizes chlorine effects. Low ph causes corrosion of metals in the pool. Normal ph range is 7.2-7.8. 7.0 being neutral and normally our eyes are about 7.5 so we try to keep the water around 7.5 to keep our eyes from burning.
- Alkalinity – this is the controlling factor to keep the ph from changing. Ph and alkalinity work hand in hand raising or lowering one will affect the other but not equally. Typically when checking the water we will have a high ph and add acid to lower. Over time it also lowers alkalinity. If you check ph and it is low always check alkalinity and it will normally also be low. Fix the alkalinity and you fix the ph. To raise add Sodium Bicarbonate.
- Calcium Hardness – proper hardness levels will keep the pools finish healthy and balanced. 250-350 ppm levels are ideal but levels up to 500 can be ok if water is properly adjusted, see a pool professional. Low levels in pool water can create situations where the water gets aggressive and wants to remove calcium from the pools finish or from the grout around the tile. High levels over time can create calcium build up(scale) on tiles and the pools surface. Metal such as copper and iron can easily stain calcium build ups requiring a stain removal treatment.
- Cyanuric Acid also known as Stabilizer -- 60-90 ppm this is added to our pools water to protect it from UV rays which use up available chlorine, but too much stabilizer and it will lock up chlorine keeping it from sanitizing the pools water.
Chemical levels check weekly. Check at home pool store
Chlorine---3.0 to 5.0 ppm, weekly calcium 250-350 check every 2 months
PH ---7.2 – 7.8 Muriatic acid to lower
Alkalinity--- 80-140 ppm, Acid to lower, sodium bicarbonate to raise
Calcium Hardness levels--- 250-350 ppm levels are ideal, add calcium chloride to raise, mix with water to dilute before adding to pool
Cyanuric Acid also known as Stabilizer---60-90 ppm add UV stabilizer to pool or skimmer
Filter –- there are 3 styles of filters all of which should normally be cleaned once a month, more during times of heavy debris and sometimes less is acceptable during clean periods.
Filter will normally have a sticker indicating one of the following types:
- Cartridge filter – has a large paper style filter inside (looks like a large car air filter) these filters will have a screw lock or knob to loosen the lid of filter assembly. Once the lid is removed you will be able to pull the filter out and clean by using the water hose with a pressure nozzle to rinse the debris off the filter. These filters normally will be replaced every 1-2 years they also have an o-ring seal like the pump strainer lid that should be cleaned and treated the same.
- D.E. filter – Diatomaceous Earth filters will have a filter grid inside the filter assembly that the D.E. powder sticks to and creates the filtering method. Cleaning of a D.E. filter is done by turning the main valve from the filter position to the back wash position. Always turn the pump off when rotating the valve. About 20 second after turning the pump on in the backwash position you should see the waste water running out (look at the sight glass if your waste water doesn’t come out near the filter) turn to a dirty brown color once the water turns clean the filter is clean (normally) clean Consult the label on filter to see how much D.E. to add back. This is done by measuring out the D.E. mixing with water into a bucket and creating a slurry, and then pouring the D.E. slowly back into the skimmer make sure you have turned the valve back to the filter position. The waste position on the main valve just drains water out of the pool it doesn’t clean the filter.
- Sand Filters cleaning is done the same as a D.E. filter however the sand stays in the assembly you only add sand during a complete filter servicing.
*** D.E. filters normally will need a yearly professional cleaning and inspection
Salt Generators---Salt Pools as we know them have equipment which produces chlorine from salt which has been dissolved into the pools water. Each brand of system requires a curtain salinity level typically 2800-3800 ppm. Salt levels need to be maintained in this range and when adding salt always turn the system off for 24 hours to let the salt totally dissolve before turning back on. The “Cell” which creates the chlorine must be inspected every 3 months and cleaned if needed using diluted muriatic acid and water. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for your system. Not using your system correctly will cause premature failure of cell or main circuit board. Always read and refer to owners manual and if you do not have one, going to your manufacturers web site, you can down load and print one for your records. Cells have a predetermined life expectancy, taking good care of one can extend the value to having a salt pool.