You’re a proud pool owner – or a soon-to-be one. You know how important it is to keep your pool clean, safe, and ready to swim.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 common maintenance mistakes that pool owners make, and how you can avoid them. Use this as your guide to ensure that your pool is ready to enjoy all season long.
1. Don’t ignore your pool’s pH level.
The pH is a measure of how acidic or basic your water is. If your pool’s pH is too low, the water is acidic—which is good to keep away algae but which can damage pool equipment like your pump and filter, heater, vinyl liner, and chemical feeder. When the pH is too high, however, it limits the effectiveness of your chlorine, the chemical that kills pathogens—microorganisms and bacteria that could be present in your pool. Pool pH that is too high also can cause skin rashes. That’s why a balanced pH is important.
Do: Test your pH levels at least twice a week. Keep the pH between 7.2 and 7.8.
2. Don’t add chlorine—or try to shock your pool—on a hot day.
It’s less effective to add chlorine to the water on a hot day. When chlorine is exposed to sunlight, it forms ions that convert to a gas that releases into the atmosphere. That requires you to add more chlorine for the right effect. Shocking—or adding a chemical mixture with a high dose of chlorine—has a similar effect. While you may want to do a shock treatment that helps to get rid of chloramines that can irritate eyes and skin, daytime is not the right time to do it.
Do: Add chlorine when temperatures are cooler, such as during the evening. Shock your pool once a week at night.
Pro Tip: Don’t think a strong chlorine smell means your pool has too much chlorine. When some contaminants in your pool oxidize, they can give off the scent of chlorine. If you smell chlorine, test your pool’s chlorine level. If needed, add chlorine until the water gives a reading between 3 and 5 parts per million (ppm).
3. Don’t do a shock treatment through your skimmer or put the shock chemicals directly into your pool without diluting them first.
Combining pool shock and chlorine can create a deadly gas, which can explode. That’s why you never want to add a shock treatment to a filter system with an automatic chlorinator. Putting those chemicals together in a confined space can cause an explosion in your pool’s filter system. Pool owners also have been burned and severely injured by mishandling of these chemicals. In addition, you don’t want to add shock directly into your pool. Shock is a form of concentrated chlorine; it can bleach anything within contact. Always dissolve the chemical into a bucket full of water. That will ensure it’s more evenly dispersed and it will protect your pool walls and floor.
Do: Follow manufacturer instructions when adding shock. Always wear proper safety gear.
Pro Tip: When diluting shock, put water in the bucket first and then add the chemicals. Putting chemicals in first can cause them to splash back on your arms or face.
4. Don’t run the pool filter system less than 8 hours each day.
Your pool’s filter and pump push water in and out of the system, cleaning it of dirt and keeping pool chemicals mixed. While running it less may seem like a cost-saving measure, it’s not. Inadequate pool filtering leads to more expensive treatments to remove algae and critters in your pool. While the size of your pool does matter, for most pools, 8 hours should do the trick.
Do: Keep your pool filter running at least 8 hours a day so it can do its job.
5. Don’t forget to brush.
Regular vacuuming helps to clear your pool of debris. Regular brushing helps to get those problem spots like the waterline, steps, and stairs, and behind ladders, corners and crevices. This helps to keep algae and other unwanted substances under control.
Do: Use an extra wide, heavy-duty aluminum pool brush with curved edges. Brush every week or more often if your pool is often used.
6. Don’t try to fix an algae problem with an automatic pool cleaner.
A robot simply pushes debris and algae around, and up through a mesh bag where it can clog. In other words, if you’re using an automatic pool cleaner, you’re just spreading the problem around. You’re not removing it.
Do: Use a manual vacuum. Make sure you either remove the drain plug or switch your filter to waste.
7. Don’t forget to check your calcium level.
Calcium helps to protect concrete, plaster, fiberglass, and vinyl. However, too much calcium makes the water cloudy. Again, you have to strive for that perfect balance. The recommended range is 175 to 225 parts per million (ppm).
Do: Check your calcium levels and as needed, add some calcium hardness increaser to the water. Note if you’re using calcium hypochlorite shock, you’re already adding calcium when you do the shock treatment.
8. Don’t backwash your pool filter too often.
Debris builds up in your pool’s filter over time. This sediment eventually begins to thicken and after a while prevents water from flowing through the filter. That’s the time to backwash. You’ll know because the pressure will be close to 10 psi. However, you don’t want to backwash too often. It could lead to cloudy or murky water because you’re also washing away the bed of fine sediment that helps your filter clear the water.
Do: Backwash only when your filter’s pressure gauge is 10 PSI. As the sand in your filter ages, and pressure increases regardless of backwashing, it may be time to change the filter media.
9. Don’t neglect your pool’s water level.
If your water level is too high, you’ll get water on the deck and most likely backwash that pushes dirt and debris back into the pool. If it’s too low, your pool’s pump might start filtering air instead of water, which could damage it.
Do: Keep your pool’s water level at the right height for the day’s swimmers and evaporative impact.
10. Don’t forget to prepare the pool for your furry friends—and clean up afterward.
Dog owners love sharing their pool with their furry friends. Yet the average-sized dog can introduce more contaminants to your pool than the average person. This includes pet hair that can clog filters to natural oils and even dirt. All of this can change your pool’s chemical levels. It’s good to know however that chlorine is considered safe for dogs as long as it is the recommended amount.
Do: Brush your dog before swimming to reduce the amount of pet hair. Rinse your dog after swimming to reduce chlorine exposure. Make sure your dog is safe in the summer heat. Vacuum your pool after each pet use. Regularly clean your filter, too.
Finally, don’t forget to protect your pool with the right homeowner’s policy, and take steps to minimize its risk as an attractive nuisance. That will provide peace of mind for you and your family to enjoy your pool and outdoor recreation all season long.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.