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Pool Care Maintenance 101

Let’s be honest … having a pool is amazing. There’s nothing quite like being able to step outside your back door to take a quick dip, or watch your kids enjoy hours of fun with their friends, or simply sit beside the water with a good book.

A swimming pool is the centerpiece of your backyard oasis, but keeping your private paradise up to par requires a little bit of work. All About Pools understands the importance of essential pool maintenance, which is why we’re here to walk you through every step of taking care of your pool. If you need guidance on a particular pool care task, or if you need the necessary chemicals to keep your pool water balanced and healthy, or if you need help getting your pool equipment repaired and operating at full speed, we’re here to help.

So whether you’ve recently moved into a home with a pool, decided to put a new pool in your backyard, or

simply decided to finally take the plunge and tackle pool care on your own, your first question likely is: “Where do I start?”

Understanding the basics always helps, so let’s begin there.

Pool care basics can be broken down into five categories:

1. Circulation 2. Filtration 3. Cleaning 4. Water Testing 5. Balancing-Sanitation

Let’s take a quick look at each of the pool maintenance essentials.

1. Circulation

Moving water is healthy water. All properly maintained pools have a pump that circulates water through a filtration system and back into the pool. In an ideal world, your pool pump would run at high speed 24/7. Unfortunately, as it often does, reality has something to say about that.

Running a single-speed pump all day would make utility costs astronomical. A simple rule for operating your single-speed pump is to run it one hour for every 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) of air temperature. So if the average high temperature of a particular time period is 90°, run your pump nine hours per day during that period.

Variable-speed pumps will need to run longer, depending on selected speeds. It’s common to run a variable-speed pump at a higher RPM setting for 3-4 hours and a lower RPM setting for an additional 10-12 hours.

Pool pumps are available in a variety of options and come at corresponding costs — entailing both the initial investment and the cost of operation. Be sure to ask which one is best for you. In our opinion, purchasing a variable-speed pump is the best investment you can make for your pool. Variable-speed pumps often require less energy output, saving you money. It’s also our humble opinion that saving money is never a bad thing.

2. Filtration

Some people believe the filter is the most important piece of pool equipment. Because of this, it’s vital to keep it in good condition.

Since the filter is continually removing dirt and debris, it’s recommended to clean or backwash your unit regularly to allow for maximum filtration. This is especially important when your pressure gauge rises 8-10 PSI above the normal clean filter pressure.

Make sure to follow a regular filter maintenance program to keep your unit working efficiently.

Other tools that help with filtration include skimmers and pump baskets. You should clean these out weekly — or more frequently, depending on what Mother Nature has to say about it.

3. Cleaning

This one is all on you. We’ve got a variety of helpful tools to help you get the job done, but you’re going to have to supply the necessary elbow grease yourself. We recommend creating a weekly cleaning schedule.

At least once a week, you should brush your pool’s walls, steps, and floors to remove dirt and debris, and skim the water surface and pool floor to remove leaves and other items. You should also clean out the pump and skimmer baskets and use an automatic pool cleaner — or manually vacuum your pool — every week.

Look at it as another opportunity to improve your tan.

4. Water Testing

The next element of Pool Care 101 is an important one — water testing.

Here’s the good news: It’s easy to do.

To help maintain the chemical health of your pool, you should test at least once a week using test kits or test strips. (When it’s hot out, more frequent testing is recommended.)

Follow the instructions that are included with the test kit or test strips. For the highest at-home accuracy, we recommend test kits that use liquid DPD reagents for testing the chlorine levels.

Typical water tests include measurements for Free Available Chlorine (FAC) and Total Available Chlorine (TAC), pH, total alkalinity, calcium hardness, and cyanuric acid. If your pool has a salt water chlorine generator, the salt level should also be checked.

5. Water Balance and Sanitation

Once you’ve got the results from your water test, it’s time to apply the appropriate chemicals to balance your pool water. These chemicals include pH, Total Alkalinity, and, if applicable, a Calcium Hardness adjuster. The basic chemicals you need to maintain a healthy and safe pool are a primary sanitizer to kill germs, which includes viruses and bacteria; a weekly shock to keep your chlorine working effectively; and a phosphate removal and enzyme product to prevent algae growth and assist your sanitizer. (Remember, chemical doses are based on the gallons of your pool and your water test results.)

Here are the ideal chemical levels for your pool:

  • Ideal pH level: 7.4-7.6

  • Ideal total alkalinity (TA) level: 80-120 parts per million (ppm)

  • Ideal calcium hardness (CH) level: 200-400 ppm

  • Ideal free available chlorine (FAC) level: 2.0-4.0 ppm

  • Ideal cyanuric acid level: 30-50 ppm

And there you have it. You’re now on your way to becoming a pool care master. But you don’t have to make the rest of that journey alone. All About Pools is always available for help and support.

At All About Pools, we’re here to help you create a safe, sanitary, and perfect pool experience. If you have any further questions or enquiries please feel free to contact us.

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